A Different Kind of Harvest

planting gardenI love spring time even though we are not quite there yet, we are getting closer every day! The jonquils are blooming in Georgia and that means spring is very near. This morning I read a passage about planting and harvesting a different kind of crop. It was a lesson that I had heard many times, but I was challenged to plan further out each time.  Paul uses the analogy of a farmer planting seeds to teach about giving. Check this out….

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need, and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, 

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-9 NLT)

I realized that for a farmer to have a good crop later this year, he must plan now. He must organize and measure the fields, prepare the soil, get the seeds ready to be planted at just the right time. In all of this, the farmer taking a risk with his time and resources. His crop is then at the mercy of sunshine and rain in appropriate doses. He can’t control either of those. The farmer decided to plant and is certainly hopeful for a harvest. If the same farmer never organized, prepared the fields or planted, he would be an idiot to expect a harvest. This is an ancient axiom – “You reap what you sow” (Galatians 6:7-10 NLT -The Apostle Paul).

Paul is talking about a different kind of harvest. He is talking about a harvest that I may never get to take part in. I’m planting seeds of giving that will bless someone else so that they will turn their thankful hearts to God. I believe giving should be done with anonymity as much as possible. I believe that people who give to be noticed have received their reward -notice by others. On the other hand, people who give because they are called by God will be noticed by Him and rewarded by Him quite differently.

Giving is a way of “paying it forward”. Giving is blessing others with no concern over reciprocation.  Giving with a thankful heart, produces eternal blessing. Giving with a self-centered, “look at me”, produces temporary blessing. I call that “giving with strings attached”. I want to grow in my giving and generosity, not so that others know and will be impressed. I want to give from a generous heart for the Lord, because I know Him, and He can use people like me to bless others that I don’t even know. That is a different kind of planting and a different kind of harvest. This type of giving is incredibly different than some of the giving I’ve done in the past. I need to keep my eyes on the eternal effects of my “seed sowing” type of giving.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Critical Correspondence & Conversation

Life changesI am not a big fan of conflict, but there are times when conflict just can’t be avoided. I do believe there is a right way and wrong way to handle conflict. The person initiating the conflict doesn’t always surprise the other person. They could probably feel the pressure rising. There are other times that the person confronted is blown away that they’ve caused someone else harm by their actions or inactions. I read a great book recently called “Crucial Conversations” and was super informative about this topic.

The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Corinth what seems to be a follow-up conversation to a recent letter that engaged in criticism of behavior that was ungodly. He is affirming the changes that he is hearing about. It’s not really a “conversation” as much as it is correspondence.  Check this out….

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. 10 For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT)

There are times when correspondence can set up a “crucial conversation”. There are times when I advise one person to sit down and write to the person they are in conflict with. I want them to be forthright and honest. I don’t always want them to send the letter, but it gives great clarity to their main issues. I think writing things down sometimes reveals that there is pettiness and selfishness. When I write things down on paper, they seem very real and concrete.

The other thing I love about this passage is accountability. I need someone who will hold me accountable for my words and my actions. The church can provide accountability if I submit to it. My wife provides accountability. My business partners provide accountability.  The end goal of a critical correspondence or a crucial conversation is change. Change is always happening. Ironically, change is consistently changing. Change often equals growth. The Lord is after my heart to keep changing to become more like His. I have tremendous pressure to become self-centered and inward focused. The Lord is calling me to a life of love, compassion and generosity. I must meet the Lord with godly sorrow for my self-centered, self-serving ways. His Word calls me to repentance for sure. Repentance is critical to my spiritual journey with the Lord. I welcome critical correspondence and crucial conversations that are sent from the Lord to help me grow.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Never Give In

Never give up inscription. Greeting card with calligraphy. Hand drawn design. Black and white.I love history and I recently read the biography of Winston Churchill called “The Last Lion – Winston Spencer Churchill Keeper Of The Realm 1940-1965”. This guy was an amazing & unique man. He was relentless in his fight against the Nazi regime of Hitler. He gave inspirational speeches because he was an inspirational leader. He was asked to speak at his old school. He went back there at the request of the head master of the school. He gave a speech to those young men that resounded around the world. His passion and his grit showed through. Here is an excerpt that was never forgotten:

“I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. -Winston S. Churchill

Many decades prior, the Apostle Paul had written with similar inspiration the Corinth Church. He spoke plainly about the struggles that we will face and how we should face them. Check this out….

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:7,16-18 NLT)

I recently heard a quote that was given to a young man as he was deployed. “We don’t fight because we hate what’s in front us, we fight because we love what is behind us”. I know a lot of people who are suffering right now, even fighting for their very life. Some are fighting disease or cancer. Some were injured in an automobile accident. Some have been through divorce or the death of a loved one. There is tremendous suffering and struggle all around. There are times it would be so easy to give in and just quit. The Lord calls me to trust Him to the very end of my life. The never wastes an opportunity to work through us in the middle of suffering and struggle.

I thought about a friend whom I met recently who is battling cancer and liver disease. This person had the biggest smile and told me that they were blessed. I was absolutely inspired and encouraged by this attitude in the face of a tremendous battle.  I want to have a “never give in” attitude. I want to honor God until I breathe my last breath.  I want to keep my gaze fixed on the eternal, unseen life while I battle through struggles in this life I can see.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

On Guard

security guardI’ve entered into situations that I wasn’t sure was safe. I’ve been to homes trying to show where there was a dog, that was “friendly” and wouldn’t bite – I was on guard. I’ve been with people who appear harmless, but something just “felt weird” so I was on guard. I see being “on guard” as a preparatory phase prior to “fight or flight”. On guard means my awareness is the highest alert stage.

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth in his first letter to be on guard regarding attacks on their faith. Check this out….

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

This is a simple couple of verses that packs a powerful punch. I think he is reminding the church to be on guard against assaults on their faith. I think he is reminding them that they will battle fear. He is also reminding them to lean into the strength and Presence of the very Spirit of God. He wraps a bow on it as he says, “do everything with love”.

When I read this I felt encouraged, inspired and motivated. My faith must be proactive. I can’t be passive. I have to be aware that I have an enemy and he wants to steal, kill and destroy my faith. He wants me to cower in fear. He wants me to “wimp out” instead of lead on. He wants to fill me with hatred, jealousy and envy. I have to be keenly aware and on guard as the enemy uses many approaches to come at me. It’s like I need an alarm system that trips when the enemy makes a move on me.

I believe that the Word of God prepares me to be on guard. I’m reminded in His Word that the enemy is real. I’m reminded of his schemes and his tricks. I’m equipped with the powerful Word of God that equips me daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Love Changes Everything!

Colorful typographic motivational poster to raise faith in yourself and your strength. The series of business concepts on a textured background of an old love. VectorI recently connected with a young couple whom I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony. They have been married about 4 years and have their first child. I hadn’t connected with them since the birth of their little one. They asked about my family and how everyone was doing. As the conversation moved back to their little child, the young mom said that being a parent changed everything in their lives. She quickly added “for the better”! I often ask young parents, “Did you know you could love like that?” The answer is almost always “no”. Becoming a parent changes how we love. I profoundly love being Dad & Pop. The love that overflows from my heart to my children and grandchildren is an unstoppable force. I love my sweet wife and it’s a love that keeps expanding as we grow old together. Love is an amazing, powerful concept. Love is way more than words. Love is shown in actions and activities.

On the 14th of February every year, we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day (aka Valentine’s Day). This event started as a celebration of saints but evolved into a celebration of love. I was reminded of this a I came across the “Love Chapter” in my daily journey. Check this out…

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 NLT)

If I were the most popular man on earth but didn’t have love – worthless.

If I were the founder/owner of Amazon, Microsoft – (you name it) and didn’t have love – empty.

If I were the most amazing REALTOR, helping buyers and sellers but didn’t love people – I would be a failure.

If I were the greatest husband and Dad on the planet but didn’t have love – I would be lost. I really don’t think I can be successful at ANYTHING without love.  God changed the entire world when He displayed His love via His Son. His love is ridiculous and knows no limits. He is the One Who taught me how to love. He loved me first and He loves me best. His love is really impossible to get my head around. His love is unfathomable & indescribable! I’m so thankful that He loved me and still loves me. If you’re reading this – I love you too – even if I don’t know you well. It’s because He taught me to love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Accountability Conversation

ConversationI would rather hold someone else accountable than to be held accountable. Accountability works best as a “two-way street”. Accountability requires truth, courage and patience among other attributes. I think for accountability to work in my Christian journey, there must be love, kindness and gentleness.

The Apostle Paul writes two letters to the church at Corinth. He writes in a very personable way. I can feel his love for them, even when he’s “pouring it on”. He loves them too much to let them live however they please. He keeps reminding them of meeting Jesus and the change that the Lord brought about in their lives. Check this out…

18 Some of you have become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again. 19 But I will come—and soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power. 20 For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power. 21 Which do you choose? Should I come with a rod to punish you, or should I come with love and a gentle spirit? (1 Corinthians 4:18-21 NLT)

I was speaking with a man a day or so ago, whom I believe to be a Christ follower. I’m not sure how our conversation got to this place, but I told him that I wanted anyone who saw something in me that wasn’t Christ-like, to please “call me out”. I can be blind to my own behavior and issues. Accountability is not optional for Christians. We sometimes act all “high and mighty”, when we should be “low and weak”. I don’t EVER want to come across to others as prideful and arrogant. If you are reading this and you know me and you’ve seen this in me – PLEASE connect with me and call me out.  I believe pride is at the heart of ALL sin. I believe pride is very self-destructive. It doesn’t matter how large my leadership platform, if I’m full of pride instead of gratitude and humility – I will fail as a leader.

I want to live like the Lord called me to live.

I want to love like the Lord loves.

I want to lead others, by following the Lord.

I want to be humble and kind just like the Lord.

I want to live out my faith daily with the Power of God overflowing from my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne