Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

He’s Got This

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I like love notes.  My wife Judy and I have been married for a long, long time.  Sometimes people ask how it is that we have stayed married to each other for forty-five years.  It could be that I am an incredible husband, but the truth is Judy is an incredible wife.  She is pretty patient with me when I mess up and well, that’s quite frequently. She also has a great servant’s heart.  She is constantly doing the small things that just say, “I love you.”  In that way she is a lot like God.

It always impresses me when God does something really big in my world.  It causes me to just stop and be amazed.  Our lives are filled with stories that show the handiwork of God.  Each one is a love note and each one bears His signature.  Whether it is getting though a particularly hard time or fulfilling a dream, He is always there.  The trick is learning to see it.

Back in 1981, Judy and I were living in Warrensburg, Missouri.  We were attending the First Baptist Church there and having the time of our lives.  God had blessed us with a wonderful group of friends, and we were serving in several ministries there. Two of those involved music.  We were teaching preschool choir (those songs still roll around in my head) and both of us were in the adult choir.  Our worship leader, Dan Tracy, was a great guy and great leader.  Every choir practice and performance were spiritually magical.

One of the things that Dan did was lead a choir tour every spring.  The church would rent a bus for the weekend and our choir would sing at several churches.  In the spring of 1981, Judy and I were brand new parents.  Our first daughter Rebecca had been born that January.  She was obviously too young to leave with a sitter so Judy and I agreed she would stay home, and I would go with the choir.  So, on a Thursday afternoon, she took me to church to leave with the choir.  We were all excited, but I kinda felt bad leaving Judy behind.

Finally, just about everyone was on the bus and it was time to go.  Someone, it may have been Dan, was locking the church door when he happened to hear the phone ringing. For some reason, he stopped and went back inside to answer it.  It really didn’t make a lot of since because it was after hours, and it was a larger church, so people called all the time.   Regardless, he answered the call.  It was for me.

Now before the story goes any further you need to understand that most of our family had no clue what state we lived in.  Most of them probably didn’t know where Missouri was on the map.  Certainly, no one knew we were attending First Baptist and certainly no one knew I was there late on a Thursday afternoon leaving on a choir tour.  Yet the call was for me.  It was Judy’s brother…her father had died suddenly of a heart attack, and we needed to go home immediately to Georgia.

Now pause just a moment and be amazed.  No one knew what church we were attending; it was after hours, and I was moments away from leaving for the tour and someone just happened to hear the phone and answer it. Amazing. It was obviously very hard news but to this day Judy and I both marvel at how our Father orchestrated this.  It was as if He said, “Judy, you have a difficult journey ahead of you but I am putting this together so you will know that I love you and I will walk with you.”  And yes, it was as if He signed it, “Love, Dearest Daddy.”

It was a difficult journey that left us both shocked and surprised. Judy’s daddy had just been with us for Rebecca’s birth and suddenly, he moved to heaven. But even in those sad, heartbroken moments, we knew God was not leaving us to walk through this hard time alone. We trusted that He would show us the way as we walked this new, unplanned path. And He never left us to walk alone.

How about you?  First, I hope you have made the decision to ask God to forgive your sins and be your Father.  It is the greatest and best decision ever. Again, it has nothing to do with religion or church.  It has everything to do with a relationship with the Creator of everything.  Second, if you have done that, I hope you will make it a habit to look and see the handiwork of your Father in everyday life.  He is constantly at work—in the good times and hard times.  He is at work when it is obvious and when it is not.

It is one of those verses that a lot of people throw around, but it is just packed with truth. It says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  Now, it doesn’t say that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all circumstances.  God in fact did get us safely through a twenty-three-hour drive to South Georgia with a six-week-old baby girl in the back seat.  God did show us His love through an amazing phone call. And the best part—He does it for each of His kids.  So, snuggle up and rest in Him.  He loves you and He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

I slapped my arm but didn’t see a thing.  About thirty years ago we were visiting in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  It was a beautiful area, and it was almost like being in another part of the world.  There were rich woodlands, new foods to enjoy and the crystal-clear water of Lake Michigan. It reminded me of some of the places I have visited in Europe.  With all its wonders there was one thing that I didn’t like…no-see-ums.

Most of us are familiar with the various biting pests we find flying and crawling around.  There is the bomber-size horsefly.  You can usually hear them coming…even before you see them coming and their bite is horrendous. Then there is the yellow fly and that pesky one that hovers around when you are sitting on the patio.  They seem particularly innocent and that’s when they get you.  And the king of biting insects is, of course, the mosquito.  Some people wonder why God created the mosquito.  I think it is one of the great mysteries of the universe.

While not too common around here, the no-see-um that I encountered in Michigan was a flat-out, no doubt about it, pain in the neck—or else wherever those chose it bite you.  They are very small…in fact…smaller than a flea.  Because of that you will feel the bite and go to swat at the culprit but see nothing to hit.  They are a neutral color and manage to just “blend in.”  Their bite is painful and can take hours or even days before a welt shows up on your skin.  Well, since I don’t make too many trips to the Upper Peninsula, it wasn’t too big a deal…until I found out they like South Florida.

When my wife Judy and I checked into the place we were staying in Fort Myers one of the first things we did was go and sit on the balcony that overlooked Estero Bay.  It was beautiful.  From our fourth-floor vantage point, we could see for miles and saw dolphins, manatees, fish, birds and even an alligator.  However, it wasn’t what we saw that soon grabbed our attention…it’s what we didn’t.  Soon, too soon, we were slapping and scratching but not seeing.  We soon realized that no-see-ums love South Florida as much as they loved the Upper Peninsula.

Well, we retreated inside until we could find something that would discourage them from making us lunch.  A day later we were eating at a local restaurant and there on the table was “No-See-Um” spray. It was all natural and Judy tried some and thankfully it worked.  Not all but most of the misery caused by these almost invisible, blood sucking, stinking, pain-in-the-neck (you can tell I’m a little bitter) insects was finally over. And, for the ones who managed to escape the spray, I learned to spot them and eliminate them.  And yes, there was pleasure in revenge.

No-see-um bites are painful and adding to the pain is the fact that you don’t see it coming.  I mean a horsefly is big enough to spot and sounds like a small helicopter coming in for a landing.  Even a pesky mosquito buzzes if it’s close to your ear.  But the no-see-um is a sneaky one at best.  And do you know what?  Some of the most irritating and painful things in life are too.  How many times have you been just having the best day and some circumstance comes along and changes everything?  The truth is it happens too often.  But there is good news.

While we sometimes can’t change our circumstances and sometimes all the wisdom in the world won’t change an outcome, there is hope.  And that hope is found in a relationship with a God who will not leave us or forsake us and is wiser, bigger, and stronger than anything we will face.  I know you hear that from me a lot but there is a reason…I believe it. I’ve been a Jesus follower for several decades and while there have been plenty of pesky and painful things along the way—He has been faithful—even when I wasn’t. I love what the writer of Hebrews said in the Bible, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Period. Big or small, visible or not, there’s just comfort in knowing that no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Giants Among Us

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

There are giants among us…we saw them. These giants were the massive redwoods of California, and they are the tallest and perhaps the largest trees on earth. They can grow up to 380 feet in height and up to 26 feet in diameter. Not only that, they can live up to 2,200 years. The giant redwoods are an evergreen tree only found in a narrow strip of coastal California and just north of the Oregon border.

The redwoods seem larger than life and that’s because they are. They are not the only giants around though.  There are the humankind, but I’m not talking about their height or weight. I am talking about heroes—people with big hearts and brave souls. These amazing people do the most amazing things. They lay their lives on the line for their country, they put on a badge and go into dangerous situations for a few dollars a week.  They charge into burning buildings when everyone else is trying to get out.

That is just a few for the list goes on and on.  There are also other kinds of giants—larger in life in the quest for excellence, to change the world or perhaps, to be like Jesus. These are some of the people I admire the most—true spiritual giants. Over a couple of years ago I met one.  I was amazed by her story.

It all started when we were invited over to a friend’s house for supper. When we arrived, we had the opportunity to meet her mother who lives with her. That is when I realized it probably wouldn’t be a normal evening. When her mom spoke to us you could tell she was struggling with her voice.  Before long, she explained and that was the beginning of an incredible story.

She explained in 1950 when she was 19 years old, she was diagnosed with polio.  If you know a little about those times, there was an epidemic of this terrible, dreaded disease.  It struck without warning and without rhythm and that was the case here. It left this dear saint partially paralyzed and affected her vocal cords.  I was enthralled with her story as she shared, they said she would never walk—but they were wrong.

Then she shared more and more of her story.  When she was born (and remember this is around 1930) there were twins and she weighed less than two pounds.  She was a fighter from the beginning and fight she did.  Later, when she was eleven, she basically was put out to fend for herself and she did.  She had a strong constitution and work ethic.  I was amazed.

She married and had three miscarriages before giving birth to her daughter.  She would end up having 21 surgeries for various reasons and lives with a colostomy.  She has been told that she has cancer though they really can’t pinpoint the source.  I know there are several things that I am leaving out but that is enough for you to get the picture.  Her life has been difficult from the get-go but that is not the main story.

The most amazing story is her faith.  Receiving Christ at a young age, her journey of faith has been strong and steady.  Like Job, her love for God only grew deeper and stronger.  She shared that evening how blessed she was that God had entrusted her with this suffering.  From her lips poured words of praise for her Savior. Then came stories of incredible generosity to those in need—both physically and spiritually.

Judy and I both left that night refreshed as if we had drunk deeply from a cool spring. We were blessed, encouraged, and challenged by a saint who had given more than she took.  She isn’t the only one.  Over my almost four decades of pastoring, I have bumped into so many spiritual heroes.  You had to bump into them because like most heroes, they don’t brag about their lives and stories.

When I left that night, I also left strengthened.  It is instances like this that solidify my own faith.  When I see and hear stories such as this one, it shouts to me, “God is real.”  It also does one more thing.  It causes me to examine the life story I am writing.  When people read my life, what does it say about me…and about the God I serve?

Each one of us are writing a story and during this hot mess called life, we all have special opportunities to write a saga.  The way we live, act, and speak will tell a tale.  Hopefully it will be one of grace and kindness.  Paul wrote in the Bible that we should be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

That is a tall order, but God is in the business of filling tall orders.  Why not take a moment and ask your Heavenly Father for a little, or maybe a lot, of help?  Let Him know you’ve been treading water a lot these days and you could use a little rest.  Don’t worry—He is ready and willing to help.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

A Tale of Two Lawn Mowers

Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” 1 John 3:18

It was time to buy a mower.  Recently my son-in-law and daughter moved back into the area.  That meant that once again our family circle was close together again.  He had been in the Army and had been assigned twice eleven hours away (Savanah, Georgia and Lawton, Oklahoma) and once for a couple of years in Korea. Trust me…that was a lot more than eleven hours.  But happily, the tribe can finally get together occasionally.  They rented a house in Paducah, Kentucky…a house with a pretty good-sized yard.  However, since they lived “on post” at his last assignment, they didn’t have a lawnmower.  They thought about buying a goat (smile) but Judy and I offered to give them our mower and I would go and get another one.

My mower was my friend.  We had been together for about ten years, and it was still in great shape.  It was a solid brand; commercial grade mower and we made a great team.  Honestly, I really hated to part with it, but it felt good to be a little generous.  So, I began the search for a replacement. I researched and asked around to try and make a good decision.  A friend of mine used to own a small engine shop and dealership, so he was my go-to person.  His advice was to buy a good one with a dependable engine…like a Briggs and Stratton. So, after a long search I settled on a big name, expensive, brand…a Honda…with the hopes it would take me well into the future.

During my chase for a new mower, I discovered that in these COVID days, the semi-local big box store (or just about any store for that matter) didn’t carry much stock.  That meant I had to order it and the nice FedEx man would deliver it to my house.  After ordering, I waited several days for it to come and finally the day arrived.  FedEx usually leaves my packages at the front door and because this was going to be a big one, I left a nice big note on the front door that said, “Please leave package at back door.”  He apparently didn’t see the note and deposited the lawn mower on my front porch.

Well, upon examination I discovered that part of the handle had broken through the box and was sticking out.  I knew that couldn’t be good.  I opened the box and discovered that the handle was bent and one of the front wheels was too.  Bummer.  Well, to make a long story short that meant I had to haul the mower to the big box store (and it was not going to fit in my car) and reorder another one.  I told my grass to stop growing because of the delay and it said, “No.” Well, now I was in a pickle. I went to “Plan B.”

“Plan B” went like this. Another big box store had a lesser brand (but with the required good engine) and it was half the price.  Smile.  Then I discovered it was an additional ninety dollars off.  Big smile.  So, the very expensive damaged mower, which by the way was very poorly packaged, went back and the cheaper, lesser brand came to live with me.  Imagine my surprise when I opened the lesser brand and discovered the company (here in the USA, by the way) had built a wooden frame around the mower to protect it.  Not surprisingly…it was in perfect condition.  So, the expensive mower was left to bang around in its cardboard box and the lesser brand (that cost a whole lot less) came in a wood reenforced cardboard box.  Some things just don’t make sense.

Well, only time will tell the end of this story.  I used the new lesser brand the other day and it did very well.  Smile.  Regardless of its “lesser” name, I expect for the foreseeable future my grass will be shorter and that is what matters. In this case the quality of the packaging and the price trumped the better branded mower.  One package said, “We care about you and our product, and one said, “Oops and good luck.”

You see, the packaging, in this case was as important as the product.  It is true in lawn mowers, and it is true in life. It matters how people perceive who we are. If we want people to think a certain way about us…we must live that certain way. A guy named John who was a disciple of Jesus wrote and said, “Our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action.” Yup…actions matter more than words…and never is that truer than in our Jesus walk.

It has been said people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  In a world that is way short on love and kindness, we need to put it right out there so there is no question that we care.  Our packaging really does matter. So, I’ll let you know how the mower thing plays out.  Regardless, I know this.  The lesser brand sent me, the consumer, a message—we care about you, and we care about our product.  God’s got a message for us too.  It simply says, “I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Ordinary Things

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20

It was one strange bouquet of emotions.  It was the end of good Sunday.  We had a great day at church and after a good nap we headed down to Paducah to return a lawn mower.  We had ordered the mower online and when it arrived it was damaged…of course.  Well, that meant borrowing something big enough to haul it back to the store. About that time our Paducah tribe came to the rescue with their SUV.  They hauled it there and we drove down to finish the return and of course see the family.

We headed to the store that we had ordered it from, returned it, and then celebrated with a trip to Cold Stone.  It was awesome and of course, Papa had to taste the flavors the three grandsons had ordered…as well my daughter’s. After all the eating and sampling, we headed on back to Harrisburg.  Judy, my wife, was a little hungry so I told her we would whip in and buy some diesel and then swing into McDonald’s.  It was a plan.  When we got back in town, I pulled into the station and began to fill up the Jetta.  It was just about then that things went…south.

I decided to clean the windshield since we were there and there must have been something in the water because it was a mess.  Usually, they use plain water but there was nothing plain about this stuff.  While I was trying to get that off the windshield, a man at the other side of pump started talking to me.  Well, between his not too clear speech and my not too good hearing, there was a lot of nodding and agreeing to things that I probably didn’t agree with.  Well, honestly after a while, it was time to draw this conversation to a close.  So, with a bit of frustration about the stuff on the windshield and the too long conversation with my friend, I finally said, “See you later.”

I walked back to the driver’s side, opened the door, cranked the engine, and proceeded to drive off.  About 1.5 seconds after the car started moving there was a very discomforting noise from the back of the car.  I can’t describe it, but I knew exactly what had happened.  I had totally forgotten the nozzle was still in the car and as I drove off…it didn’t come with me.  Well, I immediately stopped and then circled back around not knowing what to expect. Had the nozzle ripped part of the car off? Was fuel spilling on the ground? Had the fuel hose been torn from the pump?  It was not a good moment and there were plenty of emotions rolling around in my mind.

The short list included being frustrated that the guy had distracted me, anger at myself for forgetting that the nozzle was still attached to the car, and a big dose of embarrassment. Oh, and there was one more big emotion…gratitude. It was like a bouquet of weeds and a rose. You see, amazingly, while the hose was laying on the ground, it was not spewing fuel nor was it broken.  Also, the car really had no damage to speak of.  There were no dents, no dings, and not even a scratch.  One small part of the filler thing was pulled loose but that really wasn’t important.  Amazing.

First, I know I probably need to turn in my “man card” for having done this.  If I have said it once, I have said it twenty-five times, “I can’t believe I did that.”  And honestly, it is all on me.  My long-winded friend was not to blame, and I had no right to be frustrated about the windshield either.  Nope…it was my fault.  But here is the part I love.  This is the part that forced me to write this story when I would have much more rather kept it off the page.  What forced me to write was my overwhelming sense of gratitude for my Dearest Daddy watching out for His child.  I mean this could have been nasty, but He had it all under control. I can even say “thank-you” for this because I would have missed the blessing of His kindness if it hadn’t had happened.

Well, like the song says, “He is a good, good Father.”  Hans Christian Andersen said, “The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things.”  He is so right.  Our world is filled with love notes from a God that loves His creation dearly.  How incredible is that? Paul wrote in the New Testament part of the Bible, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So, whatever we do, whatever happens, believe He is in control and be sure and give Him thanks.  I know more than ever that whatever it is, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, Grace, gratitude, life, love, Scripture, thankful

Change or Not?

See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children—and we are!” 1 John 3:1

It was a food adventure.  Judy and I love adventures.  Sometimes that means a new place to visit, or it might be as simple as a new place to eat.  Well, one of the things that Judy and I enjoy doing together is dining out at a restaurant. We have several favorites that we go to regularly.  We have our favorite here in the ‘burg, favorites in Marion, favorites in Paducah and even a couple in Evansville.  Then we have favorite meals at each place.  At one we have a steak, at another grilled shrimp, at another a hamburger–and that is a seafood place…go figure.

But do you know what happens occasionally?  We decide to go “rogue.”  We decide to go to a new place or try something new at a familiar place. That is how we discovered the “Pork  Belly, Pimento Cheese, Fried Green Tomato, wonder of wonders”.  It still makes me drool. Regardless, the new adventure is always refreshing and usually quite good.  Every once in a while it flops, —every once in a while we leave saying, “well, that didn’t work.”

A couple of years ago we were in Paducah and on a whim tried a Chinese place.  Everything said, “don’t” but we did.  Weeds in the parking lot, trash in the parking lot and a front door that looked like a herd of kids with dirty hands had just passed through all said, “get back in the car.”  Well, we didn’t, and boy was it a bad experience.  But even so here’s what we have discovered—the sense of change—the sense of adventure is worth the risk of the occasional failure. Change can be challenging but it is also refreshing.

Someone once said that a rut is a grave with the ends knocked out.  By and large, I am a creature of habit.  I have the same thing for breakfast almost every day.  I drive the same way to work every day. But even if I like sameness, I also like change.  Isn’t that weird?  There is a reason. We need change to keep life fresh.   We need variety to make life interesting. I think that is one of the things the pandemic forced our hand on.  We have to do some things differently—willing or not. While that is true in our personal journey, it is also true in our spiritual journey.

There is one thing that gives me a confident assurance that nothing is new to God.  He is never surprised and never caught off guard.  He never says, “Boy, I sure didn’t see that one coming!” It is great to belong to a God who is big enough to have everything under control. I love that in this world of constant change, He is a constant—He never changes.  That means no matter where you go in the past—He was there, and He was the same.  That means no matter where you go today—He is there, and He is the same.  And that means no matter where the future takes you and no matter what it holds—He will be there, and He will be the same.  He.Is.The.Same.

Like I said, I enjoy a little variety—a little change adds spice to life.  But when it comes to my Dearest Father, well, I like the sameness that He brings.  My circumstances, my mess-ups, even my fickleness doesn’t faze Him.  He is always the same.  And that sameness, well, it is just the best.  A guy named John in the New Testament wrote and said that it is just amazing, this love that God has for us…a love that extends out and allows us to be called His.

Let me suggest you occasionally try a new restaurant and or a new item on the menu. And if it has pork belly and pimento cheese on it—well, it’s got to be a winner.  But when it comes to choosing what god you will serve—there’s only one choice and that is Creator God.  Bigger than it all—ready and willing to handle our biggest problems and always ready to extend His grace our way—there’s no need to look any further.  Oh, and of course, as always, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Dangerous Currents

Here on earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

For the first time in a long time, I was genuinely frightened, in fact, I was afraid.  One of the things we enjoyed about our getaway at Key Colony is the fact that we can snorkel right there.  At each end of the beach, two small jetties have been built.  They extend out into the water for about 75 feet and keep the waves from passing boats and storms from creating waves that might take away the sandy shore.  Fish like reefs and in a way that is what the jetties are—the underwater nooks and crannies make great places for the small fish to eat and hide.

While only a few of the fish have brilliant colors, there are literally hundreds of them.  It is fascinating to watch them as they swim in large spools or dart in and out of the rocks…looking for food and making sure they don’t become lunch themselves.  One morning, I was heading out for a swim with my mask to see what I could see.  A guy who had been spear fishing earlier said that if I would go out to the point on the west jetty, I would see some large angel fish.  So, without much thought, I headed out.  Maybe I should have thought.

You see, on the other side of the jetty is a large channel that went to the other side of the island.  It is a major thoroughfare for all the fishing boats going in and out so naturally the water was much choppier there.  I began to swim out making sure my breathing tube from my face mask stayed above the water.  As I swam, I looked for fish but really the water was too murky to see.  It was also too murky for me to realize that I couldn’t see the rocks in the jetty either.  I lifted my face out of the water and saw that I was being carried by the strong current out into the channel.  I was concerned.

I immediately turned around and began to swim back toward the jetty and the relative safety and calm it provided. I had my face in the water and through the murkiness could occasionally see the bottom.  What I saw wasn’t good.  As I took a stroke forward, I was being carried back more than I was moving forward.  I picked up the pace and intensified my efforts and slowly, too slowly, began to make some progress but swimming against the current was very difficult.  In a short period of time, I was gasping for breath through my breathing tube and my arms were very tired.  The outcome was in the balance.

Well, somehow, someway, I was able to keep going and after several minutes that seemed like several hours, I could feel the protective calm of the jetty as the current let go of me.  I was safe.  I was tired, and I was exhausted, but thankfully  I was safe.  When I could finally touch sand, I stood up and saw Judy coming.  I quickly waved her off.  I knew I didn’t want her to experience what I just did.  And not only did I not see the angel fish I felt like I could almost see the angels, “comin’ after me.”

I was amazed how strong that current was that wanted to pull me out into the channel.  If it had been obvious from the surface…if I had known, I wouldn’t have gone.  My friend who told me about the angel fish didn’t mention the current—either it wasn’t an issue earlier or he had fins that helped him fight the unseen force.  Regardless, I was once again grateful that God gave me the strength to overcome. Strength.To.Overcome.  There are many things about this whole God thing that make me glad that I am a believer and on that list is the ability to be an overcomer.

My friend Jesus said in His Word, the Bible, that we would have troubles in this world, and He told the truth, times two.  But He didn’t stop there.  He went on to say that we should “be of good cheer” because He had “overcome the world.”  In other words, we can face the storms of life and the currents that threaten to pull us out to sea, because He is there with us and for us.  We can be overcomers because He is an overcomer. I like that…a lot.

I will probably remember my encounter at the point of the jetty for a while…and I want to remember.  You might ask, “Why?”  Well, it was such a good reminder that as I do life, I need to pay attention, I need to be prepared, and I need to trust—not in a pair of flippers or better swimming skills.  No, it will remind me that there are dangerous waters in life to navigate and I need to trust in my Heavenly Father, my Dearest Daddy to help me through it all.  It’s just good to know that He is there and, no matter what, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Out of Alignment

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Something told me I was a day late and a dollar short. A couple of years ago we bought a “new to us” car.  It was a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.  I drove all the way up near St. Louis to look at their lot full of Jetta cars.  Volkswagen had gotten in trouble about emissions and recalled all their diesel cars.  It took them a couple of years to get them fixed and rerelease them to the market.  Judy and I decided to dive into the diesel market and get one.

So, off I went to St. Louis.  When I arrived, I saw dozens and dozens of VW Jettas.  However, the problem was most of them were in pretty, rough shape.  Apparently as the owners turned them in, they decided to treat them like an unloved dog.  Even after they cleaned them up it was pretty apparent they had lived a hard-knock life.  With my trusty salesman by my side, I went from car to car to car—with no luck.  I’m pretty particular about cars and these were not making the cut.

Finally, after checking almost every car in my price range, we found one that was not as perfect as I wanted but it was the best one available.  I drove it and liked it and before long it was ours.  Driving it home I noticed that the VW emblem on the steering wheel was not pointing straight up.  Hmmmm.  But trying to control my perfectionism I chose to ignore it—for a while.

So, even though it was “Judy’s car”, the crooked emblem had to go.  I asked my super mechanic, Chris, if we could pull the steering wheel and straighten it up.  He said, “You don’t have a steering wheel problem, you have a front-end problem. You need a front-end alignment.”  Well, what about that. I had noticed the car was not wanting to stay straight on the highway, but I didn’t think too much about it.  I should have.

A few days later we got the front end aligned and sure enough there it was—the VW emblem was straight up and down.  Yay—I said. Problem solved…and it was.  However, the problem was that I had waited too late.  I noticed a little later that my front tires tread on the outside was virtually gone…outta there. My choice to ignore and live with a problem ended up costing me nearly $500.00 for new tires.  Bummer.  Big bummer. Oftentimes, procrastination can be very expensive.

Life can be like a car out of balance. It got me thinking. What in our lives might be a little misaligned, out of balance?  What habit, what misplaced priority, what sins are we hiding, ignoring, or choosing to not take care of? I know, it seems easier not to worry about it, but truth be known, the longer we wait the more it costs. The longer we wait the bigger the consequences and the greater the regrets.  It has been said that if you aim for the moon and are less than one degree off you will end up somewhere, but it won’t be the moon…it might be Mars.

Solomon, one of the smartest guys in the Bible, said it best. He said that we should learn to trust in the Lord with everything we’ve got, and don’t try to figure it out on our own. He goes on to say that in all our ways check with Him and He will make our paths straight. Make.Our.Paths.Straight.  In other words, if the steering wheel of our life is crooked, He can give us the realignment that we need.  He can make our lives straight.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I will save the $500.00 next time and head to the alignment place as soon as I notice something’s going wrong.  I think I’m gonna do the same thing with life.  When my “VW emblem” is a little crooked or I find myself pulling away from the One who loves me most—I’m gonna head to the Master mechanic and let Him check me out.  I can trust Him.  The Creator always knows His creation best.  I’ll rest in the waiting room while He works.  I know He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Ready…or Not

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”
2 Timothy 4:2

“Do you think they would mind?” she asked.  It was very early in the morning on our last day at Key Colony.  I awoke from a good night’s sleep (I mean we were on vacation), made a cup of coffee, and headed down to the beach.  Sunrise was a good hour away, but the water and the air were both calm.  The only sound was the gentle lap of the waves against the sandy shore.  This is my time of the day.  God is in the labor room delivering another day for us to enjoy…and I love it.

After a while, the sky slowly turned gray, and you could see the beginning of the sunrise.  It was going to be a good one.  About that time, my wife Judy wandered out and sat down with me.  Just when you think something couldn’t get better…it does.  Judy seems to make anything better.  We chatted and sipped coffee enjoying the creation process.  After another few minutes, the sun peeked over the horizon and another day was born.  Good job, Father, and thank you.  Now that it was daylight, you could see that the water was not only calm…it was crystal clear.  It was then that Karen walked up.

We had talked with Karen and her boyfriend the night before.  We talked about life, faith, and God.  It was an opportunity for me to share some about how much God loved us.  Gary had a large tattoo on his left arm that said, “Faith.”  That gave an opportunity to talk about not only faith, but where that faith should be directed.  I shared it wasn’t enough just to have faith…you had to direct that faith in the right direction…right toward God.

When Karen walked up that morning, I noticed that she was carrying two small containers. I could tell that something was on her mind and that is when she asked the question.  She asked, “Do you think they would mind if I poured my son’s and husband’s ashes in the water?” I quickly assured her that I am sure they would not.  It turned out that her son had tragically died of an opioid overdose at the age of 22.  I didn’t get the details of her husband’s death but since she was in her early fifties, I assumed he too died young.  Then, it was my turn to ask a question.  I asked, “Would you like me to say a prayer?”  And, without hesitation, she answered yes.

Judy asked if Karen would like to have a picture taken and she agreed to that too. All three of us walked down into the water and slowly Karen opened the containers and poured the ashes into the water.  As they touched the water, it turned to a color very similar to wet cement but then just as quickly the color disappeared.  She said a few words, speaking to the souls she could no longer hold.  And then, I asked God for His peace to be on Karen.  I thanked Him for His love…even in hard times like this.  With an amen we were done. Almost.

Judy and I both gave Karen a hug…that was the only way we knew we could tell her we cared, and that God cared too.  As we left the water, Karen headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for a cup of coffee and Judy and I returned to our chairs by the beach.  We knew that we had kept a divine appointment.  I wish I could write and share how Karen and Gary both placed their faith in Jesus but that wasn’t the case…at least not that day.  But I do know we scattered seed in their lives.  I know we left fingerprints on their lives and heart and who knows what God will do with that.

When I woke up that morning, I didn’t know I was going to preside over a funeral standing in the Florida Straits.  Judy didn’t know she was going to act as a memory maker for Karen…but our Dearest Daddy did.  He knew…just as He always does.  We just need to be ready whenever He opens a door or a window and then simply walk where He leads.

Paul, the one who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, told a young preacher named Timothy one day, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.”  When he said to preach…trust me, it was more than standing on a stage on any given Sunday…and it wasn’t just for preachers and teachers.  It was for all of us Jesus followers and it is for all places…planned…or not.  I learned a long time ago that the best sermons are often not preached on Sunday…rather, they are lived out over the course of the other six days. So, let’s be ready to be used.  It may be at the store, on the job or at the ballfields.  Just remember this.  When the time comes, He will be there to help and you can rest assured, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel


Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.” Ephesians 1:4

I was as surprised as she was.  One on the wonderful things about Key Colony and the Continental Inn happens every day about twelve hours apart. The place where we stay has a small private sand beach.  Now that doesn’t sound too impressive until you realize that sand beaches aren’t that common in the Florida Keys.  Most often when you make it to the shore, you find it covered with large rocks.  In fact, that was our first experience many years ago.  The kids were young, and we drove down from Naples where we were staying.  When we arrived, we rushed to the “beach” only to find it covered with large rocks.  Bummer.

At the Inn there is glorious sand and an abundance of clear water.  Both are amazing.  But here is the special part.  The beach faces the east which means every morning there is a beautiful sunrise.  Every day I would go out with a cup of coffee while the water was like glass, and it was still dark.  The fingernail moon would be there offering little light but plenty of beauty and the stars glimmered in the dark night sky.  And slowly, God gave birth to a new and beautiful day.  Every morning I would say, “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.” At that point it was a blank canvas, but I knew the Maker of masterpieces would be painting that day and He works wonders…always.

So, the sun would rise and about twelve hours later it would take it’s bow and night, a time of rest, would come.  Everything is beautiful in it’s time.  Now here is the part you have to love.  Every evening Judy and I would walk out the front parking lot, go about 100 yards and there was Sunset Park.  It was a small peninsula where the community had set up benches and built a small pier, and folks gather there to watch the sunset.  Imagine that.   A place where you can watch the sunrise over the water in the morning then walk a short distance and see the sun set…again over water.  It was amazing.

On our second night, something magical happened.  Again, people gather at Sunset Park every evening to watch the sunset. This particular night I noticed, actually almost bumped into, a group of four young people.  I nodded and smiled, and they did the same.  Judy and I found our favorite bench and the group of four chose to stand about fifteen feet from us. They were smiling…as were we.  It is a moment to enjoy…and then it got better.

About that time, I heard laughter of joy and looked over as one of the young men slipped an engagement ring on the left hand of the “one” he had chosen.  It was a total surprise for her and for us.  I don’t know if I have ever experienced this event as a stranger looking on and in, but it was a beautiful moment.  She was laughing and jumping, and they were hugging and celebrating.  Their friends, who were in on the surprise, were beaming from ear to ear.  And, all this is happening in a beautiful waterfront setting as God puts His seal of approval on another day.  It was glorious.

When it was time to go, Judy and I walked over and congratulated the young couple and told them it was their lucky day since I was a pastor, and we could seal the deal right then.  I shared about five lines from the traditional ceremony I use, and we all laughed together.  What a wonderful moment.  I think the joy of it all might be summed up in one word…chosen.  You see, the young man chose her to be his.  Out of all the girls in his world…he chose this one to spend his life with.  And…she chose him by saying, “Yes.”

It is a wonderful thing to be chosen and never is that more beautiful than when we realize that God chose to love us…He chose us to be His bride. If we are willing to accept His invitation to be His, like her, our lives will never be the same.  To be loved like that is the greatest of all gifts. God didn’t have to love us…He chose to love us.  We were scarred by sin and brokenness and yet He saw in us beauty.  We weren’t worthy of His love and yet He still extended it and to Him each of us are as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day.

Being chosen is a glorious thing and I hope you have accepted God’s invitation to be His beloved.  Remember, no matter how scarred your life may seem you will always be beautiful in His eyes.  And this marriage, well, it can never go south.  Sadly, many marriages don’t end well, but He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.  He will be yours and you will be His…forever.  If you haven’t already, why not accept His proposal today?  He is patiently waiting for you to say, “Yes.”  And, when you do, you will find Someone who will walk by your side no matter what…One who believes in you, One who loves you, and who will whisper security and assurance with six simple words…I’ve got you and no matter what, I’ve got this.  Bro. Dewayne