On Guard

security guardI’ve entered into situations that I wasn’t sure was safe. I’ve been to homes trying to show where there was a dog, that was “friendly” and wouldn’t bite – I was on guard. I’ve been with people who appear harmless, but something just “felt weird” so I was on guard. I see being “on guard” as a preparatory phase prior to “fight or flight”. On guard means my awareness is the highest alert stage.

Paul was reminding the church at Corinth in his first letter to be on guard regarding attacks on their faith. Check this out….

13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. 14 And do everything with love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NLT)

This is a simple couple of verses that packs a powerful punch. I think he is reminding the church to be on guard against assaults on their faith. I think he is reminding them that they will battle fear. He is also reminding them to lean into the strength and Presence of the very Spirit of God. He wraps a bow on it as he says, “do everything with love”.

When I read this I felt encouraged, inspired and motivated. My faith must be proactive. I can’t be passive. I have to be aware that I have an enemy and he wants to steal, kill and destroy my faith. He wants me to cower in fear. He wants me to “wimp out” instead of lead on. He wants to fill me with hatred, jealousy and envy. I have to be keenly aware and on guard as the enemy uses many approaches to come at me. It’s like I need an alarm system that trips when the enemy makes a move on me.

I believe that the Word of God prepares me to be on guard. I’m reminded in His Word that the enemy is real. I’m reminded of his schemes and his tricks. I’m equipped with the powerful Word of God that equips me daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Your Suffering Is Over

Child in medicine maskThere is a lot of suffering going on around me. There are those who are battling cancer or watching someone they love dearly, battle the disease. There are those whom a car accident took a loved one. There are those who are in chronic pain all day, every day. There are those who’ve been betrayed by someone they love and they are suffering from the loss of relationship. Suffering comes in all shapes and sizes and is no respecter of persons. Suffering comes to the wealthiest and to the poorest. To suffer is to feel pain or distress. That is a broad definition.

There is an event of suffering that happened in Jesus’ ministry. He was going along the road with his entourage (aka his disciple and other followers) as well as a large crowd that had gathered to hear Him teach. He learned of a synagogue leader who’s 12-year old daughter was sick. He was headed to the leader’s house to heal the little girl. Check this out…

25 A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 26 She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. 28 For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition.

30 Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at this crowd pressing around you. How can you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But he kept on looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” (Mark 5:25-34 NLT)

This woman’s life changed dramatically that day. She had tried everything and was desperate enough to believe that if she could just touch Jesus robe, she could be healed – and she was healed. I love this story because it again shows the heart of Jesus. He cared about the least noticed people and he cared about the leaders. He came to give a different perspective on suffering. The woman’s suffering had not been temporary. She had been suffering for years. I have been through seasons of suffering, buy nothing compared to this. After being healed by the touch of His robe, Jesus wanted to know “who touched him”. He was on His way to heal a little girl and this older woman was healed along the way. Jesus words to this lady about her faith was profound. The then left here with four words that were big: “Your suffering is over”. This is not a fluke or a temporary fix –  your suffering is over. Those four words gave her such hope and peace. When Jesus comes on the scene, He always bring hope along. This woman’s faith allowed her to realize that hope.

I want my faith to keep growing, especially in the face of suffering. I want to know the Lord is such a way, that He can be honored in the middle of my struggle. This life here is not “the endgame”, it’s a prerequisite to “the endgame” which is eternal life – the big prize! This is what He promises. He never promised that I wouldn’t suffer in this world, but He did promise His Presence in the midst of suffering. When Jesus comes on the scene, my suffering looks way different.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Disreputable

Reputation Words on Box Credible Reliable ProductI began my career as a REALTOR in February 2003. I remember hearing a slogan that my brother used in his real estate advertisement. His slogan went like this: “I’m building a reputation, not resting on one”.  I’m pretty sure that the phrase was offensive to some and challenging to others. I knew what he meant, because he had just started his own firm. I remember deciding that I will always be building my reputation every day of my life. I’ve seen people who destroy their entire reputation with one bad decision. Except for the grace of God, that could have been me. I think about dumb decisions all the time and I think about the destruction that would left behind if I were to make a really dumb decision. I decided that I can’t spend a lot of time in that place though. I must keep my focus on growing and learning and as I do this, the thoughts of dumb decisions fade away. I want to grow and improve who I am becoming in the Lord’s eyes. I believe any success that I have as a REALTOR comes because the Lord is leading and directing my life. He is the reason, I’m careful to be honest, live and serve with integrity and have a strong work ethic.

Jesus calls Matthew (aka Levi) from his tax collection booth and asked him to be his disciple. Jesus obviously saw something in Levi that would benefit the kingdom. Levi followed Jesus. Check this out…

15 Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) 16 But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

17 When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” (Mark 2:15-17 NLT)

I am blown away by the arrogance of the Pharisees and the religious leaders. They really didn’t seem to care about anyone but themselves. They were concerned about their reputation more than they were concerned for lost people. When I put myself in this passage, I would have been considered one of these “disreputable sinners” or “scum”, according their definition.

When I gave my life to the Lord, He changed me.

He changed how I see others.

He changed how I see my work.

He changed my view of marriage.

He changed my view of being a Dad.

He changed my view of being a friend to others.

If I’m following the Lord fully, you can call me what you will. He is the reason I seek to serve others with honesty, integrity & hard work. These are my values, because they are His values too. I’d rather keep my reputation in tact with Him than to worry too much about what others are saying about me.

I need the Lord every day of my life. I haven’t walked with Him enough to “take a break”. He is woven into the fabric of who I am. I need His healing upon my heart daily. I need His wisdom daily. I need His Presence constantly.  I am definitely one of the “sick people who need a doctor”. I guess I’m saying that I’m a disreputable person who needs the Lord each day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Amazement!

Happy surprised manI am amazed at what great lengths people will go to for a free gift or money. In the past, I have endured a sales pitch in order to win a free TV or an overnight stay somewhere that always looks much nicer than it is. I do like to get something for nothing. I know better, but I will still try, much like the next person.

I’m also amazed at how people follow other people and give them celebrity status. If a guy or girl can play a sport really well, we give them special status. If someone is really wealthy we treat them quite differently than another person who doesn’t have as much wealth.

Jesus amazed people with His teaching – His Presence. He didn’t play a sport that I know of and He didn’t have a lot of wealth. His teaching was powerful and moved people. He did heal people from what was often a terminal disease – leprosy. He also healed other diseases and casts out evil spirits from people possessed. People were moved His teaching and His power to heal. Check this out…

27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee. (Mark 1:27-28 NLT)

I sometimes take the Lord’s Presence for granted. I read His Word almost every day. I talk with Him throughout the day. I participate in corporate worship each week with the church. I realize that not everyone in the world does this each week. I’m still following Him so closely that I’m not as amazed as I should be. When I stop for a minute and look carefully at Who He is and what He has done – I’m truly amazed.

I want to continue to be amazed at Him.

I want to continue to notice what He is doing in my life.

I want to continue to express my gratitude to Him for my life and loved one.

I love this old hymn: I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous) by Chris Tomlin

I want my life to bring glory to Him because I live in amazement at all that He has done and all that He is doing in me and around me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Encouragement

 

Series of hand gesturesI love being encouraged. This word means “to inspire, spirit or confidence”. It also means “to promote, advance or foster” action.  I am encouraged by people, books, places and events. These are all areas of the “physical realm” that I live in. I’m also encouraged by the Presence of God in the “spiritual realm” that I also live in. The encouragement I receive in the spiritual realm is a lot harder to explain if you’ve never experienced anything like it. I remember being promised the Presence of The Holy Spirit when I accepted Jesus into my heart and was baptized. It was a bit before I understood and felt His Presence in my life. As I continued to study His Word and walk with Him in obedience and trust – His Presence became more and more obvious to me.

My journey in the Word took me through the last chapter of Luke where Jesus had just risen from the dead. His followers were a bit freaked out. They didn’t remember that He had told them these things. The women who had prepared spices for His body were the first to get to the tomb and found He wasn’t there. Then a couple of His disciples went as well. He wasn’t there. Check this out…

13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16 NLT)

I believe that the Lord is Present even when I don’t recognize Him.

I believe that His Presence changes any situation I face.

His Presence certainly changes my perspective of any situation I face.

I am encouraged to know that I don’t have to face suffering and trials all by myself. My family is not alone in the midst of struggles and pain – He is with me.

This encouragement is hard to explain, but very real. It is called faith. I have faith in God, Who created all that I see and know. He is the reason I live. He is the reason I love. He is the reason I sing. He is the reason that I serve.

I really want others to know this encouragement that I have inside my heart that is ONLY because of His Presence in me. He calms my unsettled heart. He directs my undecided path. He rescues me from stupidity quite often. I’m so thankful and encouraged by His Presence and the Power He brings with Him to help me along the way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Instant Conviction

 

Action Word on Red Round Button Be ProactiveConviction is a very personal word to me. I have some deep convictions about lots of things. I don’t always share the same convictions as others. I do believe that the majority of the people of the world believe that murder is wrong. The scriptures speak against murder for sure. There are other convictions based on opinion and interpretation of scripture. I may have convictions that others don’t have. Some of my convictions of “thou shalt not” that I was taught as a kid, I can’t find support of in scripture. “Convictions are my beliefs set in concrete.”

The Pharisees and teachers of the law had some deep convictions. They had taken the Law of Moses and added their opinion and interpretation to it. Jesus spent much of His ministry dismantling some of their convictions and teachings.  Jesus changed people who came into His Presence. One man he met was a known sinner and he started changing before it appears that Jesus even said a word. Check this out…

Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich. He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” (Luke 19:1-10 NLT)

Being in the Presence of Jesus changed this man and years of behavior was changed. Zacchaeus was convicted of his previous actions/business model. Tax Collectors worked for the Roman government and they got paid to collect taxes that were due. Any taxes over that amount, they would keep. They got rich pretty quick in that role. Zacchaeus was changed quickly and gave away ½ of his wealth and offered restitution to all he had cheated. I imagine when people saw this man’s changed life, they couldn’t argue about the Power of Jesus Presence.

I want to make sure that I live my life in His Presence. I want my convictions to be based on His Word and His call upon my life. I don’t necessarily want to follow rules that add to scripture like the Pharisees did. I want my heart to be profoundly devoted to Him and live out my faith daily. I want people to notice that my life is different and how I work is different. I want my life to display what I believe about the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne