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

Debate

 

Mother scolding her sonI think “debate” is another form of argument. I don’t remember winning any “debates” with my parents when I was growing up. I knew that “yes” meant Yes and “no” meant No! I do remember thinking I knew way more than my parents from a fairly young age. I remember getting my Grandpa (aka Pappy) a card once that said: “The older I get the smarter you get” (paraphrased I’m sure). My Pappy loved the card and beamed. He knew that I was finally getting wise to some insights that I needed to become an adult.

I came across a passage this morning that made me chuckle a bit, because of the truth taught in the passage. Check this out…

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’ (Isaiah 45:9 NLT)

I must confess that this made me smile to think about an inanimate object arguing back about how I make the handle on the cup that I’m molding out of clay. I also chuckled as I thought about a child calling out their parents about why they were made this way or that way. I must confess that on more than one occasion, I’ve instructed God on what I thought He should do. I’ve learned that if I come to Him in humility and respect that He actually cares what I think and how I feel. I can’t always understand His decisions or His way of doing things, but at the end of the day, I trust Him. I’ve always wanted and tried to do what is best for my children, but they sometimes couldn’t see it that way.

I’ve walked with the Lord through enough suffering and struggle to know that He never leaves me alone – He is ALWAYS near. He gives me strength needed to push through the struggle and suffering so that He is honored. I must look at my suffering and struggle through His perspective and not my own. He may be building something into my life that is needed in the years to come. He sees the whole picture and I just see one little snippet of the big picture.

I’ve stopped debating the Lord about anything. I do still share with Him my opinions and feelings on a diverse set of topics. I also do so with respect and reverence. I’ve learned that He is a Great Listener. Sometimes in my conversations with Him, the light bulb comes on and I get it. My conversations with Him are more for me than for Him – He grows me through my questions and conversations with Him. At the end of everything, I trust Him. Even when I don’t understand, I trust Him. I trust the Heart of God in everything.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

If Only

 

ApathyI have used those two words together way too often. I used these two words mostly to “second guess” a decision or choice that I made. “If Only” often carries with it regret over something that was left undone or unfinished.  If only is related to “looking back” and how I can have 20/20 vision. If only comes along when I have new information and new options that either I didn’t have or didn’t see previously.

Jesus came to the earth as a baby born of Mary a virgin and He was raised in a Carpenter shop. He began His earthly ministry around the age of 30 and set about teaching and hanging out with a select few for the purpose of bringing glory to His Father. His actions were often misunderstood or misinterpreted then. We have the privilege of seeing His actions as well as the reasons behind them. This is nearly impossible when things are happening in “real time”.

Jesus’ friend Lazarus had recently died. He had gotten word that Lazarus was sick, but chose to stay where He and His team were ministering. Mary, Martha & Lazarus were dear friends and He often stayed with them when He was near Jerusalem. They lived in Bethany, a few miles outside Jerusalem. He then headed toward their place. When He was just outside the village, Mary & Martha got word He was coming their way, so Martha goes out to meet Him. Check this out…

20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”  (John 11:20-27 NLT)

The first thing Martha said to Jesus was “If Only”. She was grieving and hurting. She had been with Jesus and knew of His healing power because she had seen with her own eyes. She believed that Jesus could have healed her brother. Jesus had more than “healing” in mind. He was about to “blow their mind”.

This is the first time that Jesus calls Himself “the resurrection and the life”. This is a bold claim for sure, but Martha that she believed that He was Who He said He was. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He took His ministry to a whole new level. He also explained that He was hear for the Glory of God. I haven’t always understood how God can uses hard times, hardship and suffering for His glory. He can use the sudden death of a friend for His glory. I don’t always understand this, but this truth is woven throughout the pages of His Word. He is always pointing to eternal life as the “end goal”, not just life here on earth. We are here for His Glory, not our own. It’s hard to understand this concept when we haven’t “been there and done that”.  Eternal life is a mystery to us. It is not a mystery to the Lord. I can’t always explain the reasons things happen, but I do believe that I can find a way to give the Lord honor and praise in every situation. I don’t want to call on Him in regret (if only), I want to call on Him with respect and trust to help me walk through any circumstance that I face.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

All Things New

 

Word in Stars Announcing Brand New Product or ImprovementI love the smell of a new car. I used to love owning a new car, but I hated the payments and I also hated the depreciation that descended the minute I drove off the lot. I do like new stuff. I especially like new technology toys. Right now, I’m enjoying the new iPhone operating system (aka IOS) because “my phone feels new, yet somehow familiar”.  New & Improved are marketing tools for a whole host of products. There are times that “new & improved” are simply marketing slogans and nothing much has changed.

John is nearing the close of his revelation. He is seeing more things that are hard to describe and explain. He writes what he hears and does his best to describe the scenes before him. This scene is one of my favorite. Check this out…

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give free from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. (Revelation 21:3-7 NLT)

I am thankful to serve the Lord as He dwells with me. He has been with me through some dark valleys for sure. He has been with me through some deep pain and suffering. His Presence is most definitely a game changer. He brings hope with Him. He brings healing – spiritual and often physical, when He enters. I look forward to a world without death, sorrow, crying or pain. I look forward to being in His Presence without a worry or care in the world.

Just yesterday, the daughter of a REALTOR friend was diagnosed with Acute Leukemia. It immediately brought some memories back when my son was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the helpless and hopeless feelings that came with that. As a Dad, I would have exchanged places with my son through that battle. My heart is heavy for my friend and the journey that she is on with her daughter. I’m envisioning a place with no cancer, no sickness of any kind. I’m longing for that place.

A song that ministered to me during our journey is still speaking to me today.

Let Me Feel You Shine by David Crowder.

This place is trying to break my belief 
But my faith is bigger than all I can see 
And what I need is redemption 
And what I need is for You for to put me back on my feet 

I swear I’m trying to give everything 
But I feel I’m falling, make me believe 
What I need is resurrection 
What I need is for You to put me back on my feet 

If I could feel You shine Your perpetual light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If I could feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Let me feel You shine Oh
Let me feel You shine

I lift the knife to the thing I love most 
Praying You’ll come so I can have both 
What I need is You to touch me 
What I need is for You to be the thing that I need 

God I need a Savior 
O come generous King 
O God I need a Savior 
To come rescue me 

Oh let me feel You shine Your magnificent light 
Then maybe I could crawl out of this tonight 
If You let me feel You feel You shine 
Oh let me feel You shine 
So beautiful and warm 
So beautiful and bright 
Like a sun comin’ out of a rainy sky 
Oh let me feel You shine 

______________________________

I want to feel the Presence of God all over my life every day of my life. I want to feel Him shine upon my life with His life-giving LIGHT!  He is the LIGHT of The World! He has the power to make all things new – in fact it’s a promise!

Pressing On!

Dwayne

The Way I Used To Be

 

Life changesThere are lots of things about my life that are way different than they used to be. When I think back to the courtship of my wife 23 years ago things are different now. Our love for one another is much deeper and mature. It is fun to think back to how we once were early on in our dating relationship and early marriage. Relationships grow deeper and expand at a deeper level.

If I think back to my early relationship with the Lord, it was very vibrant and full of energy. I was young and excited to follow the Lord. When the “new” wore off, I found myself doing stupid things that hurt His heart. I wandered away from Him and went my own way for a season. He never left me. He showed great patience with me as I tried to figure some things out. I guess I had to learn on my own that when the sign says, “dead end” – it really is. I was warned about many dead-end decisions, but I tried them out anyway. He still was waiting patiently.

In the letter to church at Ephesus, He calls them out for forgetting their first love. Check this out…

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. (Revelation 2:2-5 CSB)

I have returned to my journey with Him over the past several years. He has spoken volumes into my life through the steady study of His Word. I’m still steady and growing in my love for Him. I’m still trying to walk in obedience of Him daily. I want to live like He lived. I want to love like He loves. I want to push through the times of hardship and suffering. I want my life to reflect a faithful, consistent follower of Jesus.  I want to love Him more today than yesterday. I want to love Him deeper that yesterday. I want my relationship with the Lord to grow and grow with the roots of my relationship planted deeply in His Word.

I want to keep returning to the love I had for Him early on before being “tainted” by what the world offers. I want to be faithful to Him, He has been so faithful to me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne

Patience & Suffering

Woman suffering from stress grimacing in painI am not known for patience, but I’m learning more every day. I am not filled with road rage, but I do get frustrated when others can’t seem to figure out how to drive their truck or car like the rest of us! (LOL) Patience is a very important character trait. It’s included as a fruit of The Spirit. (Galatians 5:22) I like being around patient people, it’s not nearly as easy to be patient as it appears. Our culture leans hard toward instant gratification instead of delayed gratification. We like things now and we don’t like to wait. The older I get the more aware of this epidemic of impatience. I was reminded of patience this morning, especially when things are not going as planned and suffering comes on the scene. Check this out…

Therefore, brothers and sisters, be patient until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth and is patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, because the Lord’s coming is near.

10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name as an example of suffering and patience. 11 See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome that the Lord brought about—the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8,10-11 CSB)

People who have endured suffering are more thankful than those who haven’t. Suffering is hard and painful. It’s a struggle to suffer and I need others with me in the struggle. Those who have suffered are humble in spirit.  I would not wish suffering upon anyone, but I pray that those during suffering learn that leaning into the Lord is the best path through it. I also know that when I’ve endured suffering, I’m stronger and closer to the Lord than ever before. If I don’t trust the Lord in my suffering, I’ll become bitter instead of better. Suffering, Patience & Endurance build rock solid character on multiple levels. I’ve learned more about myself during these struggles. The Lord has built some character qualities in me during suffering and hard time that I’m not sure could have been built any other way.

I don’t pray for patience, but I really try to practice it. I pray for strength for today. I pray for the Lord to give me strength to endure hardship and hard times. I approach Him with a thankful heart for all that He has brought me through because remember my history of struggle and suffering gives a healthy perspective on today’s struggle. Someone quipped that “life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch”. I want to live my life out walking with the Lord through everything – the good, easy or the hard & hectic. His Presence in my heart gives me great strength and confidence to face whatever life throws at me. Life is not always easy, but He is certainly ALWAYS with me.

Pressing On!

Dwayne