Gospel – Story of God

 

Grace AND TruthI remember hearing about Jesus when I was a very young kid. As I grew, my parents lived out their faith in God. I went to church every Sunday (we had morning and evening services). We also had Wednesday night Bible Study. I also observed my Grandmother (Mammie) read her Bible every day. She was faithful in seeking the Lord.
I remember hearing a lot of rules – some do’s and don’ts from the church teaching. My parents echoed the teaching and it helped keep me scared of going to hell, so I complied. I see things a bit different now that I’ve been studying the Word on my own and listening to what the Lord must say to me. Paul met Jesus face to face authenticating His preaching. Check this out…

11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel preached by me is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12 CSB)

I didn’t hear a lot about Grace being part of the gospel when I was growing up. As I study the Word today – it’s not only part of the gospel – it’s the essence of the gospel. I’m reminded by grace that I could never do enough to be worth saving. I could never go to church enough. The Lord is about a personal journey rather than a church journey. I’m not sure just how strong someone is who never fellowships with others are sits under the teaching of the Word. I remember hearing the late Keith Green say that, “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a hamburger.”

The Gospel is Jesus Christ living in me and through me to show others His Amazing Love and Grace. There is nothing I could do to save myself. He is Mighty to Save and the ONLY One Who can save me.  The Gospel has Power.

I’m simply going to live the rest of my life letting Christ be in charge. I’ve surrendered my life to His Will and His Way. With that surrender comes incredible FREEDOM to live for Him. I “get” to go to church – I don’t “have” to go. I enjoy the fellowship of other Christ followers who are simply trying to live for Him.  In a nutshell: The Gospel is GRACE & TRUTH!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

One-Sided Relationships

quarreled couple in their living roomI remember as a kid sending a note to this cute girl asking her if she would “go with me”. I also knew how to get other friends to “set me up” with the girl I was interested in. I’m not sure we went anywhere. I remember some childhood girlfriends and I’m sure I got hurt in that process as well as I inflicted hurt on others.  I believe that divorce is the result of a one-sided relationship. For a relationship to go sideways, it only takes one participate to start being selfish or self-absorbed.

Relationships are delicate and sometimes difficult. If a relationship is one-sided, someone is a doormat and getting used. Relationships are God’s idea and He built us for relationship. The Lord created us for relationship with Him and with others. He longs for fellowship with us – His kids. He also created us for fellowship with one another. Paul is trying to restore his relationship with the Corinthian church. Even relationship with our pastor and teachers need to be reciprocal to be healthy. Check this out…

 11 We have spoken openly to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 I speak as to my children; as a proper response, open your heart to us. (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 CSB)

As my kids were growing up, we had lots of discussions about relationships. I talked to my sons about how to treat a young lady. I want there to be respect and honor “built-in” to those relationships. I believe that trust and respect are foundational to building a life-long relationship in any arena. If I can’t trust you, we will only be “casual friends”.  Some of my deepest relationships over the years have been with friends that also believe in God and want to walk with Him.  Relationships begin with something in common and builds from there. My faith is a huge part of my life and I have an immediate connection with others who are Christ followers too.

One-sided relationships are painful and expensive. They cost more than money. Their expenses are too numerous to mention, but I’ve almost lost myself in broken relationships. I also believe that there are ALWAYS two-sides to the story of a broken relationship. I’ve learned to enter new relationships with a lot of grace and truth. I am willing to work on building a relationship, but I’m not willing to do all the work.  My relationship with God don’t “require” a lot of work, because He did all the “heavy lifting”. If my relationship with God is going to work, I must invest myself into it. Someone spelled love TIME. I spend time investing in the relationships I love. It can be said that I love what I invest my time in.

I am a “people person”, but with loving deeply, I can be hurt deeply. I try to show patience and understanding. I have decided that I will only invest “lightly” in one-sided relationships. I will continue to love others, but I will pull back on my time-investment if things are simply one-sided. The Lord has been so patient with me over the years – He has my heart now, but I was reluctant at first. The more I know of Him, the more love and respect I have for Him. My relationship with the Lord is a more balanced than it ever has been and I think that’s how He meant for all healthy relationships to be.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Love More!

 

White Box with the Word Love on the Sides Isolated on a White Background.My wife and I have a little contest to see who can love the other more. It is not just about words, but actions for sure. It’s a fun competition where we both win! I have also always wanted my kids to know that I love them deeply. I am never afraid to say, “I love you” to them. I can never hug them enough or provide for them enough. It is hard when they start becoming adults and they need to figure some of life’s lessons out. I simply can’t be the solution to their every struggle as they become grown-ups. I still can’t just stop loving and wanting to do for them.

Love is probably the most profound topic of our lives. Love is gentle. Love is tough. Love is warm. The Apostle Paul penned a beautiful passage that is used in weddings but really needs to be used in our everyday life. Check this out…

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant,is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CSB)

Love is the essence of the Character of God. He epitomizes love every day. He loved first. He loves the best. He is relentless in His pursuit of loving His people and having them love Him in return. His love made a way for us to have eternal life with Him.

I was listening to this song by Needtobreathe called: Let Us Love. Here’s the chorus.

Let us love
Like we were children
Make us feel
Like we’re still living
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground
Give us time
To beat the system
Make us find
What we’ve been missing
In a world I know that’s burning to the ground

I can be the best husband….

I can be the best Dad….

I can be the best friend….

I can be the best REALTOR….

I can be the best boss…

I can be the best singer….

I can be the best prayer warrior….

I can be the best at EVERYTHING – but without love I am a failure.

I want love deeply the ones closest to me for sure, but I also want to love others and care deeply for them. I want the love that God has shown me to be shown in every facet of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Truth or Lie

 

Lies Have Speed Truth Has Endurance SpeedometerI have always had a tough time with people who blatantly lie. Truth is a fundamental fabric to character. Lies and deceit are direct assaults upon this fundamental fabric. People who lie are impossible to trust because they don’t have a standard that they cling to or depend upon. They will move people and situations to improve their life at the expense of whoever or whatever is in their way. It is my goal to build relationships upon truth. I don’t want to mislead or mistreat anyone. I also can’t be “best friends” with everyone I meet, but I can treat them with respect and honor as a child of God – human being. This is not to say that there aren’t consequences for lying. There are people in prison mainly because they lied. There are people who have been fired from very good and gainful employment because they lied. I’m thankful that the Lord continues to build into me. I have lied in the past and I’ve been forgiven. Lies cause me stress and inner struggle. I have confessed when I’ve lied and I’ve asked for forgiveness. I don’t lie frequently. The older I get the more futile I realize lying or deceit can be. Truth makes it way out of lies and deceit. Check this out…

I call on the Lord in my distress,
    and he answers me.
Save me, Lord,
    from lying lips
    and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:1-2 NIV)

I am a man of truth. I have seen the counterfeit nature of a lie and I despise lying. Sometimes it’s hard to speak truth, but it’s better to be honest every single time than to lie. I do believe that the truth needs to be accompanied by grace and love. If the truth is all by itself, it can be excruciatingly painful. It doesn’t have to always be harsh or hateful. Truth needs to be soaked and dripping in love where applicable. Sometimes, truth is abstract and simple. Sometimes, truth involves relationships that are life-long and really challenging.  I would rather have someone tell me the truth 100% of the time than to lie at any level. I’m a grown up and I can handle the truth as hard as it may seem. If I’m given a lie, I will work with it like it’s true until proven otherwise. I so wish that there was a “truth serum” that we could all drink with our breakfast that would cause us to speak truth. I thought about the movie starring Jim Carrey called “Liar Liar” that was released in 1997.

I want to continue to walk in truth. I want to continually speak the truth. I want the words of my mouth to always be honest, honorable and truthful. I don’t want to mislead, mistreat or misuse the truth in any way.  I want my word to mean something every day. I want the Lord’s help in guarding my tongue and my choices today.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Music Messages

 

169 Vk0gMDA1XzIwMTIgLSAwMTAuanBnI believe you can say things with music that are nearly impossible to say any other way. Music captures emotion, energy, deep thoughts and somehow communicates these in a song accompanied by music. I’ve written some pretty funny songs when I look back on them. There are some songs that are classic and stand the test of time. I used to think that every country song ever written was about someone who cheated on their spouse and their dog died and the truck was a must have some mention in the song for it to be successful. I’ve now learned that often country songs tell a life story.

Praise and worship music has replaced some of the Hymns of old. These worship songs cry out to God acknowledging Who He is and all that He is doing. I must confess that I like doing “remakes” of old hymns. I really love using music of scripture to praise the Lord in a personal way even though there’s a bunch of people there. Check this out….

It is good to praise the Lord
    and make music to your name, O Most High,
proclaiming your love in the morning
    and your faithfulness at night,
to the music of the ten-stringed lyre
    and the melody of the harp.

For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord;
    I sing for joy at what your hands have done.
How great are your works, Lord,
    how profound your thoughts! (Psalm 92:1-5 NIV)

I want the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to be pleasing to God. I want to speak words that He’s speaking into me. I want to be kind hearted but firm if needed. I want to be gentle, but strong. So much of my journey with the Lord got it’s fuel from worship music. I’m thankful to have been introduced to music. I’m thankful to the gentlemen who showed great patience as he taught me to play.  The song on my heart when I woke up this morning was by Phil Wickham. “Your Love Awakens Me”

There were walls between us
And by the cross you came
And broke them down You broke them down
And there were chains around us
And by Your grace we are
No longer bound  No longer bound
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens Awakens me
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens Awakens me

Feel the darkness shaking
All the dead are coming
Back to life back to life
Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We’re alive Cause You’re alive
You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens  Awakens me
Your love is greater Your love is stronger
Your love awakens Awakens  Awakens me

And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive Cause you’re alive

____________________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Live Steady

 

Man praying with the BibleSometimes life can be so unstable and unsteady. It seems that things come at me faster than I can respond to them. There are times I make decisions based on the information that I have at the time, later to regret them. Over the years as I walk out my faith, I’ve been learning to lean on the Lord for wisdom, discernment and guidance especially when the road ahead is unpredictable and unsteady.

David pens a beautiful Psalm about being steady – at least that is how it spoke to me. Check this out…

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

    Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose way of life is blameless,

    who does what is righteous,

    who speaks the truth from their heart;

3 whose tongue utters no slander,

    who does no wrong to a neighbor,

    and casts no slur on others;

4 who despises a vile person

    but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

    and does not change their mind;

5 who lends money to the poor without interest;

    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

    will never be shaken. (Psalm 15:1-5 NIV)

A steady life has many components. I’ve always heard that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. There are real ingredients to a steady life with God and the most basic is surrender. I learned a long time ago (and I’m still learning) to surrender my ideas, my thoughts and my actions to Him. He can direct my path and steady my steps. He even lights my path when it seems so dark.

I don’t believe a steady life happens by accident. I also don’t think a steady life is complicated or “rocket science” – it is simply faithful obedience to the Lord. He celebrates the victories of this life and He walks with me through the defeats and tragedies. The only way I can have a steady life is by holding the hand of the One Who is ALWAYS steady, faithful and strong.

Pressing On!

Dwayne