To Be A Child Again

ChildrenI sometimes think about what it might be like to return to my childhood and experience some of those events that are simply memories. I remember Christmas as a child, the anticipation and excitement. I remember birthdays. I remember toys. I remember building a tree house. I remember working in the garden. (Some memories are not as positive!) I remember going to my grandparents’ house to hang out and play. I didn’t have much to worry about as a child. I didn’t have responsibilities like I have now. I didn’t have other people counting on me. I could just enjoy my life within the guidelines of my parents. There is still a big place in my heart for children. I spent 20 years of my life in student ministry and I enjoyed pouring into students. Now that I’m old, I want to be young again!

Jesus was always teaching and speaking with purpose with His disciples. They were all celebrities because they were part of Jesus entourage. They felt important – they were important. Sometimes, they got a little “out of bounds”.  Check this out…

13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.

14 When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” 16 Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:14-16 NLT)

Children are all in.

Children are filled with wonder.

Children are light-hearted.

Children are pure-hearted.

Children are innocent.

Children love to be loved.

Children are humble.

Jesus made it crystal clear that I must receive His Kingdom as a child. I need to let Him love me. I need to love Him with an “all in” spirit of gratitude. I need to trust Him. I need to live within the guidelines of His Protection. I need to love like He loves. I need to be humble before Him and everyone else as well. I need to be pure hearted. I need to be filled with wonder.

As I celebrate Christmas with my family, it’s a joy to see how my children have grown into adults. It’s still a joy to see their faces when giving and receiving gifts. It’s a joy to see the innocence of my grandchildren. I want to be a child again today before the Lord. I want to see His Kingdom through child-like wonder.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Thankful Heart

 

Girl holding a heart-shaped boxI want to have a thankful heart no matter what my circumstances.

I want to have a thankful heart in the middle of crisis.

I want to have a thankful heart in the joy of victory.

I want to have a thankful heart in the depths of grief.

 

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with a hateful heart.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with anger.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with selfishness.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with greed.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with envy.

A thankful heart can’t co-exist with jealousy.

 

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with giving!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with love!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with joy!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with peace!

A thankful heart CAN co-exist with patience!

I think you get the picture – a thankful heart stands on its own and needs to be the foundation of everything good inside my heart.

I’m trying to commit this to memory this week. Check this out… 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10 NLT)

I want to have a whole thankful heart every day for the rest of my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Grief & Sadness

Beauty girl cryThis is a word that covers many areas of my life. I have felt grief over the loss of a loved one. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a job. I’ve felt grief over the loss of a friend. I think grief touches everyone in some form or another. There are some losses that are less devastating and less permanent. If I lose a job, I can get another one. If I lose a friend I can be a friend to another and soon move forward. I’m not quite sure how you grieve the loss of a country. In Psalm 137, the writer is grieving the loss of their country being captured and their lives are forever different. Check this out…

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
    when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
    we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
    our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
    they said, ‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
    while in a foreign land? (Psalm 137:1-4 NIV)

It really is hard to think about songs of joy during pain. There are times that I can’t think because the grief hurts so deeply. I remember times when I cried until it felt like there were no more tears. I have made some decisions during times of grief that were not smart. A few years ago, after coming through a really hard time where grief was pushing on me hard, I determined that I would never go through grief alone – the Lord would always be there. I decided to claim His promises and lean into Him. His Presence did not disappoint. He gave great comfort but even greater clarity. I can sing songs of joy I the midst of great pain if His Presence is in me. He comforts me deeply and profoundly. He turns my sadness into singing. He turns my grief into joy. I can’t fully explain this to someone who amid struggle, but after the dust clears, this trust in the Lord is something to consider.

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

I Want To Live Like That

Worship to GodEvery now and then the lifestyle of a wealthy person catches my attention. It may be something like the vehicles they drive, the location of their home or a very big yacht. Those are some of the finer things in life that money does provide. I’m generally a very content person when it comes to material things. I don’t need lots of money and possessions to find happiness and joy. The Lord brings much contentment because He manages my worry. He reminds me of what is the most important pursuit of my life.  I want my life to bring honor to God Who created me and is building me. Check this out…

My heart is stirred by a noble theme
    as I recite my verses for the king;
    my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men
    and your lips have been anointed with grace,
    since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one;
    clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously
    in the cause of truth, humility and justice;
    let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. (Psalm 45:1-4 NIV)

I want to live like that guy! I want my words to measured well and understood well. I want my lips to be anointed with grace because I’ve experienced His Grace. I want the rest of my life here on earth to bring honor to God. I want my daily choices today to please Him.

This passage reminded me of a song that I’ve heard on the radio called: “I Wanna Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets.

Sometimes I think
What will people say of me
When I’m only just a memory
When I’m home where my soul belongs

Was I love
When no one else would show up
Was I Jesus to the least of us
Was my worship more than just a song
I wanna live like that
And give it all I have
So that everything I say and do
Points to You
If love is who I am
Then this is where I’ll stand
Recklessly abandoned
Never holding back
I wanna live like that

Am I proof
That You are who You say you are
That grace can really change your heart
Do I live like Your love is true

People pass
And even if they don’t know my name
Is there evidence that I’ve been changed
When they me do they see You

I wanna show the world the love He gave for me
I’m longing for the world to know
The glory of the King

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Favor

 

relaxI don’t mind doing favors for others most of the time. I also enjoy it when others do favors for me.  I do realize that doing a favor for someone almost always costs me something. If the cost is minimal it’s an easy call. If someone asked me for a favor like driving them to California and back – well that wouldn’t be easy to pull off and I feel I could say “pass” on that one. It’s one thing for a favor to cost me a lot, it’s another thing when the favor costs those closest to me.

David wrote from such a healthy perspective many of the Psalms. He seemed to understand his place in God’s world. He understood that He needed the Lord always. Check this out…

4 Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;

    praise his holy name.

For his anger lasts only a moment,

    but his favor lasts a lifetime;

weeping may stay for the night,

    but rejoicing comes in the morning.

6 When I felt secure, I said,

    ‘I shall never be shaken.’

7 Lord, when you favored me,

    you made my royal mountain stand firm;

but when you hid your face,

    I was dismayed.

11 You turned my wailing into dancing;

    you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

12 that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.

    Lord my God, I will praise you forever. (Psalm 30:4-7,11-12 NIV)

As I read this short psalm this morning I relaxed a bit. I read it a couple of more times because it calmed my heart. My heart is often anxious because of worry and fear. When I take a moment to think of God’s favor over me, I can relax.

As I think back on my life, I can vividly see times of wailing when my heart was smashed into pieces from pain. I had never experienced pain and heartbreak of that level.  I was at what felt like the bottom with no place to look but up. The Lord was gracious to me during those times of struggle and pain. As I look back on those experiences, I can now see the hand of God and how He was holding on to me and walking with me through those dark valleys. I learned that He is NEVER ABSENT and He NEVER abandons me.  I am so thankful that He turned my sorrow and struggles into laughter and joy. He has restored my soul many times and on many occasions.

I’m humbled and thankful for the favor of God upon my life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne