Scary & Comforting

LipsI have had some things that scared me to death and I’ve had things that really comfort me. When I see the power of the US Military, it is really scary to think of all that they are capable of when it comes to fighting. It is also very comforting to know that the military is also protecting our citizens, and our borders. Over the years in my relationship with the Lord, there have been times when I’ve been scared of God. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to have a healthy balance of fear and respect for Creator God. The more I know Him, the less I fear Him. The more I know Him, the more I respect and love Him. I think I was fearful of the judgment of God upon me. I feel like the longer I walk with Him, the deeper I know His heart. His heart is full of mercy and grace. He defines love.

There is also a justice component to the Lord. I was amazed at Solomon’s celebration for the dedication of the temple. This party was epic for sure. Check this out…

1 When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,

“He is good;

    his love endures forever.” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3 NIV)

This scene reminded me of the time when Elijah squared off with the prophets of Baal in a sacrifice contest. When Elijah called upon the Lord to show His power to the people, fire came from heaven and consumed the sacrifice. God is Powerful beyond description. His Love is deep and wide for sure, but He hates disobedience and deception.

There is something really powerful about the Presence of God and His Truth. When I witness His Power, I’m a bit fearful. When I experience His Love, I’m comforted.

There is more to this story. After the big celebration that lasted several days, the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and reinforced His Promise to Solomon. Check this out…

12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.

13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:12-14 NIV)

19 “But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. (2 Chronicles 7:19-20 NIV)

The Lord is full of Grace & Mercy, however, He wants more than my words of commitment. He wants my actions to reveal my commitment to Him. He wants my heart to be devoted to Him and His call upon my life.

I think a healthy respect for the Lord is certainly in order. I don’t need to become so comfortable walking with Him that I forget just how powerful He is. I want to walk in obedience and surrender to His way – then I don’t fear Him but I’m definitely comforted by Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Seek Counsel

counselI believe that great leaders surround themselves with great people. I know that the buck stops with the leader, but it’s critical that they have good counsel to have a good understanding to what the decision is about and the effects or “fall out” from their decision.

King David grew into a tremendous leader. The Lord had used his time as a shepherd boy to shape his heart and teach him to rely on God for wisdom and discernment.

When David was king, he had an idea about moving the ark, but sought counsel first. Check this out…

1 David conferred with each of his officers, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. 2 He then said to the whole assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you and if it is the will of the Lord our God, let us send word far and wide to the rest of our people throughout the territories of Israel, and also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their towns and pasturelands, to come and join us. 3 Let us bring the ark of our God back to us, for we did not inquire of it during the reign of Saul.” 4 The whole assembly agreed to do this, because it seemed right to all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4 NIV)

I’ve learned to lead by seeking counsel of many of the people I’m responsible for leading. I also believe that the first place I should seek counsel is on my knees before the Lord. He provides me with wisdom and insight well beyond my abilities or my years of experience. By seeking counsel of people I’m responsible for leading, they are given real ownership to be part of the big picture.

I’ve also learned that seeking counsel does not mean I’m weak, but on the contrary, it shows great strength. Seeking counsel requires humility. Seeking counsel requires listening. Seeking counsel requires respect. I think seeking counsel is one of the wisest things any of us could do, especially if my first place to seek counsel is from the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Proper Respect In Death

 

Child Holding a Parent's Folded American FlagI’ve seen death fairly close up. I’ve been to a lot of funerals over the years. The bodies I’ve seen have all been dressed nice and have make-up. I’ve been to funerals where the casket was closed for obvious reasons. I think I would have a hard time seeing a body that had been ravaged by war or even hurt in a car accident. I can hardly imagine the world of an EMT or Fireman who see death quite often and see bodies that were once alive and vibrant, now lifeless.

There will be a time coming when all bodies die. It sounds kind of depressing and it probably would be if I didn’t have hope of life after death. I was reading again this morning, the story of King Saul’s death. It is a story of defeat in battle. The Philistines wounded him and he had no hope of surviving in his mind, so he fell on his sword and died. Check this out…

8 The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the dead, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. 9 They stripped him and took his head and his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to proclaim the news among their idols and their people. 10 They put his armor in the temple of their gods and hung up his head in the temple of Dagon.

11 When all the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men went and took the bodies of Saul and his sons and brought them to Jabesh. Then they buried their bones under the great tree in Jabesh, and they fasted seven days. (1 Chronicles 10:8-12 NIV)

These men were very brave to risk their lives to give Saul and his sons the proper respect. I think the reason I believe in respect for the dead is because I know I will be there someday and I’d like to think my body will be treated with respect. I also can’t help but think that there was a healthy respect for Saul and his sons for the position he had held as king. He was there in battle fighting for the rights of the people he was leading.

I was reminded of a true story of a man in North Georgia who ran a cremation service. Instead of properly cremating the bodies entrusted to him, he put them on his land and they were in all stages of decomposition. It was a horrible story, especially for those who had loved ones that they thought had been handled properly. There were 339 bodies discovered that were not cremated properly. The owner of the crematory pled guilty and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. He was released just last month. The story is on Wikipedia found here.

Death is very much a part of life here on earth. I think we should show respect even in death. For the most part death is an unwelcomed visitor. Because of my faith in God, I believe that there is life beyond this life. I don’t believe that when I die, everything is over. I believe when I die, it’s a doorway to eternity. I have hope in God. I believe His promises are true. I believe that the Creator of Life has the power to provide eternal life. Until I die, I plan to show proper respect to the people who’ve gone on before and their bodies remain here. I have respect for people who properly handle the bodies after death. When I reflected on this story of Saul and his sons dying in battle together, I was thankful for the men who retrieved their bodies for proper respect and burial. It seems to me to be the right thing to do.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Who You Know

ResumeI grew up in a small community in Kentucky. I went to school nearby for elementary school (Grades 1-8). I learned a lot about relationships during my school years. My four years of high school were in the “county seat” which was also a small town. I didn’t grow up knowing that many people but my parents knew a lot of people. I was often known as the son of my parents, because they knew so many people.

Now that I’m older, my kids often say things to me like: “you know just about everyone around here”. I do know a lot of people because I actually like people. I’m a REALTOR and that is definitely a “people business” as well as a service industry in my view.

There can be great benefits to knowing people and having a relationship with them. For example, if I already know someone (in a good way) who’s applying for a job in our Real Estate firm, that person has a significantly better chance than other applicants.

Who you know is sometimes incredibly helpful to being treated with respect and honor by those who are in leadership over you. Check this out…

1 Now Elisha had said to the woman whose son he had restored to life, ‘Go away with your family and stay for a while wherever you can, because the Lord has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.’ 2 The woman proceeded to do as the man of God said. She and her family went away and stayed in the land of the Philistines for seven years.

3 At the end of the seven years she came back from the land of the Philistines and went to appeal to the king for her house and land. 4 The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, and had said, ‘Tell me about all the great things Elisha has done.’ 5 Just as Gehazi was telling the king how Elisha had restored the dead to life, the woman whose son Elisha had brought back to life came to appeal to the king for her house and land.

Gehazi said, ‘This is the woman, my lord the king, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’ 6 The king asked the woman about it, and she told him.

Then he assigned an official to her case and said to him, ‘Give back everything that belonged to her, including all the income from her land from the day she left the country until now.’ (2 Kings 8:1-6 NIV)

I believe it’s a good practice to treat everyone with respect and honor. They are important and have value. I’ve learned that you never know when you’re serving the needs of someone who is a relative or friend of someone you may know.

I love this little story because it showed the depth of the friendship this lady and her family had with Elisha. She trusted him; when he said to leave – she left. When she returned and her relationship with Elisha became known to the king – she was completely restored with her land and any income her land may have produced.

I believe relationships I have here on earth are the highest and best investment of my time on a daily basis. The Lord shows multiple examples of that as I journey through His Word.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Love For People

Group of students talkingI must say that I really do love people. It’s even cool to go to the mall and watch people for a bit. I often try not to be a person people watch, but I really can’t control that much. I like young people and older people especially. In some circles, I’m old, but in other circles I’m a young guy. I’ve also heard from my older friends that “age is a relative term”. Young people can be so idealistic and enthusiastic. Older people are seasoned, a bit slower, but overflowing with wisdom and experience. I sometimes think I would enjoy being young again knowing what I know now.

King David was returning to Jerusalem after a failed coup by his son Absalom. He is emotional and full of grief at his son’s death. His return to Jerusalem is being celebrated and enthusiastically supported by people in all of Israel. I especially like the exchange by this older gentleman. Check this out…

31 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. 32 Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, ‘Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.’

36 Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? 37 Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you wish.’ (2 Samuel 19:31-33; 36-37 NIV)

Something about this older gentleman simple drew David in. While the man was a good bit older than David, he showed great respect. David obviously respected Barzillai. I loved a quote that I recently heard from Lou Holtz, the long-time football coach of Notre Dame. He was speaking to a bunch of graduates and challenged them to listen to what he was about to say. After all, he said: “I’ve been where you are in my early 20’s, but you haven’t been where I’m at now – age 78”. (Apologies for probably not getting that quote exact.)

I’m learning that even though I know a lot of things that won’t work because I’ve experienced some failure, it’s hard for younger people to hear some of that advice giving from older folks.

I’m thankful to have had some older folks in my life that I’ve trusted over the years. I’m blessed to have had a close relationship with my grandparents. I learned volumes from them, just by hanging around them. Recently, I’ve been super thankful for the opportunity to hang around some younger people to see them dream and think about a world outside themselves.

The Good Lord created all sorts of people on this earth. I’ll admit that some of them are a bit strange and even weird. We all have blood flowing through our veins. We all need love and to be loved. We all will die one day. I would be wise to chase after the Creator every day and enjoy the journey! I want to stay young at heart even though my body is “climbing the ladder of age”! I want to continue to love people and be loved by people. God wired me this way, and He is the Ultimate Example of Love….He loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Respect With Reverence

 

God's mercy at the CrossI believe that these two terms should probably go hand in hand with one another when approaching the Lord. If I only approach Him with respect, I’m leaving out a valuable part of Who He is. If I approach Him with reverence without respect I’m making much more of me than I ought.

Reverence is defined at dictionary.com as “a feeling or attitude of deep respect tinged with awe”. Respect is defined as “to hold in high esteem or honor”. King David loved the Lord and he had a great relationship with God. An event happened when David and some of his men where moving the Ark of The Covenant to Jerusalem. There is this pretty big procession of singing, dancing and celebration as the Ark is on the move. Check this out…

6 When they came to the threshing-floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

8 Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

9 David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?’ 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household. (2 Samuel 6:6-11 NIV)

There is nothing that stops a celebration in it’s tracks like death. This event went from celebration to stunned disbelief in a flash. I think David’s response was very human and I can so see myself responding the same way. I remember clearly being pretty ticked at God when my son was diagnosed with cancer. It takes time to process sometime just Who God is and what His calling upon my life is really about. I sometimes think my life should be rosy and good all the time. I want to be safe. I want to be healthy. I want to be wealthy. I want to be happy. I want – I want – I want. Most of the time I spend time telling the Lord what I want from Him instead of asking Him what He wants from me. If I’m not careful I think that the Lord is all about me when He really wants me to be all about Him.

My life should be all about respect with reverence before God. I need to change the goals of my life and make them about Him instead of all about me. When I figure this out, my life takes on deep reverence and deep respect for Creator God. If I think that it’s all about what I want – when I want it, then this is a colossal case of missing the point of my existence here on earth. As I read the rest of the passage, I think David had time to process what happened and he realized that maybe they had been a bit flippant with the Ark. He ended up going back after it after three months.

As I approach today, I want to make sure the activities of my day are deeply respectful and reverent before the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne