Deep Strength

Smiling sport child boy showing hand biceps muscles strengthI used to work out lifting weights and doing some good cardio, but I’ve slipped tremendously over the last 20+ years. (Please try not to laugh at this confession.) I exchanged one discipline for another and the truth is I need both. I have grown deeper and stronger spiritually over the last several years, but physically I’m weaker (and older) than I’ve ever been.  I enjoy some forms of exercise like bike riding on the Carrollton Greenbelt. I must pay attention to my physical body and cultivate physical strength. The more important strength conditioning comes from my spiritual exercise. I started getting up early many years ago to carve out time that I could spend with the Lord focusing on His Word and His heart. That one decision changed everything about my perspective and game me insights into life that I never had before. The more I study and walk with the Lord, the deeper my love for Him grows. I look back and realize that I spent way too much time in the shallow end of His swimming pool. I want to go deeper every day with Him. The Psalmist was a human being who loved the Lord and walked deeper. Check this out…

13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done. (Psalm 118:13-17 NIV)

I would rather have deep inner strength than brut physical strength any day. The ideal would be both!  I have had times of suffering in my life where they physical exercise was a great distraction and helped me work out some stress, but it did very little for my spiritual journey. That takes time alone with the Lord in deep study, discernment and conversational prayer. He gives me strength I can’t describe. He gives me insight that is way beyond my education and comprehension. His Presence calms my soul. His Presence gives me strength to navigate the most challenging path.

I will say that there are times in my life, I’m not sure how I lived to talk about the struggle except that His is in me and He is for me. He flat out saved me and I want Him to use me now for His Glory and His Fame. I am nothing without Him, but with Him I have everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Daily Prayer

Man praying with the BibleI grew up learning to give thanks at meal time. I had a memorized prayer that we sometimes called “grace”. It went like this: “God is Good. God is Great. Let us thank Him for our food – Amen”.  I also remember my nighttime prayer that went something like this: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray Thee Lord my soul to keep. If is should die before I wake, I pray Thee Lord my soul to take. Amen”. I value these little prayers that I remember clearly to this day. My prayers are way different now than back then. My prayers are not memorized these days and they are much more personal and even desperate. The sons of Korah penned a pretty desperate daily prayer, but it starts off with a tone of declaration of Who God is. Check this out…

Lord, you are the God who saves me;
day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry. (Psalm 88:1-2 NIV)

I don’t have any magic formula for my daily prayer. I’ve just learned to talk to the Lord about everything and everybody. He certainly has the capacity to hear the prayers of His kids. He listens to the prayers of His kids and I believe that prayer calls upon the resources of heaven to intervene or intercede on behalf of those in need.  I don’t believe in unanswered prayers, but I do believe in prayers that I don’t like the answer that I received. The Lord sees things that I can’t see when He answers my prayers. Much like my parents protected me from dumb choices or bad decisions; the Lord knows what is best even if I don’t like it right now. I’m still learning that when I don’t understand, I still trust His heart.  I try hard to pray about everything and worry about nothing.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Desperate Need

 

Beauty girl cryI have been afraid before. I do know what it is like to feel desperate. I also know what it’s like to be in desperate need. I must say that I’ve never missed a meal or had to go any length of time at all without food. I’ve never been without a home. I have truly been blessed many times over for many years. I still know what desperation feels like. There have been events happen in my life that I had very little or no control over. I know what it’s like to be desperate for the Lord to intervene and help.

Asaph, was the worship leader for David, I think. He is a musician so we know he’s probably certainly somewhat emotional. He writes with passion and purpose. I can feel in his writing a close and deep relationship with God. He approaches the Lord at a time of desperation. Check this out…

Do not hold against us the sins of past generations;
    may your mercy come quickly to meet us,
    for we are in desperate need.
Help us, God our Savior,
    for the glory of your name;
deliver us and forgive our sins
    for your name’s sake. (Psalm 79:8-9 NIV)

Desperate needs can give us intense focus.

Desperate needs can give us incredibly humble hearts.

Desperate needs can drive us to fall at the feet of the Lord asking for His help.

I don’t like feeling desperate need. I’ve grown in my journey to know that the Lord is not desperate. He is not surprised by my situation or circumstances. He will help me. He will use my desperate need to reveal more of His heart and His purpose for my life. My desperate need is often a deep teachable moment for me and those close to me. He doesn’t waste moments of struggle, hardship or desperation – I learn much about God’s heart in the depths of desperate need. I was reminded of this promise that Paul writes to the Philippian church:

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Morning Song

Performance at Creation NW 2006I love mornings. I guess you could call me a morning person. It’s because I choose to be. I have found that if I’m going to be a morning person, I must go to bed in time to allow for enough rest. This morning fell on a weekend, so I could sleep in a bit. I awoke just in time to see a gorgeous sunrise and enjoy a good cup of freshly ground coffee with the Word of God.

I came across a passage that King David had penned when he was early on the run from Saul. Saul had just sent men to his house to kill him and he was confused as to why. I feel like I relate to David, because I move from faith to fear and back to faith in a very short time frame. Check this out….

16But I will sing of your strength,

in the morning, I will sing of your love;

for you are my fortress,

my refuge in times of trouble.

17You are my strength, I sing praise to you;

you, God, are my fortress,

my God on whom I can rely. (Psalm 59:16-17 NIV)

I love singing to the Lord. It refreshes my soul. I find strength when I sing to the Lord. Some of the songs I like to sing affirm my faith and trust in the Lord. When I sing of my love and trust in God, my struggles fade into the background.

One of current favorite songs to declare before the Lord is: “Here’s My Heart” recorded by Crowder & written by Jason Ingram, Chris Tomlin & Louie Giglio. Here are the lyrics that also make a great morning prayer…

Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord
Here’s my heart Lord
Speak what is true

‘Cause I am found, I am Yours
I am loved, I’m made pure
I have life, I can breathe

‘Cause You are strong, You are sure
You are life, You endure
You are good, always true
You are light breaking through

You are more than enough
You are here, You are love
You are hope, You are grace
You’re all I have, You’re everything

________________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Self-Pity

 

Word cloud illustration in shape of hand print showing protest.Self-pity is not an attractive trait and sometimes it’s really hard to push away from such a strong emotion or sentiment. When it seems like the whole world is crashing in around me it’s tough to keep my head up. In my journey with the Lord I’ve learned that no one else can “pity” me quite like I can. I am embarrassed to think of how many “pity parties” I’ve thrown for myself over the years. It is so easy to get the guest list together for a pity party because I’m the most important guest.

Job is having a pretty big pity party in his own right. He has more reason to have one than I every have. He’s lost all his material possessions, his family and his health. He is barely hanging on to life itself. He’s lost hope and he’s crying out to the Lord because he doesn’t understand what he has to endure. Check this out…

4 Do you have eyes of flesh?

    Do you see as a mortal sees?

5 Are your days like those of a mortal

    or your years like those of a strong man,

6 that you must search out my faults

    and probe after my sin –

7 though you know that I am not guilty

    and that no one can rescue me from your hand?

12 You gave me life and showed me kindness,

    and in your providence watched over my spirit. (Job 10:4-7, 12 NIV)

I can hardly imagine what Job is feeling and experiencing. I’ve certainly had struggles and sufferings in my life, but nothing on the scale that Job is facing. I love how Job deals with his frustrations and struggles. He asked God lots of questions. Inside these questions are definitely strong hints of hopelessness. He asks lots of questions and begs the Lord to take his life, but he doesn’t curse God. I love seeing this personal relationship with God. I believe as I read the rest of God’s Word, that this personal relationship is exactly what the Lord wants with me. He wants me to walk and talk with Him daily. He wants me to let my life revolve around His Plans for me. He wants to direct my daily activities. He wants to be the desire of my heart every day. He wants me to trust Him without worry or question – even though He will welcome my questions.

I want to stop having pity parties – they are always themed the same – with my whining. Come to think of it; I don’t usually invite the Lord to my pity parties because He will shut the party down.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Therapeutic Prayer

Abstract Silhouette PrayingThere have been times in my prayer life that as I heard my prayer out loud, I saw and felt it quite differently. I pray mostly with unspoken words. I do believe that prayer feels different when spoken aloud. I will often pray aloud when I’m alone with the Lord.

In Job’s first response to one of his friends he speaks about his situation and I think he’s addressing the Lord directly. Woven throughout this story is the depth of the Lord’s relationship with Job. Check this out…

7 Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;

    my eyes will never see happiness again.

8 The eye that now sees me will see me no longer;

    you will look for me, but I will be no more.

9 As a cloud vanishes and is gone,

    so one who goes down to the grave does not return.

10 He will never come to his house again;

    his place will know him no more.

11 ‘Therefore I will not keep silent;

    I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit,

    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

17 ‘What is mankind that you make so much of them,

    that you give them so much attention,

18 that you examine them every morning

    and test them every moment? (Job 7:7-11; 17-19 NIV)

I can feel the angst in Job’s spirit as these words flow off the page. I can feel his sense of loss and trying to understand why he’s in this situation. In the midst of crisis, I found great peace and comfort in prayer. I can be clueless as to what the next move should be, but I’m determined to be led by the Lord whatever that move may be.

I also find great comfort from the Word of God. As I journey through Job, I realize that my sufferings and struggles feel quite small. This man Job was really “put through the ringer”. His question about mankind was also very revealing of his relationship with the Lord. It was a daily examination of his heart and he walked with the Lord each moment. Job is an example of tight fellowship with the Lord.

I would be wise to view today as an integral part of my journey with the Lord. If there are not big events, I will simply walk with Him and be thankful for this day. I will welcome Him to examine my heart as I walk through this day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne