Small & Great

Big black pawn surronnded by four little chess kings isolaged on white backgroundIn our culture, we don’t always connect great with small. I do like that computer storage that once took a warehouse is now the size of a pack of gum (almost)! Sometime great things come in small packages. I must confess that if given a choice of a large mystery package or a small mystery package, I usually choose the bigger one.

The scene is taking place in heaven. John is still blown away by what he is seeing and hearing. Nevertheless, he is writing it down and doing his best to describe all that is happening. Trumpets blowing, people worshipping God – he has quite a challenge. He quotes the 24 elders as they bow in worship. Check this out…

15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying,

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.

16 The twenty-four elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, 17 saying,

We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
but your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15-18 CSB)

I love those three little words: small and great. I feel like I fit into that “small” category for sure. I’ve been a follower of the Lord since I was in 3rd grade. I needed lots of grace and mercy along the way – but the Lord is famous for that.  I’m still walking out my faith each day and I don’t need to be noticed by others. I don’t need accolades or “pats on the back”. I am striving for a reward that is unseen and way bigger than notoriety here on earth. I want to be known as someone who “fears the name of the Lord” – a profound respect for the Lord. I seek Him and worship Him daily. I walk with Him and talk with Him daily. I want to live today with my eye on eternity. The way I live my life for Him will outlast any other thing I can do. I want to be known as a man who sought the heart of God each day. It’s only because of the grace He has poured out on me during the journey that helped bring me to his place. #thankful

I believe that on that day there will be some great prophets, teachers & preachers bowing before the Lord in worship and I get to be part of that – Wow! I get to worship alongside some heroes of mine – Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, King David, Jeremiah, Peter, Martin Luther King, Jr., Zig Ziglar, Billy Graham and many more. They are great in my eyes and I’m small – but just to be there! #humbled

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Leadership Prayers

 

Praying ManSomeone once said that if there are tests in our schools, there will be prayer in our schools. Prayer, in my opinion is way more powerful in private, but can be an effective communication tool in public. I have always felt that the most effective public prayer warrior is one who privately prays regularly and often.

I believe that prayer is a powerful tool that the Lord has given us. Prayer calls upon the Lord to come help, come heal, come direct my journey. Sometimes I’m not sure what the next step in my journey looks like, the Lord can speak to that. At other times, I feel helpless to know what to say or do – the Lord can direct my words and my activities. Paul challenges Timothy regarding prayer – we should lift our leaders in prayer constantly. Check this out…

1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-3 CSB)

I must confess that there are some elected officials that I didn’t vote for, but they were chosen as our leaders. I can pray for them, even if I disagree with some of their policy decisions or core beliefs. I figured out a long time ago that I simply don’t know everything, nor does anyone else. I need to give those in leadership some room to navigate through the challenges and decisions before them. Now this doesn’t mean that I should stand by and watch them make bad decisions without me speaking up or speaking into a decision that’s before them. If I’m praying for them, it becomes harder for me to attack them on a personal basis. I can disagree with passion, but I should still show respect to those in leadership over me. (This is often easier said than done.) When leaders act immature or they misbehave, it is hard to respect them and the position they hold.

I will continue to pray for the leadership of our nation, state & local government. I will pray for wisdom and discernment to saturate their thinking. I will encourage them and be available to help them anyway I can. The Lord calls me to serve like this. There are benefits for me as well – “to lead a tranquil & quiets life in all godliness and dignity”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Prosperous Prayer

 

MoreI need to say that I don’t subscribe to the so-called “prosperity gospel” or “name it; claim it”. I know that there are those who teach and believe that. I do believe that God can do anything He pleases. I just don’t find it consistent with the Word that says, once you put your faith in God everything will be good. In fact, I think the opposite is quite common. I do believe that the Lord wants me to be prosperous in love. He wants me to be prosperous in serving and giving. There are those who have become prosperous financially and it did not derail their faith. Of course, there are many stories of the contrary as well where financial prosperity ruined relationships and destroyed lives. Prosperity is a relative word. I’ve been to some incredibly poor countries and people were prosperous. I’ve been to some wealthy communities where people were starving for prosperity. I have prayed this prosperous prayer from Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi many times. Check this out…

And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are superior and may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ,11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1:8-11 CSB)

I keep praying this prayer over my wife & children as well as my entire family.

I prayer this prayer over my company.

I love praying this prayer over my customers and clients.

I think it’s wise to pray for wisdom.

I think it’s wise to pray for discernment.

I think it’s wise to pray before acting on an issue.

I’m praying that I will walk in wisdom and discernment that is dripping with love. I want to be prosperous in profound love for God displayed in my genuine love and respect for others.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

One-Sided Relationships

quarreled couple in their living roomI remember as a kid sending a note to this cute girl asking her if she would “go with me”. I also knew how to get other friends to “set me up” with the girl I was interested in. I’m not sure we went anywhere. I remember some childhood girlfriends and I’m sure I got hurt in that process as well as I inflicted hurt on others.  I believe that divorce is the result of a one-sided relationship. For a relationship to go sideways, it only takes one participate to start being selfish or self-absorbed.

Relationships are delicate and sometimes difficult. If a relationship is one-sided, someone is a doormat and getting used. Relationships are God’s idea and He built us for relationship. The Lord created us for relationship with Him and with others. He longs for fellowship with us – His kids. He also created us for fellowship with one another. Paul is trying to restore his relationship with the Corinthian church. Even relationship with our pastor and teachers need to be reciprocal to be healthy. Check this out…

 11 We have spoken openly to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 I speak as to my children; as a proper response, open your heart to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 CSB)

As my kids were growing up, we had lots of discussions about relationships. I talked to my sons about how to treat a young lady. I want there to be respect and honor “built-in” to those relationships. I believe that trust and respect are foundational to building a life-long relationship in any arena. If I can’t trust you, we will only be “casual friends”.  Some of my deepest relationships over the years have been with friends that also believe in God and want to walk with Him.  Relationships begin with something in common and builds from there. My faith is a huge part of my life and I have an immediate connection with others who are Christ followers too.

One-sided relationships are painful and expensive. They cost more than money. Their expenses are too numerous to mention, but I’ve almost lost myself in broken relationships. I also believe that there are ALWAYS two-sides to the story of a broken relationship. I’ve learned to enter new relationships with a lot of grace and truth. I am willing to work on building a relationship, but I’m not willing to do all the work.  My relationship with God don’t “require” a lot of work, because He did all the “heavy lifting”. If my relationship with God is going to work, I must invest myself into it. Someone spelled love TIME. I spend time investing in the relationships I love. It can be said that I love what I invest my time in.

I am a “people person”, but with loving deeply, I can be hurt deeply. I try to show patience and understanding. I have decided that I will only invest “lightly” in one-sided relationships. I will continue to love others, but I will pull back on my time-investment if things are simply one-sided. The Lord has been so patient with me over the years – He has my heart now, but I was reluctant at first. The more I know of Him, the more love and respect I have for Him. My relationship with the Lord is a more balanced than it ever has been and I think that’s how He meant for all healthy relationships to be.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mercy – Hope – Respect

Man praying with the BibleIt’s a new day! Yesterday is now in the rear-view mirror – today is another chance to make good choices and wise decisions. I was reminded this morning how much I need mercy. Mercy is defined as: compassion, forbearance, kindness, blessing, pity, benevolence, the power to pardon and divine favor. I live in the shadow of this word every day and I’m profoundly thankful that the Lord shows me mercy daily.

As I read this Psalm of Assents this morning, I was reminded that along with mercy, I have found hope and I live in respect for the Lord out of that mercy & hope. Check this out…

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his Word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:1-5 NIV)

The more I study the Word of God, the more respect and reverence I have for the Lord. He has NOT kept a record of my sins. I am aware of my sin most days and I’m naïve toward the mercy He has poured out on me. I am profoundly thankful and humbled to think of how He not only forgives me and shows mercy, He calls me His kid. The moves my heart. In His Word, I find that mercy and forgiveness displayed often. In His Word, I find Provision, Protection, Direction, Instruction, Help, Hope, Profound Love. The Lord is in a category all by Himself. He is not just another god – He is the Only God and He forgives and forgets my stupidity. His heart melts when I say I’m sorry. His mercy and forgiveness is immediate. His Presence is constant. His Word teaches me more and more about His heart, Who He is and I’m invited to know Him more personally.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Enemy

 

best friends or worst enemyThis is a strong word. I started really wrestling with this word during my reading of the Word this morning. I started trying to figure out who my enemies are. I looked up the definition first on dictionary.com. An enemy is “a person who feels hatred for, fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another; an adversary or opponent.” I probably have enemies that I don’t even know about. I really do try not to make enemies. I try to get along with others as far as it depends on me.  I’ve found myself over the years biting my tongue rather than speaking into the lives of others who I feel are doing something wrong or harmful to others. I’ve tried to amend that part of my life. I must be willing to hurt feelings and lose friendships over speaking the truth and defending the truth.  I don’t want enemies. I don’t seek out enemies.

Enemies can be subtle or overt. They can be public or private. Thinking about enemies has brought a bit of stress to my heart this morning. I can’t control who sees me as an enemy but I can control who I see as an enemy. Check this out…

The Lord says to my Lord:

“Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1 NIV)

I can disagree without hatred.

I can debate without hatred.

I think what makes an enemy is hatred.

After observing one of the hardest and most hateful presidential elections in the history of our nation, we seem to have a lot of hatred in our country. The sharp divide in ideology is profound. I contend that we don’t have to hate just because we disagree. We must learn to debate and stay on the issues instead of allowing our emotions to dictate our behavior. Hatred is a devastating emotion that leaves destruction in its path. I don’t want enemies, but I probably have some. If a person comes to my door to try to harm my family, they will be perceived as an enemy and I am not afraid to use force to stop them no matter what. So, at that point they will certainly be an enemy.  It still hurts my heart to think of having enemies. I want to do my best to love others with the same love that the Lord has shown me. This life is not the end game – eternity is.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

P.S. If any person reading this sees me as their enemy, PLEASE, let’s have a conversation and remove hatred from the equation.