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

Watch for the Flag

A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

The flag was busily snapping in the wind.  Judy and I had journeyed to Panama City Beach burning a few leftover vacation days and looking for a little white space before we started a busy new year.  White space is that thing you have when there is less pressure to be and do and it gives you an opportunity to recoup, recharge, and restore.  I know in our world that is a rare thing and therefore an especially valuable thing.  We were sitting on the balcony looking at the Gulf of Mexico and enjoying the balmy 76-degree temperature.  Can someone say, “Paradise?” It was then I really noticed the flag.

To help swimmers stay safe in the Gulf waters, the local authorities have flag poles up and down the beach and the color of the flag informs the beach goers of the water conditions.  A green flag means everything is good…calm waters and currents.  A yellow flag indicates that there is a slight risk and one should at least pay attention to the waves and the currents.  A red flag means that no one should go into the water…there are significant waves and dangerous currents.  A double red is as if they are shouting the warning.  Well, yesterday, when we arrived there was a yellow flag and it was warm enough that more than a few people were swimming.  Then came today.

Judy was out on the balcony and I was inside writing Grits.  She watched as the safety patrol came by and changed the flag from yellow to red.  While the waves were a little boisterous the real danger was what was happening under the water—riptide.  Riptide is an undertow that can quickly pull you away from the shore and immediately put you in danger.  Apparently that danger was greater than normal. The internet said it and so did the flag but surprisingly many people simply ignored it.

I joined Judy on the balcony for breakfast and a break from writing.  I watched as a young lady, probably in her late teens, walked right pass the flag pole with its red flag.  She was carrying a wave board and her beach stuff.  She set down her board and bag, spread out her towel and quickly removed her swim coverup.  And then, without a thought, grabbed her board and headed out into the water. Soon she was further out than anyone else and the current had moved her probably thirty yards down shore. No, this story doesn’t have a tragic ending but from my fifth story balcony it did give me a clear perspective.  While she probably never even saw the red flag, I could see it clearly and because I saw it clearly I knew there was a danger.  I knew I needed to stay clear of the water.

I found it intriguing that some saw the warning and heeded it, some saw the warning and ignored it, and some blindly ran straight into the danger…totally unaware and it made me think.  Today is New Year’s Eve.  That means tomorrow we will, Lord willing, walk right into a brand New Year and we know now from past experience that we really don’t know what this new year will hold.  The good news is there is Someone who does know and that someone is the God who created all of this.  And here is more good news.  First, He loves us dearly and wants more than anything for us to be able to call Him Father.  That happens by believing in His Son…the One we just celebrated at Christmas.  Google it…it is an incredible story.

Second, if we are willing to believe and listen, He too will give us wisdom and guidance for this New Year.  No, it probably won’t be a green, yellow, red or double red flag—it will be something better—His Word.  The Bible isn’t just a rule book—a bunch of do’s and don’ts but rather it is a love letter where the One extending the love shares how to make the most of life.  In fact, Jesus said, “A thief (that is Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” But what He says next is amazing, “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” Someone said that translates as, “the life that is really life.” I like that.

So, as we launch into 2022, and knowing more than ever before how uncertain a New Year can be, why not check out a relationship with Creator God…why not check out Jesus?  If you have or if you do now would be a great time to get into His Word and watch for the “flags” He shows you.  Oh, and here is more good news.  If you do find yourself in dangerous waters, don’t worry, He will still be there for you.  Over the din of the waves and the pull of the current, you will hear Him shouting, “It’s OK…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

This Little Light of Mine

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14-16

It was a great idea that just got better.  Thomas Edison had a really great idea when he invented the light bulb.  I love that history records that he failed in his first 10,000 attempts.  Of course, he was quick to correct anyone who said that.  He simply told them he didn’t fail 10,000 times, he just learned 10,000 ways not to do it.  The light bulb simply changed life in America and over the years it has continue to evolve.  First, it just got better. The life expectancy of a bulb in the early years was pretty poor—about 14.5 hours.  But over the years it got better and better.

More than several years ago a radical change happened.  Someone mass produced the compact fluorescent bulb.  These were revolutionary.  They burned for a much longer time, they were much cooler and they were much cheaper to operate.  The equivalent of a 60 watt bulb would only consume about 8 or 9 watts.  That’s a big difference.  While they were expensive to buy at first, the price came down pretty quickly.  And then the prom queen of light bulbs arrived…the LED or light emitting diode bulb burst on the scene.

When LED’s first came out they were barely bright enough to use in a watch.  Now they light the highways with headlights and streetlights.  They are amazing.  And the most amazing thing—they only consume a couple of watts of energy.  They literally cost pennies a day to operate.  An added bonus is that they last a really long time.  If you look at the package, you will read they are supposed to burn for 22,000 hours.  That figures out to about 916 days. Whoa!  That sounds impressive but is it really?

You see, I have discovered that while the LED may last that long, often the electronics in the base don’t. I have had LED bulbs that didn’t make it six months.  But there is a secret.  Regardless whether it is an old fashioned incandescent bulb, or a compact florescent bulb or a LED bulb, the more often you turn it on and off—the shorter the life span.  Yup—it’s the truth.  I have some LED lights in my bathroom that have been burning 24 hours a day, seven days a week for over two years and they are still going strong.  Ok, you’re probably wondering, “why would I do that?”

Well, a couple of years ago I remodeled our bathroom.  It had lights on each side of the vanity mirror.  The old light fixtures had switches to turn the light on and off.  Well, the new fixtures didn’t.  So I said to myself, “Who needs a switch?  After all, it costs a few pennies a day to burn the bulb, I didn’t have to try and figure out how to install a switch and I don’t ever walk into a dark bathroom.  So, there you go! Problem solved.  And like the Energizer bunny—they keep right on burning.

As I was pondering all of this, it occurred to me this is why some Christians burn out and some Christians keep right on burning.  You see, just like the light bulb, we last a lot longer when we are consistently on.  Believers who are on again and off again just tend to burn out.  What does that look like? First, things like prayer and reading the Bible slip away and then going to church and where that light once burned bright—only an unlit bulb remains…dark and cold. Yet those who make it a priority to stay on—to keep that appointment and read the Book, to talk daily with their Dearest Daddy and make attending church a priority on their calendar—they just seem to last and last. And it is no accident.  It just makes sense.  Jesus said that we are the light of the world—reflecting His light to a dark world.  And when we do the right things—it reflects so well on Him.

Well, I don’t know if I will ever install a switch or not.  I kinda like walking into a lit room.  Actually, we have eight or nine lights in our house that never get turned off.  All are LEDs and all cost a few cents to burn, and all chase the darkness away.  I like that too.  And then there’s always the “I wonder just how long they will burn?” challenge.  Who knows, there might be a record out there somewhere.  But I’ll only find out if I leave it on.  And that is true with our Jesus walk too.  We need to rise to the challenge and see just how long we can burn brightly—for Him.  The best way to start is to remove the option, the switch.  The next step is to determine you are going to trust Him to help you keep burning bright.  He will, you know.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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


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

It’s rather a paradox.  The story is told of two people who were married, and both happened to be doctors.  They were walking down the street together, holding hands, and someone saw them and said, “Oh look, a “pair of docs.” Smile.  I have a paradox of my own, but it has nothing to do with doctors.  You see, I love to travel.  My wife Judy and I genuinely look forward to traveling.  It is one of our “life candies.” In fact, as I write this, I am overlooking a beach in Northwest Florida.  The patio door is open, the early morning sun is sharing its rays with those already on the beach and the sound of crashing and rolling waves fill the room.  It is good.

Now for the paradox.  In order to travel, you have to somehow go somewhere.  Whether it is a plane, train or automobile…you have to go and going always involves opportunities for frustration.  Whether it is a canceled flight or train or a sudden traffic jam on the interstate, interruptions will and do come.  On this trip, it happened driving south on Interstate 24.  There is a stretch of road south of Paducah, Kentucky that the Department of Transportation has been working on for a long, long time.  The two south bound lanes have been reduced to one and that can spell slowdown.  But this time it didn’t.  Everyone managed to merge to one lane and we were merrily heading south at a reduced but very respectable speed…until we weren’t.

Suddenly, I looked up and I could see lots and lots of brake lights.  So I began to slow down and pretty quickly found myself in a traffic jam.  Well, we managed to creep along at a blazing five or ten miles per hour.  I looked on the GPS and it confirmed there was an accident up ahead and that was the reason for the slowdown.  It also told me that the mess was somewhere between long but not the longest.  After a while the GPS told me that we were nearing the spot of the accident.  I was expecting the worse…police cars, ambulances, and destroyed vehicles, but that wasn’t what I found. Pulled off on the shoulder, as in not blocking any lanes, were three vehicles.  One had no damage and the other two had minor damage.  Apparently they were following too closely and someone hit the brakes and well, the rest is history.

There was no police presence, yet, there was no ambulance—in fact, everyone was standing around chatting and as soon as we passed the scene, it was over.  It was back to normal…zooming south again.  Two things quickly occurred to me. First, the choice of those two drivers to follow too closely sure caused a mess.  If one of them was in a hurry…well, they weren’t anymore.  Second, it seemed to me that while traffic needed to slow down, it didn’t need to almost come to a stop.  It could have been curiosity or maybe a case of overreaction.  We do that well sometimes, don’t we? The bottom line is…it doesn’t matter…things happen. Period.

And therein lies the paradox.  Practically speaking, if we travel, we will have bumps and slowdowns.  It is just a part of life—the journey.  So you do all that you can to avoid the bumps and slowdowns but don’t let them “eat your lunch” or keep you from doing the thing you love.  You learn to accept them as part of the journey.  Now, I’m still learning this but I have a feeling it something worth exploring.  This goes somewhere beyond knowing the joy is in the journey to include joy in the bumps and slowdowns.  It means somehow, (I’m still working on it), allowing those inconveniences to become part of the adventure.  I know that sounds crazy but at the same time it sounds…enticing.

I’m one of those crazy people who believe the Bible and believe what it teaches about life and God and I am learning to believe that God has His hand on the wheel and throttle of life. He has a reason for cruising free and clear down the interstate of life and He has a reason for the bumps and slowdowns of life. It becomes a matter of being willing to trust Him for both.  A favorite proverb from the Book of Proverbs says, “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.” Well, there you go.  Do life by trusting Him.

When I saw those brake lights the other day and had to slowdown…and even stop, it seems there was a whisper in my ear. It wasn’t shouting frustration or demanding an explanation. It was something I had heard before and needed to hear again.  It simply said, “Don’t worry, son, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel

Memory Trees

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11

Just a heads up. Christmas trees. They all have their own time to be setup. They all have their own design and style.  They all have their time when they are trashed or stowed.  There is a common denominator.  Those three things are determined by the creators, the admirers of the trees.  That is what makes every tree special. At our house, we do something just a bit different.  We have four trees that make a small, enchanted forest of sorts.  The tallest is about six foot and the smallest is about 30 inches.  It was an idea that I came up with several years ago and we love it.  They are decorated with a wide variety of ornaments and keepsakes from over the decades…and we love that too.

On one tree, we have a styrofoam snowman’s head that was made by my sister when she was in the third grade…and trust me…that was a really, long time ago.  There is a glitter covered cross from when my wife Judy was in the fourth grade.  Of course, there are three “baby’s first Christmas” ornaments—one for each of our daughters.  There is a 3×5 index card with two buttons on it.  Written, by my oldest granddaughter when she was about 5 years old, is her name over one button and Papa written over the other.  It is priceless.  We were buddies…we are buddies. And on and on it goes…families, friends, and special memories all gathered in one place.

So, by now you are wondering, “Why are you writing about Christmas trees after Christmas has passed?”  It’s a bit of a story. When we were in Germany in 1979, we lived in base housing.  They were large, four-story apartment buildings, with three stairwells—all full of military families.  We were on the top floor, and we had one neighbor across the hall, and they actually had a phone in their home.  One year, near Easter, I needed to use the phone, so I knocked on the door and his wife came to the door.  I asked if I could use their phone and she was kind enough to say yes.

As I entered their apartment, I noticed one thing right away.  Sitting in their living room was their Christmas tree in all of its splendor.  Now, keep in mind it was right before Easter.  I made my call and just had to ask the obvious question.  I politely said, “So why do you still have your Christmas tree up?”  And, without missing a beat, she said, “It makes me happy.”  I never forgot that simple answer and the great truth it taught me.  It.Makes.Me.Happy.

I love the fact that this sweet lady made a decision not based on popular opinion, not on what the masses did, not the usual.  She decided based on what was good for her—for her mental health.  I didn’t think her odd at all—rather, I thought her strong and wise.  I wonder how many decisions we make every day that are not based on what may be good for us but based on what the Smith’s or Jones might think of us? I wonder how many things we wear, or eat, or watch, or do, that are based on the opinion of others?  I wonder how many of our faith decisions are based on the same.  Church—no church. Kindness—no kindness. Love—no love. Jesus—no Jesus. Hmmmm. I just wonder.

Well anyway, if you live around Harrisburg, Illinois you need to know something.  For the next few weeks or so, you might see a small, enchanted forest in our front bay window.  It will be four trees starting at about six feet tall and going down to 30 inches.  If you could get close enough you would see the trees covered with special ornaments—and almost everyone would represent a special memory or event.  And why will they be there?  Well, it might just be a reminder that we have so much to be thankful for. They will not be Christmas trees but memory trees…trees of gratitude.

In those coming days, we will drink coffee and do our Jesus things like reading the Bible or praying and occasionally we will look up and be happy—happy for all the blessings that God has sent our way.  Someone writing about God in His Book said that God had turned their mourning into joyful dancing. He had taken away their clothes of mourning and clothed them with joy. I couldn’t agree more.  Even in these different days, even in a year that rivaled 2020 for challenges and conflict, and even when a future is still not very certain, we will have happy moments.  We will pause and thank God that in the past He always showed up and today and all the today’s yet to come…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Christmas All Day, Every Day

Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

24 hours…almost to the minute.  It all began with Christmas Eve service at our church that started promptly at 5:00 pm.  This is one of the best things we do all year and yet it really isn’t anything we do.  Families come and fill the worship center. We have some wonderful Christmas worship and readings from the Word of God.  It is my privilege to share something from the Bible and from my heart.  We end the service by sharing “the light of Christmas” with one another…a simple candle is lit and shared with everyone across the room as we sing “Silent Night.”  It always lasts just about an hour and then with anticipation, everyone goes their own way.

For Judy and me and the rest of the Taylor tribe that means gathering at one of our homes where we enjoy family, food, and fellowship.  Everyone gets a new pair of Christmas pajamas as we share some wonderful food.  Soon, too soon, our family disperses to their various homes.  The only exception is that Judy and I spend the night with our oldest daughter and her family and get to wakeup Christmas morning as the family opens presents and just enjoy being family.  Later in the day some of the family comes back and we have Christmas lunch together with more laughter and more fellowship.  Soon, too soon, the day comes to a close, and we go our separate ways, and our hearts are filled with gratitude for a day well lived.

It is sometimes hard to see the day end.  After weeks of anticipation and excitement, as the sun sets, the reality is that we go back to our routines.  Soon the Christmas music will be pushed to the end of our playlist and the decorations will be packed away for another year and all of us will soon be doing life as before…or will we?  I believe that we can and should carry some of Christmas with us right into the New Year.  I believe that is what Mary and Joseph did.  They didn’t leave Bethlehem the same way they arrived.  They left carrying the Hope of the world in Mary’s arms and under the watchful eye of Joseph.  They left with new purpose and new insight to care for and love the Baby placed in their care. Life wasn’t easy and neither Mary nor Joseph knew all the curves and potholes this new road would have.  They simply decided to trust God for the day after Christmas…and the day after that.

It would be easy for us to slip into what is called the “post-Christmas blues.”  But I think we do have a choice.  While we do have to move on, we can carry Christmas with us.  You see Christmas isn’t just the music, the decorations, and the traditions.  No Christmas is a celebration of God becoming man and dwelling with us and among us and in fact…in us. Christmas is a celebration of Christ and that isn’t, nor should it be, about a day or season on a calendar.  It is about the power of God’s love for this world…a love so great He gave His Son…the same one born on Christmas…for us.  How about that?

So today, why not go ahead and break into a chorus or two of “Joy to the World?”  After all, the good news of His coming is still good news.  Why not do today what you did a couple of days ago when you chose to show a little kindness?  After all, there are no seasonal limits on kindness or love.  That is something we can and should do every day.  I think we can all agree, Christian or not, that the world could use a little more of each.  I know that is what Jesus did. He went around doing good…not in honor of His birthday but because that was who He was and what He did.

Paul, the guy who wrote a bunch of the New Testament part of the Bible said, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs.” Now that is enough to make it Christmas every day!  Sound a little challenging?  Don’t worry, the God who made all of this is just waiting to help you.  In fact, if you listen closely, you will hear Him whispering, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, wisdom

I Love Christmas

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I’ve said it before, I’ve written it before, but I’ll say it again, I’ll write it again.  Once again, it is Christmas Eve.  I have celebrated Christmas Eve sixty-seven times. Granted I don’t remember some of the early ones and I guess to be honest I don’t remember a lot of the other ones either, but I remember enough to know that each one was special.  When I was growing up it was all about family, food and presents.  My Momma and Daddy did such an incredible job of making sure each Christmas was electric with excitement.  While there are several special memories, some were just bigger than others.  One particular Christmas, my sister had asked for a chord organ.  Now that was a pretty big gift and yet I can remember lying in bed…all three of us little ones in one bed for that special night, and hearing through the thin walls the magical sounds of that organ.  Santa had come.

The next morning, with a house filled with family, we would celebrate with gifts, some large, some small, but all given and wrapped with love.  Later would come a big meal and prayers of gratitude for a good God who loved us and blessed us.  Many more Christmas Eves have come and gone.  Some were challenging, like when my Daddy was still recovering from a heart attack, some were much smaller like when it was just my wife Judy and me sitting in a small village in Germany serving our country.  The crowd was smaller, but the love was just as big.

Later, we had children and Christmas began to take on a whole new dimension. Judy and I became more the giver than the receiver.  We had the opportunity to do for them like my parents had done for me.  We watched with joy as their faces lit up with happiness as each gift was unwrapped.  Clothes and toys with an occasional bike or hamster thrown in the mix are all part of the memory.  But through it all, one thing remained a constant…love…love for each other and experiencing the love of a God who won’t, who can’t stop…loving.

Now, well, the Christmas journey continues.  Our children have grown up and all three of them have kids of their own and Christmas isn’t less…it is more.  At some point and despite busy schedules, we will get together and love, and celebrate and be thankful for each other and for the One who makes it possible.  In my experiences of Christmas, I have discovered that it isn’t the circumstances that make a Christmas Eve or Christmas morning special or not.  It is not the bounty of presents or the location, no, it is love.  My favorite Christmas verse from the Bible says it all, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Now that is a Christmas verse.

God doesn’t want anyone to miss Christmas with Him and that is why He threw open the front door and hung out the welcome sign.  He simply says, “Ya’ll come home for Christmas.” No matter who, no matter what, you are welcome home for Christmas.  I know growing up things weren’t always perfect in the Taylor tribe but for the most part we did manage to love each other and I’m glad we did.  So, Merry Christmas.  Remember that He chose to love us and because of that maybe, just maybe, we can choose to do the same for those around us.  If you listen this Christmas Eve, you may just hear the Whisperer whisper, “Merry Christmas, I love you, come on home for Christmas.  I’ve got this.”    Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

The Old 410 Wake Up

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11

We were the three little ones.  Momma and Daddy either by plan or accident ended up with a big family.  They had five reasonably close together and then took a break before finishing up the family with three more.  The three little ones consisted of two girls and one boy.  I was the boy and as the baby in the family, I was the best.  They called me “Precious”, because I was.  Smile.

The story isn’t about that, but I love stirring the pot.  The way it worked out at Christmas; the five older kids entered the world of nonbelievers long before we three.  I’m sure because one of my sisters-in-law said she changed my diapers.  But for the three little ones, Christmas was a magical world of believing and receiving.

On Christmas Eve night, we three were put into one bedroom.  The main part of the house only had two, so it seemed logical.  About 8:00 pm, Momma and Daddy would put us in the bedroom to “go to sleep” but of course that never happened.  We would lie in bed, whispering and giggling.  At some point, we would begin hearing strange noises coming from the living room.  I remember one year my sister asked for a “chord organ.” Imagine our excitement when, as we were “asleep,” we begin to hear musical sounds coming through the thin walls.  We couldn’t wait.  We would holler out and tell lies.  We would say, “We have to go to the bathroom.”  Of course, we didn’t, but we would do anything to “sneak a peek.”

Eventually, and it varied from year to year, we would doze off to sleep.  And yes, there were visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. I am sure we woke up several times throughout the night to check the clock and it was always too early.  But we would know when it was time to get up.  The “410” would tell us.  You see my Daddy owned an old single shot 410 shotgun and every year that became our alarm clock.  Daddy, or one of the older brothers, would open the backdoor of the breezeway, stick the gun out and let her go.  The window where we were sleeping was right beside that door, so we had no problem hearing old Bessie when the time came. And, trust me, when the gun went off, we were up and running.

The door would fly open, and we would turn right into the living room and there would be a wonderland of toys and presents.  Our stockings would be stuffed to overflowing and we, well, we were amazed.  As we sifted through the piles of gifts and as the piles of used wrapping paper grew taller, it was heaven—at least to the three little ones.  I remember my sister-in-law, the same one that changed my diapers, took on the responsibility of going through all that paper to make sure some tiny, but important, part didn’t get accidentally thrown out.

The “410” became an heirloom in the family and my oldest brother became the proud owner. Last year, in an incredible act of generosity, he gave it to me and this year, once again, she will send out her wakeup call. She has killed her fair share of squirrels but the most important thing, in my opinion, was that she let us know it was time for Christmas.  It was time to get up. I think that is one thing I have learned these last couple of years. You might say it was a “410” of sorts.  All the crazy circumstances seemed to send a message loud and clear that it was time for some changes.  It was time for new priorities.  It was time to make time for the things that matter, like family, and time to let go of a lot of stuff. It was time to make every day matter because for too many—there wouldn’t be another day.

Hopefully, and I think the jury is still out, these days will be remembered as a time when a lot of people discovered or rediscovered God. A time that, for the first time, many could call Him Father.  Hopefully, and I also think the jury is still out, it will be remembered as a time that the church rediscovered what it was supposed to be and do.  Maybe it will be known as a time when the church stopped being a building at a certain address and became a people who still met in a building but then left to touch the lives of hurting people.  A “410” of sorts that heralded the Good News of God’s love.

The old “410” let us three little ones know it was time to wake up and the Bible says it is time for the church to do the same thing.  It says that we Jesus followers should know the time, that the hour has come for us to wake from sleep. The reason? Our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. In other words—wake up sleepy head—it is Christmas morning—time to rise and shine.  Rise and shine—that sometimes is easier said than done but I have a suspicion that with His help—we can shine for Him—letting others know loud and clear that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, Grace, gratitude, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, wisdom

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James 1:5

It was a close call, but grace stepped in.  Every year, our church sends a group of missionaries to help process Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes in Atlanta. “Atlanta,” you say?  “I didn’t know they needed missionaries in Atlanta?”  Well, missionaries, at least to some degree, are folks who take a good message or do a good deed to a needy place and trust me that is anywhere and everywhere.  But in this case, it was also an opportunity to be a part of something very big that would impact thousands and thousands of people with the joy of a gift in the shape of a shoebox filled with items of love and the joy of a gift in the shape of a cross and an empty tomb—the message of Jesus.

Well, I almost didn’t make it. I almost missed the boat.  The week of the trip, two families in our church lost loved ones and as pastor and friend, I was asked to do the services for their loved ones—two precious mothers.  As it turned out the services would be held almost immediately after my return from Atlanta. Add to that, each service would require more than a few hours of preparation.  I believe each funeral service should be crafted in prayer and made as personal as possible and that requires time.  So, I told Judy I just didn’t think I could make the trip.  It would just be easier if I stayed back and worked.  She wanted very much for me to go but also knew the importance of the task at hand.

After some discussion, the decision was made…she would go and I would stay.  I had made this trip several times and I knew it was going to be meaningful but easier just sounded easier. But then she said something that caused me to re-evaluate.  It was something like, “Now, don’t be upset when I come back and tell you what a good time we had.”  It was a moment of clarity.  It caused me to remember the times before and that feeling of making a difference, the times of fellowship with the team, and at that moment, I knew I needed to go.  This time easier just wasn’t the best choice.

I began immediately to prepare the services and asked God to multiply the time that I had.  Then, Tuesday morning, the next day, with almost thirty others, I boarded the bus and headed to Atlanta…and it was an incredible trip. The journey, the destination, the work was all just incredible.  We got back in town Thursday evening, and I went straight back to working to finish the two funeral services. In my heart I knew I had made the right decision. The first service was Friday, and it was my privilege to stand before a group of people and share about a life well lived and a great God who loves us—a bunch.  The other service wasn’t till Sunday and, unknown to me, I would not be there for that one.  I would be at home with the flu.  Fortunately, the work for the service was done and someone else would use that work.  God knew all of this and used all of this.  Amazing.

Each day we are challenged to make decisions.  Sometimes they are obvious and sometimes they are not.  Sometimes the choice is between easy and hard.  Ask God for wisdom to make the right one.  Oh, you will miss it sometimes regardless, but I have learned that He has a way of honoring our hearts and intentions.  I just know that this time the easy thing was not the right thing…it was just easy.  I returned from Atlanta not depleted and tired but filled and refreshed.  Helping others has a way of doing that. And, God, well, He always does all things, well!

James, the half-brother of Jesus, says in the Book of the Bible that bears His name, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” You gotta love that.  Need wisdom? Just ask.  Will He be upset because you “bothered” Him?  Absolutely not.  He is like a dearest daddy just waiting to help and the reason why He is like that is because that’s what He is—our Dearest Daddy.  So, as you journey life today and you come to those crossroads called decisions, no matter how simple or complex, just ask and He will be there for you.  Don’t worry, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, Military memories, priorities, Southern born, travel

Care Packages

Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:1

You never knew when they were coming.  When God and the Air Force decided to send us to Germany—well, it was an exciting adventure that we just thoroughly enjoyed.  But there was a downside…we were a long way from home…a real long way.  We were there from 1977 to 1980, we were young, and we were newlyweds.  Back then there were no cell phones and a landline call to the States was hugely expensive, so that just didn’t happen.  There was no internet.  The world moved at the speed of ship or a plane if you were lucky. The only option was snail mail and well, that could take a while.

Sometimes during the year, our parents would send us a box through the mail.  We called them “care packages.”  The reason was that when one came it was clear that someone back in the United States loved us and cared—about us.  That was important because as much as we loved being there—there wasn’t home—or anywhere close to home.

There were two times a year that you could almost always count on a care package—that was somewhere around your birthday and then Christmas.  I can still feel the excitement as the days clicked by.  We didn’t know when, but we just knew that my Momma or Judy’s Momma would spend the money and equally as important take the time to say, “I love you.”  We would go to the Post Office every day, looking for the yellow slip in our mailbox that said, “You have a package.”  Instantly it was like Christmas Day.

We would open the box that day—that hour if possible.  There would be wrapped presents and those we would save till the special day.  But there would always be just stuff—candy, trinkets, small things that could only be gotten in America.  Sometimes there were home baked goodies and even if they were stale by then—they were still from home, and we gladly ate them.

The care packages were an important link to home for us.  Like I said, it told us that someone was thinking of us—that we had not been forgotten.  What we need to realize, especially this week, is that God is the greatest sender of care packages.  His ultimate gift, His Son, made the way so broken people like us could not only come into the presence of Holy God but that we could call Him Father.  The Jewish people could never understand that.  To them God was a far off, unapproachable Deity that they worshiped.  But for Jesus followers—well we know Him as Dearest Daddy and that is not a term of disrespect or looseness—it is a term of His love for us and our love for Him.

Even amid these difficult and confusing days, God has continued to send His care packages along the way.  The Bible tells us this day, and every day, is a day that He made.  He makes the air that we breathe. Everything…everything…that we eat, enjoy or own is a care package from Him.  Every sunrise and sunset, every perfectly different snowflake is a care package from Him.  And every single night that I lay my head down on my pillow in the peace He provides—well, that’s a care package too.

Now to be honest, sometimes we would get things in our care packages from home and wonder “what in the world were they thinking?” I’m sure Judy and I laughed at more than few.  But do you know what?  Those things were notes of love too.  And the things that God allows and sends our way that we don’t understand—well, each one in its own way is a care package.

Well, as you know, times change, and the Momma’s have moved to heaven many years ago so the days of care packages from home are gone for us.  However, the memories linger, and the love is still felt from those special care package memories. But the care packages from God never change—He still sends them—every day—sometimes every minute.  He just loves us so much.  I hope regardless of your circumstances that you will make the choice to trust Him and to wait expectantly for His care packages.  Keep looking, keep waiting, and watching because each one tells us, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Uncategorized

The Word

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

It was bound to happen.  In my forty years of being a pastor I’ve managed to dodge the bullet on missing various things.  While I’ve had to miss several Sundays over the years, I never missed a wedding or a funeral.  Ironically, I almost got off to a really bad start. Yup, I almost missed my first wedding with a bout of the stomach flu.  With a bag in my pocket…we made it somehow.  I never missed a funeral…that is until now.  Last week came the type A flu…the kind that makes you think there are worse things than death…and I had to bow out.

It was hard.  It was the mother of a member of our church, a friend, and I was honored that he asked me to do her service.  Fortunately, I began preparing for the service several days before I got sick.  He had shared about his mother, and I wrote her life story.  With that done, I wrote the rest of the service.  I was sure I could do the service and that was a mistake.  So, the morning before the service that afternoon, I threw in the towel and asked one of our staff members to do the service and then texted my friend and called the funeral home.  I hated it but it was the right thing to do.

Suddenly, I was very grateful for the work I had done earlier that week.  I was able to give my work to our worship leader who would be filling in.  Now because of the short notice it was still a deal for him to step in, but the preparation and his willingness saved the day.  The bottom line was the service went great and the family was blessed.  The only problem was I felt like I had failed.  I know, I didn’t, but sometimes feeling trumps facts.  Know what I mean?

Well, I called the family later and told them I was so sorry and that I wished I could have been there for them.  They were very kind and understanding. After the phone call something came to my mind that changed my feelings of failure.  From nowhere, or maybe from God, came the words, “Dewayne, you weren’t there but your words were, and they made the difference.”  Instantly, I got it, I understood.  God’s plan for me this time was to be a part in a different yet important way.  God knew the flu was coming and He encouraged me to prepare and because of that preparation, the family was ministered too, and He got the glory.

“Even though I wasn’t there, my words, were.”  What a powerful thought.  It reminded me of how blessed we are to have the Word of God in our lives.  In so many parts of the world, people don’t have access to a copy of what we call the Bible.  In some places in the world, people treasure mere fragments of His Book.  Here in America, and other parts of the world, we can own multiple copies of this blessed Book.  No other book brings the comfort of His printed Word.  It is a confident assurance for no matter what we face.  There is a reason for that.  You see, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us. It is unlike any other book.

As a matter of fact, speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” Who is this “He?”  We find the answer a few verses later.  It says, “So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” All that makes the Bible even more amazing.  When we read the Book, we are experiencing, we are walking, hand in hand, with God.  Wow.  Even though God is not physically here…His Word is and that makes the difference.

If you have never checked out the Bible, Christmas is a great time to start.  Discover it for yourself. Get a copy or get online and discover the power and presence of the Word of God.  It is filled with peace, comfort and promises.  And throughout all the pages you will find that special promise that means so much, “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne