Category Archives: Bread And Spirit

Happy Valentines Day

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A College Valentine

I know Valentine’s Day passed for 2016 last Sunday. But I wanted to share that I had a very enjoyable one, and I pray you did too.

Valentine's Celebration Days Past

Valentine’s Celebration Days Past

On Valentine’s eve eve, we got with a couple of friends who lived a stone’s throw from us on the farm, where we lived for seventeen years and largely raised our families. We had a nice dinner out, then went to their home for some fellowship and Rook playing. 🙂 Good times and good times remembered.

On Valentine’s eve, we dressed up a little and I took the wife to one of our favorite local Italian restaurants for a quiet evening together, just the two of us. Very nice.

On Valentine’s Day five couples of friends converged at our home for a special dinner surprise prepared by the girls for the guys. This was followed by lots of fun, fellowship, and sharing lives, along with a crazy game of “Telestrations.”

Valentine's Day 2016 with Friends

Valentine’s Day 2016 with Friends

Valentine’s Day seems perfect for pointing out the beauty of love and close relationships between couples and friends. On that note I want to end, and share a remarkable message on LOVE delivered on Valentine’s Day to a community of believers in Kansas City Missouri, by a beautiful young woman named Anna Stuckey Newby in her early thirties, married, and the mother of two small children. This young woman grew up in Fort Smith & Van Buren, where her family was our close friends and neighbors for several years. It was her first time to speak in front of her community, and what a blessed, insightful, inspiring presentation it was! I hope you can send it to your phone and listen. Or get somewhere quiet and let her insights and words soak in? Or take a drive and listen, as my wife and I did the following day. You’ll be blessed. You’ll be glad. You’ll feel like you’ve just come to know God a little bit better, or a whole lot better. Godspeed on your journey, and Happy Valentines Day!

Anna looks exactly like Mom a few years ago...

Anna looks exactly like Mom a few years ago…

 

Lilac-Breasted Roller

 

Light in Darkness

IMG_3650“When the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son, made of woman” Galatians 4:4

Globally we live in dark times unless our media is deceived and is deceiving us?? Apparently it’s not either/or but both/and in this case. 🙂 But thanks be to God, we can live in His light and joy in the midst of darkness. Why? How? Trust in God, and His Son Jesus Christ.

It’s been a peaceful and joyful time in my heart as I’ve pondered the advent story each day in December. I pray that it has been so for you as well. I’ll share with you by note and hyperlink some of the things that have come my way in the last few days that remind me of the power and beauty of this magnificent season. They speak to events hatched in the mind and heart of the Trinity eons past, entering time in the fullness of time, as foretold by prophets and witnessed by the stars. I pray Jesus’ story of passion and pathos warms your heart and spirit during this Christmas season as it has mine and all the people who have come to trust him throughout the ages.IMG_3653

The Star of Bethlehem. Since I discovered it a few years ago, I’ve watched this DVD in awe and worship ten or more times with friends and alone. It’s masterfully done and fills my heart and mind continually with wonder and joy.

Tidings of discomfort and joy,” was the title of a Christmas sermon I heard last week from a young man visiting from east Asia. He reminded me and the western church that there is nothing normal or comfortable about a baby in a feed trough. He went on to point out how dark the times were for God’s people the Jews at Jesus’ birth, and that Jesus’ life wasn’t one of comfort. We his followers should reexamine that as we look at our culture, our lives, and the days ahead.

IMG_3656Advent readings and books. Daniel Partner & Walter Wangerin Jr. in their unrelated, and much inspired advent reflections have ushered me into the dark, simple, trusting world of Zacharias, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus as they lived and touched lives as normal mortals while great and evil forces and governments churned around them — God working out His own plan in their “quietness and trust” during dark times.IMG_3667

Lastly, a book has come into my life by Wayne Jacobsen that I’m reading for the second time, slowly and devotionally, mediating on short chapter after short chapter. The Lord is speaking to me out of it about “living loved.” It’s Christianity 101 but it’s also Christianity 707 for those of us who have walked some years with Jesus. Within it’s pages are beautiful insights about the prodigal son, which the author points out is really the story of God our Father, the rich young ruler, the human Jesus, and some insights into the mystery of the cross and the Trinity. The quote below I borrow from the beginning of Chapter 16….

IMG_3625“You will trust God only as much as you love him. And you will love him not because you have studied him; you will love him because you have touched him — in response to his touch…. Only if you love will you make that final leap into darkness.”Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Brennan Manning, Lion and Lamb

the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”” (Matthew 4:16)

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

[If you’re still hungry for more Christmas spiritual food, check out this pastoral letter from my most formational mentor, and this month’s blog from one of my best friends. Joy to you, and to the world! The Lord has come! :)]

Eternity? Heaven? Hell?

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, ….” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

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Sunrise this morning walking with my wife, my best friend

This week I was in a men’s meeting at our church with a young mathematician and math teacher. We were sharing from our journals and he shared he felt the Lord had been saying to him, “eternity, eternity, eternity.” He’s in good company. The apostle Paul encouraged us to think like that. You can read what he said in a recent post to my book’s website.

 

Indeed, the Creator has put a sense of eternity in our hearts. Sunrise and sunset speak of it, as do the heaven’s starlight. These are internal and external witnesses to something we all too often ignore — eternity.

The life group that meets in our home started to focus on one aspect of eternity last Wednesday night by watching the film, “Hell and Mr. Fudge.” It’s sparked some lively discussion about eternity — what we believe and what we can know from the Bible on the subject. And how this knowledge affects the way we live our daily lives, if we hold it to be true.

A young agnostic friend of mine, Michael,  recently started to spend time with me discussing God and eternity saying, “I don’t believe in God anymore, or that He’s relevant, but I don’t want to discuss it with any of my believing college friends because I wouldn’t want to hurt their faith. I don’t believe I can hurt yours, so will you talk with me about the issues? I want to discuss it  because if I’m wrong, the ramifications are significant!” I appreciated his honesty and realized with him the gravity of his statement.

The Movie and Related Books

The Movie and Related Books

Let’s not ignore these things because we’re distracted or for any other reason, but honor the “eternity He has set in our heart” with searching, faith, and reason.

I encourage you to avail yourself of these resources and consider these things with me in this season of our lives. It may prove life saving, and life giving, for yourself and others around you. 🙂

Traditionalism vs Conditionalism — Who Knew?

Amy, a bright young woman in our life group asked, “Is this about Rob Bell and other’s contention that there is no hell?” No, at least not directly. Nor is it about “universalism,” “portraying all humanity as saved in the end, Jesus tells of a final separation between the righteous and the wicked, the sheep and the goats.” “…evangelicals agree that hell is the most terrible fate that can befall a human being. But today … theologians debate the nature of hell. Does it consist of of conscious punishment that lasts forever, or does it have an end? The first view is called traditionalism and the second conditionalism or annihilationism.”*

Either way, it’s obvious that hell can and should be avoided. Eternal life is available for the asking by means of the cross of  Jesus Christ the Son of God. So is this small (??) distinction about one aspect of hell important for us to consider? I would say it would be to those on the “wide road that leads to destruction” for sure! And maybe to us all, because it speaks about the very nature and character of God. And it’s certainly good to spend some time dwelling on the eternity He has set in our hearts.

So let’s be like the wise Bereans in Paul’s day, who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was telling them was true.

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Downtown Houston Home of Edward Fudge

In the end, it’s not important to me what you decide. After all, some heavy hitting theologians, who are very bright, love the Word, and love the Truth have lined up on each side of this debate. It’s a debate that has gone on throughout church history I’ve discovered, but has come to considerable light and focus in recent years among today’s theologians, and will soon make it’s way down to the church in general. Indeed I suppose in some circles, it already has. It’s come to me and my friends in this season.

It’s not by coincidence that our life group is also studying The Book of Hebrews this fall. It’s all about the preeminence of Christ. So we’ll be looking very closely again and anew at Jesus in every respect. For now I suppose, we’ll see what He had to say about hell and about eternity. Since He knows, and He addressed the woman at the well and the pharisee alike with the whole truth out of love and concern for them, I’m sure we will, like them, gain new insight into truth and living.

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Time & Eternity? Time or Eternity?

In summary, focus on eternity and focus on Christ. Don’t let your culture and times cause you to neglect so great a salvation! Heaven is for real. Hell is for real. Eternity is for real, be in that number! Don’t neglect Jesus Christ. Don’t be distracted. Don’t become unfaithful or fall away. Remember our High Priest, the Lamb of God, Who paid for the sins of the whole world.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)

  • These quotes taken from the introduction of “Two Views of Hell,” Edward William Fudge & Robert A. Peterson available here. I recently finished reading this book and hope to write a review in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foster Care Summer Camp 2015

SONY DSCFriday morning at 6:00 a.m. I had the pleasure of attending the 44th annual Fort Smith Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast downtown. The event is hosted by the CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Committee) and was very inspirational. Some inspired prayers where offered up to the Lord by area pastors, and among the honored guests was Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison, who briefly addressed the crowd before the main speaker, NFL running back William Green, took the podium.

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SONY DSCT. Ray Grandstaff, Arkansas Director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, introduced Mr. Green saying that he had arrived in our area a couple days early and addressed several area high school football team members resulting in 59 young men professing faith in Jesus Christ. He was an outstanding man, an excellent speaker, with a great story. (When his talk becomes available digitally, I’ll include a link here!)

SONY DSCGov. Hutchison was brief with his remarks praising the committee for their efforts in hosting this event and underscoring the value and need for prayer in the political and government arenas. He went on to passionately promote two initiatives asking faith based groups to come along side the State of Arkansas in service and leadership with their help and support. He  framed the need and opportunity by asking churches and faith-based groups to help in giving some Arkansans a much needed 1st chance in life, and by giving others a much needed 2nd chance in life.

DSCN1672The two groups of Arkansans, he went on to say are (1) prisoners being reintroduced into society after they’ve served their time. And (2) foster homes for kids. He said that there were presently 500 foster children in Sebastian County who were in need of a place to stay with only 125 homes currently serving. Please pray about these situations and act as the Spirit leads you. Foster children need a 1st chance in life, while released prisoners need a 2nd chance.

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SONY DSCOn Father’s Day this year, a local faith-based organization hosted their 11th annual summer camp for foster kids  with volunteers from four area churches and  their children. The organization, Matthew Eighteen, is organized and lead by a local couple who have served foster kids in their homes for several years, and adopted foster children.

SONY DSCThis 2015 Matthew 18 camp saw 25 volunteers serving 23 children. And according to Curtis, the director, there were eight baptisms at camp’s end. He said, “This year’s camp was characterized by healing. The camp’s theme was, ‘You are more.'” For a photo album of this year’s camp, click here. For a short story of this year’s camp by video, click here.

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If you’re interested in Governor Asa Hutchinson’s call for faith based help, attend and talk up the Restore Hope Summit explained below.

“This morning, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced a call to action for faith-based leaders to discuss solutions to two seemingly disparate issues facing the state: the shortage of foster homes for children in Department of Human Services custody, and the lack of services for former prison inmates reentering society. The “Restore Hope Summit” will be held on August 25 and 26 at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock. Those interested in attending can register online here.” Arkansas Times

Another Camp Hope Video

Video “A Day at Camp Hope”

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8–9)

 

 

Eternal Focus

Focus – Eternity

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18, NIV)

Pause to enjoy your life... and think.

Pause to enjoy your life… and think about it?

There is lots being thought and said about the recent supreme court ruling, and I’m tempted to share my thoughts on it too because of it’s importance to our families and futures, and what it portends for the future of the United States of America? See! I sat down to write a blog article on “focus” and I’m already distracted!

Focus! Focus! Focus! On eternity! And that will help us all with spiritual enemy #1 in our day, “distraction.” Focus on Eternity is a good antidote to the life robbing disease of distraction. Twenty centuries ago, Paul tells the believers in the young church at Corinth, a leading-edge Roman cosmopolitan church in a day like our day, and believers of all times to focus on eternity and eternal things. Indeed to “fix our eyes” on things eternal. I think you can see the value in it? If you pause? But how do you do it?

DSCN1621How can you focus on eternity? Good question. And one far too involved for a short blog article. I’m just suggesting you do it! Just do it! Listen and look for references to eternity  in verbal media and print. Meditate on it when it crosses your mind. There is a beautifully haunting phrase written by Solomon and recorded in Ecclesiastes (3:11) that says, “… He has set eternity in the human heart ….”

Eternity

Eternity

So it’s in us. Eternity! A feeling that what we see isn’t all there is. We have a desire to continue on, like our unseen Creator. Just look and listen for eternity and mediate on it when it comes your way. I heard a completely new thought on eternity just the other day. It came from a mentor of mine who said, “Eternity isn’t a long, long, long time as generally thought. It’s no time, at all.” You might want to ponder that for a bit?

Fearfully and wonderfully made... :)

Fearfully and wonderfully made… 🙂

I’ll end, pun intended, by mentioning two other resources connected to this topic that have caught my imagination in the recent past. First and most recently is a movie, “Hell and Mr. Fudge.” Secondly is a book, “Heaven is for Real.” (Skip that movie, it’s disappointingly different from the book and the true story.) Believe me, both will get you thinking and perhaps in a proper and enlightened way about eternity.

May the Holy Spirit of the living God give you insight and revelation as you ask Him, pondering your life and eternity. Amen.

Spin with Life... Also Stop and Ponder it's meaning and conclusion...

Spin with Life… Also Stop and Ponder it’s meaning and conclusion…

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Matthew 18 … Kid’s Camp 2015 … Eternal Rewards

Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” “the author and finisher of our faith,” said Himself that He “came to give us abundant life” here on the planet. But even more importantly, “…that all who believe in Him, would not perish, but have eternal life.”

Eternally yours, in Jesus,

Dwayne

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17, NIV)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NIV)

… I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10, NASB95)

and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:11, NIV)

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

Play in Creation... it speaks to eternity and of the Creator

Play in Creation… it speaks to eternity and of the Creator

Don't let kids play with your camera! :)

Don’t let kids play with your camera! 🙂

Enjoy your journey... but make it count!

Enjoy your journey… but make it count!

The Other Miracle at Cana

Nicaragua Day3 - 134Jesus Is On The Move [John 4:46-54]

Jesus is Going to Where the People Will Hear

He has just come back from Jerusalem where he did several miracles. Jesus settled into an area of northern Galilee. He did not return to Nazareth explaining that a prophet  is without honor in his own city and in his own family. In contrast, the people of Galilee warmly received him, having seen the miracles he did in Jerusalem and many believed he was the Messiah.

Cana is SpecialNicaragua Day 4 - 198

Cana of Galilee is special to me. The wedding, the first miracle, the dialogue between Jesus and his mother, the display of God’s heart… to care about a young newlywed couple being embarrassed, to care about the affairs of our ordinary everyday lives, to care about family and community, to care about what’s on Mary’s heart and her prayer.  It also shows the generosity of the Almighty. These are a few things that touch my heart about Cana. John is the only gospel writer to record this miracle. He said it was Jesus’ first. As I think about it now, possibly what touches me so deeply is the revelation of the humanity of Jesus here. It demonstrates earthly families and our heavenly family in close conjunction. There are at least two people present who are very in tune with God. They are praying, listening, and feeling in their hearts what’s going on with their community, friends, and family.

Nicaragua Day3 - 001Nicaragua Day3 - 031Nicaragua Day2 - 229The author John Eldridge, in his book about the humanity of Jesus, Beautiful Outlaw, uses this miracle to demonstrate God’s generosity. I smile when I think about it. He goes so far as to compute how many bottles of wine Jesus produced for this celebration very late in the party, 908 if you take a large number, 757 if you take the smaller number. Then he ends with the humorous comment, “Don’t get mad at me! I didn’t do the miracle, I just did the math.”

Another Miracle in Cana

Today, in my New Testament reading and meditating about Jesus, I was struck with thoughts and insights about a second miracle that happened in Cana. Jesus had  just come through Samaria (Gasp!), dialoguing with the woman at the well then staying a few more days in her village introducing many of her friends to the kingdom of God. Standing now in Cana a few miles north, he had just made the comment about prophets not being received, then a ruler of the people, a man of some position and authority from Capernaum, who had traveled some miles to find Jesus stood in front of Him.  He was desperate and needy because his young child was sick and close to death. With  desperation and determination that perhaps only new parents know, he ended up in Jesus’s presence. “Please come heal my child because he’s close to death,” gushes out of him.

Nicaragua Day3 - 240For reasons we don’t understand because we weren’t there and because we’re not God, Jesus gave an unusual reply. It was something along the lines, “You people are always looking for a sign unless you see a sign you won’t believe.” He may have said it to teach the disciples something true about themselves and all the people in the area? He may have said it because he wanted to challenge the thinking and understanding of the people in the region who were hearing his words? It might be because the Holy Spirit knew it would be recorded, informing and instructing people there and for ages to come about the condition of people’s hearts and what it really takes to please God?

Nicaragua Day3 - 360For whatever reason he said it, it seems a little confrontational toward the ruler and father standing in front of him? But in humility and desperation, the man chose not to speak to Jesus’ comment nor question it. He just seems to say, “Please Sir, will you come and heal my son!?”

Then Jesus seeing the man’s humility, desperation, and love for his child; feeling compassion for him and seeing the faith demonstrated in his coming, simply said, “Go your way, your son is healed.” And so he was healed in the city a few miles away because a loving father exercised humility, action, and faith — a faith well placed in Jesus Christ the Son of God.

It Was A Turning Point

That was a turning point for this ruler, and for others. People would hear. The news of Jesus power to heal and do miracles would spread. Capernaum, whose Hebrew meaning is ”covering of mercy”, would become known as Jesus’ town, as it is to this day. He made it His headquarters for ministry during His three years in the Galilee.

Many Jews and Samaritans in the region would come to believe that he was the Christ the Son of the living God. Indeed, in the almost 2000 Easter seasons since, many millions of people have read this story, and and others like it recorded in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, the most published and best selling book of all times, coming to the same conclusion.

That conclusion seems to be reached by hearing or reading the Gospel story combined with some revelation from above bearing witness to its truth. Then those two events are mixed with the hearers own faith resulting in salvation and a relationship with the Most High through the sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus Christ.

The angel Gabriel told a maiden named Mary from the village of Nazareth a few miles from Cana that she would bear a son to be named Jesus, which in Hebrew means “God saves”. And that Jesus would set on David’s throne, the ruler of a kingdom which would never be destroyed. It’s my prayer, that if you’re not part of this kingdom and the Family of God made possible by His sacrifice and resurrection, that this Easter season you too will become a part. May you know His salvation and peace now and forever. Amen.

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son lives.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off. As he was now going down, his slaves met him, saying that his son was living. So he inquired of them the hour when he began to get better. Then they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” So the father knew that it was at that hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”; and he himself believed and his whole household.” (John 4:50–53)

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My Goodness 2015

January 1 Greetings,

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Making new Friends

This time of the year and this day of the year are excellent for pondering one’s life, and especially the years — the passing of time. My wife and I have each remarked that 2014 was the fastest passing year of our lives. With technology and communication being what they are, there is no reason to expect time to slow down going forward! Unless, unless we make a quality, personal decision to make it so, and then take some necessary action!

Reconnected with Old Friends

Reconnecting with Old Friends

Quickly said, our times are against us in the matter of enjoying our lives and making the most of them. We’re at each and every turn confronted with images, voices, talking heads, technology to use, learn, and play with, and the list goes on, growing larger seemingly by the day. What’s a person to do?

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That’s what I hear in the Spirit when I ask that question.

I want my life to count for something — for something bigger than me, and for something eternal.

When I look around it seems as if the kingdom might be loosing ground? At least in our time and place.

Enjoy Life with Present Friends

Enjoying Life with Present Friends

But then I reflect on Abraham (2000 B.C.), David (1000 B.C.), Daniel (600 B.C.), Esther (470 B.C.), Paul and Peter (30-70 A.D.), and I realize the kingdom is never losing ground — only we, perhaps are loosing ground!

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.” (Daniel 2:44)

I reflect from time to time about writing another book (only if the Spirit leads of course. :)) I might title it, “The Laugh of the King!” from Psalm 2.

Peanuts Cartoon appearing while our home group studied Job :)

Peanuts Cartoon appearing while our home group studied the Book of  Job 🙂

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, …!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, ….” (Psalm 2:1–4)

So what can you do to overcome your flesh and the distractions of our complex times? Seek a relationship with the King and the King’s people — His followers, His disciples, His Bride, His Church. These relationships are all you can take with you! Not possessions which will end up in the trash heap or burning up. People are eternal. Sow your life into relationships, into people. They are eternal.  Their hearts, and lives, and character, and love are all that will make it to the other side.

Family Vacation Celebration

Family Vacation and Significant Birthday Celebration

Someone has said, “In the end all that will matter is who you loved and who loved you.”

So for me it’s: [1] Read the Bible daily. [2] Talk to God, listen, mediate, ( spelled “pray”) daily, and occasionally journal impressions that come during these times. [3] Seek out and get to know others who are passionate about Jesus and want to know Him better. [4] Doing these things  helps me keep the trappings of our culture and times from stealing my attention, my affections, and my time — my life.

Cousins at Family Dutch Oven Event

Cousins at Family Dutch Oven Dinner

By doing these things, perhaps something of my life will count for others, for the King, for something bigger than myself, and for something eternal?

I look to Him who loved me and called me; and I trust Him to make it so! The Lord is my Shepherd, He leads….

Slowing to the Speed of Life

Slowing to the Speed of Life 2014

May you have a great and prosperous new year in 2015, as your soul prospers.

Dwayne

OBTW, Short term mission trips are another way to get your mind and heart on the bigger world and greater good, serving others and seeing what God is doing in other cultures. It is perspective changing, paradigm changing, and life changing.

It’s a win/win situation, but those who go and serve get more from the experience than those who are served. 🙂 Our Lord Jesus said it this way, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.” And of course everything He said is true.

Go on a mission adventure soon!

Go on a mission adventure soon!

You'll be glad you did!

You’ll be glad you did!

On that note, I’m leaving soon on a short term mission trip to Honduras. Please pray that God will bless this trip as He wishes with purpose, provision, and protection. And consider contacting the folks at XMA to go on one of their mission adventures around the world. Take a look at their website. Grab a friend or friends and go! You’ll be blessed more than you know!

Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”” (Psalm 2:1–6)

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:14–17)

 

Giving Thanks . Remembering Advent

Our Home Fall 2014

Our Home Fall 2014

While being on a quasi techno fast the last couple months, posturing myself for hearing better spiritually, I’ve been absent from Facebook and even overlooked some important email. One such email came from a great friend who gave a fantastic and spirituallly concise history of Thanksgiving with a look toward Advent! Perfect!! I’ll share his writ here.

Then Sunday a young man, friend of the SONY DSCfamily, stopped by and gave us a book for Advent, daily readings preparing hearts for the coming of Christmas anew. It’s been very rich and special, so I’ll pass that recommendation to you. Get it quickly if you can and read one selection morning and night until you catch up with the date, then slow to the proper pace of listening and reason, savoring the season.

SONY DSCSONY DSCHere’s some worshipful Christmas music just published by my pastor and friend Craig Smith  supporting mission causes around the world. I hardily recommend it as it’s very worshipful and not been out of my truck’s CD player for weeks.

Here’s an advent video  I watch every Christmas with wonder. And a link to last years Christmas musing, that’s still alive with the message and meaning of Christmas! I pray you’ll enjoy it anew.

SONY DSCMay you and yours be blessed of the Lord as you give thanks with a thankful heart, and meditate on Jesus’  advent, His first appearing, and His next. Doing so will warm your hearts and make you alive to the spirit and meaning of Christmas, in our time and in all times.

Joyfully in the humble and mighty name of Immanuel,

Dwayne

Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

 

 

Carpe diem

This is the day the LORD has made...

This is the day the LORD has made…

Years ago I tried to read The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but just couldn’t get into it. I found it a hard read by a brilliant man, philosopher, and theologian. But recently a young  friend of mine, a junior high school math teacher, started a Friday morning men’s group at our church and this is the book he’s chosen for discussing and journaling about at the moment.

Colorado Aspens 2014

Colorado Aspens 2014

It’s been said, “Timing is everything.” And that may be the case here, because now I’m devouring this writ paragraph by paragraph and getting so much out of it! Maybe it’s where I am spiritually, or where the Lord is leading me? Maybe it’s because Bonhoeffer’s times (pre-WWII Germany)  are so much like ours? I just know I’m grateful to the Lord, to Bonhoeffer, to Ryan and to the the men who meet on Friday mornings, because I’m getting so much truth for living and spiritual food out of this book.

This one knows how to seize the day!

This one knows how to seize the day!

The book is largely about Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” and about discipleship. In essence it is about Jesus and about us – disciples. Of course, Bonhoeffer wrote and knew there was a cost to discipleship, something we don’t hear much about in our churches today. And as John Eldredge says in Beautiful Outlaw, “An honest book about Jesus that does not address suffering is not an honest book.”

But we’ll leave the ideas of cost and suffering in following Jesus till another day. Today I want to share a concept and a couple verses that have been ringing in my ears and spirit since I read them in The Cost of Discipleship. The concept is “live today,” and only “in the present,” as opposed to “the past” or “the future.”

The same one… :)

The same one… 🙂

In His model prayer, Jesus said, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” Do you see His focus on today? And on looking to God, our Father, daily, each individual day, as we live one day at a time, for all our sustenance, physical and spiritual? This philosophy and practice fosters and strengthens your most important relationship in the world, that between you and your Creator, your Father in Heaven. It also gives you the focus you need, to make the most of your time, and bring the maximum meaning to your life and experience on earth in relating to God and others. Live today, in the moment.

SONY DSCI attended my father’s church Sunday and heard the preacher say about Judah in Jeremiah’s day, a day also like ours, just before the Babylonian captivity and destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., that their religion or relationship with God had “become a part of their life instead of the center of their life.” Don’t let this happen to you! Pray as Jesus taught, and live in the day.

DSCN3628The second Scripture Bonhoeffer used in making this point about living each day was Matthew 6:34, “each day has enough evil of it’s own.” So don’t drag yesterday’s regrets, judgments, etc. into today! Nor are we to drag tomorrow’s worries into today! Each day has “enough trouble of it’s own.” It seems to be the natural order and design of things, so listen to Jesus and do what He says. Make it your practice to live today, in the present. And recommit to it everyday, or whenever the thought crosses your mind. Start today! Live today!

DSCN3760In doing so you will carpe diem “seize the day!”

‘Give us this day our daily bread. Jesus (Matthew 6:11)

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Jesus (Matthew 6:34)

 

 

 

 

Finishing Well – Kings of Judah

DSCN8674There has been a lot said recently by Christian baby boomers about finishing well.  It’s also a recognizable theme in the Bible among historical figures, some of whom finish well and some do not?

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:11–12)

IMG_0069Recently, while reading through the Bible in a year, my plan covered the time of the kings of Judah and Israel.  After the first three kings of Israel, the kingdom divided in  931 B.C.  Two of those three Kings did not end well including Solomon!  And there are some good lessons to be learned therein. But I was thinking of the kings of Judah.

I remembered that in the ten northern tribes of Israel there were no good kings. There were nineteen kings and all were evil!  They with their tribes were judged by the LORD and carried away into captivity by Assyria in 722 B.C.

IMG_6426In Judah  (the name given the southern kingdom, the tribes Judah and Benjamin), there were twenty kings and eight did “what is right before God.”  I remembered that, and a lot about their lives. But what I didn’t remember was that they didn’t finish well!

What a shame! To have lived your life mostly right before God, experiencing his protection and provision, and yet in your later years finish poorly, away from God and His purposes.

Don’t let this happen to you! Don’t let it happen to me! Let’s purpose together not to let it happen to each other, to the best of our ability.  I propose we look at these kings of Judah and learn from their mistakes.  We can look at their successes too! That’s really what gives light to their mistakes. Their lives are given to us for an example as the above Scripture tells us. Their lives are an open book. And so are ours, before God.  Let’s consider their ways, and ours.

Live Above the Fray

Live Above the Fray

Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Consider your ways!” (Haggai 1:7)

Names like Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah? Are you as shocked as I was? Look them up. Read and learn, asking the Spirit to be your guide to insight, wisdom, and obedience. You’ll be blessed by wisdom from the LORD. Wisdom to help you in your journey, and to finish well.

I’ll give you a little insight into Asa’s history here, but the rest are just as fascinating and instructive.

IMG_6504

With Friends In Community

He [Asa] gathered all Judah and Benjamin and those from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who resided with them, for many defected to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.” (2 Chronicles 15:9) “And there was no more war until the thirty-fifth year of Asa’s reign.” (2 Chronicles 15:19)

At that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah and said to him, “Because you have relied on the king of Aram and have not relied on the Lord your God, therefore the army of the king of Aram has escaped out of your hand. “Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet because you relied on the Lord, He delivered them into your hand. “For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.” Then Asa was angry with the seer and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him for this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at the same time. Now, the acts of Asa from first to last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa became diseased in his feet. His disease was severe, yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians. So Asa slept with his fathers, having died in the forty-first year of his reign.” (2 Chronicles 16:7–13)

A forty-one year reign! Mostly good! But it ended like this. Don’t let this happen to you.

IMG_6442The second king of Israel, David, did finish well! Even though he wasn’t perfect and went through a lot of trials; mostly self inflicted or sin inflicted. The Scripture eventually says of him that he accomplished the purposes of God in his generation.  May we give ear to the Scriptures, and our hearts to God, so this may be said about us.

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, …” (Acts 13:36)

Godspeed on your journey! May the King of Heaven grace you to serve Him all your days. [a prayer]