Restoration Story

 

Fixer Upper House Home Repair Construction ProjectThe word restoration brings with it concepts like renewed, reestablished, returned to a former or original condition. I’m a fan of Chip & Joanna Gaines and their show “Fixer Upper”. They take “run down” or “beaten up” old houses and make them beautiful again and worth a lot more money than they were previously. I have the privilege of seeing homes restored and updated with more new and modern materials. Just yesterday, I listed a home that had been completely taken down to the bare walls (with removal of some walls) and brought back with a new kitchen, new bathroom, flooring, electrical – you name it and it was touched and restored or renewed.

I definitely believe my life has been restored on more than one occasion. There have been seasons of my life where I “went through the motions” of following the Lord. Lately, I’ve had an insatiable hunger for more of Him in my heart. I am participating in a small discipleship group with four other men and we’re reading scripture together and talking about how the Lord is speaking into us. This morning I was reading in Isaiah and the Lord speaks of restoring His people and this passage spoke to me about His restoration of me. Check this out…

I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’
    and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’
They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures
    and on hills that were previously bare.
10 They will neither hunger nor thirst.
    The searing sun will not reach them anymore.
For the Lord in his mercy will lead them;
    he will lead them beside cool waters.
11 And I will make my mountains into level paths for them.
    The highways will be raised above the valleys.
12 See, my people will return from far away,
    from lands to the north and west,
    and from as far south as Egypt.”

13 Sing for joy, O heavens!
    Rejoice, O earth!
    Burst into song, O mountains!
For the Lord has comforted his people
    and will have compassion on them in their suffering. (Isaiah 49:9-13 NLT)

I can still recall times of suffering in my life. I can see now what I couldn’t see then – how the Lord uses suffering and struggle to build things into my character and into my heart. I do not wish to go through that again, nor do I wish suffering upon people. I have learned to embrace it when it arrives. I can’t remove it. I can’t escape it. With the Lords help, I can survive it and grow in my faith through it.

My favorite part of this passage is, how the Lord can make mountains level and the highways above the valleys and how He leads beside cool waters. I am a survivor of suffering because the Lord is with me and He will ALWAYS be with me. His promises are real and so is His restoration of my heart. I am a real life that is a “fixer upper” for sure.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Advocate

LawyerThere are occasions where I’ve needed an advocate. This is someone who speaks for me. My advocate needs to know everything about me so that they can defend me and direct me. An advocate provides a different perspective – they see different solutions for my situation. An advocate can be an attorney, a spokesperson, a friend, a counselor, parent, sibling or co-worker. I am thankful for my earthly advocates. I came across a small passage in the Gospel of John this morning where Jesus is promising an Advocate. Check this out…

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NLT)

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a foreign subject to them but they will soon learn first-hand about the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence in them. Jesus is giving them a heads up. He is also trying to comfort them because He’s leaving them to return to the Father.  I believe that they were probably pretty emotional about His leaving them and the Holy Spirit is to be a Presence and an Advocate.  As I’m writing this, I’m also thinking about how as a Dad, I’m also and advocate for my kids. As a husband, I’m an advocate for my wife. I’m also an advocate for my friends, my clients, customers, agents & employees.

I’m thankful for my Advocate (aka The Holy Spirit), who gives me counsel, direction, comfort, peace by His Presence.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

(Note: As I was writing this yesterday, my youngest son woke up early and came into the living room and sat with me and talked. I realized again what a blessing to be his advocate – so I published this a day late. It was worth it. #advocate)

Evidence

 

Magnifying Glass - FactsI used to be a big fan of Perry Mason, Law & Order, Matlock and shows that featured the court of law. The television shows were much more dramatic that most courtrooms. I was recently in court with a friend and couldn’t help by notice the procedural drama and what appeared to me as a lot of time wasted. It seemed to me, that by the time the facts were presented, the court was tired of all the other drama. I learned that the “wheels of justice” turn very slowly and very deliberately. If I were in trouble with the law, I’m sure I would appreciate this.

In a court of law a critical piece to the case is the evidence. This is “the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid”. (Google) Evidence is also defined as “data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects”. (dictionary.com)

Jesus heals a man born blind by making mud for the man to put on his eyes and wash off in the pool of Siloam. When the man did as he was told, he was healed of his blindness. He was “blown away” and very thankful for sure. He told everyone! The religious leaders immediately got engaged because the day that this all went down happened to be the Sabbath. The religious leaders questioned the man who was healed and they didn’t believe the facts as he presented them. They even went so far as to question whether or not he was really blind since birth. Check this out…

18 The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents. 19 They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?”

20 His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, 21 but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue. 23 That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

25 “I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!” (John 9:18-25 NLT)

If evidence is ignored, it doesn’t change the evidence. I can choose to ignore the facts presented to me because my mind is “made up”.  I have been following the Lord for a long time. I have entertained doubts about God. I have had some very “frank” conversations with Him over the years. The evidence for God to me is overwhelming and conclusive. I can’t refute the evidence. I heard a great quote last week that says: “A man with experience is NOT at the mercy of a man with an opinion.” I have had my faith affirmed too many times to count. I believe in God. I believe that His Son Jesus came to earth, lived and died for the sins of the world. I believe that the Holy Spirit is present in me and with me as I walk out my faith each day. I can’t give multiple exhibits in a court of law, but the evidence in my journey is irrefutable and solid. I wish I could be more clear and precise – I know what I know and I believe His Word is true!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Living Water

I wish I had been the guy many years ago who had the idea of bottling water. It’s convenient and fairly simple. I’ve picked up a bottle of water at a gathering to find that it’s bottled with water from a city municipal water supply – aka “the faucet”!  My friend, Chris Cook has a company called Superior Mountain Water. We have those water coolers at the office, with the blue bottle on top, and you can get a really fresh great tasting cup of cool water on demand. I have learned that I like some “brands” of bottled water better than others. My body must have water to live. In fact, most doctors recommend a generous amount of water consumption every day. The water can serve as a cleansing agent to my body.

Jesus, once again calls himself LIVING WATER. John qualifies it a bit more as the living water that He speaks of is the Holy Spirit. Check this out…

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said, “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.) (John 7:37-39 NLT)

Jesus spoke of giving Living Water to the woman at the well earlier in His ministry. He is not proclaiming this to the crowds. I’m assuming that John is writing this after Jesus had ascended back to heaven.

When I first accepted Jesus and was baptized as a young kid, I had no real tangible ideas or thoughts about the Holy Spirit. I don’t think my young brain could handle the concept or either I wasn’t taught much about it. I’ve since experienced first-hand the Power and the Presence that the Holy Spirit brings to my life. I’ve tasted this Living Water that Jesus speaks of.

The Living Water brings peace.

The Living Water brings healing.

The Living Water brings comfort.

The Living Water bring hope.

The Living Water brings life.

The Living Water brings grace.

I could go on and on about this Living Water (aka The Holy Spirit).  His Presence in me has completely changed my perspective on EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in my life. The Holy Spirit is the FILTER (aka the glasses) through which I see. My vision is clear. My mission is clear. I’m seeking to honor Him every day in every way possible.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Believe Me

john-3-16I grew up at a very young age believing in God. I did rebel and I was unsure for a short season about what I believed. I remember the time and place when my faith became my own. I have since given away my faith to others. In 1982 when I first became a minister, I started sharing my faith. As a student pastor, I gave away my faith to others and hopefully encouraged them to look carefully at the Gospel. I have no idea how many people heard me speak about my faith in God. I have no idea how many people read this little blog and have learned about my faith. I’m so thankful for the grace and mercy extended to me and the peace that comes from knowing God, I can’t help but share my faith with others.

Jesus has just spoken to the Samaritan woman at the well. He blew her mind talking about living water and He told her that He was the Messiah. She went back and told her friends and they came to hear Him. It was cool to see what her friends said. Check this out…

39 Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” 40 When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, 41 long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. 42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world. (John 4:39-42 NLT)

I enjoy reading the Word of God as He continually reveals Truth in the pages of Scripture.

I also believe that the Spirit of God is speaking through Scripture and through prompting in my life. I believe that this life is preparatory for eternal life. I wish everyone I shared my faith with believed, but I’m confident that they don’t. I’m going to start asking people to at least explore getting to know God. I want others to believe because they now have experienced God up close and personal.

I believe God is so patient and kind. He is the Ultimate GRACE GIVER. He has watched me do stupid things and wander away, but He has welcomed me home again and again. I’ve been the prodigal son. I’ve been the son who stayed home. I’ve been blessed to live a good life sharing my faith. I’m so thankful that the more I know Him the deeper my love for Him grows. He could have punished me, but instead, He gives me grace. If you won’t believe Him because of me, please start reading the gospel of John and get to know Jesus for yourself.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Hard To Explain

 

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroomThere are things in life that are very hard to explain in proper words and perspective. I love watching planes fly and I understand the science behind aviation, but it still blows mind that an commercial jet, weighing nearly 1 million pounds can take off and fly through the air.

I’m also fascinated with the weather. Recently we “battened down the hatches” where I live because we were in the path of Hurricane Irma who left a path of destruction for hundreds of miles. When the hurricane arrived in GA, a cold front came in and totally diffused the storm. The meteorologist’s predictions were a bit overkill on that storm.

Jesus meets with a knowledgeable man and explains the Kingdom of God to a man who was well versed in the law and teachings of the law. The Lord gives a good explanation, but also challenges the current system. Check this out…

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life. So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8 NLT)

I have followed the Lord since I was a young kid. I remember being baptized when I was in 3rd Grade. I didn’t understand all the deep things of God, but I believed that He made the world and that He loved me. Since that time, I’ve had some profound experiences that have affirmed my faith in God many times over. I have structured my life around my belief and convictions about God. I believe that He created the heavens and the earth. I believe that His One and Only Son is Jesus, Who came to earth and lived a sinless life and gave Himself to be the final sacrifice for all sin. When Jesus left the earth and ascended into heaven, He promised us a Comforter, a Presence called the Holy Spirit of God. Upon accepting Jesus as Lord, the Holy Spirit shows up and gives guidance, direction, protection, wisdom and peace in every situation that comes my way. I can’t explain the Power and Presence of the Holy Spirit, but I know He is here and He is with me. I’ve seen Him in others as well.

I wish I could explain clearly how the Lord has changed my life. It is really simple faith, but a complete life-changing, life altering perspective. I love deeper and live on purpose because of the Presence of God in my life. I wish everyone would get to know Him. I wish I could introduce the Lord more clearly and explain my faith journey more clearly. In the simplest terms, I trust in Jesus with my very life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne