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

Stinking Allergies

For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.”  Romans 6:14

It’s just about to drive me nuts.  For as long as I can remember, I have had to deal with allergies.  From the days of running the woods in Northeast Florida as a kid to now, stuff in the air drives me bonkers.  I can well remember the days in my early twenties when the only weapon I had to fight the battle with was some nose spray.  And the crazy part of that is if you use it too often and too long, it actually makes matters worse.

In the earlier days, my main issue was the fall.  There is this crazy plant called ragweed and when it starts to bloom, I start to suffer.  Itchy eyes, clogged nasal passages, and a sneeze that sounds like a chihuahua chasing their tail and wound way too tight.  Oh, and I don’t sneeze once—try six to eight times.  In this COVID mess this has been a real issue because people think I am coughing instead of sneezing, so they give you the death stare and then run.

About a zillion years ago, I discovered something called Flonase that changed my life.  It is a nasal steroid that tricks your nose and eyes into believing that there is nothing in the air.  It was a game changer and I have used it probably for 30 years or more.  Wow, it sure made fall easier.  I might still have some symptoms but at least it was tolerable. Well, about five years ago, something happened.  I started having the same symptoms in the spring too.  They weren’t as bad, and the Flonase keep everything in balance.  All that was true until this year.

As spring began to spring, my allergies started acting up, first in a little way and then in a big way.  Today they are acting in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” way.  So, when I started sounding like an overactive chihuahua I just start using my medicine.  For some reason, this spring, it didn’t work like before.  Now for the last couple of days, I have been sneezing and my eyes have been itching like crazy.  I went to the store yesterday and brought some drops but so far, well, we are still at war.

All of this is so crazy.  Some stuff from some plant is doing something to the lining of my sinuses causing them to go nuts and I end up in misery.  I mean, first, I did nothing to the stinking plants and second, what’s up with my hypersensitive sinuses.  Something that I can’t even see is making me pretty miserable.  I know, I should think positive but when you want to take your eyeballs out so you can scratch them better, it is hard to be positive.  And then I know you aren’t supposed to put your fingers in your eyes, but it feels so good to scratch them.  Oh, my goodness.

You know, I wonder what if sin (you know the things that God says we shouldn’t do) was as irritating as whatever it is that is driving me nuts?  What if it bothered me to the point that I would do anything to stop?  I do believe my life would be better…I know my life would be better.  But the problem with sin is the fact we like it way too much.  To many of us, it’s like the satisfaction I feel when I scratch my eyes or sneeze for the eighth time.  It feels better…it feels good.  But mark this down.  There are consequences.

Sneeze eight times with your eyes closed while driving and you end up running a red light or running into a ditch.  Bummer.  Scratch your eyes too often and you end up with an eye inflection or scratching something like whatever it is that makes your eyes work in the first place.  Regardless—you end up in a mess.  The best thing to do is what I am going to do.  I am gonna call my eye doctor friend.  I’m gonna ask her if there is anything, she can prescribe for me that will stop this infernal itching.  I’m gonna ask for help.  If there is anything that can be done, she will know and she will help.  She is my doctor, but she is also my friend.

It is the same way with this sin thing.  We need to call the sin doctor and that would be Jesus.  He knows all about sin—how to beat it—how to subdue it, and how to avoid all those nasty consequences.  He died so that sin wouldn’t win, and He is more than willing to help us, if we ask.  His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin but He also gives us victory over the sneezing and itchy eyes part of sin—the day-to-day messiness of sin.  He gives us sin relief and I love that.

Paul, one of the main writers of the New Testament part of the Bible says that sin (along with all its messy consequences) does not have to rule over us—because we are not under the “thou shalt not’s” but under grace—God’s unlimited and unmerited favor.  And because of that, sin doesn’t have free-rein—so long consequences, you know, like too many sneezes and itchy eyes.  That sounds like good news to me.

Just know that if you hear something that sounds like an overactive chihuahua or see some guy with red eyes, don’t worry it is probably just me going nuts.  But remember, and this is the take-away, there is Someone who can handle your sin issues and that Someone is Jesus.  He loves you a lot—so much He died for you.  And whatever your issue is, you can take this to the bank, He’s got this, too.  Bro. Dewayne

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

GPS and Me

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

About 13 years ago, something happened that literally changed the way that I navigate and travel. Before this day, I would get out my trusty atlas and Judy would do her best to read and translate what it said.  It was, uh, challenging.  But then came the night I discovered—GPS.

You see, Judy, a friend, and I were heading to First Baptist Church of Metropolis to report on a mission trip we had taken.  When we left my house, she said she had a new something in her new car that could tell us where we were and how to get to where we were going.  “Say what?” I said.  Well, she was right.  She punched in the address and that thing in her dash started talking.  Turn here, go straight, turn again and eventually we found ourselves in the parking lot of First Baptist.  Amazing.

Well, if you know me you know I am a tech guy.  I love gadgets.  I remember what I said that night–“I’ve got to have one of these.” So off to Best Buy I went and before long I had one of those “talky” things in my car (I mean besides Judy—smile).  Well, my talky thing had a glitch.  It would say things like a trip that should take three hours would take eighteen. That was not helpful or encouraging.  But hey, a quick trip back to Best Buy and the rest is history.

Now we all know now that the “talky” thing is called a GPS receiver. It is common now but back then it was cutting edge.   It is simplistic yet amazing.  First, far above the earth out in space there is a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).  It’s job is to watch out for the little “talky” things.  The “talky” things both send a signal and receive a signal from the GPS.  It’s really quite simple.  The talky thing says this is me and the GPS says, “This is where you are.” What makes it even more powerful is that the map built into the talky thing, shows the lay of the land–the roads, the places to eat, the places to do life and on and on. These three, the GPS, the talky thing, and the map, all work together to get you where you need to go. But it is the thing in the sky, the GPS, that makes it all work. It knows all.  It.Knows.All.

Of course, God had this GPS thing down long before the government and Best Buy came up with theirs.  First, He made the “talky” things–that would be us and gave us the privilege of talking with Him and listening to Him (don’t miss that part).  Second, He is up there with an advantage point that we can only imagine. He sees even the craziest of days in a way we cannot. Ever wonder why His directions seem so “odd?”  Ever wonder why we sometimes are forced to admit, “God works in mysterious ways?”  Well, there you go–He can see further, clearer, and better than we can–by a long shot.

All this is nice, but the clarity all comes from the map–the Word of God.  It is God’s revelation of Himself to us and where we learn about Him, about us, where we are, and where He thinks we should go.  It’s pretty incredible. So, we pray, and we listen–He listens and speaks (through His Word, through others, and through circumstances) and life goes better–even when it is crazy like 2020, or 2021 or like tomorrow.

I think it was Dave Ramsey who said we should turn off the news and read our Bibles. Wow, that is a great idea and it really works. Of course, as you read, get ready to act. I’m learning when the GPS says “turn” I should turn.  I’m also learning to listen to the other “talky” thing in my life–Judy–smile.

The map says in Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” This whole new normal has us in uncharted waters and on untraveled roads. Let’s be honest—the unknown can be a little frightening.  My wife and I just returned from a pastor’s conference and the guy was speaking on “ministering in a land that you have never been before.”  So right and so true.  Trust me (and a whole boat load of experts) if we try and do church (or life) like we did in 2019, well, it will either fail or worse. So, let’s trust the GPS (God’s Powerful Son), the map (His powerful Word) and let Him navigate this trip for us.  Hey, rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, wisdom

Sharing

Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.” Hebrews 13:16

My Mama taught me to share.  When there are a bunch of kids and other family members in a family you learn two contradicting lessons.  First, you need to share.  Often, especially when it comes to the good things on a dinner table, the demand usually exceeds supply.  You know, nine people and eight pieces of pie.  So, you cut the pieces smaller.  That is sharing.  The other lesson is you need to act fast.  We all know the adage that the early bird gets the worm or the one who eats his or her pie the fastest gets a shot at the last piece.  That is not sharing.

