Priceless

 

Hand giving moneyThere are things that have immeasurable value to me. I can’t put a monetary value on everything I have. I know that most of the things I own have some level of value. I can determine the value of my automobiles or my house. Most of my material possessions if not all can have a monetary value. When I look at relationships, I see that most if not all are priceless. I have some relationship that pull negatively on me but most my relationships by far are investing in me. I can’t begin to calculate the value of deep relationships to me.

David often reflects on his relationship with God. He seems to understand what God brings to the relationship versus what he brings. Check this out…

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
    You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast in the abundance of your house;
    you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:5-9 NIV)

I can’t begin to put a monetary value on the love of God. His love changes not only my life after this life – His love changes my life now to the end here on earth. As I reflect on the Presence of God in my life, I can’t quite wrap my head around what that means to me. I find myself worshipping God from a heart of deep gratitude when I take a moment to reflect on the value of His love to me.  One of my favorite Third Day songs was based on this Psalm – Your Love Oh Lord.

Your love, oh Lord
Reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean’s tide

I will life my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow on Your wings

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Outcome

 

tug of warI am a bit different than those who live around me when it comes to sports. I live in the deep south where college football is the main topic of conversation pretty much year ‘round. I grew up in Kentucky and basketball was king. I grew up bleeding blue – Kentucky Wildcat blue. We talked basketball all year long. I’ve not lived in Kentucky for 37 years, but I still love college basketball – specifically UK Basketball. I used to go so upset if the Wildcats were losing, I could hardly enjoy the game. I ONLY enjoyed the game if they were winning!  If I know the outcome of the game prior to watching it, there is not nearly as much anxiety or thrill.

The Psalms of David often give perspective on God and His Power. He reminds us that while it may seem like the wicked win – the Lord will prevail in the end. Check this out…

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever;

    the nations will perish from his land.

17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror. (Psalm 10:16-18 NIV)

One of the reasons I follow the Lord is because of things that He’s already done in my life over the years. It validates His Word over and over because of His Presence and His Power shown in my life – even in some very dark times. He has never left me or forsaken me, even though I’ve not won all the battles that I’ve faced. I still have my eyes on winning the war. That is the outcome I’m most concerned about.

I’ve seen people who are suffering at the hands of others, but they know that this life is not all there is. They living for a life that we can’t yet see, but we’re promised eternal life in His Word. When I go through trials and struggles and I can’t see how this can turn out good, I must surrender all I have and all I am to the Lord so He can help me make sense of this and make it through the struggle.  The Lord knows the outcome of what I’m going through now and what I’ll go through in the future – He will lead me no matter what.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Finish Strong

happy and motivated old people 3dI think it happened sometime when I was around 42 or 43 years of age. I began to realize that I was probably around “halfway home” – that’s if I lived to be 85 years of age. My Dad turned 80 this year and if that’s any indication of how long I could live, I consider myself a blessed man – I plan to be ready to cross that finish line whenever the Lord plans for me to cross.  I feel like my role for now is to be committed to His Will and His Way. I want my life here and now to bring honor and glory to God until He calls me home.

Today I finished the last chapter of the book of Job. The entire book included significantly more lamenting and scolding than anything. After reading the beginning conversation between God and Satan – this book finished strong. Job realized that his perspective of God had been skewed by his suffering and pain. He repented of this before God. God asked Job to pray for his three friends. He did. Check this out…

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 

16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so Job died, an old man and full of years. (Job 42:10,16-17 NIV

I’m not sure how long Job suffered but his suffering didn’t last a lifetime for sure. I believe that much of my life here on earth is about perspective. Creator God didn’t create me only for this life. He created me for eternity. I believe that God created me to live here abundantly with His Spirit inside me so that as I move into eternity I will be in His Presence forever. He wired me for both life here and life there.

If I was half-way home at 43, then at 55 I’m getting close to being two thirds finished. I do realize that I could “go home” with the help of earthly tragedy or a debilitating disease. Any way it is sliced, I don’t leave earth alive unless the Lord returns to take all His children home. I don’t know when He’s coming or when I’m going – but I can be faithful and finish strong. I can love deeply like He does. I can be forgiving like He is. I can use the rest of my time here on earth to honor Him and build His Kingdom here to serve generations behind me. I must confess that I’d like to live a good long life as my children bring much joy to my heart and those grand babies are just grand! Whatever His plan for me – I want to finish strong.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Temporary & Eternal

 

john-3-16The older I get, the more I ponder how much longer do I have on this earth. I’m not trying to be negative or morbid, I just want to make my days count and not just count my days. I see people who are attacked with cancer or heart disease and the number of their days here on earth shrinks incredibly. I’m not trying to scare anyone including myself. I’m a bit of a realistic person and while I don’t feel bad, I realize that my life could end quickly in an accident as well. This life is a vapor according to the book of James…

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14 NIV)

As I read Job’s response to his “friends”, it dawned on me that Job is speaking in the here and now. He is not really looking forward to eternity. I guess if I didn’t have hope of eternal life after this life, it would be easy to get discouraged when suffering comes. Check this out…

3 Bear with me while I speak,

    and after I have spoken, mock on.

7 Why do the wicked live on,

    growing old and increasing in power?

8 They see their children established around them,

    their offspring before their eyes.

13 They spend their years in prosperity

    and go down to the grave in peace.[a]

14 Yet they say to God, “Leave us alone!

    We have no desire to know your ways.

15 Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him?

    What would we gain by praying to him?” (Job 21:3,7-8,13-15 NIV)

I don’t think I ever realized before that Job didn’t have insight into the offer of eternal life. It appears that he understood this life on earth to be all that there is. I would have a totally different view of my life today, if I felt that this is all there is. I would hope that I would be somewhat health conscious. I would look at funerals way differently too. I have believed in heaven and hell my whole life. I didn’t discover until the past few years, the value of the abundant life here on earth and how it folds right into eternal life with the Lord.

When I know Him, my life here looks way different.

When I know Him, my future in eternity looks ways different.

When I know Him, my today has hope and a promise all it’s own.

I can’t imagine pushing through the suffering that I’ve been through or that is possibly yet to come without Him. His Presence in my life now gives me perspective and insight that I need to keep moving. Today is another investment into the abundant life that leads to eternal life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Battle Strategy

 

battleI think it would be cool to have sat in on some of the strategies featuring General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. He was the Commander in Chief of The United States Central Command and the leader of all the coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War. I remember watching some of the news briefings when he would report to the American public what was going on in the war effort. He was very pointed in his descriptions of what took place and it was sometimes a bit comical. I found this famous briefing from General Schwarzkoph about the strategies used in Persian Gulf War.

King David was provoked into battle by the neighboring Ammonites and he anwered the call. The Ammonites recruited or hired the Aremeans to help them fight against Israel. David’s commanders were faced with an interesting situation. Check this out…

10 Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 11 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. 12 Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. 13 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.”

14 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 15 When the Ammonites realized that the Arameans were fleeing, they too fled before his brother Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab went back to Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 19:10-15 NIV)

I picture the fighters from Israel as quick and scrappy. However they did it, the evidently intimidated the Arameans and they fled which in turn lead the Ammonites to flee as well. Just like that, the battle was over.

I think sometimes when I face battles on several fronts, I’m not sure where to start first. The answer might just possibly be to find a way to fight both fronts at the same time. It seems like the Israelites where cornered and came out fighting fiercely.

I know that when I’m faced with seemingly impossible odds, I’m learning to trust the Lord for strength, knowledge and wisdom. I’m also looking to Him for help to win. The battles I face aren’t really mine since I’ve turned it all over to him anyway. I’ve even lost some battles, but I want to always keep my eyes on the war (aka the big picture or in spiritual terms- eternal life). I want the Lord by my side as I walk through the darkest of valleys or skip while on the mountaintop. My battle strategy is to trust Him as the Commander In Chief of my life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Proper Respect In Death

 

Child Holding a Parent's Folded American FlagI’ve seen death fairly close up. I’ve been to a lot of funerals over the years. The bodies I’ve seen have all been dressed nice and have make-up. I’ve been to funerals where the casket was closed for obvious reasons. I think I would have a hard time seeing a body that had been ravaged by war or even hurt in a car accident. I can hardly imagine the world of an EMT or Fireman who see death quite often and see bodies that were once alive and vibrant, now lifeless.

There will be a time coming when all bodies die. It sounds kind of depressing and it probably would be if I didn’t have hope of life after death. I was reading again this morning, the story of King Saul’s death. It is a story of defeat in battle. The Philistines wounded him and he had no hope of surviving in his mind, so he fell on his sword and died. Check this out…

8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon.

11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days. (1 Chronicles 10:8-12 NIV)

These men were very brave to risk their lives to give Saul and his sons the proper respect. I think the reason I believe in respect for the dead is because I know I will be there someday and I’d like to think my body will be treated with respect. I also can’t help but think that there was a healthy respect for Saul and his sons for the position he had held as king. He was there in battle fighting for the rights of the people he was leading.

I was reminded of a true story of a man in North Georgia who ran a cremation service. Instead of properly cremating the bodies entrusted to him, he put them on his land and they were in all stages of decomposition. It was a horrible story, especially for those who had loved ones that they thought had been handled properly. There were 339 bodies discovered that were not cremated properly. The owner of the crematory pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released just last month. The story is on Wikipedia found here.

Death is very much a part of life here on earth. I think we should show respect even in death. For the most part death is an unwelcomed visitor. Because of my faith in God, I believe that there is life beyond this life. I don’t believe that when I die, everything is over. I believe when I die, it’s a doorway to eternity. I have hope in God. I believe His promises are true. I believe that the Creator of Life has the power to provide eternal life. Until I die, I plan to show proper respect to the people who’ve gone on before and their bodies remain here. I have respect for people who properly handle the bodies after death. When I reflected on this story of Saul and his sons dying in battle together, I was thankful for the men who retrieved their bodies for proper respect and burial. It seems to me to be the right thing to do.

Pressing On!

Dwayne