Soul Food

Food for body and soulI live in the south and soul food is a menu of good tasting food that is really not very healthy. For example, I would call Bacon, Biscuits, Gravy & Grits breakfast soul food. Other “soul food” selections might be mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens, pork chops and fried squash. I believe that lots of “soul food” is fried or cooked with lots of butter! I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy good food. I admit that I have a tough time with boundaries on portions of good soul food.

The Jews had a strict diet. They couldn’t eat just any food. They also couldn’t eat certain foods in combination with other foods. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and teachers of the law why His disciples didn’t follow their Jewish traditions when it came to ceremonial washing and eating. Jesus called out their hypocrisy with a passage from Isaiah. Check this out…

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ (Mark 7:6-7 Isaiah 29:13 NLT)

He then went further in explanation to His disciples. He talked about purity of our heart. The law implied that behavior modification was all that was necessary to follow the Lord. Jesus makes it clear that your behavior simply reveals what is going on inside the heart. Check this out…

14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”

19 Food doesn’t go into your heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.” (By saying this, he declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.)

20 And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:14, 19-23 NLT)

I believe that Jesus was teaching something profound that we still struggle with today. We make a judgement upon people by their behavior. I do believe that behavior often reveals what’s going on inside the heart. Jesus was teaching that we need to feed our soul from the Word of God. I believe that if we spend our time working on our heart, our habits and activities will follow the heart.  Our behavior is a symptom of a diseased heart. The Lord wants to change us from the inside out and it begins in my heart. The Word of God is food for my soul – “soul food”, if you will. I want to make sure that I’m digesting the Word of God every day before I eat any physical food. This “soul food” does have eternal implications.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Changed Life – Wisdom

Life changesThis world we live in is constantly changing. People are changing. Jobs are changing. Relationships are changing. Change is an everyday event in our world. Heraclitis said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. I have learned that I must embrace change that happens. I’ve learned new and amazing technology that has made my life easier, but in some ways, the pace of life became faster. Not all change is good and healthy. There are some things that have not changed for example, the laughter of a child still melts me. The innocence of a child, the beauty of a bride on her wedding day or the beauty of a baby born. I want to be keenly aware of the things in my life that have changed for good and things that have changed oh so slowly that I hardly noticed.

I came across a verse that is a quote from Jesus this morning that I didn’t remember ever hearing because it was from the New Living Translation and it spoke right to my heart. Check this out…

35 But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.” (Luke 7:35 NLT) –Jesus

I want to be a seeker or wisdom. I love the Word of God and I believe that my life has grown in wisdom and discernment because of the daily discipline of seeking the Lord’s heart through His Word. I’m definitely NOT the smartest guy, but I am hungry to know the Lord more today than I knew yesterday. It’s hard to argue about a changed life. I want to follow the wisdom that comes from the Lord. Check this out…

God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. (1 Corinthians 1:30 NLT)

13 If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.

17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. 18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:13-18 NLT)

“There is a wisdom of the Head, … there is a wisdom of the Heart” – Charles Dickens

I want to continue to grow in wisdom and understanding of the Author of Wisdom. I can find hundreds of quotes on wisdom, but none more significant that what Jesus is saying. I want the choices that I make today and every day to display wisdom that comes directly from the Lord. I am forever changed because I know the Author of Wisdom and THE Creator of the World.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Unshaved

 

Mountain ManOne of my routines or habits is the shave every morning. I grew a beard many years ago in my college days, but I got tired of it fairly quick. I’m glad there aren’t many pictures from way back then. I do have a goatee that has worked for me for years. I may save about 60 seconds a day by not shaving my chin. J

I’ve often wondered why the Lord gave such specific instructions to the high priests who served before Him. I imagine that they looked much like the Duck Dynasty boys. Check this out…

5 ‘“Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies. 6 They must be holy to their God and must not profane the name of their God. Because they present the food offerings to the Lord, the food of their God, they are to be holy. (Leviticus 21:5-6 NIV)

I am not opposed to facial hair or even long hair. I’m sure that the Lord made sure it was kept clean as well. I sometimes wonder why the Lord gave us facial hair in the first place. I’m thinking it may have been for protective reasons as some of my bald friends do not have much to protect them and a bump on the head could mean a small cut because there’s no hair.

The only application I could make of this passage was that the Lord wanted the priest to be unaltered from how he was created. I believe the Lord wanted the priest to be clean and neat. The requirements of the priest were very strict and detailed. I’m glad that through the death of Jesus we can approach God shaven or not. The things that made the priests unclean are no longer roadblocks to us approaching God directly. I’m thankful that the Lord has forgiven all my sin and He’s made it possible for me to connect directly to Him all the time. It’s often more of a tragedy that I get so busy in my life stuff that I neglect spending time in His Presence. I do believe that He’s present in my life 24/7 through the Holy Spirit. I also believe He loves for me to spend time talking with Him and listening to Him.

I believe that the Lord looks past my outward appearance and looks at the appearance of my heart. My heart needs to be pure and protected for His sake. He is more concerned with my heart that my slick shaven face.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Incurable

Cardiac massage. first aid for heart attackWhen I hear that word I think of cancer. There are some forms of cancer that are incurable. I remember learning the difference between curable and treatable. Most every cancer is treatable, but certainly not all are curable. When incurable is attached to a disease, it will often end only in death. To hear the doctor give a curable prognosis is life giving to the one needing to be cured.

The people of Israel were going into captivity and their future looked very bleak. The Lord laid out their discipline pretty clearly. He then shared with them that He would heal them. Check this out…

12 “This is what the Lord says:

“‘Your wound is incurable,

    your injury beyond healing.

13 There is no one to plead your cause,

    no remedy for your sore,

    no healing for you.

17 But I will restore you to health

    and heal your wounds,’

declares the Lord,

‘because you are called an outcast,

    Zion for whom no one cares.’

18 “This is what the Lord says:

“‘I will restore the fortunes of Jacob’s tents

    and have compassion on his dwellings;

the city will be rebuilt on her ruins,

    and the palace will stand in its proper place.

19 From them will come songs of thanksgiving

    and the sound of rejoicing.

I will add to their numbers,

    and they will not be decreased;

I will bring them honor,

    and they will not be disdained. (Jeremiah 30:12-19 NIV)

 

I go to the doctor when I’m sick or simply not feeling well. He offers solutions for getting well. He sometimes will prescribe medicines for helping my body heal. He can give antibiotics to give my body a boost. He can also give me pain relieve medicine that helps the parts of my body that is in severe pain have relief in order to heal.

The Lord is the Great Physician. He offers healing of my heart and soul. He can heal places in my life that no one else can see, touch or even know about. The Lord has declared that everything that can be wrong with me can be curable. There is no sickness that He can’t cure. There is nothing beyond His reach. I have had friends who were “cured” by death. The Lord sees the big picture of my life here on earth AND my life after this one. He knows what I need and when I need it. He will decide the numbers of my days. I have very little to do with that. My biggest need of the Great Physician is for Him to heal my heart daily.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Sweep My Own Porch

old broom with clipping pathI remember my Mom telling me that I should take care of keeping my own porch swept and clean and then I wouldn’t have time to notice a neighbor’s dirty front porch. I think the point was that I have enough to care for with my own life and my own issues that I shouldn’t compare my life to everyone else. There are times when it’s hard not to notice the way other people who are not nice still seem to prosper. Jeremiah takes his complaint to the Lord. Check this out…

1 You are always righteous, Lord,

    when I bring a case before you.

Yet I would speak with you about your justice:

    Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

    Why do all the faithless live at ease?

2 You have planted them, and they have taken root;

    they grow and bear fruit.

You are always on their lips

    but far from their hearts.

3 Yet you know me, Lord;

    you see me and test my thoughts about you. (Jeremiah 12:1-3a NIV)

 

Jeremiah is asking the Lord to consider punishment for those who don’t follow the Lord. He wants them to suffer somehow. The Lord assures Jeremiah that they have not slipped off His radar. I want to heed the advice of my Mom though and take a look at my own life. I’m not always good. My thoughts are not always pure. My motives are not always pure. I have a lot of work to do on my own life. I realize that the place that needs the most work is my heart. My heart is the control center of my behavior. I’m aware that my brain plays a very definitive role as well. My heart is the center of my emotion and devotion. The activity of my life flows from my heart. The Lord wants my heart to be clean and pure before Him so that the activity of my life will certainly honor Him. I have plenty of cleaning to do inside my heart before worrying about someone else’s heart.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Am Loved

A Crown Of ThornsI know that since I’ve been alive, I’ve been loved. My parents have loved me since before I was born. In fact they were the first people on this earth to love me. There have been others, thankfully, who love me as well. I believe love is one of the most indescribable emotions and feelings that I have ever experienced. On the opposite of love is rejection and hatred. Unfortunately I know what it’s like to be rejected and even hated. I wish I could make everyone love me, but I’ve since learned that I can’t possibly control what others think of me.

The deeper I look into love, the more I can understand it. It is something very, very deep. I also know after investigating love that it comes from God. He is the Author and Creator of love. I do believe that our culture has totally made it into something quite different than the Lord intended.

As Paul instructs a young preacher named Timothy, he reminds him that the gospel is founded on love. Check this out….

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:5-7; 15-17 NIV)

 

I am so grateful to be loved by God. He loved me before I loved Him. He introduced me to love. He teaches me to love others. I know how to love because He first showed me love. I love Paul’s candid humility as he describes how God loves him. When I first came to grips with the love God has for me I was broken before Him. His love for me wasn’t logical but it was complete. His love for me isn’t describable. It goes beyond the language. His love is it’s own language and I’m spending my life trying to comprehend this amazing, unconditional love. I can’t possibly begin to teach about God without first understanding that Love is the foundation of the gospel. He loved first, then taught.

I feel loved by God.

I feel loved by my wife.

I feel loved by my children.

I feel loved by my parents.

I feel loved by my friends.

I feel loved by my co-workers.

I feel loved by people who barely know me.

I’m thankful that the ones who know me the best love me the deepest. Love can’t possibly be described properly in a simple blog post. Love can be summed up in a person – Jesus. Everything related or connected to love flows from Him.

Pressing On!
Dwayne