Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love people. I love some people a bit more than others. I love my big family profoundly. In fact, I love my family at the expense of any other relationship. I grew up in a family with two brothers & two sisters – considered a big family. I also have five children of my own and now three grandchildren. I am so grateful to the Lord for my beautiful big family. I know that the Lord has big plans for them.

I love my work. I became a REALTOR 15 years ago. I had been a student pastor for 20 years prior to that. I loved being with students, teaching them during the most formative time of their lives. In the past 15 years, I’ve learned to build on the principles I learned in ministry. Jesus came to serve not to be served. I have used that as a theme in my real estate business. I get to honor the Lord by serving others. I will say that there have been times in my life where the noise level of my work reached fever pitch.  Several years ago, I started getting up 30 minutes early to have some morning solitude. It really changed how I managed my day. I used to try to sneak some solitude in the middle of my day and I still do on occasion, but my morning solitude is the best. I get to hear from the Lord each day in His Word. Recently, I started my morning with gratitude. I’ve started hitting the snooze button on purpose to lie in bed and give the Lord thanks for my wife, my family, my friends, my work, my country and everything I can think of. My time of solitude features gratitude, reading, journaling, prayer and then some work.

Jesus needed solitude too. The day He got the news of His cousin John the Baptist death, He sought solitude. Check this out.

13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Jesus then teaches & feeds 5,000 men plus the women and children)

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. (Matthew 14:13-14; 22-23 NLT)

Solitude gives me perspective.

Solitude can renew my spirit.

Solitude can renew my strength.

Solitude can settle my anxious heart.

Solitude can enhance my listening to God.

Solitude can influence every hour of my life.

Solitude gives me clarity of life purpose.

Solitude deepens my faith in God.

___________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Authority – Influence

Authority Team Indicates Manager Unity And ControlI have become a bit of a “podcast nerd”. I have loved learning for a long time. It is so easy to go to the podcast app and find some amazing podcasts. I have three different podcasts that I follow regularly – Entreleadership, In the Loop with Andy Andrews & The Brian Buffini Show. These podcasts speak into my life to encourage, inspire & motivate me. Yesterday, I was listening to the Entreleadership podcast with Clay Scroggins, lead pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA.  His topic was “How to Build Your Influence”. He spoke about the contrast of a leader who leads with influence and a leader who leads with power. I loved the content and even listened to it twice. I spend a good bit of time traveling, so I listen to these podcasts almost exclusively in my vehicle. Zig Ziglar used to refer to it as “automobile university”.  This morning I read in Matthew 8 of two instances where Jesus’ authority is noted. He healed people without them being present and He calmed a storm with His spoken words. He definitely had authority. He taught with authority. He healed with authority. He ministered on earth for three years with authority. The story that jumped out to me today was when He calmed the storm. Check this out…

23 Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples.24 Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm.

27 The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27 NLT)

I want to live my life with influence.

If given authority, I want to lead with influence.

If given power, I want to lead with influence.

People with power, often abuse their position. They can make others who work around them or under them miserable. I believe that what Jesus’ authority obviously came from God. He could have done ministry way different than He did. He chose to use His authority wisely. He could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him from the mockery of a trial and ultimate crucifixion – but He didn’t exercise His Power. He followed the plan of His Father and the crucifixion, while painful and deadly, was necessary.

Jesus talk with authority and lived to influence His disciples and the people who were around Him and came to Him for whatever reason.

I want my life to influence others so that they can notice Jesus, Who is the Ultimate Influence upon me.

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

Appearances

 

I have seen people who appear to have it all together. They have a nice house, nice car, beautiful spouse, beautiful children – but once you get to know them, you learn just how broken and miserable they are. They are not who they appear to be. I’ve seen people at church who “appear” spiritual, but their actions speak otherwise. I’ve also seen people who appear to be poor as dirt, but are quite wealthy and good managers of what they’ve been blessed with. It’s dangerous to “judge a book by its cover” – especially when the axiom involves people. It seems that there are a lot people who try to impress others with how they live – the house they live in, the car they drive, the clothes they way – this stuff is way overrated, in my opinion. I want to live a life of influence and significance with my goal of impressing the Lord alone.

My wife and kids know me like no others. I have close friends who know me as well. I have weaknesses and I have strengths. I have never been perfect, but I’m sure trying to be like Jesus, Who was perfect. I don’t ever want to become full of pride where my friends can bring me down to earth. I want to be a humble follower of the Lord and I want the activities of my daily life to validate my faith. Check this out…

15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. (Revelation 3:15-17 CSB)

I must be humble and broken before the Lord. He can use me when I’m empty of me. If I’m empty of me, He can fill me up and spill into the lives of others.

Lord I Need You by Matt Maher

The good news for me is that the Lord can use me right where I am. I just should trust Him to prune the things off me that are “in the way” of Him. He can use me when I surrender all of me to Him and His plan. I DON’T want to be lukewarm.

If I give off the appearance that I have it all together – trust me, I don’t. I have The Lord in my life and He has it all together. He is the reason I appear to have it all together – He is leading my life. He’s leading me as a husband. He’s leading me as a Dad. He’s leading me as a friend/REALTOR. He’s leading me as a Broker.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Humble Pie

pieI heard a guy say a couple of years back that “Humble pie is the pastry that’s never tasty!” It was said in a humorous situation, but there is something to it. Humility is a powerful trait for me to acquire. I think it’s a wise decision to taste the humble pie on my own instead of waiting until it’s forced upon me by outside circumstances or things beyond my ability to control.

I have a sign in my office that says: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re from Kentucky!” (Of course, it’s because I’m a UK basketball fan.)

James speaks of how God loves the humble. Check this out…

But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says:

God resists the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6-8,10 CSB)

If I think too highly of myself – I will be humbled.

If I think I deserve something – I will be humbled.

If I think I’m God’s gift to the earth – I will be humbled.

It is much wiser to approach every situation I face with humility and kindness toward others. I see this as a strength not a weakness. I know who I am and I know Whose I am. I believe by taking the bite of “humble pie” first, I can learn how to lead, influence and inspire others. I’m really turned off by arrogance, but humility really inspires and motivates me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

What If?

Young pretty woman with question marksWhen I look back over some of the highlights of my life, I have a lot of “What if” moments. There are so many small and seemingly insignificant decisions that changed the entire course of my journey. If I look at my life through that lens, I must go back to my child hood. There are probably a lot of things that happened even to my parents and their parents that led to them being born in the first place. Throughout my childhood, I was molded and shaped by my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and Sunday School teachers to name a few. They all poured a bit of knowledge, wisdom and experience into my life. What if some of them or even one of them had not been there. What if I had grown up without being around my grandparents? When I look back at my life, I realize that I often take my journey for granted. I’m so thankful for the people the Lord put in my path who invested a bit into me. It inspires me to pass that blessing on.

I can also look back at my journey and see times when I asked for help from the Lord and He delivered. He didn’t always “deliver” the way I thought He would, but He never left me alone. I never felt like He ignored my prayer.  The Psalmist challenged Israel to imagine what if the Lord had NOT been on their side. Check this out…

if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 124:2-3,8 NIV)

What if Jesus had never come to earth?

What if He had not completed His mission of being the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin?

What if He had not risen from the grave?

I honestly can’t imagine my life with those “what if’s”. I have walked with the Lord trusting Him since before I was in 3rd Grade. I was baptized at Columbia Christian Church in Columbia, KY on a Sunday afternoon. It was too cold to be baptized in the creek. I have meandered my way trying to follow the Lord. When I look back now, I cannot imagine doing life any other way. I now love the Lord. I love His Word. I want to follow Him the rest of my days. What if I had not been introduced to Him along the way? I don’t know how to answer that. I’m so glad He came. I’m so glad my parents introduced me to the Lord. I’m so glad they followed Him and lived it out by example.

The Lord is certainly alive and well and He is for me. He is also with me- always.

Pressing On!

Dwayne