Endurance & Faithfulness

EnduranceThese two words could be relatives in Gods economy. They both imply dogged determination. I really want my life to feature generous doses of both. I have had my moments in life when I took my eye off the big prize of eternal life and lived only for the moment or the day. I’m so grateful that the Lord is full of grace and mercy and He is so patient with me.

I came across another weird passage in John’s description of the Revelation that he’s experiencing. I am sometime perplexed and confused about the meaning of all that he’s seeing and writing about. At times, there is a simple verse tucked inside all the symbolism and sci-fi type scenes that speaks to me. Check this out…

10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
into captivity he goes.
If anyone is to be killed with a sword,
with a sword he will be killed.

This calls for endurance and faithfulness from the saints. (Revelation 13:10 CSB)

I don’t know how this world is going to end, but I’m trusting in the One Who created the earth. I’m hanging on to Him. I know that there are crazy things happening in our world at the moment that makes me wonder if we’re getting close. We’ve had two hurricanes, a tropical storm within 3 months. We are on the brink of war with North Korea. It is easy to get worried and distracted by all that is happening around me.  I’m leaning into Who I know and what I know about Him during these turbulent times.  If I see a beast with multiple heads and horns, I’m running to the Lord. I don’t know how this all ends, but I know Who is in charge and I’m going to endure and remain faithful to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Way I Used To Be

 

Life changesThere are lots of things about my life that are way different than they used to be. When I think back to the courtship of my wife 23 years ago things are different now. Our love for one another is much deeper and mature. It is fun to think back to how we once were early on in our dating relationship and early marriage. Relationships grow deeper and expand at a deeper level.

If I think back to my early relationship with the Lord, it was very vibrant and full of energy. I was young and excited to follow the Lord. When the “new” wore off, I found myself doing stupid things that hurt His heart. I wandered away from Him and went my own way for a season. He never left me. He showed great patience with me as I tried to figure some things out. I guess I had to learn on my own that when the sign says, “dead end” – it really is. I was warned about many dead-end decisions, but I tried them out anyway. He still was waiting patiently.

In the letter to church at Ephesus, He calls them out for forgetting their first love. Check this out…

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5 CSB)

I have returned to my journey with Him over the past several years. He has spoken volumes into my life through the steady study of His Word. I’m still steady and growing in my love for Him. I’m still trying to walk in obedience of Him daily. I want to live like He lived. I want to love like He loves. I want to push through the times of hardship and suffering. I want my life to reflect a faithful, consistent follower of Jesus.  I want to love Him more today than yesterday. I want to love Him deeper that yesterday. I want my relationship with the Lord to grow and grow with the roots of my relationship planted deeply in His Word.

I want to keep returning to the love I had for Him early on before being “tainted” by what the world offers. I want to be faithful to Him, He has been so faithful to me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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

Endurance

 

EnduranceI sometimes have “endurance issues”. I get to the place that I feel like I can’t go on. I recently heard a great podcast from Ramsey Solutions EntreLeadership by Mel Robbins called: “5 Seconds to a Better Life & Business”. Mel talks about denying my feelings the leadership in my life. I have a to make decisions with my brain and keep my feelings in check.  When I’m riding my bike on the Carrollton Greenbelt and I reach a formidable hill, I must push through the burn to make it up the hill. The think is, each time I push through and endure, I’m getting stronger.

The Apostle Paul gives some final instructions to the church at Thessalonica about staying strong and enduring. Check this out…

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:3-5,13 CSB)

I often need encouragement to endure. I love having someone spur me on the push through the “quitting points” aka, the pain and endure to the end. If endurance were easy, everyone would endure, but as it is, there are fewer and fewer who stay strong and tough when things get hard. Quitting is easy, endurance is hard.

I am learning that quitting comes often when I listen to my feelings. My feelings are so fickle and selfish. I must use the power of my will and my mind to decide what I’m going to do and how I’m going to face struggles and keep my feelings on the sidelines. I don’t ever “feel” like getting out of bed early in the morning. I don’t “feel” like doing hard work, but I must. I haven’t met many people who “feel” like dieting, but we must control our appetites.

The Lord is faithful and present when I’m pushing hard to endure. He uses tough times and hard experiences to build me. Making good choices is hard work but He is a lot of help. I choose endurance over laziness. I choose to veto my feelings and endure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope Is Here

 

Hope word with shadow, backgroundI’ve been in plenty of situations where there seemed like only one way out and it felt quite hopeless. I know the struggle of a sleepless night. I know the paralysis that worry delivers. I also know that when the Lord enters the room of my life, HOPE flows from Him. He gives me strength and wisdom to navigate any and every situation I’m faced with. Paul speaks very clearly about the hope we have no matter the situation. Check this out….

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 CSB)

This passage has much depth to it. This is a snapshot of life:

  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Access
  • Grace
  • Rejoice
  • Afflictions
  • Endurance
  • Proven Character
  • Hope
  • Love

I’m trying to wrap my mind around these 10 profound pieces of the journey with God.  It starts with Faith and ends up in Love. The journey with the Lord always goes through the tunnel of affliction and suffering. It’s during those dark nights of the soul that the light of hope in Him is real. The Lord never wastes a dark night to show off His Heart for me. He brings such hope and clarity to most confusing circumstances. He builds my character from the inside out and not from the outside in. My salvation journey begins with faith in Him.

When He enters the room of my heart, there is NOTHING else like it! He brings HOPE and it is a Powerful Presence. #thankful

All My Hope

By Crowder

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

(C)All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same (C)

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man come on and sing (C)

_____________________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne