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

Blessed

 

Count Your BlessingsThere are so many times that I reflect on this word and how I’m showered with blessing. I have so much to be thankful for. Many of the people and things I’m thankful for are straight-up a blessing from the Lord. I am blessed beyond what I deserve. I keep asking the Lord to cultivate a grateful heart in me. I don’t want to miss the blessings He is showering on me.  Even during struggle, suffering and pain – I want to see Him at work in my life.  David pens blessing quite well. Check this out….

1 Blessed is the one

    whose transgressions are forgiven,

    whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the one

    whose sin the Lord does not count against them

    and in whose spirit is no deceit.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you

    and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, ‘I will confess

    my transgressions to the Lord.’

And you forgave

    the guilt of my sin.

7 You are my hiding-place;

    you will protect me from trouble

    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

10 Many are the woes of the wicked,

    but the Lord’s unfailing love

    surrounds the one who trusts in him.

11 Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;

    sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalm 32:1-2, 5, 7, 10-11 NIV)

I am so not perfect. I need the forgiveness and grace of God daily. I’m so thankful for His patience and His grace which go hand in hand. He is so patient with me when I stumble. He gives me grace when I deserve punishment. I am so blessed to know the Lord and to call Him my Friend. He loves like no one else. He protects like now one else. He provides like no one else. His blessings are beyond measuring. I’m a fool when I disregard His direction and His leading upon my heart. I want to hide in Him to keep me from temptation. I want my heart to be upright before Him. I am blessed beyond the ability of my words to express.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Power With Gentle Presence

VisionI’ve seen some powerful events happen that I can begin to understand or explain. I can’t understand the power of a tornado, tsunami, hurricane or even a thunderstorm. I know that these are considered and “act of God”, but the power in these events is profound.

As I kid I remember thinking that my Dad and my Pappy were the strongest men in the world. Their hands were as tough as leather and their strength to lift things and move things was crazy. As I grew older, I realized that their strength was remarkable, but not unlimited.

As I read in the book of Job this morning, I was reminded of the awesome POWER of God. His power can’t be measured or managed. He alone controls His power. Check this out…

5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;

    he does great things beyond our understanding.

6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’

    and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’

7 So that everyone he has made may know his work,

    he stops all people from their labor.

14 “Listen to this, Job;

    stop and consider God’s wonders. (Job 37:5-7,14 NIV)

As I’m reminded of the amazing power of God, I was also reminded of His gentle presence in my life each day. He may have the power to destroy the earth, but His love directs His Power into incredible grace and mercy. The Lord has incredible restraint and poise. I stand in awe of His strong and gentle presence. He consoles me in my brokenness and He protects and defends me when I’m under attack.

When I actually stop and think of the all the good things the Lord has done for me and is doing now – I am humbled and speechless. I am so grateful for the blessing of God upon my life. I can’t begin to count all of the ways He’s blessed me, but the exercise of counting my blessings radically alters my perspective of His Presence and Power inside my heart.

I’m so thankful for His Gentle Presence in my heart today.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Thankful For Grace

Gratitude Word CloudAs I wake up later on this day of thanksgiving here in the US, I’m reminded of the many blessings upon my life. I have a thankful heart. Sometime several months ago, I felt pressed by the Lord to ask Him for a thankful heart. I have been praying for a thankful heart every day. I woke up this morning and my heart is full with thankfulness – not just because it’s thanksgiving. I have so much to be thankful for.

Job was about finished talking. He was still struggling with the loss of his family, his possessions and his health. He was still not cursing God. He actually started reflecting on his journey with the Lord and his thankful heart began coming out. He became vulnerable and humble before the Lord. Check this out…

1 ‘I made a covenant with my eyes

    not to look lustfully at a young woman.

2 For what is our lot from God above,

    our heritage from the Almighty on high?

3 Is it not ruin for the wicked,

    disaster for those who do wrong?

4 Does he not see my ways

    and count my every step?

5 ‘If I have walked with falsehood

    or my foot has hurried after deceit –

6 let God weigh me in honest scales

    and he will know that I am blameless –

7 if my steps have turned from the path,

    if my heart has been led by my eyes,

    or if my hands have been defiled,

8 then may others eat what I have sown,

    and may my crops be uprooted. (Job 31:1-8 NIV)

I don’t deserve the blessings I have. I have sinned and stumbled many times, yet the Lord restores my soul. His grace is amazing and relentless. He loves me too much to leave me where He found me. He always helps me up when I stumble. I’m so thankful for His grace. I’m so thankful for His patience with me. I deserve punishment even to death, but instead He gives me a life beyond my wildest dreams. As I enjoy a day of Thanksgiving with my family today – I’m still stunned by the depth of His Grace and His Mercy. #thankfulbeyondwords

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Family Traditions

 

Feet familyThere have been some many family traditions over the years that I probably can’t count. I remember special days and holidays and how we celebrated as a family. When I began a family of my own, we started some family traditions. We had special meals on certain days of the week. We celebrated birthdays together. The holidays started getting special with my children through our special traditions on Christmas. It also is a bit sad that since my grandparents have died, some family traditions passed with them. Traditions contribute to rich memories of my past for sure.

The Jews in captivity to Persia really “dodged a bullet” by this guy Haman. He had the king’s ear and was given great authority. Because Mordecai had frustrated him by not bowing down and showing him the respect he thought he deserved, he decided to wipe out all the Jews in Persia and it’s provinces. Once his plot was exposed, the tables were turned. Haman was punished by death. The king issued the decree that the Jews could defend themselves. The other people in the province also joined in helping the Jews defend themselves. They were successful in wiping out many of the participants in Haman’s plot. They decided that because of what they had been through, they should remember this for generations to come. Check this out…

20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration. He wrote them to observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor. (Esther 9:20-22 NIV)

Some of our most keen memories are connected to suffering, struggle and fear. I remember vividly the funeral of my grandparents, as well as some of the tragedies and struggles of our nation. Some of the personal struggles of my life, I certainly don’t want to celebrate, however the victory over these struggles is certainly worth celebrating each year. I remember vividly the day I married my sweet wife and my life felt whole again. I remember when my kid was declared cancer-free! I think tradition and celebration that comes from victories are fun to celebrate. I’ve also have traditions of hurt and hardship that are etched in my memories. I do like to visit the burial site of those who’ve gone before me to once again honor their lives. I don’t do this often, because it hurts my heart a bit – but it’s healthy.

I am learning to celebrate daily the Lord’s blessing upon my life. I want gratitude to be a daily tradition or custom component of my life. I love the tender moments when the Lord speaks to my heart from His Word. I want to keep a tradition of reading His Word and spending time with Him. I want to trust Him without worry because He is so faithful.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Sin Cycle

Business Arrows Cycle Chart DiagramI’m pretty sure someone in the 70’s was on something when they created some of the “clothing styles” that we wore back then. I really didn’t think I would see “bell bottoms” again, but they showed back up a few years ago. There are many things in our culture that are cyclical and Fashion is definitely one of them. There are also times when I enter “uncharted territory” and it’s way different than before. I have a detector in my heart that should go off when I get into a new place and face things that I’ve never faced before. The Lord will go with me. The Lord will go before me. The Lord will protect me. The Lord will lead me. It is imperative that I not get in front of Him.

Nehemiah writes an incredible snapshot of the history of God’s people and their sin cycle. They are faithful, then they are not; they cry out to God for help and He forgives. That cycle repeats itself several times. The hero in the story is God because of His compassion and limitless grace. Check this out…

28 ‘But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time. (Nehemiah 9:28 NIV)

I think this short verse reveals the Lord’s part in this cycle. He is so compassionate and patient. He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. I have been a recipient of His compassion on many occasions.

I have ignored Him, but He never ignores me.

I have hurt Him, but He never hurts me.

I have been a part of a vicious sin cycle and He completely forgives.

I don’t fully understand or comprehend His amazing love for me, I’m profoundly thankful for it. I would be nothing today without Him. His great compassion and love rescued me from my self and my self-centered sin. I’m at a loss for words to thank Him enough. This passage of scripture (the whole chapter) reminded me of my sin cycle after seeing the Israelite sin cycle.

I’m forgiven.

I’m thankful.

I feel His Presence inside my heart.

He and I together are breaking this stupid sin cycle.

Pressing On!

Dwayne