Drastic Difference

Be DifferentI’ve met people who are way different than I am. Years ago, I had the privilege to travel to Europe on my way to Zambia, Africa. I was just a young man from Kentucky who had never been on an airplane, much less traveled to other countries. I loved seeing so many different things and engaging with so many different people. I wish I knew then what I know now and I would have learned a lot more on the trip. The people is Brussels were very cool. The people in Zambia were also very sweet people. I have a few photos of me on the trip. My favorite one is with me surrounded by some of people who I had the privilege of teaching about the life of Jesus. I think different is a bit underrated.  Conforming to be like everyone else is way overrated, in my opinion.

Jesus took three of His closest disciples with Him up on a mountain and they were not expecting what they saw. They knew Jesus was different, but what they saw and heard changed them too. Check this out….

1Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light. Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

Peter exclaimed, “Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.”The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground. (Matthew 17:1-6 NLT)

I’m sure the disciples could not believe their eyes what was happening. Then the voice of God on top of all that. I think I would have been a bit frightened too.  I don’t think those three disciples ever forgot what they saw and heard. I believe that they were different for the rest of their lives. Jesus asked them not to talk about it until He had been raised from the dead.

I believe that I am changed when I’m with the Lord. I believe I’m changed when I spend time alone with Him. He has made a drastic difference in my life. He has changed my relationship with my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my clients who become my friends. I see everyone I meet differently because I’ve been with the Lord and He changed everything about me. I have become so thankful and grateful for His Presence in my life. I have become so thankful and aware of how He wants me to treat others. I am still growing to become more like Him. I want people to notice a drastic difference in me because I’ve been with the Lord. I’ve seen Him and I’ve heard from Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love people. I love some people a bit more than others. I love my big family profoundly. In fact, I love my family at the expense of any other relationship. I grew up in a family with two brothers & two sisters – considered a big family. I also have five children of my own and now three grandchildren. I am so grateful to the Lord for my beautiful big family. I know that the Lord has big plans for them.

I love my work. I became a REALTOR 15 years ago. I had been a student pastor for 20 years prior to that. I loved being with students, teaching them during the most formative time of their lives. In the past 15 years, I’ve learned to build on the principles I learned in ministry. Jesus came to serve not to be served. I have used that as a theme in my real estate business. I get to honor the Lord by serving others. I will say that there have been times in my life where the noise level of my work reached fever pitch.  Several years ago, I started getting up 30 minutes early to have some morning solitude. It really changed how I managed my day. I used to try to sneak some solitude in the middle of my day and I still do on occasion, but my morning solitude is the best. I get to hear from the Lord each day in His Word. Recently, I started my morning with gratitude. I’ve started hitting the snooze button on purpose to lie in bed and give the Lord thanks for my wife, my family, my friends, my work, my country and everything I can think of. My time of solitude features gratitude, reading, journaling, prayer and then some work.

Jesus needed solitude too. The day He got the news of His cousin John the Baptist death, He sought solitude. Check this out.

13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Jesus then teaches & feeds 5,000 men plus the women and children)

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. (Matthew 14:13-14; 22-23 NLT)

Solitude gives me perspective.

Solitude can renew my spirit.

Solitude can renew my strength.

Solitude can settle my anxious heart.

Solitude can enhance my listening to God.

Solitude can influence every hour of my life.

Solitude gives me clarity of life purpose.

Solitude deepens my faith in God.

___________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

God’s Perspective

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossI have a perspective that is somewhat unique to others. My perspective is based on a lot of factors. For example, my perspective about where I live is different from someone who has never lived anywhere else. I was “born and raised” in Kentucky. I lived in Tennessee for 6 years after graduation from High School. I moved to Carroll County, Georgia in February 1986. I’ve been here ever since. I love where I live, but I see it differently than people who have never lived anywhere but here. I also think it’s cool to talk to people who moved here from the US west coast or up in the north-eastern US. They have a totally different perspective on living in Georgia.  I can’t help but look at things through my view, because it is from my experience. My experiences are the window to my world view.

As I journey through the Word of God, I’m constantly reminded of God’s perspective on my little life. I often think that my life is really about me, but the longer I live, I realize that He has much bigger plans for my life than I have.  I don’t always understand why things happen in my life, but I believe that the Lord is the Creator of my life and my world. He will give me direction and He imparts wisdom to me.  If I stop and review things from His perspective, they look a lot different. Jesus had just had a conversation with His disciples asking them who do people say He is. They said that He was the Messiah. Then He told them what was coming next.  Check this out…

31 Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead.32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.

33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s. (Mark 8:31-33 NLT)

It takes work to see things from God’s perspective. When I look back at the victories and the struggles of my life from His perspective, I can now see how He was building me. In the middle of the struggles or success, I don’t always see that. Recently, I’ve been convicted that I should see everything that I do as bringing glory to God. Even if something bad happens – all glory to God. Even when my kid has to fight cancer, God can be glorified. Even if my kid falls from a tree and is flown to a Trauma 1 center – God can be glorified. Even if my brother-in-law is diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma and has to fight that horrible cancer of the bone marrow – God can be glorified. There is more to this life than my comfort and happiness when I rise above my life and see things from God’s perspective. His goal for my life is preparation for eternity. I believe He wants my life here to be full and abundant, but not all encompassing.

I want God’s perspective on the little things that happen in my life along the way as well as the big events. I want every facet of my life to bring glory to Him. He owns it all, I’m simply managing on His behalf.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Significance of Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love the solitude and quietness of the morning. I can hear the noises of a quiet home in the morning. I hear the furnace come on occasionally. I can hear the fridge come on some as well. There is something special about my time of solitude in the morning. I like to start my time of solitude after I’ve shaved, showered and made a pot of coffee. I start each day with reading some from the Word of God. I believe the scriptures speak truth into my life every day.  I do not consider myself a theologian at all. I’m just a regular guy who loves God and loves His Word. I find such deep pockets of my faith and incredible clarity for my life when I spend time alone with the Lord in His Word.

I love the fact that Jesus modeled this. He would occasionally slip away from the “noise” of His ministry for times of solitude and prayer.  This well-known event in Jesus’ life occurred after a time of solitude and prayer. Check this out…

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.

47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them,49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.

But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. (Mark 6:45-51a NLT)

Solitude and prayer work together to help prepare my heart and mind for the day ahead. I must admit that some days are tougher than others. I can often look back on my morning time of solitude in the middle of a busy and hectic day. I believe that solitude and prayer anchor my soul to The Word of God. I believe that the Words of Scripture contain wisdom and insight that is timeless and powerful. I find words of healing here. I find words of hope. I find depth of insight. I believe solitude combined with scripture and prayer are two very valuable ingredients to a peace-filled life. In the midst of a noisy and chaotic world, I can find peace because of my time of solitude and prayer each morning.

I’ve not tried walking on water or “leaping tall buildings in a single bound”.  I just know that I’m a stronger Christian because of my time of solitude and prayer in the morning. It’s not because I’m special, I simply seeking the Lord to lead me as I live out my life. Solitude gives focus and clarity to my life and helps keep thing in proper perspective. I also think the simple discipline of starting my day with the Lord has been a huge game changer for many years. I only wish I had started this daily discipline many years ago. I’m thankful for the Lord’s Powerful Presence in my life as I sit with Him to begin each day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Perspective on Power

 

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossI’ve witnessed the power of high winds and tornados. I’ve talked with those who’ve experienced earth quakes. I’ve seen powerful explosives that take down a stadium to rubble. I’ve seen mighty cranes, trucks, bulldozers.  I’ve seen the destructive power of weapons used to steal, kill and destroy.  Power put in the wrong hands brings about disruption and destruction.

The Lord is ALL POWERFUL. No one else measures up to His Power. I’m in small group of men who are reading in Isaiah this week and immediately, I saw a powerful perspective of the Lord.  He has no equal. Check this out…

12 Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
    Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
    or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
13 Who is able to advise the Spirit of the Lord?
    Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
14 Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
    Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
    or show him the path of justice? (Isaiah 40:12-14 NLT)

The prophet Isaiah is crystal clear on how powerful the Lord is. He explains that nothing or no one else can compare or measure up to Him. He is beyond my ability to fathom this power perspective. He made the heavens and the earth. He knows what the earth weighs? He never needs advice or wise counsel.

After this perspective, I came across one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. Check this out…

28 Have you never heard?
    Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
    No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
29 He gives power to the weak
    and strength to the powerless.
30 Even youths will become weak and tired,
    and young men will fall in exhaustion.
31 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
    They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
    They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT)

He never gets tired or weak and He’s the Supplier of my strength, therefore, I can remain strong. He renews my strength. He rebuilds me when I’m broken. He restores me when I’m devastated. He specializes in renewing and rebuilding broken, hurting people. He makes a way where there seems to be no way.  He most definitely worthy of my trust and confidence. There is no One more powerful, yet gentle, patient, merciful and full of Grace. I’m so thankful to know Him and to be known by Him!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bible

 

Man praying with the BibleI have started reading a different translation lately. I am reading the New Living Translation (NLT) and I was told it’s on a 6th grade reading level. I really like it so I guess that says a lot about my mental capacity! One of the things that ignited my passion for God’s Word is when I read a different version and started hearing the truth differently that I had heard since I was a kid. I still love The Message (paraphrase) by Eugene Peterson as it paraphrases the Word of God in everyday, contemporary language.

I came across a passage of scripture this morning where Jesus is addressing the “religious leaders” who were calling Him out for healing on the Sabbath. He had instructed a man who had been lame for 38 years to get up and walk and take his mat with him. The religious leaders majored on the minors quite frequently. They were upset that the man was carrying his mat. They were also upset that the man was healed on the Sabbath. They seem to miss the point for sure. Jesus starts explaining Who He is and that frustrates the religious leaders even more. He then speaks clearly where the issue really is. Check this out…

39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. (John 5:39 NLT)

If I read the Bible and miss seeing Jesus; I’ve missed the point of The Word completely. From the beginning of the Bible to the end, this Word of God is about The Word of God – Jesus. The Old Testament sets up His coming to earth and the New Testament introduces Him to the world and shows us how to live and follow Him.

I don’t want to become so dogmatic about studying the Bible that I miss The Point of the Bible – Jesus. I would not know Him without the Bible. He changed my life starting many years ago. He is still changing my life today. The way He lived – The way He loved – It’s all in the Bible. He is God Who came to the world as a human and lived and worked among us. He not only saved me from hell; He inspires me to live in a way that honors my Creator. The Presence of Jesus in my life via His Spirit has changed my perspective and my response to everything. I enjoy reading the Bible to hear more from Him and more about Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne