Solitude

Man praying with the BibleI love people. I love some people a bit more than others. I love my big family profoundly. In fact, I love my family at the expense of any other relationship. I grew up in a family with two brothers & two sisters – considered a big family. I also have five children of my own and now three grandchildren. I am so grateful to the Lord for my beautiful big family. I know that the Lord has big plans for them.

I love my work. I became a REALTOR 15 years ago. I had been a student pastor for 20 years prior to that. I loved being with students, teaching them during the most formative time of their lives. In the past 15 years, I’ve learned to build on the principles I learned in ministry. Jesus came to serve not to be served. I have used that as a theme in my real estate business. I get to honor the Lord by serving others. I will say that there have been times in my life where the noise level of my work reached fever pitch.  Several years ago, I started getting up 30 minutes early to have some morning solitude. It really changed how I managed my day. I used to try to sneak some solitude in the middle of my day and I still do on occasion, but my morning solitude is the best. I get to hear from the Lord each day in His Word. Recently, I started my morning with gratitude. I’ve started hitting the snooze button on purpose to lie in bed and give the Lord thanks for my wife, my family, my friends, my work, my country and everything I can think of. My time of solitude features gratitude, reading, journaling, prayer and then some work.

Jesus needed solitude too. The day He got the news of His cousin John the Baptist death, He sought solitude. Check this out.

13 As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone. But the crowds heard where he was headed and followed on foot from many towns. 14 Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Jesus then teaches & feeds 5,000 men plus the women and children)

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. (Matthew 14:13-14; 22-23 NLT)

Solitude gives me perspective.

Solitude can renew my spirit.

Solitude can renew my strength.

Solitude can settle my anxious heart.

Solitude can enhance my listening to God.

Solitude can influence every hour of my life.

Solitude gives me clarity of life purpose.

Solitude deepens my faith in God.

___________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My Life Verse

My StoryI have learned to love many passages in scripture that really speak to my heart and encourage me in my life journey. When I was a junior in college at Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University Tennessee), I began a student ministry in Crab Orchard Tennessee. It was a small church and my wife and I started meeting with the young people on Sunday afternoons. I really enjoyed this part of my weekend ministry and I was given the opportunity to start full time upon graduation at First Christian Church in Maryville, TN as their youth minister. I loved students and enjoyed hanging out with them and helping them grow in their faith. Somewhere along the way in my youth ministry I came across what became my life verse for my student ministry – I still am moved by this verse today. Check this out…

27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me. (Colossians 1:27-29 CSB)

I felt like my calling was to teach and counsel students to know who Jesus was and why He came to earth in the first place. Paul articulates that very well. I wanted students in my ministry to mature in Christ. I look back at my journey and realize just how immature I was back then. I sometimes wish I knew then what I know now about life and my journey with the Lord. He has been faithful with me even when I was unfaithful to Him. He has never given up on me even where there were times I had given up on Him.

I’m a bet more mature that I was back in 1982 – my first year in ministry. I was in ministry for 20 years before becoming a REALTOR in 2003. In this profession, I feel like my life verse hasn’t changed all that much. I want my faith to be obvious without even having to speak of it. I’m always happy to talk about my faith, but I would rather others notice my faith before I ever speak a word. I’m still praying for maturity. I’m still growing in my faith. I still enjoy teaching about Him and sharing from my journey with Him. I want to live my life for His call and His purpose for me. I feel like I’m right where He wants me to be. I still lean into Colossians 1:28 to keep me on purpose and on track!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Suffering Can Build Strength

Child in medicine maskThere are times of suffering in my life that I thought was about to destroy me. I’ve not experienced a life-threatening illness, but one my kids has. I’ve not had a life-threatening injury and been air-lifted to a trauma center, one of my kids has. I have also had some personal suffering that has rocked the foundations of my world. I have been speechless and silent before the Lord. I have screamed at Him for help. I have screamed at Him in anger. He has NEVER wasted my times of suffering. He has NEVER left me when I was in the middle of suffering. I’m sure I’ve left Him a few times, but quickly realized the stupidity of that. I don’t always understand suffering, but I trust Him. I don’t understand why He doesn’t prevent it in the first place. I don’t understand why He doesn’t “swoop in” and save the day. During my suffering, He’s taught me to trust His heart even when I can’t see His hand at work.

Paul was a passionate follower of Jesus, a teacher & preacher. He started churches and served them and poured his heart and soul into them. They still didn’t seem to get it. He made his case again to them about his journey with the Lord through suffering. He wasn’t going to quit and he made that clear. He had suffered much but he wasn’t about to quit. Check this out….

24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 CSB)

Suffering can make you bitter or better – it’s up to the sufferer.

Suffering can give you new perspective.

Suffering can give you purpose.

Suffering can help save.

Out of my pain came my purpose…His Purpose for me. My purpose on this earth is to live to honor God and make Him known. I can’t stand during suffering without His strength. I remember another verse by Paul….

13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 CSB)

….and another:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 CSB)

This topic brought to my mind a song I heard years ago after suffering from a job loss….

His Strength Is Perfect by Steven Curtis Chapman

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

___________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

My One Aim

Worship to GodMy life here on this planet comes down to one significant goal. As I live and learn more about the Lord, I realize that my one aim is to bring glory to Him. I’m not supposed to drawing attention to myself, but to Him. His heart is so BIG. His LOVE is beyond measuring. His MERCY is new every day. His GRACE has given me hope in the most hopeless situations. I came across the smallest Psalm in the scripture this morning and I was reminded to “keep the main thing, the main thing”. Check this out…

Praise the Lord, all you nations.
    Praise him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful;
    the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.

Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1-2 NIV)

I love music and songs that help me express my heart to the Lord. These are certainly in my Top Ten right now:

King of My Heart by Sarah McMillan & John McMillan

Worthy Of Your Name  by Brenton Brown, Brett Younker, Sean Curran

No Longer Slaves by Jonathan & Melissa Helser

Your Love Awakens Me by Phil Wickham

This is Amazing Grace by Phil Wickham

Today is a new day to bring honor to the Lord from deep within my heart, I want the activities of my day to day to reflect a heart that is laser focused on honoring the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Steady Heart Faithful God

 

Man praying with the BibleWhen I read the writings of David, I feel like I can relate to Him. I’ve never been a king or a warrior, but David seems so human and hungry for God. I understand the human part as well as the hungry for God part.

The more I know about God, the more I want to know Him.

The more I know about God, the more I want to be the man He built me to be.

The more I know about God, the more my heart is moved to pursue His heart.

The more I know about God my love for Him gets deeper, broader and stronger.

Check this out…

My heart, O God, is steadfast;
    I will sing and make music with all my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre!
    I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
    let your glory be over all the earth.

Save us and help us with your right hand,
    that those you love may be delivered. (Psalm 108:1-6 NIV)

My purpose here on this earth is to bring glory to God. I want others to see the Lord in me. I want others to see the Lord in how I live and work. I don’t want myself to be elevated and known, I want the Lord to be known in me. I want to do all I can to make the Lord famous and known everywhere. He lives in me and He wants to use me to build His kingdom. I want to be steady in my pursuit of God’s heart. He is so faithful to me and I want to be faithful to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Nature Sings

Country road at sunriseI love the last line in Joy To The World that says: “Let heaven and nature sing…”. I love the sun rise in the morning and the sun set in the evening. It’s like the color’s and hues of color are different each time. The understand from science that the atmospheric gasses of the earth often dictate the colors of the sunset and sunrise.  I see God quite often in His creation. The intricate details of the human body system as well as the body systems of animals and all living creatures. I can’t wrap my head around those who believe there was no design – just a “big bang”.

King David captures my thoughts in one of his beautiful Psalms. Check this out…

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;

    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;

    night after night they reveal knowledge.

3 They have no speech, they use no words;

    no sound is heard from them.

4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,

    their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

5     It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,

    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6 It rises at one end of the heavens

    and makes its circuit to the other;

    nothing is deprived of its warmth.

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart

    be pleasing in your sight,

    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:1-6, 14 NIV)

I would love to have such a grasp of language that I could describe the creation of God so eloquently. King David has such a profound perspective and he makes me look at the Lord from so many different angles and all of them point to His Power, His Presence and His Love.

I love the fact that God’s creation points me to Him. I see Him in the wind, the rain, the breeze and even the heat of the sun. When I understand my role in God’s world, I realize the great responsibility to care for His Creation and to respect His plan for creation. The earth and all that is in it declare the presence and purpose of the Creator.

Pressing On!

Dwayne