Let’s Get Together

I love connecting with my family and friends. I generally like people, for the most part. I have met some people that were difficult to get along with. I struggle with people who are rude and have a condescending attitude toward me or others. I struggle with people who are arrogant and “snooty”. I am drawn to people who are humble and full of kindness. I also like people who are unselfish and interested in others instead of only talking about themselves.

Jesus spoke to His disciples plainly about relationships inside the church. He gave them instructions about dealing with disputes and broken relationships. He had just advised them that the greatest in the kingdom is like a humble little child. He then gives one more additional thought that I really needed. Check this out…

19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20 NLT)

I have a few friends that I like to connect with on a regular basis. We often gather over coffee and catch up with one another. I find it relaxing to enjoy some coffee and conversation. It’s crucial to be open and vulnerable with the truth. I’m not trying to protect my image, I’m really wanting to continue building a deeper relationship where The Lord is at the center.  Jesus takes it a step farther and says that when two or three gather together, He is among us. He also says that if we pray about something in agreement, our Father in heaven will do it for us. I want to make sure that I’m asking others to join me in prayer. It’s way more powerful when lots of us pray.

I think our gatherings on Sunday at church are really important for prayer, praise, & preaching and teaching. I want to know more about the Lord. Others perspective about a passage of the Bible that we read together can be very insightful. Life is much better if we make connections with others and join together in prayer and Bible study.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Preparations

Time to PlanI get excited about big days and big events in my life. I will sometimes lay my clothes out the night before in order to make the morning go smoothly. Many years ago, I decided to become a morning person. I love the quietness of the morning. I can read, pray and meditate in the quietness of the morning. I learned very early on that I could not be a “night owl” and a morning person at the same time. I can still remember my grandpa telling me: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy & wise”. I do enjoy my morning time with the Lord in His Word.

I came to the end of Mark this morning and I noticed something that I hadn’t noticed before. The ladies who went to the tomb to put the spices on Jesus’ physical body, prepared the spices the night before so that they could have everything ready for first thing the next morning. Check this out…

1Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” (Mark 16:1-7 NLT)

I remember the Scout motto: “Be Prepared”.  I think it’s wise to think through the events of my day. I started working on the events that come first and knock them out, then move to the next one in line. If I have a 10 AM appointment and a 3 PM appointment, I prepare for the early one first and then the next one.  Believe it or not, I had to make myself consciously choose, because sometimes I like what is happening at 3 PM and I dread the 10 AM. The point is, I try to always be prepared for each part of my day.

The other lesson I learned when I’m prepared is that I can handle interruptions much easier. If I’m not in frantic, “prepare” mode just before something is due, I can navigate through the unexpected with a calmer spirit for sure. So today is the end to the business of 2017 and the new year is just around the corner. I have been preparing for a while now the events of the new year. When I’m prepared, I have more time to anticipate and that is part of the fun.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Hard Prayer

Praying ManI don’t really consider myself a “prayer warrior”, but I really want to be. I do pray often, but I feel like I’ve got much to learn regarding prayer. I’m still learning to pray about everything and worry about nothing. I want to have a consistent prayer journey with the Lord where I talk with Him throughout the day about every facet of my day and my life. I want to talk with Him during the menial, mundane tasks, like brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom, answering email, texts, etc.…

A healthy prayer life involves a lot of listening as well as talking. I’ve become a better listener with the Lord over the years. I’ve learned to pray with more depth of purpose, since learning to listen to Him. He speaks through silence. He speaks through loud people. He speaks through quiet people. He speaks in the nature. He speaks in the sunrise and sunset. He speaks in the smile of a child. He speaks more ways and in more situations than I could possibly count.

I do recall some prayers that are hard to pray. Jesus prayed a “hard prayer”, the night of His betrayal. He was troubled in spirit, because He knew what was coming. Check this out…

32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:32-36 NLT)

I don’t always “want” the Lord’s will. I usually want what I want. I can be selfish at the expense of others. I will sometimes complain if I don’t get what I want. I have learned that complaining really means I feel “entitled” to something. I think entitlement is a big issue in our culture today. I feel entitled to things that I really should earn. I often act like; others life should revolve around mine.  It is really hard to pray: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” I’ve sat beside the bed of a friend as their loved ones prayed this prayer, only to have them die within in hours. I will passionately pray for what I want for hours on end, because I feel like to pray for “His will to be done” might end badly. I can’t always see what He sees. I can just see the here and now. The Lord see there and then – the future. I’m learning that He always know what is best. He always knows exactly what I need. In order for me to grow and mature in my faith, I need to have a child-like trust in Him. I need to pray for His will above mine, every time I pray. That is easier said than done, but I’m trying.

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

Direct Connect

 

Miniature engineer team try to connect ethernet cables to portI remember some of the computer technology that was “pre-internet”. I remember having a “floppy disk” that had a program on it that would run locally on my laptop and then it created some sort of code that would transfer over the modem to another computer in Atlanta. I took my first real estate course online in this format. Today, with the internet, it’s more of a direct and “live” connection. I can take the class in real time and connect with an instructor. I think the world has so much more direct access to so many. It seems to me though, that as our world is so connected, there is less direct connection. I have a myriad of ways to communicate, however, it seems there is less connection happening. I think it was Seth Godin that pointed out how we go to dinner with a friend or loved one and spend more time on our phone connecting with our “fake friends” (on social media) rather than connecting with the friend across the table.

Jesus started giving His disciples a heads up that He was about to leave them and go back to the Father. This started a lot of discussion and concern among the disciples. I love how He took the time to further explain what was about to happen. Check this out…

20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.  23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20,23-24,33 NLT)

Jesus is explaining the “Direct Connect” that I now have with the Father. The disciples grew up in Jewish culture where you went to the priest and he then went to God. Jesus came to earth to open up this “Direct Connect” with the Father. I no longer have to go through a priest to speak to the Lord – I can talk directly to Him. I will often ask others to talk to Him on my behalf as well. I try to talk to God about everything and everyone. I’m certainly growing in my understanding of His Power and His Presence. This “Direct Connect” that I have with the Lord has given me wisdom and depth of understanding that I would have otherwise missed. I believe that the Lord can give me insight through this “Direct Connect” with Him. He knows everything and everyone. This “Direct Connect” has another more common term: PRAYER. Through prayer, I can talk directly to God because Jesus made the way or “built the Connection”! I’m so thankful for prayer through times of struggle, suffering and even times of joy. I’m learning to talk to the Lord in great detail about everything and everyone.

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