Encouragement

 

Series of hand gesturesI love being encouraged. This word means “to inspire, spirit or confidence”. It also means “to promote, advance or foster” action.  I am encouraged by people, books, places and events. These are all areas of the “physical realm” that I live in. I’m also encouraged by the Presence of God in the “spiritual realm” that I also live in. The encouragement I receive in the spiritual realm is a lot harder to explain if you’ve never experienced anything like it. I remember being promised the Presence of The Holy Spirit when I accepted Jesus into my heart and was baptized. It was a bit before I understood and felt His Presence in my life. As I continued to study His Word and walk with Him in obedience and trust – His Presence became more and more obvious to me.

My journey in the Word took me through the last chapter of Luke where Jesus had just risen from the dead. His followers were a bit freaked out. They didn’t remember that He had told them these things. The women who had prepared spices for His body were the first to get to the tomb and found He wasn’t there. Then a couple of His disciples went as well. He wasn’t there. Check this out…

13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16 NLT)

I believe that the Lord is Present even when I don’t recognize Him.

I believe that His Presence changes any situation I face.

His Presence certainly changes my perspective of any situation I face.

I am encouraged to know that I don’t have to face suffering and trials all by myself. My family is not alone in the midst of struggles and pain – He is with me.

This encouragement is hard to explain, but very real. It is called faith. I have faith in God, Who created all that I see and know. He is the reason I live. He is the reason I love. He is the reason I sing. He is the reason that I serve.

I really want others to know this encouragement that I have inside my heart that is ONLY because of His Presence in me. He calms my unsettled heart. He directs my undecided path. He rescues me from stupidity quite often. I’m so thankful and encouraged by His Presence and the Power He brings with Him to help me along the way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Greatest Leaders

 

greatest muhammad aliI can still remember watching Muhammed Ali as he declared that he was the greatest. He was an incredible heavyweight fighter for sure. He didn’t lack for confidence, in fact, he may have been just a bit cocky. I remember as a kid, being a bit repulsed by his somewhat arrogant presence in front of the media. He did coin the phrase: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eye can’t see”. He was also quoted as saying: “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am”. He had a great career in boxing, but he wasn’t the greatest in my view. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, walked this earth as a human, lived a sinless life and died a sacrificial death to defeat sin and death once and for all – He is the GREATEST!

Jesus was getting His disciples prepared for His trial and His death on the cross. They couldn’t grasp it, but they did want to know which one of them was the greatest. Check this out…

24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. 27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. (Luke 22:4-27 NLT)

I wish our leaders in Washington, in state capitols across the nation as well as the world,  could grasp what a servant leader is about. It seems that we elect official with great intentions to positions of leadership at the highest levels of our government and then they are corrupted by the power they hold. I love how the Lord reminds us that the most powerful leaders serve others. It is very cool to see people who hold great power serving the least powerful around us. I understand that Jesus’ concept of leadership is a bit counter cultural to our world today, but it still works. People who lead are much more effective if they remember that their leadership position is really a serving position.

Every chance I get, I remind my fellow REALTORS that our job is a serving position. We serve buyers and sellers and NOT ourselves.  The late Zig Ziglar was famous for saying, “If you help enough other people get what they want, then you’ll get what you want.”  As I follow the Lord with my life, I find greater joy in serving others. I have been the recipient of people who serve others and my life has been forever changed. This servant leadership is how the Lord calls His followers to lead.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Count The Costs

 

calculatorThis is something that is part of my job very often. If an inspection comes back with needed repairs, the buyers are trying to count the costs of repair. They will often ask the seller to contribute to the costs of repair because they didn’t see these issues when first looking at the home.  An inspector discovers rotten wood, issues in the crawl space or attic and these are often important issues to be fixed.

I made a decision at a very young age to follow Jesus and I’m still deciding to follow Him even today. I don’t believe that you make a decision to follow Him and then never revisit that decision. As I’ve grown in my faith, I discover more areas of my heart that have not been surrendered to Him. Jesus taught about counting the cost to a large crowd. I’m pretty sure the crowd got a bit smaller after His words about the cost of following Him. Check this out…..

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (Luke 14:25-30 NLT)

At first glance, this seems like an impossible teaching. Other places in scripture, we are taught NOT to hate one another, but to love one another. Jesus uses very strong language to speak about commitment to Him. I believe, He’s NOT asking me to hate my wife, children, mom, dad or anyone. He’s telling me that I must love Him first and I must love Him more than any other human on the planet. My goal for many years has been to expand my love for the Lord and expand my love for my family. I have learned that there is a lot of room to grow in this area. I believe that my love for my family and other is deeper and more expansive BECAUSE of my profound love for the Lord. I’ve learned to love from following the Lord.  He didn’t teach me to hate. He did teach me about commitment and responsibility.

I have counted the costs of following Jesus and it’s a no-brainer. The rewards for following Him far outweigh the costs. He also promises eternal life which is a promise in a league of its own.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Sowing Seeds

planting gardenI grew up working in the garden with my parents. We planted corn, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, onions, cabbage among other vegetables. I still love fresh veggies from the garden. My father-in-law has a great garden every year as well. I certainly feel blessed to have an abundance of food grown right near where we live.

I am still fascinated at how this works – If I plant two seeds of corn, it will produce a stalk of corn that has many ears of corn. Each ear of corn has hundreds of corn kernels that could be used for seed for more corn. The “law of the harvest” is just like the law of gravity, we reap what we sow. It would be crazy if we planted corn and tomatoes grew there instead.

Jesus told a parable about different kinds of soil. It confused His disciples for a minute, so He gave them the meaning behind the parable. Check this out…

11 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is God’s word. 12 The seeds that fell on the footpath represent those who hear the message, only to have the devil come and take it away from their hearts and prevent them from believing and being saved. 13 The seeds on the rocky soil represent those who hear the message and receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they believe for a while, then they fall away when they face temptation. 14 The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest. (Luke 8:11-15 NLT)

I want the seed from the Word of God to produce a harvest of love that overflows from my life. I want my life to produce to reflect the Word of God that is planted deep inside my heart. In order for my heart to become “good soil”, I have to continue to cultivate it and prepare it for the Word to be planted there. His Word has helped set my convictions in concrete. I am a changed man because of my journey in the Word. I’m not resting on that, I want to know Him more and more. I want to sow seeds of love for the Lord into the lives of others.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strategic

 

Time to PlanI admire others who analyze and plan strategically. I am learning more and more about how important planning is in every area of my life. Planning is important to my family as I put together a blueprint for my “empty nest years” and sunset years. I applaud young people who start planning their retirement during their first year or so of working. It’s great that there are many businesses who can contribute to employee retirement & profit sharing. I’ve been self-employed my whole career and it takes a bit more discipline and management to put together a wise retirement. I am so grateful for the investment that so many others have made in my life over the years to get me to this point. I’m learning that I must listen, learn and take action.

Jesus is teaching the crowds and His recently chosen disciple at what is known as “The Sermon On The Mount”.  He introduces some teaching that is still today “counter cultural” and “bizarre concepts” to the world. Check this out…

37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” (Luke 6:37-38 NLT)

Don’t criticize others.

Don’t condemn others.

Forgive others and receive forgiveness.

Give and you will receive.

Jesus is alluding to the “Law Of The Harvest” – we reap what we sow. He is saying that when we are patient, we receive patience. When we are generous, we are recipients of generosity. When we forgive, we receive forgiveness. I have lived long enough to know that these concepts are actually true when tested in real life. I have learned to sow seeds of kindness and then watch as kindness to me is multiplied. I have sown seeds of forgiveness and it come to me many times over. Jesus’ teaching is weird to those hearing it for the first time, but my life is a real-life testimony that these concepts are true.

Jesus is teaching strategies that will not only serve me in this life but also make it more abundant for sure. These strategies also serve to show others the genuine love that the Lord has for them. By living these concepts out, my actions are speaking louder than my words. I have a lot of growing to do in these areas, but my life as profoundly been changed by The Lord. I want to live this out in my every day, “regular routine” sort of life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Pursuit

follow your heart words holding by businessman's handI sometimes think of this word in negative terms. For example, when a car with blue lights is in pursuit of my car, I know I’m about to get a “safe driving award” for exceeding the speed limit. I’ve not been pursued like this in a good while and I’m thankful. I also try to think of this word in a positive way – pursuing hopes and dreams. I still have those for my life. I want to be in daily pursuit of my goals and ambitions.

I came across a story in the book of John that reminded me of the word “pursuit” even though it’s not in the scripture. Check this out…

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. (John 21:4-9 NLT)

I was immediately reminded of the event found in Matthew 14 when the disciples were in the boat in the middle of the night and a storm came up and they were struggling to keep moving. Jesus came up walking on the water and it freaked them out. When Peter realized it was Jesus, he said, “Lord if its really you, tell me to come walking on the water.” Jesus said, “Come”. Peter did just that, he got out of the safety of the boat and headed toward Jesus. In this story, Peter gets out of the boat and leaves his responsibility with the net and the huge catch of fish behind in pursuit of Jesus.

Peter is portrayed as a passionate follower of Jesus. He was used by the Lord to be a great leader in the early church. He seems impulsive and unpredictable. He was predictable when it came to Jesus – He wanted to be with Jesus wherever He was.

This simple passage stirred my heart to stay in a passionate pursuit of God with my life. I must make my pursuit the highest priority of my life. My pursuit of God begins in my heart and then is shown in my behavior. If I reverse this, it doesn’t work well. I grew up trying to “show” my faith with my behavior, while my heart wasn’t in it. I’m still learning that behavior follows the heart. The heart doesn’t follow behavior – it simply tolerates it. If I want to be in genuine pursuit of God, it begins with heart change.

Pressing On!

Dwayne