The Fight Within

 

devil angelI remember the cartoons when I was a kid that depicted the devil with a red body and a pitch-forked tail sitting on one shoulder whispering in my ear. He’s coaching me to do bad stuff. Then, on the other shoulder is an angel trying to coach me to do the right thing. I remember thinking this was “cute” when I was young. As I aged and grew in wisdom, I can see some truth in that. The enemy has never relaxed at pushing me. He is constantly pulling and trying to coach me into areas of weakness of my flesh. As I read God’s Word and lean into Him for wisdom and strength to live out my faith, the fight within keeps going. In Romans 7, Paul, the Apostle addressed this very battle and in fact, he verifies the inward fight. Check this out…

18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. (Romans 7:18-20 CSB)

There is always a fight with my flesh brewing somewhere in my life. My fight can be traced back to pride. I must constantly beat down pride so that The Lord can do some good work inside my soul. Pride is like the fuel that fuels my fleshly desires of lust, greed and notoriety. When the Spirit can win the battle for my heart, I become humble, grateful and generous. I have been approaching the Word of God differently because I believe The Word is a huge help in putting pride in its place and allowing the Spirit of God to shine through me. I want the Spirit of God to direct my flesh in proper choices and ideas. I want the Spirit of God to win today’s battles. I’ve read the end of the book and I know Who wins in the end. I want to finish my life strong with the Spirit of God clearly keeping my flesh in check.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bad Looks Good

 

Blue woman eye macro shotI have been attracted to bad things many times over the years. Bad things come in all shapes, colors and sizes. Bad things can come from bad people or good people. It is often hard to discern if something is bad or good early on. I need to keep my boundaries clearly in site and in place. The Lord provides me with excellent discernment if I will listen to His Spirit in me.

David penned an excellent passage about boundaries and choosing good over bad. Check this out…

I will sing of your love and justice;
    to you, Lord, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
    when will you come to me?

I will conduct the affairs of my house
    with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
    on anything that is vile.

I hate what faithless people do;
    I will have no part in it.
The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
    I will have nothing to do with what is evil. (Psalm 101:1-4 NIV)

I was taught growing up that you are known by the people you hang out with. I’ve even said that to my kids because in the eyes of authorities, if you’re hanging out with kids who are breaking the law, then you must be participating in that too. It is not easy taking the road less traveled when others are on the superspeedway of self-destruction. I must keep my hearts eyes focused on following the Lord and listening to His direction for my life. He makes me wise beyond my years. He makes me effective beyond my experience. He gives me insight that often only years of experience could compete with.

I want to walk in the Light of His Word and His calling upon my life. I want to choose good over bad; light over darkness every day that I live. Bad looks good, but then looks can be deceiving. I must look beyond good looks or appearances to what really matters. I remember my Mom telling me that “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone!”

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Ultimate Reward

 

reward stamp. sign. sealI’ve been to award shows and certainly watched my share on television. They are some good people who win and there are some people who are really “out there” and lost but they win. I’ve also seen good people make it big and become incredibly successful and wealthy, but I’ve also seen some bad people who are successful and rich as well. There are those whom it seems that everything they touch turns to gold.  I’ve decided that I’m not going to participate in any sort of “rat race” or “gold rush”. I am, however, going to show up to work each day with the Lord leading my life. I’m going to serve as many people as I can in the real estate world or simply in life. I have a busy schedule, but the Lord leads as I navigate my day. I have the same number of hours in my day as anyone else. I want to use my time as wisely as possible. I can’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others are doing or not doing, I need to stay focused on my work.

King David had a lot of drama in his life over the years. I feel confident that he relied on the Lord to help him keep his priorities in the right place. He was pursued by the wicked often because he was the King. He made some statements in this psalm that are very bold, but also somewhat comforting to recall. The imagery is a bit much for me in the middle of this passage. Check this out…

Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
    whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away,c
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
    when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
    “Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
    surely there is a God who judges the earth.” (Psalm 58:9-11 NIV)

I believe that the righteous win in the end. I believe the righteous win because of Who we serve. I don’t believe the righteous are successful because of what they are doing or have done. I believe they are righteous because of what God is doing or has done. I can’t work like I work without Him. I can’t serve like I serve without Him. I believe the number one character trait of the righteous is humility. The righteous are nothing without Him, but with Him their confidence can soar and rightly so.

I heard recently that “the days go by slow and the years go by fast” – I’m starting to grasp or understand that. My daily choices end up defining my life’s journey. I think the battles are often won or lost in the small daily choices that I’m faced with.

I’m encouraged to know that the Lord never leaves me or lets me go. He is faithful and present even when I’m successful or I fail miserably. He is the Ultimate Pursuit of my life and He holds the Ultimate Reward. I want to follow Him all the days of my life as I pursue a life of significance.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Good Good Father

IMG_3104 IMG_3768I grew up in a home where my Mom and Dad loved each of us dearly. Dad was the main breadwinner, but my Mom also worked outside the home. I sometimes look back and wonder how they provided for five kids on their incomes. We never felt poor, but as far as many other were concerned we didn’t have much. My parents weren’t perfect, but then neither were any of us kids. I am so very thankful that my parents introduced me to the Lord. My parents served in church as song leader and Sunday school teacher respectively.

As I’ve grown up and continued to follow the Lord, I’m learning more and more about the character and attributes of my Father God. Moses was the leader of Israel and he was the mouthpiece of God giving detailed instructions to the people. The Lord wanted His people to respect Him and follow His instructions and live within the boundaries that He provided. His rules and regulations were for their protection and provision much like my parents rules as I was growing up. Check this out…

31 ‘Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. 32 Do not profane my holy name, for I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord, who made you holy 33 and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord.’ (Leviticus 22:31-33 NIV)

My sweet daughter introduced me to this cool song that is getting some airplay on Christian radio and it gives proper perspective about Who God is and who I am. It’s called “Good Good Father” by Housefires.

Most recently we welcomed out newest grandbaby (Owen) into the world. He joins his sweet cousin (Gwinnie) who came into the world 5 months and 1 day earlier. These beautiful babies and their connection blow me away to me. A special day occurred the day after Owen arrived when both my sons, their sweet wives and their children were in the room at the same time. I was blessed to see my two oldest sons as Dad’s in their own right. I was so thankful and moved by their love for their children. I realized that one of the major joys of being a grand parents is seeing my kids in this new role as a parent.

Our Father in heaven showed us how to love like only He can love. I remember my view of God and my heart expanding when I became a parent and now I’m seeing my heart and my view of God expanding again as I’m able to dote over my grandchildren and see my children become parents. Our love is so very deep and expansive for family and God is the One Who created this love and this deep connection.

He is such a Good Good Father and I’m loved by Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Separate

businessman making decisionThis word, like many words in the English vocabulary has different but similar meaning when used as an adjective or a verb. Separate means things that are apart and not joined together. It also means make things come apart or stay apart from one another. There are lots of things that are joined together that don’t mix well and sometimes they separate themselves. For example, oil and water. These two elements can’t mix. The teachers in school sometimes separate the boys from the girls. They also might separate the “trouble makers” from the “good students”. A really troubling part of American history is when we as a culture separated people because of the color of their skin. Separation is not always bad and it’s not always good.

As Moses continued giving the Israelites the rules and boundaries handed down by God, He makes it clear that there is a separation between clean and unclean. This was not to be confused with sin. Being unclean and disobedient could certainly lead to sin. The Lord wanted His people to be clear on what is clean and unclean. He gave specific instructions about what is unclean and what would make me unclean. He also gave instructions about how to become clean. He’s speaking of ceremonial cleanliness. For example, if a person killed a deer and cleaned it and prepared it for food, he would be ceremonially unclean until evening. He would obviously “wash up” but he couldn’t go offer a sacrifice before the Lord in an unclean state. The Lord wanted careful preparation before coming before Him. Check this out…

31 ‘“You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling-place, which is among them.”’ (Leviticus 15:31 NIV)

Because of Jesus, we are no longer under this same law. When Jesus came He changed much of the ritualistic rules and replaced it with relationship that was personal and one on One with God. We now can go before the Lord to repent and be purified from sin. There is no longer a ritualistic ceremony for the unclean person. According to the definition of unclean in Leviticus, there are many days that I become unclean simply by living life. I still have access to the Father because the sacrifice of Jesus makes me clean and gives me access to The Father.

This is not a free ticket to live however I choose. I do have the Spirit of God dwelling inside and directing me to do things that honor God not hurt His heart. I must be aware of the destructive nature of sin. I must eradicate sin from my life. I can do this all the time, but it’s a symptom of a deeper problem. The Lord wants to capture my heart for Him. My actions come out of the depths of my heart. I want to keep my heart clean and pure before the Lord because my activity will follow from my heart. I must guard my heart against the enemy. I’m called to be in the world but not of the world. It’s a separation idea – separate myself from things that could infect my heart with sin.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Worse Case Scenario

Good Vs Bad Dice Lucky Roll to Decide AnswerThere are lots of times in life when I have to “prepare for the worse and hope for the best”. I have to calculate the losses ahead of time and be prepared if the worse thing happens.  This feels like to me a type of “negative thinking”. I try hard not to be so negative, but sometimes it’s a real hard struggle.  Hope says I can be positive and plan for the most positive. I guess I’d like to also be somewhat realistic in my thinking.

Habakkuk had a steady outlook. He is an example of standing in the midst of the worse case scenario.  Check this out…

 17 Fig trees may not grow figs,

    and there may be no grapes on the vines.

There may be no olives growing

    and no food growing in the fields.

There may be no sheep in the pens

    and no cattle in the barns.
18 But I will still be glad in the Lord;

    I will rejoice in God my Savior.
19 The Lord God is my strength.

    He makes me like a deer that does not stumble

    so I can walk on the steep mountains. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 NCV)

This has for years been a favorite passage of mine. I want this to be who I am. I want to walk with the Lord through the worse case scenarios in my life. I don’t always understand the desperate situations. I want to decide now to ALWAYS hold on to Him no matter what the situation. If I were to be like Job and loose everyone I love and everything I own – I will still trust in the Lord.  I will sing “Blessed Be Your Name” in the midst of the worse case scenario.

Pressing On!
Dwayne