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

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

Dreams

 

House and money on scalesWhen the recession hit full force between 2007 & 2010, our little part of the US Economy was hit very hard. We experienced 5 different banks and all their branches being taken over by the FDIC and sold off to another institution. One bank was started from the premise that they would be a “foreclosure bank”. When these bank take-downs took place there were hundreds of people in our area who lost massive amounts of money invested into those institutions. Then after the foreclosure banks took over, they started calling notes and loans due. I knew one person whose family had 3 investment properties who were never late and the bank called the note due. These folks were strong enough to go to another bank and borrow the funds to move forward. Others whose notes were called due had not choice except foreclosure or bankruptcy. (I don’t have time to explain the lucrative “loss-share” arrangement that the FDIC had with these foreclosure banks, which explains in large part why so many notes were called due.) These were some very hard times and money was very tight in our part of the world. Fast forward to 2017 and the economic outlook is a bit better. We still have some challenges ahead for sure, and while economic recovery has been slow, we are recovering.

As I read the word this morning, I was reminded that the Lord was not surprised by the recession. He is never caught off guard by events of my world. When I call out to Him, He shows up and really changes the outlook and outcome of many events. Check this out…

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
    ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them. (Psalm 126:1-6 NIV)

I don’t know many people who weren’t downsized a bit by the economic recession that is not too far distant in the rear-view mirror. I know that many of them have discovered a lot about themselves and their ability to recover and rebound. My family and I battled through like so many good people and I’m thankful that The Lord provided the path to navigate through such turbulent times.

I feel like the Lord brings hope and peace to the most chaotic circumstances or issues. He brings clarity and calm. He brings wisdom and discernment. He is responsible for giving wisdom in large doses to anyone who asks. He became my CFO (Chief Financial Officer) when the recession hit and He will hold that position in my life to the end.  He restored my hopes and dreams, they will just be delayed a bit. He is worthy of my trust and my hope. At the end of it all, the Lord owns everything and I’m simply His manager of what He’s given me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Discipline

 

Discipline is the bridge from WEAK to STRONG. Concept 3D illustration.I used to think of this word as punishment (aka – grounded or “the board of education applied to the ‘seat’ of understanding”). It wasn’t a positive word from my point of view. I now have an additional meaning to this word that speaks to regimen and behavior that develops skills and positive traits in my life. I still have a lot of room to grow in this area as I try to be more disciplined in the food choices I make and the volume of food I consume. It pains me to write about this because it’s a weakness that I’m working on. These two different meanings of the same word are very much related. The punishment that I received when I was “out of line” affected my behavior and taught me some boundaries. The daily disciplines I employ also reach a very similar destination.

Asaph was calling upon the Lord to punish (aka discipline) people who wanted to destroy Israel. He wanted the Lord to show up in power and show them Who they were dealing with. Check this out…

13 Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
    like chaff before the wind.
14 As fire consumes the forest
    or a flame sets the mountains ablaze,
15 so pursue them with your tempest
    and terrify them with your storm.
16 Cover their faces with shame, Lord,
    so that they will seek your name.

17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed;
    may they perish in disgrace.
18 Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord—
    that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:13-18 NIV)

I am reminded that the Lord has unmatched Power. He has unmatched Presence. His Patience with me is “over the top”. I deserve punishment, but I receive Grace. I’m thankful that He doesn’t give me what I deserve. I have been disciplined by the Lord, but I’m learning that self-discipline is much more proactive. (He helps me with that too!) I have done some stupid things in my life and the Lord has forgiven and restored me. I don’t ever want to forget His Love and His Grace. Because of His Love and Grace, I want His help with discipline in my life because the root word of discipline is disciple and that is exactly end goal – to be a life-long disciple of The Lord.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Delivered

delivery guy knockingI love getting packages from my online orders. I am an Amazon Prime member and it’s made Christmas shopping fun, easy and even economical. There is even cool technology that lets me track the shipments while they are on their way. I usually have my orders delivered to my office because our office staff is there during the day to receive deliveries. If I’m out showing houses and away from the office, I get a text when the packages are delivered. It’s fun to even open the packages and get them ready to wrap for a Christmas gift for someone else.

Job is still suffering from the loss of his family, his possessions and his health. He has been debating three of his “friends” and now a young man named Elihu speaks to Job. I have to commend this young man because he has such a respectful tone as he begins to speak. Check this out…

2 I am about to open my mouth;

    my words are on the tip of my tongue.

3 My words come from an upright heart;

    my lips sincerely speak what I know.

4 The Spirit of God has made me;

    the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (Job 33:2-4 NIV)

He then tells Job that the Lord may very well send a mediator to console and comfort him. He may send an angel or messenger to speak on His behalf. I actually like the tone of this young man’s words. He seems humble and kind. Check this out…

26 then that person can pray to God and find favor with him,

    they will see God’s face and shout for joy;

    he will restore them to full well-being.

27 And they will go to others and say,

    “I have sinned, and I have perverted what is right,

    but I did not get what I deserved.

28 God has delivered me from going down to the pit,

    and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.”

29 ‘God does all these things to a person –

    twice, even three times –

30 to turn them back from the pit,

    that the light of life may shine on them. (Job 33:26-30 NIV)

While this young man was speaking to Job, he really didn’t understand Job’s relationship with God. I do think what he’s describing though is much how I relate to the Lord. I do have a Mediator Who speaks to God on my behalf. He is Jesus. He intercedes on my behalf and he provided freedom from my sin because of His sacrifice. I can’t quite comprehend that kind of love – but I’m so thankful. Through Jesus, I’m delivered from sin forever. I’m thankful to have the Light of the Lord shining upon my life. It’s as if I’ve received a text saying that I’ve been delivered from death to life.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Forgivness & Restoration

 

God's mercy at the CrossBoth of these words are dear to my heart. They are words that require work. I believe the Lord is really good in both these areas. They are also close kin to one another.

Forgiveness is to pardon an offense against me.

Restoration is putting back into former position.

I look at both of these words in the context of my relationship with God and they are work that He’s done for me. He came to me through His Son Jesus to display complete forgiveness. He also restores me to a place where I’m no longer stained with sin – I’m clean in His Presence because of His restoration.

King David is separated from his son Absalom. Joab, David’s military leader and top advisor knew that David longed for his son. There were protocol’s involved so Joab orchestrated a plan to get Absalom back to Jerusalem. Joab sent a woman to pretend she was in mourning due to a similar situation as David and Absalom, but David figured it out. She said something in her little discourse that really resonated with me. Check this out….

14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him. (2 Samuel 14:14 NIV)

Her description of life is pretty keen. We use up our life every day “like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered”. The Lord does not leave us in our guilty state – He forgives. He then does something else amazing – He restores me. I was “damaged goods” when He found me and now I’m forgiven and I get to put my feet back under His table.

Forgiveness and Restoration are easier for me when God does both on my behalf. He then calls me to offer forgiveness and restoration to others who need both. This part is much tougher. I do remember that I was once dead, but He gave me life. When I forgive, I’m a lot like Him.

Pressing On!

Dwayne