Pursuit

follow your heart words holding by businessman's handI sometimes think of this word in negative terms. For example, when a car with blue lights is in pursuit of my car, I know I’m about to get a “safe driving award” for exceeding the speed limit. I’ve not been pursued like this in a good while and I’m thankful. I also try to think of this word in a positive way – pursuing hopes and dreams. I still have those for my life. I want to be in daily pursuit of my goals and ambitions.

I came across a story in the book of John that reminded me of the word “pursuit” even though it’s not in the scripture. Check this out…

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. (John 21:4-9 NLT)

I was immediately reminded of the event found in Matthew 14 when the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the night and a storm came up and they were struggling to keep moving. Jesus came up walking on the water and it freaked them out. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he said, “Lord if its really you, tell me to come walking on the water.” Jesus said, “Come”. Peter did just that, he got out of the safety of the boat and headed toward Jesus. In this story, Peter gets out of the boat and leaves his responsibility with the net and the huge catch of fish behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Peter is portrayed as a passionate follower of Jesus. He was used by the Lord to be a great leader in the early church. He seems impulsive and unpredictable. He was predictable when it came to Jesus – He wanted to be with Jesus wherever He was.

This simple passage stirred my heart to stay in a passionate pursuit of God with my life. I must make my pursuit the highest priority of my life. My pursuit of God begins in my heart and then is shown in my behavior. If I reverse this, it doesn’t work well. I grew up trying to “show” my faith with my behavior, while my heart wasn’t in it. I’m still learning that behavior follows the heart. The heart doesn’t follow behavior – it simply tolerates it. If I want to be in genuine pursuit of God, it begins with heart change.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Follow In Faith

Follow The LeaderThere have been times that I’ve not known the right path. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky and we worshipped at a small country church called Roley Christian Church. The Preacher was a pillar in the community. I learned at an early age that I had to be careful about blindly following a preacher. I remember one time there was division in our small church – some didn’t like the Preacher and wanted him gone, while others thought he was a good man and was doing a good job. I can’t remember the details, but he ended up leaving. There were lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings.

After Solomon died and his son Rehoboam took over the kingdom, Jereboam rebelled and became King over the Northern Kingdom – all the tribes except Judah & Benjamin. So Solomon’s son was King of Judah (aka the Southern Kingdom). After things shook out a bit, the ways of Jereboam started showing through. People of faith realized they needed a change in location. Check this out…

13 The priests and Levites from all their districts throughout Israel sided with him. 14 The Levites even abandoned their pasturelands and property and came to Judah and Jerusalem, because Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them as priests of the Lord 15 when he appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goat and calf idols he had made. 16 Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the Lord, the God of their ancestors. 17 They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam son of Solomon three years, following the ways of David and Solomon during this time. (2 Chronicles 11:13-17 NIV)

I respect these people who left everything to pursue the heart of God. I believe they realized that persecution was on the horizon as well. I loved that one line: “…who set their hearts on seeking the Lord…” My faith in God may call me to follow Him to some different and difficult places. My faith in God is the guiding force that moves me and keeps me close to His heart.

As an adult, I’ve been part of a few churches and almost every one had some disagreements about all sorts of things. I think that leaders of churches often forget Who church belongs to. I decided a long time ago that I would follow Jesus. I will follow where He leads. I don’t have any intentions of following a Preacher/Pastor blindly. I also wont’ follow church leaders blindly. I will follow Jesus and Him alone. I will continue to pursue His heart through His Word. No matter what circumstances I find myself in, I want to be a follower of The Lord. One day my faith will become sight!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Either Or

JesusI face choices every day of my life. In fact there are many choices to be made throughout each day. Some choices I make early in the day affect the entire outcome of my day. Other choices seem insignificant, but those choices can have consequences for years to come.  I want to be a good “chooser” or decision maker. I want to make the right choice more often than I make the wrong choice.

I believe all of life hinges on one choice – to accept or reject Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Everything else in insignificant compared to that choice. Some choices are much bigger than others, but no other choice I face in life supersedes that one.  Check this out….

8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.
9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.
10 “If anyone is to go into captivity,

    into captivity they will go.

If anyone is to be killed with the sword,

    with the sword they will be killed.”
This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people. (Revelation 13:8-10 NIV)

I want to stay focused on following the Lord. I don’t any choice I make today to chip away at my first choice to follow Him. I want to be alert to the activity of the enemy and push him off. I want the ears of my heart to hear what the Lord wants me to hear. I want the windows of my soul (my eyes) to see His way and have the courage to walk in that. I want my feet to go where He leads. I think it comes down to either or. I am either following Jesus or I’m following the enemy. There is no in between.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Daily Surrender

Man praying with the BibleI remember becoming a Christian in 3rd grade. I was old enough to know that I wanted to be a fireman before that. After accepting Jesus and being baptized, I wanted to become a minister.  I felt like that is what God wanted me to be. He did a lot of shaping of my heart and life over the years. When I graduated High School, I set off to Bible College not sure about this whole ministry thing. It was at the end of my freshman year at what is now Johnson University Tennessee that I developed a “faith of my own”.  I had been living off the faith of my parents. I realized that I believed in God no matter what others believed. He became real to me that day. I still remember where I was and what I was doing.  Every since that day, my journey has been up and down. There have been deep, dark struggles with sin. There have been lots of painful moments. The Lord has never left me alone or forsaken me even though I felt like I had left Him at times.

As I read about Jesus journey with His disciples and He begins preparing them for His impending death, I can’t help but think back to where my journey with Him began.  He speaks to them about daily surrender and daily commitment. Check this out…

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

I was reminded this morning that following Jesus is a daily choice. Today, I choose to follow Him.

Following Him will involve lots of challenges.

Following Him will require surrender.

Following Him will require sacrifice.

Following Him will require faith.

Jesus is the Author, Provider, Protector and Point Person of my faith. He is faithful even when I’m unfaithful. He is kind, even when I’m hateful. He is present, even when I’m absent. I am committed to following Him every day for the rest of my life. I want to follow Him closely. I will follow Him even when I’ve stumbled and He’s now further away – I will follow.

The daily choice I have made to follow Jesus has turned into years of following Him. I’m so grateful for His Presence and His Promises to never leave me. I surrender again today to His Will and His Way.

Pressing On!
Dwayne