Standard or Upgrade

 

Web IconWhen buying a car, you can get the standard features or you can get the upgrade. The upgrade always cost more. When building a house or simple remodeling a kitchen, there are standard features you can buy, then there are upgrades. I guess standard is the starting point or the average. In our country, we don’t buy a TV when it wears out, we upgrade to the latest flat panel LCD. The other TV was working perfectly fine, but it was standard. There’s another category that I’ve seen since becoming a REALTOR; it’s called “sub-standard” which is below average or below the starting point.

In Romans 12 (possibly my favorite chapter of scripture), the Apostle Paul really lays out some standard Christian behaviors. These are meant to be the starting point, but they are often not even practiced by Christ-followers. Check this out…

Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Outdo one another in showing honor. 

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:9-10; 16-18 CSB)

As a Christ follower, I should not do the minimum standards or starting points. I should grow from there. Sometimes Christians look the same as others who don’t follow the Lord. My behavior should be different. My language should be kinder. My compassion should be deeper. I should keep the spotlight on the Lord and not on me. My life needs to be governed by the Spirit of God living in me. He longs to be seen in me. I can’t “out give” or “out love” the Lord. I should keep growing in these areas and not settle for the starting point.

Today as I begin my day, I’m so thankful for the Lord’s patience with me as I seek to build on the standards set forth and keep upgrading my faith by surrendering to His will and His way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hope Is Here

 

Hope word with shadow, backgroundI’ve been in plenty of situations where there seemed like only one way out and it felt quite hopeless. I know the struggle of a sleepless night. I know the paralysis that worry delivers. I also know that when the Lord enters the room of my life, HOPE flows from Him. He gives me strength and wisdom to navigate any and every situation I’m faced with. Paul speaks very clearly about the hope we have no matter the situation. Check this out….

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:1-5 CSB)

This passage has much depth to it. This is a snapshot of life:

  • Faith
  • Peace
  • Access
  • Grace
  • Rejoice
  • Afflictions
  • Endurance
  • Proven Character
  • Hope
  • Love

I’m trying to wrap my mind around these 10 profound pieces of the journey with God.  It starts with Faith and ends up in Love. The journey with the Lord always goes through the tunnel of affliction and suffering. It’s during those dark nights of the soul that the light of hope in Him is real. The Lord never wastes a dark night to show off His Heart for me. He brings such hope and clarity to most confusing circumstances. He builds my character from the inside out and not from the outside in. My salvation journey begins with faith in Him.

When He enters the room of my heart, there is NOTHING else like it! He brings HOPE and it is a Powerful Presence. #thankful

All My Hope

By Crowder

I’ve been held by the Savior
I’ve felt fire from above
I’ve been down to the river
I ain’t the same, a prodigal returned

(C)All my hope is in Jesus
Thank God that yesterday’s gone
All my sins are forgiven
I’ve been washed by the blood

I’m no stranger to prison
I’ve worn shackles and chains
But I’ve been freed and forgiven
And I’m not going back, I’ll never be the same (C)

There’s a kind of thing that just breaks a man
Break him down to his knees
God, I’ve been broken more than a time or two
Yes, Lord then He picked me up and showed me
What it means to be a man come on and sing (C)

_____________________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience, Kindness & Restraint

 

Patience concept.I have grown a lot in my patience over the years. I think as the years go by, I realize that I can’t control much of what makes me impatient. Traffic, for example is totally beyond my control – so I have learned to go with the flow or take another route to the destination. My wife would probably give some commentary here about how I’m still growing in this area. I’m not super patient with incompetence of others. I’m not patient with teenager who can’t seem to do their chores in a timely manner. I’m still learning patience. I’m learning that the patience of God is quite an example. I have thanked Him many times over for His patience with me and those I love. It is so easy for me to be impatient and unkind with someone else who doesn’t “get it” while I’m extremely patient and kind to myself when I’m slow to respond. Paul explains the strategy behind the kindness & patience of God. Check this out…

1Therefore, every one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is based on the truth. Do you really think—anyone of you who judges those who do such things yet do the same—that you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4 CSV)

The Lord is watching closely how I treat others.

The Lord is watching closely how I respond to His kindness & patience.

His love is demonstrated profoundly through His patience & kindness. I’m so thankful for His restraint, His kindness and His patience. This draws me to Him. I don’t deserve these expressions of love, but I’m so thankful.

I would be very wise to show others restraint, kindness & patience.  This passage reminded me of a song by Chris Tomlin that I heard years ago that blessed me then and it still speaks into my heart.  Kindness (written by Chris Tomlin, Jesse Reeves & Louie Giglio)

Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries lord let ’em rise
Open up the skies of mercy
And rain down the cleansing flood
Healing waters rise around us
Hear our cries lord let ’em rise

It’s your kindness lord
That leads us to repentance
Your favor lord, is our desire
It’s your beauty lord
That makes us stand in silence
Your love
Your love
Is better than life

We can feel
Your mercy falling
You are turnin our hearts back again
Hear our praises rise to heaven
Draw us near lord
Meet us here
____________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Search

 

search with magnifying glassI am not super afraid of the dark. I don’t like looking for things in the dark. The light eposes the search area. Even in the middle of the day there are dark areas (like closets) that need to be searched and light is needed for that search. I’m willing to search for answers. I’m willing to search for details. My internet search often begins with google. When I search for the Lord I go to His Word.

King David has written a very eloquent Psalm that speaks of searching AND finding. Check this out…

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.

11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,’
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 1-4,11-12,23-24 NIV)

I can lose the Lord.

The Lord can’t lose me.

He knows me like no one else and loves me profoundly. I don’t completely understand that kind of love. I’m learning a lot about grace which is the key to understanding His love. I learned more about grace when I needed it than when it was just a concept. When grace became my song, I embraced it and welcomed its arrival. Jesus came to bring forgiveness. Grace is repeat forgiveness plus mercy. When He poured out His grace upon me, I want to lift praise for Him. I deserve punishment not reward.

Your Grace Finds Me

(please note that it’s not “found” – He finds me – Present Tense!)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Renown

fameThis is not a word that I use in everyday conversation, but it is a word that I have used in speaking about The Lord.  I looked it up and there is not a lot of detail in it’s definition. It simply means: “widespread high repute; fame”. (On a side note, “high repute” means high reputation, high estimation in the view of other, a good name, respect.) I want to be a man known for making The Lord famous and not seek the spotlight in the process. His fame and His renown is significant because He changes lives. He builds beautiful people out of broken situations. He restores people who have been discarded. He forgives and lifts the fallen. His Power and His Presence leave me in awe.

The Psalmist asks that we praise the Lord and lift His name. Check this out…

I know that the Lord is great,
    that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
    in the heavens and on the earth,
    in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
    he sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.

13 Your name, Lord, endures forever,
    your renown, Lord, through all generations. (Psalm 135:5-7,13 NIV)

The Lord is famous without me saying so. I do believe that He is Who He says He is. I do believe that those who refuse to believe in Him today will one day bow before Him – possibly too late. I have been on a journey with the Lord for the past few years that has been at a different level than when I was young. I think I understand Him and know Him more personally because of suffering and struggle. I have been through some hard situations and when suffering comes, some of the distractions and shallow thinking exits. The Lord leans into me during suffering. He has not once left me alone in suffering and struggle even though I’ve left Him. I feel like the Psalmist is praising the Lord profoundly because he was humbled through suffering and struggle, yet restored through forgiveness and kindness of the Lord.

I want others to know the Peace that comes with the Presence of God. It is not magical, but it is practical. The Lord is Who He claims to be in scripture. He did create the heavens and the earth. He does save all who believe on Him. I just wish everyone could know what I know and feel what I feel and experience Him first hand. The crazy part is He just needs to be invited into one’s heart. I’m trying hard to give Him total control of my life, my thoughts – all that is me.  I really don’t care about becoming famous, but I want my life to make Him famous. He has done all the work saving me and shaping my heart, my words, my life. He gets all the credit for any good that I have possibly done or said. His renown is the goal of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Quiver Full of Arrows

 

Indians bow and arrows color flat iconI try to daily look at my life through the eyes of eternity. The decisions I make every day seem rather mundane, small or even insignificant. When I look at my life through the “eternal lens”, life is full of small decisions and choices. These small decisions and choices soon make up my life and my destiny.

I grew up in a family of five kids. We didn’t know we were on the lower end of the economic scale. I felt like we were rich even though we didn’t have a lot of possessions or extra money. My parents worked hard to provide for own kids. I really didn’t imagine that I would one day become a Dad to five kids of my own. I love being a Dad. I love seeing my kids figure out some deep things about the Lord. I love seeing them grow up and build relationships that will last their whole life long.

I came across a Psalm that I often quote when I connect with people with large families. Check this out…

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court. (Psalm 127:3-5 NIV)

One of the overflows of being a parent is often when our children start having children. I love being Pop and my wife is Nana. We love soaking up the love from those sweet little children to whom we are Pop & Nana. They really melt my heart quickly and often. I like what Zig Ziglar said about grandchildren… “If I knew grandkids were this much fun, we would have had them first!”

I continue to pray over my children.

I continue to love my children deeply. (Love is spelled TIME!)

I continue to listen to my children.

I continue to invest in my kids with my time.

I will continue being a Dad until the Lord calls me home.

I have a quiver full of arrows that has blessed me beyond my ability to express in words. I am so humbled that the Lord trusted me with children. I’m so thankful that they are growing in their love for the Lord.  I hope that for generations to come, my children, their children and their children’s children seek the heart of God in their daily journey.

Pressing On!

Dwayne