Wishful & Hopeful

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetWishful involves want and desire. Hopeful also involves want or desire, but has the ingredient of expectation. Optimism involves both words. I am generally an optimistic person, but I also try to be a realist. I don’t have to be hopeful about doing something I already know how to do – I can be hopeful about improvement. I play guitar, for example – there is always room for improvement and I’m still growing with my instrument. Hopefully I can get better, but it’s wishful thinking if I don’t even attempt to improve.

I wish everyone could know the Lord and walk their life out with Him. I want others to know the peace that His Presence brings. I know that there are some who’ve “written me off” for my faith. I’m ok with that. But I hope that they will one day see that this is not just some goofy idea that I or someone else came up with. There is a Creator and He loves His creation (all of us) and He longs for a relationship with us.

Paul makes a passionate plea in his second letter to the church in Corinth. Check this out…

14 For the love of Christ compels us, since we have reached this conclusion: If one died for all, then all died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the one who died for them and was raised.

20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: “Be reconciled to God.” 21 He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 20-21 CSB)

While I wish, everyone knew the Lord, it doesn’t work to push my faith “in their face”. I’m always happy to discuss why I believe in the Lord. I am not ashamed of knowing the Lord and I don’t make apologies for my belief. My code of behavior comes from Him. My kindness comes from Him. My integrity comes from Him. My love for people comes from Him. My journey in His Word has helped put my convictions in concrete. I put these words from my journey because I’m hopeful that others will investigate this Love that God has for all of us.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

When Does This End?

 

Retro typewriter text the endI’ve watched movies before where I’m checking my watch to see when this dreadful experience will be over. I’ve been to church before and had the same experience – we are on a schedule and we must choose wisely where we spend the most valuable currency we have…our time. I just returned from vacation – several days by the lake enjoying the sunsets over the water. I am back in my more normal routines today.

As I read this passage in 1 Corinthians this morning, Paul was talking about how this all ends. He explained that this life is not the only life we live for or we are pitiful. He speaks frankly on the importance of eternal life and the significance of what Jesus did by His death on the cross. This life will end – but we have hope that the end of this life is not the end of it all – there’s more! Check this out…

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say, “There is no resurrection of the dead”? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation is in vain, and so is your faith.

20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. 22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:12-14,20-22,56-58 CSB)

I still have work to do while I’m here on earth. I must be consistent and faithful in my pursuit of God’s heart not so that I can be saved, but because I am saved. I want to know Him more. I want to live in the hope that there’s so much more.

I heard a guy recently say that “none of us makes it out of this life alive (unless the Lord comes back)”, so we need to start living larger than just our plans and our simple existence. The end of this life comes for all of us at some point in time, but because of Jesus did come to earth, He did live a sinless life, He did die a sacrificial death on the cross, He did come back to life on the third day to conquer death once and for all. There is no need to fear. There is certainly ample reason for hope. I want to live my life for Him to the end of this life and the transition to my new life will be seamless!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Power

Lead By ExampleIt is sometimes interesting to see what happens when normal people get power. There are some who rise slowly through the promotion ranks to positions of powers. There are those who are elected to powerful positions. I believe that people are needed in positions of power to lead. Everyone can’t be “the” leader, but everyone can be “a” leader. There is a great temptation to those in powerful positions to lead with a clinched fist instead of an open hand. It’s easy to become a “know-it-all” when in a powerful position. I’m not advocating that all powerful leaders are bad, I’m just pointing out that I believe a powerful leader can become even more powerful when he or she realizes that leaders serve the people they are charged with leading. Asking good questions of the people I’m leading doesn’t make me weak, I believe it makes me wise.  Power can corrupt good people. Power can lie. Power can cheat. Power can steal. Power can kill.  Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

I believe that the Lord has all Power. I can’t begin to comprehend His Power. I can’t put my head around the Glory of God. He is not bound to our dimension of sight, sound, touch or taste. He came to earth in the person of Jesus and gave His life as a sacrifice for sin once and for all. He delivered to us the Power of God in surrender. Check this out…

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17 CSB)

I believe in God. I have faith in Him. The gospel has changed my life and it’s still changing my life. The gospel goes directly to work on my heart. My choices and my behavior come directly from my heart. If the Lord has my heart, He has all of me. The gospel is powerful to transform a surrendered heart. I see Him at work in me through eyes of faith. His Word magnifies my ability to see Him and know Him.  I want to live by faith with the power of the gospel overflowing out of my life into others. There is great power in living out a surrendered life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

One NAME Alone

JesusJesus man of joyHe is RisenI remember accepting the Lord when I was in third grade. I wanted to follow Him. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord and I decided to do the same. I worked on my behavior and attitude and most days I performed well. When I went off to Bible college, it was to enter ministry. It was there I had a personal encounter with God. My faith became my own. I had been living off the faith of my family, but now I believed for me. I decided that even if my family ditched their faith, I believed in God. Even since that night of deep commitment, I’ve had to remember the simple call of the Lord.  He is not asking for my money, possessions or even my behavior – He’s after my heart. When my heart is committed to Him EVERYTHING else follows. Now, many years removed from my third-grade commitment to my profound belief in college –my heart is still after His heart.  I was so reminded this morning of my journey but just how significant it is to praise the NAME of the Lord. His NAME is above all creation and above every name in the heavens and the earth. The Psalmist pens a cool verse after naming the elements of heaven and earth (including animals and humans) and how the NAME of the Lord stands above them all. Check this out…

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. (Psalm 148:13 NIV)

The Old Testament and the New Testament all point to Jesus. I heard a profound truth last Friday that is still speaking to me. “The Cross on which Jesus died is the hinge on which the doorway of worship swings.” (Louie Giglio) My worship of God is born of my understanding of what I’d be like without Him. I am humbled by the fact the Lord has saved me. I’m not better than anyone else, but He is better than anyone. I want to pursue His heart all my days. A new song that is in my heart is called: Worthy of Your Name by Passion Band.

Rumors of the Son of Man
Stories of a Savior
Holiness with human hands
Treasure for the traitor

No ear had heard, no eye had seen
The Image of the Father
Until heaven came to live with me
A rescue like no other

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Yes You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You did not speak, You made no sound
You died for Your accusers
As Your blood fell to the ground
You redefined my future
 

On the day when You arose
The darkness ran for cover
For the King of kings has claimed His throne
Now until forever

Yes, You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
You are worthy
You are worthy of Your Name
Jesus

You’re my author, my maker
My ransom, my Savior
My refuge, my hiding place

You’re my helper, my healer
My blessed redeemer
My answer, my saving grace

You’re my hope, in the shadows
My strength, in the battle
My anchor, for all my days

And You stand, by my side
And You stood, in my place
Jesus, no other name
No, only Jesus, no other name

______________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Music Messages

 

169 Vk0gMDA1XzIwMTIgLSAwMTAuanBnI believe you can say things with music that are nearly impossible to say any other way. Music captures emotion, energy, deep thoughts and somehow communicates these in a song accompanied by music. I’ve written some pretty funny songs when I look back on them. There are some songs that are classic and stand the test of time. I used to think that every country song ever written was about someone who cheated on their spouse and their dog died and the truck was a must have some mention in the song for it to be successful. I’ve now learned that often country songs tell a life story.

Praise and worship music has replaced some of the Hymns of old. These worship songs cry out to God acknowledging Who He is and all that He is doing. I must confess that I like doing “remakes” of old hymns. I really love using music of scripture to praise the Lord in a personal way even though there’s a bunch of people there. Check this out….

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts! (Psalm 92:1-5 NIV)

I want the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be pleasing to God. I want to speak words that He’s speaking into me. I want to be kind hearted but firm if needed. I want to be gentle, but strong. So much of my journey with the Lord got it’s fuel from worship music. I’m thankful to have been introduced to music. I’m thankful to the gentlemen who showed great patience as he taught me to play.  The song on my heart when I woke up this morning was by Phil Wickham. “Your Love Awakens Me”

There were walls between us
And by the cross you came
And broke them down You broke them down
And there were chains around us
And by Your grace we are
No longer bound  No longer bound
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens Awakens me
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens Awakens me

Feel the darkness shaking
All the dead are coming
Back to life back to life
Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We’re alive Cause You’re alive
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens  Awakens me
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens  Awakens me

And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive

____________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Short Life

Fragile stampI’m not a tall guy – I’m probably of average height. Let’s not talk about average weight and such. I turned 55 in October and I think a lot more about the end of my life than the beginning until now. I find myself reflecting a good bit. I wonder if I’ll live until I’m 70 or 80. There are accidents to avoid and exercises to keep me healthy. I can get creeped out thinking too much about death. I think a better approach might be to live my life to the fullest in whatever time I have left. I believe in the One Who created me and He alone knows how my life will end. When we recently got the news that my brother-in-law has cancer, my thoughts about life were jolted. This is a serious disease. I also heard about a man and his son were going somewhere together when another vehicle crossed the center line and hit them head on, ending both their lives – how does that wife and mother process such a tragedy that came out of “left field”?

As I read the Word this am, I was reminded to talk to the One Who holds the balance of my life in His hands. I was also reminded that my words while I’m living have less significance than when I’m gone. I want to make my time here on earth count for my Creator Who is eternal. This life is preparatory for the life that is eternal. Check this out…

I said, ‘I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.’
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

‘Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure. (Psalm 39:1-5 NIV)

Rich Mullins penned a line in a song that says: “Live like you’ll die tomorrow; die knowing you’ll live forever”. I need to squeeze every ounce of life I have out of my life here as I prepare for eternity. Life is short. Life is fragile. Life is hard sometimes. Life can feel long. A long life is relative to my journey with the Lord. I want to honor Him with whatever life I have left. I don’t want to be self-centered and self-focused. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t want to be reckless with my life. I just don’t want my life here to be so focused on life here that I miss eternity – the BIG PICTURE.

Pressing On!

Dwayne