Strong Temptations

quarreled couple in their living roomI believe everyone who ever lived on the earth was tempted. I’m thankful that temptation is not sin or I would be more of a mess than I already am. Temptations come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My wife & I are trying to eat healthy and trim up a bit. There are always beautiful cupcakes, cheesecake, cookies, candy bars and a myriad of other options around. It takes great inner resolve to refuse to eat them. The argument that I have with myself is that one bite won’t kill me, but then again, it will set me back. I remember hearing a guy tell me once that if I even lick the dust off of a Dorito then I’m going backward. I think he was exaggerating a bit, but he did make a point. There are lots of other temptations like cheating on my taxes, cheating on an exam or cheating on my wife. I believe the way to defeat temptation is to make my mind up ahead of time. Since I know the temptations will be there, I can decide how I’m going to handle it. If I’m going to a nice dinner, I can safely assume that there will be some sort of amazing dessert. I wish dealing with temptation were as simple as I’m making it sound. I came across these few verses from the Apostle Paul to the church at Corinth and it made me stop and think. Check this out…

12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NLT)

I think the key to temptation is to recognize it and call it what it is. The enemy likes to pose as something good, safe and healthy. But I must know that he sugar-coats destructive behavior and sin. He never comes directly at me, he’s way to slick for that. I have asked the Lord many times to reveal the motives and the tricks of the enemy to me. I’ve asked the Lord to give me inner strength when I know I’m going to be tempted. I’m not going to say I’m strong every time, but the Spirit of God in me gives me grit and great strength.

There are times when I fail the test or I yield to temptation. It is there I find grace and mercy to heal my wounded soul and hurting heart. I hate letting the Lord down. I don’t sin so that I can find grace. I’m sickened by the thought of my failures and shortcomings. But I’m so profoundly grateful that His Grace found me. I will never be good enough to earn forgiveness. My thoughts, my actions and my failure to act often break His heart, but He really is transforming my mind one thought at a time. I am vulnerable before Him. I’m humble before Him. I realize that without Him, I’m a washed-up mess. With Him in charge of my heart, I can lead, love and serve even in the face of temptation. I wish someone had told me about His Amazing Grace many years ago. I once was lost but now I’m found.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Humble vs. Prideful

Business Leadership Attributes and Features in LiteratureThese two descriptive words are on opposite ends of the spectrum. They are often obvious, but sometimes hidden just beneath the surface. I was raised by parents of humble means and I was taught humility at an early age. I think that pride is the root of all sin. I believe that it raises its head when I least expect it. In fact, if I’m not careful, I can be “prideful” of my humility. How wacked out is that?

I have heard this story that Jesus told while teaching His disciples about humility. The story was very possibly one that was similar to a real-life situation. The Pharisees and teachers of the law were very proud of their education, their heritage and their position. They were devout followers of the law, at lease the part people could see. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs” at one point – “pretty on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones on the inside.” Check this out…

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18:8-14 NLT)

The Lord cares way more about what is happening inside my heart rather than the “show” that everyone else sees. I do try my best to navigate each day without becoming “full of myself” when I accomplish something good. I must give the credit where it’s due – the Lord can do amazing things through me. The minute that think “it’s about me”, then I’ve become prideful and useless in God’s economy. I am thankful that the Lord uses regular people like me to serve in His Kingdom. It’s not about a title or position. He cares more about my “serving heart” than He cares about my accomplishments, accolades or my bank account balance. I’m convinced that if He can use me, He can, and will use anyone.

When I reflect on the giants in the faith, whose shoulders I’m standing upon, a theme runs through it – they were all humble and gentle in spirit. They were simply followers of the Lord who wanted to know Him more. They were disciplined in their study of His Word and disciplined to pray about everything.  I want to pray more and worry less. I want to know Him more and worry less. I want to trust Him more and live less stressed. I want to be humble and kind – serving others because He calls me to do just that.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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