Caught!

 

Always Time to Do What's Right Saying Clock QuoteI remember getting away with things when I was a kid. The times I was caught are really etched in my mind. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I was trying something new and, BAM! –Busted. Looking back, I think getting busted was a good thing because I became keenly aware of boundaries as well as consequences. These two words have accountability built right inside them. I often wish I could go back and do some things differently, because I know that my bad choices hurt my grandparents and my parents. They really had confidence in me and I let them down. I’m thankful that I didn’t stay there. I’m sure that they kept praying for me that I would get back on track with the Lord.

Paul is giving Timothy some very practical counsel from a seasoned apostle to a young preacher. He gives Timothy a few tips in dealing with people and their behavior. Check this out…

24 Some people’s sins are obvious, preceding them to judgment, but the sins of others surface later. 25 Likewise, good works are obvious, and those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden. (1 Timothy 5:24-25 CSB)

I remember my mom telling me that “remember your sins will find you out”. I hated that phrase because I knew what it meant. I also knew that she was suspicious of something that I had done or hadn’t done.

When I became a parent many years ago, I read a great book called “Raising Positive Kids In A Negative World” by Zig Ziglar. This book had a huge impact on my life. I think it was in this book that he challenges parents to “catch their kid doing good things” and reward them appropriately. I loved the idea because it affirmed the positive behavior instead of watching for the child to make a mistake.

I love people who do good works secretly. I believe the Lord loves this too. When a person does good works secretly, it’s not about them, but the person or persons being served. I also think that this speaks to the motive of the giving. I’ve given to be seen and I’ve given secretly and the secret giving is way more fun and profoundly rewarding.

I want to honor the Lord by doing good to others today and every day. I know that the Lord sees what I do secretly whether good or bad, so I’m going to choose the good way!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Darkness

Man walking to the lightI’ve described movies, music and lots of entertainment as dark. By that I mean, it seems a bit hopeless and grim. It can also mean that it feels evil and quite a contract to the hope that I have in the Lord. I’ve never been super afraid of the dark, but I don’t like darkness. There are things that secretly happen in the darkness that would be easily exposed in the daylight.

Job is speaking in rebuttal to one of his friends who has just reminded him of the power and presence of God. Job points out how there are many who thrive in darkness because they choose to be there. He speaks a lot of truth in the midst of his deep pain. Check this out…

13 ‘There are those who rebel against the light,

    who do not know its ways

    or stay in its paths.

14 When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up,

    kills the poor and needy,

    and in the night steals forth like a thief.

15 The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;

    he thinks, “No eye will see me,”

    and he keeps his face concealed.

16 In the dark, thieves break into houses,

    but by day they shut themselves in;

    they want nothing to do with the light.

17 For all of them, midnight is their morning;

    they make friends with the terrors of darkness. (Job 24:13-17 NIV)

I’ve definitely tried to conceal some of my behavior done under the cover of darkness. While I might fool my neighbor or a friend – the Lord didn’t miss it. He sees me no matter where I am. I can’t possibly hide from Him. I’ve learned the futility in trying. When I’m walking in the boundaries put forth by the light, I’m closer to who He’s called me to be. The darkness is tempting me, but He is patiently offering me a beam of light that leads back to Him.

This passage reminded me of a passage in Ephesians where the Apostle Paul challenges us to live in the light. Check this out…

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. (Ephesians 5:8-13 NIV)

I want to live honorably in the light of the Lord. I want His light to expose any sin or weakness in my life. I want to become aware of how devastating the darkness can be and run from that.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Conspire

 

Conspiracy word cloudThis word implies secrecy and illegal activity and agreement between two or more people. I’m not sure that what I choose to do myself would be considered a conspiracy.

Samson had been wreaking havoc on the Philistines. He was supernaturally strong and they couldn’t stop him. When he falls in love with a Philistine woman named Delilah, they knew that had to try. Each leader offered her 13 Kilograms of silver in exchange for her delivering Samson to her. She starts right away to ask him the secret of his strength, so he tells her some tall tale about tying him up with seven fresh bowstrings. She actually tried it (with soldiers waiting secretly) and it didn’t work. She tries twice more and has two more false alarms. After pestering Samson day in and day out, he finally comes clean. Check this out…

17 So he told her everything. ‘No razor has ever been used on my head,’ he said, ‘because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.’

18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, ‘Come back once more; he has told me everything.’ So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.

20 Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon you!’

He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the Lord had left him. (Judges 16:17-20 NIV)

I do believe that if Samson had been walking with the Lord, he’d had a heads up about this conspiracy. I see him living in his flesh instead of living out of a heart deeply devoted to the Lord. These people showed up with the money in hand. It’s obvious that Delilah never loved him or cared for him – it was about the money. I’m not even sure she was patriotic to the Philistine cause or country.

Conspiracies are so deceitful. I believe the Lord can expose conspiracies through the prompting of His Spirit. I believe that the Lord can open my eyes to things that I wouldn’t notice any other way. This usually money or power involved in a conspiracy. Both of these ingredients can be destructive on their own. When couched in conspiracy, they can be incredibly destructive.

I want all my cards on the table. I want to deal honestly and openly with others. I don’t want there to be even a tiny hint of conspiracy. I want to always live and work with integrity as the bedrock of each relationship that I have. What you see is what you get. I believe that living out of a heart devoted to the Lord will direct my path the way He would have me live every day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Secrets

 

girl gesturing silence saying shh using her hand - concept vectoI’m pretty sure everyone has secrets. I’ve learned the value in not telling everything I know to everyone I meet. In fact there are times that something I’ve learned or something I know can hurt a lot of people if it were to become public. My mom used to say: “You can be sure your sins will find you out”. This was a word of caution prior to acting on impulse. I live in a pretty small town and there are lots of so-called secrets that have leaked out. It can be rather embarrassing that the people who think they are being so clever and sneaky have actually not been as discreet as they thought.

I am a bit stunned by the story of Tamar and the dealings she had with Judah and his sons. In the Old Testament culture, if a woman’s husband died, she was given his brother to carry on the family name. This was a common practice and tradition. When Judah’s first born son was so wicked that the Lord struck him down, she was given to the next son in line. He was wicked in the eyes of the Lord so he died as well. She was told to wait for the youngest son to grow up. She waited but nothing happened – I think because Judah realized that the common denominator in both his son’s deaths was this woman, Tamar.

She dresses up like a prostitute and covers her face with a veil because she learned that her father-in-law, Judah, was coming to town. He had spent months of grieving is own wife’s death. He sees this woman at the gate and makes his move. She knows exactly what she is doing, but he doesn’t have a clue the true implications of his actions. Before she allows him to sleep with her she negotiates for him to bring her a young goat. Since he doesn’t have it with him, he gives her his seal, his staff and his cords. This sounds like a soap opera. Check this out…

24 About three months later Judah was told, ‘Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.’

Judah said, ‘Bring her out and let her be burned to death!’

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. ‘I am pregnant by the man who owns these,’ she said. And she added, ‘See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.’

26 Judah recognized them and said, ‘She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.’ And he did not sleep with her again. (Genesis 38:24-26 NIV)

The truth seems to have a way of making it’s way out. It can’t be kept concealed forever. One of the most common secret that people try to keep is relationships that unfold outside the boundary of marriage. There have been numerous secret relationships revealed by pregnancy. I believe that the true content of a person’s character is also revealed once the sin is exposed. I believe everyone is a sinner, the only difference is some are saved by the Grace of God and others have blown Him off. I believe that we should own our sin instead of run from it or hide. Obviously, we should avoid the trap of sin to begin with, but when we sin, we should repent and confess. Some secrets are so big and explosive, they are hard to keep a secret.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Fake Fasting

Discipline is the bridge from WEAK to STRONG. Concept 3D illustration.This has always been a spiritual discipline that has fascinated me. I have fasted on occasion, but not very regular at all. I think fasting is one of spiritual disciplines that brings clarity and focus when done properly and biblically. Fasting is primarily an act of willing abstinence or reduction from certain or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. An absolute fast is normally defined as abstinence from all food and liquid for a defined period, usually a single day (24 hours), or several days. I believe God’s plan was to set aside time for prayer and focused intensity on His way and His will. Check this out…

6 ‘Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter –
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: here am I.
‘If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:6-11 NIV)

 

Fasting is a spiritual discipline mentioned in Scripture a good bit. The prophets and leaders of the Old Testament as well as Jesus Himself practiced fasting. It is a way for me to tell my body that I’m in control of it and not the other way around. The Lord loves it when I intensely seek His face. I am not personally experienced with fasting on a regular basis. I do believe that when I fast, I should do so secretly or discreetly and not draw attention to myself. I believe fasting should also be accompanied by intense prayer and seeking the very heart of God. I also believe that fasting to loose weight is not a good healthy choice. Fasting is really not about me – it’s about Him. I came across a really good article by Campus Crusade called: “Your Personal Guide to Fasting & Prayer”. I feel like after reading this passage of scripture this morning that I should seek to implement this discipline into my life on a more regular basis.

Pressing On!
Dwayne

Secret

Top secret stampA secret is something not known or meant to be known by others. I think probably everyone has secrets that they keep from someone else. There are secret actions and secret thoughts. There are things you find out about someone else that you must keep secret. There are secrets shared with you in confidence that you should hold and keep.

Jesus speaks about being secretive about giving, praying and fasting. These are three strong disciplines of faith that were not meant to be celebrated; they are meant to reflect a deep devotion to the Lord. The Pharisees and religious leaders were doing all of this publicly and many more “pious acts” simply to be noticed.  Jesus speaks directly to this type of behavior. Check this out…

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4 NIV)

Jesus was speaking to giving, praying, fasting and serving behind the scenes. The “Audience of ONE” is the only Person who should take note of the kind things I’ve done. If my giving, praying, fasting and serving is done to wow others, then I’ve received my “temporary” reward. I really want an eternal reward. The Lord knows my heart – He knows my motive when I give, pray, fast and serve. He is the ONE Who will hold me accountable for my heart.

He also knows my secret sin – my thoughts, actions and addictions that no one else sees. He’s like that show “Person of Interest” – He doesn’t miss a scene. He sees everything and He’s everywhere.  My secrets are not secrets to Him at all. The amazing thing is that His Grace and Mercy covers my secret sins and also my public sins. His Grace is simply too amazing to understand or comprehend, but I’m sooooooo grateful for it. His Grace and Mercy motivate to live for Him and serve Him secretly and live for Him out in the open!

Pressing On!
Dwayne