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

The First Test of Leadership

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingI remember asking the teacher if this information that she was giving was going to be on the test. If it wasn’t on the test, then what’s the point of learning it? I was a bit of an obnoxious student and I wasn’t interested in learning as much as passing the class. There are tests that come around in life that have much to do about the lessons I’ve learned previously. These tests can also challenge my character and my values. Every now and then a situation comes along that really has frustrated a member of my team and it requires a decision on my part. This is not always easy and often neither side ends up satisfied with the decision. I’ve learned that sometimes you don’t have all the information you need to make a decision, it just has to be made based on the information you currently have.

I’m not sure about the time between Saul’s anointing and this first incident. It seems that Saul when back to his regular life of helping his Dad on the farm. When the Ammonites siege Jabesh Gilead, things changed pretty quickly for Saul. Check this out…

6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, ‘This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.’ Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand.

(Saul and the men of Israel complete obliterate the Ammonites and freed Jabesh Gilead)

15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration. (1 Samuel 11:6-8,15 NIV)

My favorite part is: “The Spirit of God came powerfully upon Him”. Saul was open to the Spirit of God using Him to lead. Saul passed his first test in a big way. He was successful because of the Presence of the Spirit of God, not because of his amazing military genius.

I think that leaders sometimes start thinking that they are as good as everyone says they are and humility flies out the window. I believe that Godly leaders should give the Lord the credit for their decision and their leadership gifts. All good things come from Him anyway.

I want the Spirit of God to be all over me as I lead in my family, in church and in my work. I don’t want to make flippant decisions that affect anyone else with out the powerful Spirit of God on me. I don’t want to be self-centered. I do want wisdom and incredible discernment. I believe that I can pass any test of leadership no matter how big or how small if the Lord’s Spirit is all over me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Hard Test

 

exam test pass or fail iconI remember a few years ago when my son Jeremy was fighting cancer. It was grueling fight that really took its toll physically and emotionally. I clearly remember at one point during the chemo part that I really wasn’t confident that he could make it through the punishment and strain that the chemo was putting on his body. I remember having a very candid conversation with the Lord about my son. It was emotionally exhausting and still deeply painful to think and write about today. I finally told the Lord that if it was His will for my son to die, I would really be angry and frustrated, but in the end I would still hold on to the Him in the midst of it all. I felt like that cancer journey was a major test of my faith as well as the faith of Jeremy and many other family members.

Abraham was put to a very hard test. He has a kid at 100 years of age. He’s waited and waited on the promise of a son to be fulfilled and now he is instructed to go into the mountains and sacrifice his only son to the Lord. I simply can’t wrap my head around this. I would be a blubbering idiot on the journey and at the end. Abraham fully intends to obey. There are signs leading up to the finale of the story that indicate the depth of Abraham’s faith. He tells the servants to wait at one point because he and the boy are going into the mountains to worship and “WE will come back to you”. At another point the young boy notices that they have everything for their worship and sacrifice except the animal for the offering. He asked his Dad and Abraham replies that the Lord will provide.

The altar is built and the wood is placed on it. Then the boy is bound and place on the wood. I don’t know how Abraham can do this. He pulls out the knife to kill his son and then is stopped. Check this out….

1But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’

‘Here I am,’ he replied.

12 ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ he said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.’

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’ (Genesis 22:11-14 NIV)

This event stirs my heart deeply because I love my family deeply. I have lots of conversations with the Lord about my family. He knows how much I love them and I want to protect and provide for my family. I also hear Him telling me that nothing can come between Him and me. I do remind Him that my family is a very close second place. I’m so thankful that my son Jeremy is cancer free. I don’t have an answer for parents whose child was taken from them too early. I don’t believe that I’m more spiritual than them. I don’t know or understand how the loss of a child fits into God’s plan, but I do believe with all my heart that God takes trials and tests and turns them into incredible opportunity for growth. The bottom line is that I have to trust Him without conditional approval. This is a test that is incredibly hard and one that I don’t want to take.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Taste Test

Meat Collection over WhiteWe have an event on the square in Carrollton, GA known as the “Taste of Carrollton” where local restaurants cook a sampling of food from their menu and participants get to sample or test the food. When I go to a restaurant, I usually get something that I know is good, either from a previous visit or if chicken in involved. (I have a theory about cooking chicken – it’s hard to mess it up!) I know what I like when I taste it. If it’s really good, I might want to “taste test” it more often. I also like the smell of food and that is usually a good indication if it will taste good.

I wish more people would “taste test” the Lord. Check this out….

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;

    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,

    for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,

    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Psalm 34:8-10 NIV)

 

I think it would be great if people would actually try putting their faith in the Lord. I’ve had my feet “under His table” and He is so very good to me. He is my closest Friend. He is my most consistent Confidant. He is my closest Counselor. I do trust in Him. I enjoy walking with Him and learning more about Him. He speaks to my heart from His Word and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I have tasted the Presence of God and I want to put my trust in Him – the maker of Heaven and Earth. He is so good to me.

He is faithful to me.

He keeps me safe.

He blesses my life.

[If you’re reading this and don’t know Him – start reading the gospel of John and the Psalms. John introduces Jesus and the Psalms give me a great picture of God. I also would encourage you to find a good bible teaching/believing church family to connect with and walk out your faith.]

Pressing On!
Dwayne