Faithful Follower

Man praying with the BibleI grew up knowing about the Lord from my parents and grandparents. I was introduced to the scriptures at a young age. My family went to church twice on Sunday and also on Wednesday for mid-week Bible Study. I lived off the faith of my parents and grandparents for several years. I remember when I realized that some of the church traditions that I held were challenged. I went to a Bible College in East Tennessee and there were people there from all over the world. Some of the traditions that I held on to were not found in scripture. The traditions were from people who were following Jesus. After a while, the traditions were taught as truth from God’s Word. I have a lot of opinions about all sorts of things that are being taught as truth, but the Word of God is enough to raise of the people of God. The traditions were never intended to be impediments to the truth, but that is what they have become.  Many religions have multiple traditions as well as churches today. I want to have a strong relationship with God – if that makes me “religious”, I don’t mind. I don’t want to be religious just for the sake of being good. I want to faithfully follow Creator God and learn more and more of His heart through the study of His Word and being committed to a church filled with fellow followers.

On more than one occasion, Jesus challenged the “religion leaders” and “teachers of the law”. They believed that the Messiah was coming, but this is a colossal case of missing the point. They not only didn’t believe Him, they killed Him.  Check out this encounter with them…

28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. (Matthew 21:28-32 NLT)

While I grew up in church, I’m thankful that the Lord has been patient with me as I discovered Him and heard His call upon my heart. I’ve learned more about His heart simply by reading the Word every day and asking Him to speak into my heart. If I can have time to eat, I have time for His Word. If I have time to watch a television show, I have time for His Word. Over the years of spending time in His Word, I really miss my time with Him, if I miss even one day. I believe He’s drawn me nearer His heart as I’ve searched the Word for His heart. I want to be a faithful follower of God all the days of my life. I want to be obedient to His call upon my life and upon my heart even today. I don’t want to ever get so bogged down with doing things for Him that I skip my time just being with Him in His Word listening to Him speak into my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wise Mentoring

 

Mentoring Concept.Mentoring is a word that I’ve noticed a lot in business. Mentors are considered wise and trusted counselors or teachers. Mentors have gone ahead of others and are happy to share the path to their success or accomplishment. Mentors do not have to know the people they mentor. For example, Zig Ziglar mentored me through his writings and his speeches. He spoke truth with such passion that I couldn’t help but take it in. Most recently, I’m being mentored by Jim Rohn, a philosopher/teacher and “self-help” guru. We have access to many mentors in our world today thanks to the internet and books. I also seek to be mentored by the Apostle Paul who wrote most the New Testament scripture. The scripture has another name for mentoring – discipleship. Paul’s letters to Timothy are great examples of discipleship/mentoring. Check this out….

22 Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. 23 But reject foolish and ignorant disputes, because you know that they breed quarrels. 24 The Lord’s servant must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, 25 instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance leading them to the knowledge of the truth. 26 Then they may come to their senses and escape the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:22-26 CSB)

I think discipleship and mentoring are similar but different. Mentoring seems a bit more philosophical while discipleship seems to be practical. Discipleship is a concept from scripture that is displayed in the life of Jesus himself. He invests three years in a discipleship/mentor role with 12 men that He chose. His impact on the world was lived out in those relationships. I would suggest that all the events surrounding Judas departure and subsequent death were used in teaching and mentoring the remaining 11.

I think the discipleship/mentoring relationship can be narrowed down to three important characteristics:

  1. Generosity – the leader who chooses to disciple/mentor must be generous with their time to those they are investing in. They need to be accessible.
  2. Honesty – this is a not necessarily a “feel good” relationship. I’m not a fan of “participation trophy’s”. A mentor must be honest and speak the truth – not with a hateful spirit, but of genuine concern to see growth.
  3. Discretion – there must be a level of confidentiality and trust to be completely real, vulnerable and honest in the mentor/discipleship relationship. There is not one perfect and without out struggle, we often just manage those things differently.

I’m reading some great books that are mentoring me in life and business. I’m also ready the Word of God daily to become a more devoted disciple of Jesus. I want to help others to know the things I’ve tried that didn’t work. I want to keep growing deeper in my faith with wisdom and discernment as I get older and even more experienced in life. I love Paul’s counsel to Timothy about fleeing youthful passions and run from disputes and quarrels. I want to be a steady, faithful disciple of The Lord who teaches with my life and not just my words.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Follwership/Leadership

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingYesterday was a special day for me and my journey with the Lord.  I started serving as a young pastor in 1982 at a small church in Crab Orchard, Tennessee while a student at Johnson University. I served there a little over a year before accepting a position as youth minister in Maryville Tennessee. I spent the next 20 years as a staff member in ministry the bulk of my time in Carroll County, GA. I have been privileged to serve at Southern Hills for the past 10 years in different capacities. Yesterday I was ordained to serve as an Elder at Southern Hills. I believe church leadership to be a calling from the Lord. I feel like I’m serving the Lord in this capacity, because it’s HIS church. Just this morning (timing) I read a passage in 1 Timothy that speaks to this position. Check this out…

1This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB)

When the Lord is leading me, I feel confident and competent to lead others. I have multiple degrees and diplomas from “University of Hard Knocks”. I have lots of experience with failure and bad decisions. I’ve learned things that simply don’t work. Some of what I’ve learned is from observing others. Leading in any area of life or work is also about following. There is much to be learned from the people who came before us and the person or persons we are ultimately answering too. I am standing on the shoulders of some amazing men and women of faith who poured into me as a youngster, even as a grown man. I’m humbled and thankful as I reflect on my journey with the Lord at this point. I will continue to be a follower of the Lord who leads. I think the sequence is important.  I want to live my life with a heart abandoned to the King of my heart. I want to seek Him above wealth, fame or any other “success measurement tool” we can use.  To God be honor and glory in me and through me for all my days.

Heart Abandoned by Kristian Stanfill

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Go First

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingThere are times when leaders have to break new ground and be the first to step into uncharted territory. The people following often trust the leader enough to go with them into the unknown. When I come upon a scary situation and my family is with me – I always go first. I can also do that as a leader in the church where I serve or the industry that I work in. Leadership can sometimes be fearful and even lonely, but leaders lead with courage and boldness.

Nehemiah and the leaders of Jerusalem were deciding who was going to stay in Jerusalem now that the walls were rebuilt and the temple rebuilt. There were plenty of enemies on all sides who wanted to undo what they had just completed. Check this out…

1 Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem. The rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten of them to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns. 2 The people commended all who volunteered to live in Jerusalem. (Nehemiah 11:1-2 NIV)

I commend our leaders who aren’t afraid to lead. I’m not always in agreement with where they lead, but they are our leaders. I’m thankful to live in a government by the people and for the people. The people who are our leaders are not without imperfections like the rest of us. I do think that leaders have a lot of pressure to gather information and make decisions according to the info gathered. I also see leaders who form laws and regulations that change our lives on a daily basis. These are often good laws that protect us. There are occasions though when “it seemed like a good idea at the time” and mistakes are made. I think a good sign of a leader is to own it and move on. I do believe all leaders are to be held accountable for choices that they make. This accountability makes for better leaders.

I like to see myself as a leader who first follows the Lord. I’m not afraid of breaking new ground as long as the Lord is leading me and directing my steps. If I’m walking in step with the Lord, then I’m never alone in leading.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bold Following

 

Follow The LeaderI haven’t played “Follow The Leader” in quite some time. I used to play it with the children in kids church many years ago. There is a great lesson in that simple little game. We often played it under the guise of “Simon Says”. The idea was to only do what the leader says after he says, “Simon says….” It’s a fun game and if the leader is really barking orders quickly, it can be stressful and hard to follow.

The Lord had given Nehemiah a pretty big project to complete. The Lord provided resources through the King of Persia and the Lord provided protection and counsel to Nehemiah as he was leading. The enemies of Nehemiah were threatening him telling him that they heard that he was going to be king of Judah and that they were reporting this to the King of Persia. Nehemiah rebutted them multiple times. Check this out…

8 I sent him this reply: ‘Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.’

9 They were all trying to frighten us, thinking, ‘Their hands will get too weak for the work, and it will not be completed.’

But I prayed, ‘Now strengthen my hands.’

15 So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. 16 When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (Nehemiah 6:8-9; 15-16 NIV)

I loved Nehemiah’s confidence in the Lord. He prayed that the Lord would “strengthen his hands”. That is a confident and bold prayer. He wasn’t backing up or backing down. Nehemiah kept his eyes on the “big ball” – getting the wall completed and the gates installed so that the city would be secured from many outside threats. The Lord was with Nehemiah because he was faithful to the work the Lord had called him too.

I want to be bold in following the Lord. I know it might not appear popular, but I do believe it always the right thing for me to do. If I will spend time with the Lord, He will speak into my heart the next moves I need to make. I’d rather be unpopular, picked on and put down but still be following the Lord’s lead than to be popular and well known. I want my confidence to be in the “unseen Presence” of God. I want to be an obedient, faithful & bold follower God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Courageous

Courage Vs. Fear Bowling Ball Strike Pins BraveryThis word is a derivative of the word courage which is “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.” There are many examples in our world today of people who are very courageous. I believe to be a first responder; you have to have great courage. I also believe to serve in the military; courage is a fundamental “must have”. When fighting against cancer, great courage is really important. I feel like my courage has grown significantly over the years as I walk out my faith in the Lord. He has inspired me profoundly. He has spoken great truth into my life. He has walked with me through valleys that were very deep and dark. His Presence in me has made me courageous.

I love the story of Micaiah when he was asked to address King Ahab of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah and give them counsel from the Lord before fighting against Ramoth Gilead. He was one of at least 400 other prophets who was asked to give the kings counsel. Check this out…

11 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

12 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

13 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what my God says.” (2 Chronicles 18:11-13 NIV)

I would love to meet this guy Micaiah. He was courageous and stood strong on the truth that came from the Lord. He was unpopular but he was correct. It turned out that Ahab did die in the fight against Rahab Gilead just as Micaiah had predicted. It takes great courage to “go against the flow”, but when it’s the right thing to do there is no other option for a courageous Christian. I thought about the movie Courageous where four men protected the citizens from harm, but it was even more courageous of them to raise their families to know the Lord.

The title song has solid content about what it means to be courageous. There were some lines from this song that spoke to my heart. Casting Crowns is the artist performing the song here.

…….The only way we’ll ever stand

Is on our knees with lifted hands

Make us courageous

Lord, make us courageous

 

This is our resolution

Our answer to the call

We will love our wives and children

We refuse to let them fall

 

We will reignite the passion

That we buried deep inside

May the watchers become warriors

Let the men of God arise…

I want to be a courageous follower of God. I want to live by the truth and values found in the Word of God. I want to follow Him even when it’s unpopular or I’m in the minority. I want the courage inside my heart to continue to grow as I choose to follow Him again today.

Pressing On!

Dwayne