Accept & Reject

make a choice street sign illustration designThese two words seem to be polar opposites. Unfortunately, they go together quite often. I’m a guilty party in this too. For example, I accept the laws of the land, and I obey most of them. There are some that I accept, but then reject by how I live. I’m aware of the speed laws and speed zones, but I sometimes ignore them for the sake of my schedule. It is wrong, and I have won my fair share of “safe driving awards” because of it. One of my sons was pulled over the other evening and reminded by the nice policeman that the stop sign was not a suggestion. My son also reminded me of a speeding ticket that I received when he was with me. I saw the blue lights coming in my rearview mirror as I was turning onto a side road and I said, “Looks like he’s after someone.” About that time, he turned on the same road and I remarked, “I think he has got me!” (My son still thinks that is a funny story!)

Paul writes to the Corinth church speaking truth into them and encouraging them in their faith journey. He said something that jumped off the page and into my lap this morning. Check this out…

1As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore itFor God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NLT)

I have been guilty of accepting God’s gift of kindness, grace and forgiveness, only to ignore it later. I often know the right thing to do, but I don’t do it. I think my willful disobedience breaks the Lord’s heart. I have so much to be thankful to Him for. I owe Him my very life. Yet I will still ignore His tug on my heart. This passage called me to repentance. I am convicted of my sin of ignoring His Spirit leading me to ALWAYS do the right thing. If I listen to His Spirit in me, I will walk every day in acceptance of His Will and obedience to His Way. I’m so grateful for His patience with me as I figure this out. I continue to receive His Grace instead of the punitive punishment that I deserve. I do think I’m closer to Him today than I was yesterday – there is progress for sure. I want to cultivate my acceptance of His direction, His plans and His call upon my life. It’s pretty simple, yet incredibly difficult.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Encourage, Inspire & Motivate

 

Diverse group of people learning and studing together.

I have been a follower of the Lord since 3rd grade, if I was 7 years old, then I’m coming up on 50 years of walking with the Lord at some level.  I grew up in a home where going to church wasn’t an option. I remember hearing the stories of Jesus and how He loved others. I also remember hearing about our enemy, the devil and how he wanted to get me to do bad things and follow him straight to hell. I must admit that I was more afraid of going to hell than really understanding God’s love for me. I followed the Lord out of fear of hell. That fear didn’t stop me from still doing stupid things. I am thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I tried things that were fun at the time, but the consequences could have ruined my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly came face to face with grace. I had heard that word, but not nearly as much as I heard about all the things I must do right. Grace doesn’t give me permission to do wrong, but grace does give me second chances for sure. Grace finds me and makes things right with the Lord. Just the fact that I now understand grace has been a huge win for me. I can’t remember the preacher, author or teacher who explained that to me, but I’m sure thankful I now understand. I don’t walk around guilty and hopeless. I now live my life with hope and confident in the Spirit of God.

I believe that prophesy, according to the Apostle Paul is simply to speak as the Spirit leads regarding my life with the Lord. I believe God’s Word is true and with His help, I’m living according to His Word. Out of my journey, I can share words of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. I don’t write this to promote me, I write this to promote the peace that I have in Him. I think that there are misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding prophesy in our churches today. Prophesy is from the Word of God and the very Spirit of God, not from a human being. Prophesy is truth spoken through a human as directed by the Spirit of God. It should not be super mystical, in my view. It should be super clear and understandable. Check this out….

1Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people. (1 Corinthians 14:1,32-33 NLT)

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I’m not trying to get into a “church argument” or a “doctrinal dispute” with anyone. I’m not trying to mislead in any way. I think I and others have often made knowing the Lord appear that we are in a different class. I want to humbly live out my faith and encourage others to come along with me. I will “prophesy” about sin and call it out in my life and in others as the Spirit of God leads. If you’re reading these words and you haven’t surrendered your life to the Lord fully – I pray that you seriously consider this sort of change. Instead of me being in charge of my life, I’m giving that over to my Creator. He leads me to live for Him. He leads me to serve others on His behalf. He leads to me to speak on His behalf. It’s not some fancy, “hoity toity” calling. It’s simply speaking truth in love. He does the encouraging, inspiring & motivating through me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Soul Exam

love heart riffle targetI’ve been to the doctor many times over the years. I now go twice a year for well-checks so that he can monitor my bloodwork, heart rate and my overall health. He advises healthy eating and exercise as a part of my daily life and routine. I hear him, but I don’t always take his advice. I really get frustrated with myself when I over-eat or sit still when I should exercise. I recently read a book called Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and he made some points that have stirred me up a bit about a healthy start to each day. I decided several years ago to become a morning person and to start my day with reading and meditating upon God’s Word. I added gratitude to the Lord this past year and I’m trying to figure out some morning time for exercise.  In the Miracle Morning book, I was introduced to a new exercise app called Seven – 7 Minute Workout it helps get the blood pumping and the lungs working in 7:53 seconds because there is some 10 second rests between exercises.

The harder exercise is to examine my soul. The Word of God speaks into my soul each day. I like to use heart interchangeably with soul. His Word reminded me again this morning how important it is to examine my heart. He’s speaking about checking my heart before taking the Lord’s supper. He is reminding me that checking my heart regularly can avert being disciplined by the Lord. Check this out….

27 So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.

31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way.32 Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32 NLT)

A heart exam is a bit more private & personal.

A heart exam is a bit more intrusive.

A heart exam is a bit more difficult.

My wife, kids and personal friends know me pretty well. I try to be very open and approachable most anytime. The Lord is the One Who really knows my heart, my thoughts and my motives. I need to do my heart exam in His Presence. I need feedback from Him on my heart. I don’t want to gloss over my self-centeredness or my sinful desires. He knows me and He has freed me from the power of sin over me. Check this out…

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:5-11 NLT)

Bam!!

His death was a game changer to my life & I want to live in gratitude every day of my life for His obedience to death on the cross. I don’t ever want to forget that.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strong Temptations

quarreled couple in their living roomI believe everyone who ever lived on the earth was tempted. I’m thankful that temptation is not sin or I would be more of a mess than I already am. Temptations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My wife & I are trying to eat healthy and trim up a bit. There are always beautiful cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, candy bars and a myriad of other options around. It takes great inner resolve to refuse to eat them. The argument that I have with myself is that one bite won’t kill me, but then again, it will set me back. I remember hearing a guy tell me once that if I even lick the dust off of a Dorito then I’m going backward. I think he was exaggerating a bit, but he did make a point. There are lots of other temptations like cheating on my taxes, cheating on an exam or cheating on my wife. I believe the way to defeat temptation is to make my mind up ahead of time. Since I know the temptations will be there, I can decide how I’m going to handle it. If I’m going to a nice dinner, I can safely assume that there will be some sort of amazing dessert. I wish dealing with temptation were as simple as I’m making it sound. I came across these few verses from the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth and it made me stop and think. Check this out…

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT)

I think the key to temptation is to recognize it and call it what it is. The enemy likes to pose as something good, safe and healthy. But I must know that he sugar-coats destructive behavior and sin. He never comes directly at me, he’s way to slick for that. I have asked the Lord many times to reveal the motives and the tricks of the enemy to me. I’ve asked the Lord to give me inner strength when I know I’m going to be tempted. I’m not going to say I’m strong every time, but the Spirit of God in me gives me grit and great strength.

There are times when I fail the test or I yield to temptation. It is there I find grace and mercy to heal my wounded soul and hurting heart. I hate letting the Lord down. I don’t sin so that I can find grace. I’m sickened by the thought of my failures and shortcomings. But I’m so profoundly grateful that His Grace found me. I will never be good enough to earn forgiveness. My thoughts, my actions and my failure to act often break His heart, but He really is transforming my mind one thought at a time. I am vulnerable before Him. I’m humble before Him. I realize that without Him, I’m a washed-up mess. With Him in charge of my heart, I can lead, love and serve even in the face of temptation. I wish someone had told me about His Amazing Grace many years ago. I once was lost but now I’m found.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

United

Aerial View of Multiethnic People Forming Circle and GlobeThis word is the first part of the name of our country – United States. “United” means to have a common interest and agreement. Our country is made up of 50 states that are one country united together by our love for freedoms and self-government. There is much strength when we unite together. It often seems like we are a polarized nation these days instead of a united nation. I believe that we must lay down our hate and celebrate our differences. I’m not going to get all political, but it seems that we’ve lost a lot of respect for one another. If I disagree with someone or they disagree with me, I shouldn’t hate them.

In our churches, there is strife and disagreement. The different denominations of the evangelical church agree on 97% of teaching from scripture, but we tend to focus on our disagreements rather than celebrate together the part of our teaching that is the same. I believe that the church is stronger when we stand together in the name of our founder – Jesus Christ. We must seek to make Him famous in our world. We do that best in unity. Check this out…

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:10,30-31 NLT)

I am who I am because of Who He is and what He has done in me. He changed my heart many years ago. He’s still changing my heart and growing me to look and act more like Him. I have my moments when I get off tract and off purpose, but He welcomes me back. I am a recipient of large doses of grace over the years and I’m learning to be a dispenser of grace. The fact that we ALL need grace should definitely unite us. I don’t know a single follower of Jesus who doesn’t need grace. In fact, if there is one who thinks they don’t need grace, the very arrogance screams out their need for it. If we keep our pride in check, we can certainly be unified. It’s when we think we know more than others (pride) that we tend to pounce on our differences. We need to unify to lift up Jesus and make Him known instead of making ourselves known. Where there is humility in each of us, there is unity with all of us. When we realize our need for Him, we can come together in fellowship with one another in His Name.

Humility unites us.

Grace unites us.

Gratitude unites us.

Forgiveness unites us.

Serving unites us.

Loving unites us

Jesus unites us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Faithful Follower

Man praying with the BibleI grew up knowing about the Lord from my parents and grandparents. I was introduced to the scriptures at a young age. My family went to church twice on Sunday and also on Wednesday for mid-week Bible Study. I lived off the faith of my parents and grandparents for several years. I remember when I realized that some of the church traditions that I held were challenged. I went to a Bible College in East Tennessee and there were people there from all over the world. Some of the traditions that I held on to were not found in scripture. The traditions were from people who were following Jesus. After a while, the traditions were taught as truth from God’s Word. I have a lot of opinions about all sorts of things that are being taught as truth, but the Word of God is enough to raise of the people of God. The traditions were never intended to be impediments to the truth, but that is what they have become.  Many religions have multiple traditions as well as churches today. I want to have a strong relationship with God – if that makes me “religious”, I don’t mind. I don’t want to be religious just for the sake of being good. I want to faithfully follow Creator God and learn more and more of His heart through the study of His Word and being committed to a church filled with fellow followers.

On more than one occasion, Jesus challenged the “religion leaders” and “teachers of the law”. They believed that the Messiah was coming, but this is a colossal case of missing the point. They not only didn’t believe Him, they killed Him.  Check out this encounter with them…

28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. (Matthew 21:28-32 NLT)

While I grew up in church, I’m thankful that the Lord has been patient with me as I discovered Him and heard His call upon my heart. I’ve learned more about His heart simply by reading the Word every day and asking Him to speak into my heart. If I can have time to eat, I have time for His Word. If I have time to watch a television show, I have time for His Word. Over the years of spending time in His Word, I really miss my time with Him, if I miss even one day. I believe He’s drawn me nearer His heart as I’ve searched the Word for His heart. I want to be a faithful follower of God all the days of my life. I want to be obedient to His call upon my life and upon my heart even today. I don’t want to ever get so bogged down with doing things for Him that I skip my time just being with Him in His Word listening to Him speak into my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne