Ransomed

First RespondersI get pretty uptight when there is a kidnapping on a television show and the bad guys are using a person’s life to extract money from another. The ransom demand is stiff.  It is impossible to put a price tag on loved ones. I can’t imagine having to walk down that road. I obviously am not wealthy or “stupid rich” that it would be worth someone’s time to extort me by taking a family member. I would be that guy who would give everything I must to ransom my loved one. All my stuff is replaceable, but a life doesn’t work like that.

King David is often an emotional wreck when he cries out to God in one of the Psalms. He battles fear on so many levels. It seems that his personal struggles here in Psalms was unknown to his enemies because he was also a strong warrior. Check this out…

16 As for me, I call to God,
    and the Lord saves me.
17 Evening, morning and noon
    I cry out in distress,
    and he hears my voice.
18 He rescues me unharmed
    from the battle waged against me,
    even though many oppose me.

22 Cast your cares on the Lord
    and he will sustain you;
he will never let
    the righteous be shaken.
23 But you, God, will bring down the wicked
    into the pit of decay;
the bloodthirsty and deceitful
    will not live out half their days.

But as for me, I trust in you. (Psalm 55:16-18, 22-23 NIV)

The Lord ransoms and rescues. David speaks out of experience. He has seen what the Lord is capable of to protect and provide. The Lord will do what it takes to rescue or ransom His kids from the enemy.

I’m learning that my role is to trust in my God Who is stronger than I can imagine. He can endure more than I can wrap my head around. He created the whole universe and He cares for me and my struggles whether big or little. I’m so thankful for His promise to rescue and ransom me. There are times, that He saves me from myself. I need rescuing pretty much every day. He is so up for the task!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Commitment

Scheduling A Meeting In A DiaryI make lots of commitments each day. I put appointments down on my calendar several days or weeks in advance. I need to write my commitments down to keep track of them. If I put a meeting with someone on my schedule, then I have a commitment with them at that time. I have made many commitments over the years, but none more significant as the time when I committed my life to the Lord. I have renewed that commitment to Him many times over the years because quite frankly, I’ve broken that commitment a few times as well. As I read Psalm 37 this morning, I was reminded of how important my commitment to the Lord is. Check this out….

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
he will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:1-6 NIV)

I also made a commitment to my wife and family. They are a close second to God in the priority scale of my life. I love my family dearly and I’m so thankful that they know the Lord too. My commitment to my family comes before any other human beings on the planet. I love and respect the people I work with profoundly, but they know of my commitment to family and I totally respect their commitment to family. I’ve learned that everything I have and everything I am is committed to the Lord. Everything I know comes from Him. Everything I’ve learned, and everything I’ve earned is because of my commitment to the Lord. He motivates me and inspires me in so many ways through so many people.  My understanding of commitment grows in breadth and depth each day. I’m thankful for all that the Lord is teaching me and has taught me about commitment.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Trust With Treasure

Trust with blue markerOver the years, I’ve become a bit less trusting of people in certain areas. I think that some people live by deep convictions and would never lie, cheat or steal. Then there are others who appear trustworthy, but somehow justify taking a little for themselves here or there. I’m thinking specifically of people who serve in the area of managing other people’s money. I think it’s important to take extra precautions to assure that there are no misunderstandings or mistakes made.

King David had appointed people as singers, gatekeepers, and also treasurers. He had some of the Levite descendants who took care specifically of his treasury. When they defeated another king in battle, they would seize the plunder and put it in the king’s treasury. Check this out…

26 Shelomith and his relatives were in charge of all the treasuries for the things dedicated by King David, by the heads of families who were the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and by the other army commanders. 27 Some of the plunder taken in battle they dedicated for the repair of the temple of the Lord. 28 And everything dedicated by Samuel the seer and by Saul son of Kish, Abner son of Ner and Joab son of Zeruiah, and all the other dedicated things were in the care of Shelomith and his relatives. (1 Chronicles 26:26-28 NIV)

I can only imagine what a job it was to keep inventory of the Kings treasury. David was very successful as king, and he seemed to have lots of treasure. I also think that David was a good leader and he knew he had to have wise and trusted people around him to help manage his success.

As I read this passage this am, I was reminded of the word accountability. I believe that when someone is managing other peoples money, there should be layers of accountability to protect the people managing the money as well as the person whose money it is.

Accountability says that I’m vulnerable.

Accountability says that I’m trustworthy.

Accountability says that I’m honest and open.

Accountability is protection.

Accountability is promise.

I think it’s wise to always recognize who I’m accountable too. As a follower of Jesus, I am accountable to Him in everything. I think it’s also wise to have an accountability partner with the same values and who represents the Lord in my life. A person with values like mine will not hesitate to speak truth into me. I do believe that trust is a two-way street until it’s violated. It’s takes time to restore trust as well as humility and forgiveness. Trust is a strong but delicate attribute in all relationships.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Profound Pledge

 

Always Time to Do What's Right Saying Clock QuoteI have seen public leaders make a pledge, but I have to be honest that I don’t believe that they will carry it through. I also have heard politicians make promises and promptly break their promise. I must say that I’m a bit skeptical when people say they’ll do something because it doesn’t always turn out that way. In other words, some people say one thing and then do another.

The reading of the book that was found in the temple moved the youthful King Josiah. He had set out to clean out the closets, organize and renovate the temple, but this book was found that gave him direction for a new kind of renovation. Check this out….

1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:1-3 NIV)

This 26-year-old king, who really seemed to understand what it meant to follow the Lord, was determined to follow the Lord fully. He led by example. The elders and leaders of Jerusalem had not doubt about what the king believed to be truth. He not only read the words of this book but he renewed his covenant to follow the Lord fully. He challenged them to make the same pledge.

I remember making a pledge around 30 years ago called “The Pledge”. The pledge that I took was: “He died for me, I’ll live for Him”. I’ve been trying to live by that pledge for a long time. I fully intend to draw my last breath living for Him. Talk is easy and often cheap, but behavior requires commitment, promise and just plain “grit and guts”. It’s not always easy to follow the Lord, but it’s always the right thing to do.

I pledge to follow the Lord and study His Word all the rest of the days I have on this earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Big Vow

 

I promise write on notebookI have made big promises over the years. I learned a long time ago that God doesn’t require that I make a vow, but if I make one, I would be wise to keep it. I think the Lord listens to my promises. I don’t remember making big vows to the Lord, but I have made some daily commitments over the years. I have promised to follow the Lord all the days of my life. I didn’t put conditions on that promise. I’ve seen His faithfulness. I’ve seen His mercy. I’ve experienced His grace.

A young woman named Hannah was married to Elkanah. She couldn’t have children but she desperately wanted a child. Once when they made the annual trip to the temple she made a vow out of deep anguish. Check this out…

11 And she made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’

12 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’

15 ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.’

17 Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ (I Samuel 1:11-17 NIV)

This was a big promise that Hannah made. She desperately cried out to God for a son. The Lord honored her prayer and gave her Samuel. When he was old enough to be weaned, she brought Samuel to the temple and kept her vow before God. In looking back on this story, it’s amazing to again see the hand of God orchestrating the next leader in Israel. Samuel was probably the most influential prophet and priest in Israel’s history. He ended up ordaining their first king – Saul, and their most influential king – David.

I am recently overwhelmed with thanksgiving for the health of my son, Luke who fell 40 feet from a tree and should have sustained major injuries. He’s home resting and recuperating from a busted mouth, broken nose and minor fractures in his back. I’ve been to the scene of his fall and thanked the Lord profoundly. I feel confident that the Lord has a plan for that young man. I believe the Lord will honor our commitment to adopt him into our family. I want to continue to honor God daily with my obedience and commitment.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Stupid Vow

stamp stupid with red text on whiteThere’s a comedian that does a show called: “You Can’t Fix Stupid” and it’s quite a colorful look at some of the stupid things we say or do. (Caution: The TV version is still a bit offensive.) I will admit that I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life. I won’t start naming them here for space reasons, but also because I’m profoundly embarrassed at most all of them.

Jephthah made a stupid vow to the Lord. I don’t mean to sound disrespectful to the guy, but the Lord never required him to make this sort of vow before the Him. I’m not even sure that this vow was connected to the outcome of the battle against Ammon. Check this out…

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: ‘If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’

32 Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the Lord gave them into his hands. 33 He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.

34 When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of tambourines! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, ‘Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the Lord that I cannot break.’ (Judges 11:29-35 NIV)

I have one daughter and two incredibly sweet daughter-in-laws. I can’t begin to imagine making a vow of this sort. I also have four sons that are not “bargaining chips” for a vow. I have been in a place where I bargained with the Lord, but it didn’t involve my giving up one of my children. I struggle with this whole idea because my children hold a special place in my heart. I know that the Lord has blessed me beyond words with my children. I don’t believe that the Lord expects a vow like Jephthah made. I’ve had lots of conversations with the Lord about how much I love my children. I don’t want to say that they are more important than my relationship with the Lord, but they are really very close.

I must also confess that I’ve made deals with the Lord that I haven’t kept. I’ve promised to do things if He will rescue me and then I failed. I’ve learned that making stupid vows to the Lord simply makes me look stupid and often desperate. Rather than be desperate for my will and my way, I should surrender to His Will and His Way. I’m thankful that the Lord knows my heart and He knows that I don’t think it’s stupid to make a vow to Him, but this one that Jephthah made was “out there”. I am daily making a vow to the Lord to surrender my heart to Him. I need His rescue. I need His Grace and Mercy. I need Him every day to make sense of my life’s journey. I don’t want to take another step without Him leading me. I believe that is a wise vow to make. There is nothing stupid about making a life long commitment to following the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne