Accept & Reject

make a choice street sign illustration designThese two words seem to be polar opposites. Unfortunately, they go together quite often. I’m a guilty party in this too. For example, I accept the laws of the land, and I obey most of them. There are some that I accept, but then reject by how I live. I’m aware of the speed laws and speed zones, but I sometimes ignore them for the sake of my schedule. It is wrong, and I have won my fair share of “safe driving awards” because of it. One of my sons was pulled over the other evening and reminded by the nice policeman that the stop sign was not a suggestion. My son also reminded me of a speeding ticket that I received when he was with me. I saw the blue lights coming in my rearview mirror as I was turning onto a side road and I said, “Looks like he’s after someone.” About that time, he turned on the same road and I remarked, “I think he has got me!” (My son still thinks that is a funny story!)

Paul writes to the Corinth church speaking truth into them and encouraging them in their faith journey. He said something that jumped off the page and into my lap this morning. Check this out…

1As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore itFor God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NLT)

I have been guilty of accepting God’s gift of kindness, grace and forgiveness, only to ignore it later. I often know the right thing to do, but I don’t do it. I think my willful disobedience breaks the Lord’s heart. I have so much to be thankful to Him for. I owe Him my very life. Yet I will still ignore His tug on my heart. This passage called me to repentance. I am convicted of my sin of ignoring His Spirit leading me to ALWAYS do the right thing. If I listen to His Spirit in me, I will walk every day in acceptance of His Will and obedience to His Way. I’m so grateful for His patience with me as I figure this out. I continue to receive His Grace instead of the punitive punishment that I deserve. I do think I’m closer to Him today than I was yesterday – there is progress for sure. I want to cultivate my acceptance of His direction, His plans and His call upon my life. It’s pretty simple, yet incredibly difficult.

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

Strong Temptations

quarreled couple in their living roomI believe everyone who ever lived on the earth was tempted. I’m thankful that temptation is not sin or I would be more of a mess than I already am. Temptations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My wife & I are trying to eat healthy and trim up a bit. There are always beautiful cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, candy bars and a myriad of other options around. It takes great inner resolve to refuse to eat them. The argument that I have with myself is that one bite won’t kill me, but then again, it will set me back. I remember hearing a guy tell me once that if I even lick the dust off of a Dorito then I’m going backward. I think he was exaggerating a bit, but he did make a point. There are lots of other temptations like cheating on my taxes, cheating on an exam or cheating on my wife. I believe the way to defeat temptation is to make my mind up ahead of time. Since I know the temptations will be there, I can decide how I’m going to handle it. If I’m going to a nice dinner, I can safely assume that there will be some sort of amazing dessert. I wish dealing with temptation were as simple as I’m making it sound. I came across these few verses from the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth and it made me stop and think. Check this out…

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT)

I think the key to temptation is to recognize it and call it what it is. The enemy likes to pose as something good, safe and healthy. But I must know that he sugar-coats destructive behavior and sin. He never comes directly at me, he’s way to slick for that. I have asked the Lord many times to reveal the motives and the tricks of the enemy to me. I’ve asked the Lord to give me inner strength when I know I’m going to be tempted. I’m not going to say I’m strong every time, but the Spirit of God in me gives me grit and great strength.

There are times when I fail the test or I yield to temptation. It is there I find grace and mercy to heal my wounded soul and hurting heart. I hate letting the Lord down. I don’t sin so that I can find grace. I’m sickened by the thought of my failures and shortcomings. But I’m so profoundly grateful that His Grace found me. I will never be good enough to earn forgiveness. My thoughts, my actions and my failure to act often break His heart, but He really is transforming my mind one thought at a time. I am vulnerable before Him. I’m humble before Him. I realize that without Him, I’m a washed-up mess. With Him in charge of my heart, I can lead, love and serve even in the face of temptation. I wish someone had told me about His Amazing Grace many years ago. I once was lost but now I’m found.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

United

Aerial View of Multiethnic People Forming Circle and GlobeThis word is the first part of the name of our country – United States. “United” means to have a common interest and agreement. Our country is made up of 50 states that are one country united together by our love for freedoms and self-government. There is much strength when we unite together. It often seems like we are a polarized nation these days instead of a united nation. I believe that we must lay down our hate and celebrate our differences. I’m not going to get all political, but it seems that we’ve lost a lot of respect for one another. If I disagree with someone or they disagree with me, I shouldn’t hate them.

In our churches, there is strife and disagreement. The different denominations of the evangelical church agree on 97% of teaching from scripture, but we tend to focus on our disagreements rather than celebrate together the part of our teaching that is the same. I believe that the church is stronger when we stand together in the name of our founder – Jesus Christ. We must seek to make Him famous in our world. We do that best in unity. Check this out…

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:10,30-31 NLT)

I am who I am because of Who He is and what He has done in me. He changed my heart many years ago. He’s still changing my heart and growing me to look and act more like Him. I have my moments when I get off tract and off purpose, but He welcomes me back. I am a recipient of large doses of grace over the years and I’m learning to be a dispenser of grace. The fact that we ALL need grace should definitely unite us. I don’t know a single follower of Jesus who doesn’t need grace. In fact, if there is one who thinks they don’t need grace, the very arrogance screams out their need for it. If we keep our pride in check, we can certainly be unified. It’s when we think we know more than others (pride) that we tend to pounce on our differences. We need to unify to lift up Jesus and make Him known instead of making ourselves known. Where there is humility in each of us, there is unity with all of us. When we realize our need for Him, we can come together in fellowship with one another in His Name.

Humility unites us.

Grace unites us.

Gratitude unites us.

Forgiveness unites us.

Serving unites us.

Loving unites us

Jesus unites us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mountain Mover

BulldozerI’ve always thought I had strong measure of faith – until I come across someone who has more faith than me. I remember when my daughter was small, she would say: “Daddy, is it going to snow tonight?” I would say “No – it’s way too warm for snow”. She would then reply: “But God can make it happen!” At that point, the discussion was over. Yes – God can make it snow. In fact, God can do anything He wishes. Her child-like faith would trump my “grown-up” knowledge and understanding.

Jesus was nearing his trial, crucifixion & death. He was near Jerusalem finishing up His ministry. He gave some practical example of strong faith and I just can’t relate. Check this out…

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “Have faith in God. 23 I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart.24 I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:22-25 NLT)

I think I have faith until I read this. I often wonder was He talking about literally speaking to the mountain and asking it to move, or was he speaking symbolically or figuratively. The only way I know to move a mountain is with “Mighty Machines” like a Bull Dozer!

He adds one more piece of instruction about praying with deep faith – forgiveness. I learned several years ago that forgiveness was a personal gift to me. Restoration of a relationship was done to me.  It’s fairly simple – Faith combined with Forgiveness calls upon the power of God to do ANYTHING! This really blows my mind. I don’t have this much faith yet but I’m sure improving in the forgiveness area. I do want to have “mountain mover” type faith for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Throw A Homecoming Party

Gsummer sunset
Gsummer sunset

I love a good party, especially when there is a cool theme to it. I enjoy a good Super Bowl party even when I don’t care much about the big game. I enjoy being with friends, hanging out and celebrating just about any occasion. I love a good homecoming party for sure. Homecoming parties are great because relationships are reconnected in a fun atmosphere.

Jesus told a story that reveals the heart of God toward lost people and His idea of a part for a homecoming.  He tells the story of a man who had two sons, the younger son goes to Dad and asked for his inheritance early. He is ready to get out of the house and be on his own. His dad does as he is asked and gives his son his half of his wealth. The son goes away to a distant land and squanders his money on wild living. He is broke, and now a famine hits the area he’s in. He gets a job feeding pigs and is so hungry that their food looks good to him. He comes to his senses and decides that at home, even the hired hands have food and shelter. He decides he will go home and become a hired hand. The story takes a turn that shows the heart of the boys Dad, whom I see as representing God. Check this out…

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:20-24 NLT)

I love the fact that the Dad was waiting and longing for his son to return. When I became a Dad, I learned more about God’s heart than ever before. God is a loving Parent/Father Who longs for relationship with His kids – us. He loves it when we spend time with Him. (I love it when my kids want to spend time with me.) He loves random conversation with His kids. (I love random phone calls or face time calls with my kids and the grand kids.) The Lord is connected to His kids and He will patiently wait for them to figure it all out. The Fathers love is not logical, but it’s very real and genuine.

I’m so thankful for the example that the Lord gives to me as a Dad. I want to love like He loves. I want to forgive like He forgives. I want to serve like He served. I want to party with my family and celebrate each one of them!

Pressing On!

Dwayne