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

Special on Donuts

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

The sign said it all. “Day old donuts…half price.”  In those five words there are two things I really like.  First, donuts.  Donuts and I go way back.  In fact, food and I go way back.  I’m a southern boy and there’s just something about food that puts a smile on my face.  Donuts, well, they make me smile big. The other thing that I really like is “half price.”  I love a good deal.  I remember one time I was at a store, and it was after Christmas.  They had a gift set that had a razor, some shaving cream, and a few extra blades.  They were marked down from $6.99 to .79 cents. I bought all they had—about twenty of them.  Too bad I use an electric razor.  But it was such a good deal.

So, we have half-price donuts…but there is a problem. “Day old.”  Because donuts don’t have preservatives, they go stale real quickly.  By the afternoon of day one a donut becomes not as fluffy—a little chewy.  By day two it becomes like a dried-out kitchen sponge.  By day three you have yourself an oversized hockey puck.  What is a donut lover who loves good deals to do?  One word.  Microwave.

The microwave is an amazing invention…especially when it comes to donuts.  You see the microwave cooks from the inside out.  When you put a day old donut in there it begins warming from the inside and any moisture turns to steam and the steam moisturizes the bread. Let me tell you that dude will fluff right up.

I mean this is amazing.  You can even throw a three-day old donut in there and depending how hungry you are, pretty much make it edible.  I know because sometimes I wander through the church on Thursday and discover some leftovers from Sunday.  Yup.  Just chuck those things in the microwave and you’ve got yourself a semi-fresh donut. By the way, do not tell my wife Judy I’ve done this.

I wonder if David the shepherd had day old donuts and microwaves in mind when he wrote Psalm 23:3. There we find, “He restores my soul.”  That’s just what the microwave does for the donut.  It warms it from the inside, moistening the dry, stale, bread making it soft and pliable again. In David’s way of thinking it wasn’t a microwave, it was green pastures and still waters.  If you could see it from a sheep’s perspective, it makes perfect sense.

Imagine a sheep, hot, tired, and hungry and the shepherd brings them to a lush green pasture, and he eats his fill.  Then he waddles over to a crystal-clear brook, barely moving, and drinks till he can’t hold anymore.  That’s what David meant when he said God restored his soul.  A lot of folks wouldn’t take a chance on a day-old donut.  A lot of folks would count it only worth giving to the dog or tossing in the trash.  They don’t understand the wonder of the microwave.  Do you know what? Sadly, people do people that way too.

Someone gets beat up by the world, worked over by doubt, fear and frustration and they get a little stale.  Some folks wouldn’t bother with them.  Some folks would avoid them.  But not God. He sees the broken, weary people around us and the garbage can is the farthest thing from His mind.  Just like the microwave can work magic on a donut so God can work miracles in the lives of the most broken of people. And like the microwave—He does it from the inside out. It was Jesus who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  Jesus does what nothing else, no one else, can do.  He can rescue, redeem, and make the broken whole and life fresh again.

So, let me suggest before you walk by the day-old donuts at the market give them a try.  You might discover a tasty treat and a good deal.  And, before you walk by your neighbor or a stranger and you can tell they’ve been worked over by the world and circumstances, just remember what Jesus did for you.  Remember how He didn’t just see you how you were, He saw how you could be. Just a moment in time and He plumped you up with His amazing grace and kindness.

Maybe you are the one who feels stale about now. Maybe your heart is as hard as a week-old donut.  Well, don’t crawl in a microwave but do crawl up in the lap of Jesus.  Let Him restore your soul.  Stay awhile.  Rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne 

Posted in forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, priorities, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Busted Again

Do not love the world [its ways, its principles] or the things in the world. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

You know, some folks are just slow learners.  My time in Minot was short—from October to April—but filled with memories.  The base was about 20 miles from town and only a couple of guys had cars. We would load up and drive into town at negative twenty degrees with all the windows down to play “freeze out.” We would see how long we could stand the cold.   The radio would be blaring John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”  Hey, there wasn’t a lot to do—especially in Minot in the dead of winter.

So, as a southern boy, this cold weather stuff was all new to me.  Some things I just couldn’t get the hang of.  One of those was walking on ice.  Now I had been walking since I was about 18 months old.  The difference was up in Minot you must learn to walk on ice.  The winter of 1972-73 was a great opportunity to do so. I was able to go home for Christmas. I was dreaming of a green and not white Christmas.  Up until that time it had been cold, but we had very little snow.  That was kinda unusual—especially for Minot.

Well, while I was home for Christmas they had a whopper snow —and I’m not talking about Burger King.  Something like two feet of snow fell.  But what happened after the snow was chilling—literally.  It melted…all of it.  Somehow it got well above freezing for a week or so which melted the snow and then it happened.  The temperature plunged to below zero and stayed there.  Forever.

What was left behind were vast sheets of ice.  Everywhere you looked or walked there was ice.  I didn’t have a car which meant I had to walk to and from work.  So, I would put on my arctic parka, my arctic gloves, pull my arctic hood up and take a hike. I would walk one way going and another way coming.  Going to work was not a deal.  I managed to make it without falling…or at least not multiple times.  Going home?  Well, that’s a different story.

About halfway there I would have to walk around the corner of a building.  So, off I go.  I get to this corner and not paying attention, stepped onto a sheet of ice. Bam.  In two seconds flat—I was flat on my back.  Because of the parka nothing was damaged except my pride.  Score one for the ice.  Day two.  I’m walking home and come to the exact same spot.  I eye the ice and ever so carefully step on it and in two seconds flat I am flat on my back.  Bummer.  I crawl back upright, making sure no one is watching, and press on.

Day three. I get to the corner for the third time.  I know the ice is there.  In fact, we’ve become close friends.  I gingerly step on the ice…nothing happens.  As I take my second step and in two seconds -I am flat on my back.  Excuse me?  Is this Ground Hog Day or what?  Anyway, for the third time I crawl off the ice and head on back to the dorm.  By this time more than my pride was bruised.

I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you take a different path?  Why did you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results?  The answer is…I don’t have a clue.  Thought I could beat it? Thought it was closer? Thought if I fell enough, I would break the ice before it broke me?  I don’t know.  I was stubborn. I was a slow learner. I was doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Isn’t that what we do in life?  Don’t we journey along and come to a decision point and fall flat? Don’t we sometimes do it again on Day 2? Day 3?  You know, walking on ice is one thing.  However, flirting with disaster, the kind that has big regrets and bigger consequences, is another. God knows this and tells us not to fall in love with the world—its ways, its principles, its stuff.  Remember your momma saying, don’t date someone you don’t want to marry?  Same principle.  Flirt with the world, date the world and you’ll end up marrying the world.

John—the guy in the Bible—says in 1 John 2:16, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.” When you say, “I do” with the world you end up with twins—regrets and consequences. Life is harder…a lot harder.  Harder than walking on ice.

So, I finally did take a different route. They say that three times is a charm.  It took me four, but I did learn.  On day four…I didn’t fall. I didn’t fall on day five either. In fact, I don’t remember falling again.  Why? I didn’t go that way. I chose a different route and that route, that path, had different consequences—better consequences.

They also say that three strikes and you are out.  True in baseball but fortunately it isn’t true with God. He keeps picking us up, dusting us off and helping us find the right path—one with less ice.  When I fell, I would quickly look to make sure no one was watching.  When we fall in life, we can rest assured Someone is watching…our Abba Father.  He’s got is His eye on us. So, be careful out there it can be icy but don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  He’s always there. Rest in Him knowing He will be there to pick you up.  After all, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Not a Good Night

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

There is pain and then there is pain. We know that some people can be a pain in the neck…or worse. We also know about different levels of pain. There is the pain a woman must bear to bring a new life into the world.  There is the pain that a person endures when they have a kidney stone.  There is the pain of being hit by a semi-truck going sixty-five miles an hour.  And then there is the pain I experienced the other night.

My wife Judy and I go to bed at different times, but we are usually within a few minutes of each other.  So, it is not uncommon for one or the other to walk into a dark room.  It’s not a big deal, really, because we have a light in the hallway that casts a little light into the dark room.  And perhaps that is the reason we do it.  “It” is we put a small pillow or some other something in the doorway to keep the door from closing all the way.  It is more a habit than anything though in the summer it ensures good air circulation. And that night, it was a setup for a painful good night.

Judy was in bed and the room was dark.  Uncharacteristically, the door was closed all the way so when I entered the room I couldn’t see very well. I knew she was still awake, so I asked her, “Where’s the pillow?” It was understood I wasn’t talking about the one for our heads but the one for the door.  I believe she responded, “I don’t know.”  Well, I looked in the dimly lit one side of the room and could see it wasn’t there.  So, I began to walk over to the dark side of room and that, dear friends, is when it happened.

As I walked over, in the dark, to look for the pillow that should have been in the doorway, I hit…no, I sledgehammered, my shin and foot into the end of the bed frame. Let me explain.  Our bed frame is designed so you can attach a footboard if you want to.  Well, a long time ago we wanted to and then one day we removed it because we didn’t want to.  That left the bracket just sitting there waiting to cause pain. Part of the bracket got my foot and part of it got my shin. And when flesh collided with iron…it hurt, and it hurt bad.

I’ve never had a baby, but I have had several kidney stones.  I’ve never been slammed by a semi-truck going sixty-five, but I am almost certain that none of that hurt as bad as my shin and foot did.  I hollered…maybe even screamed! I hollered, well, I’ve already said that, and then I blamed…not me, not the iron frame but poor Judy.  My pain filled logic was it had to be her fault because she didn’t put the pillow in the door. Well, I did find the stinking pillow and I did put it in the stinking door. And I did one more thing.

As my shin and foot throbbed, as Judy apologized for what clearly wasn’t her fault and as she prayed for God to take the pain away…I realized I needed to apologize…and I did.  It was all fine in a few minutes as we drifted off to sleep…gratefully not mad.  Well, the next morning I looked at the wounds again and there was two gashes and one bruise. Ouch.  Did I mention a semi-truck doing sixty-five miles an hour or having a baby?  Judy stuck her head in the room a little later and I showed her the bruise and apologized one more time for good measure…and I meant it.

This unfortunate encounter caused me to realize that we must be careful about pain. You see, whether it is emotional or physical, when we are filled with pain we can say or do things we later regret.  Someone said that hurt people hurt people. I know that is mostly speaking of emotional pain and scars, but it is also true when our foot and shin are sledgehammered into the bed frame. In addition to fixing or removing the problem, we need to plan, to practice how we are going to respond when pain walks into the room—or we walk into pain. We need to plan, or practice hitting the pause button or yanking on the emergency brake of our words. If we do maybe, we will stop before we let our hurt—hurt others.

Solomon, one of the wisest men to ever live, wrote in Proverbs, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Those are certainly wise words from a very wise man, but it is encouraging to know that even he didn’t always get it right. And guess what? Despite our best efforts, we won’t either.  But the good news is that when we don’t there is a graceful God who’s just waiting to forgive us and help us.  So, the next time you run into pain, hang on–He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

One Ugly Cross

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.” 1 Corinthians 1:18

It’s an Easter tradition. Well, we are waving goodbye to Easter as it disappears in the rearview mirrors of our lives.  Before we let it get too far gone, I want to share something that happens every year at our church. It is the story of a cross.  I know all Christian churches have crosses, in fact, we have several.  But each Easter there is a special cross that sits at the entrance of our church.  And it has a story to tell.

Our church has two services on Sunday morning—one early and one later.  When people come to our early service on Easter morning, they are greeted by what can only be described as one ugly cross.  It is made of weathered 2×4’s and covered with…chicken wire.  I am sure more than one person sees that cross and wonders how the custodian could forget to store it before services started. What they wouldn’t know is something is going to happen to that old rugged cross…something that will make it beautiful.

Long ago, there was another old rugged cross and it too was ugly.  It was “repurposed” as criminal after criminal was hung from it.  Nails were driven through human flesh and blood was spilt.  Rome didn’t take kindly to those who rebelled against their stern and unfair system of “justice.”  Like the cross in our foyer, it didn’t need to be displayed…it needed to be hidden.  Then, one day, something different happened. Something different indeed.

So, what about the ugly cross at our church?  Well, you see during time in-between our two services a wonderful transformation takes place.  The ladies take dozens of beautiful flowers and completely cover the cross and piece by piece, bloom by bloom, that ugly old cross becomes beautiful.  And two thousand years ago, the same thing happened.

I know, the thought of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, the perfect Lamb of God, nailed to a Roman cross, well, is anything but beautiful…until we remember.  We remember that He was held not by nails of iron but by love.  We remember that He was there not for His own sin but for ours.  He was there so that we could call His Father our Father and suddenly the beauty of His old, rugged cross takes on a new beauty.  It is a beautiful picture of love, sacrifice, and redemption.

Perhaps that is what led the hymn writer to write, “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross—the emblem of suffering and shame. And I love that old cross where the dearest and best for a world of lost sinners was slain.” Perhaps the author was able to see past the blood and gore to a Savior’s blessed glory. Perhaps he saw what we should see…what we need to see. Paul saw it…that is why he wrote, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.” No doubt.

Well, at the end of our second service, people stop and pose by the now beautiful cross and its beautiful blooms.  Its beauty reminds us that instead of an instrument of death, it was an instrument of redemption.  Its beauty shouts that He is no longer hanging on a cross, He is no longer tucked away in a borrowed tomb, no, He is alive…He lives.  Hallelujah…what a Savior…what a Redeemer…what a Rescuer.

Monday after Easter, our cross was stripped of its now dying flowers and it was stored away to be rediscovered next year.  But let’s make a point to never forget what the old, rugged cross is all about…redemption, rescue, and love.  Let’s gather each week, whether it is Sunday or another day, and celebrate an old cross and an empty tomb.  Because they are both empty, we have a reason to celebrate.  Need a little help with that? Don’t worry…He’s got that.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful

Lavish Grace

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

It was a stroke of accidental brilliance and it all started in 1986. Jerry and Janie Murrell offered some advice to Jerry’s four younger brothers. They simply said, “Go to college or start a business.”  They decided on the business route and started a restaurant in Virginia called “Five Guys Burgers and Fries.”  And like they say, “The rest is history.”  Today there are 1,500 locations and 1,500 more on the drawing board.  Their sales pitch is nothing but fresh beef and nothing but fries cooked in 100% peanut oil.  There are no freezers in the joint only coolers.

Well, all that is nice but that is not what I like about Five Guys.  I mean they serve one mean burger and their fries are the best of any national chain but that’s not what grabbed me.  So, here’s the deal. I walk in and order a small cheeseburger.  “What” you say.  Yup you heard right. The reason I order a small cheeseburger is because it is big…really big.  But it gets better.  The guy at the counter says, “what do you want on that cheeseburger?”  And here is when it gets really good.  I look up at the sign and there are probably 20 or 25 topping for the burger.  And get ready.  They are all free.

Did I just say “free?”  Yes sir, I did.  You can get everything from a tomato to a grilled mushroom and the hits just keep on coming.  No extra charge.  Amazing.  The best part is that it is genuinely good food.  Granted burgers and fries for most men are its own food group but you gotta love one loaded beyond words.  But, wait, it is gonna get better.

The guy at the counter says, “You want fries with that burger?”  Hello? Do hens lay eggs? Do preachers eat fried chicken? Do southerners eat grits? “Yes, sir, I want fries” I answer.  So I order a small fry. “What” you say. Yup you heard right.  The reason I order a small fries is man-food heaven.  So, as you watch, they fill a small cup full of fries.  Are you listening? They put the cup in the bag and then they get this scoop the size of a small shovel and dump a full load in the bag.  Wait. Then he gets another half scoop and dumps that in.  Can someone say, “Hallelujah!” Order a small and get a “boat load” for no extra charge.  Holy moly!

But wait…the guy is saying something else.  “Hey dude, do you want a shake with that?” Ok, by now I am drooling all over my shirt.  “Well sure” I respond.  He says, “What kind?”  I look at the sign and there it is.  Heaven.  It says, “milk shakes…all mix-ins are free.” “What?” I said.  “You mean I can have a chocolate, banana, strawberry, tutti-frutti, peanut, marshmallow milkshake with sprinkles on top.” “Yup” he said “all at no extra charge.”  Oh.my.goodness!  Excuse me while I wipe my mouth.

So what amazes me about Five Guys is, are you ready, their lavishness.  Their burgers, their fries, their milkshakes are all lavishly done.  They don’t give you a little of anything.  They pour it on, dump it on and then do it again.  Just like God and His grace.  Paul talks about it in Ephesians 1:8-9.  He says we have redemption though His death, the forgiveness of all our sins (someone say hallelujah) and all because of His grace that He lavished on us.  That means He pours it on, pours it on again and then just keeps pouring.  It is amazing grace because of the quality and the quantity.

