Wisdom

 

wisdom, stupidity road signI do want wisdom. I’ve become a veracious reader recently. I feel like I’m growing and learning. I love learning and growing. One of these days, I will become wise! I think wisdom is acquired by learning AND experience. I believe older people are often wise because of their experience. I have seen older, experienced people who make unwise decisions. I’ve also seek young people who are “wise beyond their years”. They are learning, growing and gathering data to avoid many of the pitfalls their peers are experiencing. Many wise young people have wise parents and other adults pouring into them.

I love the story of the wise men coming to seek out Jesus. They felt called or compelled to come see this baby king. They were not secretive about seeking Him. In fact, King Herod became interested too – obviously for different reasons than them. Check this out…

Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!”

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. (Matthew 2:7-12 NLT)

I think it would have been so cool to witness this visit from the wise men. These wise men were worshippers. They were gift givers too. Their posture reflected their heart. I would be wise to be a worshipper of the King. I would be wise for my posture before Him to reflect my heart. I would also be wise to be a gift giver too! He wants my heart before any of my gifts. He wants my obedience before any of my gifts. He wants to change my life from deep within. Worship is personal. Worship is intimate. Worship is genuine. There is great wisdom to be found in worshippers of God. People with a long-term relationship with the Lord have profound respect for all that He has done and is doing in their lives. They can’t keep from worshipping. They have such gratitude in their heart, they are compelled to worship. I can worship through giving. I can worship through a surrendered heart. I can worship through a song. I can worship through obedience. I can worship through work. I’m wise to worship the God Who gave me life!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Sacrificial Giving

Hand giving moneyI know what it is like to give. I learned to be a giver by watching my parents for years. I also remember being the recipient of others who were givers. I also learned a lot about giving from the Word of God. Jesus teaching about giving and what a blessing it is to give. Luke quotes Paul, who says it well in Acts 20:35 (NLT):

And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Giving is an opportunity to bless someone else. I love this time of year, as Christmas nears, so many people reach deep inside their hearts to give and bless other by their generosity. I especially love anonymous giving. The other person doesn’t know who gave, but I receive a blessing anyway because I didn’t give to get the credit. I gave to bless someone else.

Jesus was teaching His disciples about giving and he pointed out a real live situation where giving was sacrificial and generous. Check this out…

1While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:1-4 NLT)

I recently heard a descriptive phrase of giving that resonated with me. The phrase worth remembering is: equal sacrifice NOT equal giving. Our church just recently had an unbelievable response to a giving challenge. Our attendance is just over 1000 people. Our offering goal was half a million dollars! We were challenged with equal sacrifice NOT equal giving. We have people from every part of the socio-economic scale. We have very poor people and we have wealthy people who attend. Our offering came in around $525,000!! Jesus was teaching His disciple about equal sacrifice by observation of this widow who gave out of her poverty and struggle instead of giving from the surplus.

I’m learning that I can’t possibly out-give God. He gave His One and only Son so that we could have an abundant life here on earth as well as eternal life after this life. When I give, I’m being like God.  God is a giver and He calls me to be a giver. It’s not an “amount thing” – it’s about sacrifice and generosity.

Our wealth is relative. I know people who have way more money and material possessions than I have, but they are poor. I know people who have way less money and possession than me who are very rich. I believe giving can make me rich in spiritual values. God loves givers because He is the Ultimate Giver.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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