On Guard

security guardI’ve entered into situations that I wasn’t sure was safe. I’ve been to homes trying to show where there was a dog, that was “friendly” and wouldn’t bite – I was on guard. I’ve been with people who appear harmless, but something just “felt weird” so I was on guard. I see being “on guard” as a preparatory phase prior to “fight or flight”. On guard means my awareness is the highest alert stage.

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth in his first letter to be on guard regarding attacks on their faith. Check this out….

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

This is a simple couple of verses that packs a powerful punch. I think he is reminding the church to be on guard against assaults on their faith. I think he is reminding them that they will battle fear. He is also reminding them to lean into the strength and Presence of the very Spirit of God. He wraps a bow on it as he says, “do everything with love”.

When I read this I felt encouraged, inspired and motivated. My faith must be proactive. I can’t be passive. I have to be aware that I have an enemy and he wants to steal, kill and destroy my faith. He wants me to cower in fear. He wants me to “wimp out” instead of lead on. He wants to fill me with hatred, jealousy and envy. I have to be keenly aware and on guard as the enemy uses many approaches to come at me. It’s like I need an alarm system that trips when the enemy makes a move on me.

I believe that the Word of God prepares me to be on guard. I’m reminded in His Word that the enemy is real. I’m reminded of his schemes and his tricks. I’m equipped with the powerful Word of God that equips me daily.

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

Encourage, Inspire & Motivate

 

Diverse group of people learning and studing together.

I have been a follower of the Lord since 3rd grade, if I was 7 years old, then I’m coming up on 50 years of walking with the Lord at some level.  I grew up in a home where going to church wasn’t an option. I remember hearing the stories of Jesus and how He loved others. I also remember hearing about our enemy, the devil and how he wanted to get me to do bad things and follow him straight to hell. I must admit that I was more afraid of going to hell than really understanding God’s love for me. I followed the Lord out of fear of hell. That fear didn’t stop me from still doing stupid things. I am thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I tried things that were fun at the time, but the consequences could have ruined my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly came face to face with grace. I had heard that word, but not nearly as much as I heard about all the things I must do right. Grace doesn’t give me permission to do wrong, but grace does give me second chances for sure. Grace finds me and makes things right with the Lord. Just the fact that I now understand grace has been a huge win for me. I can’t remember the preacher, author or teacher who explained that to me, but I’m sure thankful I now understand. I don’t walk around guilty and hopeless. I now live my life with hope and confident in the Spirit of God.

I believe that prophesy, according to the Apostle Paul is simply to speak as the Spirit leads regarding my life with the Lord. I believe God’s Word is true and with His help, I’m living according to His Word. Out of my journey, I can share words of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. I don’t write this to promote me, I write this to promote the peace that I have in Him. I think that there are misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding prophesy in our churches today. Prophesy is from the Word of God and the very Spirit of God, not from a human being. Prophesy is truth spoken through a human as directed by the Spirit of God. It should not be super mystical, in my view. It should be super clear and understandable. Check this out….

1Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people. (1 Corinthians 14:1,32-33 NLT)

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I’m not trying to get into a “church argument” or a “doctrinal dispute” with anyone. I’m not trying to mislead in any way. I think I and others have often made knowing the Lord appear that we are in a different class. I want to humbly live out my faith and encourage others to come along with me. I will “prophesy” about sin and call it out in my life and in others as the Spirit of God leads. If you’re reading these words and you haven’t surrendered your life to the Lord fully – I pray that you seriously consider this sort of change. Instead of me being in charge of my life, I’m giving that over to my Creator. He leads me to live for Him. He leads me to serve others on His behalf. He leads to me to speak on His behalf. It’s not some fancy, “hoity toity” calling. It’s simply speaking truth in love. He does the encouraging, inspiring & motivating through me.

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

From Fear To Faith

Frightened and stressed young business womanI’m not generally a fearful person. I know what it’s like to be afraid. I’ve never had my life threatened by another individual. I have almost been in some bad automobile accidents. I have been in storms where I was somewhat afraid. As the leader of my household, I always try to appear confident and unafraid. I remember one particular evening a couple of years ago when we were camping by the lake and a fierce storm came across the lake. There was high winds, rain, hail and lightening. Our camper is a 5th wheel so it’s strong and heavy. We had a tree limb fall on the top of the camper and another fall through the awning. I wasn’t paralyzed by fear, but I was sure nervous. The storm seemed to come out of nowhere.

Jesus taught His disciples in depth after the crowds had gone. He would further explain His teachings and the parables that He used. One particular evening, He and His disciples were going by boat to the other side of the lake when a strong storm came upon them. The waves were huge and the winds were loud. Check this out…

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!” (Mark 4:38-41 NLT)

I love this passage in the life of Jesus and His disciples. I can relate to being afraid of a storm. The storms are a part of our climate and the world we live in – that was created by God. I’ve never rebuked a storm. I have prayed for safety in the storm. I have prayed for the Lord to calm the storm.  Today we have the technology via radar to see the storm coming. Meteorologists can measure the storm. They can predict with amazing accuracy, the timing of a storm and the different characteristics of the storm. Meteorologist don’t make the storm and can’t stop the storm. When I’m talking to the Lord about the storm, I’m talking to the One Who is over the storm.

In my life, I’ve had plenty of storms. I don’t always navigate them with great faith. I’ve learned that the storms of my life are a lot like the storm that scared the disciples. I need to talk to the One Who can calm the storm with His word. I need His help calming my spirit in the midst of the storm. My faith has grown through my fears over the years, because He has used my fear as a teachable moment. My fear can result in faith when I give it to the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Simple Instructions

 

Following the Lord is not complicated at all – it’s really simple. Please note that I didn’t say it’s easy. It really comes down to trust and simple obedience. He calls me to do things that I wouldn’t normally do if my heart is selfish and hard. He has changed my heart over the years and I think differently and act differently.

I was reading in Revelation and it sometimes feels like I’m reading a sequel of The Avengers! My brother John is seeing and hearing some crazy stuff – stuff he’s never seen or heard anything like before. If I were to see and hear what he’s experiencing, I would probably make reference to the Avengers or some other sci-fi movie. It sure sounds surreal in his descriptions. I was reading about the proclamation of the first angel of three and the instructions to the people on earth are amazingly simple. Check this out…

Then I saw another angel flying high overhead, with the eternal gospel to announce to the inhabitants of the earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He spoke with a loud voice: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6-7 CSB)

Fear the Lord and give Him glory. That’s simple as can be. He made everything we see. Nothing that I can put my hands on is completely man made – it all comes from some resource that the Lord made. Man can’t make something out of nothing. I believe that when John writes that we are to fear the Lord, he’s speaking of a healthy reverence & respect. After walking with the Lord over the years, I’m not afraid of Him, but I profoundly respect and revere Him – there is a difference.

As I walk through today and seek to live out my faith, I want the joy of knowing the Lord to give me strength, direction and purpose. I want to live out the gospel from the inside out. I want to give Him glory with my life – which includes my thoughts, words and actions. This is worship – the activities of my life give honor to the One Who created me. That’s about as simple as I know how to say it.

Pressing On!

Dwayne