Praying For Peace

 

Pretty girl praying.Elderly man prayingI see peace as a “state mutual harmony, and a state of serenity and tranquility”. This is a word that means different things to a lot of different people. I love having peace in my life, buy sometimes peace is not quiet or boring. Sometimes “mutual harmony” is a bit loud and even a struggle. I used to connect peace with quiet and I still do sometimes. Peace is much deeper than silence. Peace is a matter of my spiritual heart condition. When my heart is at peace, I am trusting the Lord with whatever is getting me anxious.

David was evidently heading to the Temple when He wrote this Psalm. David is a warrior and has fought many bloody battles and has seen much bloodshed. In the midst of this assent to worship he is asking the people to join him in prayer. Check this out…

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    ‘May those who love you be secure.
May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.’
For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, ‘Peace be within you.’
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity. (Psalm 122:6-9 NIV)

I need to be a prayer warrior for peace. I can pray for peace for my family, my community, my state, my country & the world. Praying for peace and seeking to be peaceful are two different things. I believe that the Lord loves peace. I believe He restores my soul and nourishes my heart during peace. During times of struggle and angst, He does some of His best work building me. I feel like I’ve grown more in times of suffering and struggle for sure than in times of peace. During struggle and hardship, I found myself clinging to Him – holding on as tight as possible. I learned through struggle and suffering that He doesn’t leave me. He is always there. At times during the struggle, it felt as if He had left, but He had not. My feelings are fickle and I’ve learned that when the Lord says He is with me, then I can count on that. It may not “feel” like He is with me; but He sure is!

I love the greeting that Paul ends his second letter to the church as Thessalonica with. Check this out…

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. (1 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

 

Sustain

golden piano pedals of a concert grand pianoMany years ago, I took piano lessons. I was very young, like 12 or 13 I think. I remember wanting to learn to use the sustain pedal, but I had to learn the basics first. I don’t play a lot on the piano today, but when I do play I use the sustain pedal. The piano sounds bad if the sustain pedal isn’t working properly. The purpose of the sustain pedal on a piano is to let the corresponding strings from the notes played resonate their sound and blend into the next notes to be played. The sustain pedal gives the music a continual smooth sound. It is the pedal to the far right.

The word sustain has many meanings, but the most common one is to keep something or someone from giving way under a load of pressure. The pillars of a building sustain that structure. A person with tremendous inner strength is sustained through tough times.

King David was fleeing for his life from King Saul who was intensely jealous of him. David didn’t always know who he could trust. David was hiding among the Ziphites and they reported him to Saul. David was just trying to stay alive and he penned the words to Psalm 54. Check this out…

Save me, O God, by your name;
    vindicate me by Your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
    listen to the words of my mouth.

Arrogant foes are attacking me;
    ruthless people are trying to kill me –
    people without regard for God.

Surely God is my help;
    the Lord is the one who sustains me. (Psalm 54:1-4 NIV)

I believe that the Lord still sustains me in times of struggle. He reminds me of the journey. He reminds me who I am and Who I belong too.  He gives me strength that sustains me. He gives me wisdom and insight that also sustains me. I’m not sure I could put one foot in front of the other if He didn’t sustain me.

As I face a new day today, I’m relying on Him Who sustains me. He speaks truth into my life. He leads me to places of peace. He reminds me that He is always present through whatever life throws at me. He sustains me in the face of suffering and struggle because of Who He is not who I am.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strained & Struggling

 

Businessman sinking in heap of documentsYesterday I was connecting with a new friend and I was telling the story of my son’s battle with cancer that is now almost 5 years old. There are many stories of my life that are easily remembered. I think the ones that featured deep suffering and struggle are at the front of the line. As I was sharing the story, I realized how intense the emotions still are as I recalled the strain and the struggle of that journey. I’m convinced that strain and struggle come along every now and then as part of our life story. There are almost never welcome and I’m glad when they leave. I hate to admit that I’m stronger and wiser after their visit. I still would rather avoid them if possible.

Job really struggled and strained under the suffering that God allowed him to go through at the hands of the enemy. His struggle was intense. His loss was real. He was hanging on by a thread. His friends lectured him and accused him of sin. He was a good man to whom bad things had happened. He didn’t curse God. He did question God about what is happening to him. Check this out…

6 The realm of the dead is naked before God;

    Destruction lies uncovered.

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;

    he suspends the earth over nothing.

8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,

    yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

9 He covers the face of the full moon,

    spreading his clouds over it.

10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters

    for a boundary between light and darkness.

14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;

    how faint the whisper we hear of him!

    Who then can understand the thunder of his power?’ (Job 26:6-10,14 NIV)

I can feel the angst of this spiritually and mentally strong man. His body is weak and worn down from the skin disorder (aka boils) and the pain – yet he stays strong. I am inspired and impressed by Job even as he questions God. I believe that God is ok with the questions. I believe that God is ok with my frustration. The reason I believe God is ok with all of this is He knows my heart like no one else. He wired me with the questions. He wired me with emotions. He built my heart and He has compelled me over the years to keep surrendering my heart to Him. I don’t always get answers to my questions and my emotions eventually settle down – but my heart is hungry for more of Him. I am constantly re-arranging my heart to increase my capacity of God’s Spirit.

I don’t always understand and can’t explain the action or inaction of God – but I trust Him.

I’m not afraid to ask questions or be raw and real with Him – but I respect and revere Him.

In the midst of the strain and struggle – He’s all I really have and He’s all I really need. I love this song sung by Kari Jobe called: Healer.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Crushed In Spirit

Beauty girl cryI can vividly remember the feeling of being crushed in spirit even when I was young as some fellow classmates were killed in a car accident. I remember the finality of their deaths and thinking about how life is a vapor. I can also remember being crushed in spirit 23 years ago spending my first Christmas away from my kids. It was devastating. I look back on moments when my spirit was crushed – I felt my only option was turning to the Lord. He lifted me up. He helped me walk through the waves of discouragement and struggle.

Job is being lectured a bit by his friends whom he’s looking to for a bit of encouragement. He pushes back yet again on them, but this time he reveals his crushed spirit a bit differently. Check this out…

16 My face is red with weeping,

    dark shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

    and my prayer is pure.

18 ‘Earth, do not cover my blood;

    may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

    my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

    as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

    as one pleads for a friend.

22 ‘Only a few years will pass

    before I take the path of no return. (Job 16:16-22 NIV)

I can almost feel the wetness of his cheeks from tears. It is clear at this point that Job is passing the test because his heart is still pursuing God’s heart. Even in the midst of this mind-numbing suffering he is humbled before the Lord.

I think there is truth in this for me as I journey through times of being crushed in spirit. I needed reminding that the Lord is still in charge of my life. My one goal should be to glorify and honor Him. I really often try to honor myself with my life instead of honoring Him. I am often very self-centered instead of God-centered. He will lift me up properly when I have Him in His proper place. The Lord, Whom I seek to glorify, is also the one Who lifts me up when my spirit is crushed and weak. He gives me strength to push through the pain.

He gives me joy to celebrate the journey.

He gives me victory over struggle and pain.

His reward is far greater than I can imagine here on earth.

I don’t always understand my struggles or the struggles of others, but I know that the Lord is on the scene and available to help all who are crushed in spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Make My Case

 

Man praying with the BibleI have always been a fan of TV shows and movies that feature a great attorney. I have probably watched every episode of Perry Mason (the black & white versions) and Matlock and most recently Law & Order (the original). I’m intrigued with how our justice system works or in some cases fails to work. As I was reading through Job this morning, I felt a bit like I was seeing a microcosm of Law & Order. His friends were pushing on him and now he (Job) is pushing back. I can feel his frustration but also his resolve. He believes he is innocent and doesn’t deserve this but he refuses to curse God. He does confront God, but with reverence and respect. I believe that God is ok with out questions and “push back” when it’s covered in reverence and respect.

11 Would not his splendour terrify you?

    Would not the dread of him fall on you?

12 Your maxims are proverbs of ashes;

    your defences are defences of clay.

13 ‘Keep silent and let me speak;

    then let come to me what may.

14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy

    and take my life in my hands?

15 Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him;

    I will surely defend my ways to his face.

16 Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance,

    for no godless person would dare come before him!

17 Listen carefully to what I say;

    let my words ring in your ears.

18 Now that I have prepared my case,

    I know I will be vindicated.

19 Can anyone bring charges against me?

    If so, I will be silent and die. (Job 13:11-19 NIV)

I can feel the agony and pain of Job’s suffering as I read these words. While I’ve experienced pain and suffering, mine doesn’t measure up (or I should say down) to the level of struggle he’s in the middle of. This passage reminds me that my relationship with Almighty God is critical to making it through suffering. I want to know Him more. I want to understand the Lord’s heart. I want to surrender to His will for my life. I want to lay down my pride before Him and let Him have all of me. I can’t imagine plowing through suffering and struggle without Him. I would agree with Job that God could prevent it, but even “though He slay me; yet will I hope in Him”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Different Perspective

 

There are times when I keep looking at the situation the same way, no matter how many times I come back to it. However, a good friend or confidant might see things from a totally different perspective. I think it’s very wise to have multiple perspectives when dealing with a challenging situation that is way bigger than I can handle on my own.

Job has lost all his possessions, family and now his health. He is beyond distraught and He’s asked God to curse the day he was born. He has three “friends” who come to be with him during this very hard time. One of them attempts to give him a different perspective. Check this out…

2 ‘If someone ventures a word with you, will you be impatient?

    But who can keep from speaking?

3 Think how you have instructed many,

    how you have strengthened feeble hands.

4 Your words have supported those who stumbled;

    you have strengthened faltering knees.

5 But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged;

    it strikes you, and you are dismayed.

6 Should not your piety be your confidence

    and your blameless ways your hope? (Job 4:2-6 NIV)

I really need to see things from multiple angles when I can. It helps develop a healthier perspective of the issue at hand. This guy, Eliphaz the Temanite was reminding Job of what he had done in the past by helping others. In the middle of my struggle and pain, it is often difficult to have a different perspective, let alone several perspectives. I see perspective as a particular angle from which I see things.

I do think that when hearing different perspectives, we have to consider the journey of the friends who are sharing the different perspectives. There are times when my friend’s perspective may be skewed because they’ve been a life-long friend and can’t say what needs to be said. At other times, they speak into my life from their angle and it’s very sobering and spot on. I think that suffering and struggle can be used to bring glory and honor to God. He doesn’t leave me when I suffer and struggle. He is ALWAYS there to guard and guide my steps. The suffering sometimes screams so loud that I loose my memory of how powerful and protective the Lord is.

While I’m thankful for other perspective, I should pay closest attention to the Lord’s perspective. He knows what is best for me, because He built me. I want all that I am and all that I experience to bring honor to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne