Never Give In

Never give up inscription. Greeting card with calligraphy. Hand drawn design. Black and white.I love history and I recently read the biography of Winston Churchill called “The Last Lion – Winston Spencer Churchill Keeper Of The Realm 1940-1965”. This guy was an amazing & unique man. He was relentless in his fight against the Nazi regime of Hitler. He gave inspirational speeches because he was an inspirational leader. He was asked to speak at his old school. He went back there at the request of the head master of the school. He gave a speech to those young men that resounded around the world. His passion and his grit showed through. Here is an excerpt that was never forgotten:

“I am addressing myself to the School—surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. -Winston S. Churchill

Many decades prior, the Apostle Paul had written with similar inspiration the Corinth Church. He spoke plainly about the struggles that we will face and how we should face them. Check this out….

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4:7,16-18 NLT)

I recently heard a quote that was given to a young man as he was deployed. “We don’t fight because we hate what’s in front us, we fight because we love what is behind us”. I know a lot of people who are suffering right now, even fighting for their very life. Some are fighting disease or cancer. Some were injured in an automobile accident. Some have been through divorce or the death of a loved one. There is tremendous suffering and struggle all around. There are times it would be so easy to give in and just quit. The Lord calls me to trust Him to the very end of my life. The never wastes an opportunity to work through us in the middle of suffering and struggle.

I thought about a friend whom I met recently who is battling cancer and liver disease. This person had the biggest smile and told me that they were blessed. I was absolutely inspired and encouraged by this attitude in the face of a tremendous battle.  I want to have a “never give in” attitude. I want to honor God until I breathe my last breath.  I want to keep my gaze fixed on the eternal, unseen life while I battle through struggles in this life I can see.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Faithful Follower

Man praying with the BibleI grew up knowing about the Lord from my parents and grandparents. I was introduced to the scriptures at a young age. My family went to church twice on Sunday and also on Wednesday for mid-week Bible Study. I lived off the faith of my parents and grandparents for several years. I remember when I realized that some of the church traditions that I held were challenged. I went to a Bible College in East Tennessee and there were people there from all over the world. Some of the traditions that I held on to were not found in scripture. The traditions were from people who were following Jesus. After a while, the traditions were taught as truth from God’s Word. I have a lot of opinions about all sorts of things that are being taught as truth, but the Word of God is enough to raise of the people of God. The traditions were never intended to be impediments to the truth, but that is what they have become.  Many religions have multiple traditions as well as churches today. I want to have a strong relationship with God – if that makes me “religious”, I don’t mind. I don’t want to be religious just for the sake of being good. I want to faithfully follow Creator God and learn more and more of His heart through the study of His Word and being committed to a church filled with fellow followers.

On more than one occasion, Jesus challenged the “religion leaders” and “teachers of the law”. They believed that the Messiah was coming, but this is a colossal case of missing the point. They not only didn’t believe Him, they killed Him.  Check out this encounter with them…

28 “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. 30 Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go.

31 “Which of the two obeyed his father?”

They replied, “The first.”

Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins. (Matthew 21:28-32 NLT)

While I grew up in church, I’m thankful that the Lord has been patient with me as I discovered Him and heard His call upon my heart. I’ve learned more about His heart simply by reading the Word every day and asking Him to speak into my heart. If I can have time to eat, I have time for His Word. If I have time to watch a television show, I have time for His Word. Over the years of spending time in His Word, I really miss my time with Him, if I miss even one day. I believe He’s drawn me nearer His heart as I’ve searched the Word for His heart. I want to be a faithful follower of God all the days of my life. I want to be obedient to His call upon my life and upon my heart even today. I don’t want to ever get so bogged down with doing things for Him that I skip my time just being with Him in His Word listening to Him speak into my heart.

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

Endurance & Faithfulness

EnduranceThese two words could be relatives in Gods economy. They both imply dogged determination. I really want my life to feature generous doses of both. I have had my moments in life when I took my eye off the big prize of eternal life and lived only for the moment or the day. I’m so grateful that the Lord is full of grace and mercy and He is so patient with me.

I came across another weird passage in John’s description of the Revelation that he’s experiencing. I am sometime perplexed and confused about the meaning of all that he’s seeing and writing about. At times, there is a simple verse tucked inside all the symbolism and sci-fi type scenes that speaks to me. Check this out…

10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
into captivity he goes.
If anyone is to be killed with a sword,
with a sword he will be killed.

This calls for endurance and faithfulness from the saints. (Revelation 13:10 CSB)

I don’t know how this world is going to end, but I’m trusting in the One Who created the earth. I’m hanging on to Him. I know that there are crazy things happening in our world at the moment that makes me wonder if we’re getting close. We’ve had two hurricanes, a tropical storm within 3 months. We are on the brink of war with North Korea. It is easy to get worried and distracted by all that is happening around me.  I’m leaning into Who I know and what I know about Him during these turbulent times.  If I see a beast with multiple heads and horns, I’m running to the Lord. I don’t know how this all ends, but I know Who is in charge and I’m going to endure and remain faithful to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Troubling Thought

Praying ManI’ve been to some tough places in my life.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be lost.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel hopeless.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel helpless.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel empty inside.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be “beat down by others”.

 

I remember when I surrendered my life to the Lord.

I remember the hope I felt the first time I trusted Him.

I remember my baptism.

I remember lots of markers along my journey with the Lord.

I remember lots of times of repentance for stupid choices.

I remember lots of grace.

I remember lots of mercy.

What I don’t understand is how others can so easily dismiss a loving God who longs for relationship with His creation. I don’t understand how others can look at this world and think it happened by accident or with a big explosion and suddenly order appeared.

I read a troubling passage in Revelation where John, the writer/Apostle saw a scene of destruction and rebellion. Check this out…

In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

20 The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts. (Revelation 9:6, 20-21 CSB)

I don’t always understand the hand of God – but I trust His heart.

I can’t always understand why God does or doesn’t intervene – but I trust He knows what is best.

I don’t ever want to forget what it was like to be lost. I’m so thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I meandered through life ignoring Him, until the day I stopped and took a long, hard look at Him. It’s been a journey, with lots of stumbling’s and mistakes – but I don’t ever want to let go of His hand – no matter what life sends my way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

But The Lord

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI realize that this title is not really a “stand-alone” title. These three words jumped off the page of scripture as I ready this morning. I was tracking along with some of my favorite passages that Paul had written to Timothy, the young pastor. For example…

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:2 CSB)

 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8 CSB)

I love how Paul is finishing strong. He is encouraging this young pastor to keep the faith no matter what comes his way. He is writing this from prison as Paul has a deep heart for the churches that he’s been part of planting. He’s making the “hand-off” to others as his time on earth ends.

He gives some final “house-keeping” info to Timothy and it was here that the three words stopped me in my tracks. Paul is describing a court hearing in Rome, I believe and he had no one present to stand with him or speak on his behalf. Check this out…

16 At my first defense, no one stood by me, but everyone deserted me. May it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that I might fully preach the word and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil work and will bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever! Amen. (2 Timothy 4:16-18 CSB)

But the Lord – those three words changed the scene entirely. I can be at the end of my rope and the Lord’s Presence is near. He doesn’t leave me at the crucial time. He doesn’t forget me. I would suggest that even if everyone else leaves, He won’t. He is faithful and true. He is patient beyond description. His Presence changes the ambiance of the room. His Presence ushers in hope with a profound entrance. His Presence calms my soul and directs my thoughts and actions. His Presence drowns out the noise of fear and chaos. But the Lord…. This is going from worst to first. But the Lord is Powerful and Present. But the Lord is all knowing. I would rather being in the scariest places with the Presence of the Lord in me, then to be on the beach or relaxing anywhere without Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne