Goal #1: LOVE

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI must admit that we throw this word love around a bit too much and we have, in some ways, cheapened it a bit. I can be heard saying that “I love” certain foods. “I love” playing on the water. I love God. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my family and friends. I love the people closest to me deeper than those that I barely know. Relationships are incredibly helpful to me and to every human. I believe that we were wired by our Creator to love and be loved.

The Apostle Paul is giving instruction to his young protégé, Timothy regarding teaching in the church. It is simple, yet foundational to the gospel. Check this out…

 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 CSB)

Paul tells Timothy that love is the goal of instruction, but it is also the main goal of the church. Paul speaks plainly to the church at Rome about love. Check this out…

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 CSB)

Paul also writes a whole chapter on love to the church at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 13 – known as the Love Chapter)

I am still learning to love deeper and more profoundly. My wife and I have been married over 22 years and my love for her is deeper and stronger than way back then. Love grows stronger with commitment and practice.

The goal of my life is love. I want to love the Lord with all my heart. The more I know Him, the more I understand that He calls me to love like He loves. His love is reckless & lavish. His love is overflowing with forgiveness and grace. His love is all-consuming. I lose myself in His love and I start looking and acting like Him.  My goal today is to learn to love others like the Lord first loved me. I want my words and actions to be saturated with love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Prayer For City Station

Man praying with the BibleI am blessed to be part of Southern Hills Christian Church. Our church is in the process of building City Station (www.citystation.org) in Carrollton, GA. Our church is made up of millionaires, the poorest people, ex-convicts, attorneys, doctors, truck drivers, REALTORS, factory works – you name the demographic and we have them. We have white, black people, Hispanic among others. Our church has people from all sorts of spiritual backgrounds as well. We are quite a mix of our culture in general, which is what I think church should look like. Our community is made up of many different cultures and that is reflected in our church. (A 5 minute video about City Station)

The foundation of the building is being installed now. The building is set to open in May 2018. City Station will feature a gymnasium that will serve as our gathering room for worship on the weekend. It will also feature a restaurant (not sure what type of food yet) that will offer healthy food options. We will also have a pre-school during the week and the rooms will double as rooms for our children’s ministry during the weekend services. City Station features covenant student housing for University of West Georgia students (60 students). Our fitness center will feature a great work-out facility complete with fitness classes and training. We offer Biblical Counseling (aka Soul Care) and there will be meeting rooms available for that ministry. Our staff offices will be there as well. There will be lots of common space to meet and connect with others. Southern Hills Christian Church will be the church who meets at City Station.

I came across this prayer of Paul for the church at Thessalonica and it is my prayer for our church. Check this out…

12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you. 13 May he make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 CSB)

I think this is an excellent prayer to pray on behalf of every church that introduces people to Jesus. I believe that church should be a place where misfits and idiots can meet Jesus and change the course of their lives. Before I met Him, I was on a crash course for hell. Because of what He did, I now have confidence of my eternal home in heaven. The gospel is simple – make Jesus Lord of my heart and He changes everything else. It may be simple, but it’s not necessarily easy to live out.

As you read this short blog – I pray that you might get interested in knowing Jesus and surrendering your heart to His way and His will for you. It’s a journey NOT a destination. There are many church who are biblically sound in teaching – find one and connect. The church is not meant to be a club of Christians, rather it’s to be a lab where we honestly live out our faith, helping one another along.

www.sohillscc.com

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Gains & Losses

Balance SheetI’ve learned over the years how to carefully read a balance sheet and look for gains and losses. I have also learned that the bottom line is sometimes not the bottom line. I have done some stupid things financially in my life, but I’m working hard to have learned from those colossal mistakes and never go there again.

When it comes to my faith, I’ve done some stupid as well. Even after I’ve known the Lord for many years, I still struggle with sin. I often wish I could turn back time and change some decisions that were losses in terms of my faith. I have since learned that I could NEVER have enough gains in my faith to earn anything. It’s because of the grace of God that I’ve saved – it’s not something I’ve done or can begin to do. He saved me from sin. He saves me from myself. Check this out…

But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. Because of him I have suffered the loss of all things and consider them as dung, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own from the law, but one that is through faith in Christ—the righteousness from God based on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9 CSB)

In God’s economy gains and losses are measured a much different way. When I give up, He rescues. My faith is the premium currency. His Grace overcomes my stupidity. He desires fro me to abandon my desires and pursue His desires for me.

To You, my eyes are lifting
To You, my prayer is rising up
You captured my attention
Consume me
God give me a heart abandoned
Ever after You alone
Gold and silver, You can take it

(Heart Abandoned – by Passion 2017)
Pressing On!

Dwayne

Imitator

 

I grew up imitating others in tons of ways. I remember as a kid trying to figure out my laugh, probably because someone made fun of how I laughed. I adjusted a lot of things to be like others. I imitated my Dad when I was young until I “got smarter than Him” – around 13 years old. (Total sarcasm.) When I was in my early to late teens, I became a bit of a chameleon. I would act like whoever I was with. If I were with Christians, I could play the part. If I were with some of my wild and crazy friends, I could hang with them too. Chameleons are that little lizard that changes his color to blend in to whatever environment he’s in. I also imitated great singers and musicians. I look back at seasons of my life and I always wanted to be someone else or something that I wasn’t. I finally got comfortable in my own skin several years ago and I’m thankful for who I am and Whose I am. I don’t try to keep up with others and impress them with my possessions or knowledge. I simply want to be who God called me to be. I want to honor Him with my life and my daily choices.  I love how Paul urged the Ephesians to live out their faith. Check this out…

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-10 CSB)

I want to love like God.

I want to give like God.

I want to think like God.

I want to counsel like God.

I want to imitate God in my daily life.

I want to learn from others, but I want to imitate the Lord. I want to finish my journey here on earth walking, talking, loving & living like God, Who made me. He gives me life. He gives me purpose. He is patient. He is loving. He is kind. He is full of grace and mercy. I so want to imitate Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Comprehensive

understandThis word has always intrigued me. I have not always considered myself to be super intuitive and smart. I do try to understand the multi-facets of issues and problems. I also try to “get my head around” the scope of issues that I or friends of mine are facing. That is really the essence of this word comprehensive – having a total grasp or understanding of certain subject matter.

I am still trying to learn and understand more of Who God is and what He’s doing in my life and the lives of others. Paul’s pray for comprehension and understanding really blessed me this morning. Check this out…

16 I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21 CSB)

I needed that prayer as I seek God’s heart.

I don’t understand everything God does.

I don’t understand everything God says.

I’m learning to trust Him more even when I don’t understand.

I want to comprehend and understand the height, depth, length and width of His love for me.

I’m joining Paul in his prayer. I want to know more about God’s heart and His love for me. I want His love to dwell in my heart consistently. I want to be deeply rooted and firmly established in love.

What I do know is that God loves me and I want to live for Him the rest of my days. I want to grow in my comprehension of His love and grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Good Work

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborI haven’t always believed work is good. After the Great Recession, I now hear myself saying that I’m thankful to have work. I have also learned that no matter how much work I must do or how hard some parts of it are, I can put food on the table and provide shelter for my family because of my work. I’ve also watched the TV show “Dirty Jobs” and there are much tougher jobs than any I have ever had.

I’ve learned over the years in my journey with the Lord that I can’t work my way into heaven. I can’t do enough good work to earn my salvation. Paul is clear about this. Check this out…

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-10 CSB)

I grew up hearing about all the things I needed to do and it felt like if I went to church, read my Bible and prayed often that I could be saved. I’m not sure that was the intended message, but it’s what I heard. When I discovered the grace of God a few years ago, my heart was full and so very open to this incredible concept that is the essence of Who God is. As I journey through His Word I see His heart that is full of love, compassion and grace. He is also a God of justice, but He doesn’t love to dispense justice – He loves to lavish His kids with Grace! He doesn’t want anyone to miss out on His love.

The first two words in this passage are: “But God”. Those two words have changed the trajectory of my life. He has built me and wired me to honor Him, to serve Him because He loved me. He now lives and works in me and through me. Anything I do, say or write that has value to anyone – it’s because He is in me. I’ve made wise decisions over the years that He was totally in charge of or responsible for.

I don’t work FOR my salvation, I do good work and serve Him BECAUSE of my salvation. I am more and more wowed by His Grace every day. There is no one beyond the reach of Grace. I can’t escape His reach of Grace. I am continually humbled and grateful when I think about the things I’ve done or said and He still loves me and chooses to use me for His Honor & Glory. I can’t begin to express my gratitude… words just don’t work here. I’m so thankful for grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne