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

Understand

Discussing the truthI know a person who has hearing aids in both ears, but he doesn’t hear well. Let me rephrase that, he doesn’t understand very well. I’ve had people with hearing aids tell me that the volume of the room in amplified, but it can make it harder to understand a single conversation. They may be hearing a conversation across the room. There are other times when I’m in a conversation and there is much more than words being said. The body language is saying something much different than the words coming from a person’s mouth. To understand another person is a bit tricky.  To understand another person means that I totally grasp and perceive what they trying to communicate with me.  I’m learning to ask clarifying questions to make absolutely sure I understand what is going on.

Paul writes letter to the churches that he helped start and get going. After some of these churches got going, they had some problems creep in and disrupt the fellowship. He lays some groundwork to explain his position of leadership. Paul is a humble leader. He is not a “pushover”. He is confident in his calling from the Lord. He is also confident that the Lord is speaking in him and through him. He explains God’s wisdom to the church in the early chapter and it’s important to understand his position throughout the entire letter to the church at Corinth. Check this out…

10 But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. (1 Corinthians 2:10-13 NLT)

I’m thankful that all my thoughts are not public knowledge. I don’t always manage my thought life as well as I want. In fact, I don’t always manage my words like I should either and they are both well connected. This passage reminded me that the words I speak the understanding of my heart come from God’s Spirit inside of me. I need to continually welcome Him to take over my heart and my being so that I can have His discernment skills, His wisdom and His words. The Holy Spirit has given me wisdom many times as I say things out loud and then realize that I’m simply not that smart. I want to understand God’s Word and hear His voice so clearly that my thoughts and words are clearly from Him. I want to speak words from Him. I want to love like He loves. I want to live for Him. This is only possible when I let His Spirit take charge of my heart and my soul. I must empty me of me and let Him take over. My thoughts and my words will change when He’s in charge. My understanding of others will expand and my understanding of the things of God will expand as well.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hardened Heart

Human heart anatomy from a healthy bodyWe had a neighbor in Casey Creek, Kentucky – where I grew up who had “hardening of the arteries”. It was so sad to see this sweet lady who was full of class and was so kind, become mentally and physically dysfunctional over a short period of time. I remember thinking what a debilitating disease. The official name of this disease is Atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis causes arteries to narrow, weaken and be less flexible. It’s the term for the process of fatty buildup in the inner lining of an artery. The buildup that results is called plaque and reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that is delivered to vital organs. Here is animation of Atherosclerosis from The American Heart Association.

I believe that a hardened heart is a grave spiritual condition. The Lord called this out when He walked this earth. It was a bit obvious in the Pharisees and Religious leaders. The Lord was frustrated with their hard hearts, but at the same time sad to see this. These people were the leaders of the synagogue and pursued God, but missed what He was saying to them. They were stuck in their traditions, rituals and habits and had no room in their heart for God to move them and shape them into who He wanted them to be. Check this out…

Jesus went into the synagogue again and noticed a man with a deformed hand.Since it was the Sabbath, Jesus’ enemies watched him closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.

Jesus said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” Then he turned to his critics and asked, “Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” But they wouldn’t answer him.

He looked around at them angrily and was deeply saddened by their hard hearts. Then he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At once the Pharisees went away and met with the supporters of Herod to plot how to kill Jesus. (Mark 3:1-6 NLT)

I see hardening of the arteries as a physical condition that develops over time. I see a hardened heart as something that happens over time as well. I don’t imagine that the Pharisees and Religious leaders started following the law and leading the synagogues so that they could be spiritual bullies and building up the law to supersede the One Who gave them the law in the first place.  Jesus addressed this issue in the previous chapter of Mark, but it obviously fell on deaf ears. Check this out…

27 Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!” (Mark 2:27-28 NLT)

Likewise, I don’t believe that Christians with hard hearts set out to be this way. They started out following Jesus with passion and enthusiasm. This passion gave way to rule keeping and spiritual aloofness that not only becomes destructive on our relationship with others, it becomes self-destructive personally.

When I see a lost person, I realize that except for God’s amazing grace – that could be me. I could also make a bad decision and ruin my reputation and my witness. I don’t ever want to become so “heavenly bound” that I’m no “earthly good”. I want to live a very open, transparent life with the Lord. I do not have all the answers. I struggle with temptation and sin. I have to repent often because of sin inside my heart. With the Lords help, I want my heart to continue to be shapeable and moldable by His Spirit in me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Advocate

LawyerThere are occasions where I’ve needed an advocate. This is someone who speaks for me. My advocate needs to know everything about me so that they can defend me and direct me. An advocate provides a different perspective – they see different solutions for my situation. An advocate can be an attorney, a spokesperson, a friend, a counselor, parent, sibling or co-worker. I am thankful for my earthly advocates. I came across a small passage in the Gospel of John this morning where Jesus is promising an Advocate. Check this out…

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NLT)

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foreign subject to them but they will soon learn first-hand about the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence in them. Jesus is giving them a heads up. He is also trying to comfort them because He’s leaving them to return to the Father.  I believe that they were probably pretty emotional about His leaving them and the Holy Spirit is to be a Presence and an Advocate.  As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how as a Dad, I’m also and advocate for my kids. As a husband, I’m an advocate for my wife. I’m also an advocate for my friends, my clients, customers, agents & employees.

I’m thankful for my Advocate (aka The Holy Spirit), who gives me counsel, direction, comfort, peace by His Presence.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

(Note: As I was writing this yesterday, my youngest son woke up early and came into the living room and sat with me and talked. I realized again what a blessing to be his advocate – so I published this a day late. It was worth it. #advocate)

Evidence

 

Magnifying Glass - FactsI used to be a big fan of Perry Mason, Law & Order, Matlock and shows that featured the court of law. The television shows were much more dramatic that most courtrooms. I was recently in court with a friend and couldn’t help by notice the procedural drama and what appeared to me as a lot of time wasted. It seemed to me, that by the time the facts were presented, the court was tired of all the other drama. I learned that the “wheels of justice” turn very slowly and very deliberately. If I were in trouble with the law, I’m sure I would appreciate this.

In a court of law a critical piece to the case is the evidence. This is “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid”. (Google) Evidence is also defined as “data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects”. (dictionary.com)

Jesus heals a man born blind by making mud for the man to put on his eyes and wash off in the pool of Siloam. When the man did as he was told, he was healed of his blindness. He was “blown away” and very thankful for sure. He told everyone! The religious leaders immediately got engaged because the day that this all went down happened to be the Sabbath. The religious leaders questioned the man who was healed and they didn’t believe the facts as he presented them. They even went so far as to question whether or not he was really blind since birth. Check this out…

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”

20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:18-25 NLT)

If evidence is ignored, it doesn’t change the evidence. I can choose to ignore the facts presented to me because my mind is “made up”.  I have been following the Lord for a long time. I have entertained doubts about God. I have had some very “frank” conversations with Him over the years. The evidence for God to me is overwhelming and conclusive. I can’t refute the evidence. I heard a great quote last week that says: “A man with experience is NOT at the mercy of a man with an opinion.” I have had my faith affirmed too many times to count. I believe in God. I believe that His Son Jesus came to earth, lived and died for the sins of the world. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present in me and with me as I walk out my faith each day. I can’t give multiple exhibits in a court of law, but the evidence in my journey is irrefutable and solid. I wish I could be more clear and precise – I know what I know and I believe His Word is true!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Living Water

I wish I had been the guy many years ago who had the idea of bottling water. It’s convenient and fairly simple. I’ve picked up a bottle of water at a gathering to find that it’s bottled with water from a city municipal water supply – aka “the faucet”!  My friend, Chris Cook has a company called Superior Mountain Water. We have those water coolers at the office, with the blue bottle on top, and you can get a really fresh great tasting cup of cool water on demand. I have learned that I like some “brands” of bottled water better than others. My body must have water to live. In fact, most doctors recommend a generous amount of water consumption every day. The water can serve as a cleansing agent to my body.

Jesus, once again calls himself LIVING WATER. John qualifies it a bit more as the living water that He speaks of is the Holy Spirit. Check this out…

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said, “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (John 7:37-39 NLT)

Jesus spoke of giving Living Water to the woman at the well earlier in His ministry. He is not proclaiming this to the crowds. I’m assuming that John is writing this after Jesus had ascended back to heaven.

When I first accepted Jesus and was baptized as a young kid, I had no real tangible ideas or thoughts about the Holy Spirit. I don’t think my young brain could handle the concept or either I wasn’t taught much about it. I’ve since experienced first-hand the Power and the Presence that the Holy Spirit brings to my life. I’ve tasted this Living Water that Jesus speaks of.

The Living Water brings peace.

The Living Water brings healing.

The Living Water brings comfort.

The Living Water bring hope.

The Living Water brings life.

The Living Water brings grace.

I could go on and on about this Living Water (aka The Holy Spirit).  His Presence in me has completely changed my perspective on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life. The Holy Spirit is the FILTER (aka the glasses) through which I see. My vision is clear. My mission is clear. I’m seeking to honor Him every day in every way possible.

Pressing On!

Dwayne