What Have I Done?

 

Why MeThis insightful question is one that I often know the answer to. I sometimes do things without thinking. (That is not necessarily a good idea.) Some of my bad habits seem to run on auto pilot. I could make some life improvements when my good habits and disciplines run almost automatically. My life is made up of the sum total of thousands and thousands of simple choices made daily. I can choose to be kind. I can choose to be mean. I can choose to be generous. I can choose to be selfish. What if there was a record of every single thing I had done since I was born. That would take up a lot of storage space, if it were written down. I can’t quite put my brain around that.

As I was reading another chapter of Johns revelation, I was struck by the thought that there is a book with all the works of my life and I am judged accordingly. Check this out…

11 And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. 12 I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:11-12 NLT)

After reading this, I began to immediately think about where does GRACE come into the picture. I just know that I know Jesus. If I reflect on just yesterday, there was sinful thoughts going through my brain and I’m sure there were sinful actions as well. My heart is still in pursuit of the Lord even when my brain goes down a side road.

I don’t know exactly what happens when a person dies. I don’t know if they are immediately in the Presence of God. I just know that the One Who created the universe and everything in it has this under control and in His Power. I’m not sure if He keeps a literal book or if He keeps the highlights of my life. It sure is a sobering thought to think of a diary of my life written by someone Who knows everything about me.

As I think about the judgement, I’m reminded that I have a personal relationship with the Judges Son. Scripture also teaches that to know the Son is to know the Father. I’m going to keep walking out my faith here on earth. I want the works of my life to reflect my hearts commitment to the Lord. I want to live a Christ-centered life NOT a “me-centered” life. I want to display my love for God, by loving and serving others. Write it down. One simple choice at a time ends up being a lifetime in no time at all.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Faith & Love

Colorful typographic motivational poster to raise faith in yourself and your strength. The series of business concepts on a textured background of an old love. VectorOn the outside the situation is often much different than it appears. I’ve seen people smile during great pain and struggle. I’ve seen others love in the face of hatred. I’m learning that things are not always as they seem. Some of the nicest people can turn on a dime and be extremely hateful and rude. Love cuts a wide swath through life. Love can disarm anger and soften hatred. Love is a decision not just a feeling. I must choose to respond to hatred and rudeness in love. I will tell you that this is much easier said than done. Love is much more than emotion, although it is intertwined with my emotions.

Paul in his second letter to the church at Thessalonica starts off with praise for the growth of their faith and love. Faith and love are a powerful tandem force for growth. Check this out…

We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. (2 Thessalonians 1:3 CSB)

I take my faith and love seriously. I believe that these are two character traits are a direct reflection to my relationship with the Lord. Faith and Love are like muscles – they develop with use. Without exercising faith and love they will atrophy.  Because of my faith in God is growing, my love for others is expanding. I’m learning to love as He loves and this is challenging. He loves people who are hard to love. He loves people who hate. He loves people who are self-centered. He loves all people and He can separate their sinful behavior from their soul. It takes great faith for me to see beyond the interaction and behavior that I experience to see under the surface. The Lord sees all of that

Faith and love are powerful tools in helping me become more like the Lord. I’m learning to trust Him without exception and to love without boundaries because of His love for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Selfish & Self-Centered

 

I like myself for the most part. If I could change some physical features to improve my appearance, I would take care of that. I like myself better some days rather than others. If all I cared about was me, I wouldn’t have my beautiful family. When I became a Dad over 30 years ago, I became less selfish at that time more than any other time. Children are born completely dependent on their parents for everything it seems. I have developed a love for children and I will sacrifice anything and everything I have for them. It’s almost automatic. I would give up my life to save any one of my children.  With all of that said, I am still selfish. I still like what I like when I like it. I like my routines. I like the last piece of cake. I like things to go my way. I want my kids to love me. I am a bit selfish and self-centered after all.

I came across this passage in Philippians right before Paul describes Jesus’ attitude so thoroughly and poetically. He speaks to humility and selfish ambition and I felt “smacked around” a bit. Check this out…

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 CSB)

I saw a two “absolutes” in this passage…

Nothing – no exceptions

Everyone – that’s really everyone – not just people I know and like

I still struggle with selfish ambition and conceit. I am learning that when I serve others, I end up being blessed beyond words. Zig Ziglar used to say: “If you help enough people get what they want, then you’ll get what you want.” Serving others is thinking about them and honoring them. Serving others is putting their interests in front of my interests. Serving others is making them more important than me.

It’s easy to serve people I know and like. It’s the jerks that drive me nuts. I don’t like serving jerks, but if I’m not careful I can become one. If I learn to serve even the jerks and “smart-mouthed” people, I’m growing to be more like Jesus. He was the perfect example of humility. I recently confronted another person as gently as I knew about how they were talking to me and treating me – I was really frustrated. I felt like the Lord helped me make a friend out a person who was being a bit of a jerk. This is not easy and I still don’t have it down pat, but I do want to serve others because as a Christ follower, I’m called to do that. It’s not optional – it’s a command and a part of His DNA. If I want to be more like Jesus, it starts with humility and serving.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Want What I Want – NOW!

 

Cute children smiling at camera on white backgroundI really that think that most people, (certainly including me), want what we want WHEN we want it. I don’t like being told I couldn’t have something that I want. I have learned over the years, that just because I can’t have something don’t mean my life will end. I grew up in a family with 5 kids. We did not always get what we wanted. I remember as a kid wanting a mini-bike. This is small motor cycle that as I could ride over the hills or down the road in the little town I grew up in. My best friend had one and I wanted one too. I dreamed about having a mini bike. I coveted my friend’s mini bike. I survived that huge disappointment. As I grew older and learned the value of money, I realized that my parents did the best they could with the resources they had. My kids have wanted stuff over the years for Christmas that either I couldn’t afford to give them or I knew was not safe or healthy for them. I would have probably killed myself on a mini bike anyway.

As a grown man, I still want what I want when I want it. The scale of things I want are a bit different than a mini bike – the price tags are quite a bit more. I want more money than I have for sure, but I’ve learned that if I love money too much, it can destroy me. I heard a guy say one time that He wished the Lord would trust him enough to see if he could handle being rich beyond his wildest dreams.

King Ahab had this same disease of selfishness. He wanted a vineyard that was close by the palace. He approached the man named Naboth and asked to trade for his vineyard or buy it a market price. Naboth didn’t want to sell. Check this out…

3 But Naboth replied, ‘The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, ‘I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.’ He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, ‘Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?’

6 He answered her, ‘Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, “Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.” But he said, “I will not give you my vineyard.”’

7 Jezebel his wife said, ‘Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.’ (1 Kings 21:3-7 NIV)

Jezebel conspired against Naboth and had him falsely accused of cursing God and the King – he was taken outside the city and stoned until death. She then tells Ahab to go take possession of the vineyard. This vile behavior did not escape God’s attention. He sent Elijah to call them out and tell them of their impending punishment for their wicked behavior.

I’m so thankful that the Lord is patient with me and my self-centered attitude. The more I get to know Him, the less selfish I tend to be. He is the epitome of a self-less person. The Lord set an example of service NOT being served. He is the Son of God and certainly could have been served, but He came to serve. I believe pride and selfishness is one of the number one roadblocks that keep my heart hard. If I really take a step back, I realize that the person who cut me off in traffic doesn’t know me personally. I can’t possibly expect that the world will revolve around my schedule and me. I can act like Ahab and moan or groan. I could even go back to bed sullen and angry. I need to filter my wishes and wants through the eyes of The Lord. I expect my list of wants and wishes will get edited and become much smaller.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Want What I Want

I want youI have learned that I’m actually a pretty selfish person. I really want the biggest bowl of ice cream and the largest piece of cake. I want to go first most every time. I want to win at any competition that I’m in. I want more money. I want more fame. I want what I want when I want it. I want. I want. I want.

The Lord has made it quite clear to me that my selfish desires can actually destroy me if I don’t get His help keeping them in check. I believe self-centered pride is a huge destructive force in our culture. I see people who seem to have it all with a beautiful family, nice home, nice position at work – but they want more. They are subtly selfish and manipulative. It all starts with a want and then turns into a desire and then a plan goes into place. There is not time to count the costs or ask for wise counsel. I want what I want when I want it.

One of David’s sons, Amnon, wanted what he wanted. He wanted a sexual relationship with one of his half-sisters. In their culture there was a proper protocol and such a request would probably be granted. Amnon burned with lust for her and wasn’t willing to seek counsel unless he was told what he wanted to her. He found a first cousin to give him the counsel he wanted. He pretended to be sick in bed and asked for his sister to bring him food. As she is serving him food, he grabs her. Check this out…

12 ‘No, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’ 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her. (2 Samuel 13:12-14 NIV)

This is a very sad story in the life of King David. He is broken hearted that his son would do such a thing. Then his other son Absolom waits for 2 years and has Amnon killed. This whole event was put into motion because someone wanted what they wanted when they wanted.

When I read a story like that I think that I would never do something like that. I believe this to be very dangerous thinking. The enemy will come at me at my weakest point. He will tell me things like, “you deserve to be happy” or “this will not hurt anyone”. My favorite lie that the enemy tells is: “no one will ever know or find out”. The enemy is out to destroy me and if I listen to his logic, he will win. I believe there is a spiritual battle for my heart. The Lord is gently shaping my heart to be like His, but the enemy is planting and nurturing selfish seeds inside my heart. I must submit my wants and desires through the filter of God’s Word. This filter will reveal my self-centered wants and desire. I really want more of God in my heart, but I also want all this other “crap” too. I need to trust the Lord as Keeper of my character. He will not misguide my life or my decisions.

Pressing On!

Dwayne