Sharing and putting others first are Jesus things.  He was the only guy who could go to any event and be the star of the show.  Be it a wedding, a funeral, or a banquet and bam…He was the most important person in the room.  But the funny thing is you never see that.  You always see Him at the back of the line.  The only time He was first in line was the line for the cross.  That was a very short line—in fact, it was only one deep and He was ready and willing to go because He loved us so much.

He was willing to share His righteousness too.  We didn’t have any of our own, so He gave us His.  The Bible says that our righteousness was like filthy rags, so He shared, in fact, He gave.  Its pretty amazing.  There are somethings we shouldn’t share like something told in private and maybe a cold.  But, as a general rule we should be people who love to share.  And that is where I need your help.

Over the last year lots of folks have been reading Grits.  Through our church email list, the Grits Facebook page, and through the gritswithgrace.com blog, people have been reading.  I want you know just how incredible I think that is.  My goal is to be an encourager and maybe even make you smile.  But most importantly, I want to share a big truth that helps us as we do life…together. 

So, that is where you come in. I am wondering if you would be willing to share Grits with those in your world? The guy who wrote Hebrews (great name for a coffee shop by the way) said that we should do good things and share because God is pleased with that.  That might even apply to Grits.  Sign up for the blog, share on Facebook, or share in an email, it’s all sharing a word of encouragement.

Something happened last week that I thought was so cool.  I was notified by email that someone had read one of the Grits’ stories and decided to start following the blog. That means every day they will get an email with that day’s story.  Sometimes, people just stumble onto the Grits blog, who knows how that happens? But what made this so special was this someone was a cabdriver in Southampton, England.  What? Yup. And I thought that was pretty cool. So, a special thanks to our friend there.

My wife Judy checked (the blog tracks locations) and we have had Grits’ readers from several countries and from a chunk of the states here in America.  And it usually happens because someone searches and finds a story, or someone shares it.  So, would you be willing to make it a daily habit to share your Grits?  It isn’t about just getting more readers but rather, it is about maybe encouraging someone who needs a lift on any given day.  Together we can be encouragers and hey, the more the merrier.

This last year has been a big challenge but I love the fact that God is bigger than any challenge we face.  I try and make that a regular theme as I write.  Life is pretty tough to go it alone and I believe that He is more than ready to walk with us.  So, thanks again for reading and thanks for sharing.  Oh, and by the way, for those of you who comment…thanks for that too.  I try and respond, and it is always an encouragement.  Well, outside night is turning to day, so it must be time to see what today holds.  One thing is sure…we can face it together with Him because as always, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Mushroom

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Her name was Mushroom, and she was a hoot.  The other morning on our way to a pastor’s conference, my wife Judy and I decided to eat at a Waffle House (WH).  Now, I need to be honest and tell you that for no apparent reason, WH has never been on my list of places to eat.  I think it probably is some sort of prejudice from my days as a teenager when I formed some sort of opinion (based on nothing, I am sure) that it wasn’t my kind of place.  So, I very rarely, ever went.  It has probably been 25 years since I ate at one.  And, then just like that, there I was.

The WH was next door to our hotel where we stayed so it made logical sense.  We made our way through the flower bed and into the WH parking lot and right into the front door.  It was a “sit where you want” kinda place and we found a booth in the corner.  A few minutes later, Mushroom came over to serve us.  I’m not sure the 26 letters in our English alphabet can adequately describe her…but let me try.  She was funny.  There you go—that’s all you need to know.  If you get Grits with a picture (some don’t) that is her in the picture, (yes, we have her permission). The mask she is wearing is supposed to be Santa Claus but I’m not sure there was a likeness.

As she asks what we want to drink and, in the process, Judy and I strike up a conversation with her.  So, Judy said something like, “How are you doing?”  Mushroom (and yes that was her name) said she was having a real bad morning.  One of us asked her why and she indicated that she had had a really, bad dream the night before.  Well, I just asked her, “What kind of dream did you have?”  And she said, “Well, I dreamed I was in a muffler shop and I woke up exhausted.”  Right there on the spot, two things happened.  One, I died laughing (I love corny jokes) and two, I liked Mushroom and started liking WH.

Well, everything she said from that point on was corny.  She turned our order in and then would occasionally stop by and make us laugh again.  I asked her about her name, and she said it was indeed Mushroom. I’m not sure if it was her given name, or one she picked but it sure seemed to fit. She went on to say that she had a twin brother named Rick (I assume it was another joke, but it wasn’t) and he was a pastor and very sick with COVID.  She asked us to pray for him and I told her we would when we blessed the food.

She stopped by again a little later and she shared she liked to sing and then right there and then, she broke into an old hymn which Judy and I quickly recognized.  Mushroom turned out to be the highlight of our day.  She was a breath of fresh air in a world that has forgotten how to breathe.  Oh, and by the way, the food was awesome.  Eggs, sunny side up, awesome grits swimming in butter, salt and pepper, three strips of soft bacon and, of course, a waffle (with sugar free syrup, thank you) and it was just plain ole good.

So that day I believe I learned a couple of good lessons.  First, don’t let an old, unfounded prejudice keep you from trying something like WH. If I had, I would have missed meeting Mushroom and I would have missed a good breakfast.  Second, there are a lot of great people out in the world and Mushroom was one of those.  While I didn’t ask her directly (or did I?), Mushroom was a sister that I had not yet met, and I was glad that we bumped into each other.  I’m a fan of that verse in the Bible where Paul reminds us that we are created by God and that we are masterpieces of His, created to do the good works that He has planned for us.

Not all masterpieces look alike.  Some look like the Mona Lisa and some look like a Picasso on a not so good day.  Regardless, God is fond of His kids…very fond.  We all know the verse—the one that says He loved the world enough to send His Son to a Roman cross. I am always amazed about that measure of love—totally undeserved and unwarranted.  And I’m glad that God didn’t make everyone just like me, or you for that matter.  I’m glad He put a few Mushrooms in the mix because they sure make life interesting.  As you journey today, keep your eye out just in case God decides to send someone special your way.  I’m glad He and Mushroom have a sense of humor because we all need a good laugh.  Even in a difficult world, we can find a reason to sing, and laugh because…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Annie

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

It seemed like it would never get better.  I have to admit, there were times last year and even early this year when I wondered would this mess ever get better.  I mean, what if this really was the new normal? What if all the restrictions and changes were things we were going to have to get used to?  What if when someone said, “Just get over it” that was the reality.  Well, at this juncture it seems that is not the case.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel and the good news?  The good news is that it is not a freight train about to run over us.

I’ve been reading a lot (well, at least a lot for me) about rethinking the way we think.  Both scripture and science proves that our brain, (not to mention our lives) respond to our thought process.  It is true. Our lives just move in the direction of our strongest thoughts.  Or, as another person said, “where you stare you steer.”  It is possible and probably probable that we can and should take some advice from Annie.  Remember her?

Annie.  Her life was pretty hard…pretty dark.  A perky young redhead with an optimistic attitude in a pessimistic world.  Others mocked her and those charged to care for her emotionally abused her.  So, what was Annie’s response?  Well, it goes something like this.

“The sun will come out tomorrow. Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun! Just thinking about tomorrow clears away the cobwebs, and the sorrow, till there’s none!

When I’m stuck in a day that’s gray, and lonely, I just stick out my chin and grin, and say, “Oh the sun will come out tomorrow. So ya gotta hang on till tomorrow…come what may. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You’re always a day away.”

Guess what?  The sun does come out.  She is rescued by Daddy Warbucks and her life is changed forever.  Are there still problems?  Yup.  Are there still bad guys lurking to hurt her–steal her away? Yup.  Does the story have a great ending?  Yup and three big lessons emerge.  One, the sun will come out.  Two.  Don’t mess with Daddy Warbucks. Three, don’t underestimate a nine-year-old redhead.

Sometimes it seems we are stuck in a day that’s gray, and lonely.  Doesn’t it seem this whole corona virus thing is one perpetual, cloudy day? Doesn’t it seem like this is the new forever normal?  Well, it is not.  The sun is going to come out.

I try and walk every morning–usually on the treadmill.  I climb on and at 4 mph work hard to go nowhere.  Well, sometimes, the temps are warm and the sun is out and I walk outside and it is like a cool drink of water in a hot dry desert.  I mean I just explode in gratitude for a God who loved me enough to let the sun come out.

I read on the internet that the phrase, “And it came to pass…” appears 396 times in the Bible.  Each time it is saying that the current situation didn’t come to stay…it came to pass. No matter what, this isn’t the new normal…it is a temporary circumstance. When it is all said and done, it may not look like 2019, but that may not be such a bad thing.

In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Paul writes, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Right on Paul.  Right on.

So, remember this.  One, the sun will come out–guaranteed.  It may be here, or it may be there but the future for a child of God is filled with “Son-shine.”  Second, remember who our Father is.  He isn’t just rich like Daddy Warbucks–He owns it all and is in total control.  And no one…and I mean no one…messes with our Father.  Last, you may not be a perky young redhead like Annie but don’t underestimate yourself.  You dear friend, if you have trusted Christ, are a prince or princess of the King.  Your home is heaven, and your Father calls you His.

Can someone say, “Son-shine?” The forecast says clouds but I’m feeling pretty “Son-ny.”  After all, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Bare Shelves and a Faithful God

So don’t  worry, saying, What will we eat or What will we drink? or What will we wear? For the [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”  Matthew 6:31-32

One of the things (among at least two billion) that was weird about last year was the various shortages that we experienced. Some were expected and some were not. It really was a strange sensation to go to the store and find everyday things not there every day. It seemed like the land of plenty had become something else.

I’m not much for going grocery shopping and that is probably a real paradox. I really like food–we are great friends–just not buying and preparing it. I remember sometime last year Judy and I went to the park for a walk (good idea–walk with your wife…she cooks food) and then I agreed to go with her to Wal-Mart to get a few items.


So, we get to the store and there was in fact plenty of food there. For sure some items were sold out (toilet paper—remember that? Still have a supply stashed?) but others were plenteous. The cookie isle was hard hit but strangely the broccoli wasn’t. But the shocker was when I got to the bread isle it was empty…bare. For a southern boy who was raised to believe that bread is its own food group, well, that was a crisis of Biblical proportions.


It made me think about the children of Israel and their trips to the grocery store. For forty years they would walk outside the camp and there all around them were little mounds of manna. The Bible describes manna as small, round and sweet (Krispy Kreme’s?) and it was always there. Never a time did they go out when the store was open (it was closed for the Sabbath) and the shelf was bare.


God was teaching them—and us—something. They couldn’t hoard (can someone say toilet paper?) because God told them to go out every day and get one day’s supply. The only exception was the day before the Sabbath when they could get two. And every day they went and there were the “Krispy Kreme’s” all around and they would pick them up and God would say, “I am good, I am faithful and I can be trusted.”

Day after day, week after week, month after month–“I am good, I am faithful and I can be trusted.” Never a bare shelf, never a failure to deliver, never an oops. Can you imagine? If you are a Jesus follower I think we can and should. We may not have manna laying around today but we do have the faithfulness of that same God. He takes care of His kids. You can bank on it.


Jesus talked about this in the Bible when He said, “So don’t worry, saying, What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What will we wear? For [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Let that soak in.  We don’t have to worry because we have a Dearest Daddy who loves us and cares for us.  Period.


So, as we reflect on last year, and look forward to the days to come, we can rest in the blessed assurance that God will be there. We need to remember every time there is a need met or a blessing given, to say, “Thank You, Father.” And slowly but surely, we will learn the valuable lesson of God’s faithfulness. God is good. God is faithful. God can be trusted. He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Overcomer

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

2020 in too many ways was a monster—perhaps a cookie monster.  It seemed to take so many of the things that were precious to us and just consumed them.  One minute they were there and the next…they were gone.  Like Cookie Monster it crunched and munched its way through the calendar and our lives declaring, “Me like cookies.”

As the year progressed we struggled, pushed, and pulled, but we must not lose sight of what we learned.  We learned things about ourselves and we learned things about God.  We stopped just reading about faith or listening to some preacher tell us about it and we were given opportunities to taste it, to experience it.  Keep in mind that kind of learning can only happen in situations that we can’t handle.  It can only happen in darkness.  But it is then that we get to see  the dawn coming.  We get to see what He saw.

The man woke up early…just as dark was turning to dawn.  He quietly stirred so as not to disturb his master, Elisha.  It was then that he heard them.  “Them” were masses of horses and warriors lining the surrounding hills.  It’s wasn’t going to be a good day.

Day after day, we awoke to a world and the sounds of warriors and horses were louder and closer than the day before as COVID stopped being something that was happening on the national news. Slowly it inched its way nearer, first, in nearby counties and then even closer. Perhaps you felt the fear creeping into the pit of your stomach…again…and again.  You asked, “What can I do?”  Now the question is “How did we do?”

Well our friend shakes his master out of a deep sleep.  The Word of God records it like this in 2 Kings 6:15 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. What.Shall.We.Do.

Did you ask that question last year? Recently? This morning?  Well, welcome to normal.  The best part is there is a great answer coming.  Elisha, in 2 Kings 6:16, says “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

“Calm down, friend” Elisha said because the odds are on our side.  Well the servant did the math and it looked like a zillion to two.  Hmmm.  So, do you find yourself doing the math and no matter how you rewrite the equation it doesn’t look good?

Well get ready because something is about to change.  In verse 17 the Word says, “And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

And boom, just like that everything changed.  When he could see clearly it was clear that the odds were in their favor and the fear eased and the panic fled and well, it was gonna be a better day. 1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

That was true then and it is true now.  Yes, we had enough stuff in 2020 to cause the strongest knees to knock.  The enemy was great but our God was and is greater. Yes, the carnage of 2020 scars the landscape but the virus, the division, the economic and emotional eruption was and is no match for our God. He is bigger…by a lot.  Ask God to open your eyes so you can see what the odds really were and are–and feel the fear ease and the panic flee.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

A Word of Encouragement- One Year Later

Let not your hearts be troubled—you believe in God—believe also in Me.” John 14:1

It was a year ago…as in 365 days.  In March 2020, our world changed.  We received word that our schools would be shutting down for at least two weeks because of a new virus that was spreading around the world—COVID19. The virus itself had not really impacted our small part of the world—yet—but regardless the concern over safety prevailed.  Parents were scrambling for babysitters and the kids were pretty happy for two weeks of “snow days.”

In the early days, and the later days for that matter, we didn’t know what to do.  That really didn’t change for a long time so basically we had to settle for others telling us what to do.  As a church, our leadership met on Sunday morning after services, March 15, and decided to support the community and move services off campus to Facebook (which thankfully we were already doing) and our radio broadcast.  Little did we know that it would be 10 weeks before we met on campus together again.  And when we did meet, well, things were different.

So, Tuesday of that week, March 17th, I sat down and wrote a short post for Facebook to try and encourage our church family in those unsettling times.  It was very much appreciated and since the unsettling times didn’t end…I didn’t stop writing and now, a year later, 365 days later—the keys are still clicking on my keyboard.  In the midst of the pandemic, God gave me yet another opportunity—another way—to share and encourage people.

So what follows was that original post.  I hope it still encourages you today.  The truth is still the same—and always will be.  And let me thank you for reading and sharing—for staying with me.  I think I have discovered that no matter what, there will be opportunities to tell a story and let you know that, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

A Word of Encouragement: The story is told of a Christian lady who had cancer.  Her pastor went to see, encourage and pray with her.  Toward the end of the visit, her pastor asked if he could pray with and for her.  Her response was, “yes, of course.”  That wasn’t surprising.  What happened next was.

When he asked how he should pray, her response was totally unexpected.  He assumed it would be for healing but instead she said, “Pastor, pray that I would not waste this suffering.”  Waste.This.Suffering.

She was wise enough to know that the God she believed in was sovereign, was in control and was a kind, merciful and loving God.  She also knew that He was wise and that this had been allowed into her life for a purpose–His purpose.

God’s word says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I admit I’m baffled by a lot of what is happening around me.  Just when I think I can’t be surprised…I am.  But I’m not baffled about God.  He is working in our circumstances to bring glory to His name and strengthen our faith.

So God has this.  He isn’t asking us to understand…He is only asking us to trust Him.  And believe me…He has a track record of always getting it right.  God bless you today…trust Him…He’s got this.       Brother Dewayne

Posted in Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Divine Interruptions

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have to admit I chuckle every time it happens.  At the church where I work, I have an office and I spend a lot of hours there.  I have an iMac computer and a desk and we are good friends.  It is there that most of the sermons that God gives me to share with our church are born.  And believe it or not, that is what I do.  I do check email and I may even occasionally check BestBuy.com for some gadget but the bottom line is I craft sermons, build the worship event for each week’s message, create the sermon video and sometimes write stories.

It is not too uncommon for there to be a knock on my door and someone will stick their head in and say, “Are you busy?”  That’s when I chuckle.  I mean, I think that is what I am supposed to be—busy.  I really do appreciate their kindness but each time it strikes me as funny.  Sometimes when I get home from work, I will ask my wife Judy, “Did you get this or that done today?”  If she didn’t get it done, she will respond with something like, “Oh, you know me, I just watched tv and ate bon-tons.”  We both laugh because we both know she stays plenty busy.

When people do knock on the door I am usually glad for the interruption.  Without knowing it, I can sit there for a couple of hours and not even realize it.  So most times I do need a break…I need an interruption. Need.An.Interruption. That is true when I am working at the office and it is true in my life—in our lives.

Francis Chan said, “God, interrupt whatever we are doing so that we can  join You in what You’re doing.”  I like that…a lot.  I am certain that last year’s hot mess and its overflow into this year was a big interruption in our lives. Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it.

But what if…what if…God was up to something?  What if He has a plan and all-of-this is part of that plan?  Do we have the faith to trust Him and believe that He is in fact working things for His glory and our good?

Well, here’s the deal.  He does indeed have a plan and He is working that plan.  While the corona virus and all of its ripples are part of our broken world–we serve a God that from the get-go has been bringing rescue and redemption to that broken world.  The events of last year and this year are a story that will take months and maybe years to be fully written but I know the end. God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was true for the nation of Israel and it is true for us. I believe God is up to something bigger than we can imagine.  The best is yet to come.  The question though is “Will we be open to receiving it and ready for it when it comes?”

That’s a big question.  Maybe we should pause and pray, “God I want you to know that I am willing to trust You in this interruption of my normal.  I am willing to trust You, that You have a plan for me..for us… not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future.  Give me the faith and the patience to wait on You.  In Jesus name. Amen.”  Now that is a prayer He likes to answer.  God bless you today.  Rest in Him…because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne .

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, life, Military memories, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Mr. Bowlen

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

It was a long, hard day.  When my wife and I lived in Warrensburg, Missouri we were renting a home in a still developing subdivision called Valley View.  We were just back from a three-year USAF stay in Germany, still newlyweds with only four years under our belt, and with a newly hatched dream.  While we loved the house we were renting, we, like so many, dreamed of owning our own home.  It was a crazy time economically as interest rates were running about 18 percent and inflation was at a record rate. And then a window opened.

The developer of our subdivision was a rough around the edges man named Mr. Bowlen.  We bumped into him around the neighborhood as he was still building houses. He planted a thought in our minds and hearts.  He said the government had a program that might allow us to build a house.  They would pay half the interest.  Well compared to eighteen percent, nine sounded pretty enticing. And before we knew, we were approved and a piece of land on Hilltop Drive had our name on it.  He let us add a few things like a bay window and a fireplace in the basement.  It added a bit to the bottom line, but they were worth it.

I’m still not sure if this was a wise financial decision for us.  It ended ok, and that’s another story, but it did cause some financial tension.  To help, he suggested I do some work equity and let me tell you…it was hard work.  I ended up doing all the painting and staining inside and out.  And for a guy who had never done anything like that—it was a challenge.  That’s another story, too.  There was also another opportunity to help with the financial tension.

Mr. Bowlen told me that he would be willing to let me work for him on Saturdays doing some basic labor.  He then said he would pay me $15.00 per hour.  Now that was good money back in 1983 so I agreed although I was way out of my comfort zone.  To set the stage, I was in the Air Force, that was my day job, I was pastoring a small church for a whopping $50 a week, that was my Sunday job, and now I was going to work for Mr. Bowlen on Saturdays.  Like I said…it was way out of my comfort zone.  So, Saturday came.

The work site was just down from our rental house, so I just walked over.  It was early in the morning and we were going to be putting up metal (as in heavy metal) forms to pour a basement for another house.  We had to lift the forms in place and hammer pins in place to hold it all together.  Well, besides dropping my hammer one time inside the forms, things went pretty well.  We called it a day about 4:00 pm…just in time for me to get home and start trying to write a sermon for the next day.  I was exhausted.  I bet that was at least one short sermon!

So, the next week I bumped into Mr. Bowlen and he had a check for me.  Finally, the fruit of my labor that Saturday was in my hands.  Based on his comment about $15.00 per hour and eight hours of labor, I was expecting a check for around a hundred dollars. Instead, I found a check for forty dollars and some change.  I was, uh, shocked.  I said, “Mr. Bowlen is this right?” He assured me that it was, and I said, “I thought you were paying $15.00 an hour.”  He chuckled and said, “Oh, I was only kidding about that.  We pay laborers $5.00 an hour.”  I wasn’t laughing.  In fact, as much as I liked him, I felt betrayed—ripped off.  From my view, one thing was promised, and another given. And that was my first and only Saturday working for Mr. Bowlen.

Betrayed and ripped off.  Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt that way about another person?  Have you ever felt that way…about God?  Because people are broken and imperfect, just like us, there is a measure of understanding. It doesn’t make it any less painful but at least it sometimes softens the blow.  But what about God?  What about when it seems God doesn’t keep His Word?  That’s a tough one.

What I have learned over my years as a Jesus follower, and as a pastor, that when it seems we feel betrayed or ripped off by God it is because we have misread or misapplied His Word.  You see, His Word is full of promises, but we need to make sure that the promises were made to us and for us.  We can’t claim promises that were made to another person or group of people.  God made promises to Abraham that just aren’t ours to claim.

Too often, unfortunately, preachers, teachers, and ordinary people make promises on God’s behalf that God never intended or said.  And, when they don’t come true, well, we blame God and that is not right or fair.  I’ve been a Jesus follower for 45 years now, and I can tell you one thing—He has never failed me or failed to keep His Word.  He is a promise keeping God—when the promise is mine.  No, I’ve not always liked how things turned out or His way of working something out, but I can say I’ve never felt betrayed or ripped off.  He is a good God who is good at being God.  You can trust Him.

Well, Mr. Bowlen’s little joke was a hard lesson for me to learn but it was a valuable one.  His heart was good, but his sense of humor was not.  I’m glad my Dearest Daddy, the God I can call Father, has a perfect heart and His will and plan for me is perfect.  I know no matter what I will face, His plan is for my good and His glory—and that is good enough.  I can face today knowing, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne