Connected

Technology in the handsI am a huge fan of wireless technology. Whenever possible I use Wi-Fi, which is simply a name that tells me if there are wireless capabilities to a network. I think it’s pretty crazy to think of all the “wireless connections” in the air around us. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to see them all like tiny laser beams in the air. I know it would blow my mind. I have to be close to a Wi-Fi connection in order for it to work.

As I journeyed through John 15, I see that Jesus gives a connection analogy that reminded me that I need to be wired to Him. Check this out…

1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. (John 15:1-8 NLT)

In a crazy sort of way, I’m directly connected to the Lord. I realize that I’m not “physically connected”, but I need to be “spiritually connected” to Him. I need to be in close proximity to Him at all times. He is the ONLY Connection that promises me both abundant life here and eternal life after this life. He is the ONLY connection that brings peace, joy, comfort, direction and hope. I don’t ever want to lose my connection to Him. Without my connection to Him, I am nothing. He has built me and made me who I am. He built me for connectivity to Him. He is the reason I’m alive. He bears fruit in my life and through my life because I’m connected to Him. It’s certainly NOT because I’m great – It’s all Him!

I intend to remain “wired” to Him for the rest of my life. He is the Source of strength, direction, hope, grace, mercy, patience & love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Human Effort

 

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborI believe in hard work. I may not be the most “connected guy” in the room, but I will work harder and longer to get the job done. I was raised on a farm in Kentucky. Recently, I was asked what my first job was. I put down that I was a “farm hand” for my Grandpa. I remember loading hay bales onto the wagon and then taking them to barn. I remember lots of hard labor getting the crops in as well. I was taught at an early age the value of hard work.

In God’s economy, physical labor doesn’t count the same. The Lord is more concerned with my heart than my “work ethic”. He does call me to action, but the action is NOT what saves me. I wish I had learned this growing up. The only action required on my part is surrender of my heart. My will is surrendered to His Will. This felt weird the first time I really wrestled with the concept. Check this out…

63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:63-64; 66-69 NLT)

These are the words of Jesus himself. Human effort accomplishes nothing. He has done the work for salvation when He surrendered to the cross for the ultimate and final sacrifice needed for sin. I do not work FOR my salvation, but I do work OUT my salvation. He doesn’t save me so that I can sit. He saved me so that I can serve. Serving is giving to others. Serving is loving God by giving to others. My human effort doesn’t save me, but it can serve Him by loving and serving others.

I serve at the pleasure of the Lord. He has called me. He has saved me. He compels me to love and served just like He loves and serves. Serving the in the Kingdom of God still starts with the Spirit of God in me before any human effort comes into play.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Home

 

protected homeI am sort of a “home body”. I don’t mind short trips for vacation or brief business trips, but I really love coming home. Home represents my family and the main location of my life. I eat at home. I play at home. I hang out at home. I sleep at home. I learned a long time that home is wherever my family resides. I grew up in Kentucky and in some ways, that will always be home. I’ve been in Georgia for 31 years now and it is home.  I love it when my kids come home for a visit. So much of my life was built at home in Kentucky. I am still building my life at home in Georgia.

I started reading the Gospel of John this morning in the New Living Translation (NLT) and I loved how this translation stated that Jesus (The Word of God) came to earth and made His home here. Check this out…

14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14 NLT)

Jesus called this earth home for a season. It wasn’t His permanent home, but He was born of a virgin and reared in a carpenter shop. He really understands the stories and the struggles of our lives. He became a human – one of us.

As I go through my day today, I want to remember that He came here and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. Having Him in my heart has changed everything about my life. I want to love like He loves. I want to live like He lives. I want to give like He gives. I want to serve like He serves. He now lives in me by way of His Spirit. I want the Lord to make His home inside my heart. I want people who know me or meet me for the first time to see The Lord at home inside my heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

What Have I Done?

 

Why MeThis insightful question is one that I often know the answer to. I sometimes do things without thinking. (That is not necessarily a good idea.) Some of my bad habits seem to run on auto pilot. I could make some life improvements when my good habits and disciplines run almost automatically. My life is made up of the sum total of thousands and thousands of simple choices made daily. I can choose to be kind. I can choose to be mean. I can choose to be generous. I can choose to be selfish. What if there was a record of every single thing I had done since I was born. That would take up a lot of storage space, if it were written down. I can’t quite put my brain around that.

As I was reading another chapter of Johns revelation, I was struck by the thought that there is a book with all the works of my life and I am judged accordingly. Check this out…

11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:11-12 NLT)

After reading this, I began to immediately think about where does GRACE come into the picture. I just know that I know Jesus. If I reflect on just yesterday, there was sinful thoughts going through my brain and I’m sure there were sinful actions as well. My heart is still in pursuit of the Lord even when my brain goes down a side road.

I don’t know exactly what happens when a person dies. I don’t know if they are immediately in the Presence of God. I just know that the One Who created the universe and everything in it has this under control and in His Power. I’m not sure if He keeps a literal book or if He keeps the highlights of my life. It sure is a sobering thought to think of a diary of my life written by someone Who knows everything about me.

As I think about the judgement, I’m reminded that I have a personal relationship with the Judges Son. Scripture also teaches that to know the Son is to know the Father. I’m going to keep walking out my faith here on earth. I want the works of my life to reflect my hearts commitment to the Lord. I want to live a Christ-centered life NOT a “me-centered” life. I want to display my love for God, by loving and serving others. Write it down. One simple choice at a time ends up being a lifetime in no time at all.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Contend & Defend

Public DefenderI’m not sure I’d made a good litigation attorney. You must be “quick on your feet” to defend your position. I’ve learned that I need to lean into discernment and clear thinking before responding in certain situations. I have been a Christ follower for a long time and I’ve not been challenged about my faith. I’ve not had my faith questioned. I believe my faith is mostly subjective and personal. There is another side of my faith that is very objective and public. I believe in God. I believe in His Son Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus came and lived a life without sin among us and after 33 years, He was crucified for the sins of all mankind – including me and whoever reads these words.

I believe Jude to be a half-brother of Jesus. I’m confident that he didn’t believe in Jesus right away because he grew up with Him. He obviously changed his view on Jesus after seeing the miracles and listening to His teaching. I love this little one chapter book in the New Testament because He calls it like he sees it. Check this out…

20 But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. 22 Have mercy on those who waver; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

24 Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:20-25 CSB)

I want my life to show that I contend for the faith.

I want my life to show that I defend my faith.

I believe in God The Father

I believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe in the Holy Spirit.

And He’s given us new life!

I believe in the crucifixion!

I believe that He conquered death!

I believe in the resurrection!

And He’s comin’ back again! (*”We Believe” by The Newsboys)

I will contend for my faith and defend my faith until the Lord calls me home.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Love Is Not Optional

Moving escalator stairs, love hate signI grew up seeing love in action with my family. For the most part, my siblings all loved one another. We were good at defending our “turf”, but we loved one another and still do. My parents displayed love for one another as well as others. We don’t usually get to choose our family, but we are blessed when our family becomes close friends. I did learn that there are people who were harder to love. It’s hard to love people who are mean and hateful. It’s hard to love people who take advantage of my kindness. It’s hard to love people whom I perceive to be foolish. The commands of The Word are to love everyone. I’m confident that there are no exceptions. This is a hard command and one that I will keep working on.

John, the Apostle is writing to a prominent lady in the church and his words jumped into my heart this morning. Check this out…

I was very glad to find some of your children walking in truth, in keeping with a command we have received from the Father. So now I ask you, dear lady—not as if I were writing you a new command, but one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. This is love: that we walk according to his commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: that you walk in love. (2 John 1:4-6 CSB)

The way I read this, if I don’t love, then I’m not walking in the truth. Ouch! I do need His help to love people who are difficult to love. My Mom used to say that “you can find something good in everyone, if you just look hard enough”. The Lord has given new lenses to my eyes. If I can look through eyes of love that comes from Him, I can see the value of other people – even the difficult people.

If I remember what it’s like to be rejected and unloved, then I can find it easier to show love to others. I also think it’s important for Christians to remember what it was like to be lost. One of the strongest commands of The Word is to humble myself. If I’m humbled, I can love anyone. If I’m proud of my accomplishments and my status, then I will find it harder to love the unlovely or hard to love people.  Love is a broad and big word that brings healing and hope to so many. God so loved that He gave His Son for the world. In loving us, He gave. Love is not optional for me as a follower of Jesus. I love because He loved me. I know what it feels like to be loved and accepted. I know what it feels like to be scorned and rejected. I love being loved. I decided many years ago that I want to love like He loves.

Pressing On!

Dwayne