Believe Me

john-3-16I grew up at a very young age believing in God. I did rebel and I was unsure for a short season about what I believed. I remember the time and place when my faith became my own. I have since given away my faith to others. In 1982 when I first became a minister, I started sharing my faith. As a student pastor, I gave away my faith to others and hopefully encouraged them to look carefully at the Gospel. I have no idea how many people heard me speak about my faith in God. I have no idea how many people read this little blog and have learned about my faith. I’m so thankful for the grace and mercy extended to me and the peace that comes from knowing God, I can’t help but share my faith with others.

Jesus has just spoken to the Samaritan woman at the well. He blew her mind talking about living water and He told her that He was the Messiah. She went back and told her friends and they came to hear Him. It was cool to see what her friends said. Check this out…

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world. (John 4:39-42 NLT)

I enjoy reading the Word of God as He continually reveals Truth in the pages of Scripture.

I also believe that the Spirit of God is speaking through Scripture and through prompting in my life. I believe that this life is preparatory for eternal life. I wish everyone I shared my faith with believed, but I’m confident that they don’t. I’m going to start asking people to at least explore getting to know God. I want others to believe because they now have experienced God up close and personal.

I believe God is so patient and kind. He is the Ultimate GRACE GIVER. He has watched me do stupid things and wander away, but He has welcomed me home again and again. I’ve been the prodigal son. I’ve been the son who stayed home. I’ve been blessed to live a good life sharing my faith. I’m so thankful that the more I know Him the deeper my love for Him grows. He could have punished me, but instead, He gives me grace. If you won’t believe Him because of me, please start reading the gospel of John and get to know Jesus for yourself.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Own It

 

Praying ManOne of my pet peeves is when someone is responsible for something and it goes badly and they look for others to blame instead of “owning it”. Taking responsibility is sometimes hard, but it’s a sign of maturity. The blame game is easy and the rules are very relaxed – just find someone else to place blame for the issue instead of the person who should own it. For example, if I get pulled over for speeding and I was speeding, it’s not my truck’s fault or the officer’s fault for doing his/her job – it’s on me for driving over the posted speed limit.

I believe that taking responsibility or “owning it” is a sign of humility. It is me admitting that I messed up and I will take responsibility for my behavior. Confession is good for my soul. Check this out…

 If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 CSB)

The Lord knows me fully. He knows everything I think. He knows everything I say. He knows everything I do. He knows when I lay down and He knows when I get up. He knows what I’m doing next. He knows what I did in October of 1969 even though I might not remember. He knows all there is to know about me, yet He forgives me and chooses not to remember my sin. I am profoundly grateful for His grace that compels Him to forgive and forget. I have much more to gain by confessing my sin than by denying my sin. I think it’s good to own it as soon as I’m aware of it. His grace is enough to forgive the biggest sin and He removes it from me. I may still have some consequences to pay, but the debt to the Lord has already been paid. When I own my sin, His death covers it in the present tense.

I’m grateful for this arrangement, because without His grace, I’d be doomed to hell many times over.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Goal #1: LOVE

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI must admit that we throw this word love around a bit too much and we have, in some ways, cheapened it a bit. I can be heard saying that “I love” certain foods. “I love” playing on the water. I love God. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my family and friends. I love the people closest to me deeper than those that I barely know. Relationships are incredibly helpful to me and to every human. I believe that we were wired by our Creator to love and be loved.

The Apostle Paul is giving instruction to his young protégé, Timothy regarding teaching in the church. It is simple, yet foundational to the gospel. Check this out…

 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 CSB)

Paul tells Timothy that love is the goal of instruction, but it is also the main goal of the church. Paul speaks plainly to the church at Rome about love. Check this out…

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 CSB)

Paul also writes a whole chapter on love to the church at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 13 – known as the Love Chapter)

I am still learning to love deeper and more profoundly. My wife and I have been married over 22 years and my love for her is deeper and stronger than way back then. Love grows stronger with commitment and practice.

The goal of my life is love. I want to love the Lord with all my heart. The more I know Him, the more I understand that He calls me to love like He loves. His love is reckless & lavish. His love is overflowing with forgiveness and grace. His love is all-consuming. I lose myself in His love and I start looking and acting like Him.  My goal today is to learn to love others like the Lord first loved me. I want my words and actions to be saturated with love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Faith & Love

Colorful typographic motivational poster to raise faith in yourself and your strength. The series of business concepts on a textured background of an old love. VectorOn the outside the situation is often much different than it appears. I’ve seen people smile during great pain and struggle. I’ve seen others love in the face of hatred. I’m learning that things are not always as they seem. Some of the nicest people can turn on a dime and be extremely hateful and rude. Love cuts a wide swath through life. Love can disarm anger and soften hatred. Love is a decision not just a feeling. I must choose to respond to hatred and rudeness in love. I will tell you that this is much easier said than done. Love is much more than emotion, although it is intertwined with my emotions.

Paul in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica starts off with praise for the growth of their faith and love. Faith and love are a powerful tandem force for growth. Check this out…

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3 CSB)

I take my faith and love seriously. I believe that these are two character traits are a direct reflection to my relationship with the Lord. Faith and Love are like muscles – they develop with use. Without exercising faith and love they will atrophy.  Because of my faith in God is growing, my love for others is expanding. I’m learning to love as He loves and this is challenging. He loves people who are hard to love. He loves people who hate. He loves people who are self-centered. He loves all people and He can separate their sinful behavior from their soul. It takes great faith for me to see beyond the interaction and behavior that I experience to see under the surface. The Lord sees all of that

Faith and love are powerful tools in helping me become more like the Lord. I’m learning to trust Him without exception and to love without boundaries because of His love for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Behavior

 

john-3-16I learned many years ago the difference between good behavior and bad behavior. I was taught as a child the difference between right & wrong. I’m sure I “pushed the envelope” many times with my parents and others in authority over me. I know I that my behavior was bad at times because I was there. I’m thankful that for a gentle loss of memory in this case so that all of those times I behaved badly don’t’ come rushing back in to haunt me. There are people I know who have big time regrets with their behavior. I believe what Paul says in Romans that “all have sinned and fallen short of glory of God”. Everyone I know (including me) has misbehaved. I’m profoundly grateful for grace. My behavior should reflect what I believe in my heart, but that is certainly not always the case.

Paul takes behavior a step farther – He says you should remove the people who are boasting and flaunting their evil while calling themselves Christ followers. His analogy makes perfect sense. Check this out….

Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little leaven leavens the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new unleavened batch, as indeed you are. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with old leaven or with the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 CSB)

I was taught years ago that I could be “guilty by association” if I hang out with friends who are misbehaving. My reputation could be tarnished. Paul is speaking of “hanging out” with bad people who are calling themselves Christians, but they are known for all sorts of sin and unrepentant behavior. The Lord forgives sin. His Grace covers sin. If I repent of a sin and continue in that sin – I’m not repentant at all. Paul is calling out people who are openly sinful and still being part of the church. He is instructing the church to remove such a person from the fellowship. If every person who sins is removed from the church, there would be no church. Paul is targeting the people who are arrogant and boastful about their sin and not repentant at all. The church is a hospital of broken and sinful people who are seeking restoration and forgiveness from the Savior of our souls. It is about accountability and grace. The church is to be protected of malice and evil. We are to cultivate relationships of honesty & truth seasoned with a lot of grace!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Amazing Law

legal gavel, scales and law bookI’ve never heard anyone say, “Amazing Law”. No one ever talks about the law the way we speak of grace. Every person on the planet has received grace from someone. The Person Who defines Grace is God. He has forgiven sins that are profoundly harmful to my heart and others. He’s forgiven murderers, liars, adulterers, thieves and the list could go on and on. His Grace is complete. His Grace is very thorough. His Grace is like a “hard reset” on my computer or my phone. God chooses that kind of memory with His Grace. When I really put my head to His Grace, it is ridiculous, lavish and “mind blowing”.  I deserve punishment, I deserve death, but instead I get promoted!

Romans 6 is packed with some amazing details about my new life in Christ. I came across one short verse yesterday and today while reading and it stopped me in my tracks. Check this out…

14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:12 CSB)

I am no longer a slave to sin.

I am free to live for the Lord.

I am no longer guilty under the law, I am under grace.

As a recipient of grace, I’m also called to dispense grace. I see people every day who need grace. I see people who have never known grace. I see people who’ve received grace but then they are selfish with it – like it’s theirs to be selfish with. Grace is God’s gift NOT mine. I get the privilege of delivering God’s Grace to others. It’s better than delivering lavish gifts that someone else paid for, but the recipient of those gifts think I’m responsible

God’s Grace is hard to describe.

God’s Grace is hard to define.

God’s Grace is NOT hard to accept.

I’m so thankful to live under His Grace. I’ve failed miserably trying to be a rule keeper under the law. Now that I know Grace, I want to honor the One Who delivered me from the law. I’m a better follower of God because of Grace NOT the rule keeping.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound

That saved a sinner (aka wretch) like me.

______________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne