Small & Great

Big black pawn surronnded by four little chess kings isolaged on white backgroundIn our culture, we don’t always connect great with small. I do like that computer storage that once took a warehouse is now the size of a pack of gum (almost)! Sometime great things come in small packages. I must confess that if given a choice of a large mystery package or a small mystery package, I usually choose the bigger one.

The scene is taking place in heaven. John is still blown away by what he is seeing and hearing. Nevertheless, he is writing it down and doing his best to describe all that is happening. Trumpets blowing, people worshipping God – he has quite a challenge. He quotes the 24 elders as they bow in worship. Check this out…

15 The seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven saying,

The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom
of our Lord and of his Christ,
and he will reign forever and ever.

16 The twenty-four elders, who were seated before God on their thrones, fell facedown and worshiped God, 17 saying,

We give you thanks, Lord God, the Almighty,
who is and who was,
because you have taken your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry,
but your wrath has come.
The time has come
for the dead to be judged
and to give the reward
to your servants the prophets,
to the saints, and to those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and the time has come to destroy
those who destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15-18 CSB)

I love those three little words: small and great. I feel like I fit into that “small” category for sure. I’ve been a follower of the Lord since I was in 3rd grade. I needed lots of grace and mercy along the way – but the Lord is famous for that.  I’m still walking out my faith each day and I don’t need to be noticed by others. I don’t need accolades or “pats on the back”. I am striving for a reward that is unseen and way bigger than notoriety here on earth. I want to be known as someone who “fears the name of the Lord” – a profound respect for the Lord. I seek Him and worship Him daily. I walk with Him and talk with Him daily. I want to live today with my eye on eternity. The way I live my life for Him will outlast any other thing I can do. I want to be known as a man who sought the heart of God each day. It’s only because of the grace He has poured out on me during the journey that helped bring me to his place. #thankful

I believe that on that day there will be some great prophets, teachers & preachers bowing before the Lord in worship and I get to be part of that – Wow! I get to worship alongside some heroes of mine – Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Elijah, King David, Jeremiah, Peter, Martin Luther King, Jr., Zig Ziglar, Billy Graham and many more. They are great in my eyes and I’m small – but just to be there! #humbled

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Worth My Worship

Morning Pray At Beautiful LandscapeI must say that the book of Revelation is quite a unique book of the Bible. It is filled with symbolism and wild descriptive creatures that take some imagination. It sometimes makes me laugh to think how I might describe what John is trying to describe. These creatures seem like something out of a sci-fi movie. John is seeing things that he has never seen before and is trying to describe them in terms of his life experiences and his culture. I do believe that the things we see in heaven will be beyond describing so I’m giving the brother a break as I read this one-of-a-kind book.

The scene is worship. There are creatures that are weird looking in heaven and there are 24 Elders surrounding the throne. The Son of God is on the throne – bright and colorful beyond describing. Worship breaks out often. Check this out…

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one seated on the throne, the one who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before the one seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne and say,

11 Our Lord and God,
you are worthy to receive
glory and honor and power,
because you have created all things,
and by your will
they exist and were created. (Revelation 4:9-11CSB)

I am pushed back in my chair this morning as I visualize this scene. John had spent personal one-on-one time with Jesus while He walked the earth. Someone beyond description was now in front. He was seeing Jesus in splendor and majesty. I wonder if John was remembering the blind man healed or the lame guy walking after meeting Jesus. I wonder if John was remembering Lazarus who was brought back from the dead. I wonder if John was remembering the scene at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother. John had to be blown away with the scene, but he understood the words as the 24 elders worshiped. The Lord is so worthy of my worship.

Worthy Of Your Name by Passion featuring Sean Curran

Build My Life by Passion by Passion featuring Brett Yonker

I’m excited to join with my fellow Christ followers as we worship as a church today!

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

Confident Confession

confidence level conceptual meterI like the word confident. I try to be very cautious about being confident because it can lead to a condescending tone which flows right into arrogance. I have a lot of confidence in the Lord. I have seen Him move and work in my life and in the lives of others. I see confident as being bold and having a strong belief or conviction. Confession means to declare or acknowledge one’s faith. Confession also carries with it the agreement & acknowledgment of my sin before the Lord. I’m learning that becoming aware of my sin is critical to the Lord helping me to overcome my struggle with sin.

I have known the Lord for a long time, but that doesn’t make me superior to the person who just met Him. I believe that my journey with the Lord is a day by day walk. I have choices every day that should I choose them, could absolutely destroy the integrity of my walk with God. I believe that the Lord would forgive me, but I see it as “crucifying Him all over again”. I want my life and my choices to be pleasing to Him. I want my confidence to be place squarely upon His shoulders. I am thankful that Jesus came and became the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin. This changed mankind’s relationship with God once and for all. Check this out…

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus— 20 he has inaugurated for us a new and living way through the curtain (that is, through his flesh)— 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. 23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, since he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25 CSB)

I shouldn’t be arrogant about what God has done for me, because He will save anyone who will comes before Him with a humble heart seeking forgiveness. His grace is enough for the whole world. He loves His Creation – His kids. He wants everyone to be saved, but He will not force His will upon my heart or upon anyone else. I could make people tell me they love me by threatening their life, but that wouldn’t be love at all. I’m thankful to be loved because I’ve learned to love. God loved me first and His love has compelled my heart to surrender to His love. I now love Him and I daily surrender my will and my way to His Will & His Way. I am confident that He is in control of my life and I’m not. I want to walk with Him every day without worry or stress, because He is the Lord of my life and all the circumstances surrounding my life. I’m in charge of being obedient and trusting Him while walking out my faith with complete confidence in Him. I also want to encourage others to live out their faith in daily surrender to Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Follwership/Leadership

Follow Lead Buttons Show Leading The Way Or FollowingYesterday was a special day for me and my journey with the Lord.  I started serving as a young pastor in 1982 at a small church in Crab Orchard, Tennessee while a student at Johnson University. I served there a little over a year before accepting a position as youth minister in Maryville Tennessee. I spent the next 20 years as a staff member in ministry the bulk of my time in Carroll County, GA. I have been privileged to serve at Southern Hills for the past 10 years in different capacities. Yesterday I was ordained to serve as an Elder at Southern Hills. I believe church leadership to be a calling from the Lord. I feel like I’m serving the Lord in this capacity, because it’s HIS church. Just this morning (timing) I read a passage in 1 Timothy that speaks to this position. Check this out…

1This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not an excessive drinker, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy. He must manage his own household competently and have his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) (1 Timothy 3:1-5 CSB)

When the Lord is leading me, I feel confident and competent to lead others. I have multiple degrees and diplomas from “University of Hard Knocks”. I have lots of experience with failure and bad decisions. I’ve learned things that simply don’t work. Some of what I’ve learned is from observing others. Leading in any area of life or work is also about following. There is much to be learned from the people who came before us and the person or persons we are ultimately answering too. I am standing on the shoulders of some amazing men and women of faith who poured into me as a youngster, even as a grown man. I’m humbled and thankful as I reflect on my journey with the Lord at this point. I will continue to be a follower of the Lord who leads. I think the sequence is important.  I want to live my life with a heart abandoned to the King of my heart. I want to seek Him above wealth, fame or any other “success measurement tool” we can use.  To God be honor and glory in me and through me for all my days.

Heart Abandoned by Kristian Stanfill

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Leadership Prayers

 

Praying ManSomeone once said that if there are tests in our schools, there will be prayer in our schools. Prayer, in my opinion is way more powerful in private, but can be an effective communication tool in public. I have always felt that the most effective public prayer warrior is one who privately prays regularly and often.

I believe that prayer is a powerful tool that the Lord has given us. Prayer calls upon the Lord to come help, come heal, come direct my journey. Sometimes I’m not sure what the next step in my journey looks like, the Lord can speak to that. At other times, I feel helpless to know what to say or do – the Lord can direct my words and my activities. Paul challenges Timothy regarding prayer – we should lift our leaders in prayer constantly. Check this out…

1 First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-3 CSB)

I must confess that there are some elected officials that I didn’t vote for, but they were chosen as our leaders. I can pray for them, even if I disagree with some of their policy decisions or core beliefs. I figured out a long time ago that I simply don’t know everything, nor does anyone else. I need to give those in leadership some room to navigate through the challenges and decisions before them. Now this doesn’t mean that I should stand by and watch them make bad decisions without me speaking up or speaking into a decision that’s before them. If I’m praying for them, it becomes harder for me to attack them on a personal basis. I can disagree with passion, but I should still show respect to those in leadership over me. (This is often easier said than done.) When leaders act immature or they misbehave, it is hard to respect them and the position they hold.

I will continue to pray for the leadership of our nation, state & local government. I will pray for wisdom and discernment to saturate their thinking. I will encourage them and be available to help them anyway I can. The Lord calls me to serve like this. There are benefits for me as well – “to lead a tranquil & quiets life in all godliness and dignity”.

Pressing On!

Dwayne