All Things New

 

Word in Stars Announcing Brand New Product or ImprovementI love the smell of a new car. I used to love owning a new car, but I hated the payments and I also hated the depreciation that descended the minute I drove off the lot. I do like new stuff. I especially like new technology toys. Right now, I’m enjoying the new iPhone operating system (aka IOS) because “my phone feels new, yet somehow familiar”.  New & Improved are marketing tools for a whole host of products. There are times that “new & improved” are simply marketing slogans and nothing much has changed.

John is nearing the close of his revelation. He is seeing more things that are hard to describe and explain. He writes what he hears and does his best to describe the scenes before him. This scene is one of my favorite. Check this out…

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give free from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:3-7 NLT)

I am thankful to serve the Lord as He dwells with me. He has been with me through some dark valleys for sure. He has been with me through some deep pain and suffering. His Presence is most definitely a game changer. He brings hope with Him. He brings healing – spiritual and often physical, when He enters. I look forward to a world without death, sorrow, crying or pain. I look forward to being in His Presence without a worry or care in the world.

Just yesterday, the daughter of a REALTOR friend was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. It immediately brought some memories back when my son was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the helpless and hopeless feelings that came with that. As a Dad, I would have exchanged places with my son through that battle. My heart is heavy for my friend and the journey that she is on with her daughter. I’m envisioning a place with no cancer, no sickness of any kind. I’m longing for that place.

A song that ministered to me during our journey is still speaking to me today.

Let Me Feel You Shine by David Crowder.

This place is trying to break my belief 
But my faith is bigger than all I can see 
And what I need is redemption 
And what I need is for You for to put me back on my feet 

I swear I’m trying to give everything 
But I feel I’m falling, make me believe 
What I need is resurrection 
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet 

If I could feel You shine Your perpetual light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If I could feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Let me feel You shine Oh
Let me feel You shine

I lift the knife to the thing I love most 
Praying You’ll come so I can have both 
What I need is You to touch me 
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need 

God I need a Savior 
O come generous King 
O God I need a Savior 
To come rescue me 

Oh let me feel You shine Your magnificent light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If You let me feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Oh let me feel You shine 

______________________________

I want to feel the Presence of God all over my life every day of my life. I want to feel Him shine upon my life with His life-giving LIGHT!  He is the LIGHT of The World! He has the power to make all things new – in fact it’s a promise!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Way I Used To Be

 

Life changesThere are lots of things about my life that are way different than they used to be. When I think back to the courtship of my wife 23 years ago things are different now. Our love for one another is much deeper and mature. It is fun to think back to how we once were early on in our dating relationship and early marriage. Relationships grow deeper and expand at a deeper level.

If I think back to my early relationship with the Lord, it was very vibrant and full of energy. I was young and excited to follow the Lord. When the “new” wore off, I found myself doing stupid things that hurt His heart. I wandered away from Him and went my own way for a season. He never left me. He showed great patience with me as I tried to figure some things out. I guess I had to learn on my own that when the sign says, “dead end” – it really is. I was warned about many dead-end decisions, but I tried them out anyway. He still was waiting patiently.

In the letter to church at Ephesus, He calls them out for forgetting their first love. Check this out…

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5 CSB)

I have returned to my journey with Him over the past several years. He has spoken volumes into my life through the steady study of His Word. I’m still steady and growing in my love for Him. I’m still trying to walk in obedience of Him daily. I want to live like He lived. I want to love like He loves. I want to push through the times of hardship and suffering. I want my life to reflect a faithful, consistent follower of Jesus.  I want to love Him more today than yesterday. I want to love Him deeper that yesterday. I want my relationship with the Lord to grow and grow with the roots of my relationship planted deeply in His Word.

I want to keep returning to the love I had for Him early on before being “tainted” by what the world offers. I want to be faithful to Him, He has been so faithful to me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Test Trials

 

Child in medicine maskTest trials are also known as “Clinical Trials” and these are implemented when trying to find a specific drug or medical protocol that will attack a certain disease or illness. These are tests of sorts and often, they are “last ditch efforts” to help fight certain types of disease.

The book of James comes out of the gate with some crazy ideas regarding trials of life and suffering. This is a different kind of test. Check this out…

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.

12 Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4,12 CSB)

I’ve been through a few trials and suffering in my life and I did not think they were great joy. I will submit that the trials and sufferings built somethings inside of me that weren’t there before. I admit that I was pretty “ticked off” at God because of the trials and suffering, but then when I settled down, I realized that He would not leave. He would walk with me through the trial and He always has a different perspective on my trials from where He “sits”. It is very easy to lose perspective during a trial.

I believe that God has taught me things during trials and suffering that I couldn’t have learned any other way. I learned a lot about me and what I was “made of”. I also learned a lot about the faithfulness of The Lord. He is so patient and understanding while I’m reeling and frustrated. He holds me when I’m hurt and angry. He sits with me when I can’t even talk. I have a different perspective completely on all of life. I want Him with me as I celebrate the joy of life and I know He will be with me when I’m in a trial time or suffering time. He helps me make lemonade out of lemons. He helps me navigate through the dark ally of trial and struggle.

In the middle of one particular trial this song blessed me. “Let Me Feel You Shine” by David Crowder Band.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

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

Suffering Can Build Strength

Child in medicine maskThere are times of suffering in my life that I thought was about to destroy me. I’ve not experienced a life-threatening illness, but one my kids has. I’ve not had a life-threatening injury and been air-lifted to a trauma center, one of my kids has. I have also had some personal suffering that has rocked the foundations of my world. I have been speechless and silent before the Lord. I have screamed at Him for help. I have screamed at Him in anger. He has NEVER wasted my times of suffering. He has NEVER left me when I was in the middle of suffering. I’m sure I’ve left Him a few times, but quickly realized the stupidity of that. I don’t always understand suffering, but I trust Him. I don’t understand why He doesn’t prevent it in the first place. I don’t understand why He doesn’t “swoop in” and save the day. During my suffering, He’s taught me to trust His heart even when I can’t see His hand at work.

Paul was a passionate follower of Jesus, a teacher & preacher. He started churches and served them and poured his heart and soul into them. They still didn’t seem to get it. He made his case again to them about his journey with the Lord through suffering. He wasn’t going to quit and he made that clear. He had suffered much but he wasn’t about to quit. Check this out….

24 Five times I received the forty lashes minus one from the Jews. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked. I have spent a night and a day in the open sea. 26 On frequent journeys, I faced dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own people, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, and dangers among false brothers; 27 toil and hardship, many sleepless nights, hunger and thirst, often without food, cold, and without clothing. 28 Not to mention other things, there is the daily pressure on me: my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:24-28 CSB)

Suffering can make you bitter or better – it’s up to the sufferer.

Suffering can give you new perspective.

Suffering can give you purpose.

Suffering can help save.

Out of my pain came my purpose…His Purpose for me. My purpose on this earth is to live to honor God and make Him known. I can’t stand during suffering without His strength. I remember another verse by Paul….

13 I am able to do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 CSB)

….and another:

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 CSB)

This topic brought to my mind a song I heard years ago after suffering from a job loss….

His Strength Is Perfect by Steven Curtis Chapman

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone
He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on
Raised in His power, the weak become strong
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect

___________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne