Faith & Love

Colorful typographic motivational poster to raise faith in yourself and your strength. The series of business concepts on a textured background of an old love. VectorOn the outside the situation is often much different than it appears. I’ve seen people smile during great pain and struggle. I’ve seen others love in the face of hatred. I’m learning that things are not always as they seem. Some of the nicest people can turn on a dime and be extremely hateful and rude. Love cuts a wide swath through life. Love can disarm anger and soften hatred. Love is a decision not just a feeling. I must choose to respond to hatred and rudeness in love. I will tell you that this is much easier said than done. Love is much more than emotion, although it is intertwined with my emotions.

Paul in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica starts off with praise for the growth of their faith and love. Faith and love are a powerful tandem force for growth. Check this out…

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3 CSB)

I take my faith and love seriously. I believe that these are two character traits are a direct reflection to my relationship with the Lord. Faith and Love are like muscles – they develop with use. Without exercising faith and love they will atrophy.  Because of my faith in God is growing, my love for others is expanding. I’m learning to love as He loves and this is challenging. He loves people who are hard to love. He loves people who hate. He loves people who are self-centered. He loves all people and He can separate their sinful behavior from their soul. It takes great faith for me to see beyond the interaction and behavior that I experience to see under the surface. The Lord sees all of that

Faith and love are powerful tools in helping me become more like the Lord. I’m learning to trust Him without exception and to love without boundaries because of His love for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Fight Within

 

devil angelI remember the cartoons when I was a kid that depicted the devil with a red body and a pitch-forked tail sitting on one shoulder whispering in my ear. He’s coaching me to do bad stuff. Then, on the other shoulder is an angel trying to coach me to do the right thing. I remember thinking this was “cute” when I was young. As I aged and grew in wisdom, I can see some truth in that. The enemy has never relaxed at pushing me. He is constantly pulling and trying to coach me into areas of weakness of my flesh. As I read God’s Word and lean into Him for wisdom and strength to live out my faith, the fight within keeps going. In Romans 7, Paul, the Apostle addressed this very battle and in fact, he verifies the inward fight. Check this out…

18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. (Romans 7:18-20 CSB)

There is always a fight with my flesh brewing somewhere in my life. My fight can be traced back to pride. I must constantly beat down pride so that The Lord can do some good work inside my soul. Pride is like the fuel that fuels my fleshly desires of lust, greed and notoriety. When the Spirit can win the battle for my heart, I become humble, grateful and generous. I have been approaching the Word of God differently because I believe The Word is a huge help in putting pride in its place and allowing the Spirit of God to shine through me. I want the Spirit of God to direct my flesh in proper choices and ideas. I want the Spirit of God to win today’s battles. I’ve read the end of the book and I know Who wins in the end. I want to finish my life strong with the Spirit of God clearly keeping my flesh in check.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Who You Know

 

US President SealI look forward to meeting new people. I usually will give people the “benefit of the doubt” when I first meet them and get to know them. If after I’ve spent some time with them and I learn that their values are much different than mine, I move them into a different spot. Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to visit with US Senators and Congressmen on with the REALTORS on behalf of the private property rights of people I serve in Real Estate. I have also had the privilege to connect with our state officials from the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House and our State Senators and State Representatives. I’ve learned to not be impressed with the position they hold but to carefully look at their voting record, their work ethic and how engaging they are personally. Some of our elected officials are genuinely doing their best to make our country and our state a better place for our children and our children’s children. On the flip side of that, some people simply love power and it corrupts them. They learn quickly how to abuse power. I’m disgusted with those individuals. They have forgotten the people who they answer to and they’ve often sold their soul to the evil one.

David pens a Psalm that is beautiful in describing just what the Lord means to him and certainly to me. It is refreshing to know that David, even though he was Israel’s greatest king, he was so humble before God. He didn’t forget where he came from and Who put into leadership. Check this out…

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
    to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer,
    to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins,
    you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose
    and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
    of your holy temple.

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy. (Psalm 65:1-4,8 NIV)

I don’t ever want to get so full of myself that I forget where I came from. I believe that PRIDE can destroy good people. I believe that HUMILITY is a characteristic that can build the best leaders. I do pray for the men and women who are in leadership of our country, our state and local government. I am not the least bit intimidated by any one of them, because they answer to God, just like everyone else. They also get dressed just like everyone else and they get colds, stomach aches, and their bodies function like everyone else. They are currently in a position of leadership and they are well known by a lot of people – but at the end of the day, they are human and they come under the authority of God.  I do like knowing people in leadership and power, but I’m not going to be over impressed with them because the Lord is the ULTIMATE LEADER of every living being. I want to know Him first and formost.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Vengeance Bites Back

business man punch to the headI remember being told at a pretty young age the Lord will take care of fighting on my behalf. I should not participate in striking out in vengeance against another. There have been many times that I wanted to strike back against my enemies, but the Lord defended me and avenged me. When I walk with the Lord, He is my Counsel and my Defender. I learned a long time ago that I couldn’t control what others think of me. There are people who don’t even know me and have decided for whatever reason that they don’t like me. This really stung me when I first realized it about 30 years ago. I am reminded daily that I have an audience of ONE that I should be most concerned with what the Lord thinks of me.

Queen Esther had invited the King and Haman (his right hand man) to dine with her a second time. I’m not sure if Esther was getting up the courage to speak on behalf of her people or what, but her timing could not have been better. Haman had planned a big day when he was going to the king early that morning. He was going to ask the king for permission to hang Mordecai on the gallows he was building at his house. When he arrived, the king had decided to honor Mordecai because he had reported the assassination plot. Haman was humiliated. He rushed home to regroup with his wife and friends when his ride showed up to take him to dinner with the King and Queen. He started out with a vengeful day planned, but it certainly bit him in the end. Check this out…

1 So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.”

5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”

Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. (Esther 7:1-6 NIV)

Haman’s day went from bad to worse. He was a vengeful and proud man, but in short order he was to be punished by death. I’m not sure he realized the story behind Queen Esther. His hatred for Mordecai had blinded him profoundly. His vengeance came back to destroy him.

I know what it’s like to want revenge. I’ve wanted to strike back at someone who has caused me harm, but sometimes the mess just gets messier. I really want to walk with the Lord and listen to His counsel and let Him handle any vengeance that is needed on my behalf. He has way more power and understanding with what it takes to defend me and save me. Vengeance might make me “feel good” in the moment, but it could ultimately destroy me too. I think vengeance is a close cousin to bitterness and pride – I would be wise to steer clear of all of these.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Beginning Of The End

 

senior cool man proud conceptThere are people who are so full of themselves that they can’t seem to notice anything but themselves. They see all of the world in light of what can be done for them rather than noticing how they can help others. I do believe that there is a self-centered “nature” in all of us. I think the enemy installed that “nature” and our culture reinforces it daily. I will naturally choose the best cupcake on a tray of cupcakes instead of thinking someone else might like that one. I often think that I deserve something that is a bit better than everyone else. This is pride in a very simple and pure form. The proverb writer noted that: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV)

The closest advisor to King Xerxes was a man named Haman. He was most definitely full of himself. He couldn’t stand Mordecai, the uncle of the queen (but he didn’t know about that relationship) because Mordecai wouldn’t bow down to him and show him “proper respect”. Some people are given some power and it goes straight to their head. Haman is about to go to the king to ask about killing Mordecai when the tables were turned quickly and Haman ended up humiliated. I don’t think the king knew the first thing about it either. Check this out…

When Haman entered, the king asked him, ‘What should be done for the man the king delights to honor?’

Now Haman thought to himself, ‘Who is there that the king would rather honor than me?’ So he answered the king, ‘For the man the king delights to honor, let them bring a royal robe the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crest placed on its head. Then let the robe and horse be entrusted to one of the king’s most noble princes. Let them robe the man the king delights to honor, and lead him on the horse through the city streets, proclaiming before him, “This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!”’

10 ‘Go at once,’ the king commanded Haman. ‘Get the robe and the horse and do just as you have suggested for Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Do not neglect anything you have recommended.’ (Esther 6:6-10 NIV)

The king couldn’t sleep during the night and was reading some from the daily journals of the happenings in his world. I believe that the reason he couldn’t sleep is the work of the Holy Spirit. The king had forgotten to honor Mordecai for exposing the assassination plot from months before.  God was orchestrating some things behind the scenes because of the fasting (and prayers) of his people who had received a death sentence from Haman’s prideful leadership.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again. I believe that pride is the most basic sin that all other sin is built upon. I want what I want WHEN I want it. This sinful nature is really hard to move out. I’m convinced that without the help of the Lord, I can’t destroy this pride. I need His help dismantling the strong hold that pride has on my heart. I need to consistently humble myself before the Lord so that His Power can be noticed in me and not my own strength. Haman’s pride is the beginning of the end for him. If I’m not careful, it will also be the end of me. Pride is self-promoting but also self-destructive. It must be destroyed before it destroys me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Humble Or Humbled

work hard stay humbleI’m not sure when I first learned humility. I’m pretty sure I learned it as a kid, but then I’ve had to keep re-learning this concept. Humility is a theme throughout the Word of God. I must constantly remember my role in my relationship with God but also in my relationship with others. Humility is not a gift, it’s a skill to be learned and consistently practiced. I think it was Solomon who said: Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18 NIV) Later in the book of James who wrote: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV)

The king of Judah was now Ahaz who become king at age 25. He didn’t follow in the footsteps of King David. He was not humble. He was full of pride and arrogance. He really ended up with a big mess on his hands as a result of his poor choices. Check this out…

19 The Lord had humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and had been most unfaithful to the Lord. 20 Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but gave him trouble instead of help.

22 In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord. 23 He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, ‘Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so that they will help me.’ But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. (2 Chronicles 27:19-20; 22-23 NIV)

I’ve met lots of people who don’t appear to be humble. I’ve also had the privilege to know a ton of people who were genuinely humble. Humility doesn’t mean a person is a doormat. Humility doesn’t mean a person doesn’t speak up or speak out against an injustice. Humility doesn’t mean that a person can’t compete to win.

Humility means it’s not all about me.

Humility means that I’m NOTHING without the Lord.

If I am anything or anyone, it’s because of what the Lord has done inside me heart. He gets all the credit and glory for who I am and all that I stand for.

Pressing On!

Dwayne