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

Imitator

 

I grew up imitating others in tons of ways. I remember as a kid trying to figure out my laugh, probably because someone made fun of how I laughed. I adjusted a lot of things to be like others. I imitated my Dad when I was young until I “got smarter than Him” – around 13 years old. (Total sarcasm.) When I was in my early to late teens, I became a bit of a chameleon. I would act like whoever I was with. If I were with Christians, I could play the part. If I were with some of my wild and crazy friends, I could hang with them too. Chameleons are that little lizard that changes his color to blend in to whatever environment he’s in. I also imitated great singers and musicians. I look back at seasons of my life and I always wanted to be someone else or something that I wasn’t. I finally got comfortable in my own skin several years ago and I’m thankful for who I am and Whose I am. I don’t try to keep up with others and impress them with my possessions or knowledge. I simply want to be who God called me to be. I want to honor Him with my life and my daily choices.  I love how Paul urged the Ephesians to live out their faith. Check this out…

1 Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children, and walk in love, as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 testing what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:1-2, 8-10 CSB)

I want to love like God.

I want to give like God.

I want to think like God.

I want to counsel like God.

I want to imitate God in my daily life.

I want to learn from others, but I want to imitate the Lord. I want to finish my journey here on earth walking, talking, loving & living like God, Who made me. He gives me life. He gives me purpose. He is patient. He is loving. He is kind. He is full of grace and mercy. I so want to imitate Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Maturity

happy and motivated old people 3dOne of these days I feel like I will grow up. I have officially been placed on the AARP mailing list and that makes me feel old. There are some days when I feel old, yet I’m a good 20 years younger than others who consider themselves old. Being old and mature is somewhat a state of mind. It is interesting to see how some people age more quickly than others. I used to subscribe to the theory of a friend of mine that says, “since I’m a bit overweight, my skin is stretched out and I look younger than I am”. I watched a television documentary on ESPN about the rivalry between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers and the players on those teams were 30 years older and some looked quite different. I realize that as I enter the AARP stage of life that I will look “mature” even if I’m not.

Paul gives some final words of encouragement to the church at Corinth in his last letter to them. Check this out…

11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. Become mature, be encouraged, be of the same mind, be at peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. (2 Corinthians 13:11 CSB)

I’ve certainly met people who are older, but are not mature. They are whiny and self-centered to the point that I don’t enjoy being around them. I’ve also met other older people who are kind and gracious, realizing that life doesn’t revolve around them. They have learned to love deeply and help others along the way.

Here are a few other characteristics of mature people:

Control their tongue

Show patience with others

Encourage others, especially younger people

Accepting their role in the lives of others

Self-less love

Peace makers

Trusted confidant

Consistently kind

Faithful

Honest

I could make a long list, but I’ll stop there. I want to grow old with grace and truth at the top of mind. I want to be an “old person” that younger people will enjoy being around. I won’t take myself so seriously. I want to finish this life strong with my walk with the Lord obvious to those who live, work and fellowship with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne