Accept & Reject

make a choice street sign illustration designThese two words seem to be polar opposites. Unfortunately, they go together quite often. I’m a guilty party in this too. For example, I accept the laws of the land, and I obey most of them. There are some that I accept, but then reject by how I live. I’m aware of the speed laws and speed zones, but I sometimes ignore them for the sake of my schedule. It is wrong, and I have won my fair share of “safe driving awards” because of it. One of my sons was pulled over the other evening and reminded by the nice policeman that the stop sign was not a suggestion. My son also reminded me of a speeding ticket that I received when he was with me. I saw the blue lights coming in my rearview mirror as I was turning onto a side road and I said, “Looks like he’s after someone.” About that time, he turned on the same road and I remarked, “I think he has got me!” (My son still thinks that is a funny story!)

Paul writes to the Corinth church speaking truth into them and encouraging them in their faith journey. He said something that jumped off the page and into my lap this morning. Check this out…

1As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore itFor God says,

“At just the right time, I heard you.
    On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NLT)

I have been guilty of accepting God’s gift of kindness, grace and forgiveness, only to ignore it later. I often know the right thing to do, but I don’t do it. I think my willful disobedience breaks the Lord’s heart. I have so much to be thankful to Him for. I owe Him my very life. Yet I will still ignore His tug on my heart. This passage called me to repentance. I am convicted of my sin of ignoring His Spirit leading me to ALWAYS do the right thing. If I listen to His Spirit in me, I will walk every day in acceptance of His Will and obedience to His Way. I’m so grateful for His patience with me as I figure this out. I continue to receive His Grace instead of the punitive punishment that I deserve. I do think I’m closer to Him today than I was yesterday – there is progress for sure. I want to cultivate my acceptance of His direction, His plans and His call upon my life. It’s pretty simple, yet incredibly difficult.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Captive

 

ball and chainWhen I think of the word captive, I think of prisoner of war or a kidnapped victim. I don’t think positively of captivity or being held captive.  I have read horror stories of people in captivity. Being captive is not usually a positive experience. The Apostle Paul talks about being held captive by the Lord. He speaks in very positive terms. Check this out…

14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?

17 You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NLT)

I’m a volunteer captive of the Lord God. I’ve surrendered to His Will for my life. This volunteer captivity is not like other captivity. I’m actually rewarded while in captivity. I have freedom inside this captivity. I have hope within this captivity and no hope when I’m outside His captivity. He uses me willingly while I’m in captivity. I realize that to others who don’t know the Lord, this seems like a “jacked-up mess”, but it’s really not. I surrendered my heart to Him many years ago and my heart is willingly in captivity to Him. I realize that this is quite the paradox, but He has changed my life when I became captive to Him. He is using me in ways I never dreamed of. He is speaking through me. He is giving me opportunity after opportunity to serve in His Kingdom. I’m so thankful. I’m experiencing real peace in this voluntary captivity to the Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Encourage, Inspire & Motivate

 

Diverse group of people learning and studing together.

I have been a follower of the Lord since 3rd grade, if I was 7 years old, then I’m coming up on 50 years of walking with the Lord at some level.  I grew up in a home where going to church wasn’t an option. I remember hearing the stories of Jesus and how He loved others. I also remember hearing about our enemy, the devil and how he wanted to get me to do bad things and follow him straight to hell. I must admit that I was more afraid of going to hell than really understanding God’s love for me. I followed the Lord out of fear of hell. That fear didn’t stop me from still doing stupid things. I am thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I tried things that were fun at the time, but the consequences could have ruined my life.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I truly came face to face with grace. I had heard that word, but not nearly as much as I heard about all the things I must do right. Grace doesn’t give me permission to do wrong, but grace does give me second chances for sure. Grace finds me and makes things right with the Lord. Just the fact that I now understand grace has been a huge win for me. I can’t remember the preacher, author or teacher who explained that to me, but I’m sure thankful I now understand. I don’t walk around guilty and hopeless. I now live my life with hope and confident in the Spirit of God.

I believe that prophesy, according to the Apostle Paul is simply to speak as the Spirit leads regarding my life with the Lord. I believe God’s Word is true and with His help, I’m living according to His Word. Out of my journey, I can share words of encouragement, inspiration and motivation. I don’t write this to promote me, I write this to promote the peace that I have in Him. I think that there are misunderstandings and misinterpretations regarding prophesy in our churches today. Prophesy is from the Word of God and the very Spirit of God, not from a human being. Prophesy is truth spoken through a human as directed by the Spirit of God. It should not be super mystical, in my view. It should be super clear and understandable. Check this out….

1Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy.

32 Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people. (1 Corinthians 14:1,32-33 NLT)

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I’m not trying to get into a “church argument” or a “doctrinal dispute” with anyone. I’m not trying to mislead in any way. I think I and others have often made knowing the Lord appear that we are in a different class. I want to humbly live out my faith and encourage others to come along with me. I will “prophesy” about sin and call it out in my life and in others as the Spirit of God leads. If you’re reading these words and you haven’t surrendered your life to the Lord fully – I pray that you seriously consider this sort of change. Instead of me being in charge of my life, I’m giving that over to my Creator. He leads me to live for Him. He leads me to serve others on His behalf. He leads to me to speak on His behalf. It’s not some fancy, “hoity toity” calling. It’s simply speaking truth in love. He does the encouraging, inspiring & motivating through me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

I Give Up My Rights

Terms And Conditions-stampThere are many rights afforded me as an American citizen. The United States Bill of Rights guarantees all its citizens certain rights under that constitution. I am still amazed at this document that became the foundation and the very spirit of our democracy. We have lots of freedom under that law, but with that freedom comes great responsibility. There are still boundaries even in the “land of the free and home of the brave”. Our freedom also came with great sacrifice. I’m living in this free country today, because of many brave men and women who’ve gone before me and fought back against threats to our freedoms. I am given “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” under our constitution. This well-known phrase gives three examples of my unalienable rights given to me by God, which the Declaration of Independence declares that governments are there to protect.

Paul talks about his rights as an Apostle. He also gives up his rights for the sake of the gospel. He really sets a high bar when it comes to spreading the gospel. Check this out….

19 Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 20 When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law. 21 When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law, I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

22 When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23 NLT)

I believe it’s important in sharing the gospel to explain its simplicity. It is certain simple to trust in Jesus, but it’s certainly not easy to live it out. I heard a great quote once by Les Brown that said: “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard, but if you do what is hard, your life will be easy”.  Becoming a disciple of Jesus is definitely harder to live out day to day than it sounds. He calls me to surrender who I am to who He is calling me to be. I can fight that call, but He won’t stop calling me. I have found that surrendering to that call puts me in a place of great blessing – in the center of His Will for my life. Just because I’m a follower of Jesus doesn’t make me “better” than anyone else. I am still broken and flawed. I still sin and make colossal mistakes in my journey of following Him. I’ve given up my rights to follow Him. I’ve surrendered all that I have and all that I’ve done to follow Him. Everything I have is His. Everything I am is His. I have no rights to speak of except what He’s given me. I surrender all that I am and ever hope to be just to know Him and make Him known here on the earth.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Declaration of Dependence

Abstract Silhouette PrayingI am grateful to have been born in the United States of America. I have been a patriotic person since I was a young kid. My grandfather (Pappy) served in World War II and what little I knew about all of that, I was thankful for the freedom we enjoy in this country. I’ve learned over the years the price that many before me had to give for this freedom. I’m grateful today for the men and women who are standing watch so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we enjoy here in the USA!

On July 4th of every year, we celebrate “Independence Day” here in the USA. We celebrate our independence from being under any other government other than the one elected by our citizens. Our freedoms still come with boundaries, but nothing like other countries under totalitarian rule or a dictatorship.  The Apostle Paul writes about marriage to the church at Corinth. He also writes about being a slave and being free. His counsel is interesting. Check this out…

20 Yes, each of you should remain as you were when God called you. 21 Are you a slave? Don’t let that worry you—but if you get a chance to be free, take it. 22 And remember, if you were a slave when the Lord called you, you are now free in the Lord. And if you were free when the Lord called you, you are now a slave of Christ.23 God paid a high price for you, so don’t be enslaved by the world. 24 Each of you, dear brothers and sisters, should remain as you were when God first called you. (1 Corinthians 7:20-24 NLT)

I need to consistently declare my “Declaration of Dependence” upon the Lord. I really try to lean on Him before making any significant decisions. I really want His counsel in every area of my life. I want to depend upon Him as I lead my family. I want to depend upon Him as I serve and lead in His church. I want to depend upon Him as I lead and serve at Metro West Realty. I want every area of my life subject to dependence upon Him – no exceptions. (Please note: this is easier said than done.) The cool part is that I have His assistance as I keep working at this dependent lifestyle. This was the Lord’s plan all along. I’m dependent upon Him so that He can do amazing things in me and through me. He wants to be glorified and honored with my life. My self-serving and self-centered behavior clearly blocks that goal. I’m going to repent and get back to living dependent upon Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Pretend Worship

Worship to GodI’ve used the phrase: “Fake it till you make it”. I confess that I’ve pretended to worship before, because I was supposed to worship. I’ve pretended because others were watching. It’s been several years, but I have since learned the value of being genuine before the Lord. I have learned that He knows my heart and “pretend worship” doesn’t really help things. I have also learned that the Lord really hates hypocrisy. Pretend worship is really hypocrisy. I’m at a place in my journey that the more I learn about the Lord the more I’m drawn to genuine worship, wonder and awe of Who He is and I’m humbled that He would love someone like me.

One of the more disturbing passages in scripture is when Jesus is taken before the Jewish leaders in the wee hours of the morning for a “pretend trial”. He is then taken to Pilate, who was governor, but also a “push over”. Pilate releases a murderer and turns Jesus over to the Roman soldiers for execution via crucifixion. This scene disturbed me. Check this out…

16 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head.18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified. (Mark 5:15-20 NLT)

This mock worship really nailed my heart. These soldiers didn’t know that the One and Only Son of God was the object of their mockery. They went the extra distance to put on a good show. They were clearly sarcastic and playful, but this scene really disturbed me. I felt convicted of my pretend worship. I remember times of being angry and hurt at God. I felt like He could have protected my loved ones from sickness and suffering. I now realize that I was looking at my circumstances in light of honoring me instead of trying to honor God regardless of my circumstances. My genuine worship should happen because of Who He is NOT BECAUSE of what He does for me. Pretend worship is really self-worship. Pretend worship reveals a diseased & corrupt heart.

I want to come before the Lord in Awe & Wonder for all that He is and all that He is doing in me and in others. I can’t make my worship about music or anything to do with me. It is ALL ABOUT HIM! I believe genuine, true worship is about surrendering my heart before Him to be used by Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne