Debate

 

Mother scolding her sonI think “debate” is another form of argument. I don’t remember winning any “debates” with my parents when I was growing up. I knew that “yes” meant Yes and “no” meant No! I do remember thinking I knew way more than my parents from a fairly young age. I remember getting my Grandpa (aka Pappy) a card once that said: “The older I get the smarter you get” (paraphrased I’m sure). My Pappy loved the card and beamed. He knew that I was finally getting wise to some insights that I needed to become an adult.

I came across a passage this morning that made me chuckle a bit, because of the truth taught in the passage. Check this out…

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)

I must confess that this made me smile to think about an inanimate object arguing back about how I make the handle on the cup that I’m molding out of clay. I also chuckled as I thought about a child calling out their parents about why they were made this way or that way. I must confess that on more than one occasion, I’ve instructed God on what I thought He should do. I’ve learned that if I come to Him in humility and respect that He actually cares what I think and how I feel. I can’t always understand His decisions or His way of doing things, but at the end of the day, I trust Him. I’ve always wanted and tried to do what is best for my children, but they sometimes couldn’t see it that way.

I’ve walked with the Lord through enough suffering and struggle to know that He never leaves me alone – He is ALWAYS near. He gives me strength needed to push through the struggle and suffering so that He is honored. I must look at my suffering and struggle through His perspective and not my own. He may be building something into my life that is needed in the years to come. He sees the whole picture and I just see one little snippet of the big picture.

I’ve stopped debating the Lord about anything. I do still share with Him my opinions and feelings on a diverse set of topics. I also do so with respect and reverence. I’ve learned that He is a Great Listener. Sometimes in my conversations with Him, the light bulb comes on and I get it. My conversations with Him are more for me than for Him – He grows me through my questions and conversations with Him. At the end of everything, I trust Him. Even when I don’t understand, I trust Him. I trust the Heart of God in everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

A Troubling Thought

Praying ManI’ve been to some tough places in my life.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be lost.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel hopeless.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel helpless.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to feel empty inside.

I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be “beat down by others”.

 

I remember when I surrendered my life to the Lord.

I remember the hope I felt the first time I trusted Him.

I remember my baptism.

I remember lots of markers along my journey with the Lord.

I remember lots of times of repentance for stupid choices.

I remember lots of grace.

I remember lots of mercy.

What I don’t understand is how others can so easily dismiss a loving God who longs for relationship with His creation. I don’t understand how others can look at this world and think it happened by accident or with a big explosion and suddenly order appeared.

I read a troubling passage in Revelation where John, the writer/Apostle saw a scene of destruction and rebellion. Check this out…

In those days people will seek death and will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

20 The rest of the people, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands to stop worshiping demons and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see, hear, or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders, their sorceries, their sexual immorality, or their thefts. (Revelation 9:6, 20-21 CSB)

I don’t always understand the hand of God – but I trust His heart.

I can’t always understand why God does or doesn’t intervene – but I trust He knows what is best.

I don’t ever want to forget what it was like to be lost. I’m so thankful that the Lord was patient with me as I meandered through life ignoring Him, until the day I stopped and took a long, hard look at Him. It’s been a journey, with lots of stumbling’s and mistakes – but I don’t ever want to let go of His hand – no matter what life sends my way.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Neglect

 

Listen Vs. Ignore - Toggle SwitchThis is not a positive word or trait. Neglect is something we fail to do. Most of the time we neglect things that don’t matter much to us. I’ve learned that if I neglect the “check engine light” on my vehicles, there could be something serious happen. Neglect usually leads to an unnecessary expense either in managing material possessions or relationships as well.

If I neglect my family, they suffer and I suffer. If I neglect my work, I suffer and the people I’m working for suffer. If I neglect my relationship with the Lord, I suffer and His heart hurts too. I see neglect has something that can enter my life very slowly and with subtleness. The write of Hebrews reminds us to pay attention. Check this out…

1 For this reason, we must pay attention all the more to what we have heard, so that we will not drift away. For if the message spoken through angels was legally binding and every transgression and disobedience received a just punishment,how will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation had its beginning when it was spoken of by the Lord, and it was confirmed to us by those who heard him. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to his will. (Hebrews 2:1-4 CSB)

Paying attention means I must give my attention to the important things in my life. I’ve noticed that there are urgent things that sometimes distract my attention from the important. This is a crucial conversation that I need to have with myself. I must bring order and structure to my private world in order to pay close attention to the things in my life that matter most. In the past I’ve caught myself paying too close attention to the things that I can replace while ignoring the things that I can’t replace. My family is worthy of my attention because they are the most valuable relationships in my life. My church family helps me grow and know the Lord – they are very valuable to me. My colleagues at work, along with my clients and customers are very important to my life and work.

I must pay close attention to the order of my life and the internal structure. I simply can’t ignore or neglect my faith and expect it to grow. I must keep seeking the Lord’s heart through His Word. I must keep reading and growing my heart to serve others. I must keep investing time into my family, not neglecting to love and serve them. I must pay attention to the needs and dreams of my clients and customers to help them get the things that they want.

This word neglect reminded me that I can’t get complacent and lazy. I must be alert and attentive to the priorities in my life as well as the needs of others. I have been blessed with salvation and hope of eternal life and I take that very seriously. Paying attention to the Lord deepens my resolve to serve Him and serve others.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Comprehensive

understandThis word has always intrigued me. I have not always considered myself to be super intuitive and smart. I do try to understand the multi-facets of issues and problems. I also try to “get my head around” the scope of issues that I or friends of mine are facing. That is really the essence of this word comprehensive – having a total grasp or understanding of certain subject matter.

I am still trying to learn and understand more of Who God is and what He’s doing in my life and the lives of others. Paul’s pray for comprehension and understanding really blessed me this morning. Check this out…

16 I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, 19 and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21 CSB)

I needed that prayer as I seek God’s heart.

I don’t understand everything God does.

I don’t understand everything God says.

I’m learning to trust Him more even when I don’t understand.

I want to comprehend and understand the height, depth, length and width of His love for me.

I’m joining Paul in his prayer. I want to know more about God’s heart and His love for me. I want His love to dwell in my heart consistently. I want to be deeply rooted and firmly established in love.

What I do know is that God loves me and I want to live for Him the rest of my days. I want to grow in my comprehension of His love and grace.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Strained & Struggling

 

Businessman sinking in heap of documentsYesterday I was connecting with a new friend and I was telling the story of my son’s battle with cancer that is now almost 5 years old. There are many stories of my life that are easily remembered. I think the ones that featured deep suffering and struggle are at the front of the line. As I was sharing the story, I realized how intense the emotions still are as I recalled the strain and the struggle of that journey. I’m convinced that strain and struggle come along every now and then as part of our life story. There are almost never welcome and I’m glad when they leave. I hate to admit that I’m stronger and wiser after their visit. I still would rather avoid them if possible.

Job really struggled and strained under the suffering that God allowed him to go through at the hands of the enemy. His struggle was intense. His loss was real. He was hanging on by a thread. His friends lectured him and accused him of sin. He was a good man to whom bad things had happened. He didn’t curse God. He did question God about what is happening to him. Check this out…

6 The realm of the dead is naked before God;

    Destruction lies uncovered.

7 He spreads out the northern skies over empty space;

    he suspends the earth over nothing.

8 He wraps up the waters in his clouds,

    yet the clouds do not burst under their weight.

9 He covers the face of the full moon,

    spreading his clouds over it.

10 He marks out the horizon on the face of the waters

    for a boundary between light and darkness.

14 And these are but the outer fringe of his works;

    how faint the whisper we hear of him!

    Who then can understand the thunder of his power?’ (Job 26:6-10,14 NIV)

I can feel the angst of this spiritually and mentally strong man. His body is weak and worn down from the skin disorder (aka boils) and the pain – yet he stays strong. I am inspired and impressed by Job even as he questions God. I believe that God is ok with the questions. I believe that God is ok with my frustration. The reason I believe God is ok with all of this is He knows my heart like no one else. He wired me with the questions. He wired me with emotions. He built my heart and He has compelled me over the years to keep surrendering my heart to Him. I don’t always get answers to my questions and my emotions eventually settle down – but my heart is hungry for more of Him. I am constantly re-arranging my heart to increase my capacity of God’s Spirit.

I don’t always understand and can’t explain the action or inaction of God – but I trust Him.

I’m not afraid to ask questions or be raw and real with Him – but I respect and revere Him.

In the midst of the strain and struggle – He’s all I really have and He’s all I really need. I love this song sung by Kari Jobe called: Healer.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Trying To Understand

 

understandI have tried to understand complicated positions before – if I don’t understand, I usually try to approach the position again from a different angle. I have tried to understand people who sharply disagree with me and then emotions pile into the situation and it’s gets really hard to understand and sort through the differentiating positions because our emotions often steals the spotlight.

Sometimes in the midst of pain, struggle and suffering, our viewpoint is skewed because we’re blinded by the struggle. We can’t think clearly or see clearly. Job was definitely struggling with perspective. He had seemingly lost all that mattered to him and he was pushing back on God for his losses. Another of his friends rebukes him very strong and firm with some strong truth about God. Check this out…

7 ‘Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?

8 They are higher than the heavens above – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below – what can you know?

9 Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.

13 ‘Yet if you devote your heart to him and stretch out your hands to him,

14 if you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent,

15 then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.

16 You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by.

17 Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning.

18 You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. (Job 11:7-9; 13-18 NIV)

I don’t claim to understand all that God does or all that He is. I have given my life to follow Him. I believe He is Who He says He is in His Word. I trust Him. I don’t always understand why He doesn’t stop some bad things from happening. I don’t understand why babies get sick and die when I know God could change the outcome. I don’t always understand why bad things happen to good people – but I still trust in Him. As I sort through my emotions and my perspective – I realize that it’s difficult to defend this broken and decadent world that I live in. God is not bound by physics or science. He is the Creator of both. His ways are higher than I can wrap my head around, so I will continue to trust Him even when I don’t understand Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne