Soul Exam

love heart riffle targetI’ve been to the doctor many times over the years. I now go twice a year for well-checks so that he can monitor my bloodwork, heart rate and my overall health. He advises healthy eating and exercise as a part of my daily life and routine. I hear him, but I don’t always take his advice. I really get frustrated with myself when I over-eat or sit still when I should exercise. I recently read a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and he made some points that have stirred me up a bit about a healthy start to each day. I decided several years ago to become a morning person and to start my day with reading and meditating upon God’s Word. I added gratitude to the Lord this past year and I’m trying to figure out some morning time for exercise.  In the Miracle Morning book, I was introduced to a new exercise app called Seven – 7 Minute Workout it helps get the blood pumping and the lungs working in 7:53 seconds because there is some 10 second rests between exercises.

The harder exercise is to examine my soul. The Word of God speaks into my soul each day. I like to use heart interchangeably with soul. His Word reminded me again this morning how important it is to examine my heart. He’s speaking about checking my heart before taking the Lord’s supper. He is reminding me that checking my heart regularly can avert being disciplined by the Lord. Check this out….

27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NLT)

A heart exam is a bit more private & personal.

A heart exam is a bit more intrusive.

A heart exam is a bit more difficult.

My wife, kids and personal friends know me pretty well. I try to be very open and approachable most anytime. The Lord is the One Who really knows my heart, my thoughts and my motives. I need to do my heart exam in His Presence. I need feedback from Him on my heart. I don’t want to gloss over my self-centeredness or my sinful desires. He knows me and He has freed me from the power of sin over me. Check this out…

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:5-11 NLT)

Bam!!

His death was a game changer to my life & I want to live in gratitude every day of my life for His obedience to death on the cross. I don’t ever want to forget that.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The New Me

 

Behind the maskMy family has enjoyed the movies “Despicable Me”. Despicable Me 3 is in theatres now. The word DESPICABLE means: deserving to be despised, or regarded with distaste, disgust, or disdain; contemptible. That is how I used to be. When I look at who I used to be and how I used to act – I was despicable – especially in the Lord’s eyes. He loved me when I was despicable. I love the book of Ephesians. Paul is writing to the church in Ephesus and he speaks clearly about how things should be. Check this out….

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth. (Ephesians 4:20-24 CSB)

My problem is that I revert to my despicable life rather than stay and live in this abundant, joy-filled life that He provides. He has changed me and the old Dwayne no longer lives – the new Dwayne is grace filled because I’ve received grace. The new Dwayne is forgiving because I’ve been forgiven. The new Dwayne loves deeply because I was loved first. I want to live and walk with the very Spirit of God over-flowing out of me. I want to not be quick to anger like the old despicable me.

I am confident that there are lots of despicable people in this world who need a new start – a new life. Jesus has changed every area of my life and I’ve forever different in a good way. I’m not longer living a despicable life (even though I stumble backwards some days) – I’m living with hope and a future that is incredible!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

In Remembrance

 

Taking CommunionI remember my grandparents all the time because they invested in me a lot as I was growing up. Along with my parents, I learned how to work and interact with others. My grandparents have all gone to be with the Lord, but their time here on earth is still remembered because of the impact they had on my life. I learned to play guitar watching my grandmother play. I learned the importance of reading the word and being kind to others watching my Mammie read her Bible each day. I think among of the horrible diseases is Alzheimer’s and Dementia. The loss of memory is heart breaking to those with a loved one suffering. I want to have a good memory of my journey with the Lord.  I don’t ever want to forget what it was like to be lost.

Paul recalls how the Lord wanted to be remembered. He didn’t ask for a statue or a building – He asked us to remember Him with the bread and the juice of the Lord’s supper (aka the Last Supper). Check this out…

23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 CSB)

I like to remember and recall the Lord’s love while He walked this earth. I like to think of the Grace that He delivered on the cross. I like to drink in His grace and speak out His praise. The bread and juice are taking to the inside of my body which I view as ingesting grace into my soul. I want to always remember how life was without Him. I want to remember how the law condemned and grace compels my heart.

I want to cultivate my memory of His love for me and give it away to others.

Remembrance by Matt Redman

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Grace

Man holding rock with bible verse John 8:7I absolutely love this word. I have come face to face with its meaning in my life. I am a recipient of huge amounts of grace over the years. I love receiving grace and I also try to give grace to others. I could make a list of the stupid things I’ve done that have been unkind and unchristian. I’m embarrassed when I think of some of the things I’ve done or said in my past. The Lord knows all of it and loves me anyway. He has washed my heart clean many times. My journey through the Psalms brought me to one of most eloquent passages of the Word. David is on a whole new level in his writing. As I read this Psalm, I realized that it is “dripping with Grace”. Check this out…

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14 NIV)

I can’t be more grateful for grace. I deserve punishment and even death, but I get abundant life and eternal life instead. I am humbled and thankful for the mercy of God. I’m thankful for the love of God. When I’m stupid, He is so patient. When I’m hard headed, He is soft-hearted. His love is beyond understanding and description. I’ve experienced His Grace first hand. I know of His love first hand. I have a healthy fear and reverence to the Lord God. He created me, yet He loves me and pursues a relationship with me. I have surrendered my life to this amazing love and amazing grace.  I want my life and lifestyle to speak of His Presence in me. I want to continue to be filled with His Grace and be a dispenser of His Grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Amazing Grace My Chains Are Gone

Discipline

 

Discipline is the bridge from WEAK to STRONG. Concept 3D illustration.I used to think of this word as punishment (aka – grounded or “the board of education applied to the ‘seat’ of understanding”). It wasn’t a positive word from my point of view. I now have an additional meaning to this word that speaks to regimen and behavior that develops skills and positive traits in my life. I still have a lot of room to grow in this area as I try to be more disciplined in the food choices I make and the volume of food I consume. It pains me to write about this because it’s a weakness that I’m working on. These two different meanings of the same word are very much related. The punishment that I received when I was “out of line” affected my behavior and taught me some boundaries. The daily disciplines I employ also reach a very similar destination.

Asaph was calling upon the Lord to punish (aka discipline) people who wanted to destroy Israel. He wanted the Lord to show up in power and show them Who they were dealing with. Check this out…

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:13-18 NIV)

I am reminded that the Lord has unmatched Power. He has unmatched Presence. His Patience with me is “over the top”. I deserve punishment, but I receive Grace. I’m thankful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I have been disciplined by the Lord, but I’m learning that self-discipline is much more proactive. (He helps me with that too!) I have done some stupid things in my life and the Lord has forgiven and restored me. I don’t ever want to forget His Love and His Grace. Because of His Love and Grace, I want His help with discipline in my life because the root word of discipline is disciple and that is exactly end goal – to be a life-long disciple of The Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Redeem

 

Clicking a redeem button, 3d renderI like this word, but it’s not a word that I use a lot every day. I occasionally have coupons to redeem that save me money on things I’m planning to purchase. Sometimes I might by something new and try it because I have a coupon to redeem that reduces the price. That word redeem means that something is exchanged or purchased by payoff as well. It is a significant word relative to my faith in God. I believe that The Lord has redeemed my life for condemnation and He has forgiven my past and made my future hopeful. He didn’t just redeem a coupon, He redeemed my life through His Son.

The sons of Korah penned some great psalms with a healthy perspective. They speak of redemption long before Jesus came. Check this out…

No one can redeem the life of another
    or give to God a ransom for them –
the ransom for a life is costly,
    no payment is ever enough –
so that they should live on forever
    and not see decay.

15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;
    he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:7-9, 15 NIV)

I don’t live or die as one without hope. I believe that God has redeemed my life from the lost place I was and He has put my feet on a new path that is eternal. This life on earth has an ending for all of us – but redeemed people have a new beginning that is life forever. That calms my soul when a good friend dies. That calms my soul as I think about my age and how many years I possibly have left on this earth. Redemption of my life is already in place because of what God has done, not because of who I am. All my hope is in Jesus – the Son of God.

I love this song by Crowder on his project called: American Prodigal.

All My Hope

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above 
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone 
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains 
But I’ve been freed and forgiven 
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same 
That’s why I sing

All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone 
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood 

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees 
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me 
What it means to be a man come on and sing

____________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne