And then…what?   Leave a comment


Sunday morning is finally here. Whew! It’s been a long week and church day can’t get here fast enough. This is the day of rest that God was talking about, right? I get to go in and worship Him, then hear what God is doing in the lives of the saints. I get to hear His word and do some prayer, and then… what?

We have an awesome Praise and Worship team with some of the most talented musicians and singers that I’ve ever had the privilege of hearing. The Holy Spirit moves on them and they each step out into their gifting. I get to sing along, raise my hands, even get a little dance on. It feels really good telling God that I love Him, to Thank Jesus for all that He has given me. Often times I can just feel Him wrap His arms around me while He tells me how special I am.

I look around and see the rest of the congregation. Most are “getting into it”, too. Some are seated, holding kids on their laps while singing along. Some of the moms chasing their little ones around. Others are  dancing or waving banners and flags in worship. A few just stand, not moving, apparently not doing anything but listening. I’m sure that they are just paying extra attention to the lyrics, but it’s not really my business, I guess. The children are even getting in on this Holy fun and they are loving every minute of it. It’s true, loving on God can be fun, just like when my grandson loves on me and vice versa. It’s not a chore, it is a great time! So we, as a church, spend this time loving on God, and then…what?

Exhortation, that’s what! Right? Someone gets up and shares a few scriptures, extols the virtues of being in the House of the Lord. Get’s the congregation fired up, knowing that they’ve made the right decision to be here on Sunday morning. Where else would we be on Sunday? We love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. In showing up on Sunday, we demonstrate that, right? What else is there?

Time for the giving of tithes and offerings. I love this part. I can tell God how much I love Him by being obedient to His word when it concerns giving. I love to give as an act of worship to the Lord. The funds get to go into the general fund to “do the work of the church”. Not exactly sure what that is, but I’m sure the Pastor, the elders and the trustees have it together.

Then, we get to hear the testimonies of God’s goodness in the lives of our Christian brothers and sisters. We get to hear about healings that have taken place or financial miracles or when someone got to pray with another person or feed them.  These are great things to hear. God is moving in peoples lives. Even if they get a little animated when they talk about it, I guess it’s okay and even a little fun to watch and listen. You never really know what you are going to hear. But then… what?

Oh yeah. The pastor finally gets to give a message. His slide show starts on the screen with all of his carefully bulleted points. Each one carefully researched. I get to hear about the Greek or Hebrew meaning of a word. Very cool. Then he works in a couple of jokes. Sometimes corny, sometimes actually funny. The message he gives sounds great. I am so happy I came. It’s like all of this knowledge I get, every week.  Just for showing up. I know stuff.  And with that knowledge I can… what?

So service is over and even though my wife and I have places to be, (I’ve got a Sunday nap calling my name), we stick around.  We have a few moments for the obligatory good-byes and other pleasantries. Some people seem so rushed, they don’t even take the time for something so minor as greeting their brothers and sisters in the Lord. I think they may be missing something there.

So we go home and do our chores, run our errands or take our nap. This has been a great Sunday. I can’t believe that I have to wait until next week before I get to go love on God again.

PART II to follow

Posted August 23, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

I wanted to be Ronny   4 comments


So, my best friend from childhood called me Monday to tell me his sister had just died. He asked me if I would “do” the memorial service. “Of course I will”, I told him. So, I’ve been thinking about it since then. What will I say? How do I sum up someones life in a matter of moments?  

Patty was different. She was his big sister, but she was born with brain damage and was subject to frequent seizures among other health issues. Some people used the term “retarded” but I’ve never been big on that one. I was barely a teenager at the time and I had never been around someone like Patty before.

I remember when I first met her, she didn’t seem to pay too much attention to me, but at some point early on,  and for reasons I never knew, she started calling me Ronny. Sometimes she would just look at me and say the name, “Ronny”. Sometimes she would come over and tell me “look Ronny” and show me whatever stuffed animal or toy that she was holding at the time.

And sometimes, she would just come over and put her arms around me and put her head on my chest and I could feel the love that she had for Ronny.  I remember at those times wishing that I was Ronny, the object of such innocent, love and affection. Of course, at the time I didn’t know terms like “innocent love and affection”. But I know how it felt being Ronny for just a few moments at a time.  

