King

 

PrinceI don’t always understand royalty. I could probably get used to it, if I were made a king. In most cultures and countries, the king comes from a whole lineage of kings or royalty. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around what it might be like to be a king. I think in some ways it would be cool, but it other ways it would be annoying. I could never simply go to my favorite restaurant without an entourage. I think I would love the “high-end” living that came with it, but not the inconvenience of fame and fortune.

I was reading this morning about Jesus’ arrest and “mock trial” before the Jews. He is then taken to Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus if He’s a king. Check this out…

36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”

37 Pilate said, “So you are a king?”

Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” (John 18:36-37 NLT)

Jesus is definitely a King. He is a different type of King. He doesn’t want the castle, the royalty, the wealth, the fame that comes from being a King. He is of the royal lineage of King David. The fact that He’s the Son of God, trumps any other characteristic of any type of king. He walked the streets teaching about God’s love and mercy. He had no house to call His castle. He didn’t wear fancy clothing. It is really obvious that He was different than what we know kings to be.

Jesus calmly explains to Pilate, the Roman governor, that His Kingdom is not in competition with the Roman government or any other government. He came to bring salvation to the world. He came to introduce access to Creator God. He came to introduce the Truth about God and His Kingdom. God’s Kingdom had been so distorted from what it looked like years before. We humans tend to amend things and “tweak” things to the way we like and it often changes something that is pivotal to the Word of God.

Jesus is King of my heart.

Jesus taught humility.

Jesus taught serving.

Jesus taught giving.

Jesus taught forgiving.

Jesus taught truth.

Jesus became King of my heart because of Who He is and the message that He brought to the world. He is the One & Only Son of God. He willingly went to the cross and became the Ultimate sacrifice for sin. He became King differently than any other king. He is the King who I’ve committed to following all the rest of my days. I want to live, serve, give and forgive like the King of all Kings.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Human Effort

 

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborI believe in hard work. I may not be the most “connected guy” in the room, but I will work harder and longer to get the job done. I was raised on a farm in Kentucky. Recently, I was asked what my first job was. I put down that I was a “farm hand” for my Grandpa. I remember loading hay bales onto the wagon and then taking them to barn. I remember lots of hard labor getting the crops in as well. I was taught at an early age the value of hard work.

In God’s economy, physical labor doesn’t count the same. The Lord is more concerned with my heart than my “work ethic”. He does call me to action, but the action is NOT what saves me. I wish I had learned this growing up. The only action required on my part is surrender of my heart. My will is surrendered to His Will. This felt weird the first time I really wrestled with the concept. Check this out…

63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:63-64; 66-69 NLT)

These are the words of Jesus himself. Human effort accomplishes nothing. He has done the work for salvation when He surrendered to the cross for the ultimate and final sacrifice needed for sin. I do not work FOR my salvation, but I do work OUT my salvation. He doesn’t save me so that I can sit. He saved me so that I can serve. Serving is giving to others. Serving is loving God by giving to others. My human effort doesn’t save me, but it can serve Him by loving and serving others.

I serve at the pleasure of the Lord. He has called me. He has saved me. He compels me to love and served just like He loves and serves. Serving the in the Kingdom of God still starts with the Spirit of God in me before any human effort comes into play.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Co-Worker With Truth

four hands isolated on whiteOver the years, I’ve been part of teams, staffs, ministries, partnerships & missions. I remember collecting old pairs of glasses for people in Africa who didn’t have access to glasses. The missionary there was trying to help them with something as simple as seeing and being able to read. I’ve partnered with mission teams to build wells so that a community could have something as basic as fresh water available. When I participate in those types of “fund raisers”, I realize just how blessed I am to have opportunity and access to so many resources that make my life easier.

John was writing to one of his good friends in the church. He was commending him for his hospitality and generosity. Check this out…

Dear friend, you are acting faithfully in whatever you do for the brothers and sisters, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love before the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such people so that we can be coworkers with the truth. (3 John 1:5-8 CSB)

It dawned on me this morning that when I help a missionary with resources for his or her ministry, I became a co-worker with the truth. I was in fact a partner with their hands-on ministry taking place half-way around the world. This can be significant. I can be generous and affect change in people’s lives that I will never meet. I can be the hands and feet of Jesus from right here where I live.

I am thankful that my path crossed paths with Michael & Lisa Perkins over 8 years ago. They are missionaries in Nicaragua. They sold their restaurant and walked away from their “normal” American life in Oregon around 12 years ago to accept God’s call upon their live to serve Him and share the Gospel in Nicaragua. I got to know them well as they began serving us as we pursued adoption process spearheaded by our Pastor Shannon Lovelady and his wife Natasha. The journey had so many obstacles, twists and turns and Michael and Lisa prayed with us and connected us to the right people in Nicaragua. In just over 1 year from when the first conversation happened about adopting 5 kids from Nicaragua, four families from our church came home with the five kids. We are forever connected and co-workers with The Mustard Seed Mission in Managua, Nicaragua! This passage reminded me that I’m a co-worker with them in the truth!

I’m so thankful that the Lord is writing a new chapter for the restaurant that they sold in Oregon many years ago, it was called The Mustard Seed Café. That is the name of the new restaurant here in Carrollton, GA that will be at City Station. Their mission in Nicaragua will continue as we broaden our relationship with Mustard Seed Missions and Mustard Seed Café. The Lord has really expanded the whole concept of “Co-Workers with the Truth”!

I want to encourage every believer who reads these words to become a Co-Worker with Truth. Get involved with a bible teaching church. Get involved with bible teaching missionaries. It is very fulfilling to think about serving and giving to people you will possibly never meet in the name of Jesus. Who knows, maybe we’ll meet them in heaven one day – How cool would that be?

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Motivated Giving

 

Give 3d Words Background Generosity and ContributionA few years back in the rear view mirror my giving to the church had “fallen off”. I realize that it was a direct result of my income shrinking during the recession. As my income increased, my giving increase. I was taught as a kid to give 10% of my income. It’s easier to give when the income is small. I look at it as a principal that I’ve grown into. I now see giving as an act of worship. Thanks to technology, I can give from my phone after the deposit in my account has been made.

Giving is about way more than money. I believe giving is also about my time and resources. I can serve others with my time and energy by investing in them. Paul’s teaching to the church in Corinth was very strong and I the principle he’s speaking of is the truth. Check this out…

The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 CSB)

My giving has become a huge blessing to me. This is not intended to be a boast, because I’m not sharing amounts of giving, but I do want it to be an inspirational testimony – giving has blessed me deep within my heart. The physician, Luke, who penned the gospel Luke and the book of Acts gives a quote from Jesus that is very strong. Check this out…

In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35 CSB)

I been getting lots of counsel about growing my income and building a financial fortress. The same people who are counseling me have also shown me by example that they are givers. They are wise and discerning in their giving, but they believe in the principle of the harvest. I remember hearing a pastor say, if you can’t give on a margin of 10%, then start with 5% or 3% – start somewhere. I believe that giving should be the first thing I do with my money when I receive it. If I give the Lord the “left-overs”, I don’t feel the blessing. I like giving to Him first and then watch what He does with the balance that I have.

I work to provide for my family first and foremost.  I also work so that I can give of my time, talent and resources. I’m still growing in my giving and the Lord is still directing my generosity. I could never “out-give” God. He gave first. He loved me first. He saved me. He is the reason I give and He is the reason I live. I’m a highly motivated giver because God gave first.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Excel

square grunge red no limits stampThis word carries with it the intent to surpass or do extremely well in whatever activity I’m involved with. It is part of the word “excellent” as well. I believe that those who give their very best end up excelling. In the sporting world, there are some sports where a gifted athlete combines his/her gifts with the discipline of preparation and they are crowned champion, whether it’s the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA championship, etc.…

Paul, in writing his second letter to the church at Corinth, puts a strong challenge out there for them to give to another church that has been struggling. Giving is one of the biggest blessings that I can do for others. Paul makes an incredible appeal to give that really challenged me even this morning. Check this out…

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving advice because it is profitable for you, who began last year not only to do something but also to want to do it. (2 Corinthians 8:7-10 CSB)

He approaches the subject of giving by linking it to grace. If I give from a grace-filled heart, my gift will be generous.

I believe my giving reflects my faith.

I believe my giving reflect His Grace in me.

I believe my giving reflects the genuineness of my love for God. Talk is cheap – obedience is expensive.

I believe my giving profits me with blessing upon blessing.

When I committed to being a giver, I became a receiver of the blessing.

I believe that the Lord wants me to excel in my love for Him. One of the ways I can express my love for Him is the discipline of giving. I give before I invest. I give before I spend. I give before I eat. I give to Him first – period.

I am never more like God than when I give….  16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Pleasure

short noteI want to give a shout out to Chick Fil A (especially to the one in Carrollton, GA) for their excellent service when I go to their restaurant to grab a bite to eat. The people who run the registers and the people who greet you at the drive thru all have a good attitude about serving. Every time I say, “Thank You” upon them delivering service, they always respond “My Pleasure”. I am aware that they are trained to say that, but it sure does sound good. It sounds like they are there to give me a good experience in their restaurant. If one of the workers is called upon to clean up a spill and is thanked, he/she will say, “my pleasure”.  I think we all have the choice to serve others or to serve ourselves.

I’ve learned a lot about serving over the years. Zig Ziglar says that “if you help enough people get what they want, then you will get what you want”.  I believe that the gospel is the answer to what the world needs and often wants. When tragedy strikes or suffering happens, we need hope – the gospel offers hope. When we experience joy, we look to celebrate with others – the Lord celebrates the great moments in our lives as well as walks with us in the darkest times too.

The Apostle Paul was called to preach the gospel. He accepted that call from Jesus and traveled all over teaching and preaching. Paul wanted the church to know that He will do anything to help people know the gospel of Jesus Christ. Check this out…

19 Although I am free from all and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.

22 To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. 23 Now I do all this because of the gospel, so that I may share in the blessings.

24 Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. 25 Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-25 CSB)

I want to be known as someone who serves. I don’t want to be known as a self-centered person who only looks out for myself. I want to look out for the needs and concerns of others. I realize that some will take offense and try to twist my motives or my actions, but the Lord knows my heart. I’m here to serve at His call. It is His call upon my life that calls for service to others. It is His call upon my life that sometimes requires me to stand down and not defend myself. It is His call upon my life that calls me to serve people who are hateful, selfish and full of themselves. I am learning to say, “my pleasure” because He’s called me to serve others with a cheerful spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne