Direct Connect

 

Miniature engineer team try to connect ethernet cables to portI remember some of the computer technology that was “pre-internet”. I remember having a “floppy disk” that had a program on it that would run locally on my laptop and then it created some sort of code that would transfer over the modem to another computer in Atlanta. I took my first real estate course online in this format. Today, with the internet, it’s more of a direct and “live” connection. I can take the class in real time and connect with an instructor. I think the world has so much more direct access to so many. It seems to me though, that as our world is so connected, there is less direct connection. I have a myriad of ways to communicate, however, it seems there is less connection happening. I think it was Seth Godin that pointed out how we go to dinner with a friend or loved one and spend more time on our phone connecting with our “fake friends” (on social media) rather than connecting with the friend across the table.

Jesus started giving His disciples a heads up that He was about to leave them and go back to the Father. This started a lot of discussion and concern among the disciples. I love how He took the time to further explain what was about to happen. Check this out…

20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.  23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20,23-24,33 NLT)

Jesus is explaining the “Direct Connect” that I now have with the Father. The disciples grew up in Jewish culture where you went to the priest and he then went to God. Jesus came to earth to open up this “Direct Connect” with the Father. I no longer have to go through a priest to speak to the Lord – I can talk directly to Him. I will often ask others to talk to Him on my behalf as well. I try to talk to God about everything and everyone. I’m certainly growing in my understanding of His Power and His Presence. This “Direct Connect” that I have with the Lord has given me wisdom and depth of understanding that I would have otherwise missed. I believe that the Lord can give me insight through this “Direct Connect” with Him. He knows everything and everyone. This “Direct Connect” has another more common term: PRAYER. Through prayer, I can talk directly to God because Jesus made the way or “built the Connection”! I’m so thankful for prayer through times of struggle, suffering and even times of joy. I’m learning to talk to the Lord in great detail about everything and everyone.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Be Encouraged

 

ApplauseI have often been the recipient of encouragement. Encouragement inspires me. Encouragement motivates me. Encouragement gives me great confidence.  I believe encouragement has help build me into who I am today. Encouragement is a simple concept that has profound effects for years to come. When I reflect on the encouragement that has been given to me over the years and the effect it’s had on me, I can’t help but become an encourager to others.

The Hebrew writer speaks to this word as well. We must encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. There are times it’s obvious that a person is getting to a bad place, but other times, the deceitful heart is masked by good deeds and kind words. I must pay careful attention to my heart as I live out my faith. Check this out…

12 Watch out, brothers and sisters, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception. 14 For we have become participants in Christ if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start. (Hebrews 3:12-14 CSB)

I believe encouragement must be honest. It can’t be shallow and empty. Encouragement can call someone out of sin. Encouragement can help prevent someone from surrendering to sin. I also believe that I must encourage often. Giving away genuine encouragement also blesses my heart because my attention is taken off me. If I’m not very careful, I can make everything in my life revolve around me – that’s very dangerous and very self-centered. Encouragement is about the other person and it’s a huge gift that I can give with both words and action.

When I started journaling about my journey in the Word several years ago, it started coming alive to me. I would find myself recalling what I had read throughout the day. At some point, I felt called (nudged) by the Lord to share my thoughts publically. When He tells me to stop, I’ll do that too. I have been encouraged by being an encourager. I want my life to be about Him and not about me. I want the actions and activities of my life to point to Him and Who He is, instead of me. I want to make Him famous – not become famous myself.

If I could offer one word of encouragement to anyone who desires to know Him it would be – please find time in your busy life to read His Word and talk to Him about it. He longs for relationship with His kids. I remember hearing a phrase that I think came from Mother Teresa many years ago: “If you’re too busy to pray, you are simply too busy.” I’m adding to that, if I’m too busy to read, meditate and pray over His Word then I’m too busy. I believe studying the Word of God builds eternal thoughts and dreams. I’m taking out of my self-centered world and I start seeing the world as The Lord sees it. Encouragement from the Word of God has changed every part of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Friendship

??????????????????Some of my closest friends I’ve known for years. We seem to pick up right where we left off when we get together. I can share anything and everything with them and they listen and give counsel where needed. They also give comfort where needed. They’ve also given financial support when needed. Friends are a huge blessing to my life for sure. I am blessed beyond my ability to repay the friends in my life. I remember my Mom telling me when I was a young boy: “if you want to find a good friend, be one.” I’m so thankful for friends near and far over the years. Some of our technology like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Facetime have made the world seem much smaller than it is. I’ve connected with people who were dear friends at different seasons in my life. I don’t have many “fair weather” friends. I’ve been in Carroll County, Georgia since early 1986 and I’m thankful for so many friends and neighbors near my home.

Paul speaks of his relationship with the people in Thessalonica and I can feel the joy that comes from his friendships there. Check this out…

We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

11 As you know, like a father with his own children, 12 we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to live worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:8,11-12 CSB)

Friendships are a “two-way street”. I can’t do all the taking nor can I do all the giving in a friendship. Some relationships develop into friendship, while others simply don’t go deeper. My journey with the Lord has gone deeper the longer I walk with Him and dig into His Word. My friendship with God can’t just be me taking all the time from Him and not investing as well. I used to use God anytime I got into trouble or life got hard. I didn’t realize the joy that comes from investing my life into Him as well as have His help growing as I grow older. I’m fully aware that He brings the “lions share” to our friendship, but He loves my contribution as well. I’m giving Him my heart each day and that’s really all He wants as He’s given me His heart as well. He is a FRIEND above all friends.  I simply can’t imagine my life without my friendship with the Lord and His Presence in me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Harvest Principle

 

garden harvestI really like this time of year because I love fresh vegetables from the garden. My wife’s parents have a nice-sized garden each year. They plant corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans; to name a few. I don’t usually help as much on the planting side because of work conflicts. I usually help with harvesting as we help freeze and can the vegetables for later use. It is crazy how some years, the garden produces more than others. It takes a lot of time and effort to work a garden, but it seems to me that the food taste much better than what I can purchase at the grocery store.

Paul talks about the law of the harvest in his last chapter to the church at Galatia. He declares that it’s a principle or a law of sorts. Check this out…

Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the SpiritLet us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us work for the good of all, especially for those who belong to the household of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10 CSB)

There have been springs and early summers where we didn’t get much rain, but we still almost always harvest more than is planted. This law is universal in all sorts of applications.

Paul is speaking clearly about my relationship with God. If I want to grow, I must invest some time and energy. He is challenging the church at Galatia to sow in the Spirit instead of the flesh. Sowing in the Spirit reaps eternal rewards as well as blessing while here on the earth. I can’t quit sowing seeds of kindness just because I’m tired. I’m paying it forward and it’s always wise to do good things even when I can’t see how it could possibly benefit me or anyone else. Doing good to others is “paying it forward” – a harvest will come from our genuine, loving, good deeds.

If I sow love and care in my relationships, they flourish.

If I ignore my relationships, they die.

If I use my money to carefully invest and give; the return or what comes back to me is a blessing.

The Lord gives me counsel often on more ways to creatively invest in others and that ends of blessing others and me. I am wealthy in relationship because I love people and do my very best to show proper respect and love. That is the harvest principle at work.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

I Matter

3D Keep Calm God Loves You Button Click Here Block TextThere are times when I was a kid that I didn’t feel like I mattered to anyone. I know my parents loved me and they provided for me, but they didn’t understand some of the pain I was in. I had a low self-esteem. I was living off their faith and not my own. I didn’t always understand God. I was a mess but I often looked like I had it all together.

I went to a youth convention and heard a preacher say: “I matter to God and that’s all that matters to me”. That was a profound thought. The first part settled into my heart. I mattered to God. He knew how many hairs I have on my head. He knows my inward thoughts. He loves me. He cares for me. That thought really spun me around.

As I was reading Elihu’s rebuke of Job this morning, I was a bit put out with his points. He pretty much says that none of us matter to God. God will be just fine with or without me. Check this out…

4 ‘I would like to reply to you

    and to your friends with you.

5 Look up at the heavens and see;

    gaze at the clouds so high above you.

6 If you sin, how does that affect him?

    If your sins are many, what does that do to him?

7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,

    or what does he receive from your hand?

8 Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself,

    and your righteousness only other people. (Job 35:4-8 NIV)

I believe God enjoys a personal relationship with His created ones – like me. He wired us for relationship with Him. As I journey through His Word, I realized His heart is for me. He loves me deeply. He loves me like no one else. The longer I walk with Him on this earth the deeper our relationship grows. I’ve been angry with God and I’m pretty sure He’s been angry with me. I live in a constant state of repentance before Him, because I’m so imperfect and sometimes downright stupid in my decisions. I am so thankful for His amazing patience with me. He gives me grace when I should receive death. He gives me mercy when I should receive punishment. He inspires me to keep seeking Him. He encourages me when I’m discouraged. He lifts my head when I get down. I’ve never ever had a relationship with someone like Him. He is all I need. I’m thankful that He provides other relationships that enrich my life. He teaches me about Himself through these other relationships. I’m so thankful that I matter to God – that matters most to me!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Dominion

For God so loved the world... God holding world with crossWhen I think of this word, I think of dominion – I think of control, ruling power, and domination. I’m thankful that we don’t live under a government of dominion. I have to confess that it feels a bit like that sometimes, but our government is “we the people”. We have lots of choices and freedoms that we wouldn’t have if were under the dominion of a dictator.

Job’s buddy Bildad the Shuhite (the short guy) weighs in with a short dialogue. He jumps straight to the point challenging Job’s assertion that he has done nothing wrong. Check this out…

2 ‘Dominion and awe belong to God;

    he establishes order in the heights of heaven.

3 Can his forces be numbered?

    On whom does his light not rise?

4 How then can a mortal be righteous before God?

    How can one born of woman be pure? (Job 25:24 NIV)

I can’t argue with Bildad’s assertion about the Power, Presence and work of God. He makes a strong statement. He then follows up with some questions that carry with them some inferences about the answers to his questions. It is clever rhetoric to push back on Job a bit.

God is the One who determines whether someone is good before Him.

I look at the behavior of someone to determine if they are good person or not. If they lie or deceive, I’m not going to put a lot of trust in them. The Lord sees the heart of the person that I saw lie or deceive. If I could see inside the person’s heart, it would be very revealing. I think that there are people who look good on the outside, but their heart if full of deceit. My behavior on the outside doesn’t determine the condition of my heart. I believe that behavior reveals the heart.

To answer Bildad’s questions:

God’s forces can only be numbered by Him.

No one is beyond the light of God or His reach.

God can make anyone righteous before Him.

God is the Creator – He doesn’t create junk.

I feel confident that Job will remind Bildad that the Lord is large and in charge of his life. Job has had a close personal relationship with the Lord until this test. I believe that Job is suffering so profoundly that he is wondering how he can survive this. He’s holding on to the Lord as tight as he can. The Lord has dominion over everything and everyone. The more I know about the Lord, the more in awe of Him I become.

Pressing On!

Dwayne