I can just imagine stepping up to God’s counter and He says, “What do you need, son?” I like it when He calls me “son.” And I explain how this world is a hot mess, how I have made a mess of everything in my life and how I am sure I can’t fix it. Then I would tell Him I could sure use a little grace.  He would smile and say, “Son, I don’t anything little, especially grace.”  And then He would begin to pour it on. To borrow from Luke 6:38 where Jesus speaks about giving, the Book says, A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.” It’s true about giving but it is also true when we need grace.  It is what lavish looks like.

So as soon as you can go to “Five Guys.” Be sure and order small because you are going to get big.  Order all the toppings you want on your burger, all the mix-ins you want in your shake and let them take care of the fries.  You will leave amazed at their lavishness.  But all that just pales to God’s amazing grace.  Just walk up to the counter and tell Him what you need and get ready.  He is going to pour—no He is going to dump— grace all over you.  And, like grace you are gonna be amazed.  That’s why we can just sit back and rest in Him.  With that kind of grace, you know He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, Trials

The Law and Gravity

“But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.” Romans 7:12

The Law and Gravity: Simply put–things tend to fall downward. It goes something like this–if you hold a rock out and drop it–it probably isn’t going to float–in fact it will “drop like a rock.” That is just what gravity does. And we should be grateful for gravity because without we would just float off into space. But there is more.

Have you ever thought about this? The law of gravity can work for you or against you. Let me explain. Several years ago, we bought my wife Judy a new bike. She and I both like to do some causal riding. Well, a short time later, I said, “Hey, do you want to go for a ride on your new bike.” She said yes and off we went. I learned a long time ago to more or less let Judy lead the way when we ride or walk. She is more adventurous than I am as I tend to do the same thing over and over again.

Well, I let her lead the way. The bottom line is that seven miles later we got back home and because of the route she chose there were some slightly sore body parts. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable ride–for the most part. Let me explain. We ended up on a bike trail near our house and then we cut through over by our middle school and ended up on Liberty Road. I had ridden this way before, and she had too but it had been a while.

What I didn’t know was they had moved Mount Everest onto Liberty Road. You probably have never ridden that road but maybe you have ridden on one like it. My road had a pretty good hill on it and since it had been a while since we had faced a hill–well–we experienced the law of gravity. As we climbed that stinking hill, the law of gravity said, “Pedal harder.” My legs responded with, “I don’t think so.” My legs got the short end of the stick and reluctantly pedaled me up the hill. There was no doubt—the law of gravity was against me.

Then an amazing thing happened. As we reached the top of the hill, we started DOWN the other side and all of a sudden we were flying–without even pedaling. Oh the joy–oh the wonder…and guess what–the law of gravity that was against me was now for me and it made all the difference. Same law–same hill just two different sides.

So, the law of gravity can be helpful or hurtful and so can another set of laws. You see God’s law, like the law of gravity, has a good side and a more difficult side. Let me explain. One of the primary purposes of God’s Big Ten is to show us our sin and need for a Savior. It says, “This is how you come up short and you need some help.” Our sin, as pointed out by the Law, is the very thing that condemns us to be eternally separated from God–at that point it is against us. But the bottom line is the law itself is holy, and it’s commands are holy and right and good.”

But, receive the forgiveness offered by God through Jesus and the Big Ten become a great guideline for living. It says, don’t lie–it really complicates life. Don’t steal–it will put you in jail. Don’t commit adultery–it will destroy your marriage. Don’t have other gods–enough said. You see the do nots and do’s are there because God knows that life is better within the scope of these laws. In that way the law of good–it is for us.

So, the next time you are pedaling or walking up a hill or the next time you drop your keys, remember the law of gravity has two sides. And the next time you are tempted to disobey God’s law remember it is there to point you in the right direction. And if you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, it is shouting that it is time for a U-turn–right into the arms of a God who loves you very much. Oh, there’s more. When you are heading uphill in life, it’s great to know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, forgiveness, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, Trials, wisdom

Green Gold

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13

There it was…green gold.  Well, it isn’t news to hardly anyone but inflation is here and it is quite healthy.  I don’t go to the store, especially the grocery store, too often.  I suppose that helps feed (no pun intended) the sticker shock when I do.  I’ve lived way long enough to enjoy telling my grandchildren and those significantly younger than me about “the good old days.”  And if inflation is good for nothing else, it sure gives me more fodder for my “good old days” stories.

My wife Judy and I are both from the south and like many Southerners, we are fans of things southern, especially food.  Enter, stage right, watermelon.  Both of us are big fans of watermelon but my wife is president of the watermelon fan club.  The only thing I have never understood is her need to baptize her watermelon with salt.  It just doesn’t make sense.  Well, starting about this time of the year, it is not uncommon for her to go to the store and come home with a watermelon.  And then it happened.

She indeed got to the store, not looking for a watermelon but since the produce department is at the entrance, she wandered through.  And, there they sat…watermelons.  The store had a whole big bin of them…there for the taking.  And then she saw the price.  These small, round watermelons, from Mexico mind you, were there for the taking for…wait for it…just about ten dollars each. What? You’re kidding, right?  Nope.  And just in case you don’t live in a watermelon world, a year ago a high price would have been less than half that.

She sent a picture of the bin of green gold to the family group text, and we all groaned and moaned.  Later that night she also shared that four, count them, four ears of sweet corn were over four dollars…more than a dollar an ear.  And the hard news is if Judy loves watermelon…she craves sweet corn.  What in the world is going on?  And I thought people hoarding toilet tissue was weird.

You see, when I was a kid, watermelons had seeds and were the shape and size of the Goodyear blimp.  These monsters often weighed twenty or more pounds, were always sweet as honey and cost fifty cents.  Slowly, over time, they shrank and a really sweet one is like finding a needle in a haystack.  Corn, not too terribly long ago would set you back a couple of dollars for a dozen—not two ears. What in the world is going on?

Well, they say it is all about supply chain issues, the price of fuel, the state of world politics and Bigfoot.  Well, no one has mentioned Bigfoot yet, but I’m sure it figures in there somewhere.  Prices are in such a flux that sticker shock and the potential for higher prices tomorrow dominate too much of our time and energy.  If only there was something that hasn’t gone up.  There is.

I am glad to report that God has not raised His prices.  He still offers eternal life to anyone who believes for the grand total of…zero.  How is that possible? When He came up with the plan to let us become part of His family, He paid the entire bill—and what a bill it was.  It involved His Son being nailed to a cross and dying for the sins of the whole, entire, world. Every man, woman or child who believes and asks receives a clean bill (no pun intended) of spiritual health.   Every sin, no matter what, is forgiven.  It has been that way since the first Christmas and Easter, and it will stay that way.  He is not going to raise the rate.

You won’t find a better deal no matter how far and wide you look. Someone said heaven isn’t about doing…it is about done.  It is not about keeping a bunch of rules…it is about a relationship with the One who made us all. So, if you are shopping for some hope, if you are in the market for a new beginning, you need to start right there.  I bought in (no pun intended) a long time ago and it was the best decision of my life, and it will be the best decision of your life too.  Paul, the guy who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, wrote that anyone, a.n.y.o.n.e., who asks will be forgiven.  What a deal.

Well, I’m not sure what is going to happen with me and Judy and our watermelon habit.  I’m not sure what she will do about sweet corn gold either, but I do know this.  No matter what, my Father, the One who creates watermelons and sweet corn, has it covered.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Faithful Friend

Circumstances can make for strange bed fellows. There was a group of guys who hung together–ten of them in fact. Truth be known in another world they would have never been friends. Nine of the guys were Jewish and one was a Samaritan. They lived on opposite sides of the tracks. The Jewish guys would have been raised to believe that the Samaritans were “less than” and the Samaritan would have been raised to believe that all Jews were “better than you” temple goers. Like oil and gas, they wouldn’t have mixed. Leprosy changed all that.

We are not told how, who knows, but they contracted leprosy or the walking death. Their lives were reduced to isolation and suspicion. During the COVID mask days, if you went  to Walmart without a mask, you might know some of how they felt. They were forced to live away, far away and proclaim their uncleanness to anyone they met. The fact that nine were Jews and one was a Samaritan just didn’t matter anymore.

Well, one day something happened. Luke 17:11-17 tells us Jesus was walking along and He heard this group hollering. They were saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” We aren’t told of how they knew of Jesus or why they believed He could change their lives. All we do know is that they somehow believed and hollered. And Jesus answered.

Over the distance he hollers back, “Go show yourselves to the priest.” There was not a pronouncement of healing. There was only a command to trust. They found themselves at the crossroads of reality and faith. They looked at their diseased bodies and weighed it against faith. A step toward the priest meant they believed. To stand where they were meant “nope.” Well, “hope” beat out “nope” and off they went.

As they took the first step–and the one after that–amazingly they were healed. You could hear the whooping and hollering across the wilderness. Man, were they happy! They were free and they were outta there. Fading in the dust was the Master who had set them free. But wait. One of them is coming back. It is the Samaritan–the unlikely one. He falls at the feet of the Freedom Giver and gives Him thanks and praise. The unlikely one, and the only one, who gets it right.

Jesus wonders, “Weren’t there ten of these guys?” Weren’t nine of them good Jewish boys?” He was impressed that this “foreigner” came back to say thanks and I think he gets a second helping. Jesus says “Go your way, your faith has healed you.” I think the Samaritan dude got healed of leprosy and a relationship with the Healer. He got more–way more.

There are two things we need to pack away from this story. First, the Jesus who became your BFF (that’s best friend forever) in this mess called life wants to be your BFF everyday. The One who took care of your fears and anxieties during the storm wants to take care of them after the storm. He wants to be your Savior, your Redeemer, your Rescuer, not for a while, but forever.

Linked to that is this idea of gratitude. When the nine were set free they left Jesus in the dust, “adios,” see you later. They were thankful for the moment but not the minutes following. The Samaritan, however, came back. He was determined not to forget what Jesus had done for him. The right thing, the wise thing but probably not the popular thing.

So, we ponder, what will we do tomorrow and the day after? Are you gonna run as fast as you can to a life crammed with busy and stuff or are you going remember the One who stood by your side and spoke to your heart? As rumors continue to circulate of life returning to normal, the noise of life will get louder and louder. Over the din, plan now not to forget the One who whispered, “Rest in Me” and “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, wisdom

The Easter Suit

But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

It’s just another one of those special memories.  It was spring in Jacksonville, Florida—number fifteen or so in my life journey.  Back in those days, Easter was a big deal, and so was what you wore.  We were raised in the tradition that Easter meant a new outfit…it is just what we did.  But just like Christmas beliefs and traditions sometimes change…so did this Easter tradition.  As we got older…the new outfits got fewer and fewer—but then—for some reason, it happened.  One year, when I was in my mid-teens, Momma and Daddy loaded me up in the car, drove across town to a men’s store for the sole purpose of buying me an Easter suit.

I’m not sure what prompted this or a hundred other sacrifices they made for us, but it happened.  The name of the store is lost to time, but it may have been Tatum’s—a store known for quality men’s clothing at a good price.  So, we arrived and went in and soon I was trying on suits.  They say some things never change and that is true.  Today when I shop for just about anything it isn’t the label that matters or even the style—price takes the day.  It is a matter of practicality and budget.  It is true today and it was true even then.  Remember, somethings don’t change.

Soon, with the help of our salesperson, we had settled on a subtle green tweed suit.  It was a very nice suit and it was on sale. I would later realize that might have been because it was a rather heavy wool material and there wasn’t a lot of demand for that in Florida.  Regardless, it was soon mine.  But Momma and Daddy weren’t done yet.  The salesman led us over to the shirt department and together we picked out a creamy yellow shirt that matched the suit perfectly.  But wait…there was more.  Next came a tie.  To this day I can remember this—my first tie—bought just for me.  It was a loosely woven linen striped tie of pastel colors.  Again, a perfect match for the new suit and shirt.

There was some tailoring to the done but by Easter I was set and dressed to the nines.  That morning, I assembled my new outfit and headed off to church.  I was so proud but for a special reason…one you have read in Grits before.  I was proud because of all my parents had done to make sure I had a new Easter suit. Why that year? I don’t know.  Maybe it was because I was stepping into manhood.  All I know is that year, and for several years that followed, the subtle green wool suit, which was too warm for Florida weather, owned a place in my closet. It was special and that was all that mattered. It was a suit of love…a suit of sacrifice.

Looking back their Easter sacrifice became even more special. You see that gift and sacrifice reminded me of the gift and sacrifice that God made for us that first Easter.  He gave His best, His only Son to a Roman cross so we could be forgiven and dressed in His righteousness.  And unlike my suit that was a little too warm for Florida…His gift was perfect…in more ways than one. A perfect sacrifice for an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. And why? Because of love.

Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is in the rearview mirror now but it would serve us well to remember that every time the sun rises, it reminds us of what happened that Sunday morning so long ago. It is no accident that Christians worship on Sunday…by design it is a celebration of the resurrection. I’m not sure how long I held onto that subtle green, too warm, suit but I have never forgotten the love that bought it for me.  And I’m sure I will never forget the love of a God who cared enough to give His very best so that we could call Him “Dearest Daddy.”

Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome.  In it, he gave them an Easter suit of sorts, a reminder of God’s great love.  He wrote, “But God demonstrated His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  Imagine that—broken and unworthy—and yet He loved, and He gave.  As we journey this week, don’t leave the message of Easter behind.  He loves us, He cares for us, and He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Christmas, Easter, Family, fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Good Friday but Resurrection Sunday

He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

One of my favorite holiday songs speaks of Christmas being “the most wonderful time of the year.”  I suppose in the eyes of most folks Christmas has become the ultimate “feel good” holiday.  It is jam packed with great music, great food, fun parties, and beautiful decorations.  Throw the birth of a cute little newborn in the mix and it seems like a slam dunk. All of that leads to idealistic dreams of what Christmas should be but, frankly, too often those dreams don’t measure up to reality.

If we could step back a couple of thousand years, we would see that same baby grown to be a man and it seems that the whole known world isn’t celebrating His birth but shouting for His death. While the song speaks of Christmas being that “wonderful time,” for a significant part of the world, this week—and especially this Sunday—is truly more than wonderful.  It is amazing. For this is the week that we celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of our beloved Savior, Jesus Christ.

I’ve always thought it ironic that we call the day that Jesus died “Good Friday.”  I mean it is obvious that it wasn’t good day for Him.  A Roman crucifixion was so horrible that it was against the law to crucify a Roman citizen and it was called, “the death of deaths.” So why call it Good Friday? Well, for those of us who believe He is who He said He was, and He did what He said He could do, defeat death, well it’s a very big deal.

For starters, we believe His death that day was the sacrifice for our sins.  The Bible tells us that “without the shedding of blood is no remission {of sins}”—Hebrews 9:22.    We celebrate Good Friday because for each believer in Jesus it means the sin slate is wiped clean. Imagine having every wrong thing you ever did forgiven, blotted out, and you might begin to understand this important day.

Imagine this—it’s the greatest trade ever.  Jesus says I will take the rap for your sin and in exchange you can have my perfection. 2 Corinthians 5:21, one of the letters that make up the New Testament, puts it this way: “He made the One who did not know sin [that’s Jesus] to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” He took our wrongs so we could be made right.  Amazing.

Wait…it gets better. For those who walked with Him on this earth, that Friday appeared anything but good—to them it appeared to be the end.  Every hope of Him being their overcoming King ended with every blow of the hammer.  He died, they buried Him, but then came Resurrection Sunday.  If Friday was good than Sunday must be super.  For on that day Christ physically resurrected from the dead. The most authenticated, sacred writing in the world, the Bible, along with historical evidence, all comes to the same conclusion: He came back to life. He lives.

The physical resurrection of Christ proves His deity.  In other words, the proof of the pudding is in the tasting, and He proved He was and is the Son of God.  And it only gets better!  He defeated death and because He did, we have that same knowing hope.  His victory over death becomes ours.  It is an incredible story…one worth your own personal investigation.

Let me encourage you to check Him out.  There is plenty of bunk on the internet but there is also plenty of truth.  See why such a large chunk of the world population connects Jesus with God.  See what all the excitement is about.  And hey, maybe find a place you trust and experience the resurrection celebration somewhere in person this Easter Sunday. You will discover a God who loves you a ton and just waits to welcome you into His family. And when you’re in His family you can know two things.  First, you are His and He will never change His mind.  Second, well, no matter what you face, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne