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

Impaired & Imperfect

bifocal glasses

The longer I live the more I realize how imperfect I am. I also realize that others aren’t perfect either. We all have struggles at one level or another. I am also keenly aware of how blessed I am to be born into the United States. I don’t always agree with the politicians who lead our government, but I’m thankful to live here. I also realize that as great as our country is, we aren’t perfect for sure. I’ve never met anyone who is perfect. I remember as a young kid, I was strong and didn’t feel like I had imperfections, but I did. The older I get the more imperfections seem to rear their head. For example, I can’t see as well as I once did and my hearing has slipped a bit as well.

Jesus makes a statement that speaks to my impaired and imperfect condition. He is hanging out with obviously non-religious people when making this statement. Check this out…

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him.

10 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. 11 But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

12 When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 13 Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13 NLT)

I think it’s important for me to become aware of my failures and my imperfections. I’m thankful that I’m loved in spite of them. Our health systems across the country have opened these medical clinics for people to avoid the wait at the doctor’s office or Emergency Room. They are convenient and easy to get in and out. When I think of my spiritual health, I’m often in need of major surgery or time in the Intensive Care Unit. I am in need of Jesus speaking into my heart on a daily basis. My time in the Word is much like “out-patient care”. I go to church to get encouragement, motivation and inspiration to keep living out my faith. The church is full of people like me who need spiritual help and encouragement. Some people in our church need major surgery on their heart or head. I remember years ago when I had a spiritual “heart transplant”. As healthy as I appear now, I’m still impaired and imperfect, but the Lord uses people like me to encourage and lead others to Him because I’ve “been there and done that”. I’m so thankful for His patience and persistence in healing my impaired & imperfect heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Top Two Commands

love heart riffle targetI grew up learning all the rules of the Christian faith. There we lots of them. The church I grew up in was small and everyone knew everyone else’s business and short comings. I couldn’t “get away” with much. I remember the preacher once telling me that my Dad knew what I had done the weekend before. (I won’t confess it here.) I realized that my parents were a bit smarter than I realized. I learned to live within those rules that were taught as scripture. I learned later that some of those rules were “man-made” based on someone’s interpretation of scripture. As I grew older, I learned to search the scripture for myself. I learned that a lot of the man-made rules were more opinion and cultural than truth.  I learned that the Lord wants my devoted heart, because my behavior will follow. Jesus was teaching (mostly debating) the teachers of the law, the Pharisees and Saducee’s, when one of them made an observation. Check this out…

28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34 NLT)

I had been trying to keep a ton of rules, where there are really two more important than all the others:  1. Love God. 2 Love Others.  These two “rules” are NOT optional. In fact, these are more important than attending church each time the doors are open. These are more important that “not cursing”. These are more important than giving. I believe that if I get the number 1 right, all others will fall in line, because of my heart change. External obedience can lead to heart change, but it’s the “long way around”. If I work on my heart first, then my obedience is with the right motive and insight. If I simply “go through the motions” of loving God, it will show in my actions and activities of my life. I am grateful that the Lord was patient with me when I went through the transition from being a “rule follower” to becoming a changed man from the inside out. I do love the Lord with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength. I love others too, because He showed me how.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Reverse Order

Multi-ethnic group of people standing in lineI will admit that I don’t like to stand in line. I’m not super patient about lines. When I’m at the grocery store and there are long lines, I will consider coming back later, even though it’s really only a few extra minutes to wait. I don’t like to go to Six Flags on a busy day for lots of reasons, but one of the reasons is, I don’t like standing in long lines for an hour for a 2-minute ride. What if when I got in the back of the line, I was all of a sudden put in front of everyone. First of all, that would tick a lot people off.  That’s just not how it’s done. I have just learned to look for the shortest line and I do enjoy the “self-check” places because there’s hardly ever a line.

Jesus over heard His disciples talking about who was the greatest among Jesus’ followers. I’m sure they were thinking only of themselves and the accolades that they would get one day because of their celebrity status being one of Jesus disciples. He shook up their structure of what defined greatness in His view. Check this out…

33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” (Mark 9:33-37 NLT)

This teaching is still a bit of a struggle even today. People who lead don’t always lead from a serving position. It’s hard to imagine a humble, servant politician. There are people who serve in their church that relish in their positions of power rather than see their position as one of great service. I’m blown away when I see a strong leader seek to serve others in the room. I love seeing a strong and powerful leader treat their team with genuine respect and honor. I believe good leaders remember where they came from and how they got their start. Good leaders remember the people who helped them along the way. Good leaders are ALWAYS standing on the shoulders of others. This teaching of Jesus reveals how the Lord’s economy operates. I shouldn’t choose the best for me, I should think of what’s best for others. I should be a door holder for others. This servant leadership starts in my home, my workplace and especially my church family. Greatness in God’s economic system is defined by humility, gratitude, meekness, serving, patience, kindness, love, grace, mercy. Greatness in not always loud, sometimes it’s really quiet and almost unnoticed, but it’s profoundly powerful. Greatness is not about a person – it’s about a position of serving in God’s economy. This is a bit of reverse order compared to what I’m used to.  I want to serve the Lord by serving others and putting them first.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Thankful Heart

 

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI want to have a thankful heart no matter what my circumstances.

I want to have a thankful heart in the middle of crisis.

I want to have a thankful heart in the joy of victory.

I want to have a thankful heart in the depths of grief.

 

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with a hateful heart.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with anger.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with selfishness.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with greed.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with envy.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with jealousy.

 

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with giving!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with love!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with joy!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with peace!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with patience!

I think you get the picture – a thankful heart stands on its own and needs to be the foundation of everything good inside my heart.

I’m trying to commit this to memory this week. Check this out… 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

I want to have a whole thankful heart every day for the rest of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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