Death

 

death Grunge TextI am not a fan of death. I recently experienced the death of a dear aunt and then two weeks later, her son died. Death is so permanent relative to my life here and now. In relationship to eternity, it more like a new chapter. I see eternity as “the long game” or “the big picture”. While death is the end of this life, it moves us squarely into eternity. The way I understand scripture, this life determines the destination in eternity.

This morning I read about the death of Jesus from John’s perspective. John was probably the closest of the 12 disciples to Jesus. He was standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus breathed His last. The death of Jesus “felt like” the end, but it certainly wasn’t. Jesus came to earth to fulfill His mission to conquer sin and death. His death on the cross accomplished both. He died for the sins of the world. His death was made even more significant because of how He lived, His teaching and His ministry here on earth. He was the promised Messiah and many missed that. Check this out…

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on, this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:25-30 NLT)

I’ve read the other accounts of Jesus’ death and they are a bit more dramatic. John’s version is pretty simple. I think John’s is feeling a lot of the weight of the earthly family of Jesus. His death was very public and at this point probably pretty humiliating. It’s hard to have the perspective that He is the Savior of the World during this dark afternoon.

I honestly dread death. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for that eventual “ending” to my life here on earth. I decided years ago that my best response to death was to connect with the Creator of Life and live inside His Plan for my life. He has given me opportunity to invest in others. I am blessed with 5 amazing kids who also desire to know the Lord deeply and understand His plan for their lives. I also know that my life here can “live on” through my relationships and my “investments” into eternal things rather than just temporary things. Not one human being on the planet can escape death, so I’m taking the route of planning for it and leaning into it. I want my life and influence to count for years to come through my investment into my children; their children and anyone who will listen. The Word of God is true and He gives a clear plan for “retirement” from this life – total trust in Jesus. I’m putting my hope in Him!

All My Hope Is In Jesus – Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

If Only

 

ApathyI have used those two words together way too often. I used these two words mostly to “second guess” a decision or choice that I made. “If Only” often carries with it regret over something that was left undone or unfinished.  If only is related to “looking back” and how I can have 20/20 vision. If only comes along when I have new information and new options that either I didn’t have or didn’t see previously.

Jesus came to the earth as a baby born of Mary a virgin and He was raised in a Carpenter shop. He began His earthly ministry around the age of 30 and set about teaching and hanging out with a select few for the purpose of bringing glory to His Father. His actions were often misunderstood or misinterpreted then. We have the privilege of seeing His actions as well as the reasons behind them. This is nearly impossible when things are happening in “real time”.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus had recently died. He had gotten word that Lazarus was sick, but chose to stay where He and His team were ministering. Mary, Martha & Lazarus were dear friends and He often stayed with them when He was near Jerusalem. They lived in Bethany, a few miles outside Jerusalem. He then headed toward their place. When He was just outside the village, Mary & Martha got word He was coming their way, so Martha goes out to meet Him. Check this out…

20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”  (John 11:20-27 NLT)

The first thing Martha said to Jesus was “If Only”. She was grieving and hurting. She had been with Jesus and knew of His healing power because she had seen with her own eyes. She believed that Jesus could have healed her brother. Jesus had more than “healing” in mind. He was about to “blow their mind”.

This is the first time that Jesus calls Himself “the resurrection and the life”. This is a bold claim for sure, but Martha that she believed that He was Who He said He was. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He took His ministry to a whole new level. He also explained that He was hear for the Glory of God. I haven’t always understood how God can uses hard times, hardship and suffering for His glory. He can use the sudden death of a friend for His glory. I don’t always understand this, but this truth is woven throughout the pages of His Word. He is always pointing to eternal life as the “end goal”, not just life here on earth. We are here for His Glory, not our own. It’s hard to understand this concept when we haven’t “been there and done that”.  Eternal life is a mystery to us. It is not a mystery to the Lord. I can’t always explain the reasons things happen, but I do believe that I can find a way to give the Lord honor and praise in every situation. I don’t want to call on Him in regret (if only), I want to call on Him with respect and trust to help me walk through any circumstance that I face.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Believe Me

john-3-16I grew up at a very young age believing in God. I did rebel and I was unsure for a short season about what I believed. I remember the time and place when my faith became my own. I have since given away my faith to others. In 1982 when I first became a minister, I started sharing my faith. As a student pastor, I gave away my faith to others and hopefully encouraged them to look carefully at the Gospel. I have no idea how many people heard me speak about my faith in God. I have no idea how many people read this little blog and have learned about my faith. I’m so thankful for the grace and mercy extended to me and the peace that comes from knowing God, I can’t help but share my faith with others.

Jesus has just spoken to the Samaritan woman at the well. He blew her mind talking about living water and He told her that He was the Messiah. She went back and told her friends and they came to hear Him. It was cool to see what her friends said. Check this out…

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world. (John 4:39-42 NLT)

I enjoy reading the Word of God as He continually reveals Truth in the pages of Scripture.

I also believe that the Spirit of God is speaking through Scripture and through prompting in my life. I believe that this life is preparatory for eternal life. I wish everyone I shared my faith with believed, but I’m confident that they don’t. I’m going to start asking people to at least explore getting to know God. I want others to believe because they now have experienced God up close and personal.

I believe God is so patient and kind. He is the Ultimate GRACE GIVER. He has watched me do stupid things and wander away, but He has welcomed me home again and again. I’ve been the prodigal son. I’ve been the son who stayed home. I’ve been blessed to live a good life sharing my faith. I’m so thankful that the more I know Him the deeper my love for Him grows. He could have punished me, but instead, He gives me grace. If you won’t believe Him because of me, please start reading the gospel of John and get to know Jesus for yourself.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hard To Explain

 

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroomThere are things in life that are very hard to explain in proper words and perspective. I love watching planes fly and I understand the science behind aviation, but it still blows mind that an commercial jet, weighing nearly 1 million pounds can take off and fly through the air.

I’m also fascinated with the weather. Recently we “battened down the hatches” where I live because we were in the path of Hurricane Irma who left a path of destruction for hundreds of miles. When the hurricane arrived in GA, a cold front came in and totally diffused the storm. The meteorologist’s predictions were a bit overkill on that storm.

Jesus meets with a knowledgeable man and explains the Kingdom of God to a man who was well versed in the law and teachings of the law. The Lord gives a good explanation, but also challenges the current system. Check this out…

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)

I have followed the Lord since I was a young kid. I remember being baptized when I was in 3rd Grade. I didn’t understand all the deep things of God, but I believed that He made the world and that He loved me. Since that time, I’ve had some profound experiences that have affirmed my faith in God many times over. I have structured my life around my belief and convictions about God. I believe that He created the heavens and the earth. I believe that His One and Only Son is Jesus, Who came to earth and lived a sinless life and gave Himself to be the final sacrifice for all sin. When Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven, He promised us a Comforter, a Presence called the Holy Spirit of God. Upon accepting Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit shows up and gives guidance, direction, protection, wisdom and peace in every situation that comes my way. I can’t explain the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit, but I know He is here and He is with me. I’ve seen Him in others as well.

I wish I could explain clearly how the Lord has changed my life. It is really simple faith, but a complete life-changing, life altering perspective. I love deeper and live on purpose because of the Presence of God in my life. I wish everyone would get to know Him. I wish I could introduce the Lord more clearly and explain my faith journey more clearly. In the simplest terms, I trust in Jesus with my very life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Spoiler Alert!

 

spoiler alert text bufferedI enjoy watching a good movie. I remember watching movies in the past with someone who had seen the movie before. I was getting uptight that the hero or heroine was about to die. They knew the ending and were not worried. I remember a few years ago recording a Kentucky basketball game and somehow, I found out they lost, so I didn’t watch the game. If I knew they had won, I would have watched it just to revel in the victory.

This past Sunday I heard this phrase “Spoiler Alert” used in reference to how this life ends. I love the connection because we know Who wins in the end. I came across one of these spoiler alerts this morning in my journey through Revelation. The imagery is again pretty wild and crazy as John tries to describe these wild creatures he’s seeing for the first time. Check this out…

12 The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. 13 These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. 14 These will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Revelation 17:12-14 CSB)

If I’m indifferent to the outcome of a sporting event, I will usually choose sides. In fact, I often choose the underdog. In this case, I already know Who wins. He is also an incredibly Honorable Winner. He’s given the opposition multiple chances to repent and join Him. He has forgiven me multiple times. He’s extended grace to me when I deserved punishment. He is so patient with me as I stumble over the stupid and simple choices.  I don’t deserve to be welcomed to the Lord’s army, but He welcomes me aboard. He gives me the equipment and the courage to battle the enemy.

My life here on earth is preparatory for eternal life with the Lord. He wins in the end. He has already won.  He has already conquered death. He is flexing His muscle as Creator. I’m going to walk out my faith here on earth with my faith and trust firmly rooted in Him. I’ve known about this “spoiler alert” since I first read His Word.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Insight

Insight Light Bulb ConceptI’ve had experiences that are hard to describe and explain to others. The fact that I can’t explain or describe doesn’t diminish the impact that these experiences had on me. I’ve had personal experiences with the Lord that are still making an impact upon me today. I’ve prayed some bold prayers and watched Him work. I’ve seen Him change lives that were at the brink of ending. I’ve seen Him heal people.

As I journey through Revelation, I’m struck by so much symbolism. I can sometimes feel the struggle of John to properly describe what he is seeing. His descriptions of the creatures, angels and even the Son of God are captivating and hard to take in.

This morning I read a passage about a worship scene that was happening and John’s description of this event gave me a bit of insight as to what heaven could be like. Check this out…

After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

Salvation belongs to our God,
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!

11 All the angels stood around the throne, and along with the elders and the four living creatures they fell facedown before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying,

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength
be to our God forever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:9-12 CSB)

Was this a special service at the throne?

Was this a daily experience in heaven?

Will I recognize people who’ve gone before me?

Will there be a worship band in heaven?

I don’t have to wonder Who is the center of attention in heaven – the Son of God who brought salvation to us. This insight to a worship experience in heaven really moves my heart. I’m so thankful for the call He put upon my heart. I’m so thankful that He rewired my heart for Him. I want to live my life here on earth in proper preparation for eternal life with Him!

Pressing On!

Dwayne