Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, Uncategorized

Where’s Brett?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

It was a long time ago and, in a galaxy, far, far away or at least it seemed that way.  It was so long ago that the semi-local mall was still a mall with stores that were open.  Anyway, we were at Target to get a dining set for my daughter Jen and my almost son-in-law Matt as a shower gift.  When we found it, the box clearly said it was a “team lift” item.  Now what that means is that unless you are just dying to have a hernia, you need to have a person help you load the box. I wasn’t…so I did.

I followed the rules and called in the cavalry.  A young man with bigger muscles than me loaded the box while I watched—now that’s what I call teamwork.  So, with the box in the cart, off we went to the checkout area.  When we got there, I wisely asked for some help loading the box into my car.  The young man checking us out called for help and his supervisor came and took over the register while he loaded the box.  I think it must have been his lucky day.

In the process, Sarah, a co-worker, helped and teased how she was used to “helping” Brett out.  That seemed odd to me. “Why?” you ask?  Well, the reason is simple—his name tag said David.  So, I had to ask the obvious question. Speaking to the young man with muscles bigger than mine, I said, “So, why did Sarah call you Brett if your name is David?”  “Well,” he said, “my name is Brett, but I left my name tag at home so I’m wearing this one.”  Obviously, Target has a policy:  you must wear a name tag at work—even if it isn’t yours. That made me smile then and even now.

I thought it ironic that any name tag would do…as long as you wore one.  It seems that Target and the world have one more thing in common.  You see, Target said that any name tag will do, and the world says, “It doesn’t matter what you believe—as long as you believe.”  You know, it’s the old “all roads lead to Rome” theology. That saying comes from a time when there were very few roads, and at least in that part of the world, since Rome built them…they did indeed lead to Rome.  That worked then but it won’t work for heaven.

You see, unlike Rome, God is the only One who made the road that leads to heaven.  And that road leads right through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to my Father except by Me.”  God, the Heaven road builder, laid the rules and the way.  Now you might not think that is fair except for this.  He invites everyone and anyone to travel the road.  No restrictions, no exceptions, no toll.

Remember this.  I suppose you can wear a name tag with the wrong name on it if you want—after all, the only consequence will probably be some confused people.  After all Brett wasn’t really David. But, when it comes to what you believe, the consequences are much, much greater.  You see, it really does matter what you believe—believe the wrong thing and you can end up eternally separated from God and that is a bad deal all the way around.  God loves each of us and longs for us to be able to call Him Dearest Father. 

In a confused, upside-down world, in a world where yes is no, and no is yes or right is wrong and wrong is right…well it is good to have a certainty we can lean on.  Not certain about the whole God thing?  Why not get a copy of the Bible and read it for yourself?  Even today it remains a best seller…for a reason.  In its pages you will find many great promises and among them is this.  No matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Dinged Again

Come, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Remember to keep your eye on the ball.  That’s a real important truth if you are playing baseball but if you are pulling into your garage…well, there’s more to it than that.

It was a long time ago but trust me I remember it very well. I was coming home from work at the office.  As I was pulling into the driveway, I noticed that my granddaughter Faith, who was only seven at the time, was playing in the garage.  Ever the careful Papa, I stopped to give her plenty of time to get clear of the car.  She was playing with her wagon and was kind enough to move the wagon out of the way too.

Now my garage isn’t very deep, so I have a tennis ball hanging from the ceiling to remind me how far I can pull forward before hitting the wall. It’s a great idea…I probably need to patent it. So, like a cruise ship captain, I carefully began to dock the ship.  I had my eyes on two things.  First, my granddaughter Faith.  She was well out of the way but again, you can’t be too careful.  The other was the tennis ball.  When the ball touched the windshield, it was time to stop.  It was a great plan.  Almost.

You see, something had changed, and I didn’t know it. Unknown to me, Faith had wrapped the cord that was holding the tennis ball around something, and it moved the ball toward the wall and away from the car just about a foot.  So…I watched Faith—check. I watched the ball—check.  The one thing I didn’t watch was the wall.  Oops.

So, and you can see this one coming, I hit the wall.  Now I was going really slow so theoretically I should have survived with little or no damage.  Well, theoretically anyway.  You see, before the wall was a hot water heat radiator.  I had figured that into the equation when I had hung the ball so no deal.  But, and it was a big but, sitting on top of the radiator was a leaf blower.  Now wait…don’t give me that look.  Don’t you don’t store your leaf blower on top of your radiator?  Well anyway, when I hit the radiator, the leaf blower fell onto the hood of my car—my nice shiny, dent-free hood and I gave birth to a nice, large ding—dead center and about a foot up from the front edge. Bummer.

Yup, bummer indeed.  There I was trying to do all the right things and ended up messing up big time.  You probably don’t know this, but I am pretty particular about my car and that ding might as well have been the size of a moon crater. I was devastated. If that ding had been anywhere but there it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but there it was—for all to see and for all to ask about. Can you imagine explaining that one?  My once perfect hood was no longer perfect—and it was obvious.  That’s one thing about dings—they are usually obvious—especially on nice shiny hoods. Sigh.

Did you know we have something in common with my dinged car hood?  Yup, we all have dings.  There’s not a perfect one in the bunch.  The Bible says “All have sinned…”  We are all dinged up.  As a matter of fact, unlike my hood which was perfect, we were born dinged. And not only that.  We constantly get more dings every day. We are like a ding factory. The question now becomes, “what are we going to do about it?”  One thing was obvious, I couldn’t fix that ding and we can’t fix our sin problem either.  So, what’s the answer?  Well, I found the Ding Doctor.

My friend Terry told me about a guy named Butch who could get dings out of doors, hoods, or whatever.  So, I went to see him and amazingly, with a lot of skill, he was able to make that ding disappear—vanish—like it was never there.  After he had worked his magic, I couldn’t thank him enough.  But I know something better than that. There is another “Ding Doctor” who can take care of our sin dings.  His name is Jesus.  No matter how big the failure, no matter how massive the sin—He is ready and willing to forgive us.  And when He gets done…well, believe it or not, you are better than new.  God says in the book of Isaiah which is in the Old Testament part of the Bible “Come, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are crimson red, they will be like wool.” How about that?

So, if you get a ding in your door or your hood you might want to check out the ding doctor.  If you have managed to ding up your life, and remember we all have, you might want to see THE Ding Doctor.  There is not a life ding He can’t fix or a sin He can’t forgive.  If your ding looks like a total loss—don’t give up.  Trust me, He can take care of it.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Some Things Don’t Change

For I am the Lord, I do not change” Malachi 3:6a

At the church where I get to serve, we have our team meeting (aka staff meeting) on Tuesday mornings at nine.  It is a time for us to get together and plan and chat—and invariably we do a lot of chatting.  While the topics are always varied…it seems to always come back to the “you’ve got the be kidding me” world we are living in.  That usually includes a variety of COVID topics as well as the economy.

I recently was going through some files on my computer and discovered something I had written way back in 2008.  As proof that somethings never change, it was about what we talked about at staff meeting that week—the price of gas.  I was surprised to remember that gas that particular week was…get ready…$3.47 per gallon.

Here we are 13 years later and while it is not $3.47 it is close…very close.  If it makes you feel better, I own two Volkswagen cars that use diesel and it is $3.69 per gallon.  And to think…diesel is made from the leftovers that make gas.  Hmmm. All this is more ironic because I remember (I can’t believe I’m old enough to finally say that) when gas was 32 cents per gallon, and I filled up my Volkswagen for $2.42. Oh, and when there was a “gas war” on you could pick it up for 18 cents per gallon. Ah, those were the days.  At any rate, just like the price of gas seems to change daily so are the days of our lives.

That’s one good thing about God—He simply doesn’t change.  He never had a beginning and will never have an end (despite what our liberal “friends” think) and throughout all that time, He has never changed.  Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”  That’s good news for the reason stated in the verse—He won’t change His mind about me or you. Pretty awesome.

Because of the COVID mess and about a dozen other “stranger than life” things, our whole economy, well, our whole country, is in a flux. It seems like there is nothing solid to stand on…but there is…and He is creator God.  For many He may be out of vogue or out of style.  For some He might seem like wishful thinking but for others…well He is the one thing solid to stand on in these shifting sand days.

In the movie “Hidden Figures” some of the smartest people in the nation and the space program were trying to figure the right numbers to get John Glenn up and down safely.  They couldn’t seem to invent a new math that would work and finally someone said, “Maybe it isn’t new math, maybe it is old math.”  And, sure enough, they used an ancient formula and it worked.  They rediscovered that the truth about numbers don’t change.  That is one reason why maybe, just maybe it is time to go back to what worked for eons…faith in God.

The Bible…the oldest and most tested of any sacred writing, says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   And do you know what?  That is simply true. Someone said a real friend never changes and that is so true of Jesus Christ.   He will be there no matter what and I like that.  James Taylor, a songwriter and singer from the 70’s wrote, “winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I will be there.” Well, I can’t verify that for James, but I can for God.  Go ahead and give Him a try. You will find that He is all that He says He is, and you will also find that no matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, thankful

Time to Prune?

Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

What do you mean food doesn’t fix everything?  Well, I don’t know if it is because I am from the South or because I am a Baptist, but I just know food makes everything better.  There is nothing like a healthy (uh, perhaps unhealthy) dose of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, well-seasoned (hog jowl or some other appropriate grease source) green beans and a large portion of bread) to make everything better. And, of course, don’t forget dessert.

The other evening, I came home from a rather difficult meeting.  I walked in the door and my wife Judy, who can read me like a book, instantly said, “do you need to self-medicate?”  I love her…she knows.  Off to the Dairy Bar we went and in just a few minutes I was feeling better thanks to a salted-caramel concrete.  Yup, the saying used to be “take two aspirins and call me in the morning.”  Now it is, “eat two chocolate cookies with a glass of cold milk and call me in the morning.”  Oh, the joy.

So, we have this rose bush in our incredibly beautiful yard—which by the way is also due to Judy and her green thumb.  This rose bush is on an arbor by our back door which used to be a great spot.  It bloomed and as you walked through the arbor you were immersed in their sweet, lush smell.  It was good.  But over time the bush has become not as healthy and doesn’t bloom near as much.

Judy and I were sitting in the yard one morning and she made the comment that the rose bush had a single bloom.  So, I casually mentioned that maybe she should feed it.  Remember, that fixes everything.  A good shot of rose bush food and bam here come the blooms.  But she told me I was wrong.  The problem wasn’t that the rose bush was starving for food—it was starving for light.  Here’s what has happened.

Just to the east of the rose bush where the morning sun comes in, two trees have grown—a dogwood and a redbud.  Both are great trees, and they seem to be real happy.  But in the process of growing, they have shut off a lot of the morning sunshine from the rose bush and that is why it is suffering.  Judy said that the rose bush can survive the way it is but without enough sunlight it won’t and can’t bloom.  What we end up with is a rose bush that is just getting by and that will never really be what it was intended to be—a source of beauty with the sweet aroma of a new day.

So, somewhere in the future there is a good chance that the rose bush will probably have to be moved to a place where it can thrive and that means more sun.  It will be a dramatic change and it might even be difficult but unless we do something the rose will never be and do what it was meant to be and do.  Hmmmm.

I wonder if that is the problem with me—with you?  I wonder if we are growing in a place where the soil might be right but there just isn’t enough light?  I wonder if we need more Son-shine? You see, we might believe that if our lives just had more stuff, more toys, more of this or more of that, we would be happy.  But the truth of the matter—we just need more of Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” Wow.  First, He affirms He is the light we are looking for.  It might seem easier, even logical to just put a light bulb out by the rose bush, but that light would be insufficient and could never replace the light of the sun.  And trust me, the light we need in our lives can never come from religion, denomination or some other “self-medication.”  We need the true light that can only come from Him.

But He says something else.  He declares that if we walk with Him two things will happen.  We won’t have to just survive in the darkness or starve for light and in fact we will have the light that brings life.  Bam…just what we need…just what the doctor ordered.  And if that isn’t enough, since we walk with Him there will never be the need for a transplant because we walk with the Light—we move with the Light.  Because of that, no circumstances will ever be able to hurt us.

Well, it’s just a matter of time but we will have to move our friend to a sunnier place in our yard.  And I will feel sorry for the bush as we dig him up and prune him back, but it will be for his good.  After the initial pain he will bloom again and that will make it worthwhile.  So, what do you need to do in your life to once again walk with the Son?  What things need to be pruned back or what needs to be given up so you will be free to walk with Him again?  Yup it might be painful but just imagine your life as you are blooming once again.  Imagine the fragrant smell of life with Him.  Make that decision today.  Go ahead and rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Root Canal Joy

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

He looked at her and said, “Root canal.” My dentist is my friend.  For 21 years he has taken care of my family.  He is a good man and a man of integrity.  But with all that said, one day recently, he uttered the words that sends fear into every rational, sane person.  Root canal.  It all started on a Thursday. We were out of town and my wife Judy was munching on some pork rinds.  For those not familiar with this example of fine southern cuisine, it is fried pork skin.  Yes, I know and understand.  Well, she finished her snack and put the bag away.  Just about then it happened.

Without warning and really for no apparent reason unless you count the pork rinds, one of her teeth broke in half.  We both couldn’t believe it but apparently this tooth was one she had had filled a long, long time ago and over time the filling had deteriorated, weakening the tooth.  Now, hang on.  From the get-go this thing was a God thing…you just had to look a little closer.  We called our friend the dentist and made an appointment for when we got back in town.  But here is the amazing part.  She had absolutely no pain.  The rule book says if you break a tooth, you hurt but God blessed and for the entire weekend, she had no pain whatsoever.  Thank you, Lord.

Well, we got back into town, and she went to see our friend the dentist on Tuesday morning.  At first it looked like a standard put a cap on it thing but then he took a closer look and realized that there was a pretty good chance that the repair would abscess and if it did…well, it wouldn’t be pretty.  And that is when our friend the dentist said the words, “root canal.”  Judy had had one of those when she was about ten and it was not a good experience.  Root canals rank up there with being drawn and quartered. My friend the dentist always teases me when I go to get my teeth cleaned.  He would smile and ask, “Need a root canal today?”

Anyway, his office referred us to a place in Paducah, Kentucky and believe it or not they had an opening that very day.  Obviously, someone had chickened out.  We made the appointment and then made our way to Paducah.  She got there and of course was just a little apprehensive, but the bottom line is this…in an hour they were done.  She said, “Dewayne, it was easier than getting a filling.”  Well, she was amazed, I was amazed, and it was just about that very moment that we figured out it was just another love note from our Dearest Daddy.

I know what you are thinking.  The words love note, and root canal can’t go in the same sentence but indeed then can and did.  When you combine a good God and a good dentist like my friend…well, we almost shouldn’t be surprised. But the truth is this whole deal was incredibly different from what it could have been from start to finish.  I mean no one prays for a root canal, in fact, no one would dare want a root canal, but this is just a good example of God saying, “You are going to have to walk this path, but I want you to know I am here to walk with you.”  And He did.

The “root canals” of life can be far more difficult than this experience and honestly not all of life’s difficulties go as smoothly as this.  But here’s the deal.  This one will serve as a gentle remind for Judy and me that God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.  His faithfulness is not dependent on the outcome or the circumstances.  His faithfulness is defined by His presence, and He is always there, always watching and always caring.

So, as you journey, maybe munching on a bag of pork rinds or maybe not and you hit a bump, try and make your first response to be looking, sensing His presence.  Try not to panic rather try to rest in His peace. Remember what He said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” In other words, regardless of how the story ends, His gentle whisper remains the same, “I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Integrity, life, priorities, Scripture, wisdom

Habits and Me

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7a

I am a creature of habit.  I love a good adventure but also love routines.  You know, like this morning and every morning. I wake up (that one is definitely essential), head to my man cave office, have a cup of coffee, and take a glance at the weather on a local channel. Then comes more coffee, my time with God, then time with my wife Judy, exercise (well, at least some of the time), breakfast, shower/dress and start the day.  Any change in my routine has the domino effect and the whole morning can get off course.

Habits can be really good or really bad.  If it is a good habit, it keeps us on course doing the right thing.  However, if it is a bad habit, it can lead to everything from a bad day to a bad life filled with consequences and regrets. One of the things most of can identify with is our eating habits.  If we have a lifetime of poor eating habits, it can have dire consequences as we age.  Smoking, drinking and drug abuse all are habits that can wreak havoc with our lives—and that is just the short list.

