Simple Faith

 

faith messageI have grown in my faith over the years. I remember trusting the Lord when I was a kid. I was baptized when I was in third grade. I grew up in a family full of faith. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord. Going to church was not optional for our family. We were very involved. I remember “pushing the envelope” and trying some things that were against our family rules. I learned later that my parents knew more about this than they acknowledged. When I went away to college and had freedom from my parent’s rules and regulations, I had some decisions to make. I can still remember where I was sitting on the evening when my faith became my own. I was watching a passion play at Johnson Bible College and I saw Jesus being punished for the sins of the world. I remember renewing my faith in God at that moment. I believed in God on my own. I had lived off my parent’s & grandparent’s faith up to that point.

Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible as the writer pulls the old testament characters into the context of the new covenant. These men and women brought much inspiration to millions over the years and their faith was simple and thorough. The writer speaks about this simple faith and its significance to my journey with the Lord. Check this out…

1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6 CSB)

I believe faith is simple, but not necessarily easy. Faith is easy to talk about and even write about, but harder to live out. I believe that my faith is much like a muscle, the more I use it, the stronger it gets. Over the years of my life, I’ve leaned into my faith because I didn’t see any other options. I’m not in charge of the weather, the economy or even others. I do know the One Who is charge of EVERYTHING and I trust Him. He has walked with me through some dark valleys. He has protected me in some major storms of life. My faith grew profoundly during some of the darkest days of my life.

My simple faith reminded me of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I want my simple faith to impress the Lord. I want to grow in my faith today as I live out what I say I believe. James reminded me that my faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) I want to work and live because I’m saved, not so that I can be saved by my works. I trust that the Lord created the earth and is preparing a place for those who trust in Him. I want to spend the rest of my days discovering more of Who God is and walking in simple faith before Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

First Time

 

Jesus man of joyThere are memories that jump out in my mind of things that I did for the first time. It’s funny how some of the “first time” memories are significant and some are seemingly insignificant. I remember learning to drive a tractor for the first time. I remember cutting grass on a riding mower for the first time. I remember my first time trying to chew tobacco (yuck – made me pretty sick). I remember the first time I met the Lord. My memories of “first times” are often out weighed by the fact that the “firsts” were only the beginning to a long and storied connection. I will drive today and probably not even think about that first time. When I cut grass I don’t necessarily recall the first time, because there have been so many times since. The first time I met the Lord, my parents introduced me to him. I learned to love the Lord as a kid because of what I witnessed in my parents. I remember meeting the Lord for the first time and I became convinced He was real. My faith became my own. I go back to that event often as I reflect on my journey with Him.

Hosea is reminding of Judah of their forefather Jacob’s encounter with God. I’m not sure if it was Jacob’s first, but I think it was his most significant encounter. Check this out….

2 The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah;

    he will punish Jacob according to his ways

    and repay him according to his deeds.

3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;

    as a man he struggled with God.

4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;

    he wept and begged for his favor.

He found him at Bethel

    and talked with him there –

5 the Lord God Almighty,

    the Lord is his name of renown!

6 But you must return to your God;

    maintain love and justice,

    and wait for your God always. (Hosea 12:2-6 NIV)

 

I can recall seeing a live Passion Play at Johnson University Tennessee (formerly Johnson Bible College) when I was a freshman in college. I watched as the life of Jesus came to life in this play. These were not professional actors, they were juniors who were putting on this event for the seniors. It was a “Christian Prom” of sorts. I remember vividly, as if it were yesterday, seeing Jesus crucified in that play and I was brought to tears. My faith went to a whole new level that evening. I believed in God for myself for the very first time. I made a commitment to follow the Lord for the rest of my life. I made a commitment to ministry that night. I came to terms with just how much the Lord loved me and His Love blew me away.Jesus

I’ve returned to that night many times to reconnect and recommit to the Lord. I want to remember the first time I felt deeply connected to the Lord and His love for me. The entire trajectory of my life was changed that night. My faith in God became my own faith. It is the faith I give to my family and to others. The first time I came face to face with God is etched in my soul, but it hasn’t been my only encounter. He has underscored that experience many times over the years. There is always a “first” and my first personal experience with the Lord changed everything from that point on.

Pressing On!

Dwayne