Debate

 

Mother scolding her sonI think “debate” is another form of argument. I don’t remember winning any “debates” with my parents when I was growing up. I knew that “yes” meant Yes and “no” meant No! I do remember thinking I knew way more than my parents from a fairly young age. I remember getting my Grandpa (aka Pappy) a card once that said: “The older I get the smarter you get” (paraphrased I’m sure). My Pappy loved the card and beamed. He knew that I was finally getting wise to some insights that I needed to become an adult.

I came across a passage this morning that made me chuckle a bit, because of the truth taught in the passage. Check this out…

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)

I must confess that this made me smile to think about an inanimate object arguing back about how I make the handle on the cup that I’m molding out of clay. I also chuckled as I thought about a child calling out their parents about why they were made this way or that way. I must confess that on more than one occasion, I’ve instructed God on what I thought He should do. I’ve learned that if I come to Him in humility and respect that He actually cares what I think and how I feel. I can’t always understand His decisions or His way of doing things, but at the end of the day, I trust Him. I’ve always wanted and tried to do what is best for my children, but they sometimes couldn’t see it that way.

I’ve walked with the Lord through enough suffering and struggle to know that He never leaves me alone – He is ALWAYS near. He gives me strength needed to push through the struggle and suffering so that He is honored. I must look at my suffering and struggle through His perspective and not my own. He may be building something into my life that is needed in the years to come. He sees the whole picture and I just see one little snippet of the big picture.

I’ve stopped debating the Lord about anything. I do still share with Him my opinions and feelings on a diverse set of topics. I also do so with respect and reverence. I’ve learned that He is a Great Listener. Sometimes in my conversations with Him, the light bulb comes on and I get it. My conversations with Him are more for me than for Him – He grows me through my questions and conversations with Him. At the end of everything, I trust Him. Even when I don’t understand, I trust Him. I trust the Heart of God in everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Enemy

 

best friends or worst enemyThis is a strong word. I started really wrestling with this word during my reading of the Word this morning. I started trying to figure out who my enemies are. I looked up the definition first on dictionary.com. An enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” I probably have enemies that I don’t even know about. I really do try not to make enemies. I try to get along with others as far as it depends on me.  I’ve found myself over the years biting my tongue rather than speaking into the lives of others who I feel are doing something wrong or harmful to others. I’ve tried to amend that part of my life. I must be willing to hurt feelings and lose friendships over speaking the truth and defending the truth.  I don’t want enemies. I don’t seek out enemies.

Enemies can be subtle or overt. They can be public or private. Thinking about enemies has brought a bit of stress to my heart this morning. I can’t control who sees me as an enemy but I can control who I see as an enemy. Check this out…

The Lord says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV)

I can disagree without hatred.

I can debate without hatred.

I think what makes an enemy is hatred.

After observing one of the hardest and most hateful presidential elections in the history of our nation, we seem to have a lot of hatred in our country. The sharp divide in ideology is profound. I contend that we don’t have to hate just because we disagree. We must learn to debate and stay on the issues instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our behavior. Hatred is a devastating emotion that leaves destruction in its path. I don’t want enemies, but I probably have some. If a person comes to my door to try to harm my family, they will be perceived as an enemy and I am not afraid to use force to stop them no matter what. So, at that point they will certainly be an enemy.  It still hurts my heart to think of having enemies. I want to do my best to love others with the same love that the Lord has shown me. This life is not the end game – eternity is.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

P.S. If any person reading this sees me as their enemy, PLEASE, let’s have a conversation and remove hatred from the equation.

Pushing Back

Man withstands moving downThere are times when someone tells me how things are or how they are going to be and I have to raise my hand and “push back” or speak up. Sometimes people who are being led must push back on the leader to understand how he or she works. I’m not sure I have always had the confidence to do that. I do think the way we push back is important too – I think we should respect the positions of leaders who are over us. That doesn’t mean we follow blindly or constantly show disrespect for them or the office they hold.

As I was reading Job this morning, it sounded to me like he wants to “push back” a bit on the Lord. Here he is at a loss – he is beat down to the point that death would be a welcomed friend. He doesn’t disrespect the Lord, but he wants a conversation with God. Check this out…

32 ‘He is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer him,

    that we might confront each other in court.

33 If only there were someone to mediate between us,

    someone to bring us together,

34 someone to remove God’s rod from me,

    so that his terror would frighten me no more.

35 Then I would speak up without fear of him,

    but as it now stands with me, I cannot. (Job 9:32-35 NIV)

As I read this passage, it sounded to me like Job was describing the role of Jesus, the Son of God. The book of Job is one of the oldest manuscripts found, if not the oldest and there was not a mention of Jesus coming to earth. It sure sounds like Job is asking for the role that Jesus later would complete. I was reminded of the description of Jesus in Hebrews. Check this out…

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV)

I have had some very honest and raw conversations with the Lord over the years because I have Jesus as my attorney. He speaks on my behalf. He defends me. He has paid my penalty. He took my sin upon His shoulders. I have direct access to God through Jesus. This is exactly what Job was wanting. In Job’s suffering he wanted a direct conversation with God, but didn’t feel like he could. I’m thankful that I have a confidant that I can tell everything to. I can push back on God without disrespect or being irreverent. I can be honest because Jesus understands my hurt, my frustration and my suffering. He lived here on earth. I believe God wired me to push back because it is then that I often understand His Presence and His heart most profoundly.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Revenge

 

Businesswoman writing a black listThis can be one of the most self-destructive behaviors. Revenge comes from a vindictive spirit within and works it way out. I’ve seen people who are bitter and hurt trying to exact revenge on others to feel better. In fact, the opposite is true. Revenge should be in the “bitter family” because people don’t get better when retaliating in a vengeful.

Saul was openly trying to find David and kill him. He felt threatened by David and he knew that David had been anointed the next King of Israel instead of one of his sons. He and his men heard that David was near the caves of En Gedi so Saul takes 3000 of his best men to hunt for him. When they are on the search, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. David and his men were hiding deep inside the cave. David sneaks up and cuts the corner off of the kings robe and slips back into the depth of the cave. He then feels guilty of even that. Check this out….

8 Then David went out of the cave and called out to Saul, ‘My lord the king!’ When Saul looked behind him, David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. 9 He said to Saul, ‘Why do you listen when men say, “David is bent on harming you”? 10 This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord gave you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, “I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the Lord’s anointed.” 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the Lord judge between you and me. And may the Lord avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, “From evildoers come evil deeds,” so my hand will not touch you. (1 Samuel 24:8-13 NIV)

David acted in an honorable and respectful way toward the guy trying to kill him. I think David really wanted to honor the Lord in everything. I think he realized that in due time, he would be the leader of Israel. He respected deeply the office of the King and he also respected the fact that God had made Saul king. David also knew that if God wanted to remove Saul as king, He was very capable of doing that too.

As I watch the political process unfold in a presidential election cycle in our country, it is sad to see the lack of respect that people have for the highest elected office in our land. I believe that there is a time and place for disagreement and pushback when we are being harmed by government policy, regulation and legislation. I may be a bit naïve, but I believe there should be mutual respect from both sides of the discussion or debate. It seems that our culture has an insatiable hunger for “mud-slinging” and personal attacks. I believe David had it right when trying to defend himself against the guy who was trying to take his life. I want the Lord to avenge the wrongs done to me and I want Him to lead my defense. If I disagree with someone and they go to personal attack mode, I realize that I have actually won the debate on merit. I want to respect the people I disagree with and respect myself enough to stay on the issue at hand rather than step into the personal attack space.

Pressing On!

Dwayne