United

Aerial View of Multiethnic People Forming Circle and GlobeThis word is the first part of the name of our country – United States. “United” means to have a common interest and agreement. Our country is made up of 50 states that are one country united together by our love for freedoms and self-government. There is much strength when we unite together. It often seems like we are a polarized nation these days instead of a united nation. I believe that we must lay down our hate and celebrate our differences. I’m not going to get all political, but it seems that we’ve lost a lot of respect for one another. If I disagree with someone or they disagree with me, I shouldn’t hate them.

In our churches, there is strife and disagreement. The different denominations of the evangelical church agree on 97% of teaching from scripture, but we tend to focus on our disagreements rather than celebrate together the part of our teaching that is the same. I believe that the church is stronger when we stand together in the name of our founder – Jesus Christ. We must seek to make Him famous in our world. We do that best in unity. Check this out…

10 I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.

30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31 Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:10,30-31 NLT)

I am who I am because of Who He is and what He has done in me. He changed my heart many years ago. He’s still changing my heart and growing me to look and act more like Him. I have my moments when I get off tract and off purpose, but He welcomes me back. I am a recipient of large doses of grace over the years and I’m learning to be a dispenser of grace. The fact that we ALL need grace should definitely unite us. I don’t know a single follower of Jesus who doesn’t need grace. In fact, if there is one who thinks they don’t need grace, the very arrogance screams out their need for it. If we keep our pride in check, we can certainly be unified. It’s when we think we know more than others (pride) that we tend to pounce on our differences. We need to unify to lift up Jesus and make Him known instead of making ourselves known. Where there is humility in each of us, there is unity with all of us. When we realize our need for Him, we can come together in fellowship with one another in His Name.

Humility unites us.

Grace unites us.

Gratitude unites us.

Forgiveness unites us.

Serving unites us.

Loving unites us

Jesus unites us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

To Be A Child Again

ChildrenI sometimes think about what it might be like to return to my childhood and experience some of those events that are simply memories. I remember Christmas as a child, the anticipation and excitement. I remember birthdays. I remember toys. I remember building a tree house. I remember working in the garden. (Some memories are not as positive!) I remember going to my grandparents’ house to hang out and play. I didn’t have much to worry about as a child. I didn’t have responsibilities like I have now. I didn’t have other people counting on me. I could just enjoy my life within the guidelines of my parents. There is still a big place in my heart for children. I spent 20 years of my life in student ministry and I enjoyed pouring into students. Now that I’m old, I want to be young again!

Jesus was always teaching and speaking with purpose with His disciples. They were all celebrities because they were part of Jesus entourage. They felt important – they were important. Sometimes, they got a little “out of bounds”.  Check this out…

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16 NLT)

Children are all in.

Children are filled with wonder.

Children are light-hearted.

Children are pure-hearted.

Children are innocent.

Children love to be loved.

Children are humble.

Jesus made it crystal clear that I must receive His Kingdom as a child. I need to let Him love me. I need to love Him with an “all in” spirit of gratitude. I need to trust Him. I need to live within the guidelines of His Protection. I need to love like He loves. I need to be humble before Him and everyone else as well. I need to be pure hearted. I need to be filled with wonder.

As I celebrate Christmas with my family, it’s a joy to see how my children have grown into adults. It’s still a joy to see their faces when giving and receiving gifts. It’s a joy to see the innocence of my grandchildren. I want to be a child again today before the Lord. I want to see His Kingdom through child-like wonder.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bible

 

Man praying with the BibleI have started reading a different translation lately. I am reading the New Living Translation (NLT) and I was told it’s on a 6th grade reading level. I really like it so I guess that says a lot about my mental capacity! One of the things that ignited my passion for God’s Word is when I read a different version and started hearing the truth differently that I had heard since I was a kid. I still love The Message (paraphrase) by Eugene Peterson as it paraphrases the Word of God in everyday, contemporary language.

I came across a passage of scripture this morning where Jesus is addressing the “religious leaders” who were calling Him out for healing on the Sabbath. He had instructed a man who had been lame for 38 years to get up and walk and take his mat with him. The religious leaders majored on the minors quite frequently. They were upset that the man was carrying his mat. They were also upset that the man was healed on the Sabbath. They seem to miss the point for sure. Jesus starts explaining Who He is and that frustrates the religious leaders even more. He then speaks clearly where the issue really is. Check this out…

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (John 5:39 NLT)

If I read the Bible and miss seeing Jesus; I’ve missed the point of The Word completely. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, this Word of God is about The Word of God – Jesus. The Old Testament sets up His coming to earth and the New Testament introduces Him to the world and shows us how to live and follow Him.

I don’t want to become so dogmatic about studying the Bible that I miss The Point of the Bible – Jesus. I would not know Him without the Bible. He changed my life starting many years ago. He is still changing my life today. The way He lived – The way He loved – It’s all in the Bible. He is God Who came to the world as a human and lived and worked among us. He not only saved me from hell; He inspires me to live in a way that honors my Creator. The Presence of Jesus in my life via His Spirit has changed my perspective and my response to everything. I enjoy reading the Bible to hear more from Him and more about Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hard To Explain

 

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroomThere are things in life that are very hard to explain in proper words and perspective. I love watching planes fly and I understand the science behind aviation, but it still blows mind that an commercial jet, weighing nearly 1 million pounds can take off and fly through the air.

I’m also fascinated with the weather. Recently we “battened down the hatches” where I live because we were in the path of Hurricane Irma who left a path of destruction for hundreds of miles. When the hurricane arrived in GA, a cold front came in and totally diffused the storm. The meteorologist’s predictions were a bit overkill on that storm.

Jesus meets with a knowledgeable man and explains the Kingdom of God to a man who was well versed in the law and teachings of the law. The Lord gives a good explanation, but also challenges the current system. Check this out…

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)

I have followed the Lord since I was a young kid. I remember being baptized when I was in 3rd Grade. I didn’t understand all the deep things of God, but I believed that He made the world and that He loved me. Since that time, I’ve had some profound experiences that have affirmed my faith in God many times over. I have structured my life around my belief and convictions about God. I believe that He created the heavens and the earth. I believe that His One and Only Son is Jesus, Who came to earth and lived a sinless life and gave Himself to be the final sacrifice for all sin. When Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven, He promised us a Comforter, a Presence called the Holy Spirit of God. Upon accepting Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit shows up and gives guidance, direction, protection, wisdom and peace in every situation that comes my way. I can’t explain the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit, but I know He is here and He is with me. I’ve seen Him in others as well.

I wish I could explain clearly how the Lord has changed my life. It is really simple faith, but a complete life-changing, life altering perspective. I love deeper and live on purpose because of the Presence of God in my life. I wish everyone would get to know Him. I wish I could introduce the Lord more clearly and explain my faith journey more clearly. In the simplest terms, I trust in Jesus with my very life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Worth My Worship

Morning Pray At Beautiful LandscapeI must say that the book of Revelation is quite a unique book of the Bible. It is filled with symbolism and wild descriptive creatures that take some imagination. It sometimes makes me laugh to think how I might describe what John is trying to describe. These creatures seem like something out of a sci-fi movie. John is seeing things that he has never seen before and is trying to describe them in terms of his life experiences and his culture. I do believe that the things we see in heaven will be beyond describing so I’m giving the brother a break as I read this one-of-a-kind book.

The scene is worship. There are creatures that are weird looking in heaven and there are 24 Elders surrounding the throne. The Son of God is on the throne – bright and colorful beyond describing. Worship breaks out often. Check this out…

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne and say,

11 Our Lord and God,
you are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power,
because you have created all things,
and by your will
they exist and were created. (Revelation 4:9-11CSB)

I am pushed back in my chair this morning as I visualize this scene. John had spent personal one-on-one time with Jesus while He walked the earth. Someone beyond description was now in front. He was seeing Jesus in splendor and majesty. I wonder if John was remembering the blind man healed or the lame guy walking after meeting Jesus. I wonder if John was remembering Lazarus who was brought back from the dead. I wonder if John was remembering the scene at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother. John had to be blown away with the scene, but he understood the words as the 24 elders worshiped. The Lord is so worthy of my worship.

Worthy Of Your Name by Passion featuring Sean Curran

Build My Life by Passion by Passion featuring Brett Yonker

I’m excited to join with my fellow Christ followers as we worship as a church today!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Witness Accountability

 

Victory parade dedicated to the Soviet victory over GermanyI have learned to become more aware of my surroundings and what is happening around me. I try to notice little things as well as big things. I witness way more things in life than I often realize. I witnessed signatures of a buyer purchasing a home for the first time and I witnessed the joy and anticipation of the buyer. I also witnessed the relief of the seller. The seller was moving to another town to begin another phase of life and be near her family in the later years of their lives. The relief was a bit bitter sweet as they were leaving behind some memories as well. Being a witness means paying attention. I witnessed an auto accident before and was so traumatized by the injuries that I couldn’t recall what I had just witnessed. I think witnessed should speak clearly about what they saw and heard.

The other word here is accountability. If someone witnessed me doing something on a certain day or time it’s my word against theirs. If there are more than one witness, it’s hard to refute that.

The writer of Hebrews challenges me to endurance because of so many witnesses. The witnesses can hold me accountability for my steady endurance and discipline. Check this out…

1Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 CSB)

The passage always makes me think about people who’ve gone before me. There are so many who poured into my journey of faith. I often wonder if they could see me now from where they are in heaven. If they can see the good, I would assume that they could see the bad choices too. I also recall the people of old who’ve gone on before me whom I’ve never met. I can hardly wait to meet some of them – like Moses, Abraham, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Luke, John, Paul, Timothy – it could be a really long list. There are others I’m looking forward to meeting as well: Dwight Moody, C.S. Lewis, Warren Wiersbe, Norman Vincent Peal, Zig Ziglar, to name a few, who have a great journey with the Lord. There is also my family, some of who are still living today. I think about my grandmother (aka Mammie) and wonder if she knows what an impact she had on my life – is she part of the large cloud of witnesses.

When I become aware of people witnessing my behavior, I can usually pull it together and live right. I do have that following. There are people watching me – my wife, kids, friends, colleagues, co-workers, acquaintances. I am being watched by the most important and significant witness of all – Jesus. He is with me wherever I go. He hears how I talk. He sees what I do and how it matches up with what I say. I want to keep my focus on what He sees and what He thinks of me. I want to stand on His shoulders and love like He loved and live like He lives.

Pressing On!

Dwayne