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

Locks

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

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

Nice Landing…But

In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25

What? Really? You’re kidding? Several years ago, something happened that made the national news and caused quite a stir for a particular airline. It seems that a Southwest Airlines flight was on its way to Branson, Missouri.  It was dark and for a lot of us even driving a car in the dark is a deal but that’s nothing for professional pilots.  Anyway, as they made their approach to the airport, they saw lights and a runway and performed a perfect landing–at the wrong airport.  How in the world did that happen?

Well, when asked, it turns out the pilots were a little confused.  They saw the lights and assumed that it was the Branson airport which of course, it wasn’t.  Now all that might seem somewhat forgivable…I mean everyone makes a mistake.  But one small factor makes forgiveness a little more difficult:  electronics.  Now I am not a pilot, but I do know that modern avionics do an amazing job helping the pilot fly the plane. My nephew and brother-on-law fly professionally, and they sometimes share with me about the amazing aircraft they fly.

There was a story on the news that expressed concern that the aircraft and all its electronics perhaps do too much of the flying of the aircraft. In the case of the mistaken airport, we can only presume that the avionics were doing their job and had the plane headed in the right direction.  At some point, the pilots took over, ignored all that the electronics were telling them and made a big and potentially disastrous mistake.  I can just hear their GPS saying, “Turn around when possible.”  Ok, that’s stretching it but the bottom line remains–the instruments were telling them the truth, but they did what they thought was right.  Oops.

We have such a terrible tendency to do the same.  God gave us His Word not as a bunch of do’s and don’ts but rather as a guidebook, a GPS, if you will, to get us through life.  It gives us good solid advice and points us in the way we should go.  If we choose to ignore it, well, we can metaphorically end up at the “wrong airport” or worse than that in a devastating fiery crash with equally disastrous consequences. Either because of circumstances or our stubborn pride, we sometimes just insist on doing what we think is right—even when we know better.

The Bible speaks of this in Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” In other words, in the vacuum of leadership, the people did whatever they wanted.  Does that somehow sound familiar? Growing up in the sixties I thought we did a pretty good job of doing our own thing, but I do believe that culture today is showing us up. It’s not that we don’t know better.  It’s not that we don’t have something to guide us.  It’s not that we don’t have a king—no, there is a King–we just tend to ignore Him when it gets too uncomfortable or goes against our grain.

In the case of the Southwest pilots, they were very fortunate because the consequences were smaller than they could have been. They had to answer for their actions and I’m sure they either lost their jobs or were sent back to “driver’s education.”  But let’s be honest.  Sometimes what was true for them is also true for us.  We just get sloppy in our living and well, that leads down a path we just need to avoid.

A lot of the “rough air” and “pilot error” we experience in life can be avoided if we will take the time to read the Book, trust the Book, and apply the Book.  But even then, we won’t always get it right.  No one, including pilots, are perfect.  The good news is that when we fail and even when we crash there is grace.  The One who made us all is ready and willing to forgive us of all our errors and sins.  We just need to ask.  And if we will, and when we do, we can rest assured that, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Unexpected Gratitude

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 made a random turn…into the cemetery.  One evening my wife Judy and I were out on a mission.  One of our ladies had given us some homemade ice cream and we were returning the container.  Oh, in case you are wondering, it was way beyond delicious.  It was peach and it was just peachy.  I’ve already put in a request for strawberry next.  We returned the container and just kinda started driving randomly.  As we went down the street the entrance to the cemetery came up on the right—and I turned right in.

Slowly we started driving down the lanes and just as slowly I started reading some of the headstones there.  First, though, on the left was Harrisburg’s “Little Arlington.”  It was dusk and the lights were on, and I was so impressed with all the work that went into honoring those who had served their country. It represented sacrifice. For some the ultimate sacrifice…the kind of sacrifice that means you don’t get to come home from the war.  I love what is often said, “All gave some, but some gave all.” For that, I was moved, and I was grateful.

Just down the lane was a grave that caught my attention.  It was a young soldier who went to Korea to fight for his country in what has been called “the forgotten war.”  He was 27 years old when he died on some battlefield, some hill in a country for away.  He was fighting and ultimately died for the cause of freedom.  I was moved and I was grateful.

In several places, Judy and I would stop as we saw a headstone that was personal because we knew, we loved, the ones buried there.  Sometimes both of the names were etched there in the stone, and it symbolized two lives joined into one story.  And for both the story had concluded.  Sometimes though only one name had the start and finish dates. The other story was still being written and there was a heart longing for heaven and a long-awaited reunion.  One stone declared and celebrated 72 years of marriage.  So many of those story writers had touched our lives.  I was moved and I was grateful.

There were also stones of tragedy.  There stood the stone marking the grave of two brothers tragically killed one night by a drunk driver.  Several other stones showed lives cut short by a tragic accident.  Over there was the headstone of one of the victims from the 2012 tornado.  Everywhere were stories of people who touched the lives of others. One stone showed an American flag engraved in full color—the grave of a proud veteran.  One grave was that of a pastor and a veteran of World War II.  So many stories, so many lives, so many contributions.  I was moved and I was grateful.

As we continued around the lanes inside the hallowed grounds, we noticed there were places where whole families were buried together.  Generations of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters lay in eternal rest together.  The stones often bore nicknames and tag lines of the one who lay there.  On one grave was a tattered flag that said, “#1 Dad.” Some graves though were barely marked.  The only indication that someone lay there was a rock or a stone.  In another part of the cemetery were the pauper graves.  I have stood at some of those graves as we laid to rest someone that almost no one knew.  Once it was the funeral director and me.  No one else came. I was moved and I was grateful.

“Wait,” you say.  “How can you be grateful?”  Well, the reason is simple.  Whether it was a family plot of many generations or a solitary grave of a person when no one came—Jesus was still there.  He is the unseen attendee of every funeral.  For many He is there as Savior and Lord. For others He is there as the Sovereign Lord who wishes all to believe but knows not all will.  But He is there.  He is always there.  When we need Him, when we want Him and yes, even when we ignore Him.  I am moved and I am grateful.

When you get some time, take a slow drive through the cemetery.  It is anything but morbid…it is in fact one of the most meaningful things we can do.  You will be touched, you will be moved, and yes, somewhere along the way you will be grateful.  Let each headstone with a start and finish date be a reminder that for you there is still time.  Still time to make a difference, still time to mend a relationship, still time to finish well.  But most importantly…there is still time to believe and trust in Him.  The Book says that if anyone will call on His name…they will be saved—forgiven—rescued. No story is so bad that He can’t change the end.  Once again, I am moved and I am grateful.

Many see the cemetery and think death.  For those who truly understand grace and Jesus they know the cemetery isn’t about death it is about life.  You learned it in Sunday School but now hear it again…like the first time.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever (that is you and me) calls on His name will not perish but have everlasting life.”  So, trust in Him and rest in Him.  For He has all of this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Integrity, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Trials

Shock Factor

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12

I call it the “shock factor” and I am not a fan.  One of the things that I love about deep South Florida and the Keys is the water temperature.  I mean it is perfect.  When you wade into the water there is no gasping or shuddering.  There is no “shock factor.” On the other hand, I have been to the Florida panhandle many times, often in the dead of summer, and it always seems the water is cold. It probably isn’t but it sure seems that way.

Several years ago, we were down with the family.  We had a place on the beach and soon there was a clamor of “let’s go to the beach.” Well, I am not a fan of the beach, but I am a fan of my family so off we went. We got there and it was time to take the plunge.  So, I put my little toes in the water and was shocked at how cold the water seemed.  Holy moley…I thought this was the Gulf not the North Sea! Well, I inched a little more trying my best not to act like a girl—sorry ladies.  As I waded out, the water got higher and higher until finally it was time to go all in.  Yep, I finally just bent my legs, and the water came up to my neck.  Holy moley, for the second time!

Well, for about four or five minutes it was just cold—I swore I saw penguins walking on the beach.  Hot temperature or not…sun or not—it was cold. Then gradually I realized, it wasn’t cold anymore.  In fact after a bit, it actually felt pretty warm.  Had my body temperature changed?  Nope.  Had the water warmed up?  Nope.  Fact was I just acclimated to the water.  In other words, I just got used to the water and when I did, the shock factor was gone.  I found out you could even get out of the water for a couple of minutes and return without shouting, “holy moley!”

I find this whole hot/cold water thing kinda interesting.  You have probably heard about how a frog can be put into a pot of water.  As heat is applied to the pot the ole frog just sits there and until the water is boiling and he is cooked.  He doesn’t sense the temperature change because his body temp is controlled by his environment. And then I realized that is exactly how it is with us and sin.  The longer we stay in a certain sin–and the more often we visit there–the lower the shock factor.  In fact, it sounds crazy but it explains what is happening all around us today. It probably explains why so many “Christians” can live in sin and feel quite comfortable there. They have lost the “shock factor.”