I’ve been thinking back on all of this and it came to me that it’s just like Jesus. His word says that when I go to heaven, I’ll receive a new name. He doesn’t look at me and see Dwayne, the flawed, unlovable person that I am. He sees me as someone worth loving, made perfect in Him, and given a different name. 

He came and died to take my sin away, so that if I want to, I can get my new name and live with Him forever. And I do want to. It’s cool, because even though I can never be “Ronny”, I can be the man that Jesus sees me to be.  I know the flaws that I have and the unlovable qualities inside of me. But Jesus’ sacrifice gives me a choice. I can choose to stay the way I am or I can be that new man.

I do strive to be the man that He sees and not the one that I percieve.  And when I fail, He just tells me “come on son, you’re okay, get up and try it again.” and again, and again. That is the innocent love and affection that I felt when Patty would love on me.

When I get to heaven, I’ll be able to talk with Patty and she will be able to talk to me. Actual conversation. But isn’t funny, she said more to me with a hug for “Ronny” than I could ever say with a lifetime of communication. 

So, I guess that’s how I’ll sum up a lifetime in moments, just talking about the moments she used to impact mine. If you, the reader, think about it, maybe you can pray for peace and the salvation of all of Patty’s loved ones. I’d like for them to get to have great conversation with her, too.

**Authors Note** I learned after publishing this, that I was mistaken. Patty was not born brain damaged. She became ill with “german fever” when she was about 5 or so, and the fever damaged her brain. From a parents/grandparents perspective, the thought of a baby being born into the world “normal” and then changed so dramatically, isn’t something I can truly wrap my head around and may be a topic of future writing, if I can ever muster the courage to think about it, let alone write about it.

Posted February 23, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

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Under Construction   Leave a comment


I’ve never done this before, designed a website. As I think about it, I find that it is kind of a reflection of me- Under Construction. The foundation is there and it’s sound. However, there are challenges, both technical and informational, that I encounter. Big learning curve, but it is coming together, just like me. When I am finished with the site (or at least get to a stopping point) I expect to get back to doing some regular writing. In the meantime, Check us out at: www.compassioncentral.org.

Posted February 17, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

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Well, there I go again.   1 comment


Completely self serving. That’s what today’s post is. Awesome, amazing, perfect, gentleman, Godly, considerate, loving, caring, and thoughtful. These are just some of the words that my bride uses to describe me. Yes, that’s right, me. Okay, I may have added perfect, but you see the trend. She thinks pretty highly of me.

I understand that most people reading this want to puke by now, trust me, I understand. I’ve never seen myself in any of those ways. When she agreed to marry me, I thought “hurry up, lets get this done before she realizes I’m not who she thinks I am.” When I look at her I realize how completely inadequate that I am and how much more she deserves than “this”, me.

She’s fairly predictable.  When she reads this, she’ll protest and say something nice about how I’m too hard on myself, and to not talk about her husband this way, but really it’s true.  I don’t deserve this woman, beautiful in every way. Again, I know you, the reader, are thinking “come on Dwayne, what are you doing? I didn’t get on here to read your soap opera, I wanted to get something insightful and meaningful, encouraging even”.

Well, the fact is that this week, I’ve not been myself. For no reason, I’ve said mean and hurtful things. I don’t know why. Maybe to prove her wrong about my greatness, maybe because I’ve been tired and hungry (I have been fasting this week). Maybe it’s just the enemy creeping in putting words in my mouth. I have no real explanation or excuse.

I do have a thought on it though. Isn’t this just like how I treat Jesus? He thinks so highly of me. He sits up there and tells the Father what a great child that I am. He does use the word perfect since He paid the price for my shortcomings and made me that way. He tells God about the good things that I do and how well I treat others and all of that. And then, bam! For no apparent reason I say something mean about one of his kids, or blame Him for something I felt he should or should not have done. For no good reason, I disobey Him when He tells me to do something, or to not do something.    

Yet, I ask Jesus to forgive me, and He does. Everytime. And because He does, I want to be better, I want to do better. Because He loves me enough to forgive me when I blow it, I don’t want to blow it. I will, because I’m still human, but I’m trying. I’m moving toward being the best that I can be, which is to be like Him.

Now that I think about it, my wife is a lot like Him. She thinks better of me than I do of myself. She sees the man God has called me to be, not the man that I percieve myself to be. And when I do and say foolish and hurtful things, she forgives me, just like Jesus does. Because she loves me enough to forgive me when I fail, I don’t want to fail. I will, because I’m still human, but I’m trying. I’m moving toward being the best I can be, which is to be the husband she deserves.

Posted January 27, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

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Your Vision and Purpose? Really?   4 comments


Do you ever have that dream where the boat, representing your life, is sailing away without you? Either the dreams you’ve had or the plans you envisioned don’t seem to be coming to pass or they have materialised in a completely different, maybe less pleasant way than you ever anticipated. Or worse, you wake up one day believing that you’ve never even really had a vision or a purpose much less a plan to accomplish it.  

You’ve just been sort of caught up in life’s responsibilities. The daily duties of going to work to earn a paycheck, to pay the bills so that you have a place to lay your head at night and a vehicle and gas money to drive you back tomorrow, to start all over again.  Or you’ve been so busy doing the best you can to raise the family that you haven’t given any thought to yourself or you’ve counted those thoughts of purpose as a waste of time.  The routines of life, caring for and doing for everybody else out of duty and obligation has seemingly deprived you of your own future and vision, or at least diminished it.

It’s easy for life to get away from us. You blink and your 30, you blink again and your 40, blink again and… well you get the point. It makes you want to stop blinking, huh? Well, I have great news for you. God has a plan for you and you are not allowed to die until you complete that plan. Now, don’t misunderstand me. If you are trying to avoid death, you can’t hold it off simply by avoiding what God  has set aside for you to do. And you can choose to not follow the plan He has for your life and that’s entirely up to you, too. However, if you have been thinking “what about me? Where’s the vision for my life? What’s my purpose?” it may be so much closer than you think.

Maybe you have realized that what you had in mind, your plan, didn’t work. Maybe circumstances have placed you in what you feel is a hopeless, helpless, hapless situation. That’s awesome! God allows mistakes, but He doesn’t make them. He has allowed you to get to a place where you no longer want to be the boss of you. He sees room in you to place a vision or birth a dream. His vision and dream for you. He finds room inside of you to pour His desires, to fulfill His purpose. How cool is that?  

I believe that if this writing is resonating with you, your time is around the corner. God does not withhold any good thing from His children. His timing is His business, but you aren’t waking up to this understanding of yours for no reason. You are waking up to it, because He has something in store for you and wants you to be prepared, to be available, to be willing to walk in it. His vision and purpose for our lives is so much better than anything we can come up with.

Be encouraged. By the way, it’s okay to keep blinking. You are exactly where you are supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there.

Posted January 21, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

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Where do I fit?   2 comments


Baretta, Barnaby Jones, Starsky and Hutch, Hill Street Blues, Adam 12, 21-Jump Street… the list goes on.  As a boy, my diet consisted of any show where the men in blue were chasing people, helping people or otherwise saving the day. I was into it and by “into it” I mean that in my mind I was the guy, the man, the hero. I was part of every foot chase, car chase, hostage rescue and gun fight. If the situation I found myself in had “to be continued” then all week long I pondered the options that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the bad guy and I would not be denied.

Like many kids, I didn’t fit in and was made fun of. Underneath my mop top of hair I had two of the largest front teeth in all of childhood. I stammered when I spoke and when I finally articulated whatever it was I was going to articulate, it either didn’t come out right or everybody lost interest. Overall, I was just an awkward kid who felt that he didn’t matter. Of course, and unbeknownst to me at the time, nearly every other kid on the face of the planet was enjoying the same growing pains.  

I knew the solution to my problems. I knew that if I became a cop, I would matter. People would listen to me and take me seriously. Just like Colombo, even if I was a bit different, I would command respect. I would be a real man. This is where I would find purpose and where I would find true happiness.  

