Posted in Family, food, friends, gratitude, Halloween, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Trick and Treat

Jesus told him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Free Candy.  Holidays have always been special to me.  Of course, the king of the mountain is the one where we celebrate the birth of a King.  Of course, it took me awhile to get where I began to understand it wasn’t all about presents or a guy in a red suit, but I did eventually get a better understanding.  Oh, and then there is the one where the King that was born on Christmas defeats the big bad king—Death.  Well, and yes, it took me awhile to figure that one out too.  Turns out, it wasn’t about a bunny and free candy.  I’m slow but I usually, eventually, get there.

We could go and on…Memorial Day is not only about cookouts, but Independence Day is also about the price of freedom and not just fireworks, and finally, Thanksgiving is not just being about turkeys and pies.  There is nothing wrong with all of that—it’s just important that we remember what the main thing is—and camp there.  So, today, Halloween, what is that all about?  Well, when I was a kid, it was about one thing and one thing only—free candy.  We would dress up in whatever was handy—no bought costumes in those days—just hobos and pirates—grab the bag that momma had made us and hit the streets running.  We would go from house to house, from door to door, shouting those magic words, “Trick or Treat,” and stick our bag out and the candy came flying. Oh, and you better believe we said, “Thank you,” cause Momma taught us to.  Yup, in those days, things were just different.  There never was a trick…it wasn’t even an idle threat; it was just part of what we said.

I guess today all that has changed.  Today, Halloween has a bad rap.  The age of innocence is long gone.  Televisions and theaters are filled with horrible horror films and the whole holiday is now considered by most Jesus people to be a pagan sin feast…and maybe it is.  On the other hand, I think it is also Reformation Day…the day Martin Luther took a stand about God and grace.  But there is that one thing that has changed.  There is that one thing we have hung on to and that is those three words, “Trick or Treat.”  I’m glad those are still around because tucked away they hold some pretty big truths.

First, all this sin stuff started in the Garden of Eden when Satan tricked Eve into believing him and doubting God.  He was so convincing that she began to believe that God was holding out.  He was the good guy and God…He was selfish and wanted to keep everything for Himself.  Trick, trick trick.  But thankfully that is not the end of the story—for God had a treat for Satan’s trick.  God sent Truth into the world in the form of His Son Jesus.  Much later after the garden, when Jesus told us He was the Way, the Truth and the Life” He meant exactly that.  The truth is…He is Truth.  No tricks, no deception, no kidding…He is the antidote to the devil’s lie.  Believe the Truth and you live—believe the lie and die forever.  Wow.

But wait…there is more.  You see not only is there the trick and not only is there the Truth…there is that little connecting word, “or.”  You see, the word “or” makes sure we understand that there is a choice here.  We don’t have to be stuck with the lie and no, we don’t have to take the Truth…though we would be foolish not to do so.  There is free will. God offers eternal life to anyone, and Satan offers death to everyone.  God offers eternal life to anyone who will believe in Him and ask, and the enemy offers death to everyone else.  Listen, don’t be tricked by the trickster, the consequences of a wrong choice are just disastrous.

So, I hope in your part of the world you can let your kids load up on free candy.  I’m sure your dentist will be very happy.  Be careful and be safe and steer way clear of all the junk that is out there—and trust me—there is plenty.  Oh, and don’t forget the lesson from those three small words, “Trick or Treat.”  Remember that the trickster is a liar and offers spiritual death and the Treater is the Truth and offers eternal life.  Oh, and don’t forget three more important words, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, travel, Trials

Life’s Puzzles

Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24

It seems we have a new piece of furniture.  Awhile back we made a trip to northern Indiana to visit the Indiana Dunes National Park.  While we were there, we went to the park welcome center to get our “park passport” stamped, gather some info, and of course visit the gift shop.  While we were walking around the shop, my wife Judy picked up a puzzle.  Since we don’t do puzzles and since at least half of this team doesn’t even like puzzles I was somewhat surprised. Then I concluded that she was probably buying it for our Airbnb.

This puzzle wasn’t one of those for the faint of heart.  It was a 1,000-piece monster.  I smiled at the thought of guests going crazy trying to figure it out.  “Have fun,” I said to myself.  “Good luck,” I said to myself.  And then it happened.  As we got in the car the puzzle came up and Judy made the big reveal.  The puzzle wasn’t for the Airbnb…it was for…us.  I quickly explained that I didn’t do puzzles, didn’t like puzzles, and especially didn’t like puzzles with more than 10 pieces.  “No matter,” she said, “I’ll do it.”

After we got home, and not many days later, the puzzle made its appearance.  At first it found its way to the dining room table.  As she spread the 1,000-piece monster out on the table, it was quickly apparent that we needed a better solution.  So, we went down to our basement brought up our card table.  Soon, she had the table up, the pieces spread out and we were the proud owners of a new piece of furniture—a puzzle table.  Well, for the first few days she would occasionally wander over and mess with the puzzle.  There was delight when a piece was found that fit another and then something happened.  The delight slowly began to wane as the next connecting piece became harder to find.

Now, sitting in our living room, is a puzzle table that doesn’t hold much hope of completion.  I think Judy even said maybe she should have started with something less challenging.  I mentioned that Christmas is right around the corner and the table is sitting where the tree will go. I suspect that while the table will go back to the basement soon…the puzzle will find its way to the Airbnb awaiting its next victim.

That puzzle reminds me of life.  Sitting on the shelf in a store it seemed so benign.  Perhaps a challenge but certainly not something that is not conquerable but then the boxed is opened, the pieces spread out and it becomes something we can’t quite handle.  With puzzles you can just put it back in the box—no harm—no foul.  But with life…well, that is a different story.  You can’t just put away—our life journey, our life circumstances, our life challenges—seek a solution, an answer, a completion.  And we are often left scratching our heads.

And that is where God comes in.  Talk to people who love puzzles, and they all have their ideas, plans and strategies…but what works for one may not work for another.  But with God what works with Him always works for us.  His wisdom, His strategy is never wrong and better than that…He is willing to help us put it all together.  He gently makes suggestions and whispers solutions. Sometimes He even guides our hands to the right answer for a question that demands an answer.  That’s just what He does.  Always helping, always loving, always there.

If you have a puzzle that has you stumped, you might consider putting it in your Airbnb.  If you don’t have one of those, try having a yard sale or using it as a repurposed Christmas gift…to someone you don’t particularly like.  Smile.  But if we are talking life, turn to the One who knows the answers to all the puzzles but remember…it is a matter of trusting and sometimes…waiting.  I like a promise tucked away in Isaiah 65:24—in the Old Testament part of the Bible. It says, “Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear.” I like that.  I can just see Him saying, “You might try that piece right over there.”  I listen and sure enough…it fits.  And of course…sometimes He might just whisper, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Military memories, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Mr. Fix It

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16-17

Call me Mr. Fix It.  I love to fix things and I love to be the hero.  No matter what the problem, no matter near or far, no matter what.  Back when Blake and Sarah were living in Savanah, Georgia courtesy of the United States Army, she let us know her vacuum had a broken belt.  Well, instantly my hero genes kicked in.  It didn’t matter that she was eleven hours away…it only mattered that my baby girl had a problem, and she asked her Mr. Fix It dad to solve the problem. First a couple of side notes. Blake, her husband, is an able Mr. Fix It guy in his own right.

Second, Sarah asked me to go by our Walmart and get a replacement belt.  I assumed that she assumed that was the problem.  So, by now you may be asking, “Oh, they don’t have Walmart’s in Georgia?”  Well, actually they do, but somehow it made sense for us to go get one and take it to Georgia.  Maybe they are just better here. Well, shoot that thang!  I happened to remember that we had a vacuum like hers (or maybe we had given the vacuum to her) and I had a spare belt laying around.  Cha-Ching!  Thank you, sir, and keep the change.

We get to Georgia and the day after our arrival the time to fix the vacuum was at hand. First, I dislodged the screws from the top and bottom and removed the cover.  It was then I had the first ah-ha moment. There naked before the world was a 100% not broken belt. So, I said to Sarah, “Hey girl, the belt isn’t broken.”  It was then that Sarah said, “Well, it wouldn’t work.” All of a sudden, the great victory of finding a spare belt rapidly deflated.  You see, as an amateur Mrs. Fix It, she had misdiagnosed the problem.  I plugged in the vacuum and, of course, it fired right up.  Then Sarah said the real problem was that it wasn’t picking up the dirt. And that’s when it got interesting.

Assisted by my son-in-law Blake, I began a close examination of the vacuum.  It soon became apparent that it was clogged up. Now if you are not familiar with clogged vacuums there are at least three classes of clogs.  There is the “partial clog”, the “hmmm, this is serious” clog, and then there is the “clog of Biblical proportions”. Since there was absolutely no suction, we knew this was definitely not a “partial clog”.  We soon discovered we had the “mother of all clogs”.  Upon examination we found, and I’m not kidding, three golf balls, two match box cars, and six inches of impacted debris.  I was sure we had found the problem.

Well, my assistant and I carefully removed the trio of golf balls and the two match box cars. Finally, we began to dig, pull, tug and poke at the six inches of debris. Three days later (ok, not really but it seemed that long) the hose was finally clear.  At that point, we emptied the debris catcher thing, cleaned the filter, plugged it in, and it fired right up.  The results were incredible! In fact, before we could stop it, it sucked the carpet off the floor and a small section of the sub-flooring.  (Ok, that part just isn’t true, but I needed to beef up the story.)

Soon we were high-fiving and celebrating the ultimate vacuum cleaner rescue.  Mr. Fix It and his able assistant saved the day. Now believe it or not there is moral to this story—besides the obvious one that says don’t suck up three golf balls and two match box cars with your house vacuum cleaner. The moral is this–when something is wrong don’t automatically assume you know the answer.  Sarah just assumed the belt was broken and it wasn’t.  And, even with a house full of boys, never in her wildest imagination, could she believe that her vacuum had consumed three golf balls and a couple of cars. I could just see the boys having such a good time with their new game of “sucking up” golf balls and match box cars…like “how many can we get in there?” Boys.

And what is true in vacuum repairs can also be true in our lives.  When things just aren’t clicking in your life, look closely because it may not be what you think. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” In other words, we need to watch where we vacuum—what we pick up, and where we step. Being wise is knowing what to do and then doing it. Remember the old saying, “A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”  Well, trust me it, is so true.

Remember, when life goes south, take your time as you figure out the problem.  Too often we want to treat the symptoms and don’t want to address the real problem.  All the belts in the world weren’t going to get our vacuum going because what seemed like the logical answer was not the problem at all.  If you are a Jesus follower, ask Him and He will point you in the right direction. Life can get pretty clogged up, but don’t let the frustrations get to you. I bet Blake and I took a rest after fixing the problem and maybe you need to take a rest too…in Him.  After all, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Guess Who Moved?

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

It was a late October morning that I noticed it again.  Sometimes I like to go and sit on our patio early in the morning.  Sometimes I beat the sunup and sometimes it beats me.  On this particular morning, it was just peeking over the horizon.  From where I sat, it was perfectly centered between two houses that sit east of my house.  As always, it did a great job as it brought warmth to the earth and light to a new day.  It is well.  It is well indeed. The sunrise always reminds me that all of this is God’s.  Each new day is His day.  He is the owner, and I am but a steward.

Now fast forward about two or three weeks.  I was out again on the patio…just a bit later than the other time and then I noticed it.  The sunrise had moved considerably south.  Now, instead of between the two houses, the sun was way on the other side.  It was then that I thought it…and maybe said it, “My the sun has sure moved further south.”  I even called my wife over and pointed out this fact to her.  How amazing.  How incorrect.

You see, in fact, the sun hadn’t moved at all.  If you remember from your school days, we all learned that the earth is not the center of the universe…the sun is.  So, in fact, the sun had not moved but rather the earth had changed its “tilt.”  As the earth’s northern hemisphere tilts further from the sun, cooler temperatures come and fall becomes winter. The daylight of the days grow shorter and the sunrise and sunset slowly but surely shift.  But the thing to remember is that the sun doesn’t change…we do.

Well, turns out the sun has a lot in common with the Son and the Father…and the Holy Spirit for that matter.  You see, God is steadfast, immovable and the times when it seems like He is further away…well guess what?  He isn’t the one who moves.  It is us.  There is an old story about an elderly couple that was riding in their older pickup truck.  The woman said to her husband who was driving, “Do you remember when we used to sit side-by-side when we would ride together.?  The old gentleman behind the wheel, gently reminded her, “Wonder who moved?”  Who.Moved.

You see, the truth is if we feel further from God than we used to it is us and not Him who has moved. He says in His Word that He will never leave or forsake us. He is like the North Star…the one thing we can count on in these uncertain times and in this uncertain world.  He is dependable, trustworthy, and rock solid.  Today, if you are feeling abandoned…you are not.  Today, if you were feeling alone…you are not.  Today if you feel like no one cares…you are wrong.  There is someone and while some simply call Him God…I like to call Him my Dearest Daddy…because that is what He is. Abba Father.

So today, take a moment and notice all the moveable things—sunrises and sunsets, the leaves as the wind blows through the tree, a falling star that burns in the atmosphere or circumstances that change around us.  And then, think about this.  It is one of those amazing verses in the Bible that is nice and short…easy to believe and easy to memorize. It says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever.” Dependable. trustworthy. Rock solid.  And, because He is all of that and so much more, we can rest in the calm assurance that, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

We Need Rain

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

It was drier than two-month-old bread.  We are so dry here in Southern Illinois.  Word on the street is that we are in a severe drought.  But there is another word on the street—it is supposed to rain tonight.  It reminds me of another time and another rain. It’s been several years now, but the story is as fresh as today’s bread.  We were on our second trip to Niger, West Africa.  We would fly forever and finally arrive in the capital city of Niamey.  There were two things that were always the same.  It was always very late at night, and we were always totally exhausted.  After a day getting acclimated, we would load up and drive all day on one of the few paved roads in the entire country.

Niger is a sub-Saharan country in West Africa.  It was on the edge of the Saharan Desert—hot, dry, and dusty.  Our journey would take us to a small city in the middle of nowhere.  We would stay with a family there who were kind and filled with hospitality.  As is customary, we would settle in and then go see the “chief” of the village.  We would meet, greet, and thank him for allowing us to come and stay in the village.  On this particular trip we were distributing food to several dozen families in the area.  Because of the extreme dryness, food was always in short supply and because of a few years of drought—it was life-threatening.

As we met with the chief, we told him we were servants of the Creator God and asked him if there was anything that we could pray for.  Without hesitation, he said, “I want you to pray for rain. It hasn’t rained here in a very long time, and we are desperate.  We have prayed but no rain has come.”  We prayed there and then and told him we would pray more—even asking people in America to pray.  And we did, both.

What happened next is the things of legends—except it is not a legend—it is truth.  After immediately contacting some of our folks back in America and praying ourselves…again…we went to sleep.  Sometime in the middle of the night, the wind began to blow, and the temperature began to fall.  Soon, there was the sound of a distant thunder.  Then, as we stood in our doorway and watched, a heavy rain began to fall.  David, one of our team members, was soon out dancing in the rain.  All of us were dancing in our hearts.

We would later learn that our friends in America, watching the radar online, saw a storm develop from nothing and move across our area.  As we danced in Africa—they were dancing in America.  That very night, right at three inches of rain fell in that village on the edge of the desert.  It was unbelievable.  It rained for several hours and fell so hard that several walls, made of mud, straw, and manure, collapsed.  A couple of storage buildings lost walls too.  When light finally came, literally, small lakes of water were everywhere.  We would be using the four-wheel drive feature on our trucks for several days.

I can’t remember if the chief came to us or summoned us to go to him, but that day we had another conversation.  He thanked us for praying and said that our God did what their god did not do.  He was grateful for us coming to the village and invited us to stay as long we wanted—and to return as often as we wanted.  Such are the wonders and miracles of the one true God.  This would not be the last or only miracle we would witness in West Africa.  It is amazing what God can and will do if the primary focus is to glorify His name.  I sometimes wonder if the people there still speak of the night of the rain.  I know we do.

There is an intriguing scripture in the Psalms—a collection of Hebrew hymns in the Jewish and Christian Bibles.  It is found in Psalm 37:4. It says that if we are willing to delight ourselves in God, He will give us the desires of our heart.  At first that sounds like a “rub the bottle and a genie pops out” story.  Trust me…it is not.  You see the first part is key—when we delight ourselves in God—then our desires align with His desires and when that happens—miracles do too.

This year, let me encourage you in a couple of areas.  First, if you haven’t thought much about Creator God—Jehovah God—in a while—why not revisit Him?  I believe you will come to the same conclusion I did years ago.  He is amazing.  And then, as we journey through this these challenging days, let’s commit to making His desires, our desires.  Let’s get on the same page with Him and watch, in wonder, what He can and will do.  It may not be exactly what we want but it will be what is exactly right.  He doesn’t make mistakes.  Wrapped up in all of this is that powerful truth we end each story with.  It is good news for this day and every day.  We can have the confident assurance that, “He’s got this” and He does.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Mirrors and Band-Aids

Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.” James 1:24

Well, it just made me laugh.  At least for me the internet is a love, hate relationship.  There is so much good stuff out there but if you are older than two, you know there is a ton of junk too.  So, you learn to tread carefully and get the good stuff and avoid the bad like the black plague. And, if you happen to stumble into something that is poisonous, run, don’t walk to the nearest exit.  On the other side of the coin, when you find something good, apply it and share it.

Every day I receive probably five or six devotionals in my email.  The good news is they are always safe reading.  The better news is that often they are more and this week I got something that was more.  It told a story that goes like this.  “A drunken husband snuck up the stairs quietly one evening as his wife James 1:24was sleeping.  He looked in the bathroom mirror and discovered he had several bumps and bruises from a fight earlier that night.  He doctored himself up and then proceeded to climb into bed smiling at the thought that he had pulled one over on his sleeping wife.”

“When morning came, he opened his eyes and there stood his obviously unhappy wife.  While glaring, she said, “You were drunk last night, weren’t you?”  The husband said, “No honey…I wasn’t.”  “Well,” she replied, “if you weren’t, then who put all the Band-Aids on the bathroom mirror?” Boom.  Gotcha.  I hope that made you smile because it sure did me.  And as a writer of the blogs and a teacher, I realized this story is just stuffed with truths and lessons for us to learn.  As an example, I wonder how he expected to explain the Band-Aids that were supposed to be on his face…let alone the ones that ended up on the bathroom mirror.  The marks and scars of our misguided steps will always tell a story.  There’s a verse in the Old Testament that says we can be sure our sins will find us out.  How true.

Another great lesson from our story teaches us that we should play close attention when we look in the mirror.  In this case since the husband was drunk…well, he was also clueless.  What is amazing to me are the times when we are stone sober and take a look in the mirror, see something that isn’t right and still walk away leaving whatever it was intact and in place. There’s a verse for that one too. James, the half-brother of Jesus, says that when we know what to do and don’t do it, we are like a person who looks in a mirror, sees that something is awry and chooses to just walk away.  Remember it is better to take care of the problem and yes, it is better to not only read and discover what to do…but then…do it.  An ounce of prevention is indeed better than a pound of cure.

Oh, and then there is the lesson about self-fixing.  The man saw the mess and tried to fix it up himself.  How many times have we tried that…and failed miserably.  One of the lessons I have learned through the years is that while self-fixing is sometimes admirable, it can never do what only God can do.  There are plenty of mishaps and messes in life that we need the help of Someone bigger than us.  Enter a God who loves us so much.  Enter a God that loves us too much to leave us alone…like we are.  He is in more than the fix-it-up business…He is in the rescue; redeem and resurrect business and He can’t wait to be a part of your life.

Well, I reckon we can’t leave this story without stating the obvious.  And what is that?  The dude shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place! Whether he was seeking an escape or just stopped by the bar and stumbled into a mess… neither matters.  Remember, mess with a snake and you will eventually get bit…it is just how it goes. But regardless, accidental, or intentional, God is there not to lecture but to redeem…not to point a finger but to point the way to your rescue.  No matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Play Ball

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

It almost seems humorous now…and in some twisted sense of reality…I guess it was. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  One of the earthquakes from the corona virus was the total disruption of sports.  I’m not a big sports guy but I do have my favorites.  I really enjoy college football and I remember being shocked that several conferences did not play in the fall of 2020.  I remember telling several folks that I’m not sure you can even have fall without college football. I found out that we could.

I was surely surprised when March Madness went by the wayside that year. Once again, I like college ball because for the most part it is sports at its purest.  I knew things were pretty serious when they cancelled this spring classic. We all said there is always next year…and there was but some just refused to wait. Enter professional sports. It seems from where I sit that so many of the professional sports are about money and not about the love of whatever game they are playing.

When professional sports started trying to come back, I was amused to what extent the leagues went to get it going.  There was the NBA (National Basketball Association) bubble thing in Orlando—and I’m really not sure what that was about, the NHL (National Hockey League) and their attempt to have a kinda, sorta, season and playoffs.  NASCAR (I’m not sure what all that stands for, but I do like what they stand for) did a little better.  Finally, and then, there is the MLB or Major League Baseball.  That year they played a 60-game season and then some kind of playoff system crowned with a sorta, kinda world series.

I remember one MLB game that year at my son-in-law’s house. I remember one of the teams was the Philadelphia Phillies and the game was being played in their park.  Here’s where it gets interesting.  First, as we watched this game, they had filled the entire lower level of the stadium with cardboard fan look-a-likes. If I remember this correctly people paid to have their picture sitting in these seats.  It gets better.

So, there were the lower stands stuffed to the gills with fake people and then to complete the “ruse” they piped in fake crowd noise to go along with the fake people.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only person going, “what?”  I’m not sure what the purpose of all that was but one thing is certain—it was not real. I am sure that was perfectly fine in those crazy times.  In fact, now that I think about it, it was probably perfectly normal for those crazy times.

The mask thing is finally and mostly in the rearview mirror…or is it? I mean the paper and cloth masks much fewer but what about another kind…the kind people wear when they are uncomfortable with who they are or what people might think of them? What about the kind people where when they feel the need to hide behind something or pretend to be something they are not?  Like an actor on a stage, they simply are playing a part.  I get that because people can be harsh and judgmental. But let me share something that just might help.  There is a God who loves you unconditionally and He is waiting for you to come and join His family.  Once He becomes your Father, no amount of failure, no amount of sin can separate you from Him.  It gets better.

Not only will He love you unconditionally, but He is also comfortable with the way He made you.  You don’t need to pretend; you don’t need to disguise—you can be you.  And when you mess up, ask and He will forgive you. When you are lonely, He will always be there. When you are afraid, He will be your Mighty Warrior and when you need to be real—you can be.  He will be your BFF—your best friend forever—literally.  So, weary one, come to Jesus.  He tells us that if we come to Him, He will give us rest.  And when we are facing the giants of our past, our todays or our tomorrows—He is big enough.  After all, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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


Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14

I waited and waited, and it seemed like it would never come. People say that good things come to those who wait.  I’ve heard that a lot but I’m not sure I believe it.  In fact, I’m not even sure I know what it means.  But one thing is sure…I know what it means to wait…especially if it involves the government and a by-pass.

When we came to Harrisburg in 2000, we bought a house on West Poplar Street. Now back in those days that was THE main drag.   Every car and truck going East and West through Harrisburg had to travel down Poplar Street.  When we were looking at houses with our realtor, we were told that a by-pass was on the planning board and would be done within five years.  Well, that sounded pretty good, so we bought the house and waited…and waited…and waited.  As it turned out it was a little longer than five years.  In fact—it was almost twelve.

Now in our 22nd year at 217, I am grateful, very grateful, that the by-pass finally came. I know some folks weren’t sure we even needed one and some went another way, so they were indifferent.  You might ask, “What’s the big deal about the by-pass?”  Well, if you have ever lived on West Poplar Street…you would know.

You see, Mr. Bob, my neighbor back in the days before the by-pass, told me that he counted in one day, and 60 semi-trucks went by his house in one hour–that is one per minute.  In those days there were certainly a lot of coal trucks but believe me there were still plenty of other trucks too.  You kinda wondered where in the world were they all going.

Now check this out…for the first seven years…count them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 years or 2,555 days, there was a hole in the road right before my house. Every time a semi-truck went by it would hit that hole with a resounding “BANG.”  Allowing for 60 trucks an hour and 12 driving hours in a day that equates to 1,839,600 bangs. Remember how people say if you live by a railroad track long enough you stop hearing the whistle?  Trust me…that does not apply to bangs.

Now do you understand why I was so excited about the bypass?  Oh, and did I mention waiting two or three minutes just to get out of my driveway?  So, we waited and finally in 2012, the bypass opened, and traffic was drastically reduced. Oh, and gravy on the mashed potatoes, they even fixed the hole.

I guess it is true, good things come to those who wait.  But waiting is hard.  There was a lady in the gospels who was sick for twelve long years…about the same time I waited for the by-pass.  She had been to doctor after doctor and the only thing that left her was all her money.  Then she met Jesus and He changed everything. She was overwhelmed with gratitude.

I supposed that is the one good thing about waiting. When, and if, what you are waiting on comes to pass, you are usually pretty grateful.  She was, I am, and you would be too.  The psalmist writes, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)

Down in the South we say, “a watched pot never boils.” Well, that isn’t true…it will boil, but it sure seems to take longer. So, if there is something in your life and you are praying and you are waiting, be patient.  Wait on the Lord and who knows, your “by-pass” may come too.  All those Covid hot mess repercussions hung around way too long. I tried to believe that they didn’t come to stay and sure enough, for the most part, they finally left town. I think this afternoon I will go sit in my quieter front yard and take a rest with the God who made all of this.  He even had a big hand in the by-pass! After that, I’ll just remind myself that no matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Seasoning for the Seasons

If the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Matthew 5:13b

Man..that would have to be bland.  I was talking to someone the other day and they said something that caught my ear.  They said, “I don’t like salt.”  Wait. What?  I mean I’ve heard lots of people say that they don’t use salt.  The reason is usually a doctor or a spouse that has laid down the law.  It is usually medically driven, and you do without so you can keep on doing.  But this person said he didn’t like salt. That is just hard to imagine.

You all probably know that I love food…just about all kinds, all flavors, and all portions.  But food without seasoning just kinda takes away the whole point.  You know what Jesus said don’t you?  He said that salt that has lost it savor…its flavor…its ability to influence is worthless.  “Chuck it out on the sand pile,” he said.  Imagine grits with no salt, green beans with no salt (or fatback…oh my), mashed potatoes with no salt (wait that might even be a sin) and the list just goes on and on.  At least for me it becomes a gray world where eating becomes something you have to do instead of something you want to do…you crave to do.

I was listening to a short devotional video that sparked all this thinking about seasoning and salt.  The person said we should allow God’s Word to marinate our lives.  Let me explain.  I like chicken.  I really like fried chicken. I especially like fried chicken that has been dipped in a really good dry mixture of spices—how many does the Colonel use? Or maybe it is a wet batter just waiting to be plunged to a frying pan of hot grease.  Can someone say hallelujah?

Believe it or not there are other ways to eat chicken and one of the most popular is grilled chicken. I’m a fan of that too but especially when the chicken has been marinated in some sort of marinade.  You see, as the chicken takes a bath in whatever it is the flavor of the marinade slowly seeps into the chicken…changing it from just chicken to something that is just about heavenly.  Are you tracking with me?  So, the bottom line just seems to be the things that we season our food with changes the whole experience.  It is true with food…and it is true with life.

An unseasoned life can be pretty boring and at the same time a life seasoned with the wrong things can be pretty disastrous.  It is important that we allow the right things to influence us.  The wrong environments, the wrong company, the wrong media habits, and the wrong mindset can all set us up for a life that at the least is less than and at the most leaves us depressed, discouraged, and disillusioned.  Just like with food…the seasonings matter.  Colonel Sanders talks about his secret blend of seasoning and spices, but I don’t want this to be a secret.

You see, as I have journeyed through the kitchen of life (and trust me I have ended up in a few frying pans) I have discovered the secret to a well-seasoned life.  Are you ready?  It is a personal relationship with the God who created it all.  Now wait…don’t close the book yet.  Notice I didn’t say religion, I didn’t say church, I didn’t say doing this or doing that…I said a personal encounter with the God who loves me and you enough to give His Son to a Roman cross.  When you add that kind of love to your life…it’s gotta be good.  Smucker’s (they make jams and jelly) says this, “If it is Smucker’s it has to be good.”  I’ve had their stuff and it is pretty sweet…no pun intended.

Well, let me tell you, if it is God, contrary to what you have heard, it has got to be good.  Now I’m not talking about the version you see too often in the lives of people…I am talking about the version that you find in His book…the Bible.  So, if you are thinking about adding some seasoning to your life, let me encourage you to get a copy of the Bible and try reading about Jesus.  You might want to start in the Gospel (which means Good News) of John.  Using the index will make it easy to find.  What you will discover will change the flavor of your life.  If you are finding that things in your world are just a little or a lot bland—ask the Master Chef—He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Boom! Problem Solved

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” 1 Timothy 6:13

I like coffee…a lot.  Coffee has been a best friend of the Taylor tribe for as long as I can remember.  I grew up with my Daddy’s words, “Dewayne, get me a cup of coffee” ringing in my ears.  One of my favorite memories of my parents is Daddy coming home about 4:00 pm and Momma having a fresh pot of coffee waiting.  She would pour up two cups and they would sit under the tree in the back yard and visit and drink coffee.  Now I am one of those coffee drinkers who likes their coffee bold and strong.  Someone said drinking weak coffee is like drinking brown dishwater.  I agree.

Now this is one area that my wife Judy and I don’t quite agree on.  She likes her coffee, well, mild.  You might say I like man coffee and she likes lady coffee and that works because I am a man and she is a lady.  The only time that doesn’t work is when I am downstairs and the only coffee is her lady coffee.  It is something called breakfast blend and it is pretty mild. So, when I am downstairs, what am I to do?  Well, I stumbled on the answer awhile back.  Less.

That’s right…less.  You see we have one of those Keurig coffeemakers.  I know, I know…you purest coffee drinkers out there are probably gagging, but it is a good compromise for flavor and a fast cup of coffee.  One of the features on the Keurig is that you can easily adjust the amount of water in the cup.  You can set it on anywhere from four to twelve ounces.  So, if the coffee is a little on the lady side, well, I just set it to use less water.  Less water equates to stronger coffee.  Boom…problem solved.

You see, when it comes to how big the cup of coffee, sometimes more water is just more.  The coffee may still look black (which is how I drink it) but the amount of water vastly affects the flavor.  More water equals less flavor.  And that is not only true in coffee (or tea I suppose…though I am not a hot tea drinker) it is true in life.  Sometimes we just think if we can pour in more of this or more of that we will be happier.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just a lot busier.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just further into debt.  Often, we are not any happier…we are just in greater need for a larger wardrobe.

Along with more is better (and often it is not) comes the thought that, “If I only had…” and in our “culture of much”, that is often thought and often believed.  Well, take it from someone who often looked for happiness at Best Buy or Target…it just isn’t so.  The thing that can make life worth living is not found in a store…it is found in the people we love most…that matter the most.  The thing that makes life worth living is not found in a store…it is found by looking to the Heavenly Father.  The fact is, He made all things for us to enjoy…yup, it’s in the Bible.  But keep in mind that He has given us nothing to worship.  That belongs to Him and Him alone.

Remember, you can adjust your coffee flavor in your Keurig with the amount of water you choose. If you like stronger coffee…more isn’t better…it’s just more.  And when it comes to life, learn to appreciate, to love those around you.  Take the time to enjoy them.  In that case more is not only more…it is abundant. And when you need to add some richness to life, you’ll find no better source than God.  He loves you so much and wants you to experience life to the fullest.  In fact, He said, “I have come that you might have the life that is truly life.”  And to help you along the way, He will be right there beside you, ready to help, ready to assure, ready to let you know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne