Test Trials

 

Child in medicine maskTest trials are also known as “Clinical Trials” and these are implemented when trying to find a specific drug or medical protocol that will attack a certain disease or illness. These are tests of sorts and often, they are “last ditch efforts” to help fight certain types of disease.

The book of James comes out of the gate with some crazy ideas regarding trials of life and suffering. This is a different kind of test. Check this out…

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4,12 CSB)

I’ve been through a few trials and suffering in my life and I did not think they were great joy. I will submit that the trials and sufferings built somethings inside of me that weren’t there before. I admit that I was pretty “ticked off” at God because of the trials and suffering, but then when I settled down, I realized that He would not leave. He would walk with me through the trial and He always has a different perspective on my trials from where He “sits”. It is very easy to lose perspective during a trial.

I believe that God has taught me things during trials and suffering that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I learned a lot about me and what I was “made of”. I also learned a lot about the faithfulness of The Lord. He is so patient and understanding while I’m reeling and frustrated. He holds me when I’m hurt and angry. He sits with me when I can’t even talk. I have a different perspective completely on all of life. I want Him with me as I celebrate the joy of life and I know He will be with me when I’m in a trial time or suffering time. He helps me make lemonade out of lemons. He helps me navigate through the dark ally of trial and struggle.

In the middle of one particular trial this song blessed me. “Let Me Feel You Shine” by David Crowder Band.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope – Now & Later

AnchorHope is a word that can be used as a verb or a noun. I’m not an English major, but we have other words in the English language that have different meanings for the same word. For example: I have little hope that she will make a full recovery. (Noun) I am hoping that she makes full recovery. (verb) This may not mean much to others, but I think it’s important to discern between the two. I use the word hope as it pertains to my faith all the time. I have hope for eternal life. I believe that the Lord’s promises are true. This life is not all that there is. On the other side I’m living out the hope I have in the Lord. He gives me hope now and later. Check this out…

10 For God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them. 11 Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of your hope until the end, 12 so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. (Hebrews 6:10-12, 19 CSB)

I have hope today as it settles in my soul. I want my life to demonstrate the hope I have in the Lord. I love the picture of hope being an anchor for my soul. An anchor holds the boat steady even when the current is pulling. The size of the anchor should be in proportion to the size of the boat. My 19’ Pontoon boat doesn’t require an anchor the size of a ship. Likewise, my little pontoon boat anchor wouldn’t hold a big yacht steady for even a second.

Jesus is the anchor for my soul. He is strong enough to steady me no matter how crazy the storm around me gets. He is here and now. He is present in my day to day journey when I invite Him in. He is also my hope in the future. He promises life after this life. The hope He has provided me in the present has deepened my convictions about the future. When the Lord entered my heart, the outcome of my life took on different meaning and significance.  I will never be the same again. My hope in Him changed my present and my future.

My current favorite about hope:   All My Hope is in Jesus by Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

But The Lord

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI realize that this title is not really a “stand-alone” title. These three words jumped off the page of scripture as I ready this morning. I was tracking along with some of my favorite passages that Paul had written to Timothy, the young pastor. For example…

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 CSB)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 CSB)

I love how Paul is finishing strong. He is encouraging this young pastor to keep the faith no matter what comes his way. He is writing this from prison as Paul has a deep heart for the churches that he’s been part of planting. He’s making the “hand-off” to others as his time on earth ends.

He gives some final “house-keeping” info to Timothy and it was here that the three words stopped me in my tracks. Paul is describing a court hearing in Rome, I believe and he had no one present to stand with him or speak on his behalf. Check this out…

16 At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18 CSB)

But the Lord – those three words changed the scene entirely. I can be at the end of my rope and the Lord’s Presence is near. He doesn’t leave me at the crucial time. He doesn’t forget me. I would suggest that even if everyone else leaves, He won’t. He is faithful and true. He is patient beyond description. His Presence changes the ambiance of the room. His Presence ushers in hope with a profound entrance. His Presence calms my soul and directs my thoughts and actions. His Presence drowns out the noise of fear and chaos. But the Lord…. This is going from worst to first. But the Lord is Powerful and Present. But the Lord is all knowing. I would rather being in the scariest places with the Presence of the Lord in me, then to be on the beach or relaxing anywhere without Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fearless & Faithful

 

Brave Courage Overcoming Fear Bravery Vs AfraidNo long ago I read a book called “Fearless” by Eric Blem about the courage and sacrifice of Navy Seal Team Six Operator Adam Brown. I could hardly put the book down as I went on the journey with Adam, his seal team and his family. It was courage on steroids. He epitomized fearless and faithful in a physical sense.

I believe that Christ followers are called to be fearless and faithful too. I should not live in a state of worry and fear wondering what will happen next. I should be faithful to seek the Lord’s heart and His will for me. I believe that I hear from Him through my journey in His Word. When I’m faithful to Him, He seems to remove my fears. I do often wonder as I get older how my life will end. I learned of the death of a friend in a car accident and death was instant. I’ve also watched as a friend suffered and battled for long tough road to death. I also wonder about how things are after you die. I know that scripture promises that God has that, but I don’t know of any eye witnesses who have come back and reported on that. Everyone who dies stays there. I have less of an anxious heart about that than in the past only because I’m learning daily to trust the Lord with the unknown as well as the known. Check this out…

16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 CSB)

I’m not going to leap tall buildings in a single bound or become reckless with my life. I do want to live on purpose and balanced. I simply don’t want to allow fear to creep into my spirit and stress me out about what is coming. I trust the Lord that whatever happens, He will help me through. When I reflect on my journey – this has been the case every time. He has not left me alone at all. He was with me in the darkness of divorce, cancer fight with my son, harrowing near death experience of my youngest son – He is with me through storms of this life and He will be with me in the sunset years as well as my departure from this life. I’m fearless because I’m faithful.

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears is not complete in love. (1 John 4:18 CSB)

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

A Profound Compliment

gold apple on a white plate isolated on white backgroundI do love a genuine compliment. It can lift my spirits and bless my soul deep within. I especially enjoy the ones that have been well thought out and are specific.  I’m not desperate for a compliment, but I do enjoy them and they often embarrass me. I’m humbled by compliments that are genuine and very specific. I try to hand out genuine compliments to others as well. They can be so encouraging and deeply appreciated.

Paul passes out a compliment to church at Thessalonica and it sounded like maybe I’d read it somewhere before. Check this out…

We always thank God for all of you, making mention of you constantly in our prayers. We recall, in the presence of our God and Father, your work produced by faith, your labor motivated by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 CSB)

Faith produced work.

Love motivates labor.

Hope inspires endurance.

This passage reflects a very specific compliment. Paul noticed very specific traits. I thought about how he ended the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians… 13 Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13 CSB)

I want my life to reflect these three characteristics today. I want to work because of my faith in God. I want to be constantly motivated by love (for God, family, others) as I labor. I want to constantly keep focused on the hope I have and feel that inspiration to never give up.

Love and respect motivates genuine compliments. My mom used to remind me that if I can’t say something nice about someone then I shouldn’t say anything at all about them. I think that’s a pretty good rule. I do believe that every human being has some good in them. It’s harder to find in some people, but it’s there. Over used and shallow compliments mean little, but a well-placed, thought-out compliment can bless someone for years to come. I’m still basking in the glow of compliments I received years ago.

A word spoken at the right time is like gold apples in silver settings. (Proverbs 25:11 CSB)

Pressing On!

Dwayne