He Changed Everything

Grace AND TruthI was a young kid when I was baptized. I remember that it was winter time and the creek was too cold so we went to town (Columbia Christian Church) on a Sunday afternoon because our little country church didn’t have a baptistery. I look back on how little I knew about the Lord at that time. I knew He loved me and He wanted me to live for Him. I also felt love for Him and decided I would follow Him. I’ve learned over the years that deciding to follow Jesus is a minute by minute/hourly/daily decision. The Lord wants my heart committed to Him. There is no part of my life that doesn’t fall under His jurisdiction. Check this out…

22 The righteousness of God is through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe, since there is no distinction. 23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus25 God presented him as an atoning sacrifice in his blood, received through faith, to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented him to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so that he would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26 CSB)

There is no one who doesn’t need Jesus. I’m so thankful that He made a way for me to be forgiven. I look at the law and realize that I could never measure up. I couldn’t even measure up to the rules of my parents or the speed limits imposed by our government. I would be lost without Jesus. He changes how I love my wife and children. He changes how I approach my work. He changes how I worship. He changes how I look at people with whom I disagree. He changes how I respond when someone tries to hurt me. I am nothing without Him, but with Him I have EVERYTHING! When He enters my heart, everything looks incredibly different. I see people differently through His eyes. I welcome to take over my heart every day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Power

Lead By ExampleIt is sometimes interesting to see what happens when normal people get power. There are some who rise slowly through the promotion ranks to positions of powers. There are those who are elected to powerful positions. I believe that people are needed in positions of power to lead. Everyone can’t be “the” leader, but everyone can be “a” leader. There is a great temptation to those in powerful positions to lead with a clinched fist instead of an open hand. It’s easy to become a “know-it-all” when in a powerful position. I’m not advocating that all powerful leaders are bad, I’m just pointing out that I believe a powerful leader can become even more powerful when he or she realizes that leaders serve the people they are charged with leading. Asking good questions of the people I’m leading doesn’t make me weak, I believe it makes me wise.  Power can corrupt good people. Power can lie. Power can cheat. Power can steal. Power can kill.  Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

I believe that the Lord has all Power. I can’t begin to comprehend His Power. I can’t put my head around the Glory of God. He is not bound to our dimension of sight, sound, touch or taste. He came to earth in the person of Jesus and gave His life as a sacrifice for sin once and for all. He delivered to us the Power of God in surrender. Check this out…

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17 CSB)

I believe in God. I have faith in Him. The gospel has changed my life and it’s still changing my life. The gospel goes directly to work on my heart. My choices and my behavior come directly from my heart. If the Lord has my heart, He has all of me. The gospel is powerful to transform a surrendered heart. I see Him at work in me through eyes of faith. His Word magnifies my ability to see Him and know Him.  I want to live by faith with the power of the gospel overflowing out of my life into others. There is great power in living out a surrendered life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Mercy, Refuge & Rescue

 

God's mercy at the CrossI can remember in my life in the not-so-distant past when I felt like I could not stand under the strain of suffering. I remember having a job one day and the next it was gone. I remember clearly the devastation of divorce nearly 25 years ago. I remember the news of my son having cancer. I remember the call from the ENT telling me that they are air-lifting my son to Atlanta because of injuries he incurred when he fell from a tree.  I could go on and on about suffering and struggle in my life, but those are in my top 5. I have learned that my strength to stand comes from kneeling down before the Lord in surrender and worship. I believe that King David felt the same way. He was hiding in a cave and penned a great psalm/prayer of mercy, refuge & rescue. Check this out…

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, ‘You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.’

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me. (Psalm 142:1-7 NIV)

I can do nothing without the Lord. I can’t possibly navigate through the ups and downs of life without Him. The longer I walk with Him daily, the more convinced of this I am. His Presence and His Strength are beyond measuring. He helps me understand the struggle. He helps me through. I believe in His mercy. I believe He is my refuge – I can ALWAYS lean into Him. I can always count on Him for rescue. The way He supplies mercy, refuge and rescue does not always come when I command or ask – His timing and His plan is always spot on – even when I don’t understand.  I look back at the big struggles in my life and see how the Lord made good out of bad situations. His plan is way bigger than my plan. He’s used my struggles to teach me and build me for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Door Of My Mouth

 

LipsI have been known to talk. Over the years, I’ve listened to myself talk and I feel like that I’ve sometimes wasted words. I am in sales, but I can cut to the chase. When I was in student ministry, I was in a “sales position” of sorts. I was introducing and “selling” how a relationship with the Lord could be a life changer. Today, I sell myself as a trusted, real estate professional. I also sell houses, land and commercial. In all these roles, I do find that I need to talk. I am learning that there is great weight and value in words. I try hard for my spoken word to have the same weight as my written word. I did learn many years ago in the business world that if it’s not written down, it’s not enforceable. I want the words of my mouth to be enforceable by my character. I talk to the Lord a lot about my words. King David welcomed accountability and I should too. Check this out…

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me – that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me – that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. (Psalm 141:3-5 NIV)

I remember back in my college days I was part of a musical group and we did a musical a musical based on the study of James. One of the songs, I remember was: “The Little Red Devil Behind the White Pearly Gates”. I’m sure I was 20 years old when I first heard that. My tongue can get me in trouble. My life group is studying the book of James and this past week’s lesson was in James 3. James points out how I can sing, pray & praise the Lord with my tongue and crush someone the next minute with the same tongue. I’m learning to speak slowly and be discerning with my words – unfortunately it feels like I’m on lesson #1 of this class!

I think the most important point when I think about my tongue, is that the words of my mouth represent the things going on inside my heart. When I speak in frustration and anger – my heart is frustrated & angry. I believe my biggest daily challenge is to surrender my heart to the Lord. With that surrender comes my thoughts, my words, my rights. I want my heart to be daily surrendered to the Lord so that He helps control my tongue and my thoughts and certainly all my actions. My surrender to Him is the most important choice I can make today and every day.

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

Heed & Ponder

Discussing the truthI want to be known for wise and sound decisions. I want to be cautious and careful of my words & actions as they will reveal whether I’m wise. I’ve had moments when I’ve made great decisions over the years and I’ve also had moments when I wish I could go back a make a different choice. I’ve learned to gather facts and seek wise counsel in all areas of my life. I may think I know a lot about a topic or subject only to find out that I still have lots to learn. It’s the people that act like they know all about everything that get into real trouble. I don’t want to be like that at all.

As I journey through the word of God, I discover that He speaks clearly into my heart. I must tune my heart to hear. As I read the passage below I was reminded that I want to keep seeking Him and learning from Him. Check this out…

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord. (Psalm 107:1-3,8-9,41-43 NIV)

I am reminded that the Lord is the giver of all good things. He will counsel me and lead me through the darkest days of my soul. He will forgive my stupid choices and shower me with love and grace. The Lord is known for His grace and His mercy. He is known for His wisdom and profound insight. I would be an idiot to ignore Him as He speaks into my life and my situation every day. I want to hear Him. I want to ponder His wisdom and discernment. I want to walk in the way He points out for me to walk.

Pressing On!

Dwayne