Life Differently

Be DifferentI realize every day as a Christ follower, my life should look different than those who don’t follow Him. I am not better than those who don’t know Him, I just know that I have peace that is often foreign to those who don’t know and trust the Lord. I should not be self-centered, but my gaze should be on Him. Asking “What would Jesus do (WWJD), is still a God-honoring question. It’s unfortunate that it became such a cliché. My future hopes and dreams should be focused on what He is calling me to do and be.

15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. (2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT)

My marriage should honor the Lord.

My family should honor the Lord.

My friendships should honor the Lord.

My church work should honor the Lord.

My work as a REALTOR should honor the Lord.

Every area of my life should be about bringing honor to the Lord. My choices, my thoughts, and my dreams should honor Him. After all, this life is temporary, but life with the Lord is eternal. My years here on earth are very short on the eternal scale. I need to make this life count for Him because He gave me abundant life here and had eternal life waiting for me at the end of this life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

100% Death Rate

DevastatedI realize that this heading is not exciting and inviting. I do believe it to be the truth. I’ve not been around as long as a lot of other people, but I realize that 100% of the people living on earth will die OR the Lord will return and take His followers to eternal life (aka Heaven). As I get older and my body aches and my mind “slips a gear” every now and then I’m reminded that my goal is to finish strong in following the Lord. I’m trusting the Lord with the rest of my life. He’s been in charge of my life up until this point. I often thought I was in control only to learn that The Lord was. My wife & I went by the grave site of her grandparents the other day. It was sobering to remember how much we loved them and how much we missed them. I had just told my brother the other day how much I missed my grandparents. I am so blessed to have had godly influences like that. I want to make sure that I’m still investing in my children and grandchildren to leave a heritage of faith like they did.

Paul seeks to encourage the church at Corinth regarding life after this life. He reminded us that death was a gateway or transition into our eternal life. I really like how Paul explains things even though He hadn’t yet experienced this. He was writing this inspired by The Spirit of Creator God. Check this out….

40 There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies.

42 It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. 43 Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. 44 They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.

56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. (1 Corinthians 15:40,42-44,56-58 NLT)

I don’t know when my life on earth will end and it really creeps some people out to think like that. It is wise to prepare for death, but not to live in fear of it. The Lord has removed the sting of death and ushered in hope. He has really calmed my heart down. I will admit that I still have little fear spikes every now and then, because I’ll be facing something that I don’t know much about. It will be a new experience.

I am doing my best to live my life enthusiastically and with confidence in the Lord. I want to embrace and fully take in the relationships I have with friends and family. I want my life here to bring Glory to God and not to me. It is hard to swallow when a young person dies what appears too soon. I want to keep trusting in the Lord regarding this because I know He’s not surprised by anything or anyone.  I want to become stronger and immovable in my faith.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Death Defeated!

He is RisenWhen I actually think about death, I admit that I’m a bit afraid. I have not been around a lot of people as they died, but I really miss several people who have already died. I think the reason that there is some fear in my heart, it’s because it’s unknown. I’ve never met anyone who has died and came back to tell me what it’s like. I was speaking with someone just yesterday who’s spouse battled cancer for nearly 10 years before dying. There are lots of questions I have about death that I can’t find the answers for. My journey with the Lord has made my questions a lot smaller and less significant because I do believe that He will be with me – even in death.  I think the thing that makes me a bit fearful is because death is not a respecter of age. People of all ages die. While I’m alive here on earth, this life becomes all-consuming and I lose perspective that eternal life is the big prize! This life is a prerequisite to eternal life – there is no death there.

The big difference in believing in Jesus rather than other religions is that He defeated death. He died as part of a plan to bring forgiveness to everyone who believes in Him. None of the other religious leaders have that claim to fame. Jesus actually didn’t come to reinforce a religion; He came bringing us a direct relationship with God, the Father.  When Jesus died on Friday, His disciples were despondent and disillusioned. When Sunday came, everything changed. Check this out….

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.” (Matthew 28:5-10 NLT)

As I get older and ponder death, I realize that I can’t really know what to expect. I have to hold on tight to the Lord as I walk through that valley. I also must remember that I have given my life to the One Person Who defeated death. I think the older I get the weaker my fear becomes. The last time I checked the death rate is 100% here on earth. Jesus faced death. Jesus completed His mission which culminated in death, but then He defeated death once and for all when He came back to life.  I want to live and walk through this life with confidence in the One Who took the sting out of death by defeating death. I want to grow closer to Him as I walk toward that transition from this life to the next.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Misunderstood Mission

 

Achievement Success Goals Target Jigsaw Puzzle ConceptThere are planned mission trips that have clear goals and purposes to each place. I know missionaries in Indonesia, Africa, Nicaragua and many other places in the world. Their mission is to tell others about Jesus so that they can be saved and have the abundant life here and eternal life after this life. Jesus came to bring that life. His mission was to do what the Father sent Him to do – give His life as the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin. Jesus understood His mission, but lots of others misunderstood His mission. It took a good bit of repetitive instruction before the 12 disciples understood. The religious leaders and teachers of the law didn’t get His mission. They were too busy keeping the rules that they made up to go along with the law. Jesus had called them out about this and so they turned a “deaf ear” to His teaching.

Jesus, the Only Son of God was totally misunderstood by most of the people whom He came to teach and lead. He was crucified on “trumped up charges”. He was mocked, ridiculed and beaten, but He didn’t give up on His mission. As He was on the cross, He was still verbally abused and scoffed at. He completed His mission even though He was totally misunderstood. Check this out…

39 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. 40 “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

41 The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. 42 “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! 43 He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way. (Matthew 27:39-44 NLT)

I am so thankful that Jesus stayed on mission. I have hope today because He endured the mission of His life. The Fathers plan was one final sacrifice for sin and the sacrifice was the death of His Son. Jesus not only died for the sins of the world, He conquered death. He did rise from death on the third day after He was crucified. I often wonder how many of the people who were in the crowd yelling “crucify Him” repented of their sin and turned to Him. I wonder if Paul’s mission and teaching changed their minds about Jesus later. He was here. He was killed. He was gone. That had to baffle them.

I believe that Jesus calls me on a mission to grow in my love for God and to love others like the Lord loves. I show my love for God by serving others. I want to be on mission in my life, even if I’m misunderstood.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

God’s Perspective

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossI have a perspective that is somewhat unique to others. My perspective is based on a lot of factors. For example, my perspective about where I live is different from someone who has never lived anywhere else. I was “born and raised” in Kentucky. I lived in Tennessee for 6 years after graduation from High School. I moved to Carroll County, Georgia in February 1986. I’ve been here ever since. I love where I live, but I see it differently than people who have never lived anywhere but here. I also think it’s cool to talk to people who moved here from the US west coast or up in the north-eastern US. They have a totally different perspective on living in Georgia.  I can’t help but look at things through my view, because it is from my experience. My experiences are the window to my world view.

As I journey through the Word of God, I’m constantly reminded of God’s perspective on my little life. I often think that my life is really about me, but the longer I live, I realize that He has much bigger plans for my life than I have.  I don’t always understand why things happen in my life, but I believe that the Lord is the Creator of my life and my world. He will give me direction and He imparts wisdom to me.  If I stop and review things from His perspective, they look a lot different. Jesus had just had a conversation with His disciples asking them who do people say He is. They said that He was the Messiah. Then He told them what was coming next.  Check this out…

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. (Mark 8:31-33 NLT)

It takes work to see things from God’s perspective. When I look back at the victories and the struggles of my life from His perspective, I can now see how He was building me. In the middle of the struggles or success, I don’t always see that. Recently, I’ve been convicted that I should see everything that I do as bringing glory to God. Even if something bad happens – all glory to God. Even when my kid has to fight cancer, God can be glorified. Even if my kid falls from a tree and is flown to a Trauma 1 center – God can be glorified. Even if my brother-in-law is diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and has to fight that horrible cancer of the bone marrow – God can be glorified. There is more to this life than my comfort and happiness when I rise above my life and see things from God’s perspective. His goal for my life is preparation for eternity. I believe He wants my life here to be full and abundant, but not all encompassing.

I want God’s perspective on the little things that happen in my life along the way as well as the big events. I want every facet of my life to bring glory to Him. He owns it all, I’m simply managing on His behalf.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Your Suffering Is Over

Child in medicine maskThere is a lot of suffering going on around me. There are those who are battling cancer or watching someone they love dearly, battle the disease. There are those whom a car accident took a loved one. There are those who are in chronic pain all day, every day. There are those who’ve been betrayed by someone they love and they are suffering from the loss of relationship. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and is no respecter of persons. Suffering comes to the wealthiest and to the poorest. To suffer is to feel pain or distress. That is a broad definition.

There is an event of suffering that happened in Jesus’ ministry. He was going along the road with his entourage (aka his disciple and other followers) as well as a large crowd that had gathered to hear Him teach. He learned of a synagogue leader who’s 12-year old daughter was sick. He was headed to the leader’s house to heal the little girl. Check this out…

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:25-34 NLT)

This woman’s life changed dramatically that day. She had tried everything and was desperate enough to believe that if she could just touch Jesus robe, she could be healed – and she was healed. I love this story because it again shows the heart of Jesus. He cared about the least noticed people and he cared about the leaders. He came to give a different perspective on suffering. The woman’s suffering had not been temporary. She had been suffering for years. I have been through seasons of suffering, buy nothing compared to this. After being healed by the touch of His robe, Jesus wanted to know “who touched him”. He was on His way to heal a little girl and this older woman was healed along the way. Jesus words to this lady about her faith was profound. The then left here with four words that were big: “Your suffering is over”. This is not a fluke or a temporary fix –  your suffering is over. Those four words gave her such hope and peace. When Jesus comes on the scene, He always bring hope along. This woman’s faith allowed her to realize that hope.

I want my faith to keep growing, especially in the face of suffering. I want to know the Lord is such a way, that He can be honored in the middle of my struggle. This life here is not “the endgame”, it’s a prerequisite to “the endgame” which is eternal life – the big prize! This is what He promises. He never promised that I wouldn’t suffer in this world, but He did promise His Presence in the midst of suffering. When Jesus comes on the scene, my suffering looks way different.

Pressing On!

Dwayne