Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, USA, wisdom

Black Rock

You are my rock and my fortress.” Psalm 31:3

It was worth the wait.  My wife Judy and I decided to hit the road for a quick trip to Dayton, Ohio.  It all started when my son-in-law sent me a picture from the National Air Force Museum located in, wait for it, Dayton. Being an Air Force veteran, I had heard of it but had never taken the opportunity to go and see it.  When he sent me a couple of pictures…I knew it was time.  So, we loaded up and drove up and over and in about five hours we were there.

Let me just say it was worth every mile.  The museum is housed in four huge hanger type buildings and each hanger held a different era of air history.  The first was the period from the Wright brothers to World War I, the second was World War II, the third was the Korean and Cold Wars and finally the last was filled with Vietnam and the years following.  Literally hundreds of aircraft were on display, and I was in awe.  My favorite was World War II because, like so many, I admire what Tom Brokaw called “the Greatest Generation.” Their commitment and sacrifice were and still is amazing.  While war is never romantic, the sight of these brave men and women and their flying machines, stirred powerful emotions of a time gone by.

Well, after the museum, we did what everyone does…eat.  Using our GPS, we navigated our way to a large shopping area and saw a restaurant called “Black Rock.” We asked someone and they assured us it was very good, but they also said we probably couldn’t get in. We decided to try anyway.  Well, we could get in, but it was going take about 45 minutes. So, we added our names to the wait list and waited.  Sure enough, about 45 minutes later, the text came, and we were in.

The place was packed and loud so were excited to see what all the uproar was about.  Our server came to our table, and she explained what they are most famous for…a black rock.  Here’s the deal.  If you order steak, they bring it to your table…raw. They also bring a square chunk of black lava rock that is heated to—wait for it—755 degrees.  The raw meat is sizzling in the middle of the rock, and you get to cook your own steak.  You slice off a bite size piece of steak, lay it on the 755-degree rock in a puddle of melted garlic butter and in about 15 seconds for each side—you are ready to eat. It was awesome.

With a special creamy steak sauce for dipping, well, it really was just delicious.  I know and you know the rock idea is a hook, a crowd getter but it was more.  There was something special about slicing and cooking your meat on that super-heated rock.  While the food tasted so good—the experience was more—much more. I think my man genes were set to high as I sliced a chunk of raw meat and cooked it for my wife. I felt like the hunter, gatherers of old. I could almost hear the wolves howling in the distance.

Now trust me.  If they had brought that piece of meat already cooked, I would have said it was a pretty good steak, but the rock changed everything. The sound of sizzling meat changed everything. In other words, some things change everything and that was true that night, but it is truer every day, in every way, and everywhere—when that Rock is Jesus. Just like the rock changed the meal, the presence of the Rock of Ages in our lives makes all the difference in the world.

And get this—it had to be the rock.  A small charcoal fire, nope.  A propane gas burner, nope. An electric burner, nada. It was the rock, that 755-degree, meat sizzling, butter melting rock that changed it all. And I want you to know that it is the Rock of Ages that can burn away all the dross of sin that separates us from God.  If you are willing to let Him, He wants, He waits to forgive and give you a fresh start.  It is something that being good, that church, that religion just can’t do.  It is a singular act of God and His grace that makes the difference. It is what caused the writer of Psalms to pen, “You are my rock and my fortress.”

So, if you ever see a restaurant named, “Black Rock” whip in an experience the cooking power of a 755-degree piece of black lava rock.  And, if you find yourself down and out and out of luck, remember to look for the Rock of Ages.  He is waiting to forgive you and call you His own.  He is waiting to change your life forever.  He’s waiting to whisper, “I’ve got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, Integrity, life, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!” Proverbs 19:17

It was part generosity and part tradition.  When I was growing up, Sunday meant going to church. My Momma would always make sure I had taken a bath, combed my hair, brushed my teeth (I think), had clean clothes, and had an offering.  There was something about going to church and taking an offering.  It almost seemed like either God would be mad if I didn’t or the people at church would think we were poor or something…which we might have been.

Now the offering wasn’t a whole lot, but it was more than the widow lady in the Bible gave.  Her offering was less than a penny, but it was really everything she had.  Momma gave me a quarter most times but sometimes it was a dime and on rare occasions it was a dollar.  Trust me, that was a rarity.  Anyway, I finally figured out that it wasn’t the amount that mattered anyway.  What mattered was that Momma thought it was important and it mattered that I didn’t pocket the quarter.  Jesus said something about it was more blessed to give than to receive and I’m sure Momma knew that.  So anyway, I gave the quarter.

I read a story the other day about a little girl who went to church just like me.  Her Momma gave her a dime and a nickel. The little girl asked, “Which one am I supposed to give?” and her Momma told her she could decide.  Well, when she came home from church, her Momma asked her which one she gave, and she said she had given the nickel.  When asked why she gave the nickel instead of the dime she said, “Well, the preacher said that God loves people who give cheerfully, and I was a lot happier when I gave the nickel and kept the dime.”  Smile.

I know that I am still a work in progress.  God started the project way back in 1975 and He’s still working today.  I’ve heard it said that His work isn’t done until He takes us home to live with Him.  I believe that is true.  One of the areas that He is working on with me is generosity.  They say that if you want to carve a duck from a block of wood you just cut off everything that doesn’t look like a duck. Well, that is what God does with us except He’s not making ducks. He is making Jesus followers. And one thing I know for sure is that Jesus was always generous.  He was so generous He gave His life away on a wooden cross to pay for everyone’s sin.  Now that is generosity.  Now that is love.

My point isn’t that you ought to give to the church.  The point is we should all learn to be generous to others.  A generous life is a happy life, and a generous heart is a happy heart.  In the Old Testament part of the Bible in the Book of Proverbs it says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord—and He will repay you!”  You know, I believe that is true.  I’m also sure that the repayment may not be dollars and cents but rather a deep sense of peace and joy in our lives—and that is better—that is priceless.  Remember this—God is more than willing to help you be like Jesus, but it all starts when we believe what He did and what He said. He died and came back to life and promised to forgive anyone who asked.  Need a little help with that?  Well, don’t worry, He’s got that too.

Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful

Lights, Camera, Action!

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Psalm 133:1

Well, it happened again. Last fall I bumped into an incredible group of young men…our Middle School Baseball team.  These guys had played ball together for more than a few years and had developed into a baseball force to be reckoned with.  Well, apparently no one could reckon with them because they finished the season totally undefeated and as state champions.  It was a thrill to watch and experience. Their mantra was printed on the back of their uniforms for all to see and note.  It was two words and a single line.  Printed vertically, on top was the word “we” followed by a line and then one more word, the word “me.”  It translated “we over me.” They had chosen to not be a bunch of individuals but one team. Team mattered before any individual player.  That is how you win championships.

Well, indeed, it did happen again.  This time there was not a ball of any kind in sight…in fact, it had nothing to do with sports, per se.   And, no, there wasn’t a uniform or a shirt that said, “we over me” but regardless the truth was there as plain as the nose on your face.  What was, “it?” It was our high school’s production of Mary Poppins and while it was their production it was bigger than any one school or age group.  First, you need to know that our city is a small one and our school system is small compared to many.  But what I just witnessed was amazing. If there were state championships for the performing arts…well these students of all ages knocked it out of the park.

This was no small production—the cast probably numbered somewhere around fifty-five…plus a few more.  I’m not sure how many band members were in the pit, but I can tell you though unseen they were not unheard.  And then there were more hands and feet behind the scenes moving props, helping people fly (yes, I do mean fly) but wait, we are not done yet.  Those props, the incredible costumes, and a zillion other things just didn’t happen…it took a pretty large village to raise this production from dream to reality.

The bottom line is for two and a half hours I sat, fully engaged and amazed, as every single actor and actress, every single band member, every single person behind the scenes gave their all—and then some.  Two things were very obvious.  First, the quality of the production. Small town or not, smaller school or not, the quality was amazing, and I know that never comes cheap.  I just wonder how many hours were spent memorizing, practicing, and preparing? Like I said, “amazing.”

The second thing that was obvious was this wasn’t about a person or even a few people—it was about, team.  This was all about “we over me.”  I watched as this mass in force came together and put self aside for the good of the production…the whole cast.  Just like with the baseball team, it would have been easy for some to demand the spotlight, but no one did. It was a sight to behold and the arts department and all those who had a part deserved a “state championship” trophy.  Way to go, team.  Way to go.

