Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Simple Faith

 

faith messageI have grown in my faith over the years. I remember trusting the Lord when I was a kid. I was baptized when I was in third grade. I grew up in a family full of faith. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord. Going to church was not optional for our family. We were very involved. I remember “pushing the envelope” and trying some things that were against our family rules. I learned later that my parents knew more about this than they acknowledged. When I went away to college and had freedom from my parent’s rules and regulations, I had some decisions to make. I can still remember where I was sitting on the evening when my faith became my own. I was watching a passion play at Johnson Bible College and I saw Jesus being punished for the sins of the world. I remember renewing my faith in God at that moment. I believed in God on my own. I had lived off my parent’s & grandparent’s faith up to that point.

Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible as the writer pulls the old testament characters into the context of the new covenant. These men and women brought much inspiration to millions over the years and their faith was simple and thorough. The writer speaks about this simple faith and its significance to my journey with the Lord. Check this out…

1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6 CSB)

I believe faith is simple, but not necessarily easy. Faith is easy to talk about and even write about, but harder to live out. I believe that my faith is much like a muscle, the more I use it, the stronger it gets. Over the years of my life, I’ve leaned into my faith because I didn’t see any other options. I’m not in charge of the weather, the economy or even others. I do know the One Who is charge of EVERYTHING and I trust Him. He has walked with me through some dark valleys. He has protected me in some major storms of life. My faith grew profoundly during some of the darkest days of my life.

My simple faith reminded me of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I want my simple faith to impress the Lord. I want to grow in my faith today as I live out what I say I believe. James reminded me that my faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) I want to work and live because I’m saved, not so that I can be saved by my works. I trust that the Lord created the earth and is preparing a place for those who trust in Him. I want to spend the rest of my days discovering more of Who God is and walking in simple faith before Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Short Life

Fragile stampI’m not a tall guy – I’m probably of average height. Let’s not talk about average weight and such. I turned 55 in October and I think a lot more about the end of my life than the beginning until now. I find myself reflecting a good bit. I wonder if I’ll live until I’m 70 or 80. There are accidents to avoid and exercises to keep me healthy. I can get creeped out thinking too much about death. I think a better approach might be to live my life to the fullest in whatever time I have left. I believe in the One Who created me and He alone knows how my life will end. When we recently got the news that my brother-in-law has cancer, my thoughts about life were jolted. This is a serious disease. I also heard about a man and his son were going somewhere together when another vehicle crossed the center line and hit them head on, ending both their lives – how does that wife and mother process such a tragedy that came out of “left field”?

As I read the Word this am, I was reminded to talk to the One Who holds the balance of my life in His hands. I was also reminded that my words while I’m living have less significance than when I’m gone. I want to make my time here on earth count for my Creator Who is eternal. This life is preparatory for the life that is eternal. Check this out…

I said, ‘I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.’
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure. (Psalm 39:1-5 NIV)

Rich Mullins penned a line in a song that says: “Live like you’ll die tomorrow; die knowing you’ll live forever”. I need to squeeze every ounce of life I have out of my life here as I prepare for eternity. Life is short. Life is fragile. Life is hard sometimes. Life can feel long. A long life is relative to my journey with the Lord. I want to honor Him with whatever life I have left. I don’t want to be self-centered and self-focused. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to be reckless with my life. I just don’t want my life here to be so focused on life here that I miss eternity – the BIG PICTURE.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Simple

businessman making decisionJust because something is simple does not mean it’s easy. If something is easily understood or done, we would call it simple. Sometimes the simple requires courage and deep strength. It takes courage and strength to stand up for Who you believe in and what you believe. It is simple though. It seems simple enough. I could be ask some simple questions but they wouldn’t be easy to answer. For example:

  1. What is your greatest weakness?
  2. If you could live your life all over again, what one thing would you change?
  3. What do you want to be doing in 10 years from today?
  4. Who or what are the top 3 priorities in your life?
  5. What is your greatest strength?

These questions are fairly simple, but require some thought. I really believe that the Christian life is simple – just not easy. Jeremiah writes a simple formula that the Lord gave him for living out my faith. Check this out….

16 This is what the Lord says:

“Stand at the crossroads and look;

    ask for the ancient paths,

ask where the good way is, and walk in it,

    and you will find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16A)

 

I believe that every day I have options and choices – the good way is always an option. I don’t always choose the good way. When I chose another way other than the good way, there are consequences and it becomes difficult to get back to the good way.

I also noted that to find the good way, sometimes I have to ask for direction. I have a GPS (the Word) but it still is healthy to ask where the good way is. This is really simple, but not easy to live out.

Pressing On!

Dwayne