When it comes to water temperature, God gives us the shock factor to physically warn our bodies that something is different–perhaps dangerous.  He does the same for us morally and spiritually. When we are walking down a path with big regrets and bigger consequences, He sometimes sends the “shock factor” to wake us up. That “Oh my, what am I doing?” thing is from God, and He is warning us to get out—fast. In the Old Testament part of the Bible, there is a verse in the book of Proverbs that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”  That is so true…just ask the frog.

So unlike Mister Frog, we can physically “feel the heat” but morally and spiritually we aren’t much different. We need to be wise enough to jump out while we can.  Many a good frog has waited to late…and so has many a person.  That uncomfortable feeling is there for a reason…jump while you can. Like a good lifeguard, God is waiting for us to call for help.  You can trust Him…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, life, love, loving others, Southern born, thankful

Just Say No

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful, and it’s fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” Genesis 3:6

I remember it like it was yesterday…or a couple of weeks ago anyway.  I am the youngest of eight children.  Some call me the baby of the family…I know Momma and Daddy saved the best for last.  My brothers and sisters nicknamed me Precious.  I used to think it was because they were jealous, but I later learned they were just right.  And, because I was so precious, well I often was the target of pranks and other acts of terrorism.

The two sisters and I were called the three little ones.  That was because everybody else was several years older and therefore bigger.  The other two members of “the three little ones” were the main terrorists.  They loved to hold me down and tickle me mercilessly and then pull my ears till they were blood red. It’s because of them one of my ears sticks out further than the other. They were two tough cookies.

One time they pushed me out the door in my underwear and wouldn’t let me back in.  I banged and banged on the door all to no avail.  They, of course, will deny all of this but trust me, at the Judgement Seat all will be revealed, and they will surely be grateful for grace.

I have always had an affection for sweet things, and they even used that against me.  One day one of them came up and said, “Dewayne, do you want some candy?”  Well, my response was, “Well sure.”  It was in a small box and in my excitement, I didn’t take time to read the label.  Honestly, since I was only about eight, I probably wouldn’t have known the difference anyway.  So, I opened the box and found that it was filled with chocolates.  There were only three or four pieces in the box and before long…they were gone.

I did notice that they tasted a little different, but they were sweet,  and they were brown so hey, that was close enough for me.  I should have been suspicious that the terrorists were being so nice, but I always was a trusting soul.  Well, several hours passed and before long time wasn’t the only thing that was passing.  You see, my loving sisters had fed me a whole box of Ex-Lax.  They would deny it, you probably can’t believe it, but trust me I was there.  Oh, boy was I there.

Well, I learned a lot of lessons growing up and this is one of them.  You see, things are often not what they seem to be. I thought I was a getting a box of chocolates and instead I got a box of trouble.  It looked like chocolate, it even tasted somewhat like chocolate, but it wasn’t anything close.  Did you know that the Bible warns us how the Devil can disguise himself?  It says that he can disguise himself as an angel of light when in fact He is the angel of darkness.  Remember that…things are not always as they seem.

I learned too that not everyone who comes bearing gifts can be trusted.  I should have known better when they offered that box but my desire for chocolate overruled my common sense.  That is what got Adam and Eve in trouble in the garden. The story is found in Genesis, and it says, “The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful, and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So, she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.” And that is how I found myself eating Ex-Lax.

It’s a tricky world out there…terrorists are lurking everywhere and sometimes they might be related so be careful.  Be sure and use your good common sense if someone offers you a little box filled with chocolates.  You might be getting more than you bargained for.  Like I said, I probably wouldn’t have understood the label even if I had read it. But do you know what?  My Momma would have.  In fact, if I had gone to her this story would have been totally different.  But I didn’t.

As we journey through this upside-down world, don’t forget to go to your Dearest Daddy with your questions and mysteries.  He is always there, and He is always watching out for you.  You can trust Him. His box of chocolate is always the real deal.  So have a seat, open the box, and enjoy.  You can rest in Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Precious Memories

And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.” 1 John 5:14

It’s a song we often sing at funerals…but it’s also a good song to live by.  The other day I was sitting around talking with some friends and we began sharing about some of our experiences.  Before long we discovered that our friend had been in the military and spent some time in Germany…just like my wife and I.  Before long, our sentences were punctuated with, “I remember…” and the room swelled with great times and great memories.  I know from where I sit there are some incredible times where God just blessed.  One of those times was my vision trip to work on the islands of Lake Victoria in Uganda.

This would be one mission trip that I would be taking all by myself.  There was not a team and Judy was unable to go.  It was me and God and I discovered that was good combination…a great combination.  I remember (there’s our word) that I had asked the church family to really pray for me while I was gone.  In fact, I gave them three specific things to pray for. First, I asked them to pray for my time in the boat.  Because we were ministering on the islands, we would spend several hours a day in a small (about 25 feet) open boat.  We would be cruising Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world.  In fact, it was like a small sea.  I sometimes have a tendency for motion sickness. Normally that is limited to going “round and round.”  However, when it comes to waves and boats it can be “game on.”

My second prayer request was for an effective interpreter. When you speak with an interpreter, you say a few sentences then you pause, and he interprets what you said. Well, during my previous trips to another part of Uganda when I was teaching and preaching, my interpreter was very good.  It was almost like he was an extension of me.   I knew having a good interpreter would greatly impact the effectiveness of the trip.  So I asked for prayer that God would send just the right man.

Finally, I asked my friends and family to pray that I wouldn’t wimp out.  Now hang on–I’m not a newbie in the world of mission trips, but it was my first solo journey.  There is a time to whine and a time not to whine. Is that in the book of Ecclesiastes? The bottom line is the time on any mission trip is too valuable to be a whiner. So, I needed to be flexible and remember this whole deal wasn’t about me but Him and them.  There is saying for people who go on mission trips.  It says, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.”  Amen, Lord, Amen.

So, for those of you who wonder if God answers prayer, the answer is, “He does.”  When we pray for His will to be done and His purpose to be accomplished, hang on because those are prayers He loves to answer. To be direct and to the point—God answered the prayers of His kids clearly and specifically.  First—no motion sickness.  The lake was not calm–in fact one day we had whitecaps.  Still—without a pill or a patch—I was totally free from motion sickness.  That interpreter?  God answered that prayer with a local pastor who was better than any other person I have worked with.  He was so animated and led of the Lord—totally awesome.  Last, wimping out?  Well, those of you who know me best would probably have said, “Who is this guy?”  One time when it was 10:00 pm and our supper had still not yet appeared, I almost whined but was able to stifle it. God was just incredibly good, and I came home with a full heart and a vision of how we could begin a ministry to the people who lived on the islands of Lake Victoria.

It is important to remember that God is not a genie with a magic lamp.  God is not Santa Claus waiting to receive our wish list. God is not a vending machine where we put our quarter in and get what we want.  God is God.  And when we pray for His will to be done…amazing things can and do happen. John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, said, “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.” That is not a statute of limitations but rather an invitation to join God in His work.  Let’s join God in a conversation…not just when you are in trouble…but rather every day.  You will find that He is waiting and willing to have a chat with you.  Oh, and don’t be surprised, when He responds, “Don’t worry, I’ve got that.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful

Have a Good Day!

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

“Sometimes you feel like a nut…sometimes you don’t.”  You might remember that as the slogan for the Mounds candy company.  One of their candy bars has almonds and one doesn’t. Frankly…I like them both.  The slogan reminds me of the way days sometimes go.  Sometimes they are smooth sailing and sometimes, well, they aren’t.  There is an old saying that asks the question, “Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed today?” It usually means someone is a bit grumpy and often it is associated with the day they are having. It goes back in time when getting out of bed on the left side was akin to bad luck and a bad day.

One of my favorite kid’s books is titled, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” It’s a humorous account of a little boy who has not a day, but seemingly a life, that constantly goes south.  Ever wonder what a bad day might look like?  Well, someone wrote a list of ten things that might be very good indicators of a very bad day.  It goes like this.

Top Ten Indicators of a bad day!

1. You realize you just sprayed spot remover under your arms instead of deodorant.

2. Your doctor tells you that you are allergic to chocolate chip cookies.

3. The gypsy fortune teller offers to refund your money.

4. The worst player on the golf course wants to play you for money.

5. Everyone is laughing…but you.

6. You turn on the news and they are showing emergency routes out of your city.

7. You wake up to the soothing sound of running water…and remember you just purchased a water bed.

8. Your horn sticks on the freeway–behind 32 guys riding motorcycles, wearing leathers, chains and very angry looks.

9. You call the crisis hotline and they put you on hold.

10. Your four year old tells you that it’s ALMOST impossible to flush a grapefruit down the toilet.

Well, I hope that made you smile.  We all have stories of days when it seemed like Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) was our worst best friend and absolutely nothing goes right.  It makes us want to go back to bed and try it all again.  Well, something that just keeps rolling around in my head (and my heart) is this scripture that talks about the fact that God makes each day.  It says, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” I’m glad it didn’t say be happy about it because that might really be hard.  No, it says, “Rejoice” or be joyful.  You see joy and happiness are not the same.  Happiness depends on circumstances and joy depends on our trust in God—and those two things are far, far apart.

I have to admit that I am not always the most optimistic person, though I do try to see the glass as half full rather than half empty.  But I am learning that if I look around closely, I will see little love notes from my Dearest Daddy.  Mostly they are small, little blessings that can go unnoticed. But if I slow down and look around, there they are.  I think it is important to train our eyes, and minds, to look for the ways He works His God magic.  So, why not decide that today, right now, you are going to journey today with an eye for Him.  You might be surprised how differently your day goes.  Oh, and if it really is a difficult day, if it really seems like Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, well, just remember that every day and any day, “He’s got this.”

Bro. Dewayne

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

What’s Your Worth?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Well, this week was the week we got to pay the first installment on our property taxes. There is a first installment because there is a second installment and there is a second installment because tax are well, really steep. All this reminds me of something that came in the mail last year and it was from the tax guy—the assessor to be specific.

They told me they had driven by my house and they really liked it—a lot.  And, since they liked it so much, they thought it was worth a lot more than they had previously thought.  A whole lot more.  They blessed me with a reassessment and the grand prize was I got to pay more property taxes. Yay.  Well, not really but it did give me a great opportunity to learn about how much God loves me.  Here’s what happened.

If you have been here before you probably know my day job is being a pastor. It is something that I really enjoy.  My favorite thing is  sharing THE story but also sharing stories.  I love to take big truths and present them in a way that anyone can grasp them.  I think that is what Jesus did and I figure if He did it I should too.

So a while back I was sharing the story from the Bible how four guys take this paralyzed guy to see Jesus.  When they got there, the house was stuffed with people.  There was no way they were going to get in.  So they decided to take this guy up on the roof, dig a hole in the roof and then lower him right in front of Jesus.  It was crazy, it was  radical, and it was different, but they believed two things.  They believe that Jesus could heal their friend and that the friend was worth the effort.  We all could use friends like that.

They began to haul this guy up the ladder to the roof.  Can you even imagine how difficult and challenging that was?  I mean how do you keep a paralyzed guy from falling off his mat while climbing a ladder?  Well, somehow they pulled it off.  When they got to the top they began to remove the thatch first and then break apart the mud and tiles.  After they had made a hole big enough to get this guy through—they lowered him down and He landed right in front of Jesus. I bet there were more than one person who wondered what in the world was going on. I bet too some people were grumbling about tearing up a perfectly good roof to get some poor, paralyzed guy in front of Jesus. I mean if he had been some rich guy maybe but a nobody? And that’s what rung my bell.

You see to those four guys and to Jesus—this guy wasn’t a nobody—he was a somebody.  He was worth way more than a hole in the roof.  In fact, through the eyes of Jesus every soul if incredibly valuable—including yours.  And that’s when the reassessment thing came into focus. Remember, when the tax folks drove by my house they liked what they saw and they increased my assessment.  Their assessment really only means I get to pay more taxes.  It really doesn’t tell me what my house is really worth.

You see, I learned a while back that anything you or I own—our house, our car, is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it. That’s the bottom line.  So here’s the deal.  God drove by your soul, my soul and assigned a value to it—what it was worth to Him and what He was willing to pay to redeem it.  Do you know what that was?  Well, we find it in the Bible.  It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  Get that—everlasting (as in eternal) life.  God’s assessment of our value to Him was the life of His very own Son.  He allowed His Son to die on a Roman cross because He counted us as somehow worth it.  He just loved us that much.

Well, the end of the story for the paralyzed guy was pretty amazing too.  Jesus first calls him Son—not worthless, not broken, but Son. Then He forgives the guy’s sin—not what he wanted but what he needed—and finally, He tells him to stand up, take his mat, and go home.  Three seemingly impossible things but with Jesus, as you can probably guess, nothing is really impossible when He shows up. The guy jumps up, takes his mat and leaves as the crowd is standing in disbelief.  They said they have never seen anything like that—and they hadn’t. The key thing is that the guy had to not only believe but also act on what he believed and each one of us must do the same.  We have to believe that Jesus is Who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.  When we believe that—we are forgiven and God becomes our Father.

Truth be known, I wasn’t too happy about my reassessment but I was glad it taught me a new way to look at how much God loves me…and you.  When we are down on ourselves, when all I can see are failures and warts, when I want to give up and quit, I remind myself that my Heavenly Father thinks I am worth a lot. You see, I’m also learning that His opinion is the only one that matters. So why not take a rest in Him today.  Because you know—He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne