Pilgrimage

 

old life new lifeI have been on trips before, but I always return home. I don’t mind a little bit of travel, but it’s not nearly as fun without my family along. If I am gone more than 3 days, I start getting anxious to get home. I love my wife, my family, my simple home, my simple life. I really enjoy my work of serving people in one of the largest decisions of their lifetime – purchasing or selling their real estate. I tend to see my life more of a marathon than a sprint.

I was reading this beautiful Psalm written by the sons of Korah. It speaks for the dwelling place of God. It reads more like His dwelling place in a literal place, but because of Jesus, we know that God no longer dwells in temples made with human hands – He dwells inside the hearts of the people, He made, who welcome Him inside their heart. Check this out…

How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.

Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.

10 Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.

12 Lord Almighty,

    blessed is the one who trusts in you. (Psalm 84:1-2, 3b-5, 10-12 NIV)

I remember singing a song years ago in worship that declared “one day in the house of God was better than a thousand elsewhere”. I’d rather be a greeter in God’s house than sitting at the largest board rooms advising CEO’s and Owners. I’d rather be a door holder in God’s house than the wealthiest guy on the planet.  This pilgrimage/journey with God changed the direction of my life years ago and the course has only gotten clearer as the days fly by on this earth. He offers hope and promise of eternal life. He also makes my life here more abundant and on purpose. My pilgrimage/journey with the Lord continues.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Here is the song I was speaking of: Better Is One Day

Perspective & Perception

 

Man praying with the BibleI believe that perspective shapes perception. To take it a step further, perception for most people is their reality. There have been times, I confess, that I have formed an opinion based on my perception rather than the facts of the matter. King David seems a bit stressed, but he manages to give me a solid perspective about God from his personal journey. Check this out…

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.

19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.

28 Summon your power, God;
    show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.

32 Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth,
    sing praise to the Lord,
33 to him who rides across the highest heavens, the ancient heavens,
    who thunders with mighty voice.
34 Proclaim the power of God,
    whose majesty is over Israel,
    whose power is in the heavens.
35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
    the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Praise be to God! (Psalm 68:4-5,19-20,28,32-35 NIV)

God brings Presence to those who are lonely and afraid.

God bears our burdens so that our load is much lighter.

God brings the Ultimate Power to a situation that it totally beyond my ability or my power.

God’s strength and power are beyond my understanding, but I’ve experienced both and I often need both.

My perception and perspective of God comes through my journey in His Word.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Genealogy

Family tree, relatives, people silhouettesIt’s probably not a bad thing to take a look at the family tree to see all the connections of people who’ve gone before me. Over the years I’ve learned a lot about my grand parents and great grand parents. I don’t know much about my family beyond that except that life was pretty hard.

I’ve finally finished the first 8 chapters of 1 Chronicles and it was “tough sledding” for a bit. It was cool to connect the grandkids or great grandkids back through the family to one of Jacobs’s sons. I was cool to see how Saul the first King of Israel connected back to the youngest son of Jacob. It was also cool to see how the great X4 sons of Saul were young warriors too. Check this out…

29 Jeiel the father of Gibeon lived in Gibeon.

His wife’s name was Maakah, 30 and his firstborn son was Abdon, followed by Zur, Kish, Baal, Ner, Nadab, 31 Gedor, Ahio, Zeker 32 and Mikloth, who was the father of Shimeah. They too lived near their relatives in Jerusalem.

33 Ner was the father of Kish, Kish the father of Saul, and Saul the father of Jonathan, Malki-Shua, Abinadab and Esh-Baal.

39 The sons of his brother Eshek:

Ulam his firstborn, Jeush the second son and Eliphelet the third. 40 The sons of Ulam were brave warriors who could handle the bow. They had many sons and grandsons—150 in all.

All these were the descendants of Benjamin. (1 Chronicles 8:29-33; 39-40 NIV)

As I take a moment to reflect on my grand parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, brothers – I am kin to a lot of people. Some of them I know really well. Others have settled in other states or even countries. They have lived their life out where they are. As we grow older and wiser (hopefully) we learn the value of our family and our roots.

I can’t help but reflect on my spiritual family tree. I remember those along the way in my life who poured into me and taught me much about the Lord. Sometimes I was taught with words, but more often than not it was their actions that confirmed what they were saying about their faith. My spiritual family is way bigger than the genealogy of my physical family for sure. I grew up in Kentucky going to Roley Christian Church (the church closed and a different church meets in the same building). I went to Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University), I had my first ministry at Crab Orchard Christian Church. My first full-time ministry was as a youth minister at First Christian Church in Maryville, TN. I moved from there to Whitesburg, GA and became their first full time youth minister. I then landed at First Christian Church in Carrollton as the youth minister. That ministry evolved into music and college ministry. After that my family started connecting to Southern Hills Christian Church where I am today. It’s sometimes helpful to look back where I’ve been and notice how the Lord was connecting me with so many different people along the way to bless me and pour into my heart and life. I am a product of my physical and spiritual genealogical journey.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Big Family

IMG_4701It’s interesting to research the family tree. Here in the Deep South we have despairing jokes about how some peoples family tree don’t fork. It’s interesting to trace my roots back for several generations. I grew up in Kentucky with deep roots there on my mother’s side. My Dad’s family was from North Carolina. I remember as a kid visiting our relatives in Boone, NC. It was memorable to see where my Dad’s family grew up and did life. At family reunions in Kentucky, we used to get together and all the aunts, uncles and cousins would show up to my grand parents. They were the patriarchs of our family. My mom and dad both came from big families.

As I read this morning in 1 Chronicles, I came across the family tree of David, who later became King of Israel. He was from the tribe of Judah and his dad was 7 generations down from Judah. Check this out….

13 Jesse was the father of

Eliab his firstborn; the second son was Abinadab, the third Shimea, 14 the fourth Nethanel, the fifth Raddai, 15 the sixth Ozem and the seventh David. 16 Their sisters were Zeruiah and Abigail. Zeruiah’s three sons were Abishai, Joab and Asahel. 17 Abigail was the mother of Amasa, whose father was Jether the Ishmaelite. (1 Chronicles 2:13-17 NIV)

David was the seventh (youngest) son of Jesse, yet he became the greatest because of his walk with God. He figured out just how uncomplicated following the Lord is. He sang songs to God while watching the sheep. He trusted in the Lord when he faced an animal that threatened the sheep under his care. David evidently learned at a young age the importance of trusting God. He grew from obscurity to significance because the Lord was with him.

I’m good with being the son of a Kentucky man with North Carolina roots who follows the Lord. I learned about the Lord at a young age, but it took a minute for me to trust Him completely. I want my life to be significant and have a positive impact on others. I don’t have to become a king or president. I simply need to live a life of significance from where I am and the Lord will work through me to accomplish His significant plans.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Old & Faithful

happy and motivated old people 3dI really admire older people. They have such great life experiences to share. I’ve learned a lot about what NOT to do from the stories of older people in my life. They can usually tell you what won’t work. Before I go too far speaking about older people, I must admit that I’m closing in fast on that description myself. AARP has already started sending me invitations to join. I’ve resisted for now.

Solomon had such a remarkable journey, but unfortunately he didn’t finish strong. He became unfaithful when he got old. He loved women – lots of women. He had hundreds of wives and concubines. He started following their gods and this became detestable to the Lord. While their culture evidently allowed for multiple wives, I don’t believe that was the Creators plan for marriage.

4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done. (1 Kings 11:4-6 NIV)

It’s a bit of a bummer that Solomon had followed the Lord so strongly and then when he got older, instead of getting stronger in his faith, he got weaker. I believe that at every age and stage of life, there will be “voices” trying to pull me away from my faith. I believe the enemy will use anyone or anything he can to erode or destroy my faith.   I believe that temptation will always be part of my journey, but the Lord can provide the strength I need to resist temptation.

Today is my 21st wedding anniversary. Tina and I have built a marriage and home centered on the Word of God. We want to follow Him all of our days. My life and my heart had been hurt deeply, but God made “beauty from the ashes”. I am so blessed and so thankful.

As I grow older, I want to be even more faithful in following the Lord. I want to hear from Him daily. I want His Wisdom to trump my experience and my knowledge. I know that every day I need Him to direct my path and speak into my heart. I’m thankful for my wife of 21 years, who also seeks after the Lord. I am blessed.

IMG_4570Pressing On!

Dwayne

Write It Down

 

taking notesIf I will write something down, I have a better chance of actually remembering it. I can definitely tell that my memory needs some support, as I grow older. I am a huge fan of Evernote, one of the best apps for keeping up with stuff I want to remember. I can’t remember the actual first day that I started writing this blog after spending some time with the Lord in His Word. I can say that taking the time to write down what the Lord is saying to me through His Word had been life changing for me. I have greater clarity when I write this down.

Even at the turn of a New Year, I think there is great value in writing down highlights of where I’ve been and where I’m going. I really want to stay sharp and on point with my life. It really helps to write down priorities and goals.

The Lord has the wisdom faucet turned on as Moses is imparting wisdom and solid teaching to the people of Israel prior to their conquest of the Promised Land. He was reminding them of how critical it is for them to follow the Lord personally and to teach their children and grand children about the incredible Love and Presence of God in their lives. Check this out…

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the door-frames of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)

I believe there is great value in having a Bible verse printed on a plague to remind me of the promises of God. I think it’s valuable for me to put in writing because then it’s not just a concept, thought or an idea. For me to write it down makes is something tangible and concrete (even though it might be digital at the time) – it takes the idea or thought and makes it more tangible and relatable. (I’m actually having a hard time “writing” about this concept of writing down things that really matter.

I love the fact that the Lord wanted the parents to teach their children about their journey. He wanted them to make it a topic of conversation as they were walking along the road (riding bikes), sitting down to breakfast or at bedtime. He suggested writing in on the doorframes of the house. I can so tell that teaching these truths to children were a priority. I can do more teaching with my life than writing an ocean full of books on the subject. I do want to live out my faith even as I write about it.

Pressing On!

Dwayne