Good Morning!

Grace AND TruthI am definitely a “morning person”. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of morning. I enjoy the fresh new day in the morning. It’s like I have a blank canvas upon which to paint my day. I don’t know when I became a morning person. I remember when I was in 8th grade, I would help milk the cows by hand each morning. We kept three or four cows on our small farm and milked them by hand each morning and evening. I helped my Dad in the morning before he went to work and I went to school. Yes, we drank fresh cow milk and I’m not a “milk fan” to this day. Several years ago, I felt like the Lord was calling me to spend some time with Him each morning before starting my day. I started setting my alarm a bit earlier so that I could do that. I started reading His Word each morning along with a fresh cup of coffee. Over the years He has spoken such profound truth into my heart. He comforts my soul when I’m worried or stressed. He gives me wisdom and insight beyond what I could ever manage. His Word is alive and active in my life each day and I believe it’s because I begin with Him each morning. Check this out…

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
    and I have listened.
    I have not rebelled or turned away. (Isaiah 50:4-5 NLT)

This passage reminded me of another passage in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Check this out…

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

I continue to grow in my love for the Lord because of my morning time with Him. I continue to find peace and comfort while listening to Him speak. He gives me wisdom and insight into any situation I face. His Spirit is definitely present in the morning as I spend time with Him.

A few years ago, I started opening up Microsoft Word and journaling what The Word was speaking to me in the morning. I then felt like I should share that with others. I’m not sure when I started blogging from my spiritual journey. I’ve been wondering how long the Lord wants me to keep doing this. I have no idea how many people read this. I actually don’t write for any one in particular – I write for me to remember what He is speaking into my heart through His Word. I am not some sort of spiritual guru – I’m just Dwayne, a man who desires to know the heart of God more fully today than yesterday. I love my morning time with Him and if He uses my journey to bless your journey, then I’m thankful. I wish anyone who reads this would trade their time here for time with Him. If you’re not sure where to begin, I love the gospel of John and his perspective on Jesus. I also love the Psalms where real life intersects with our spiritual journey. If you’re reading these words, please consider some morning time with the Lord and His Word. This simple change in my schedule many years ago has changed the entire trajectory of my life. I’m so blessed and thankful.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Human Effort

 

Work Characters Shows Working Workers And Manual LaborI believe in hard work. I may not be the most “connected guy” in the room, but I will work harder and longer to get the job done. I was raised on a farm in Kentucky. Recently, I was asked what my first job was. I put down that I was a “farm hand” for my Grandpa. I remember loading hay bales onto the wagon and then taking them to barn. I remember lots of hard labor getting the crops in as well. I was taught at an early age the value of hard work.

In God’s economy, physical labor doesn’t count the same. The Lord is more concerned with my heart than my “work ethic”. He does call me to action, but the action is NOT what saves me. I wish I had learned this growing up. The only action required on my part is surrender of my heart. My will is surrendered to His Will. This felt weird the first time I really wrestled with the concept. Check this out…

63 The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But some of you do not believe me.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning which ones didn’t believe, and he knew who would betray him.) 66 At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. 67 Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?” 68 Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. 69 We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:63-64; 66-69 NLT)

These are the words of Jesus himself. Human effort accomplishes nothing. He has done the work for salvation when He surrendered to the cross for the ultimate and final sacrifice needed for sin. I do not work FOR my salvation, but I do work OUT my salvation. He doesn’t save me so that I can sit. He saved me so that I can serve. Serving is giving to others. Serving is loving God by giving to others. My human effort doesn’t save me, but it can serve Him by loving and serving others.

I serve at the pleasure of the Lord. He has called me. He has saved me. He compels me to love and served just like He loves and serves. Serving the in the Kingdom of God still starts with the Spirit of God in me before any human effort comes into play.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Different Drum Beat

portrait of a little boy playing bongos
Over the years, I’ve met people who are quite a bit different than I am. Some people are different than anyone I know. I have used the phrase that “they march to the beat of a different drum”.  I realize that is a kind way of saying they are weird compared to me and my friends. The thing is, I may have had people say that about me. We are all different than each other, yet we’re all the same. The people in other parts of the world speak different languages and have different customs, yet they still bleed and they need food and rest just like I do.

The Apostle Paul starts really clarifying the difference in a person who walks in the flesh versus a person who walks in the Spirit. This is a game changer in my spiritual journey for sure. Check this out…

16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:16-18, 24-26 CSB)

Walking by the Spirit is hard to describe. I can point to specific incidents in my life where I felt prompted and nudged to do something, say something or go somewhere that was not my normal choice. The Holy Spirit is very personal, but can be obvious. This battle between my flesh and the Spirit is very real. The battle rages inside me every day. My flesh gets frustrated easily, while the Spirit shows great patience and gives grace by the truck-loads. My flesh is very self-centered, while the Spirit is very self-less, giving and kind.

I want what I want is from my flesh.

I want what He wants is from The Spirit of Christ in me.

I can’t describe the peace and joy I feel in my heart when I live and move by the Spirit. I am here to serve others and their best interest. I really believe that my profession as a REALTOR is to serve others. When I write down all the tasks of my job, the word service is woven throughout those processes and tasks.

The old Dwayne served himself. The spirit-filled Dwayne lives to serve others.

The old Dwayne had a short fuse. The spirit-filled Dwayne is patient. (I still have trouble with this one – and it’s obvious when my flesh takes over.

I could make a very long list of the flesh-led Dwayne versus the spirit-led Dwayne.

As a Christ follower, I should look different than a person who lives by the flesh. I want to keep in step with the Spirit of God. I want to talk when He says talk. I want to walk where He leads. I want to give when He says give. In other words, I want to walk to the beat of a different drum – the Spirit of God.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Invisible

 

Invisible manI sometimes wish I could have the ability to be invisible. I’ve often said, “I’d like to be a fly on the wall when that happens”. I know it’s not a “super power” like flying or being the strongest, but I think it would be cool.  I also sometimes wish I could see things that are invisible. For example, I wish I could see the wireless signals that are traveling through my house even right now. It would probably blow my mind. What about seeing the invisible spiritual realm. I think it might freak me out even more to see that.

The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the church in Corinth alludes to the spiritual realm when he talks about the flesh and the spirit. Check this out…

For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 CSB)

I deal with stuff in my physical world all day long like deadlines, paperwork, appointments with people, etc.… This fills up my calendar for sure. I love interacting with people, especially the ones I like and have the opportunity to serve. I’m also learning to love the “hard to love” people that come my way each day. The more I study the Word the more I become aware of the world that I can’t see – the spiritual realm. This can be really confusing, but it’s quite simple – “the flesh” is my physical being and there is also a “spirit” part of me that is my soul. The battles that I face daily are on two fronts – flesh & spirit. The spiritual battle is invisible, but the results of that battle often are present in my physical life. I believe every situation I face falls into one of those two worlds. My spiritual world is the part where the Lord does His heavy lifting. My physical world operates with energy and power from my spiritual world. It’s when I get this process reversed that I get into trouble. The Lord sees my physical world and my spiritual world. He wants both surrendered to Him. I know that my flesh is weak and prone to sin and stupidity – I want my spirit to grow strong so that my physical self operates totally out of my spirt that is surrendered to the Lord. It is crazy to think of the invisible battle that every person is dealing with, but it’s as real as the stuff in my house that I can see and touch.

Being invisible might be cool, but if I just put on my spiritual eyes of faith to recognize the battle for my soul that is invisible, I would lean into the Lord even more. I desperately need His help in this invisible battle. The struggles of my physical life are really coming from the invisible, spiritual world. With His help, I can deal with both. I can’t see Him except with my eyes of faith. I can also see what He’s doing every day in my life. Maybe I don’t need to be invisible after all.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Fight Within

 

devil angelI remember the cartoons when I was a kid that depicted the devil with a red body and a pitch-forked tail sitting on one shoulder whispering in my ear. He’s coaching me to do bad stuff. Then, on the other shoulder is an angel trying to coach me to do the right thing. I remember thinking this was “cute” when I was young. As I aged and grew in wisdom, I can see some truth in that. The enemy has never relaxed at pushing me. He is constantly pulling and trying to coach me into areas of weakness of my flesh. As I read God’s Word and lean into Him for wisdom and strength to live out my faith, the fight within keeps going. In Romans 7, Paul, the Apostle addressed this very battle and in fact, he verifies the inward fight. Check this out…

18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me. (Romans 7:18-20 CSB)

There is always a fight with my flesh brewing somewhere in my life. My fight can be traced back to pride. I must constantly beat down pride so that The Lord can do some good work inside my soul. Pride is like the fuel that fuels my fleshly desires of lust, greed and notoriety. When the Spirit can win the battle for my heart, I become humble, grateful and generous. I have been approaching the Word of God differently because I believe The Word is a huge help in putting pride in its place and allowing the Spirit of God to shine through me. I want the Spirit of God to direct my flesh in proper choices and ideas. I want the Spirit of God to win today’s battles. I’ve read the end of the book and I know Who wins in the end. I want to finish my life strong with the Spirit of God clearly keeping my flesh in check.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Silence

 

Woman talking through a megaphone and a man plugging his earsThere are times that I love the peace and serenity I feel in silence. Recently my family celebrated my Dad’s 80th birthday. It was a lot of fun with a lot of my family gathered as well as friends and neighbors. I must say that silence was not really part of the celebrating, but afterward I was looking forward to silence. I’ve been both the giver and receiver of the “silent treatment” when someone is angry or frustrated with me. There are times when silence is a blessing and at other times it’s very painful and hard.

The Lord had gone silent on Saul for his disobedience when the Lord told him to carry out His furious judgment on the Amalakites. Saul is on his own and the silence of the Lord is deafening. Check this out….

4 The Philistines assembled and came and set up camp at Shunem, while Saul gathered all Israel and set up camp at Gilboa. 5 When Saul saw the Philistine army, he was afraid; terror filled his heart. 6 He enquired of the Lord, but the Lord did not answer him by dreams or Urim or prophets. (1 Samuel 28:4-6 NIV)

Samuel was gripped by fear and this was magnified when he realized that the Lord had turned away from Him. He actually sought out a witch or medium. This is extremely dangerous territory where the Lord is involved. He wanted to hear from the prophet Samuel who was dead. It is the beginning of the end of Saul’s leadership and I think he knows it.

I don’t want to experience the silence of the Lord. I want my hearing from the Lord to improve as my body ages and my physical hearing slips a bit. I would rather hear from the Lord than anyone else. I’m so thankful that the Lord speaks to me through His Word and through my daily journey of prayer. He gives wisdom and understanding that blows my mind. He prompts and He directs. He speaks and He whispers. He stirs my heart to hear Him more clearly. I’m grateful to be called His kid. I’m grateful that He listens to my heart. I’m grateful that He speaks to me. When I sit before Him in silence, I’m so grateful that He isn’t silent.

Pressing On!

Dwayne