When the last song was sung and the last bow taken, I knew I wanted to write about this.  Not only because they deserve it…and they surely do…but also because there is a very important lesson for all of us.  That lesson?  What do you suppose we could do as a group of people, as a church, as a community, as a nation if we could just lay aside our issues and decide to come together.  D.L. Moody was a pastor/teacher from decades ago and he posed the thought, “The world has yet to see what God could do with one man or woman totally surrendered to Him.” He went on to say, “I want to be that man.”

What could God do with a people that said yes to Him, who put aside the spotlight to stand in His light?  What could happen in the places we live if we decided one thing mattered…Him. Not one denomination but rather a radical faith in one God.  It was what our country was founded on and if it worked then…well, it just might work now. One of the guys who wrote in the Book of Psalms in the Jewish and Christian Bible said, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” Translated today it just might say, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when we practice—we believe, “we over me.”

So, congratulations to an outstanding group of students and their parents and leaders.  You not only did a great job but perhaps the greatest thing you did was show what can happen when a group of people come together for the good of others. It’s no easy task but it is not impossible…it just needs a little help from someone bigger than us…and He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, missions, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Small Changes….Big Difference

Sell your possessions and give to those in need.” Luke 12:33

I could see them flashing a mile down the road. They were two senior adults—just two of the many special people I have met and known over the years.  These two folks had a special heart for giving and not just giving but giving so others could know the same God they did.  Though they gave generously the way others did they had a couple of other ways that were pretty special. And that is why it wasn’t uncommon to see them pulled off the road on a busy highway…flashers flashing.  I know it caused people to wonder.

On any given day, you could be driving down Highway 51 near Cobden, Illinois and see a nice, new Cadillac on the side of the road.  With their emergency flashers warning oncoming traffic of their presence, you might think that they were broke down and needed assistance but that wasn’t the case. They would be…picking up cans.  Yup…that’s right.  They would regularly, and I do mean regularly, go out on the highways and byways around Union County and gather cans to sell and recycle.  You might wonder why since usually folks’ pickup cans because they have a need. Some may have seen the Cadillac and thought them greedy but there was a different story in the making.  There was a need, but it wasn’t theirs…it was people all around the world who needed to hear about their Jesus.

You see, everything that these two collected when they sold their cans went to fund missions—telling people about Jesus. How about that?  They could, and did, write a check but this was their special way of giving.  Oh, but that wasn’t all.  Everywhere they went, they would be sure and keep their eyes…on the ground.  Yup, that’s right.  They were looking for change that people dropped and believe it or not…they found a lot.  Every year they would make a trip to California to see family.  They would stay for several weeks and would always come back with a story—and more money for missions.  It was not uncommon for them to find not a few dollars but more…a lot more.  And guess what?  Yup, that’s right…every dollar went to missions. They told me one time someone saw them either picking up cans or change in California and thinking they were needy…gave them twenty dollars. They explained, but the person insisted they keep the twenty—and share it around the world.

While their example can teach us many lessons there is one that deserves our attention today.  You see, they had learned that small things can add up to make a big difference. There is no telling how many thousands of dollars in cans and change they gathered to give away.  It was their special way, an unusual way, a unique way…to give. You see, small things can add up.  I read something the other day that was crazy.  Get ready.  The story said that the TSA, the folks that run security at the airports, find an amazing amount of change at the security checkpoints.  You know the drill; people have to empty their pockets to go through security and apparently a lot of folks drop their change on the floor or leave it in the bins and it all adds up. “How much?” you ask?  Well, in 2019 the TSA collected a whopping $900,000 in change. You read that right—$900,000. That is just crazy amazing.

In case you are wondering, theirs doesn’t go to missions but they do have to report to Congress how it is used.  Usually, it is something mundane like buying supplies.  How boring. While I am impressed by the amount, I am much more impressed by the heart and soul of two seniors who picked up cans and change to make a difference in the hearts and lives of people everywhere.  That, Grits family, is pretty noble and pretty amazing.

So, what can we do to make a difference in the lives of people?  Now this story happens to be about two Jesus people but making a difference isn’t limited to people who follow Jesus.  We all can make a difference.  Hey, why not find a way, even if it is small and simple, and start making an impact in your world?  Jesus told a guy in the New Testament part of the Bible who had a lot of stuff, “Sell your possessions and give to those in need.” Sounds like yard sale time to me!  Remember, the smallest thing can be made big in the hands of God. Need some ideas? Wondering how? Just ask and the God of Generosity will fill in the blanks.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Z-Pack and the Man Cold

Always be joyful. Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

They call it a z-pack.  It is called that because nobody can pronounce azithromycin.  Whatever it is called it–it works.  You know the story.  You are humming along, life is good and then you throat feels a little scratchy, your nose is a little stuffy and before long you feel awful.

Now let me explain awful.  If you are a man that means it is pretty much terminal.  It is a matter of minutes before the end comes.  Someone call 911.  If you are a woman, it means that life just became a little more challenging but hey people are counting on you, so you will push through.

Man or woman–terminal or not–you will probably call and make an appointment to see the doctor.  He will determine, much to the man’s surprise, that it is not terminal.  It is an upper respiratory infection.  Then he may prescribe our friend azithromycin or a z-pack.

A z-pack is a course of five pills, often two are taken the first day and one per day for the next three.  If you are a man, you take the first two and go to bed.  If you are woman, and in in particular a mother, you take the first two and go on with life.  The good news everybody generally survives.

I find too often in life this happens to me on another level. I am humming along, and life is good.  The mild speed bumps and occasional potholes of life are navigated with little or no trouble.  But then it happens. The smallest of infractions and I find myself going off–losing it.  Something doesn’t go just according to plan, and I am seething.  I don’t get my way and so everyone better stay out of my way. I’’ve been infected.

No doctor is needed for this one.  It is called selfish-itis.  Let me say that again…selfish–itis.  Yup…for some reason it all becomes about me–or you.  While it’s caused by several things it often find’s it’s source in a little virus called “why me.”  I mean I understand why the neighbor deserves bad things; he is mean as a snake.  And my brother-in-law hasn’t worked for months.  Of course, then there is Cousin Eddie, never mind, we won’t even go there.

Well, the good news is there’s a z-pack for it and it is fast and effective.  Take three “pills” and before long you will be humming again.  The z-pack is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and consists of three powerful truths that will kick the “selfish-itis” bug in no time.  Here’s the z-pack. “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances.” There you go–be joyful, pray always and be thankful.”  Bye-bye blues and hello cancel the 911 call. Three simple truths, three simple practices.

A while back I got ahold of a great definition for Biblical joy.  It is “a deep sense of inner well-being based on faith in God and trust in His sovereign will.”  Now that’s powerful. Boom.  It is what we close everyday with, “He’s got this.”  It’s true and He does.

Praying always is simply like breathing.  It becomes second nature and an essential part of life.  You don’t even need your knees to pray.  You don’t need to close your eyes–especially if you are driving.  It is a whisper to God as needed, when needed.  And it works.

The last one is gratitude.  It is learning to be thankful for the smallest detail in your life.  News flash–God is a God of the details.  That little deal you are concerned about is not little to Him.  He loves His kids and wants them to know He will be there.  Now that doesn’t mean you get every toy in the toy store.  It does mean that He will be there whenever, forever.

The last part of verse 18 is huge.  It says, “For this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  He wants you to do this not for three days but every day.  He wants you to be fulfilled and at rest and these simple truths will put you on the right road.

So, men, put on your big boy socks and push on.  Ladies–remember we men struggle with the small things, so be sure and show a little mercy when we are terminal–or at least think we are.  God does and He does it not only for the men but for all of us.  He invites us to crawl up in His lap and rest in Him.  And listen close, He’s whispering, “I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in birthday, Christmas, Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Keep What You Treasure

You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5

I was so excited…until I wasn’t.  Every new, store-bought toy was cause for big excitement at 6008 Carlton Road.  Like I’ve said before there were plenty of things laying around that a kid like me could turn into a toy. Sticks became guns and China berries became bullets.  In my eight-year-old world, a trip into the woods was as good as a trip to Africa.  But let’s be honest.  Nothing could quite beat a store-bought toy.

New toys usually showed up two times a year.  First, of course, was Christmas.  I would anxiously wait for the wish books to show up in the mail so I could start wishing.  Sometimes there were trips to the department stores downtown to window shop the trains and planes that were there on display. I remember letters to Santa, and to Momma and Daddy just in case he wasn’t available.  I would state my case and then wait for the big morning and though we never got everything we want—what we got was more than enough.

The other time that store bought toys came to 6008 was on our birthdays.  As I wrote those words, I am still amazed at how good my parents were to us…willing to do whatever it took to give us a Merry Christmas and a Happy Birthday.  I remember too that a lot of years there was a birthday party in the plans and that multiplied the gifts and the memories.  It was just all good.  In the days that followed Christmas and January 6 (my birthday and the original Christmas Day before some Pope changed it) I would play and play with those new toys…until I didn’t.

There always came a time when I got too rough and it broke, or I got bored as the newness wore off, or I just moved on to something else…but it always happened.  The thing I thought I couldn’t live without became a discarded memory.  One of my favorite Christmas toys was a Daisy double-barrel BB gun. I loved that gun and if I had taken care of it, today it would be very valuable.  Well, I didn’t.  I learned at my brother’s funeral that apparently his son and my nephew claimed it after I had discarded it.  Where it went from there is anybody’s guess.

The truth is we are a fickle bunch.  We soon enough grow tired of whatever is our current fancy and before long what was yesterday’s treasure is today’s trash.  Rarely do we care for things the way we should. While it is true of toys, unfortunately, it is also true of the more important things in life.  We give our word about something but find it only lasts while it is convenient.  We make vows to love someone “till death do us part” and too often rewrite the deal to read, “till I change my mind.”  We build our character and then trade it to save face.  We often sell the truth so we can buy a lie for the same reason—convenience or pride.

It is amazing how quick we grow tired of the toys, people, and values in our life.  We say we value this or that but as soon as this or that becomes difficult or inconvenient, well, what once mattered suddenly doesn’t anymore.  So, what should we do?  Good question.  I believe the root of the answer lies in remembering. Someone once said before you quit you need to remember why you started in the first place.  That’s good.  And before we discard, something or someone, we need to remember what caused us to make the commitment in the first place.

In the book of the Revelation, near the end of the Bible, Jesus spoke and said this, “You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.” Those are powerful words…words that we should pay attention to.  If we do, perhaps, we will be slower to throw away, to walk away, or run away from the things that matter…what we used to value.  The really good news is that the God who created us never, ever grows tired of us.  We are as precious to Him as the first day we met Him.  He loves us so much and wants to help us.  In other words, as always, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Too Much Spaghetti

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.

Proverbs 17:22

I cooked way too much spaghetti.  Well, I guess it is all official.  Things are back to normal.  You see, I am a pastor/teacher/preacher. That means I have the privilege of serving with a bunch of people in a church and have the opportunity to share truth from the Bible…sometimes several times a week.  It is something that I truly enjoy. When I am sharing something and see the expression on someone’s face change, as if to say, “I get it,” well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Actually, pastoring is my second career.  I spend twelve years in the Air Force and just loved it and then God came up with another idea.  I separated from the Air Force and became a pastor.  That was 40 years ago.  Wow…that sounds like a long time but really it seems like yesterday. When I first starting preaching, my sermons were like 23 minutes long and sometimes that seemed like an eternity…for me and probably for them.  Over the years, things have gotten, well, longer.  Someone once said, “The longer you preach, the longer you preach.”  I believe I can testify to that.

So, before the COVID thing happened, my sermons ran 40-45 minutes. People were kind and most were even grateful for the message but there’s another old saying that says, “Never speak longer than the audience’s seat can bear.”  Well, let’s just same I probably reached and exceeded that limit.  So, when COVID came along and we were on Facebook only, I made a concerted effort to preach a little shorter…usually about 35 minutes.  I was so proud of myself…and then…one day, happened.

One day, I cooked too much spaghetti.  Now that is “code” that I simply prepared too much material.  Even before Sunday, I had cut about 20 percent of the material and I thought that would do it.  It didn’t.  The bottom line is that I preached, gulp, 45 minutes.  Oh my. I don’t think I chased too many rabbits—it was just too much spaghetti.  At the end of the service, I told the folks that I appreciated their patience. They are such a gracious group of people.  I also smiled and told them that it was a great sign that things were definitely back to normal.

I always greet the people as they leave after the service, and something happened that particular day that still has me smiling.  The mother of one of our members was in the service.  I know her and well, she is a friend and a very special lady.  Her husband had passed away and I was privileged to have a part in his service.  As she shook my hand, she shared that because of having to care for her husband and for health reasons she hadn’t been in church for several years.  Then she explained how each week she was sure to listen to our service, and me, on the radio.  I smiled and said how grateful I was.  And then she said, “You know, I sure enjoyed today but you know, at home, I can just turn the radio off when I am ready.”  I laughed, she laughed, and everyone who was standing in earshot did too. It was a precious moment, and it made my day.

This story isn’t about sermons, long or short, but rather it is about the fact that life is back…not totally normal, but I believe something better than what it was.  I’ve said it so many times, it won’t be the same and in some ways that is not bad.  In fact, in some ways, it is just better.  I believe the COVID experience has taught us to love God better and love people better.  I believe the COVID year has taught us to appreciate the small things in life that make life better.

So, there you go.  This week my goal is to preach a little shorter and laugh a little more.  After all the Bible tells us that a cheerful heart is good medicine and I just tend to believe what it says. We can laugh, even in our hot mess world, because ultimately, we are certain of one thing—He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, life, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Sigh…It Happened Again

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8b

Sigh…it happened again.  Well, twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall, they do it. They are whoever is in charge and the what is messing with our clocks and minds. They call it “daylight savings time” or DST but they ought to call it “time to mess with your mind.” You know the drill.  On the second Sunday of March they (whoever they are) tell us to set our clocks forward one hour.  That means several things.  First, it means no matter what you try and do you are going to lose an hour of sleep.  It also means that just when sunrise was going to occur at a decent hour, it doesn’t.  And finally, it also means that a bunch of people are either late for church or miss it entirely.  Like I said, “Sigh.”

Part two of all of this occurs in the fall…in November.  It used to be in October but to further confuse everyone they moved it to November.  Now I must admit that coming off of DST is easier than going on.  In the fall, we gain an hour of sleep though by this time we are so used to the new time, the old time seems more like a nasty neighbor than an old friend.  I know, I know—we have more daylight in the evening with DST and besides all that—who gets up that early anyway?  Pause. I’m raising my hand.

Oh, and then there is the other deal.  I know I’m a bit different, but I have a zillion clocks in my house and each one must be reset when the time changes. Now this is when springing forward (that is supposed to make the losing an hour of sleep more fun) is better than falling back.  The bottom line is it is easier to move the hands forward one hour than to stop each clock and then wait for the old time to catch up with the new. I think we might just be better if they would just make up their minds one way or the other and leave things alone.

I was watching the Weather Channel Saturday morning before “time to mess with your mind” day and they did a feature on what happens when you disrupt people’s sleep.  Well, they had this expert lady on the show, and she flat out said all this clock changing is a bad idea. She said it can cause several kinds of social disruptions including car accidents and other end of the world scenarios.  Well, she didn’t actually say that part, but I thought I would add it in.  But I think we do need to make up our minds and let that sleeping dog lie.  And speaking of sleeping dogs, I wonder if DST messes with them too.  She did say it affected pets. Hmmm.

Well, there is a lesson mixed up in all of this.  While it is true when changing the time on our clocks, it is definitely true in life too. Moving forward in life is always better than falling back…you know, falling back into bad habits…falling back into bad relationships…falling back into bad attitudes…well, you get the idea.  As we do life, we need to intentionally choose to move forward.  If you have one of those older clocks that still has hands, there is usually a small knob on the back.  To move the hands forward, you simply turn that knob.  To move life forward, we simply need to keep making the next right decision.

That also means to keep doing what we have been doing that was moving us in the right direction. That might include restarting good habits, reestablishing good relationships, and thinking about how we think. Minding our mind is one of the best habits we can have.  Paul, the guy in the Bible, said so in a letter he wrote to the folks in Philippi.  He said, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Boom…what great advice.

Well, since I am writing this on Sunday, the day we changed the time, I think I will probably go and take a nap and try to catch up on that hour of sleep. Now that the first “time to mess with your mind” day is over, I have 239 days till the next one.  But, hey, who is counting? Smile. I’m sure glad my Dearest Daddy doesn’t do this “mess with your mind” thing.  He is steady like clockwork—no pun intended.  Don’t worry…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

My Simple Life

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’” Matthew 6:31

It was just simpler back then. I got up this morning with a little (or maybe a lot) of coffee, a spot of the Weather Channel, and some Jesus.  Then, I just sat and thought for a while.  On the television was a channel from YouTube that shows live camera feeds from all over the Northeast, and I was just amazed how much it looked like Europe…another time and another place. Then, I thought about my day.  I’m figuring out that each day is His day as He is the maker, the crafter of each one.  I’m also learning that since He owns everything that makes me a steward of the next 24 hours and the events and circumstances He has planned.

Mainly, there is a sermon to polish for Sunday and a funeral to craft for Saturday.  But mainly I’m just waiting to see what is on His mind and honestly, sometimes that is simple and sometimes it is complex.  Regardless, I know it is His plan and it is one that He has determined that will bring good into my life and hopefully some glory to Him.  With all that said, I have to admit there are times that I long for times when things were simpler as in less complex.  While that has happened and surely will happen again, when I was about eight, it was the norm.

When I was eight, I was concerned about very little.  Momma and Daddy were still healthy and every morning there was something for breakfast, something for lunch and something for supper.  There were delicacies like fried potato sandwiches and peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches and if we were short on peanut butter we would just go with the mayonnaise. After breakfast though I would head out to the yard and just do…something.  There were occasional chores like picking up the yard pulling weeds but generally the day was mine. I hadn’t figured the God part out yet.

Because toys, at least the kind you buy at a store, were in short supply, I would go into the junk room—a small room with its own outside entrance and filled with stuff—and see what caught my eye.  There was always something that with a little imagination could become a source of entertainment. First, and one of my favorites, was a piece of chain, usually about six feet long.  You see, our driveway wasn’t paved, that was something rich people had, so it was like a giant sand box.  I found out you could take that piece of chain and drag it behind you, and it became a train. I would watch as the sand flowed in and around the links of the chain leaving a perfect track in the rear.  A chain became a train—imagine that.

In certain times of the year, North Florida—well really the whole state, I guess—was inundated with “love bugs.” They were everywhere and would splat on windshields and clog radiators as cars zoomed down the highway.  They also seemed to love a parked car.  When I would go outside looking for that day’s adventure, they would be all over Daddy’s 1961, light blue, Plymouth station-wagon and whether they knew it or not—they were a target.  I would search the yard and drawers in the kitchen for rubber bands discarded from newspapers, string them together and go hunting.  Stretching them back, I would take aim and one by one pick them off of Daddy’s car.  This could go on for a long while.  I thought I was doing Daddy a favor but turns out the bug’s innards could eat a car’s paint right off. Oops.

While each day was different, each day was simple.  Each day was consistent…little to worry about and an opportunity for fun.  And while that kind of simplicity has long since passed there is another for today.  Today too can be a day with little to worry about and dare I say it, an opportunity for fun.  You see, if you are a Jesus follower, He really wants to take care of the worry part.  In fact, He just flat-out tells us not to worry because if God can take care of the birds…He can take care of us too.  How about that? And the fun part?  Well, that is up to us.  We simply need to learn, to remember what that means and how to do it.  My wife Judy tells me frequently that we need to learn how to celebrate, and she is right, but we also need to relearn how to just have fun.  It probably involves letting go and letting Him so our hands and hearts will be free to be free.

So, what are you worrying about today? What has you bound up like a too tight pair of shoes?  What are you going to do today that is fun?  Now don’t tell me you don’t have time (that is simply a matter of choice) or the money—chain and rubber bands are cheap—smile.  Today, be brave enough to do something different—to make a change. Let it go and let Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Scripture, Grace, life, food, thankful, gratitude, prayer, loving others, friends

“Five Guys” 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 have 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 fry 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 moley!

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.”!  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 1:7-8.  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 do 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, 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 gonna 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