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

Grace Rules

 

jesus graceI grew up living according to the rules of my parents. They learned to live through the rules of their parents and so it goes. The rules of the household are meant to shape the children into well-mannered, respectable adults. There is a place for boundaries and rules in our society as well. Freedom without responsibility isn’t freedom at all – it’s chaos.

The Apostle Paul was addressing the church in Galatia and the issue of Law & Grace came up. He was a preacher of grace and filled with grace to the non-Jewish people. He explained that while Jesus was a Jew, He came to save everyone. We could never follow Jewish customs and practices to be saved. Jesus delivered grace that took away the power of the law. The law never could save. The Law could affect my behavior, but it didn’t change my heart. Grace does both. Grace changes my heart which then affects how I live and love. Check this out…

19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2:19-21 CSB)

I used to say that different denominations had different parts of the gospel that they preached and taught with diligence while ignoring some of the other important components. For example, I used to think that the Christian Church majored on baptism and ignored grace. I thought that the Baptist church preached grace and ignored baptism. I felt like the Pentecostal church had the Holy Spirit while ignoring grace and baptism. The gospel is a complete package. It is the life-changing purpose of Jesus coming to earth. He lived and died that we might live a life surrendered to the Lord and experience eternal life with God.

I do follow some rules today because I love the Lord NOT so I can be loved by Him. He loved me first and He changed my perspective on life. Over the past few years I have realized my profound need of grace. The more I study grace, the more ridiculous it is. The Lord forgives me profoundly and removes my past and sets me up for a beautiful future. He’s done this for me too many times to count. He is not a “one and done” Savior. I have needed His Grace too many times to count and He’s NEVER withheld it once.

God is not about the law as much as He is about GRACE. I will say that Grace has changed my perspective about the law. I live differently because of Grace. I live differently not out of fear, but out of confidence and hope. Grace now rules my life.  I’m so thankful that I discovered this crazy love from God called Grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgiven – Again

Beauty girl cryI’ve lost count how many times I’ve asked forgiveness for my sin. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve asked for some specific, reoccurring sin. I’m embarrassed to talk about my failures, which are many, before the Lord. I’m so thankful that He forgives & forgets. I’m so thankful that He forgives completely.

I was reminded last week that I didn’t deserve being forgiven the first time, let alone the many times after the first. The Lord has unbelievable patience with me as I try to figure this “walk in righteousness” thing out.

Paul gets really direct to the church at Corinth as they evidently needed to deal with some sin as a church and then he gets direct with personal sin. Check this out…

Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males,10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. 11 And some of you used to be like this. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 CSB)

I’ve always read the “big sins” when I read this passage. I have missed the “greedy people” and the “verbally abusive people”. The Lord wants the entire population of this earth to know Him. He wants to save everyone, but He won’t. He’s extended His grace so many times over. He brought salvation to us – He didn’t just get us to measure up. He asked us to surrender to His way, His designed life for us.  It is pride that keeps me from Him. It’s pride that keeps me from surrender. If I could grasp just a little bit of His amazing love – I would find surrender a great option. He has way better plans for my future than I can even imagine.

I’m so thankful for the forgiveness of the Lord through His Son Jesus.

Forgiven

By Crowder

I’m the one who held the nail
It was cold between my fingertips
I’ve hidden in the garden
I’ve denied You with my very lips

God, I fall down to my knees
with a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven! Forgiven!
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven!

I’ve done things I wish I hadn’t done
I’ve seen things I wish I hadn’t seen
Just the thought of Your amazing grace
And I cry ”Jesus, forgive me!”

God, I fall down to my knees
with a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven! Forgiven!
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven!

I could’ve been six feet under
I could’ve been lost forever
Yeah I should be in that fire
But now there’s fire inside of me
Here I am a dead man walking
No grave gonna hold God’s people
All the weight of all our evil
Lifted away forever free
Who could believe, who could believe?

Forgiven! Forgiven!
You love me even when I don’t deserve it
Forgiven! I’m Forgiven!
Jesus Your blood makes me innocent
So I will say goodbye to every sin
I am forgiven!

Forgiven! Forgiven!
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven!

#forgiven #sothankful

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Worship

God's mercy at the CrossI believe that worship is all around me. People worship fame. People worship fortune. People worship success. People worship other gods besides the Lord God. I also believe that this grieves His heart. He has made a way for us to get to him, yet we ignore his overtures and His pursuit of our hearts. “Worship is the activity of the human soul.” (Louie Giglio) I believe that everyone worships someone or something. I believe if you spent the day with me, you could figure out if I really worship God or not.

I believe worship is defined more by my walk than my words. I can talk a lot – “talk is cheap”, but to live out what I believe looks like worship.  Worship is much more than a song or Psalm, it is deep desire of my soul that is hidden from view of everyone but the Lord. Check this out…

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;

let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care. (Psalm 95:1-7a NIV)

Our worship of self gets us into a big huge mess. Our worship of self leads us far away from the God Who made us. The Lord loves it when I put Him first. My Pastor said last week, “we worship our way into sin and we worship our way out of sin”.  We worship self which leads into sin and we worship the King of Kings to get out of sin. I believe if I come before the Lord with a grateful heart that He draws me close to Himself. This position doesn’t keep me from sin, but it certainly keeps me further away than normal. I want to worship the Lord God, Creator of the world and the One Who saved my soul. I want to keep everything else and everyone else in their proper place and that include myself.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Here I Am To Worship by Tim Hughes

Simply Thankful

Gratitude Word CloudI grew up as a kid pausing to give thanks prior to every meal. It was a ritual that my parents taught us at a very early age. It was a simple short gesture of thankful hearts. As I’ve gotten older and a lot of life has been lived, I find myself thanking the Lord a lot more often than just at meal time.

I heard a great quote recently that said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” (By Marcus Tullius Cicero) I first heard this quote on a podcast called The Brian Buffini show. It has really stirred my heart. When I start to count my blessing from the Lord, it humbles me.

Asaph penned several of the Psalms. He started Psalm 75 out with gratitude. Check this out…

We praise you, God,
    we praise you, for your Name is near;
    people tell of your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 75:1 NIV)

Almost a year ago, my youngest son fell 45 feet from a tree he had been climbing just for fun. He was at a friend’s house hanging out. He was airlifted to Atlanta Medical because they couldn’t keep him conscious and they had no idea what all was going on inside his body. He walked out of the hospital on his own less than 24 hours later. He had lost some teeth, had a busted lip and hurt his back but he was alive and he wasn’t paralyzed. After getting back into town, we dropped of his prescriptions at the pharmacy. We had some time to kill while waiting for the prescriptions, so we went to find the tree. It was a sobering moment to look up at the place where he fell from and see where he landed. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. My heart was full of gratitude and I was changed that day. I’m not sure how some kids get a second chance while others don’t. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m learning to trust even more deeply the One Who had all the answers.

I want to have a grateful heart today and every day for all the Lord has done and is doing for me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne