Fearless & Faithful

 

Brave Courage Overcoming Fear Bravery Vs AfraidNo long ago I read a book called “Fearless” by Eric Blem about the courage and sacrifice of Navy Seal Team Six Operator Adam Brown. I could hardly put the book down as I went on the journey with Adam, his seal team and his family. It was courage on steroids. He epitomized fearless and faithful in a physical sense.

I believe that Christ followers are called to be fearless and faithful too. I should not live in a state of worry and fear wondering what will happen next. I should be faithful to seek the Lord’s heart and His will for me. I believe that I hear from Him through my journey in His Word. When I’m faithful to Him, He seems to remove my fears. I do often wonder as I get older how my life will end. I learned of the death of a friend in a car accident and death was instant. I’ve also watched as a friend suffered and battled for long tough road to death. I also wonder about how things are after you die. I know that scripture promises that God has that, but I don’t know of any eye witnesses who have come back and reported on that. Everyone who dies stays there. I have less of an anxious heart about that than in the past only because I’m learning daily to trust the Lord with the unknown as well as the known. Check this out…

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 CSB)

I’m not going to leap tall buildings in a single bound or become reckless with my life. I do want to live on purpose and balanced. I simply don’t want to allow fear to creep into my spirit and stress me out about what is coming. I trust the Lord that whatever happens, He will help me through. When I reflect on my journey – this has been the case every time. He has not left me alone at all. He was with me in the darkness of divorce, cancer fight with my son, harrowing near death experience of my youngest son – He is with me through storms of this life and He will be with me in the sunset years as well as my departure from this life. I’m fearless because I’m faithful.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. (1 John 4:18 CSB)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Profound Compliment

gold apple on a white plate isolated on white backgroundI do love a genuine compliment. It can lift my spirits and bless my soul deep within. I especially enjoy the ones that have been well thought out and are specific.  I’m not desperate for a compliment, but I do enjoy them and they often embarrass me. I’m humbled by compliments that are genuine and very specific. I try to hand out genuine compliments to others as well. They can be so encouraging and deeply appreciated.

Paul passes out a compliment to church at Thessalonica and it sounded like maybe I’d read it somewhere before. Check this out…

We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 CSB)

Faith produced work.

Love motivates labor.

Hope inspires endurance.

This passage reflects a very specific compliment. Paul noticed very specific traits. I thought about how he ended the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians… 13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 CSB)

I want my life to reflect these three characteristics today. I want to work because of my faith in God. I want to be constantly motivated by love (for God, family, others) as I labor. I want to constantly keep focused on the hope I have and feel that inspiration to never give up.

Love and respect motivates genuine compliments. My mom used to remind me that if I can’t say something nice about someone then I shouldn’t say anything at all about them. I think that’s a pretty good rule. I do believe that every human being has some good in them. It’s harder to find in some people, but it’s there. Over used and shallow compliments mean little, but a well-placed, thought-out compliment can bless someone for years to come. I’m still basking in the glow of compliments I received years ago.

A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings. (Proverbs 25:11 CSB)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Life Verse

My StoryI have learned to love many passages in scripture that really speak to my heart and encourage me in my life journey. When I was a junior in college at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University Tennessee), I began a student ministry in Crab Orchard Tennessee. It was a small church and my wife and I started meeting with the young people on Sunday afternoons. I really enjoyed this part of my weekend ministry and I was given the opportunity to start full time upon graduation at First Christian Church in Maryville, TN as their youth minister. I loved students and enjoyed hanging out with them and helping them grow in their faith. Somewhere along the way in my youth ministry I came across what became my life verse for my student ministry – I still am moved by this verse today. Check this out…

27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me. (Colossians 1:27-29 CSB)

I felt like my calling was to teach and counsel students to know who Jesus was and why He came to earth in the first place. Paul articulates that very well. I wanted students in my ministry to mature in Christ. I look back at my journey and realize just how immature I was back then. I sometimes wish I knew then what I know now about life and my journey with the Lord. He has been faithful with me even when I was unfaithful to Him. He has never given up on me even where there were times I had given up on Him.

I’m a bet more mature that I was back in 1982 – my first year in ministry. I was in ministry for 20 years before becoming a REALTOR in 2003. In this profession, I feel like my life verse hasn’t changed all that much. I want my faith to be obvious without even having to speak of it. I’m always happy to talk about my faith, but I would rather others notice my faith before I ever speak a word. I’m still praying for maturity. I’m still growing in my faith. I still enjoy teaching about Him and sharing from my journey with Him. I want to live my life for His call and His purpose for me. I feel like I’m right where He wants me to be. I still lean into Colossians 1:28 to keep me on purpose and on track!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Gains & Losses

Balance SheetI’ve learned over the years how to carefully read a balance sheet and look for gains and losses. I have also learned that the bottom line is sometimes not the bottom line. I have done some stupid things financially in my life, but I’m working hard to have learned from those colossal mistakes and never go there again.

When it comes to my faith, I’ve done some stupid as well. Even after I’ve known the Lord for many years, I still struggle with sin. I often wish I could turn back time and change some decisions that were losses in terms of my faith. I have since learned that I could NEVER have enough gains in my faith to earn anything. It’s because of the grace of God that I’ve saved – it’s not something I’ve done or can begin to do. He saved me from sin. He saves me from myself. Check this out…

But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9 CSB)

In God’s economy gains and losses are measured a much different way. When I give up, He rescues. My faith is the premium currency. His Grace overcomes my stupidity. He desires fro me to abandon my desires and pursue His desires for me.

To You, my eyes are lifting
To You, my prayer is rising up
You captured my attention
Consume me
God give me a heart abandoned
Ever after You alone
Gold and silver, You can take it

(Heart Abandoned – by Passion 2017)
Pressing On!

Dwayne

Guardrails

Road along the lakeIn Kentucky where I grew up, some of the roads had these white posts that we placed every 3 or 4 feet along the road and they served as posts to keep you on the road. You can imagine that they didn’t do much to contain a car that was a bit out of control. Later, the steel guardrails that we have today came along. These guardrails are tough, they are meant to keep a car that loses control from going into the ravine or over a cliff.

I was reading Galatians this morning and Paul was describing the law that was given as a guardian and I thought about the guardrails as a guardian of sorts. Over the years, I’ve needed some guardrails placed on each side of the road I was traveling. I see them as boundaries for protection as well as direction. I think the law did this. Paul is trying to introduce the work of Jesus who came and freed us from the law and introduced us to faith & grace. The law required works to be saved, Jesus only requires faith. Check this out…

23 Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.24 The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. 25 But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:23-26 CSB)

My faith serves as my “GPS” (Global Positioning Satellite or God Positioning Savior) and keeps me between the ditches and ravines. The Law instilled fear and faith introduces us to grace. I am a child of God, not because of what I did, but because of what Christ did. I am an heir to the promise of eternal life, not because of what I did, but because of what Christ did. I follow the Lord because He is my Lord. My life has been profoundly changed since surrendering to Him daily.

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan & Melissa Helser is really blessing me and reminds me not to fear the guardrails, but to walk daily with the Lord seeking His wisdom, guidance and direction for each step.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Excel

square grunge red no limits stampThis word carries with it the intent to surpass or do extremely well in whatever activity I’m involved with. It is part of the word “excellent” as well. I believe that those who give their very best end up excelling. In the sporting world, there are some sports where a gifted athlete combines his/her gifts with the discipline of preparation and they are crowned champion, whether it’s the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA championship, etc.…

Paul, in writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, puts a strong challenge out there for them to give to another church that has been struggling. Giving is one of the biggest blessings that I can do for others. Paul makes an incredible appeal to give that really challenged me even this morning. Check this out…

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving advice because it is profitable for you, who began last year not only to do something but also to want to do it. (2 Corinthians 8:7-10 CSB)

He approaches the subject of giving by linking it to grace. If I give from a grace-filled heart, my gift will be generous.

I believe my giving reflects my faith.

I believe my giving reflect His Grace in me.

I believe my giving reflects the genuineness of my love for God. Talk is cheap – obedience is expensive.

I believe my giving profits me with blessing upon blessing.

When I committed to being a giver, I became a receiver of the blessing.

I believe that the Lord wants me to excel in my love for Him. One of the ways I can express my love for Him is the discipline of giving. I give before I invest. I give before I spend. I give before I eat. I give to Him first – period.

I am never more like God than when I give….  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne