Advocate

LawyerThere are occasions where I’ve needed an advocate. This is someone who speaks for me. My advocate needs to know everything about me so that they can defend me and direct me. An advocate provides a different perspective – they see different solutions for my situation. An advocate can be an attorney, a spokesperson, a friend, a counselor, parent, sibling or co-worker. I am thankful for my earthly advocates. I came across a small passage in the Gospel of John this morning where Jesus is promising an Advocate. Check this out…

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NLT)

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foreign subject to them but they will soon learn first-hand about the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence in them. Jesus is giving them a heads up. He is also trying to comfort them because He’s leaving them to return to the Father.  I believe that they were probably pretty emotional about His leaving them and the Holy Spirit is to be a Presence and an Advocate.  As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how as a Dad, I’m also and advocate for my kids. As a husband, I’m an advocate for my wife. I’m also an advocate for my friends, my clients, customers, agents & employees.

I’m thankful for my Advocate (aka The Holy Spirit), who gives me counsel, direction, comfort, peace by His Presence.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

(Note: As I was writing this yesterday, my youngest son woke up early and came into the living room and sat with me and talked. I realized again what a blessing to be his advocate – so I published this a day late. It was worth it. #advocate)

Living Water

I wish I had been the guy many years ago who had the idea of bottling water. It’s convenient and fairly simple. I’ve picked up a bottle of water at a gathering to find that it’s bottled with water from a city municipal water supply – aka “the faucet”!  My friend, Chris Cook has a company called Superior Mountain Water. We have those water coolers at the office, with the blue bottle on top, and you can get a really fresh great tasting cup of cool water on demand. I have learned that I like some “brands” of bottled water better than others. My body must have water to live. In fact, most doctors recommend a generous amount of water consumption every day. The water can serve as a cleansing agent to my body.

Jesus, once again calls himself LIVING WATER. John qualifies it a bit more as the living water that He speaks of is the Holy Spirit. Check this out…

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said, “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (John 7:37-39 NLT)

Jesus spoke of giving Living Water to the woman at the well earlier in His ministry. He is not proclaiming this to the crowds. I’m assuming that John is writing this after Jesus had ascended back to heaven.

When I first accepted Jesus and was baptized as a young kid, I had no real tangible ideas or thoughts about the Holy Spirit. I don’t think my young brain could handle the concept or either I wasn’t taught much about it. I’ve since experienced first-hand the Power and the Presence that the Holy Spirit brings to my life. I’ve tasted this Living Water that Jesus speaks of.

The Living Water brings peace.

The Living Water brings healing.

The Living Water brings comfort.

The Living Water bring hope.

The Living Water brings life.

The Living Water brings grace.

I could go on and on about this Living Water (aka The Holy Spirit).  His Presence in me has completely changed my perspective on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life. The Holy Spirit is the FILTER (aka the glasses) through which I see. My vision is clear. My mission is clear. I’m seeking to honor Him every day in every way possible.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Wisdom Brings Peace

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI have been known to talk when I should be listening. I have also been known to be quiet when I should have spoken. This can be tricky – knowing when to speak or not to speak. I also try to edit carefully what comes out of my mouth. When I relax a bit among friends, or around my family, I might say too much. There is much to be said about thinking before speaking. It is way too often that my mouth starts speaking before my brain catches up with what I’m saying – this can be disastrous and hurtful. I’m so thankful that the Lord sees my heart. I think the people who know be best also know my heart. I’m not generally a hateful or insensitive person, but I confess that I have been before. When I surrendered my heart to the Lord, I began dismantling some of these harmful habits. Guarding my speech takes wisdom and tremendous restraint. I think as I get older, I’m learning the value of restraint and timing.

The book of James devotes the bulk of chapter 3 to control of the tongue and then he finishes up speaking of wisdom. I believe control of my tongue is directly connected to seeking and cultivating wisdom deep inside my soul. Check this out…

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (James 3:17-18 CSB)

The wisdom that is described here is profoundly simple, deep, thorough, and heaven-sent. I can’t find this wisdom apart from the Lord Himself. He is the Source of Godly Wisdom. There is a wisdom of this world that is self-centered, self-promoting, arrogant and prideful. It is destructive instead of constructive. I want the Lord’s wisdom so that my “radar” can detect worldly wisdom. James says in chapter 1 that the Lord gives wisdom freely. Check this out…

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 CSB)

This peace-loving, gentle, compliant (reasonable), full of mercies – it is real not fake. I love that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who are wise enough to cultivate peace. Wisdom speaks with purity and peace. Wisdom is open to inspection and a thorough “vetting process”. The more you drill down into wisdom, the more insightful it becomes.  The Lord has given me incredible insight and wisdom in my marriage relationship, my parenting role, my friendship, my colleagues, my customers, clients and even strangers. God’s wisdom is timeless and beyond description, but He gives it in parcels that I can manage and handle. I believe He disperses it in my journey in His Word, in worship and in prayer – among other ways. I would love to be known as wise and understanding and a cultivator of peace – If I’m known for that, then I’ll know that He broke through this earthly vessel known as Dwayne.

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

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

Holy Spirit Presence

 

PresenceI used to freak out when I was a kid hearing the adults in church speak about the Holy Ghost. I knew the definition of a ghost and I really wasn’t interested. When I grew older and was introduced to the Holy Spirit, I realized that this was a lot different than “Ghostbusters” or weird little translucent being.

The Holy Spirit is the very Presence of God. It’s hard to explain if we don’t embrace the fact that there is a spiritual realm. A realm beyond our ability to see or hear. I like to think of it like radio waves or cell phone waves. What if I could see all the radio waves traveling invisibly through the air? My mind would be blown. They are there even though I can’t see them. I believe that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in the spirit realm and He is close by to those who have make Jesus Lord of their lives. Check this out…

13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)

The Holy Spirit is a game changer when I’m unsure or afraid. He is with me so I feel safe and confident that I can act on His behalf. He is the very essence and presence of Creator God but He dwells with me. Jesus said that He would leave the Comforter when He ascended to the Father.

The Holy Spirit reminds me of Grace.

The Holy Spirit pours out hope generously.

The Holy Spirit prompts me to give.

The Holy Spirit convicts me of sin.

The Holy Spirit empowers me with love.

The Holy Spirit breathes peace into my soul in times of trouble or struggle.

The Holy Spirit reveals deep facets of God to me as I walk with Him.

I can’t imagine walking with God without the Presence of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit You Are Welcome Here (Kim Walker Smith from Bethel)

Pressing On!

Dwayne