The Significance of Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love the solitude and quietness of the morning. I can hear the noises of a quiet home in the morning. I hear the furnace come on occasionally. I can hear the fridge come on some as well. There is something special about my time of solitude in the morning. I like to start my time of solitude after I’ve shaved, showered and made a pot of coffee. I start each day with reading some from the Word of God. I believe the scriptures speak truth into my life every day.  I do not consider myself a theologian at all. I’m just a regular guy who loves God and loves His Word. I find such deep pockets of my faith and incredible clarity for my life when I spend time alone with the Lord in His Word.

I love the fact that Jesus modeled this. He would occasionally slip away from the “noise” of His ministry for times of solitude and prayer.  This well-known event in Jesus’ life occurred after a time of solitude and prayer. Check this out…

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them,49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. (Mark 6:45-51a NLT)

Solitude and prayer work together to help prepare my heart and mind for the day ahead. I must admit that some days are tougher than others. I can often look back on my morning time of solitude in the middle of a busy and hectic day. I believe that solitude and prayer anchor my soul to The Word of God. I believe that the Words of Scripture contain wisdom and insight that is timeless and powerful. I find words of healing here. I find words of hope. I find depth of insight. I believe solitude combined with scripture and prayer are two very valuable ingredients to a peace-filled life. In the midst of a noisy and chaotic world, I can find peace because of my time of solitude and prayer each morning.

I’ve not tried walking on water or “leaping tall buildings in a single bound”.  I just know that I’m a stronger Christian because of my time of solitude and prayer in the morning. It’s not because I’m special, I simply seeking the Lord to lead me as I live out my life. Solitude gives focus and clarity to my life and helps keep thing in proper perspective. I also think the simple discipline of starting my day with the Lord has been a huge game changer for many years. I only wish I had started this daily discipline many years ago. I’m thankful for the Lord’s Powerful Presence in my life as I sit with Him to begin each day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Desperate Need

 

Beauty girl cryI have been afraid before. I do know what it is like to feel desperate. I also know what it’s like to be in desperate need. I must say that I’ve never missed a meal or had to go any length of time at all without food. I’ve never been without a home. I have truly been blessed many times over for many years. I still know what desperation feels like. There have been events happen in my life that I had very little or no control over. I know what it’s like to be desperate for the Lord to intervene and help.

Asaph, was the worship leader for David, I think. He is a musician so we know he’s probably certainly somewhat emotional. He writes with passion and purpose. I can feel in his writing a close and deep relationship with God. He approaches the Lord at a time of desperation. Check this out…

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
    for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:8-9 NIV)

Desperate needs can give us intense focus.

Desperate needs can give us incredibly humble hearts.

Desperate needs can drive us to fall at the feet of the Lord asking for His help.

I don’t like feeling desperate need. I’ve grown in my journey to know that the Lord is not desperate. He is not surprised by my situation or circumstances. He will help me. He will use my desperate need to reveal more of His heart and His purpose for my life. My desperate need is often a deep teachable moment for me and those close to me. He doesn’t waste moments of struggle, hardship or desperation – I learn much about God’s heart in the depths of desperate need. I was reminded of this promise that Paul writes to the Philippian church:

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Important Appointment

Making a planI do my best to schedule my appointments into my calendar every day. I have some standing appointments that happen every week. For example, I attend church every Sunday at the same time (except when I’m out of town) and I have Sales Meeting every Tuesday at 9 AM with my Metro West REALTOR family. I think it’s important to keep appointments. I also think it’s important to be prepared for impromptu appointments.

Esther was about to have an impromptu appointment with the king, which was pretty dangerous. The king’s right-hand-man had gotten the king to sign an edict to destroy all Jews from the entire Persian kingdom. It was going to happen on December 12. Only a very few people knew that Queen Esther was a Jew. Her uncle Mordecai, (who was like her Dad) asked her to go to the king and beg for their lives. He had to make his case because it had been over a month since the king had summoned her into his presence. Mordecai made it clear that this could be the very reason that God orchestrated her becoming queen. Check this out…

14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?’

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 ‘Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.’

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther’s instructions. (Esther 4:14-17 NIV)

I can hardly imagine the pressure that Esther must have felt. She could possibly survive this terrible event, but then again she might not. What if the king no longer loved her as his queen? She was fearful for sure, but she asked for help. I think it’s interesting that she asked all the Jews to fast for 3 days and 3 nights. Nothing is mentioned here about prayer, but I’m very confident that fervent prayer accompanied the fasting. I believe that some appointments are important enough to fast and pray over them. Fasting and praying provides incredible clarity and focus upon the Lord and pursuit of His Will and His Way. I certainly think it’s an excellent idea to pray over every appointment that I have throughout the day. I want the Lord to be well represented in all my appointments.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fast & Pray

 

Female hand refusing the fast food mealA friend of mine when on a fast for several days only drinking water and fruit juices. At the end of the fast, he had to slowly starting putting regular food into his body. I remember a conversation that we had during the fast and he spoke about clarity and how focused he was during that time. When fasting is talked about in The Word, it’s often referring to a discipline of abstaining from food for a period of time. The fast is often for a specific purpose like a big decision or a time of intense intercession.

As I was reading Ezra this morning I came across another purpose of fasting. Check this out…

21 There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions. 22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, ‘The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.’ 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. (Ezra 8:21-23 NIV)

Ezra used fasting and prayer to humble themselves before God and pray intensely for a safe journey to Jerusalem. A great way to humble myself is to fast and pray. My body will cry out for food, but I can abstain for a short while and really humble myself before God. I’ve noticed in The Word that prayer almost always accompanies fasting. I’ve often thought that one of the big reasons for fasting from food is so that I might use that time to pray and seek the Lord. I’ve not done this a lot over the years. I’m always blessed when I take time to use this discipline in my journey with the Lord.

I believe that fasting should be private for the most part. I don’t think it should be announced to everyone.

I believe that fasting can powerful when a group chooses to fast and pray together.

I believe fasting shows my body and my appetite who is in charge.

I believe that fasting is a humbly activity that is healthy for nearly everyone.

I think it’s healthy to fast from more than just food. I can take a break from just about any regular activity and spend the time normally allotted for that activity in prayer and study.

Fasting and prayer reminds me that my life is for His honor and glory and not my own. I want to know Him more and follow Him faithfully. I want to humbly obey Him and honor Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Steadfast

FOCUSEvery now and then I come across a word while reading The Word that we don’t use much today, but we probably should. I looked up this word “Steadfast” on dictionary.com and really liked all the definitions.

Steadfast:

  1. fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
  2. firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
  3. unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.

4. firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.

5. firmly fixed in place or position.

(www.dictionary.com)

This is one of those old words that we should start using again. This one little verse jumped out at me as I read a brief description of Jotham. He was 25 when he became king and he reined for 16 years. Check this out…

6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God. (2 Chronicles 27:6 NIV)

The most common synonym that I think of when I think of steadfast is “faithful”. The word steadfast has a really sense of focus that is really strong. There are areas of my life where I want to be extremely focused, faithful and steadfast. My walk with the Lord is woven throughout each of these areas/categories.

Personal Focus – my family take priority over everything else and everyone else. I am always available and accessible to my family.

Ministry Focus – my church family is very important part of my accountability structure and my faith journey. I enjoy serving the Lord by serving others.

Work Focus – my real estate family are very dear to my heart. We are there for each other to help serve our customers/clients real estate needs at the highest professional level.

Whatever is on my agenda today, it can never trump my priorities. I want to be steadfast and faithful in these three areas of my life. I’m a pretty simple man who wants to follow the Lord steadfast and focused and honor Him by serving others.

My personal mission statement: “It is my mission to serve others with the highest professional care and skill while upholding the highest of ethical and moral standards. My highest goal is to honor God in all I do and that includes serving you.”

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Pay Attention

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle SwitchI remember as a kid being told to pay attention. The people telling me this were my parents or my teachers. As a child it is pretty easy to be distracted by many things around. A child can be distracted by a shiny new toy or a butterfly and wander off of the playground. I remember my parents and teachers wanting me to look them squarely in the eye as they spoke to me so that they felt like I was really paying attention. I even fooled them on this occasionally.

As a grown up, I think I still have trouble paying attention. There are always “shiny objects” that catch my attention and divert my action. I’m over the butterflies, but there are so many things that have taken their place. It is important that I pay attention to the important instructions from the Lord. Check this out…

 17 This is what the Lord says –
    your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
‘I am the Lord your God,
    who teaches you what is best for you,
    who directs you in the way you should go.
18 If only you had paid attention to my commands,
    your peace would have been like a river,
    your well-being like the waves of the sea.
19 Your descendants would have been like the sand,
    your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be blotted out
    nor destroyed from before me.’ (Isaiah 48:17-19 NIV)

 

Paying close attention to the important items of my day really comes down to discipline. I must discipline myself to stay focused on the important tasks at hand. One of my “big distractors” are “urgent tasks” that come my way. If I’m not really careful the “urgent” can squeeze out the “important” tasks. I remember early on as I would start my day by checking my email or starting to work on something prior to spending time in the Word, the important (spending time in the Word) would get pushed down the agenda and often removed from the agenda all together. I want to keep the important things in the most important spots on my agenda. I will simply have to find the time to do the other “urgent” things. I don’t ever want to let the “noise of the activities of my day” crowd out the voice of God directing my important activities.

Pressing On!
Dwayne