Pursuit

follow your heart words holding by businessman's handI sometimes think of this word in negative terms. For example, when a car with blue lights is in pursuit of my car, I know I’m about to get a “safe driving award” for exceeding the speed limit. I’ve not been pursued like this in a good while and I’m thankful. I also try to think of this word in a positive way – pursuing hopes and dreams. I still have those for my life. I want to be in daily pursuit of my goals and ambitions.

I came across a story in the book of John that reminded me of the word “pursuit” even though it’s not in the scripture. Check this out…

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. (John 21:4-9 NLT)

I was immediately reminded of the event found in Matthew 14 when the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the night and a storm came up and they were struggling to keep moving. Jesus came up walking on the water and it freaked them out. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he said, “Lord if its really you, tell me to come walking on the water.” Jesus said, “Come”. Peter did just that, he got out of the safety of the boat and headed toward Jesus. In this story, Peter gets out of the boat and leaves his responsibility with the net and the huge catch of fish behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Peter is portrayed as a passionate follower of Jesus. He was used by the Lord to be a great leader in the early church. He seems impulsive and unpredictable. He was predictable when it came to Jesus – He wanted to be with Jesus wherever He was.

This simple passage stirred my heart to stay in a passionate pursuit of God with my life. I must make my pursuit the highest priority of my life. My pursuit of God begins in my heart and then is shown in my behavior. If I reverse this, it doesn’t work well. I grew up trying to “show” my faith with my behavior, while my heart wasn’t in it. I’m still learning that behavior follows the heart. The heart doesn’t follow behavior – it simply tolerates it. If I want to be in genuine pursuit of God, it begins with heart change.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Death

 

death Grunge TextI am not a fan of death. I recently experienced the death of a dear aunt and then two weeks later, her son died. Death is so permanent relative to my life here and now. In relationship to eternity, it more like a new chapter. I see eternity as “the long game” or “the big picture”. While death is the end of this life, it moves us squarely into eternity. The way I understand scripture, this life determines the destination in eternity.

This morning I read about the death of Jesus from John’s perspective. John was probably the closest of the 12 disciples to Jesus. He was standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus breathed His last. The death of Jesus “felt like” the end, but it certainly wasn’t. Jesus came to earth to fulfill His mission to conquer sin and death. His death on the cross accomplished both. He died for the sins of the world. His death was made even more significant because of how He lived, His teaching and His ministry here on earth. He was the promised Messiah and many missed that. Check this out…

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on, this disciple took her into his home. 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:25-30 NLT)

I’ve read the other accounts of Jesus’ death and they are a bit more dramatic. John’s version is pretty simple. I think John’s is feeling a lot of the weight of the earthly family of Jesus. His death was very public and at this point probably pretty humiliating. It’s hard to have the perspective that He is the Savior of the World during this dark afternoon.

I honestly dread death. I’ve been trying to prepare myself for that eventual “ending” to my life here on earth. I decided years ago that my best response to death was to connect with the Creator of Life and live inside His Plan for my life. He has given me opportunity to invest in others. I am blessed with 5 amazing kids who also desire to know the Lord deeply and understand His plan for their lives. I also know that my life here can “live on” through my relationships and my “investments” into eternal things rather than just temporary things. Not one human being on the planet can escape death, so I’m taking the route of planning for it and leaning into it. I want my life and influence to count for years to come through my investment into my children; their children and anyone who will listen. The Word of God is true and He gives a clear plan for “retirement” from this life – total trust in Jesus. I’m putting my hope in Him!

All My Hope Is In Jesus – Crowder

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Connected

Technology in the handsI am a huge fan of wireless technology. Whenever possible I use Wi-Fi, which is simply a name that tells me if there are wireless capabilities to a network. I think it’s pretty crazy to think of all the “wireless connections” in the air around us. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to see them all like tiny laser beams in the air. I know it would blow my mind. I have to be close to a Wi-Fi connection in order for it to work.

As I journeyed through John 15, I see that Jesus gives a connection analogy that reminded me that I need to be wired to Him. Check this out…

1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:1-8 NLT)

In a crazy sort of way, I’m directly connected to the Lord. I realize that I’m not “physically connected”, but I need to be “spiritually connected” to Him. I need to be in close proximity to Him at all times. He is the ONLY Connection that promises me both abundant life here and eternal life after this life. He is the ONLY connection that brings peace, joy, comfort, direction and hope. I don’t ever want to lose my connection to Him. Without my connection to Him, I am nothing. He has built me and made me who I am. He built me for connectivity to Him. He is the reason I’m alive. He bears fruit in my life and through my life because I’m connected to Him. It’s certainly NOT because I’m great – It’s all Him!

I intend to remain “wired” to Him for the rest of my life. He is the Source of strength, direction, hope, grace, mercy, patience & love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Impress

 

Wow Surprised Word Astonished SurprisingJust about everyone I meet makes some sort of impression upon me. Some impressions are positive and some are negative. I must also realize that I’m actually making some sort of impression upon them – either positive or negative. Some folks are always trying to impress others by how much they know or how important they are. Others seek to impress by what they wear or how they carry themselves.

A friend of mine used to describe some of the prideful, arrogant as “impressed by themselves”. He also said, “if you could buy them for what they are worth and sell them for what they “think” their worth, you could retire tomorrow.”

I know that I should be trying to impress the Lord with a heart that seeks His heart. I believe if my heart is right, my actions follow from there.

Jesus was speaking to many people about Who He was and what He was trying to do while He was here on earth. And there was a sad statement in the narrative that I think is still happening today. Check this out….

42 Many people did believe in him, however, including some of the Jewish leaders. But they wouldn’t admit it for fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. 43 For they loved human praise more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43 NLT)

I must admit that I do like human praise. I like it when people compliment me on something I’ve accomplished. It is very dangerous to lean into those accolades and compliments. I must stay grounded in Who I belong to. I must remember that without the Lord, I’m nothing. I can’t get pride-filled and arrogant. I must remember where my hope is.

Some people even today desire human status rather than eternal hope. I’ve seen young people “chunk their faith” to be liked and accepted by college friends or co-workers. I think that I’m often so “short sighted” when I try to make an impression on one person at the expense of another. I should be simply trying to impress the Lord with a humble and hope-filled heart. I should seek to love like He loves. I should care way more about what He thinks of me, how I look and how I carry myself, rather than what others think.

I heard a great line yesterday that said: “I’m not trying to impress you with my story, I’m trying to impress upon you the joy in the journey”.

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

All Things New

 

Word in Stars Announcing Brand New Product or ImprovementI love the smell of a new car. I used to love owning a new car, but I hated the payments and I also hated the depreciation that descended the minute I drove off the lot. I do like new stuff. I especially like new technology toys. Right now, I’m enjoying the new iPhone operating system (aka IOS) because “my phone feels new, yet somehow familiar”.  New & Improved are marketing tools for a whole host of products. There are times that “new & improved” are simply marketing slogans and nothing much has changed.

John is nearing the close of his revelation. He is seeing more things that are hard to describe and explain. He writes what he hears and does his best to describe the scenes before him. This scene is one of my favorite. Check this out…

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give free from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:3-7 NLT)

I am thankful to serve the Lord as He dwells with me. He has been with me through some dark valleys for sure. He has been with me through some deep pain and suffering. His Presence is most definitely a game changer. He brings hope with Him. He brings healing – spiritual and often physical, when He enters. I look forward to a world without death, sorrow, crying or pain. I look forward to being in His Presence without a worry or care in the world.

Just yesterday, the daughter of a REALTOR friend was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. It immediately brought some memories back when my son was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the helpless and hopeless feelings that came with that. As a Dad, I would have exchanged places with my son through that battle. My heart is heavy for my friend and the journey that she is on with her daughter. I’m envisioning a place with no cancer, no sickness of any kind. I’m longing for that place.

A song that ministered to me during our journey is still speaking to me today.

Let Me Feel You Shine by David Crowder.

This place is trying to break my belief 
But my faith is bigger than all I can see 
And what I need is redemption 
And what I need is for You for to put me back on my feet 

I swear I’m trying to give everything 
But I feel I’m falling, make me believe 
What I need is resurrection 
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet 

If I could feel You shine Your perpetual light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If I could feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Let me feel You shine Oh
Let me feel You shine

I lift the knife to the thing I love most 
Praying You’ll come so I can have both 
What I need is You to touch me 
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need 

God I need a Savior 
O come generous King 
O God I need a Savior 
To come rescue me 

Oh let me feel You shine Your magnificent light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If You let me feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Oh let me feel You shine 

______________________________

I want to feel the Presence of God all over my life every day of my life. I want to feel Him shine upon my life with His life-giving LIGHT!  He is the LIGHT of The World! He has the power to make all things new – in fact it’s a promise!

Pressing On!

Dwayne