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

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

Discipline

 

Discipline is the bridge from WEAK to STRONG. Concept 3D illustration.I used to think of this word as punishment (aka – grounded or “the board of education applied to the ‘seat’ of understanding”). It wasn’t a positive word from my point of view. I now have an additional meaning to this word that speaks to regimen and behavior that develops skills and positive traits in my life. I still have a lot of room to grow in this area as I try to be more disciplined in the food choices I make and the volume of food I consume. It pains me to write about this because it’s a weakness that I’m working on. These two different meanings of the same word are very much related. The punishment that I received when I was “out of line” affected my behavior and taught me some boundaries. The daily disciplines I employ also reach a very similar destination.

Asaph was calling upon the Lord to punish (aka discipline) people who wanted to destroy Israel. He wanted the Lord to show up in power and show them Who they were dealing with. Check this out…

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:13-18 NIV)

I am reminded that the Lord has unmatched Power. He has unmatched Presence. His Patience with me is “over the top”. I deserve punishment, but I receive Grace. I’m thankful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I have been disciplined by the Lord, but I’m learning that self-discipline is much more proactive. (He helps me with that too!) I have done some stupid things in my life and the Lord has forgiven and restored me. I don’t ever want to forget His Love and His Grace. Because of His Love and Grace, I want His help with discipline in my life because the root word of discipline is disciple and that is exactly end goal – to be a life-long disciple of The Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Great Love Of God

Worship to GodI remember singing a hymn in church as a young kid called “The Love Of God”. I remember that the words of that song attempted to describe something that was indescribable. I remember the second verse the best. Check this out…

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Chorus: Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song. (author Frederick Lehman)

I can only write about what I know about God’s love for me. I’ve seen His love for others. I’m experienced His love first hand in my life. God’s love is a conviction of mine that is not up for negotiation. He has been faithful even when I’m unfaithful. I can’t wrap my head around His Grace or His Love. They are both inner connected and inseparable.

David writes about the rescue of God many times in the Psalms. David realizes that he’s never along –God is always there to rescue and save. Check this out…

You, God, know my folly;
    my guilt is not hidden from you.

Lord, the Lord Almighty,
    may those who hope in you
    not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
    may those who seek you
    not be put to shame because of me.

13 But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation.
14 Rescue me from the mire,
    do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
    from the deep waters. (Psalm 69:5-6,13-14 NIV)

I’m so thankful for the Love of God that rescues me.

I’m so thankful for the Love of God that restores me.

I’m so thankful for the Love of God that shapes my life.

I’m so thankful that the Love of God is displayed through His Power & His Presence in my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

PS: I’m also a fan of the song: “O Great Love of God” by David Crowder.

In God I Trust

 

In God We Trust from the dollar billI heard a story about a guy who always stopped to pick up a penny, not because of its value, but because it has the words inscribed: “In God We Trust”.  I saw a penny on the ground a day or so after that and picked it up. It reminds me that I trust in God too. I’ve been through some hard and scary times in my life where trusting God didn’t seem like an option. I was desperate for His help and for Him to settle my heart.

David was running from Saul and desperate for God to protect him and lead him. He often writes from his personal perspective, but it speaks volumes to me about his relationship with God. I can relate to his fear as well as his faith. Sometimes the distance between fear and faith is very close. Check this out…

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Record my misery;
    list my tears on your scroll—
    are they not in your record?
Then my enemies will turn back
    when I call for help.
    By this I will know that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise—
11 in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can man do to me?

12 I am under vows to you, my God;
    I will present my thank offerings to you.
13 For you have delivered me from death
    and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
    in the light of life. (Psalm 56:3-4, 8-13 NIV)

My fear is often a result of the present circumstances. When I have a moment to take a breath and get some perspective, it can change everything. My faith has grown deeper and stronger over the years because I was fearful and struggling when the Lord spoke into my heart. He came to comfort me. He brought peace to my very soul. I now have a track record with the Lord. I can’t lean on that because that’s in the past too – just like my stupid choices. I lean on Him today because He’s here with me. He speaks through His word today. My journey with the Lord is more real today than ever before because of my journey in His Word. My trust in God is stronger because I feel like I know His heart even better. I’m thankful beyond words for His patience with me – such grace. I’m thankful for His presence with me – so faithful. He has changed my entire perspective on life. In God I trust today and always.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Build My Life

 

House projectThere are times when I reflect on my life and it appears to be crumbling. I’m hurt or wounded by something or someone and it gets me down.  When I read King David’s journal of sorts, I realize that he struggled and his life was a mess at times too.  I know that my life is not always going to be easy, but the difficult times seem to come by too often. I love David’s honesty and constant confession. He doesn’t sugar coat his sin or his struggles. I am thankful for his writings because the struggle is real, but so is his faith in God. Check this out…

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods. (Psalm 40:1-4 NIV)

I am thankful for the patience of God. I am thankful for the grace of God that comes to me out of His Patience. I am thankful for His Power to lift my head and lift me up out of the places I find myself in. He doesn’t give up on me. It reminded me of a song that my son recently told me about called Build My Life by Housefires performed by Passion Band 2017.

Worthy of every song we could ever sing

Worthy of all the praise we could ever bring

Worthy of every breath we could ever breathe

We live for you

 

Jesus a name above every other name

Jesus the only one that could ever save

Worthy of every breathe we could ever breathe

We live for you

We live for you

 

Holy there is no one like you

There is none beside you

Open up my eyes in wonder

Show me who you are

And fill me with your heart

And lead me in your love

to those around me

 

I will build my life, upon your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust, in you oh lord

And I will not be shaken

 

Pressing On!

Dwayne