So I’m sure by now you can see the flaw(s) in my thought process. I am as sure of the laughter at reading this as I  am of the shaking of heads at my naiveté. As kids we begin to struggle to find our place in the world. We want to be men and women that matter but have no idea what that really means.  We grow up with these ideas of what being a real man or real woman is and so much of it is based on garbage. So much of it lies, based  either on what we are told or how we interpret the environment around us.  

Many of us grow up thinking that being a man has to do with position or title, some status on a job, the size of our paychecks. Some grow up thinking that it has to do with how much intimidation or violence can be measured out to another. Some even think manhood can be measured by the number of women they can “score” or simply by their ability to add to the Earth’s population. 

Many women grow up believing lies that they are stupid, ugly and incapable of meaningful accomplishment and so they either set out to prove “them” right or to prove “them” wrong, whoever “them” is, instead of simply setting out to be the women they are meant to be.  

So, I did it. I grew up, went into the military, did my tour, got out and became a cop. At which point and immediately I learned that everything I imagined it would be had been an illusion (or is that delusion?). Everything I did was second-guessed and scrutinized. Not just by attorneys, but internally by my leaders and the politicians they ultimately reported to, by the public, even by some in my own family. Nothing I did was good enough or impressive enough. That’s how I saw it, anyway.

I quickly lost my place. I forgot who I was and who I wanted to be. I forgot my purpose and lost my joy.  I no longer cared about people’s perceptions of me, and worse, I no longer cared about my own perception of me.  If nobody else saw me as a man, someone worthy of respect, then why bother trying. So, my once promising career in law enforcement died a quick and painful death. My reputation took a beating and rightfully so. 

I had to start over. I had to figure out who I was and where I belonged. I had for so long tied “being a man” to my childhood understanding and to the way other people viewed me.  I have since found that unless I can look at myself in the mirror, it doesn’t really matter what other people think. Where do I fit? Well, the answer is that I fit, that we fit, wherever it is that we find joy.

We can land our dream job, reach the pinnacle of our career, and have more money than we will ever spend but not have joy. We can have relationships with the most influential, most revered, or the most beautiful and not have joy. We can even have great friends and an awesome family but still not have real and lasting joy.  

However, we can not live a lifestyle of caring for others in love, without finding true joy. That place where we put others first, not out of obligation, but out of love, is where we belong.  It doesn’t matter our background or circumstances, our upbringing or our mistakes, we all fit into God’s plan and His plan is about loving one another. When we get that one simple fact down, deep inside, and act on it, we will be exactly where we belong. When we walk with that understanding and make our decisions based on that truth, that is when we find where we fit perfectly.

Where do you fit today? Whose idea of success and happiness are you living up to? Where did you get your definition of joy?

Posted January 18, 2011 by Dwayne Castle in Compassion

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Love Beyond Words   Leave a comment


There lay Ruthie in the nursing home
Wondering why she’s all alone
Maybe today’s the day someone stops by
Says hi, maybe sits awhile
 
And little Bobby don’t have a dad
Who’s gonna give him a guiding hand
He’s gonna grow up and be a man one day
Yeah, yeah
 
O where’s the love beyond the words
Jesus called us haven’t you heard
To love our neighbors as ourselves
Pull that bible off the shelf and read a while
Matthew 25
Matthew 25, yeah
 
Poor little girl gotta walk for miles
She gets her drink from a well
And she don’t remember when the last time
She sat down for a meal
 
And Mr. Wilson lives in a box
Lost all his money, maybe played the stocks
You know many of us are paychecks away
        From the same thing, yeah
 
O where’s the love beyond the words
Jesus called us haven’t you heard
To love our neighbors as ourselves
Pull that bible off the shelf and read a while
Matthew 25
Matthew 25, yeah
 
 And there’s a young man, sits in a cell
He knows his mistakes
He knows them real well
Just waiting for someone to show him a better way
Are you going to judge today
 
Goats on the left, on the right are the sheep
Which one of these two will you be
What you’ve done to the least of these
You’ve done to me
That’s what Jesus said, yeah
 
So go show your love beyond the words
Jesus called you I know you heard
Love your neighbor as you love yourself
Don’t keep your love upon the shelf
Go love a while
Go do Matthew 25
Go do Matthew 25 yeah
 
There lay Ruthie in the nursing home,
Still wondering why she’s all alone