Habits can be changed. They say when you do something consecutively for 30 days it becomes a habit.  In other words, if you start to exercise and can make it 30 days; it should be ingrained in you enough that you will continue it.  If you start eating less sweets and hang with it for 30 days or so, well, they say it just might stick. I’m sure there is some truth to the 30-day thing but I also know that habits have to be maintained or else they can go to “habit” heaven.

The best way to maintain a habit is to do it.  Sometimes, though, it seems nothing works. Let me tell you about something that I have battling for years…and still don’t have a solution.  Now, hang with me! First, I spend a lot of time at the keyboard.  Between writing sermons and writing blogs…I type a lot. So, as you probably know, when a person types a scripture reference it looks something like this–John 3:16.  Well, I do all my sermons in Pages—a word processing program for Apple computers.  When I save the file, it asks me to name it. So, by habit, I always name the file with the word Sermon followed by the reference–so it might look like this:  Sermon – John 3:16.

And that, dear friends, is the problem. You see, Pages will absolutely not allow you to use a colon as part of the file name.  Every time it slaps my hand and replaces the colon with a dash.  So, the name becomes Sermon – John 3-16. As hard as I try, I just can’t accept the change. No, No, and No.  So, Pages and I are at an impasse.  I forget the colon thing and I do not like the dash thing.  It is habitual battle that I fight every time I write a sermon. Try as I may…I can’t seem to break the habit.

The cause of this madness is simple and revealing.  You see, all the other times I write a scripture reference I always use a colon.  Consequently, it is reinforced in my brain to do the wrong thing when I save a file.  Now in this case, I’m not sure what the answer is–do I keep beating my head against the wall when I save a file or learn to write the scripture reference in a new way.  Who knows?

While this one is annoying, there are other habits in our lives that are destructive or at least unproductive?  Is there a bad habit either consciously or subconsciously that you are consistently reenforcing?  Are you finding yourself unable to get up early for an exercise or quiet time because of late night television viewing?  Are destructive habits being fed by destructive reading or viewing habits?  Hmmmm.

One thing remains sure–if we sow corn–we will reap corn.  There is a small part of a verse from a very wise man that has a big truth.  It says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” In other words, as long as we are feeding our brains the same thoughts and arguments—we will get the same results.  If we want different results–we must do something different.  They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results–it just doesn’t work.

Well, the good news is that God wants to give us a hand.  His Word is great handbook for life and if we will read and heed—we can, with His help, change. Remember those signs on the road that warn you of a sharp curve?  They really can help us have a better day.  So, dive into His Book and watch as things change.  It may not happen overnight, and you might be tempted to throw in the towel but before you do remember two things.  One, why you started in the first place and two, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, Scripture, thankful, Trials

The Thumb

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children.” Ephesians 5:1

He gave me the thumb and I wasn’t sure I liked it.  It was just about a year ago.  It was a Saturday afternoon and I decided to take a trip to Marion.  With my wife Judy out in Oklahoma doing family mission work I was a little bored.  I wasn’t heading to anyplace in particular just getting out of town.  As those who live around here know, the road to Marion is a nice four lane highway with a speed limit of 65 mph.  I was hitting that right on the nose.  Now, frankly, most of the time I am like most drivers and do a couple of miles over the limit.  But today I was a law-abiding citizen.  And then I saw him.

Up ahead some distance was a guy and his lady friend on a Harley.  He was doing probably about 62 mph…just enough so I was either going to have to slow down or get into the left lane and pass him.  The closer I got I could see that he looked just what my prejudiced eyes thought he would. Three or four days of stubble covered his face, a bandana held his hair down, well-worn jeans, a few tats, and some sort of leather vest finished his look.  His lady friend also sported a bandana and was dressed in black.  She reminded me of a female version of Johnny Cash.

So, giving the biker dude plenty of girth, I moved over into the left lane, cruise still set to 65.  Just before I got even with the guy on the bike, he nudged the throttle on his Harley and soon was about 40 yards ahead of me.  I thought, “Well, ok, maybe Harley’s don’t have cruise and he realized he was doing under the speed limit.  But wait…now he’s slowing down again.  Strange.  I went back into the left lane and when we were about even—he throttled up again.  Well, back into the right lane I went.  As I did, he did his slow down thing again.  I got back into the left lane and when I did his lady friend turned around and gave me “the look.”

I can’t really explain the look.  I know when Judy gives it to me it never ends well.  So, I filed that away.  Soon I was even again with my friend on the Harley, and he looks over at me.  I give him a shrug of the shoulders, the kind that says, “Hey dude, what’s up?” And that’s when he gave me the thumb.  Now I don’t speak sign language at all.  I do know when some people do certain things with their fingers it can be pretty ugly.  I’ve had that happen before.  But no one has ever given me the thumb.

He simply held up his hand, fingers tucked in and his thumb sticking out—kinda like a hitchhiker would do when thumbing for a ride. His thumb pointing to the rear of his bike, he gave it a jerk—pointing behind him—and throttled big and shot off into the distance.  Just like that, he and she were gone.  And not speaking fluent biker hand signs, I was left trying to figure out if I was glad or mad or offended or off-ended. I need to tell you that I’m not sure off-ended is a real word but it sounded good.

So as the biker dude took off, several scenarios kinda played through my mind.  I mean if he was being a jerk, I could play like Clint Eastwood, reach under my seat and draw out my 45 magnum and say, “Go ahead…make my day.”  But the only thing under my seat was an umbrella and it wasn’t a 45 magnum anyway.  And maybe he wasn’t being a jerk after all.  He might have been saying, “Hey, the girl on the back is my wife Sally.  I just wanted to introduce her to you.”  It could have been that he wanted me to fall in behind him so he could break the wind for me like one of those NASCAR drivers.

Truth is—I don’t have a clue.  So, I pulled back into the right lane and kept on driving.  I even notched it down a couple of miles per hour to give the biker dude plenty of room. He turned right heading toward Pittsburg and I will probably never see him again.  But one thing is sure.  If he should happen to walk into church this Sunday, unless I violated some sort of biker code I don’t know about, I won’t have to be embarrassed.  I played it cool and hopefully acted like Jesus wanted me too.  And that is what matters.

Paul told some folks at Ephesus who were Jesus followers that they should imitate God in everything they do.  It not only applies to them—it applies to us. In other words, if we are Jesus followers, we should speak, act, think and respond like Him because we are His dear children. Now, I don’t always get it right.  In fact, too often I get it wrong.  But that day…it felt pretty good that I didn’t do something to embarrass myself or my Dearest Father.  So, if someone gives you the thumb, or worse, just hit the pause button. Pull back into the right lane, bump your cruise down a couple of mph and rest.  You know why, don’t you?  That’s right…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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


Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Well, that didn’t do a lot of good.  My wife Judy and I recently attended a pastor’s conference at the Billy Graham Training Center in North Carolina.  It was so refreshing to get away and as always, we were treated like royalty.  The teaching, the facilities and the food were all top notch.  In these crazy days we are living it was like an oasis where we could pause and refill—to drink deeply from His well of living water.

So, too soon, it was time to head back home and because the conference was over in the middle of the day, it just made sense to stop about halfway and spend the night. Cookeville, Tennessee is just about the midway point, so we booked an Airbnb. It was a nice place and we unloaded and then went to get a bite to eat. In the meantime, it decided to rain.  Now let me explain this was one of those rains that could drown a fish.  It rained, rained hard and it rained a long time. I was about to check the price on gopher wood.  Anyway, when we got back to our home for the evening, I jumped out of the car and unlocked the door and Judy followed.

Well, it continued to rain and several times I went outside to see what was happening.  You could hear the rain from inside the apartment and you could just tell it was coming down in buckets.  Of course, there was the occasional lighting followed by a good, ole thunderclap.  Each time I went out I was careful to lock the door back.  You know, the neighborhood looked safe, but you can never tell.  Finally, it was time to head to bed and I checked the door and it was locked.  We were safe and sound.

Well, sometime in the night, I woke up to rollover and I thought I heard something.  Now don’t panic…it was nothing, but I thought it might be something.  And then, something occurred to me, a question really.  I asked myself, “Did you leave the key in the lock on the door?”  Well, that made me wonder…and for good reason.  So, in the middle of the night I got up and turned on the lights.  I looked on the counter and guess what?  The key was nowhere to be seen.  I had a sneaking suspicion I knew just where to find it.

I walked over to the door, unlocked the deadbolt, and opened the door and there for everyone and anyone to see and find…was the key.  Well, I obviously took it out of the lock and gratefully locked the door back, put the key on the counter and went back to bed.  After a short prayer thanking God for keeping us safe, I drifted back off to sleep…no harm and no foul.  But it did make me think.

You see the door had two locks…one on the doorknob and one a deadbolt.  Those together would certainly keep out any bad guys.  But with the key right there…well, those locks weren’t going to keep anyone out.  With the key in the lock, it was like hanging out a “Y’all come on in!” sign. As I mentioned, no one tried to come in, but I had rendered the locks useless by leaving the key there.

It made me wonder how often do we leave the keys in the locks that guard our heart, our mind, our character, our marriage, our anythings?  You see, God watched out for Judy and me that night and gratefully, He also watches out for us in life.  But as sure as an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so it is better to remove the key and lock the lock.  Wouldn’t it have been crazy, though,  for me to leave the key in the lock because, after all, no one tried to come in…yet?  And just because nothing has gone amiss in our lives yet doesn’t mean that it can’t and it won’t.

The Bible tells us in the Book of Smart Living, aka Proverbs, to guard our hearts because out of it comes the wellspring of our lives. In other words, we need to lock the door of our hearts and put the key safely away. If you are wondering the best way to guard your heart, to lock the door to your heart, I believe the Bible is the answer.  It is just jam-packed with help from the One who made us.  And remember, the Bible isn’t just a book of rules…it is a book for living well. Like guardrails on a curvy road, it keeps us from big regrets and consequences.  Written on the pages and in between the lines is His calm assurance that we don’t have to worry because He is with us and yes, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Judy’s “S” Word

So, it is sin to know to do good and yet not do it.” James 4:17

I said the “S” word.  Oh, no—not that one.  You see we have some strict standards with language in our house.  My wife Judy taught our children, and me, that there are certain words we just don’t say.  One is “shut-up.”  That is just too rude.  I remember a couple of years back when she was teaching Refit, she was using a pop song called, “Shut-up and Dance with Me.”  Oh my—I had a fit.  I tried to explain to her how that was against our standards. She gently, well, somewhat gently, explained to me that it was a love song, and the words were spoken in that context.  “Oh.” I said. You see, I’ve always been kinda cut and dry.

But that is not the word that came out of my mouth on another day.  It was the other “S” word that is banned from our family.  So, I had just finished my morning walk.  I was zipping along pretty good…enough to work up a good sweat anyway.  I got back to the house, and I was drenched with sweat…hot and tired.  But there was this kinda feeling of satisfaction at the same time. And then I got to thinking.

You see I try to be at least somewhat healthy which means I try to exercise several times a week. I know it is a good thing to do.  I know it is the right thing to do.  It’s the kinda thing that you tell your doctor you are doing, and they pat you on the head and say how well you are doing. I even have a healthy breakfast—lots of protein and very little carbs or fat.  I feel another pat on the head coming on.  And then it happens.  Someone brings donuts to the office and those sweet round things whisper my name.  Sometimes it is cookies, and they whisper a little louder.  Throughout the day the whispers get louder and louder and by the time evening coming I am eating anything and everything with sugar in it.  And that’s when I said it.

Sitting outside, drenched in sweat, proud of exercising, I said it, “Dewayne, you’re stupid (that’s the other “S” word).  You work so hard to exercise and then turn around and make a series of unwise and unhealthy decisions.  And it occurs to me that those bad decisions totally negate the good ones made in the morning.  In other words, I am shooting myself in the foot.  At best I am breaking even for the day. I think I am learning the good doesn’t outweigh (no pun intended) the bad.  I need to cut back, perhaps way back, on the sweet stuff to really gain the benefit of the exercise.

We do the exact same thing with our spiritual disciplines.  Do we understand that even if we get up in the morning and have a time with God—even if we read His Word, read a couple of devotional thoughts, and even pray, the unwise decisions we make during the rest of the day rob us of our victory?  We need to learn to do the good and at the same time stop the bad.  We need to carefully weigh each decision we make.  Often, I visit our pantry and will find myself trying different things just to satisfy that itch I have.  In the process I consume a bunch of empty, non-satisfying calories.  I end the day wondering why and how that happened. I then start the next day with a commitment to do better.

I think the secret must be to constantly remember through the day the cost of making unwise decisions—whether they be calories or sins.  And then in the case of the pantry, turn out the light and walk out—empty handed.  It may be difficult at the moment, but the win is about two minutes later when you realize you made a right decision.  And that’s another secret—make one wise decision and then wait to make the next one.  Before long—you wait—and things will begin to change.

There’s a verse tucked away in the book that James the half-brother of Jesus wrote in the Bible.  It says that when we know to do good and then choose not to do it—well, that becomes a sin.  And if we see it through that lens it starts to make sense.  Now most of my nighttime grazing for sweets occurs when Judy isn’t around.  It’s just easier to make unwise choices when the one who loves me most isn’t there.  My best idea is to stay out of the kitchen when she isn’t around.

It’s the same with our Dearest Father. It’s much easier to do life when we stick close to Him in our heart, thoughts, and actions. If we can get it into our heads that He is always there to help us make wise choices—well, we will make wiser choices.  He wants us to sin less because when we do—we bring glory to His name, and we are happier.  So, the next time you’re tempted to make a bad or unwise decision, look around and He will be there for you.  Just turn out the light and walk out empty-handed.  Just put your hand in His.  Just lay it to rest.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials, wisdom

His Plan

 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” Matthew 6:8

 I read it…and I just didn’t like it.  We live in a house with what seems like a lot of rooms.  I once heard Pastor Andy Stanley say that we know we are blessed because we even have rooms for our cars.  They are called garages.  I suppose my favorite room is the kitchen because that is where Judy cooks our delicious meals.  She is a very good cook, and I am a very good eater!  My second favorite room is my home office or, you could say my, “Man Cave.”

While it is true that it is where I do a lot of my studying and writing, its walls are full of memories.  On one wall is a display of my career in the Air Force.  There is a picture of my flight (think squad in the Army), as well as several awards and medals I received while in the service.  I also have a couple of items from World War II that I treasure.  Then there are five pellet and BB guns hanging over my desk.  Several bring childhood memories. On two walls are items from mission trips in Africa and Asia.  My two favorite things are a Tuareg sword that a friend in Niger gave me and a picture of me and another team member praying over a man who was demon possessed.

Rooms can be very special and for various reasons.  I was reading this week and by way of illustration a writer told a story of young boy who had a dream that he was in heaven.  Someone showed him a room filled with cars, boats and other toys but piled on the other side of the room were arms and legs and other body parts.  I know it sounds gruesome. When the boy asked his guide what it mean he was told that all of it were answers to prayers that people never prayed.  I guess it makes for a good story but honestly—I didn’t like it.

“Why” you ask?  Well, the idea that the God that loves me and cares for me, would let me walk around blind or crippled only because I didn’t ask just doesn’t work for me.  I mean He loved me enough to send His Son to die for me…for the whole world…and that God would allow His kids to be lame only because they didn’t ask just doesn’t work.  Oh, and then, Jesus said that He knows what we need even before we ask.  No, I think God is an opened handed, loving Father who cares for us.

Of course, I also believe that prayer is far more than a wish list.  I believe the scriptures teach about prayer being more about fellowship and an intimate relationship between God and His children.  Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind or persuading Him to do this or that.  No, prayer is about changing us…to believe…to trust…to love the One who made us.  I know there are a lot of scriptures in the Bible about prayer, but we only get a clear picture when we put them together. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle comes to life when all the pieces are in place…so it is with prayer.

Well, I don’t think there will be those kind of rooms in heaven but if there were…I know one I do think would be there.  And that room would be a gallery of pictures of all the things our Dearest Daddy did for us that we never even knew about.  It would be a room filled with unnoticed miracles, love notes, and blessings and it would have to be a big room because He is a busy God…loving, blessing and caring…for each of us.

I’m grateful for the open-handed love of our great God.  If we will take the time to pause and look, we will see more and more of what He does for us every day.  My wife Judy and I are learning that so often the joy is in the journey, and do you know what?  I am learning that the power of prayer is in the intimacy, the relationship that can only come from time spend together with the One who made me…made us.  Oh, and when we are talking, and I’m sharing my concerns, I just know He is there listening and sometimes whispering…telling me not to worry because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne