Clean Cup

Coffee cup and beans on a white background.Every morning I have a routine of rolling out of bed, grateful to the Lord for a new day. I have become a bit of a coffee snob, because I grind fresh beans to make the coffee. While the coffee is brewing, I’m grabbing a quick shave & shower. My coffee cups are on a “cup tree” on the counter as well as in the cabinet above. If they are in there, I know they are clean. If they are in the sink, I realize that they need to be washed. A clean cup with a fresh cup of coffee is a great part of my morning routine of waking up to take on the day ahead.

Jesus really calls out the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Matthew 23. He calls them hypocrites because they teach the law, but don’t live it out. He uses cups to make His point. Check this out….

25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.

 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-26,28 NLT)

I want to be a “clean cup” inside and out before the Lord. He knows my inward most thoughts. He knows I’m human, and He is there with me when temptations come my way. His Presence in me (His Spirit), prompts me and leads me. Today, we have dishwashers that wash the cup for us. If I’m washing the cup by hand, I usually wash the inside of the cup first, then the outside. Jesus was reminding us that if we only clean up our behavior, but not our heart, we really haven’t done anything. Our behavior follows our heart. I want to spend way more time seeking forgiveness for my sin that no one else sees rather than to keep polishing my image as a Christian in the community. I can fake others out, but I can’t fake the Lord out. I’ve been faked out by others too. I’m not responsible for other hearts, but it’s CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for me to keep check on my heart. I believe my heart is where the Lord really changes everything about me. My actions and activities of my life come from my heart; if it’s clean, my actions will reflect that.

My time in the Word points out any dirt or filth on the inside of my cup (aka my heart) and then I must take action to allow my heart to be cleaned by the Lord so that I can honor Him with my words and actions.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Talk Is Cheap – Actions Speak!

megaphoneI know people who can talk a good game. They know something about everything. They are very important people – if you don’t believe me, ask them. I have been around people who are “know it all’s” and I’ve been around people who are brilliant and scholarly. The later don’t usually talk as much. I’m learning to listen more and talk less because I can learn a lot during my time of silence. I do believe that talk without action to back it up is simply hot air and wasted words. Jesus dealt with this with the religious leaders and Pharisees. They talked a good game with their faith, but when you “peeled back” the layers of their lives, they were rotten inside. I want my faith to be real from the depths of my heart to the smallest detail of my life. I want my trust in the Lord to be obvious and noticeable without ever having to say a word.

15 “Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16 You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 19 So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20 Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. (Matthew 7:15-20 NLT) (These are the teachings of Jesus Himself.)

“Actions are louder than words could ever be.”

“What I do speaks so loudly, you can’t hear what I’m saying.”

I came away from this passage realizing the need for humility. I am nothing without the Lord in my life. Just because I know Him and spend time with Him does not make me better than anyone else. I still have sin in my life that must be dealt with. I am simply another human being, created by God who is trying to life a good life because that is who God called me to be. I’ve given my life to Him because I believe He first gave me life. He gave me a future, so I’m trusting Him with mine.

I want my life to drip with humility and gratitude for the blessings that flow from the Lord to me. I am a nobody, who is somebody, because the Lord loved me first. I’m not sure that a day goes by that I don’t get to talk about my faith. I want people to see my faith before I ever speak a word about it. I want my actions to speak loudly about the One I trust in and live for.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Goal #1: LOVE

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI must admit that we throw this word love around a bit too much and we have, in some ways, cheapened it a bit. I can be heard saying that “I love” certain foods. “I love” playing on the water. I love God. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my family and friends. I love the people closest to me deeper than those that I barely know. Relationships are incredibly helpful to me and to every human. I believe that we were wired by our Creator to love and be loved.

The Apostle Paul is giving instruction to his young protégé, Timothy regarding teaching in the church. It is simple, yet foundational to the gospel. Check this out…

 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 CSB)

Paul tells Timothy that love is the goal of instruction, but it is also the main goal of the church. Paul speaks plainly to the church at Rome about love. Check this out…

Do not owe anyone anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself. 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 CSB)

Paul also writes a whole chapter on love to the church at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 13 – known as the Love Chapter)

I am still learning to love deeper and more profoundly. My wife and I have been married over 22 years and my love for her is deeper and stronger than way back then. Love grows stronger with commitment and practice.

The goal of my life is love. I want to love the Lord with all my heart. The more I know Him, the more I understand that He calls me to love like He loves. His love is reckless & lavish. His love is overflowing with forgiveness and grace. His love is all-consuming. I lose myself in His love and I start looking and acting like Him.  My goal today is to learn to love others like the Lord first loved me. I want my words and actions to be saturated with love.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Did I Just Say That?

LipsI have caught myself asking that question because of something stupid I said. It may have been an ill-timed or insensitive comment. I must confess that I’ve been known to let my mouth get started before my brain and my “editing machine” get engaged. My words can be blunt and bold or they can be gracious and kind. I believe there is a nice way to deliver all sorts of news. If this news is devastating the delivery must be factual but gentle as possible. I’m not one who likes for people to “dance around the truth”. I would rather receive the truth is a tough way than to be lied too.  I am learning every day that my response to others says more about me than the “bombshell” that was just dropped on me in conversation. Check this out…

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person. (Colossians 4:6 CSB) Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. (Colossians 4:2,5 CSB)

I am growing in this area for sure. I am trying to be more tactful in my speech. I want to think about how my words are being received, not just what I’m saying. I must be aware that what I say is often NOT what is heard by the other person.

I’m also learning the power and importance of praying intensely before speaking. Sometimes that is a quick prayer, but other times I have time to pray before a tough conversation. I do believe that as a Christ follower, I should be very conscious of my speech. I’m sure Paul was speaking figurative when he said to “season it with salt”!  I do think he was talking about how salt brings out the flavor in the food it is used on rather than draw attention to myself.

I’m going to pay closer attention to my speech today. I want it to be gracious and I want to draw attention to others with a kind and gracious heart. If I need to “call someone out”, I’m going to be kind and gracious and check at how my words are received.

If I have one of those, “Did I just say that?” moments, I’m going to take responsibility and learn to follow the counsel of James. Check this out…

19 My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. (James 1:19-20 CSB)

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Aroma

 

aromaI love being able to smell. There are times when my “smeller” isn’t functioning properly – allergy season, for example.

I love the smell of a new car.

I love the smell of a freshly painted room.

I love smell of wood at a new home being built.

I love the smell of a campfire.

There are so many aroma’s that I really enjoy. I also know the aroma’s that I don’t like. I’m not a fan of BO (aka body order) when a person needs a bath and a fresh coat of deodorant! I don’t like the smell of propane gas. I don’t like the smell of dirty feet. This list could get very long!

Paul, in his letter to the church at Corinth speaks of being an aroma for the Jesus movement. Check this out…

14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. 15 For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 CSB)

My life is to be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord and certainly to others.

My words should have a pleasant aroma before the Lord and others.

My actions should exhibit a pleasing aroma to the Lord and those who know me.

I want my life to have the aroma of Jesus always. I want there to be an aroma of hope that comes from being around me. I want my life to have and aroma of love. I love the aroma from being in the Presence of God and I should carry that aroma throughout my day.

The Lord cares about aroma as I reflect on the old testament when He was giving instructions for sacrifices. He also had them to make anointing oil that was “pure, fragrant, and expertly blended incense”. (Exodus 37:29 CSB)

I want my attitude and actions to display a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord and everyone I meet.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Door Of My Mouth

 

LipsI have been known to talk. Over the years, I’ve listened to myself talk and I feel like that I’ve sometimes wasted words. I am in sales, but I can cut to the chase. When I was in student ministry, I was in a “sales position” of sorts. I was introducing and “selling” how a relationship with the Lord could be a life changer. Today, I sell myself as a trusted, real estate professional. I also sell houses, land and commercial. In all these roles, I do find that I need to talk. I am learning that there is great weight and value in words. I try hard for my spoken word to have the same weight as my written word. I did learn many years ago in the business world that if it’s not written down, it’s not enforceable. I want the words of my mouth to be enforceable by my character. I talk to the Lord a lot about my words. King David welcomed accountability and I should too. Check this out…

Set a guard over my mouth, Lord;
    keep watch over the door of my lips.
Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil
    so that I take part in wicked deeds
along with those who are evildoers;
    do not let me eat their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me – that is a kindness;
    let him rebuke me – that is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it,
    for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers. (Psalm 141:3-5 NIV)

I remember back in my college days I was part of a musical group and we did a musical a musical based on the study of James. One of the songs, I remember was: “The Little Red Devil Behind the White Pearly Gates”. I’m sure I was 20 years old when I first heard that. My tongue can get me in trouble. My life group is studying the book of James and this past week’s lesson was in James 3. James points out how I can sing, pray & praise the Lord with my tongue and crush someone the next minute with the same tongue. I’m learning to speak slowly and be discerning with my words – unfortunately it feels like I’m on lesson #1 of this class!

I think the most important point when I think about my tongue, is that the words of my mouth represent the things going on inside my heart. When I speak in frustration and anger – my heart is frustrated & angry. I believe my biggest daily challenge is to surrender my heart to the Lord. With that surrender comes my thoughts, my words, my rights. I want my heart to be daily surrendered to the Lord so that He helps control my tongue and my thoughts and certainly all my actions. My surrender to Him is the most important choice I can make today and every day.

Pressing On!

Dwayne