Simple Faith

 

faith messageI have grown in my faith over the years. I remember trusting the Lord when I was a kid. I was baptized when I was in third grade. I grew up in a family full of faith. My parents and grandparents followed the Lord. Going to church was not optional for our family. We were very involved. I remember “pushing the envelope” and trying some things that were against our family rules. I learned later that my parents knew more about this than they acknowledged. When I went away to college and had freedom from my parent’s rules and regulations, I had some decisions to make. I can still remember where I was sitting on the evening when my faith became my own. I was watching a passion play at Johnson Bible College and I saw Jesus being punished for the sins of the world. I remember renewing my faith in God at that moment. I believed in God on my own. I had lived off my parent’s & grandparent’s faith up to that point.

Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible as the writer pulls the old testament characters into the context of the new covenant. These men and women brought much inspiration to millions over the years and their faith was simple and thorough. The writer speaks about this simple faith and its significance to my journey with the Lord. Check this out…

1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.For by it our ancestors won God’s approval.

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, since the one who draws near to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-3,6 CSB)

I believe faith is simple, but not necessarily easy. Faith is easy to talk about and even write about, but harder to live out. I believe that my faith is much like a muscle, the more I use it, the stronger it gets. Over the years of my life, I’ve leaned into my faith because I didn’t see any other options. I’m not in charge of the weather, the economy or even others. I do know the One Who is charge of EVERYTHING and I trust Him. He has walked with me through some dark valleys. He has protected me in some major storms of life. My faith grew profoundly during some of the darkest days of my life.

My simple faith reminded me of “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I want my simple faith to impress the Lord. I want to grow in my faith today as I live out what I say I believe. James reminded me that my faith without works is dead. (James 2:26) I want to work and live because I’m saved, not so that I can be saved by my works. I trust that the Lord created the earth and is preparing a place for those who trust in Him. I want to spend the rest of my days discovering more of Who God is and walking in simple faith before Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Actions Speak

 

Core ValuesI remember as a young boy I was told that “actions speak louder than words”. I have learned that axiom to be true over the years. There are some folks who “talk a good game”, but their actions don’t back up their talk. Others don’t talk much, but they give and serve “behind the scenes”.  That is precisely where I want to be. I’m not shy when it comes to speaking about my faith, but I want my words to always be back-up by action.

Paul is writing a short letter to another of his young protégé’s in the faith. He is giving him some encouragement and back story about leading the church in Crete. Check this out…

 15 To the pure, everything is pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; in fact, both their mind and conscience are defiled. 16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:15-16 CSB)

Our church is moving through a series of messages called: “Intentional Acts of Kindness”. I believe it’s very biblical to intentionally be kind to others. My faith directs me to love like the Lord loves. My faith directs me to serve others. My faith directs me to show my faith by the activities of my life. I want my life to display my faith before I ever say anything about my faith. My actions should be directed by my faith and should never contradict my faith. My actions are making my faith real – it’s not philosophical or theoretical – my faith is practical and lived out. If I say that I have faith, but my actions don’t support that, then I’m a liar or a hypocrite and I’m fooling myself. The life God calls His kids to lead is not complex, but simple. It’s not always easy, but it is simple obedience and trust.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Deep

 

Two Scuba Divers With CopySpaceI’ve been mesmerized by scuba diving in the ocean depths. I think that experiencing that in more shallow waters might make it to my bucket list.  I have a healthy respect for deep water because I’m aware that I don’t have gills and can’t breathe under water. I am fascinated by the ocean and the way it never stops. The waves come crashing into shore and the sound of that crashing calms my heart. I know that I sound a bit weird. I’ve never ventured way out into the ocean because I feel a lot more secure anchored to land. The oceans has a lot of unknowns and that interests me and scares me a bit at the same time.

I love how the Apostle Paul speaks of the depths of knowing the Lord. If the ocean is deep (and it is), the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge are deeper still. Check this out..

33 Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
35 And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
36 For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 CSB)

The Lord is difficult to describe. I’m a pretty simple minded person. I can’t begin to make the Lord simple. His love is simple. His mercy and grace is both simple and complex. The more I study the mercy and grace of God, the more I want to follow Him fully and experience both. I am a recipient of both His grace and mercy many times over even though I don’t fully grasp that depth of love.

I want to go deeper in my relationship with the Lord. I want to talk to Him differently. I want to hear the deep whispers in my journey with Him. I want to see His face. I want to put my head on His chest. I want to know Him fully. I want Him to speak to me through His Word. I want His Spirit to direct my spirit. I want His heart to invade my heart. I want to die to myself and live fully for Him. He is so deep and vast, but I want to keep seeking knowledge and understanding of His heart. I to live for Him so I can live forever with Him. I realize that I’m simply trying to follow Him fully, but that’s all He asks.

This passage reminded me of a song by one of my favorite bands of years gone by: Deeper by Delirious.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Lift Up Your Hands

Worship to GodI remember the first time I saw someone raise their hands in worship. I was a bit freaked out by that. After I moved past the sarcastic thoughts about them having a question or thinking that they were drawing attention to themselves – I then ignored them.  I can remember where I was when I heard a worship leader challenge us to lift our hands to our Heavenly Dad like a toddler asking to be picked up by his parent. I began to grow a little bit in my understanding about posture in worship and physical presence as well as spiritual presence. I grew up in a church where the lifting of hands never happened. You might even have been asked to leave if you did that. As a student minister, I went to a lot of youth conferences and the kids were not bothered by feeling weird by lifting their hands in worship. The music was incredibly moving for me in my heart. It took a few years of my journey to get comfortable in raising my hands in worship. Now I see the Lord as my Heavenly Dad and I love honoring Him and submitting to Him with my hands held high and open before Him.  I’m not sure if this is what the Psalmist meant when he spoke of lifting hands, but I enjoy the freedom that comes when I surrender my heart before the Lord in worship. Check this out…

Praise the Lord, all you servants of the Lord
    who minister by night in the house of the Lord.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
    and praise the Lord.

May the Lord bless you from Zion,
    he who is the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 134:1-3 NIV)

I do believe my outward posture should reflect my heart posture. I don’t think I should lift my hands just because others are. I realize that I get a little animated when I go to a baseball game or a college basketball – I cheer for people I don’t even know because I’ve chosen to root for them. I cheer at concerts because the music moves me. I have come to a place in my journey with the Lord where He moves my heart in all sorts of ways. My God loves me and He loves it when I lay down my pride and come before Him in worship. There are songs that make me want to sing loud. There are other songs that I feel prompted to bow down. There are other songs where I want to empty my soul before Him in surrender. When I sing “Here’s My Heart Lord”, I lift my hands in surrender and worship. I am not trying to draw attention to me, I simply get lost in His Presence and I try to focus only on Him and not others around me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Simplehearted

 

Man praying with the BibleI came across this word this morning in my journey through the Word and I thought it sounded like me. It sounds to me like someone who is not super complex or complicated. To be simple-hearted, one must be free of deceit and sincere. That is noble and attainable. I am serious about simply seeking the heart of God in my daily life. I don’t need any fanfare or a spotlight, I just believe that seeking the heart of Creator God is at the center of the reason I’m alive on this planet. The Psalmist must have felt similar. Check this out…

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:1-2; 5-9 NIV)

I look back on my journey through suffering and I learned to lean upon the Lord and lean into Him to navigate some very dark places. I felt like life dealt me a pretty hard hand during those times, but I learned some eternal lessons in the middle of the struggle.  You may try to make a case that the Lord doesn’t exist or isn’t involved in the life of His kids, but you won’t convince me. I’m simplehearted for God because I’ve experienced first-hand His Presence and His Power to walk with through the valley of pain and suffering. I’ve also learned that He doesn’t miss any opportunity of struggle and suffering to teach me more about His heart.

I simply want to follow the Lord all my days – whether hard or easy. I want to follow Him in sunshine and in the storm.  I am a simple man with a simple plan to follow the Lord the rest of my days on earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Steadfast

FOCUSEvery now and then I come across a word while reading The Word that we don’t use much today, but we probably should. I looked up this word “Steadfast” on dictionary.com and really liked all the definitions.

Steadfast:

  1. fixed in direction; steadily directed: a steadfast gaze.
  2. firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment, etc., as a person: a steadfast friend.
  3. unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence, etc.

4. firmly established, as an institution or a state of affairs.

5. firmly fixed in place or position.

(www.dictionary.com)

This is one of those old words that we should start using again. This one little verse jumped out at me as I read a brief description of Jotham. He was 25 when he became king and he reined for 16 years. Check this out…

6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the Lord his God. (2 Chronicles 27:6 NIV)

The most common synonym that I think of when I think of steadfast is “faithful”. The word steadfast has a really sense of focus that is really strong. There are areas of my life where I want to be extremely focused, faithful and steadfast. My walk with the Lord is woven throughout each of these areas/categories.

Personal Focus – my family take priority over everything else and everyone else. I am always available and accessible to my family.

Ministry Focus – my church family is very important part of my accountability structure and my faith journey. I enjoy serving the Lord by serving others.

Work Focus – my real estate family are very dear to my heart. We are there for each other to help serve our customers/clients real estate needs at the highest professional level.

Whatever is on my agenda today, it can never trump my priorities. I want to be steadfast and faithful in these three areas of my life. I’m a pretty simple man who wants to follow the Lord steadfast and focused and honor Him by serving others.

My personal mission statement: “It is my mission to serve others with the highest professional care and skill while upholding the highest of ethical and moral standards. My highest goal is to honor God in all I do and that includes serving you.”

Pressing On!

Dwayne