Learning

Concept of learningI have learned a lot in my years here on earth. I’ve learned some really obvious lessons over the years. I’m pretty sure I’m learning something new every day. I would say that some new things I learn have a profound affect on me, while others are fairly mundane and simple, but new nonetheless.

As I make my journey through the Word of God, I learn or “re-learn” some new insight into God’s heart and His character. He teaches me in simple terms because I consider myself a simple man who loves the Lord and wants to follow Him.

Job was a follower of God. God has blessed him. He has followed the Lord with his life. Job was so devoted and devout that the Lord allowed Satan to test him extensively. He could not attack his soul, but every other part of Job’s life was available for the test. His family was taken; his livestock and his health were all taken from him. He did not curse God, but he has lots of commentary and discussion about God’s role in his struggles. Check this out…

11 Does not the ear test words

    as the tongue tastes food?

12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?

    Does not long life bring understanding?

13 ‘To God belong wisdom and power;

    counsel and understanding are his. (Job 12:11-13 NIV)

I was reminded that I must test the things I hear compared to the truth the Holy Spirit speaks into me. I believe that the truth of God is revealed in His Word. I also believe that He speaks into my heart through His Word. I also believe that the Holy Spirit prompts me to action and activity. I believe the Holy Spirit can explain and interpret deep and complicated truths for me.

Job’s suffering was intense and I’m not sure that his friends were helping encourage him much. He hasn’t lost his faith or his mind. He definitely feels the pressure from his profound losses, but he still doesn’t curse God. I think he clearly blames God for this, but he continues his respectful posture before the Lord. The Lord teaches me deep truths about himself in the middle of suffering. He has my attention when I’m suffering. I don’t like suffering, but I like the long-term effects upon my heart – it softens my heart and grows my ability to understand the suffering of others. I have so much to learn but not crazy about this “Academy of Experience” where I’ve been in school at since I was born.

I would love to be a life long learner of the things of God. I want Him to teach me, to lead me and to hold me close to His heart. I also want to remember and recall the lessons I’ve learned.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Ask

 

Young pretty woman with question marksThis is a short verb that carries a lot with it. It almost involves a question. I’ve been told “Don’t Ask”, sarcastically when I really will not want to know the answer. Asking is implying that I don’t know. Asking can be a teachable moment. This three-letter word can change the entire direction of a journey.

Nehemiah was cupbearer to the king of Persia. He was responsible for making sure the wine that was given to the king and queen was not poisoned. He was thoroughly trusted by the king and this position was actually a pretty high-ranking position. He had heard about Jerusalem and the exiles that were sent there by King Darius with Ezra had gotten “bogged down” with the work. His concern evidently showed on his face. The King asked him about his sad countenance. Nehemiah shared with him what was going on (rather what was not going on) back in his homeland. He then asked the king for the opportunity to go do the work. He also asked for some resources and protection so the king sent him with letters that would provide for the rebuilding. Nehemiah heads to Jerusalem and starts surveying what all needs to be done. He then assembles the leaders and people who are living in the abandoned city. Check this out…

17 Then I said to them, ‘You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.’ 18 I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me.

They replied, ‘Let us start rebuilding.’ So they began this good work. (Nehemiah 2:17-18 NIV)

Nehemiah asked the Lord for help and courage. Nehemiah then had the courage to ask the king if he come back to his homeland to rebuild. He also had the courage to ask the king for resources (money and materials) to accomplish the work.

Asking can be hard work.

Asking can be humiliating.

Asking can be very helpful.

Asking can be very insightful.

I’ve asked for a lot of help over the years and I’m thankful that others responded enthusiastically to come to my aid. I’ve also been asked to help others over the years and I’m thankful to have been able to be part of helping them.

I want to grow in this area. I want to ask The Lord about everything. I want to be humble enough to ask for help from others when I need help. This little three-letter word can be the difference between success and failure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Decision Makers

Decision Making Process Word Circle ConceptThere are people who make big decisions constantly throughout the day. The leaders of our country make decisions every day and they often affect a large number of people. I love our country even though I’m not always in agreement with some who lead; they are still my fellow citizens. There are other people who make decisions for our state, our county and our city. At these levels we the people often have an audience with the leaders. There are decision makers in business who study spreadsheets and data. Sometimes making decisions is really easy and sometimes it’s really difficult. There are times when the funding is short for a project and there are financial cuts that have to made – it is not a fun situation for the decision makers.

King Jehoshaphat appointed judges throughout the land and gave them a strong charge about decision-making. Check this out…

5 He appointed judges in the land, in each of the fortified cities of Judah. 6 He told them, “Consider carefully what you do, because you are not judging for mere mortals but for the Lord, who is with you whenever you give a verdict. 7 Now let the fear of the Lord be on you. Judge carefully, for with the Lord our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery.” (2 Chronicles 19:5-7 NIV)

I was impressed with this charge. He was basically reminding the people he appointed judge over others that it really wasn’t about them. It was really about them serving the Lord. He was also reminding them to not be coerced into a particular decision.

While some decisions are based on fact, some decisions are based in intuition and experience. I’ve made good decisions based on bad data and I’ve made bad decisions based on good data. The odds are certainly in my favor if I have good data and good insight to the ramifications surrounding a decision.

I made a decision many years ago to follow the Lord. I don’t think for a second that it was a one-time decision. I believe that following the Lord is a daily decision. There are certainly many options available to NOT follow Him. The longer I follow Him, the easier it is to know His heart and His will for a particular decision. I can talk to Him about the most trivial decision and the most profound decision and He gives wisdom and direction. His Spirit in me settles my soul and gives great clarity to any decision I face.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Follow Directions/Instructions

 

I recently purchased a new gas grill for my back deck as well as camping trips. I recalled the first gas grill I purchased and it came with very tedious and detailed instructions about assembly. I remember thinking that I would not do that again. This new grill was mostly assembled when it came out of the box. I think I had to put in 4 screws and two nuts and I was finished. The instructions were simple as well as the assembly, because it was mostly assembled for me.

I sometimes struggle with directions and instructions. I hear the first step pretty clear, but after the third step, I can’t seem to retain all of that. For example, when someone gives me directions and there is more than two turns, I may not get to where I’m supposed to be going. It’s helps me tremendously to write the directions down.

King David had prepared a place to put the Ark of the Covenant. He recalled the first time they tried to bring it to Jerusalem and he did it differently this time. Check this out…

11 Then David summoned Zadok and Abiathar the priests, and Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel and Amminadab the Levites. 12 He said to them, “You are the heads of the Levitical families; you and your fellow Levites are to consecrate yourselves and bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel, to the place I have prepared for it. 13 It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way.” 14 So the priests and Levites consecrated themselves in order to bring up the ark of the Lord, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the Lord. (1 Chronicles 15:11-15 NIV)

This was a hard lesson learned for David. I could hear the frustration with himself over the mistakes he made the first time he moved the ark. I think there are at least a couple of reasons that I don’t follow instructions/directions very well. First, I get excited to go for it and the details escape me. Second, I’m too proud to admit I don’t know something.

I’m learning to slow down and gather data before taking action. I’m learning to follow instructions that came with the project. I’m learning that there is great wisdom in laying down my pride and asking for insight from others who’ve been down this road before. The most important person that I seek direction and insight from is the Lord. He speaks volumes of wisdom through His Word and He often prompts me on the spot through the Presence of His Spirit in me. I know that probably seems weird to others, but I’ve learned to trust His prompting. I’m resolved to follow His direction and His instruction for my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wisdom Beyond Words

Man praying with the BibleI had the privilege of seeing my son graduate from High School last evening. He was among a very impressive class of students. I was proud of him receiving Highest Honors as well. I was also impressed by the Salutatory and Valedictory addresses respectfully. The students have completed another part of their life journey. I was also impressed to see the faculty sitting behind the students. These were the people who invested daily in educating them in lessons of life as well as the “three R’s”. There is so much learning going forward. I actually want to be a life-long learner. I want to keep growing and improving on what I’ve learned and the things I know.

God asked King Solomon in a dream what he wanted as the new king, and He asked for a discerning heart. The Lord was pleased with his request and answered his prayer profoundly with incredible wisdom and discernment. Check this out…

29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33 He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 34 From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom. (1 Kings 3:29-34 NIV)

As I read this passage this morning, I was amazed at how God richly blessed Solomon with wisdom and discernment as well as incredible riches and wealth. I would rather have the blessing of God upon my life than the riches of others. I’m convinced that many people seek joy and meaning in material things rather than spiritual depth. I have been there and done that. I still find myself fighting to keep from wanting what others want. I would rather have a deep personal relationship with God and be known by Him than to be known and adored by millions of other people. Solomon’s pursuit of God’s heart brought blessings too numerous to count.

I’m praying for a simple journey of seeking God for my 2016 graduate and his graduating class. I’m actually praying that prayer over my whole family. I would rather my kid be broke as a joke and know the Lord rather than to have incredible wealth and influence and not know the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wise Counsel

 

counselI have always been fascinated with shows & movies about the presidency of the United States. As I kid I loved American history. I have enjoyed television shows like The West Wing and Madam Secretary to name a couple. One thing I’ve noticed about leaders at all levels from the President to the owner of a small business; they all need wise counsel.

There are times when I think I know the right decision and someone will advise me to consider another angle or to see the particular issue from another angle. There are also times when a leader surrounds himself or herself with counsel that will only agree with them. In those cases, they don’t want wise counsel; they just want the appearance of wise counsel.

David was fleeing from his son Absalom who was attempting a coup. David had prayed that one of Absalom’s key advisors would give bad counsel as he tried to take the kingdom. The Lord heard David’s prayer and Ahithophel gave bad ideas and counsel. Absalom turned for additional counsel and this guy actually ended up helping David as well. Check this out…

7 Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. 8 You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. 9 Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first, whoever hears about it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave. (2 Samuel 17:7-10 NIV)

Hushai then sent word to David about the strategy of Absalom. Wise counsel is critical to having received all the information needed before action is taken. If a leader makes a decision before all the data is in, he or she could be headed down a road to disaster.

I thought about the person who represents himself before a court and the old saying that goes with that… “He who has himself for a client, has a fool for an attorney”.

I would be wise to ask lots of questions and try to understand all the different angles of an issue before a decision is made. I would also be wise to seek wise counsel from opposing sides before making a decision. I also believe that the Ultimate Counsel is the Holy Spirit of God. When I seek wisdom from God, He dispenses it liberally. He loves it when I ask for His counsel and His direction. His Word gives insight and wisdom beyond compare. I so want to grow in wisdom and understanding that comes directly from the Heart of God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne