Friday, September 02, 2005

Let's get this party started!

Dante has a Catholic background but had fallen hard away from the Lord. Since he walked away from his faith, he has been alienated from his Catholic family.

Last night, the Lord made a breakthrough in Dante's life and he wanted to now have Jesus be in control of his life. He told my friend Dave: "I have walked away (from the Lord) and it has not worked. It is time now for me at this already age of 35 to get right with the Lord and let him control my life." Praise the Lord! Dante rededicated his life to the Lord.

Were you wondering what all the hoopla in heaven was about last night? It was about Dante! What do I mean? Jesus was talking to a mixed group of religious hypocrites and seeking sinners one day. He told them, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10) and furthermore, "there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7, emphasis mine).

There's a party, a celebration, music, dancing, rejoicing in heaven because one person turns from his sin and turns to Christ! Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I think it's all about the numbers--the masses--getting saved. Don't get me wrong: I want the masses saved. I pray for the salvation of every person who visits Rochester Vineyard Christian Church, of every person who lives in the Corn Hill neighborhood (where the church meets), and of every person in the city of Rochester. Jesus came so that the whole world might be saved.

But God is also interested in the individual. Yes, even you who are reading this right now because a friend told you to check it out! God throws a party for the sake of one person. Have you fallen away from God? Have you lost your way? Did you turn left when you should have turned right? Is your faith shipwrecked? Run out of gas? Lost the desire? God is right where you are, calling your name, beckoning you to repent of your sin and turn to Him. He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love.

A couple of days ago, I lost my wallet. I was sitting at my computer and suddenly realized my wallet was not in my back pocket. Let me tell you, I absolutely flipped out! I tried retracing my steps in my mind, thinking of all the places I had been that morning. I searched every corner of my car three times. I went through my jacket pockets several times. I turned my desk upside down. I called Starbucks and asked if anybody had turned in a wallet. I went down there, myself, to see if it was lying somewhere. I made a thorough search of my wife's car since I had driven that earlier.

I wasn't having a stellar day in the first place, and this event sent me reeling. I screamed out to God, "You have to tell me where my wallet is! I cannot deal with this, Lord! I don't have the energy to replace all the things that were in there and make all the phone calls to cancel this and that credit card!" I wasn't going to let God go on this one.

When I got home, I didn't want to talk to anyone about any subject except my wallet. I can't remember when I've been so focused about anything. I was mildly--OK, maybe not so mild--rude to my family. "Isaiah (my 2 1/2-year-old), have you seen Daddy's wallet!" "Your wawwet?" "Yes, my wawwet; have you seen it?" "It's over there," he said pointing to his room. Well, I didn't really believe him, but I figured, what can it hurt to look? Meanwhile, Hayley my 5-year-old has somewhat joined the search.

After a few minutes of searching the floor of my son's room, I found it under his pajamas! I let out a loud "Thank You, Jesus!" Hayley says, "Daddy, we have to give God the glory!" So we started dancing around and singing.

Following this incident, I was reminded of all of Jesus' parables about something (or someone) lost being found. I think God was giving me a picture of how He feels about lost people. He is focused. He is on a mission. He is determined to bring His lost ones back to Himself. And He celebrates when they return.

Are you lost? Come (back) to Jesus! Are you found? Get out there and join God's mission to seek and save that which was lost! Let's instigate heavenly parties!


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