Throw A Homecoming Party

Gsummer sunset
Gsummer sunset

I love a good party, especially when there is a cool theme to it. I enjoy a good Super Bowl party even when I don’t care much about the big game. I enjoy being with friends, hanging out and celebrating just about any occasion. I love a good homecoming party for sure. Homecoming parties are great because relationships are reconnected in a fun atmosphere.

Jesus told a story that reveals the heart of God toward lost people and His idea of a part for a homecoming.  He tells the story of a man who had two sons, the younger son goes to Dad and asked for his inheritance early. He is ready to get out of the house and be on his own. His dad does as he is asked and gives his son his half of his wealth. The son goes away to a distant land and squanders his money on wild living. He is broke, and now a famine hits the area he’s in. He gets a job feeding pigs and is so hungry that their food looks good to him. He comes to his senses and decides that at home, even the hired hands have food and shelter. He decides he will go home and become a hired hand. The story takes a turn that shows the heart of the boys Dad, whom I see as representing God. Check this out…

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began. (Luke 15:20-24 NLT)

I love the fact that the Dad was waiting and longing for his son to return. When I became a Dad, I learned more about God’s heart than ever before. God is a loving Parent/Father Who longs for relationship with His kids – us. He loves it when we spend time with Him. (I love it when my kids want to spend time with me.) He loves random conversation with His kids. (I love random phone calls or face time calls with my kids and the grand kids.) The Lord is connected to His kids and He will patiently wait for them to figure it all out. The Fathers love is not logical, but it’s very real and genuine.

I’m so thankful for the example that the Lord gives to me as a Dad. I want to love like He loves. I want to forgive like He forgives. I want to serve like He served. I want to party with my family and celebrate each one of them!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Celebrate!

 

silhouette men dancingThere are certain songs that scream out celebration. I love hearing the music start to Kool & The Gang’s “Celebrate”! That song was released in 1980 and still gets a lot of air time today when it’s time to celebrate an accomplishment or an event.  Worship music is often a celebration of what God is doing or has already done. When I think of all that God has done for me, I can’t help but sing a song. Check this out…

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
    the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing to him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:1-2,5-7 NIV)

This psalm makes me want to sing a song. It’s a new day, a new week and there will be surprises along the way – some good and some not good. He will still walk with me through the joy and struggle. I want to talk to the Lord about everything – the things that scare me and the things that bring joy to me. I have experienced His Presence in me and I don’t ever want to live my life like He’s not here with me every step of the way.  His love for me and His Presence in me has made my heart come alive.  I woke up singing this song by Phil Wickham in my head called “Your Love Awakens Me”.

There were walls between us
And by the cross you came
And broke them down

And there were chains around us
And by Your grace we are
No longer bound

You called me out of the grave
You called me into the light
You called my name and then my heart came alive
Your love is greater
Your love is stronger
Your love awakens, Awakens, Awakens me
Feel the darkness shaking
All the dead are coming
Back to life

Hear the song awaken
All creation singing
We’re alive
Cause You’re alive
And what a love we found
Death can’t hold us down
We shout it out
We’re alive
______________

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Crushed In Spirit

Beauty girl cryI can vividly remember the feeling of being crushed in spirit even when I was young as some fellow classmates were killed in a car accident. I remember the finality of their deaths and thinking about how life is a vapor. I can also remember being crushed in spirit 23 years ago spending my first Christmas away from my kids. It was devastating. I look back on moments when my spirit was crushed – I felt my only option was turning to the Lord. He lifted me up. He helped me walk through the waves of discouragement and struggle.

Job is being lectured a bit by his friends whom he’s looking to for a bit of encouragement. He pushes back yet again on them, but this time he reveals his crushed spirit a bit differently. Check this out…

16 My face is red with weeping,

    dark shadows ring my eyes;

17 yet my hands have been free of violence

    and my prayer is pure.

18 ‘Earth, do not cover my blood;

    may my cry never be laid to rest!

19 Even now my witness is in heaven;

    my advocate is on high.

20 My intercessor is my friend

    as my eyes pour out tears to God;

21 on behalf of a man he pleads with God

    as one pleads for a friend.

22 ‘Only a few years will pass

    before I take the path of no return. (Job 16:16-22 NIV)

I can almost feel the wetness of his cheeks from tears. It is clear at this point that Job is passing the test because his heart is still pursuing God’s heart. Even in the midst of this mind-numbing suffering he is humbled before the Lord.

I think there is truth in this for me as I journey through times of being crushed in spirit. I needed reminding that the Lord is still in charge of my life. My one goal should be to glorify and honor Him. I really often try to honor myself with my life instead of honoring Him. I am often very self-centered instead of God-centered. He will lift me up properly when I have Him in His proper place. The Lord, Whom I seek to glorify, is also the one Who lifts me up when my spirit is crushed and weak. He gives me strength to push through the pain.

He gives me joy to celebrate the journey.

He gives me victory over struggle and pain.

His reward is far greater than I can imagine here on earth.

I don’t always understand my struggles or the struggles of others, but I know that the Lord is on the scene and available to help all who are crushed in spirit.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Celebrate!

I love celebrations for the most part. I don’t really like when my opponent gets to celebrate a victory over me. I do like to celebrate wins and victories. I don’t like to celebrate in such a way that it rubs someone else’s face in it. I really like celebration where there’s lots of “winners” and we celebrate together. Celebrations are much more fun when there is lots of others to share it with.

The people of Judah who had returned after 70 years of exile were about to celebrate. They had repaired and rebuilt the broken down wall of Jerusalem. They had repaired and restored the temple. They did all of this in record time and with opposition on all sides. The time had finally come to celebrate and dedicate the wall. Check this out…

27 At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. 28 The musicians also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem – from the villages of the Netophathites, 29 from Beth Gilgal, and from the area of Geba and Azmaveth, for the musicians had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem. 30 When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall. (Nehemiah 12:27-30 NIV)

I love the atmosphere of celebration. The people recognized God’s role in their life and the life of their city. They made the celebration meaningful by inviting others to participate from the region. They had music and singing which are two important elements for celebration. When I think of celebration music, I can’t help but think of Kool & The Gang and their song: “Celebration”.

The Lord loves celebrations. I think He relishes my wins over the enemy. I believe there’s a serious celebration in heaven when someone surrenders his or her heart to the Lord for the first time. I also believe there’s a celebration when a person who once believed repents & returns home to the Lord.

I think celebration is a chocked full of encouragement and fun. I think when we celebrate the little moments it brings even greater joy to the big moments.

I’ve celebrated friendship.

I’ve celebrated marriages.

I’ve celebrated first homes.

I’ve celebrated the arrival of babies.

I’ve celebrated baptisms.

I’ve celebrated the sale of a house.
I’ve celebrated the recovery of something lost.

I want to celebrate today the blessing of God all over me. He is so patient with me and all my foolishness and disobedience. He restores my soul and washes me clean. I believe the hope I have in Him is worth celebrating!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Bad Ending

Devastated
I have watched movies or TV shows that didn’t end well according to me. I like happy endings. I like it when a marriage is saved or a relationship with family restored. I like it when the guy and the girl finally see in each other what we the audience had seen all along. I like the good guy to win and the bad guy to loose. That really isn’t reality though. A movie or TV show is more about entertainment than realty for sure. I still want life to be good. I don’t want there to be disease and death. I really need to stop dreaming and come back to the real world.

At the end of the day I’m not really in control of the end of my life story. Oh sure, people can actually take their life and end it how they think they want. That is very abrupt and causes loved ones left behind a lot of pain and struggle for sure because it’s really a very self-centered action. There are things I can do to help the ending of my life to be positive and powerful.

King Jehoram was a king who did not finish well. He killed his brothers and he turned his back on God. He made the enemies of Judah angry and they invaded Jerusalem. He was a failure as a king and quite frankly as a person. Check this out…

20 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one’s regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings. (2 Chronicles 21:20 NIV)

I think it would be sad to be at a funeral service where no one was sad to see the guy die. He had used and abused so many people. He was perceived as a dishonest and evil king. I’ll summarize the old adage: “I’m actually preaching my funeral in my day to day life today.” I believe that how I treat people in ordinary circumstances can translate into many other relationships. If I’m kind, honest and honorable to the people I meet – they are usually someone’s family and the word can spread. Obviously the reverse of that is true.

It’s crazy to think that how I live today can translate into how I’m thought of when I die. I don’t think it’s just one act of kindness or honor, but it could be. I have many choices available to me today. I want to choose to put others before myself. I want to be generous toward others. I want to do all of this just so people say nice things at my funeral. I want to honor God in all I do – I really want to please Him above any other and there will still be people who miss me. To have a good ending to my life, I need to decide to honor God and walk humbly before Him today and every day as long as I live.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Party!

ApplauseI’ve been to parties that are pretty lame. The music (What music?) is bad. The people are boring and dull. The food is ok, but the atmosphere is pretty dead. Then there’s the party that is rockin it! The music is fantastic; the people are dancing and having fun hanging out. There is laughter and joy in people’s faces. The food, well who cares about the food, this is a great party.

I envision heaven to be a pretty big happening party atmosphere. After all we will be in the Presence of the Creator. He’s Creative & Funny – he made me! I’m pretty confident in His sense of humor! J I want to celebrate with Him. Check this out…

1 Praise the Lord.
Sing to the Lord a new song,

    his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;

    let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing

    and make music to him with timbril and harp.
For the Lord takes delight in his people;

    he crowns the humble with victory.
5 Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
 
   and sing for joy on their beds. (Psalm 149:1-5 NIV)

The Lord loves a good party – especially a party in His honor! I believe that our worship experiences with other Christ Followers should resemble a “happening party”. The music needs to be good and full of life. The participants should be enjoying one another’s presence as well as being in the Presence of the Creator of all things. The Lord loves me. He loves to see my glad heart. He loves it when I’m having fun in His Presence. I don’t believe the Lord is a party killer. I believe He is a party maker! I believe our Praise & Worship should resemble a party where there is some crazy dancing as well as slow dancing being held by Him. My God is NOT dead – He’s fully alive and living on inside of my heart. I want His Presence to show on the outside!

Pressing On!
Dwayne