Good Morning!

Grace AND TruthI am definitely a “morning person”. I enjoy the quiet and solitude of morning. I enjoy the fresh new day in the morning. It’s like I have a blank canvas upon which to paint my day. I don’t know when I became a morning person. I remember when I was in 8th grade, I would help milk the cows by hand each morning. We kept three or four cows on our small farm and milked them by hand each morning and evening. I helped my Dad in the morning before he went to work and I went to school. Yes, we drank fresh cow milk and I’m not a “milk fan” to this day. Several years ago, I felt like the Lord was calling me to spend some time with Him each morning before starting my day. I started setting my alarm a bit earlier so that I could do that. I started reading His Word each morning along with a fresh cup of coffee. Over the years He has spoken such profound truth into my heart. He comforts my soul when I’m worried or stressed. He gives me wisdom and insight beyond what I could ever manage. His Word is alive and active in my life each day and I believe it’s because I begin with Him each morning. Check this out…

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom,
    so that I know how to comfort the weary.
Morning by morning he wakens me
    and opens my understanding to his will.
The Sovereign Lord has spoken to me,
    and I have listened.
    I have not rebelled or turned away. (Isaiah 50:4-5 NLT)

This passage reminded me of another passage in the Lamentations of Jeremiah. Check this out…

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

I continue to grow in my love for the Lord because of my morning time with Him. I continue to find peace and comfort while listening to Him speak. He gives me wisdom and insight into any situation I face. His Spirit is definitely present in the morning as I spend time with Him.

A few years ago, I started opening up Microsoft Word and journaling what The Word was speaking to me in the morning. I then felt like I should share that with others. I’m not sure when I started blogging from my spiritual journey. I’ve been wondering how long the Lord wants me to keep doing this. I have no idea how many people read this. I actually don’t write for any one in particular – I write for me to remember what He is speaking into my heart through His Word. I am not some sort of spiritual guru – I’m just Dwayne, a man who desires to know the heart of God more fully today than yesterday. I love my morning time with Him and if He uses my journey to bless your journey, then I’m thankful. I wish anyone who reads this would trade their time here for time with Him. If you’re not sure where to begin, I love the gospel of John and his perspective on Jesus. I also love the Psalms where real life intersects with our spiritual journey. If you’re reading these words, please consider some morning time with the Lord and His Word. This simple change in my schedule many years ago has changed the entire trajectory of my life. I’m so blessed and thankful.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Direct Connect

 

Miniature engineer team try to connect ethernet cables to portI remember some of the computer technology that was “pre-internet”. I remember having a “floppy disk” that had a program on it that would run locally on my laptop and then it created some sort of code that would transfer over the modem to another computer in Atlanta. I took my first real estate course online in this format. Today, with the internet, it’s more of a direct and “live” connection. I can take the class in real time and connect with an instructor. I think the world has so much more direct access to so many. It seems to me though, that as our world is so connected, there is less direct connection. I have a myriad of ways to communicate, however, it seems there is less connection happening. I think it was Seth Godin that pointed out how we go to dinner with a friend or loved one and spend more time on our phone connecting with our “fake friends” (on social media) rather than connecting with the friend across the table.

Jesus started giving His disciples a heads up that He was about to leave them and go back to the Father. This started a lot of discussion and concern among the disciples. I love how He took the time to further explain what was about to happen. Check this out…

20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.  23 At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. 24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:20,23-24,33 NLT)

Jesus is explaining the “Direct Connect” that I now have with the Father. The disciples grew up in Jewish culture where you went to the priest and he then went to God. Jesus came to earth to open up this “Direct Connect” with the Father. I no longer have to go through a priest to speak to the Lord – I can talk directly to Him. I will often ask others to talk to Him on my behalf as well. I try to talk to God about everything and everyone. I’m certainly growing in my understanding of His Power and His Presence. This “Direct Connect” that I have with the Lord has given me wisdom and depth of understanding that I would have otherwise missed. I believe that the Lord can give me insight through this “Direct Connect” with Him. He knows everything and everyone. This “Direct Connect” has another more common term: PRAYER. Through prayer, I can talk directly to God because Jesus made the way or “built the Connection”! I’m so thankful for prayer through times of struggle, suffering and even times of joy. I’m learning to talk to the Lord in great detail about everything and everyone.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Advocate

LawyerThere are occasions where I’ve needed an advocate. This is someone who speaks for me. My advocate needs to know everything about me so that they can defend me and direct me. An advocate provides a different perspective – they see different solutions for my situation. An advocate can be an attorney, a spokesperson, a friend, a counselor, parent, sibling or co-worker. I am thankful for my earthly advocates. I came across a small passage in the Gospel of John this morning where Jesus is promising an Advocate. Check this out…

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NLT)

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foreign subject to them but they will soon learn first-hand about the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence in them. Jesus is giving them a heads up. He is also trying to comfort them because He’s leaving them to return to the Father.  I believe that they were probably pretty emotional about His leaving them and the Holy Spirit is to be a Presence and an Advocate.  As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how as a Dad, I’m also and advocate for my kids. As a husband, I’m an advocate for my wife. I’m also an advocate for my friends, my clients, customers, agents & employees.

I’m thankful for my Advocate (aka The Holy Spirit), who gives me counsel, direction, comfort, peace by His Presence.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

(Note: As I was writing this yesterday, my youngest son woke up early and came into the living room and sat with me and talked. I realized again what a blessing to be his advocate – so I published this a day late. It was worth it. #advocate)

Attention

 

Woman talking through a megaphone and a man plugging his earsIf I’m in a big room and it’s loud and a bit chaotic and I want to get everyone’s attention, I can yell or whistle and people will often get quiet. It doesn’t do much good to make an announcement to a room full of people who aren’t paying attention.

The trumpet is a pretty loud horn instrument. If I’m anywhere a trumpet that is being played, it’s hard to ignore. It is like the bugle which was used by the US Calvary years ago to signal the troops to charge or retreat.

John is watching and trying to keep all of this written down as to what is happening in this beautiful, unique place he’s in. He is watching as the Lamb opens the seventh seal. Check this out…

1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. Then I saw the seven angels who stand in the presence of God; seven trumpets were given to them. (Revelation 8:1-2 CSB)

I can see something big coming. Trumpets are not quiet. I also enjoy silence sometimes. The contrast between silence and a trumpet is several decibels.

The Lord wants the attention of His people. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention. I’m committed to giving the Lord my attention in the quietness of the morning. I love hearing from Him. He doesn’t always whisper, but I feel like His Spirit speaks to me about my day coming up. He directs my steps and gives me insight to make sound decisions. I don’t want Him to ever need to shout for my attention – although He is capable of that for sure.

Come & Listen – David Crowder

Come and listen, come to the water’s edge, all you who know and fear the Lord.
Come and listen, come to the water’s edge all you who are thirsty, come.

Let me tell you what He has done for me.
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
Come and listen to what He’s done.

Praise our God for He is good.

He has done for me,
He has done for you,
He has done for us.

Come and listen,
Come and listen to what He’s done.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

 

Wisdom Brings Peace

 

Man Sitting On Bench During A Beautiful SunsetI have been known to talk when I should be listening. I have also been known to be quiet when I should have spoken. This can be tricky – knowing when to speak or not to speak. I also try to edit carefully what comes out of my mouth. When I relax a bit among friends, or around my family, I might say too much. There is much to be said about thinking before speaking. It is way too often that my mouth starts speaking before my brain catches up with what I’m saying – this can be disastrous and hurtful. I’m so thankful that the Lord sees my heart. I think the people who know be best also know my heart. I’m not generally a hateful or insensitive person, but I confess that I have been before. When I surrendered my heart to the Lord, I began dismantling some of these harmful habits. Guarding my speech takes wisdom and tremendous restraint. I think as I get older, I’m learning the value of restraint and timing.

The book of James devotes the bulk of chapter 3 to control of the tongue and then he finishes up speaking of wisdom. I believe control of my tongue is directly connected to seeking and cultivating wisdom deep inside my soul. Check this out…

17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace. (James 3:17-18 CSB)

The wisdom that is described here is profoundly simple, deep, thorough, and heaven-sent. I can’t find this wisdom apart from the Lord Himself. He is the Source of Godly Wisdom. There is a wisdom of this world that is self-centered, self-promoting, arrogant and prideful. It is destructive instead of constructive. I want the Lord’s wisdom so that my “radar” can detect worldly wisdom. James says in chapter 1 that the Lord gives wisdom freely. Check this out…

Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 CSB)

This peace-loving, gentle, compliant (reasonable), full of mercies – it is real not fake. I love that the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who are wise enough to cultivate peace. Wisdom speaks with purity and peace. Wisdom is open to inspection and a thorough “vetting process”. The more you drill down into wisdom, the more insightful it becomes.  The Lord has given me incredible insight and wisdom in my marriage relationship, my parenting role, my friendship, my colleagues, my customers, clients and even strangers. God’s wisdom is timeless and beyond description, but He gives it in parcels that I can manage and handle. I believe He disperses it in my journey in His Word, in worship and in prayer – among other ways. I would love to be known as wise and understanding and a cultivator of peace – If I’m known for that, then I’ll know that He broke through this earthly vessel known as Dwayne.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Priesthood Trumped

Jesus man of joyJesusI am not making a “play on words” referencing the last name of our current President. I’m using the word trumped to mean to “excel, surpass or outdo”. As I read the Old Testament and see the priesthood as it pertains to the Hebrew religious people, I’m reminded that priests are people in a position of “spiritual” power or significance. When Jesus came on the scene, many things changed. He challenged the high priests, the leaders of the Hebrew religious structure. His position as the Son of God trumped their position. God’s plan to change the structure and introduce a church became clear but wasn’t readily accepted by the religious leaders. The writer or Hebrews gives a quick history lesson regarding this change. Check this out…

26 For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all time when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, who has been perfected forever. (Hebrews 7:26-28 CSB)

Jesus came to earth and lived like a man. He faced the temptations and struggles of this life, EXCEPT He didn’t sin. Jesus’ presence here on earth really changed everything. The prophets and the priests before Him pointed to Him and all believers since are still pointing to Him. He didn’t just live here for 33 years and disappear. He is still living today in the hearts of those who’ve accepted Him into their hearts. I can’t adequately describe the Power and the Presence that He brought into my life many years ago. I believe Jesus to be the One & only Son of God, Who created everything. He made a way for me to get to God. I can talk directly to God through Jesus, the One Who intercedes on my behalf. Jesus filled the role of priests once and for all. I do agree that will all still need “Jesus with skin on” and so it’s helpful to counsel with a Pastor, Teacher or a follower of Jesus who is stronger in the faith.

I am committed to being a follower of Jesus the rest of my life here on earth. I can seek Him through His Word and by the Power of His Holy Spirit living in me. His Word and His Presence directs my path and gives me wisdom and discernment daily.  Jesus trumps any priests or human being who lives or has ever lived.

Pressing On!

Dwayne