Witness Accountability

 

Victory parade dedicated to the Soviet victory over GermanyI have learned to become more aware of my surroundings and what is happening around me. I try to notice little things as well as big things. I witness way more things in life than I often realize. I witnessed signatures of a buyer purchasing a home for the first time and I witnessed the joy and anticipation of the buyer. I also witnessed the relief of the seller. The seller was moving to another town to begin another phase of life and be near her family in the later years of their lives. The relief was a bit bitter sweet as they were leaving behind some memories as well. Being a witness means paying attention. I witnessed an auto accident before and was so traumatized by the injuries that I couldn’t recall what I had just witnessed. I think witnessed should speak clearly about what they saw and heard.

The other word here is accountability. If someone witnessed me doing something on a certain day or time it’s my word against theirs. If there are more than one witness, it’s hard to refute that.

The writer of Hebrews challenges me to endurance because of so many witnesses. The witnesses can hold me accountability for my steady endurance and discipline. Check this out…

1Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB)

The passage always makes me think about people who’ve gone before me. There are so many who poured into my journey of faith. I often wonder if they could see me now from where they are in heaven. If they can see the good, I would assume that they could see the bad choices too. I also recall the people of old who’ve gone on before me whom I’ve never met. I can hardly wait to meet some of them – like Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Luke, John, Paul, Timothy – it could be a really long list. There are others I’m looking forward to meeting as well: Dwight Moody, C.S. Lewis, Warren Wiersbe, Norman Vincent Peal, Zig Ziglar, to name a few, who have a great journey with the Lord. There is also my family, some of who are still living today. I think about my grandmother (aka Mammie) and wonder if she knows what an impact she had on my life – is she part of the large cloud of witnesses.

When I become aware of people witnessing my behavior, I can usually pull it together and live right. I do have that following. There are people watching me – my wife, kids, friends, colleagues, co-workers, acquaintances. I am being watched by the most important and significant witness of all – Jesus. He is with me wherever I go. He hears how I talk. He sees what I do and how it matches up with what I say. I want to keep my focus on what He sees and what He thinks of me. I want to stand on His shoulders and love like He loved and live like He lives.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Deep Strength

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI used to work out lifting weights and doing some good cardio, but I’ve slipped tremendously over the last 20+ years. (Please try not to laugh at this confession.) I exchanged one discipline for another and the truth is I need both. I have grown deeper and stronger spiritually over the last several years, but physically I’m weaker (and older) than I’ve ever been.  I enjoy some forms of exercise like bike riding on the Carrollton Greenbelt. I must pay attention to my physical body and cultivate physical strength. The more important strength conditioning comes from my spiritual exercise. I started getting up early many years ago to carve out time that I could spend with the Lord focusing on His Word and His heart. That one decision changed everything about my perspective and game me insights into life that I never had before. The more I study and walk with the Lord, the deeper my love for Him grows. I look back and realize that I spent way too much time in the shallow end of His swimming pool. I want to go deeper every day with Him. The Psalmist was a human being who loved the Lord and walked deeper. Check this out…

13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done. (Psalm 118:13-17 NIV)

I would rather have deep inner strength than brut physical strength any day. The ideal would be both!  I have had times of suffering in my life where they physical exercise was a great distraction and helped me work out some stress, but it did very little for my spiritual journey. That takes time alone with the Lord in deep study, discernment and conversational prayer. He gives me strength I can’t describe. He gives me insight that is way beyond my education and comprehension. His Presence calms my soul. His Presence gives me strength to navigate the most challenging path.

I will say that there are times in my life, I’m not sure how I lived to talk about the struggle except that His is in me and He is for me. He flat out saved me and I want Him to use me now for His Glory and His Fame. I am nothing without Him, but with Him I have everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Discipline

 

Discipline is the bridge from WEAK to STRONG. Concept 3D illustration.I used to think of this word as punishment (aka – grounded or “the board of education applied to the ‘seat’ of understanding”). It wasn’t a positive word from my point of view. I now have an additional meaning to this word that speaks to regimen and behavior that develops skills and positive traits in my life. I still have a lot of room to grow in this area as I try to be more disciplined in the food choices I make and the volume of food I consume. It pains me to write about this because it’s a weakness that I’m working on. These two different meanings of the same word are very much related. The punishment that I received when I was “out of line” affected my behavior and taught me some boundaries. The daily disciplines I employ also reach a very similar destination.

Asaph was calling upon the Lord to punish (aka discipline) people who wanted to destroy Israel. He wanted the Lord to show up in power and show them Who they were dealing with. Check this out…

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:13-18 NIV)

I am reminded that the Lord has unmatched Power. He has unmatched Presence. His Patience with me is “over the top”. I deserve punishment, but I receive Grace. I’m thankful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I have been disciplined by the Lord, but I’m learning that self-discipline is much more proactive. (He helps me with that too!) I have done some stupid things in my life and the Lord has forgiven and restored me. I don’t ever want to forget His Love and His Grace. Because of His Love and Grace, I want His help with discipline in my life because the root word of discipline is disciple and that is exactly end goal – to be a life-long disciple of The Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fast & Pray

 

Female hand refusing the fast food mealA friend of mine when on a fast for several days only drinking water and fruit juices. At the end of the fast, he had to slowly starting putting regular food into his body. I remember a conversation that we had during the fast and he spoke about clarity and how focused he was during that time. When fasting is talked about in The Word, it’s often referring to a discipline of abstaining from food for a period of time. The fast is often for a specific purpose like a big decision or a time of intense intercession.

As I was reading Ezra this morning I came across another purpose of fasting. Check this out…

21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:21-23 NIV)

Ezra used fasting and prayer to humble themselves before God and pray intensely for a safe journey to Jerusalem. A great way to humble myself is to fast and pray. My body will cry out for food, but I can abstain for a short while and really humble myself before God. I’ve noticed in The Word that prayer almost always accompanies fasting. I’ve often thought that one of the big reasons for fasting from food is so that I might use that time to pray and seek the Lord. I’ve not done this a lot over the years. I’m always blessed when I take time to use this discipline in my journey with the Lord.

I believe that fasting should be private for the most part. I don’t think it should be announced to everyone.

I believe that fasting can powerful when a group chooses to fast and pray together.

I believe fasting shows my body and my appetite who is in charge.

I believe that fasting is a humbly activity that is healthy for nearly everyone.

I think it’s healthy to fast from more than just food. I can take a break from just about any regular activity and spend the time normally allotted for that activity in prayer and study.

Fasting and prayer reminds me that my life is for His honor and glory and not my own. I want to know Him more and follow Him faithfully. I want to humbly obey Him and honor Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience & Discipline

Patience concept.These two words don’t always seem to go together, but they might just be related to one another. I have personally struggled with patience in many areas of my life. I want what I want and I want it now. I’ve learned that what is a crisis in my view does not constitute a crisis for the other person. There are times when I’m waiting on the services of others I have to simply be patient.

I also struggle with discipline in many areas too. One area of discipline that is obvious to just about everyone who knows me is eating. I love good food – I really just love food in general. I can eat all sorts of varieties and the problem comes with the quantities. If I find something I really like, I enjoy lots of it instead of just enough. I’m also learning to eat healthy and wise and not so much “fried food”. (This is really hard because fried food is a staple of southern food!)

Saul was 30 years old when he became king of Israel. I’m not sure how old he was when this certain incident happened. The tensions between the Philistines and Israel were at an all time high. Jonathan, Saul’s son had already had a skirmish with them. Evidently Saul was told to wait 7 days for Samuel to come and lead them in the time of sacrifice and offering. I’m assuming this was a time of worship and heart preparation for battle. Saul waited for the 7 days and decided to take matters into his own hands. I think his impatience was directly related to the fear of his men and maybe his own fear. He starts acting in the role of priest in Samuel’s absence. As he is finishing up, Samuel shows up. Check this out…

13 ‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’ (1 Samuel 13:13-14 NIV)

Because of Saul’s impatience and lack of discipline, his future was not as bright as it once was. He was chosen by the Lord to lead His people. He struggled with patience and discipline and it cost Saul his legacy of leadership.

I needed to be “smacked around” a bit by this. I am learning patience and discipline as I walk through life. I’m learning that waiting is sometimes a process of refinement. There are times that waiting can offer such clarity and purpose to a situation. These two are connected in my view, because it takes great discipline to be patient and not get in a hurry and make a foolish mistake or error in judgment. I am really working on letting the Lord speak into my life and give me wisdom to lead and serve. I don’t want to step outside His plan or get ahead of Him trying to serve my own agenda. I want to be in the middle of His timing and feel His nudge in the right direction at the just the right time. This is considerably easier said than done. Situations arise and great pressure is applied, but patience and discipline require me to try to stay cool in every situation and let His plan unfold.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Heart Test

Human heart anatomy from a healthy bodyI’ve seen some amazing technology related to testing the heart. I’ve seen the medical team put dye in the veins of a human to see the blood flow through the heart. This test reveals blockages or how well the heart is functioning. They can also do an ultra sound of the heart to investigate the condition of the heart, chambers and valves. My heart is one of the most critical organs in my body.

Throughout scripture the Lord is speaking of my heart and the condition of my heart. He is not speaking specifically about the vital organ inside my chest, but He’s speaking to my soul (my emotional center). I’m sure a neurologist would have some input on where in my brain this “soul” or “emotional center” exists.

Moses is instructing the people of Israel about following the Lord fully and trusting Him completely as they enter the Promised Land and become successful. He reminds them to remember the Lord and how the Lord protected them and prepared them. Check this out…

2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV)

He reminds them that their clothes did not wear out or their shoes wear out. When they needed food, the Lord provided.

I believe that the Lord uses suffering and challenges to reveal my heart. I sometimes reflect on the journey of divorce and the journey of cancer as two of the most difficult parts of my life. I’ve experienced great hurt and pain, but those two pretty much trump most everything else. The Lord did some incredible work on my heart during those traumatic times. My heart was exposed and everything inside wasn’t healthy and wholesome. I want to follow the Lord fully even through the hard times or the times of blessing and even wealth. I want my heart to stay steady in pursuit of His heart. I want to keep myself humble and fully aware of His Presence in every situation that I face. When the Lord examines my heart, I want Him to find a heart fully devoted to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne