A Process

faith messageI believe repentance to be an on-going process and not a one-time event. I need to repent today for my sins of today. I believe that I should approach the Presence of God with a repentant and humble heart. The day I accepted the Lord and was baptized into Him was an event. Walking out my faith every day is a process. The people of Israel & Judah were captured by Babylon, but their journey with the Lord was still in process. The Lord, through Jeremiah, tells them that things will change soon. Check this out….

 

4 “In those days, at that time,”

    declares the Lord,

“the people of Israel and the people of Judah together

    will go in tears to seek the Lord their God.

5 They will ask the way to Zion

    and turn their faces toward it.

They will come and bind themselves to the Lord

    in an everlasting covenant

    that will not be forgotten.

20 In those days, at that time,”

    declares the Lord,

“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,

    but there will be none,

and for the sins of Judah,

    but none will be found,

    for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

33 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“The people of Israel are oppressed,

    and the people of Judah as well.

All their captors hold them fast,

    refusing to let them go.

34 Yet their Redeemer is strong;

    the Lord Almighty is his name.

He will vigorously defend their cause

    so that he may bring rest to their land,

    but unrest to those who live in Babylon. (Jeremiah 50:4-5, 20, 33-34 NIV)

 

There are times when the process that I’m in seems to be smothering me as the Lord shapes me and molds me. I must remember that no matter where I find myself, I can trust in Him to help me push through. I must remember that my Redeemer is strong and The Lord Almighty is His name! Most of life is a process instead of a product. Today I will walk through the “process of life” with the Lord in charge. I will walk in the way He directs me because He promises abundant life now and eternal life later.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Life Long Walk

EnduranceThere are times that I reflect on what it would be like to be 14 years old again. I even think back to what I was doing around that age. Then there’s the high school or drama, then off to college, work, marriage and children. In some ways, life has really flown by. I still have the same hands, legs, eyes, ears…body, even though it’s aged a bit since I was really young. If I knew back then what I know now, I have a feeling today would look a bit different. As I reflect to age 14, I remember wanting to serve the Lord in some way. I remember feeling called at age 18 to serve in ministry. As I read from the prophet Isaiah this morning, I was reminded why this life-long walk with the Lord is so important. Check this out….

You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
4 Trust in the Lord for ever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
8 Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,
    we wait for you;
your name and renown
    are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
    in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
    the people of the world learn righteousness. (Isaiah 26:3-4;7-9 NIV)

 

My journey with the Lord has meandered through some pretty dark places. He has never left me or abandoned me. I feel like I’ve left Him too many times, but His love is relentless for me. His way keeps calling me back. I can’t begin to imagine living my life without Him leading the way.

I woke up early this morning without the help of an alarm clock. I am so drawn to Him in the morning so that my day can be lived out in a steady and level fashion. I want to honor Him with my decisions and the activities of my day. If I’m reflecting on my life in another 20 years or so, I hope that I can still have such clarity on walking with Him each day.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Listen & Live

earI’m becoming a bit hard of hearing, as I get older. I think it may have something to do with the volume of my music over the years. I think the generations of young people who are growing up with headphones in their ears are going to be in the same boat as me in regard to their hearing.  My hearing of the Word has improved with age because the Word is speaking deep into my soul every time I open it. Check this out….

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25 NIV)

 

There is a really basic lesson for me here. I must not only listen to the Word, I must act upon it. It seems like every day I read something in the Word, there is a “call to action”. I need to love more. I need to listen more. I need to give more. I need to forgive. The list can go on and on.

I want to be a person who looks into the Word of God and listen intently and then let that Word shape my attitude and my actions. I want God’s Word to be my guide every day. I want to walk in obedience to Him and receive the many blessings that come from the journey with Him. His Presence with me on this journey is the GAME CHANGER. He not only speaks through His Word, He helps me walk it out when I’m walking with Him!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Then and Now

young and oldIt is quite funny to look back at pictures of my younger days. I get quite a chuckle at how I looked back then. I also realize that my body was quite a bit younger back then. It’s kind of weird getting old, because in my mind, I can still do some of the things I used to do, but when I try, I realize that my mind is younger than my body.

I sometimes reflect on my spiritual journey and realize that I am much more connected to the Lord now than at other times in my life. Early on, I lived off the faith of my parents. When I realized that my faith was my own, I began to grow on my own. I must confess that there were times that I was “going through the motions” of my faith because my faith was struggling to make sense of life that was coming quickly at me.  Paul had a word for people just like me. Check this out…

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Galatians 2:4-9 NIV)

 

I think it is healthy to take a look back at the history of my faith journey. I have had my share of struggles and trouble. I can so see the hand of God in times of deep pain and struggle. I can also see His hand in times of absolute joy and gladness. There are times in my journey when I ignored Him. There are times when I felt really near to Him. I think life has ebb and flow – ups and downs. The times when I’ve been down are times when He rescued me or came near. He will be with me no matter what my attitude or my feelings are like.  God is not fickle – He is FAITHFUL!  As I take an honest look back, I’m not so faithful, but I’m still running to Him most every day. If not running to Him, I’m running toward Him!  I simply don’t know a love like His. His love, His mercy and His grace are truly remarkable and amazing! I want to live strong and finish strong pursuing His heart!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Life

GameThere is this board game called the “Game of Life”. I played it as a kid and had lots of fun pretending to be someone else, with a fake job, fake family, fake money, etc… It was a bit of a reality check though because it made me think about what my life would look like someday.

I now live out the “game of life” every day. I get to make choices based on my values and my convictions. I know that as a believer, my systems and ideas with be directly opposed to what others believe in or think about. I’m good with that. It does not mean that I’m better than anyone else, or better off than anyone else. I just want to live with eternity in mind. This life is not all there is.

Paul enters into debate with some of the Jewish Christians and the non-Jewish (Gentile) Christians. He makes it really clear that we are saved because of Jesus, NOT because of good behavior on our part. Check this out…

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:15-21 NIV)

 

This passage of scripture really blesses me personally because I’ve tried to be good and I’ve still failed. I’ve tried to do all the right things and still failed. Just because I’m saved by grace doesn’t me that I’m going to be a “hellion” going forward. I’m so thankful for grace that I want to honor the Giver of grace.  I live for Him. I love because of Him. He sustains me. He directs me. He walks with me. He has saved me! I can’t imagine this game called life without Him!

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Daily Surrender

Man praying with the BibleI remember becoming a Christian in 3rd grade. I was old enough to know that I wanted to be a fireman before that. After accepting Jesus and being baptized, I wanted to become a minister.  I felt like that is what God wanted me to be. He did a lot of shaping of my heart and life over the years. When I graduated High School, I set off to Bible College not sure about this whole ministry thing. It was at the end of my freshman year at what is now Johnson University Tennessee that I developed a “faith of my own”.  I had been living off the faith of my parents. I realized that I believed in God no matter what others believed. He became real to me that day. I still remember where I was and what I was doing.  Every since that day, my journey has been up and down. There have been deep, dark struggles with sin. There have been lots of painful moments. The Lord has never left me alone or forsaken me even though I felt like I had left Him at times.

As I read about Jesus journey with His disciples and He begins preparing them for His impending death, I can’t help but think back to where my journey with Him began.  He speaks to them about daily surrender and daily commitment. Check this out…

23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26 NIV)

I was reminded this morning that following Jesus is a daily choice. Today, I choose to follow Him.

Following Him will involve lots of challenges.

Following Him will require surrender.

Following Him will require sacrifice.

Following Him will require faith.

Jesus is the Author, Provider, Protector and Point Person of my faith. He is faithful even when I’m unfaithful. He is kind, even when I’m hateful. He is present, even when I’m absent. I am committed to following Him every day for the rest of my life. I want to follow Him closely. I will follow Him even when I’ve stumbled and He’s now further away – I will follow.

The daily choice I have made to follow Jesus has turned into years of following Him. I’m so grateful for His Presence and His Promises to never leave me. I surrender again today to His Will and His Way.

Pressing On!
Dwayne