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

Love More!

 

White Box with the Word Love on the Sides Isolated on a White Background.My wife and I have a little contest to see who can love the other more. It is not just about words, but actions for sure. It’s a fun competition where we both win! I have also always wanted my kids to know that I love them deeply. I am never afraid to say, “I love you” to them. I can never hug them enough or provide for them enough. It is hard when they start becoming adults and they need to figure some of life’s lessons out. I simply can’t be the solution to their every struggle as they become grown-ups. I still can’t just stop loving and wanting to do for them.

Love is probably the most profound topic of our lives. Love is gentle. Love is tough. Love is warm. The Apostle Paul penned a beautiful passage that is used in weddings but really needs to be used in our everyday life. Check this out…

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CSB)

Love is the essence of the Character of God. He epitomizes love every day. He loved first. He loves the best. He is relentless in His pursuit of loving His people and having them love Him in return. His love made a way for us to have eternal life with Him.

I was listening to this song by Needtobreathe called: Let Us Love. Here’s the chorus.

Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we’re still living
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground
Give us time
To beat the system
Make us find
What we’ve been missing
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground

I can be the best husband….

I can be the best Dad….

I can be the best friend….

I can be the best REALTOR….

I can be the best boss…

I can be the best singer….

I can be the best prayer warrior….

I can be the best at EVERYTHING – but without love I am a failure.

I want love deeply the ones closest to me for sure, but I also want to love others and care deeply for them. I want the love that God has shown me to be shown in every facet of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne