For those of you who have been following along with the “Pure Praise” devotional blogs, this is the final post of the book. We actually finished reading it, as a worship team, right before Easter, but it has taken me a little while to actually get around to writing this last synopsis. I do apologize for not completing this sooner…sorry!
The question Dwayne asks to start the final week of devotionals is this: “What is the main thing God wants for us?”
What is our “mission”? Dwayne contends that the mission for the people of Israel in the 2 Chronicles 20 story is that of “finishing well.” Paul’s earthly mission was to finish the race God marked out for him. He desired to be able to say at the end of his life – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” (2 Timothy 4:7)
Dwayne lists 5 keys to finishing well (as taught by the Apostle Paul to his young student Timothy)
Fight the Good Fight
As we read Ephesians 6 and study the details of the “spiritual weapons,” it becomes clear that there is one offensive weapon in the list – the “Word of God” is described as the sword of the Spirit! As worship leaders, it is absolutely essential that we “hide God’s Word in our hearts” because that is the one weapon we bring into battle that allows us to advance against the enemy’s evil schemes. Remember, we ARE in a war for the hearts and minds of people!
How are you doing in this critical area?
Check out this quote from famous golf instructor, Tommy Armour:
“The path to victory demands [the champion’s] total concentration and devotion. They remain determined not to disqualify themselves through careless mistakes and poor judgment. In the long run, staying focused and staying consistent is the greatest challenge.”
There is nothing that our enemy would love more than to lull us to sleep and cause us to lose our mental and spiritual edge. Personally, I know what it is like to be in a dark season of the soul, completely uninterested in spiritual discipline. I didn’t only stop reading my Bible and praying, but I stopped practicing my musical skills! I was in a deep sleep and I needed a serious “jolt” to bring me back to my calling and purpose…as a husband, father, friend, pastor, musician, and most importantly, as a child of God!
It was a rough time for me and I don’t ever want to go back there again! It doesn’t take much for us to take our eyes of the prize. Depression, disappointment, disillusionment, laziness, carelessness, the list could go on and on…
How’s your focus? What can you do to sharpen your skills? Also, are you in a season where “success” is what matters, or is your focus “significance”? I think I am struggling with moving from the first season to the second. Probably because I would have hoped that I had more “success” in this life.
Someone once asked me how many young worship leaders I have mentored. I was disappointed that I could not come up with any names. I believe “significance” will be measured in my ability to pass the baton on to future leaders who God brings into my life. There will be other measurements of significance, to be sure, but I truly long for this to become a major “second season” in my life.
Talk about a major “connection” with the author! Page 153 is probably my favorite part of the book because Dwayne reveals his own vulnerability as he is pondering why God had not elevated him to a greater sphere of influence in his earlier years of ministry.
You gotta read it for yourself.
Certainly, his conclusion resonated with me because of my earlier referenced “dark season of the soul.” He asked himself this core question and then braced himself for the honest answers that God would reveal through His Holy Spirit: “Am I trustworthy?”
That’s a dangerous question if you don’t want the answer.
“You want the truth?” “You can’t handle the truth!!!”
2 Chronicles 16:9 says it best: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.”
“Lord, please burn away the character flaws that I have carried with me for far too long! May I be able to be trusted by you and by others. May I choose to run into trials rather than away from them because I know that they are designed to help me mature and become more trustworthy. May your eyes rest upon me and support me in whatever work you have me set apart to do for you!”
A great take-away from this point is found on page 158: If you want to flourish and stay fresh in ministry, you have to (1) stay planted in God’s word, (2) stay prayerful in God’s presence, and (3) stay pure in God’s holiness.
In regard to staying pure, Dwayne writes, “Sin slowly but effectively poisons our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and steals our joy and innocence.” So true…
How are you doing in these three areas? Which one is your strongest? Which one is your weakest?
This last key to fighting the good fight is all about allowing God to grow others through our intentional and unintentional influence.
“If you and I are strong, healthy Christians today, chances are good it is because somebody deliberately invested his or her self in us by teaching us about the Lord and about following him.” (p.160)
As you look for those who God is asking you to lead, don’t look past your own home! I know I owe my faith to my parents Godly example as I grew up. I know I have four kids who have been entrusted to me. All four love God and have extremely sensitive hearts to His leading. I am glad God has given me the opportunity to lead and love them with a father’s heart!
Dwayne ends the book by simply stating – “No Time To Waste”
Our lives are short and uncertain. We don’t have time to waste if our goal is to finish well!
I remember when my two oldest sons were very little. I wanted to pray with them every night before bed. But I didn’t do it as faithfully as I should have. My excuses were plenty – I was busy, I was tired, one night wouldn’t make a difference, there would be plenty of time to form that habit with them, etc. Now they are 16 and 15 and my window of opportunity to tuck them in and kneel beside their bed has essentially closed. Soon they will be leaving my house and having children of their own!
Time truly flies by…
What do you need to do TODAY that cannot wait until tomorrow?
I hope and pray that you will go for it…while it is still called TODAY!