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

Live Steady

 

Man praying with the BibleSometimes life can be so unstable and unsteady. It seems that things come at me faster than I can respond to them. There are times I make decisions based on the information that I have at the time, later to regret them. Over the years as I walk out my faith, I’ve been learning to lean on the Lord for wisdom, discernment and guidance especially when the road ahead is unpredictable and unsteady.

David pens a beautiful Psalm about being steady – at least that is how it spoke to me. Check this out…

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

    Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose way of life is blameless,

    who does what is righteous,

    who speaks the truth from their heart;

3 whose tongue utters no slander,

    who does no wrong to a neighbor,

    and casts no slur on others;

4 who despises a vile person

    but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

    and does not change their mind;

5 who lends money to the poor without interest;

    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

    will never be shaken. (Psalm 15:1-5 NIV)

A steady life has many components. I’ve always heard that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. There are real ingredients to a steady life with God and the most basic is surrender. I learned a long time ago (and I’m still learning) to surrender my ideas, my thoughts and my actions to Him. He can direct my path and steady my steps. He even lights my path when it seems so dark.

I don’t believe a steady life happens by accident. I also don’t think a steady life is complicated or “rocket science” – it is simply faithful obedience to the Lord. He celebrates the victories of this life and He walks with me through the defeats and tragedies. The only way I can have a steady life is by holding the hand of the One Who is ALWAYS steady, faithful and strong.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Position

Waiter with trayI have held different positions over the course of my life. I am a son, husband, dad, “Pop”, and a friend – these are many of family member positions. I have had two different careers if I don’t count growing up on a farm. I was a full-time pastor (youth, college) for 20 years. I enjoyed serving the Lord – I believe that is a high and holy calling. I have learned over the years that each follower of the Lord is called to serve. People in full time ministry are paid a salary so they are free to do ministry without being tied down to another position in a company to earn a salary.

I have seen and still see people jockey for position in different companies to be the “top dog” and there are times such manipulation works. I’ve also seen the lowest person in the company serve their way up to the top. I think it’s wise to know who I am and who I’m not. I need to be keenly aware of my weaknesses and my strengths. The cool thing is that with the Lord living inside of me – he makes up for my weaknesses.

The Psalms consistently remind me of my position and His Position and His Presence. When He gave me my position as a child of the King – it has changed everything. Check this out…

1 Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory

    in the heavens.

2 Through the praise of children and infants

    you have established a stronghold against your enemies,

    to silence the foe and the avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens,

    the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars,

    which you have set in place,

4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them,

    human beings that you care for them?

5 You have made them a little lower than the angels

    and crowned them with glory and honor.

6 You made them rulers over the works of your hands;

    you put everything under their feet:

7 all flocks and herds,

    and the animals of the wild,

8 the birds in the sky,

    and the fish in the sea,

    all that swim the paths of the seas.

9 Lord, our Lord,

    how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9 NIV)

My position is contingent upon His Presence. He is the One Who saved me and filled me with His Spirit. I’m nothing without Him, but with Him I can do amazing things beyond my abilities and skills. He has given me a position as His kid and there is great honor, great hope and a great future in my new position.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Speechless

 

Man holding microphoneIf you know me personally, you probably know that I can talk. I’m not super shy, but I’m a little introverted at times. If I’m put on the spot at a moments notice to speak, I can pull it off. I have learned to trust in the Lord to give me the words to speak and the confidence to speak. I can’t remember a time that I’ve been absolutely speechless. When I’m in the presence of someone who is powerful or famous, I might be more careful with what I say. Because of my confidence with the Lord, I usually contribute to most any conversation.

Job had not been speechless until now. The Lord speaks to him, but Job’s response is one of profound respect and honor. Check this out…

1 The Lord said to Job:

2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him?

    Let him who accuses God answer him!”

3 Then Job answered the Lord:

4 “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?

    I put my hand over my mouth.

5 I spoke once, but I have no answer—

    twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:1-5 NIV)

I was taught as a youngster to respect those in authority. There may have been times when I’ve been pulled over and presented with a “safe driving award” (aka speeding ticket) and I’ve learned that the best response to the officer in charge is “yes sir or yes ma’am – total respect. I’m being reminded that what I’ve been doing is unsafe to other people on the road. He has the power to make my life very hard. People in authority over me are worthy of my respect. There are some protocols in place if a person in authority abuses that authority.

The Lord created me and wired me for friendship and fellowship with Him as well as my fellow man. He wants me to trust Him without fear. He wants to have a relationship with me and He even made a way. I can talk with Him. I can ask questions. I can petition Him for help and He shows up. There are times though when I’m in His Presence and there are words to adequately describe Him or with which to thank Him. He is certainly worthy of my feeble attempts to thank Him and praise Him for Who He is to me – my Savior, my Redeemer, my Friend.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Different Perspective

 

There are times when I keep looking at the situation the same way, no matter how many times I come back to it. However, a good friend or confidant might see things from a totally different perspective. I think it’s very wise to have multiple perspectives when dealing with a challenging situation that is way bigger than I can handle on my own.

Job has lost all his possessions, family and now his health. He is beyond distraught and He’s asked God to curse the day he was born. He has three “friends” who come to be with him during this very hard time. One of them attempts to give him a different perspective. Check this out…

2 ‘If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?

    But who can keep from speaking?

3 Think how you have instructed many,

    how you have strengthened feeble hands.

4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;

    you have strengthened faltering knees.

5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;

    it strikes you, and you are dismayed.

6 Should not your piety be your confidence

    and your blameless ways your hope? (Job 4:2-6 NIV)

I really need to see things from multiple angles when I can. It helps develop a healthier perspective of the issue at hand. This guy, Eliphaz the Temanite was reminding Job of what he had done in the past by helping others. In the middle of my struggle and pain, it is often difficult to have a different perspective, let alone several perspectives. I see perspective as a particular angle from which I see things.

I do think that when hearing different perspectives, we have to consider the journey of the friends who are sharing the different perspectives. There are times when my friend’s perspective may be skewed because they’ve been a life-long friend and can’t say what needs to be said. At other times, they speak into my life from their angle and it’s very sobering and spot on. I think that suffering and struggle can be used to bring glory and honor to God. He doesn’t leave me when I suffer and struggle. He is ALWAYS there to guard and guide my steps. The suffering sometimes screams so loud that I loose my memory of how powerful and protective the Lord is.

While I’m thankful for other perspective, I should pay closest attention to the Lord’s perspective. He knows what is best for me, because He built me. I want all that I am and all that I experience to bring honor to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Reverence & Respect

 

Abstract Silhouette PrayingThere are some people that I will always show respect for because of the office they hold. There are still people who serve in high levels of government that are worthy of respect for sure. I respect people who have gone on before me and been willing to share the mistakes they’ve made as well as the secrets to their success. I’ve also seen people who are very worthy of respect treated with tremendous disrespect. Respect is a delicate but important character trait. People who don’t respect others as a general rule, probably don’t even respect themselves. I’m pretty sure that I learned a lot about respect when I went to kindergarten. I learned a lot about respect in my first job opportunities. Respect for others can build lasting relationships for sure.

Nehemiah learns that some of his fellow, wealthy, countrymen are taking advantage of the poorer people among them. They are leveraging their land and abusing them financially instead of helping. He gathers together a huge meeting and calls them out. They accept his challenge of dropping the mortgage liens on their fellow countrymen and return all that they’ve taken from back to them. He is then appointed governor and chooses to lead by example. Check this out…

14 Moreover, from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, until his thirty-second year – twelve years – neither I nor my brothers ate the food allotted to the governor. 15 But the earlier governors – those preceding me – placed a heavy burden on the people and took forty shekels of silver from them in addition to food and wine. Their assistants also lorded it over the people. But out of reverence for God I did not act like that. 16 Instead, I devoted myself to the work on this wall. All my men were assembled there for the work; we did not acquire any land. (Nehemiah 5:14-16 NIV)

I do believe respect and reference are related terms. I do believe however that reverence is reserved for God. I don’t think that I should have more reverence to any human on the planet over reverence for God. I also don’t believe I can show reverence for God without respect first. I do believe it’s honorable to show respect and reverence before God in everything I do. I also believe that I should live my life out of respect and reverence for God. Check this out…

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

I can look at my task list or things to do much differently when I’m living and working out of respect and reverence for God than when I’m just trying to “check everything off”. I want to live and work out of respect and reverence for God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne