Restart

Second chanceI remember vividly times of restart in my life. I remember starting my first ministry position back in the 1982. I remember clear each time I started over in a new place. There were fears and unknowns. There were bunches of new people to get to know. In 1993 when my marriage fell apart. I found myself in unknown territory as a single dad with three children. I had to restart and rebuild. I look back on that now to see how God was working in the middle of my pain and suffering. He held me close when I was so very low. He sent people my way to encourage me and inspire me with hope. That event is probably the biggest “restart” of my life. There have been many other restarts too.

As I read about the people of Israel restarting to build the temple, I realize that restarts anticipate new hope. I could feel the emotion of a new start as they began to celebrate the Lord’s Presence with offerings. They also begin a tangible restart by laying the foundation of the temple. Check this out…

10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the Lord, the priests in their vestments and with trumpets, and the Levites (the sons of Asaph) with cymbals, took their places to praise the Lord, as prescribed by David king of Israel. 11 With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord:

‘He is good;

    his love towards Israel endures for ever.’

And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid. 12 But many of the older priests and Levites and family heads, who had seen the former temple, wept aloud when they saw the foundation of this temple being laid, while many others shouted for joy. 13 No one could distinguish the sound of the shouts of joy from the sound of weeping, because the people made so much noise. And the sound was heard far away. (Ezra 3:10-13 NIV)

I love the scene with the young people full of energy – singing and dancing. I also feel the joy expressed in weeping of the older people who remembered back 70+ years earlier when the Temple was the hub of the community. These older folks had endured the captivity and saw the restart from a totally different perspective.

I need to have a positive perspective on my restarts (aka “do over” or “second chance”). I get a second chance to build parts of my life differently than before. When the recession downsized my finances, I realized that I needed to do some things differently than before. I really did have a restart.

On a personal daily note, I have to restart my heart sometimes. It’s gets hard and cold and desensitized. I need the Lord to soften my heart and do a restart. I want the things that hurt His heart to hurt mine. I want to love like He loves. I want to live from my heart like He’s called me to live.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

An Innocent Child Leader

 

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI love seeing the innocence of a young child. They really only know what they’ve been taught. Many children learn volumes from their environment. They learn from their parents or caregivers. Their values are caught from observation more than what is being taught. For example, if a parent teaches them to tell the truth but then lies, the child will be more likely to become a liar. I’m not trying to be harsh or critical of parents but how I live speaks much longer and has much more substance than anything I could say. Words are cheap and easy – living out my faith is way more challenging.

After Ahaziah was killed, his wicked mother seized power and proceeded to kill anyone who would be an heir to the throne. That means she was killing her other sons and her grandsons because she wanted to rule the kingdom. One of her daughters took the one-year-old son of the late king and hid him with his nurse in the Temple. He remained hidden there for six years.

4 In the seventh year Jehoiada sent for the commanders of units of a hundred, the Carites and the guards and had them brought to him at the temple of the Lord. He made a covenant with them and put them under oath at the temple of the Lord. Then he showed them the king’s son.

12 Jehoiada brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him; he presented him with a copy of the covenant and proclaimed him king. They anointed him, and the people clapped their hands and shouted, ‘Long live the king!’ (2 Kings 11:4, 12 NIV)

I find it hard to imagine a 7-year-old king having much wisdom and discernment. He was obviously the product of his nurse and his mother investing into his life. I do know some 7-year-old boys that trust the Lord. I don’t think they would be elected president, but I do think that they would have some good ideas about cleaning up the elaborate political mess that our country finds itself in.

The Lord is really in charge of Joash becoming king. The Lord can use anyone He chooses at any time He chooses to lead on His behalf. One of the first things that was done when Joash became king was to clean up and clean out the Baal worship.

I was reminded about Jesus encounter with little children. His disciples didn’t think He had time for the children. He took them in His lap and blessed them. Check this out….

13 People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16 NIV)

Parents have a huge responsibility in the teaching and training of their children. As a parent, I have to start with me and it needs to be so much more than “lip service” to God. I need to trust Him with my heart. I need my behavior to flow from a heart that is committed to His Way and His Will for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Peace With God

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI remember several years ago when I was a young student pastor in Tennessee, being part of a Bible Study called “Peace Treaty With God”. There were a lot of truths that came from that study that really shaped the outcome of my life. It wasn’t until several years later that I discovered the value of a daily journey with God before I begin my day. I absolutely cherish the time with Him in the morning. It will be Monday today – all day long and those can be somewhat more difficult than other days.

Elisha sends a young prophet to anoint a new King of Judah. The old king is still in place, but the Lord is about to replace him. The Lord is frustrated with the evil that both the King of Israel and the King of Judah are leading their people into. This young prophet anoints a young army officer named Jehu to be the next king of Judah. Jehu gets right to work eradicating the evil idolatry and witchcraft. Check this out…

21 ‘Hitch up my chariot,’ Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu he asked, ‘Have you come in peace, Jehu?’

‘How can there be peace,’ Jehu replied, ‘as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?’ (2 Kings 9:21-22 NIV)

I believe that peace with God begins inside my heart and works it way out in the everyday routines and behavior of my life. I don’t think that I can pretend to be at peace with God on the outside and then have war inside. I believe that I must start with my heart first. I was goggling the “Peace With God” study that I referred to earlier and found this great quote from Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California…

You’re never going to make peace with others until you make peace with God, and the only way you’re going to make peace with God is surrender. You were made to live with him as the manager, CEO, and chairman of the board of your life. –Rick Warren

I agree that Peace With God starts with me surrendering my ideas, my will, my work, my family, my friends – everything I consider to be mine – is surrendered to Him.

I know it sounds weird that to win the war against sin in my life, really starts with surrender. This is not an ordinary war. I can’t possibly win this war on my own strength or my own terms. I must surrender to the Lord my heart and my soul and He does the fighting on my behalf.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Turned Away

 

Teenage girl in trouble with parentsI remember as a kid when my parents did or said something that I tried to turn and walk away. I learned rather quickly that this was a huge sign of disrespect to them. I had to turn around come back and stand there until the “lecture” (aka teachable moment) was over. I really wasn’t a horrible kid, but I did like to know where the boundaries were and my parents weren’t shy about showing me exactly where they were.

King Solomon has just died and his son became his successor in Judah and another man Jereboam became the King of Israel. Neither of these men followed the Lord. They both seemed to think that they were invincible and that they could ignore the Lord. Jereboam had a sick child and so he sends his wife to the old priest to inquire what will happen to the boy. The Lord gave the old priest a heads up. Even though the priest was old and blind, he called out Jereboams wife. She was sent back with a strong message to her husband. Check this out…

7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me. (1 Kings 14:7-9 NIV)

The Lord doesn’t like it when I turn my back on Him. I’ve seen His Power. I’ve felt His Love. I know that the Lord wants me to walk with Him and talk with Him. I know that the Lord wants my heart. He wants me to follow Him with my whole heart like David. I am convinced that the Lord pursues my heart and wants me to pursue His. King David became the benchmark against which all other kings after him were measured. As I read David’s writings and his journey, it’s obvious that he is in pursuit of the Lord’s heart. I even see in his failure and his sin that he returns whole-heartedly to the Lord and forgiveness is poured all over him.

I want to follow the Lord fully with my whole heart. I want to trust Him enough to talk with Him about everything that I’m facing. I want to trust Him with all the details of my life no matter how messy and how much. I don’t ever want to turn my back on Him. I want to turn to the Lord, NOT turn away from Him. I want to follow Him all the days of my life here on earth. I believe that all the activities of my life come directly from my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Jealousy Is Destructive

Baby feeding one dog watched by anotherThis is a characteristic that can be absolutely debilitating. I believe jealousy is like a killer cancer that comes from deep within. This word features resentment against another who might be a rival. I believe that jealousy can be self-destructive. I speak with experience because I’ve been jealous to the point where I wanted my rival to fail miserably. Jealousy caused me way more harm than it did my rival. Jealousy can make a completely rational person become irrational.

King Saul was very jealous of David. I think he recognized that the Lord was now with David. David was the recipient of the Blessing and Presence of God that Saul had once experienced. When Saul turned his back on the Lord, the Lord’s Presence left him. Having the Presence of God is not hard – it requires humility and obedience. Saul was evidently too proud to return humbly before the Lord.

David has fled from Saul and Saul is about to go on the offensive trying to hunt David down and kill him. Saul is tipped off about Ahimelek who had helped David previously. Saul saw this as an active of treason and he had Ahimelek and his whole family brought to him. Check this out…

13 Saul said to him, ‘Why have you conspired against me, you and the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword and enquiring of God for him, so that he has rebelled against me and lies in wait for me, as he does today?’

14 Ahimelek answered the king, ‘Who of all your servants is as loyal as David, the king’s son-in-law, captain of your bodyguard and highly respected in your household? 15 Was that day the first time I enquired of God for him? Of course not! Let not the king accuse your servant or any of his father’s family, for your servant knows nothing at all about this whole affair.’ (1 Samuel 22:13-15 NIV)

Saul orders Ahimelek and his family killed. He also orders an entire town of prophets killed. This is all happening because of his jealousy that is completely out of control.

I have to keep jealousy in check at all times. I believe it is a characteristic that can slip in hardly noticed and start the “comparison game”. Jealousy focuses on what others are doing instead of what I’m doing. Jealousy can attract my attention toward the wrong things. I need to look inside of my soul to see who I am and more importantly “Whose” I am. This can absolutely change my perspective on everything. It’s a sad story of Saul and how he was crippled by jealousy. I believe that jealousy is a strong “go to” tactic of the enemy. I think I’m hurting person I’m jealous of, but instead I’m the one harmed.

This passage reminded me to focus on God’s Presence in me and what He wants to do in me and through me. I have to push off any hint of jealousy or envy because this will derail God’s plan for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Great Generation

happy and motivated old people 3dMy Grandpa (aka Pappy) was part of The Great Generation who made it through the Great Depression and fought in WWII to save our nation from those seeking to destroy our way of life. I’ve had the privilege to hear him tell stories and to see how He lived. I know why that generation was called the Great Generation. They lived off the land and lived out the values that made this country great. I have always been fascinated with the historical events of that era and the people who built their lives in the middle of such challenges.

I am now two generations removed, but I am still grateful for the privilege of knowing my Pappy and learning so many things from Him. He left an indelible mark on my heart. My grandmother (Mammie), his wife was spiritually deep and she lived out her faith every day. I can remember seeing the Bible that she read each day. Here gentle spirit could become very firm while still being gentle. I’m so thankful for the privilege of having known my grand parents.

I believe it’s important that we study history and learn from it or we will absolutely repeat the mistakes that we’ve made. The people of Israel are loosing their way because there’s a whole generation who don’t know the history of how the Lord lead them. Check this out…

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel. (Judges 2:10 NIV)

This passage really made me stop and think about my life and how I live.

I want to pursue the heart of God as long as I live.

I want my life to display the character of God as long as I live.

I want to remember what it was like to be lost.

I want to remember what it felt like when I first felt His Grace.

I want to remember how faithful He is even when I’m not.

I want generations who come after me to follow Him whole-heartedly.

I need His help to daily live out what I believe.

I need His help to grow my faith every day.

I need His help to grow in my love and patience for others.

I would love for my life to be noticed by generations after me as a man who pursued the heart of God all the days of my life. Each choice I make today affects how I’m seen in the years following me. The priority is my heart-work NOT my behavior. As I surrender my heart to Him each day, my behavior will follow.

Pressing On!

Dwayne