Friendship

??????????????????Some of my closest friends I’ve known for years. We seem to pick up right where we left off when we get together. I can share anything and everything with them and they listen and give counsel where needed. They also give comfort where needed. They’ve also given financial support when needed. Friends are a huge blessing to my life for sure. I am blessed beyond my ability to repay the friends in my life. I remember my Mom telling me when I was a young boy: “if you want to find a good friend, be one.” I’m so thankful for friends near and far over the years. Some of our technology like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Facetime have made the world seem much smaller than it is. I’ve connected with people who were dear friends at different seasons in my life. I don’t have many “fair weather” friends. I’ve been in Carroll County, Georgia since early 1986 and I’m thankful for so many friends and neighbors near my home.

Paul speaks of his relationship with the people in Thessalonica and I can feel the joy that comes from his friendships there. Check this out…

We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

11 As you know, like a father with his own children, 12 we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to live worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:8,11-12 CSB)

Friendships are a “two-way street”. I can’t do all the taking nor can I do all the giving in a friendship. Some relationships develop into friendship, while others simply don’t go deeper. My journey with the Lord has gone deeper the longer I walk with Him and dig into His Word. My friendship with God can’t just be me taking all the time from Him and not investing as well. I used to use God anytime I got into trouble or life got hard. I didn’t realize the joy that comes from investing my life into Him as well as have His help growing as I grow older. I’m fully aware that He brings the “lions share” to our friendship, but He loves my contribution as well. I’m giving Him my heart each day and that’s really all He wants as He’s given me His heart as well. He is a FRIEND above all friends.  I simply can’t imagine my life without my friendship with the Lord and His Presence in me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Enemy

 

best friends or worst enemyThis is a strong word. I started really wrestling with this word during my reading of the Word this morning. I started trying to figure out who my enemies are. I looked up the definition first on dictionary.com. An enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” I probably have enemies that I don’t even know about. I really do try not to make enemies. I try to get along with others as far as it depends on me.  I’ve found myself over the years biting my tongue rather than speaking into the lives of others who I feel are doing something wrong or harmful to others. I’ve tried to amend that part of my life. I must be willing to hurt feelings and lose friendships over speaking the truth and defending the truth.  I don’t want enemies. I don’t seek out enemies.

Enemies can be subtle or overt. They can be public or private. Thinking about enemies has brought a bit of stress to my heart this morning. I can’t control who sees me as an enemy but I can control who I see as an enemy. Check this out…

The Lord says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV)

I can disagree without hatred.

I can debate without hatred.

I think what makes an enemy is hatred.

After observing one of the hardest and most hateful presidential elections in the history of our nation, we seem to have a lot of hatred in our country. The sharp divide in ideology is profound. I contend that we don’t have to hate just because we disagree. We must learn to debate and stay on the issues instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our behavior. Hatred is a devastating emotion that leaves destruction in its path. I don’t want enemies, but I probably have some. If a person comes to my door to try to harm my family, they will be perceived as an enemy and I am not afraid to use force to stop them no matter what. So, at that point they will certainly be an enemy.  It still hurts my heart to think of having enemies. I want to do my best to love others with the same love that the Lord has shown me. This life is not the end game – eternity is.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

P.S. If any person reading this sees me as their enemy, PLEASE, let’s have a conversation and remove hatred from the equation.

A Good Neighbor

 

Connected Families in NeighborhoodsI have great neighbors where I live and they are family as well. I also have great neighbors up and down the road where I live. When I look at the city where my office is located, I find great neighbors there as well. I had someone tell me years ago that to have great neighbors, I needed to be a great neighbor.

When I study scripture, I find that my neighbor is pretty much anyone. When Jesus told the story of the “Good Samaritan” in Luke 10:25-37, He was defining my neighbor as anyone, not just those living near me or working near me.

As Nehemiah leads the team that is rebuilding the temple and the wall around Jerusalem, he strategically has most everyone involved working on different parts of the wall as well as the city gates. Check this out…

31 Next to him, Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and the merchants, opposite the Inspection Gate, and as far as the room above the corner; 32 and between the room above the corner and the Sheep Gate the goldsmiths and merchants made repairs. (Nehemiah 3:31-32 NIV)

There were people doing woodwork and stone work who were really goldsmiths, shop owners and musicians. Everyone was helping everyone. This was definitely a project where neighbor was helping neighbor. There is energy and synergy that is created when neighbors work together. I recently spoke with a guy who went to the state of Louisiana to help some of the flood victims. There were people from all over the United States arriving to help flood victims find housing and to restore their damaged homes.

Our church recently did a series about “How To Neighbor” and we learned that there are multiple ways to be a good neighbor. We had a group visit the VA center, Nursing Home, Pregnancy Resource Center and Department of Family & Children Services to show support and care for people who are in all walks of life and in all sorts of different circumstances. I have a lot to learn about being a good neighbor to strangers in my life. I feel like I’m a pretty strong neighbor to those I know and like. I believe the Lord calls me to be a good neighbor to everyone.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Stages Of The Journey

Maturing personSometimes when I reflect back on my life’s journey I see different stages of my life. The things that I was working through in each of those stages look so different from this stage of my life than they did at the time I was in that particular stage. For example, when my first son was born…if I knew then what I know now. As I review these stages much can be gained by this reflection. It can bring a lot of joy to my heart, but here was also struggle that caused great pain.

Moses was instructed by God to record the stages of the journey of God’s people upon leaving Egypt. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the massive number because there were likely over 1 Million people in their group when they left Egypt. When they camped somewhere along the way, it was a big ordeal.  Moses records 41 camping stops in the 40+ years that they were nomadically traveling through the desert.  The people of Israel are at the threshold of the new land promised to them by God himself. Moses is instructed by God to give them some instructions for taking the land. This is a very important stage of the journey. Check this out…

50 On the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho the Lord said to Moses, 51 ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you cross the Jordan into Canaan, 52 drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places. 53 Take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given you the land to possess. 54 Distribute the land by lot, according to your clans. To a larger group give a larger inheritance, and to a smaller group a smaller one. Whatever falls to them by lot will be theirs. Distribute it according to your ancestral tribes. (Numbers 33:51-54 NIV)

As I reflect on my journey upon leaving home upon graduation from High School…

I went to what is now Johnson University in Knoxville, TN.

I married a young lady from Newnan, GA and lived in a Campus Apartment.

I began a weekend ministry near Crossville, TN.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Maryville, TN and lived there 2.5 years.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Whitesburg, GA and lived there 5 years.

I accepted the position of Youth Minister in Carrollton, GA and served for nearly 12 years full-time and 3 additional years part time. I went through a divorce while serving as youth minister in Carrollton – a dark and painful experience. I was held together emotionally by some dear friends whom I treasure to this day.  I also remarried during a couple of years later to my wife Tina and we celebrated 20 years this past May. It was my understanding that if I left Carroll County Georgia that I would have to give up custody of my children so I started a new career path as a REALTOR. I do feel that the Lord is present with me today 13 years later.

The Lord is coaching me along the path I’m on. In many ways, He is more real to me now than I can recall on other parts of the journey. I also believe that the many things I learned at different stages of my journey have built me into who I am today.  Nearly 5 years ago, we felt called by God to adopt an 11 year old boy from Nicaragua. This experience took me to a whole new level of understanding the heart of God.  

I’m simply a child of the Most High God who follows Jesus, husband to Tina, Dad to my kids and I strive to be the most professional, hard working REALTOR on the planet! I can hardly wait to see what this stage of life will look like when I’m looking back on it. I’m holding tight to the Lord’s hand through the rest of my stages in life! 

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Leader

Jesus writing with his fingerI’ve had the privilege of leading others pretty recent as well as for many years. In my first “career” I was a student pastor. I had the chance to lead a lot of students. I pointed them to The Lord Who is my Leader. I am humbled when I reflect on my journey and just how my Leader used me to lead. He did things through me that still blows my mind. He has said things through me that I can’t even recall, but spoke right to the heart of another and helped change the trajectory of their entire life. My Leader is the Lord Who made heaven and earth and created human beings in His likeness.

He spoke through the prophet Isaiah and really spoke into His people. He is always looking for people to follow Him. He does some of His best work through regular people who are willing to let Him lead. Check this out….

10 Make your battle plans! But you won’t succeed.
    Give your orders! But they won’t be carried out.
    That’s because God is with us.
11 The Lord put his powerful hand on me and spoke to me. He warned me not to live the way these people live.
17 I will wait for the Lord,
    who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob.
I will put my trust in him. (Isaiah 8:10-11;17 NIV)

 

I am under the authority of other leaders, but my Ultimate Leader is the Lord God. He decides if the other leaders are legitimate. He decides if the other leaders plans succeed or fail. He leads me as I lead my family. He leads me as I lead my company. He leads me as I live, breathe and anything else I do. My plans and ideas without Him are useless and worthless. He sees things I can’t see therefore I need His insight as I lead.

“I can do all thing through Christ Who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13 NIV) – I can do nothing without Him; I am nothing without Him.

He is my Leader.

He is my Friend.

He is my Confidant.

He is my Wise Counsel.

I will follow Him.

I will listen to Him.Jesus

I will walk in His Way.

My Leader will never let me down.

My Leader will never mis-lead me.

My Leader will never stop being my Leader.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Call

smart phoneIn my line of work, my phone is the most valuable tool I have. I actually have a very smart phone. (The phone is much smarter than it’s owner!) I can call all over the world. I do indeed gets lots of phone calls every day in my line of work as a REALTOR. I also talk a lot via texts and emails. The word call has many meanings in English. (This drives my son Luke crazy as He’s trying to master the English language.) Call means: 1 to cry out to someone go get their attention 2 to shout out steps to a dance 3 telephone 4 bring a witness into court 5 fix date for a meeting or conference 6 to guess the outcome of a game or an event.  That is a lot of definitions for one word.  I came across this word in my NIV Pictorial Bible that I read from in the mornings. There is a different word for “call” in other versions. Check this out…

1 Give praise to the Lord, call on [proclaim] his name;

    make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;

    tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;

    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
4 Look to the Lord and his strength;

    seek his face always. (Psalm 105:1-4 NIV)

 

I find myself calling on the name of the Lord quite often. I need His help in my daily existence. I need His help in my family. I need His help in my business. I need His help everywhere and in everything.

I will also talk about the Lord during the course of my day.  He has been with me for years. He’s been with me even when I wasn’t with Him.  I love that He is a Friend that is closer than even a sibling.  When I hear the song “You’ve Got A Friend” by James Taylor, I do think of my friendship with the Lord as well as good friends over the years and over the miles.

When you’re down and troubled and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.
 
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend.
 
If the sky above you should turn dark and full of clouds
and that old north wind should begin to blow,
keep your head together and call my name out loud.
Soon I will be knocking upon your door.
 
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I’ll be there.
 
Hey, ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend?
 People can be so cold. They’ll hurt you and desert you.
Well, they’ll take your soul if you let them,
oh yeah, but don’t you let them.
 
You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call,
Lord, I’ll be there, yeah, yeah,
you’ve got a friend. You’ve got a friend.

The really cool thing about a good friend is that you can pick up right where you left off in conversation. I have friends that I only see once a year or so and we pick up where we left off the year before.   I can pick up later this morning or later today with my conversation with the Lord. He is always with me!

Pressing On!
Dwayne