Posted in fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, Memorial Day, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, USA

Heroes

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”        John 15:13

Years later, it still tugs at my heart. I’m not sure how I found my way there, but I was grateful.  During my assignment in Sembach, Germany we had the opportunity to see so much.  From Hitler’s hideaway called “The Eagle’s Nest” in Berchtesgaden to the windmills of Holland to the Alps of Switzerland we were constantly amazed at what was all around us.  But nothing prepared me for Luxembourg.

We had some friends that we had known in our days at Moody Air Force Base in South Georgia.  They received orders to Germany several months before we did.  They were only a couple of hours from us, so we saw each other pretty frequently.  It must have been during one of our forays that we came to it—Luxembourg American Cemetery.  It was one of the most hallowed sights I have ever seen.

There, in the cemetery, are 5,075 white Lasa marble crosses and stars of David.  Row after row of headstones that mark the final resting place of American heroes.  Each one made the ultimate sacrifice for us, for you and me, that we can live in freedom.  General George Patton is buried there. Two Medal of Honor recipients are also buried there: David G. Turner and William D. McGee. Twenty-two sets of brothers lay buried side by side throughout the cemetery. Some, 371 in fact, were never found.  They are simply listed as missing in action.  102 are just unknown.

This place of honor was established on December 29, 1944.  Many of the soldiers died during the Battle of the Bulge…Hitler’s last push to turn the tide of the war in Germany’s favor.  It failed but it came at great cost to the Allied forces. It was a harsh winter and because of the urgency of the times many were sent to fight with little or no winter gear. The desperate Germans showed little mercy to those taken prisoner.  And all this occurred just nine months, nine months, before the war ended.  So many had survived D-Day and countless days of combat only to make the ultimate sacrifice months before the grand reunion with family.

Heroes.  It is a word we throw around lightly these days.  In a world where everyone gets a trophy, we are in danger of losing the value of this incredible word.  Hero. Dictionary.com defines it as “a person noted for courageous acts.” Oxford says it is a person who is admired or idealized for courage. Webster defines it as an illustrious warrior or one who shows great courage.  Another place said it is a person who at great danger to themselves puts others first.

I went to Toys-R-Us one time and there they had several aisles of superhero stuff.  As I turned the corner a sign caught my eye.  It simply said, “Real Heroes.”  Along that aisle were the soldiers and sailor figures as well as police, firemen, and other emergency responders.  If I went to that aisle today it would have to include doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.  Real heroes…real people putting others first at peril to themselves.

But there would be one missing.  Jesus Christ, the Hero of Heaven, who willingly, who bravely, gave Himself to a Roman cross that men, women, and children could be free. The cross was so horrible it was called the death of deaths.  It was so horrible it was illegal to crucify a Roman citizen.  And yet…He went.  Why?  He loved me. He loved you.

Amazingly it was not for some of us but all of us. Skin color, economic station, language, nationality, capacity to be bad or good doesn’t matter.  The Bible simply says, “He came to seek and save that which was lost.”  It simply says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  It simply says He is not willing for any to perish but all to come home. Anyone—I like anyone. Anyone who acknowledges their need for a rescue will find one in Jesus. And this Hero not only does a meet and greet, He invites you to join His family.  How about that!

So, when you hear the national anthem, place your hand over your heart as a salute to those who paid the price for our freedom.  When you see a veteran, thank them for his or her service and sacrifice.  When you walk through a cemetery with your kids, point out the graves of the men and women who served and tell them why they are so special.  And when you talk to the Hero of Heaven next time, thank Him for forgiving your sin.  Thank Him for always being there.  Thank Him for giving you a place to rest.  And, thank Him for having this….because He does.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel

Rocks and Fossils

For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good purpose.” Philippines 2:13

They were everywhere but nowhere to be found.  A couple of months ago, Judy and I went to a pastor’s conference over in North Carolina.  It’s just a little far to travel in one day, so we always choose to stay a night on the road and one of our favorite spots is Cookeville, Tennessee.  It is a little over an hour outside Nashville and has several good places to eat and stay.  We usually stay at an Airbnb since it provides a little more space and sometimes it offers a little bit more. 

This find was Judy’s and that probably explains why we spent more than we normally do.  The place was located on a small scenic river and featured two waterfalls within a hundred yards of the property.  One was bigger and one was smaller—both were awesome. The smaller one had several rock features but only fell about ten feet.  Its big brother, on the other hand, fell about fifty feet and was massive.  It’s funny because they both had the same amount of water to work with but, you know, the farther the water falls the more impressive it seems.

Because of the falls and because the area around the river was rocky, the ground was covered with tons (both literally and figuratively) of small rocks.  There were all shapes, many colors, and sizes.  Most were fist-size or smaller but here is the best part.  Scattered around and in all the rocks were a heavy sprinkling of fossils.  Most were of ancient water plants that had become trapped in the sediment and slowly, over time, became fossilized.  There were all kinds, and since they were so unique—I just had to have some.  So, Judy and I went hunting.

From the get-go, it seemed she was better at it than me and soon she was shouting, “Here’s one, here’s another.” Well, that caused me to look harder than ever.  Well, before long, we both had plenty, and they are now on display in my office at home.  But here’s what is amazing and what prompted this short story with a big truth.  The fact is they were everywhere but there were so many rocks to poke through it was just hard to find them.  They were there but they were well camouflaged…looking a lot like their rock brothers and sisters.  Making it even harder was the fact that one side of a rock might have a cool fossil and the other—nothing.  The only choice was to keep looking and keep turning over as many stones as possible.

Isn’t that just like life? We look for this or that and sometimes we become frustrated and give up and behold—it was right in front of our face the entire time.  That is never truer than with God things.  We think God has turned off the blessing faucet when the truth is we just aren’t looking close enough…hard enough…and we give up.  Well, let me encourage you to keep flipping those rocks over because you never know what might be on the other side.

Sometimes the answer to our prayer or our miracle is just one stone flip away. God loves to bless His children so don’t give up and don’t be surprised if you find yourself staring a blessing in the face. Paul wrote, “For it is God who is working in you both to will and to work according to His good purpose.” In other words, don’t give up…He’s working, and He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

His World–Their World

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.” 1 John 4:16

It’s like traveling around the world. I never cease to be amazed at the world that God has created for us. My wife Judy and I love to travel, and I have found a way to kinda, sorta travel while sitting right in my living room chair.  It all happens courtesy of YouTube. I’m not sure why or how but one day, I stumbled upon a video of sorts that would take a part of the world and set pictures of it to relaxing music.  It may be England or Africa or Germany or maybe Utah.  Regardless, it is amazing and marvelous. I truly enjoy it and perhaps you should try it.  And then…it got better.

So, while I was trying to pick a place to visit, I found a feature that showed live webcams from all over the world.  Every few seconds, a different live video of a different part of the world would appear along with the current weather for that location.  Ok…this is way cool.  Imagine all these different places, all being shown live.  People are walking, visiting, or perhaps sleeping.  Cars are driving up and down the streets and trucks are making deliveries. It might be raining or snowing, warm or cold, sunny, or cloudy.  It is a world tour of the…world.

Recently, I was watching, and a video showed up showing early morning Philadelphia.  The sky was blue, and it was a beautiful spring morning.  God was showing off.  And then, just like that, I found myself looking at a place high in the Austrian Alps and even though it was mid-May it was snowing to beat the band.  For all intents and purposes, it was still midwinter. And it was just about then that it hit me.

All those videos were just like snapshots of our lives…each one different and each one unique.  As we look around some folks’ lives are like a beautiful spring morning—things couldn’t be better.  Look over there and there is someone enduring the beating rain of a severe storm and finally, glance over there and someone is locked in the midst of winter.  We sometimes forget that our lives, our experience may not be the experience of the person standing next to us.  While our lives are neat and orderly, theirs might be filled with gale force winds and pounding hail.  For us things couldn’t be better—for them things couldn’t be worse.

Can I encourage us to remember that?  Can I encourage us to be sensitive to the fact that our world may not be someone else’s?  Can I encourage us to be more understanding when someone seems to be rude and huffy when perhaps, just perhaps, they are doing everything they can just to stay afloat.  Jesus was so good at this.  He could read someone and respond and it wasn’t just because He was God in the flesh but also because He was determined to love others.  We can, and should, do the same thing.

So, if you do the computer thing, check out YouTube and search for relaxing music or videos and enjoy and as you are, remember that those places are places where people are living and maybe struggling.  Then, determine to be like Jesus, who managed to love each person no matter what. A song says that Jesus loves the little children, all the little children, and if He does…we should too. 1 John 4:16 says, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.” We have come to know and believe that no matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Perseverance

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Perseverance…don’t quit.  In my inventory of weaknesses this is something that I wish wasn’t.  I would like to tell you that I have the perseverance of a thoroughbred racehorse bolting from the gate with only one goal—to finish and to finish first.  And while I am not a quitter, I do sometimes, “peter out.”  Merriam Webster defines that as “to gradually become smaller, weaker, or less before stopping or ending”.

During my journey there were too many times when I just wasn’t sure I was going to finish well—or finish at all.  But that wasn’t always a bad thing because it caused me to look inwardly and upward—to my Dearest Daddy.

During those times when I wasn’t sure of much of anything, it was then that I found myself turning to the One who was sure.  When my steps were unsure, I found myself tracking the One whose steps were rock solid and sure.  The last several years have taught me something of hanging in there—to persevere—to keep going.  While I was out west a while back, I saw it over and over again.  First, it was a wildflower blooming in what can only be called dust.  The roots had somehow dug deep and found the water of life.  I saw it in a small tree as it grew from a crevice in a large rock.  It made no sense but somehow that tree decided there was a way to grow in an impossible place.

I saw it too from another small tree growing from a large rock in the middle of a lake.  There was no soil to be found and yet it grew…it persevered.  It decided that it would survive, it would thrive, even though the odds were totally against success.  You see, the Bible is filled with stories of men and women who trusted God against all odds.  A shepherd boy becomes a king, another “has-been” shepherd leads a million or so people to a new land—the promised land.  A band of eleven men from various walks of life chose to follow a young rabbi (who happened to be the Son of God) and the message they shared changed the world.

All these folks failed at one time or another, but they didn’t quit.  They chose to persevere.  If you wonder how America has lasted for these 247 years, there are two reasons.  The hand of God and the perseverance of ordinary men and women who gave what they had for a cause they believed in. A.Cause.They.Believed.In.

We have survived many challenges over the years—the pandemic of 2020 is just one on the list. However, I am sure the greater enemy wasn’t the pandemic, but rather the division that swept our land like wildfire. Someone wiser than you or me once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand—Jesus said that before Lincoln did.

William Carey, a great missionary, once said, “The future is as bright as the promises of God” and I believe that is true today.  But we need to learn from the founding fathers, from the men who stormed Normandy or trudged through the jungles of Vietnam or froze on the hills of Korea.  We must learn again to trust the hand of God.  The Bible says that we should trust God with everything we have and turn away from the tendency to trust ourselves.  If we do that…He will guide us…He will direct us.  We also need to learn the lesson of that small tree growing from that giant rock.  We will not quit, we will persevere—we will find life in the most unlikely of places.  Trust God and don’t quit.  That sounds like a plan.

With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, it seems to some degree we have been given a second chance.  I hope we will take advantage of this gift God has given us.  I hope we will learn the power of perseverance and the power of four simple words, “Love God…Love People.”  I may not know what tomorrow holds but I do know the One who holds tomorrow and that is good enough for me.  I am certain no matter what, that as always, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

Surprise!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” Psalm 136:1

I guess you could say this whole thing started as a surprise. Last year I received an email and then a phone call.  It was from the person in charge of a women’s conference held annually for our Southern Baptist women.  They usually invite one “guy” to join the lineup of speakers.  Since it was a women’s conference most of the participants, obviously, were women. Well, this person reached out to me and invited me to speak at this conference. Ok, let’s just be honest.  This was a big honor and big deal.  I had spoken at a chapel service and several of the ladies in attendance thought I might be a good choice to speak. Can someone say, “blown away?”

Well, we chatted, and I told her the truth.  I was very honored to be asked and that I would do my best although I honestly thought this was just a little out of my league.  I mean, last year they had a nationally known speaker who was the son of a very, very well-known speaker—the kind that cause people to say, “Oh look, there goes so and so.” Anyway, I remember my wife coming home last year from this same conference and telling me what a great job this guy did. Can someone say, “gulp?”

I share with about three hundred folks every week and this would certainly be more than that and to be trusted with this level of responsibility was just amazing. So, anyway, I said yes and set about worrying, oh, I meant to say praying, about what to speak on, etc, etc. Slowly, and yet not so slowly, the clock ticked by and then it was time to pack up and head to the conference. The organization provided my wife Judy and me with a room for the event and I thought that was very thoughtful. So, when we checked in, we got our room keys and even a special “welcome” bag with man stuff like beef jerky and even a car freshener.  Once again, I thought, “How cool is that?

So, up we went…all the way to the top floor.  Ok, I thought that was pretty awesome too.  Surely the view would be nice from that height. The meeting is held in the city of our state capital and in fact very near the state capital.  We zoomed to the top and stepped off the elevator. I checked the room number and it said, “1201.” That sounded like the end of the hallway and that certainly was fine. I was counting down the room numbers as I walked down the hall and sure enough it was at the end.  And that is where the surprise was waiting.

I walked up to the door—or should I say doors.  It was in fact a double door and had a brass plaque on the wall next to the door frame.  And what do you suppose it said?  Let me tell you it said, “Chairman’s Suite.” Well, my first thought was something like, “Rats, wrong room…maybe even the wrong floor.”  My second thought was bigger and better, and I said to Judy, who was just a few steps behind me, “Judy, this is the Chairman’s Suite!” Now I was simply speechless. Well, she tried to open the door and as I suspected—it didn’t work.  “Yup, wrong room” I said to myself and to her. But she tried again and…wait for it…the door unlocked, and we walked in.

What waited on the other side was a suite the size of some houses.  There was a kitchenette, a large living room and dining room combination, a large bedroom with a work area and a large bathroom with a large tub and separate shower. We were like kids in an ice cream shop.  We simply couldn’t believe it. Decorated to the nines and each window held a beautiful view of the city below.  Wow.  I kept saying how I, or we, simply didn’t deserve this and the truth is…we didn’t. But I am kinda used to that because a long time ago I stepped into the world of God’s grace, and it is all about not deserving.

Well, anyway, it was amazing. I assume they did the same thing for the speaker last year and that would have made sense because after all he is famous. But the amazing thing is they extended that same kindness to me—just an ordinary guy from down south and that was extraordinary. The point of all this is to point to the kindness of my Dearest Daddy who arranged all of this to send us a love note. It is also to point to the staff who sponsored the event, who hoped it would be a blessing. It was—big time. Psalm 136:1 simply says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” And He sure is. As always, when it comes to surprise blessings…He’s got that!  Bro. Dewayne

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

Your Expected Wait Time

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Warning…whining ahead.  Ok, I just wanted to give you a heads up that I am about to whine.  It really isn’t my fault.  I think I was born with it…wired with it.  While most babies cried, I whined.  If the milk wasn’t quite the right temperature…I didn’t cry…I whined.  If it was a quarter past a diaper change…you guessed, I whined.  And if someone failed to realize just how precious I was…whine, whine, whine.  I am so good at it I believe it must be some kind of gift.  I know the Bible talks about people having a special gift from God so who knows…maybe there is a whining gift.  People sometimes say you shouldn’t whine but that is probably because they are jealous.  Whining is an art, a talent but there is a problem.  Nobody seems to appreciate a good whiner.  Someone even gave me a little plaque to hang in my office.  It simply says, “Thou shalt not whine.” Imagine that.

I try to be a good steward of my whining gift and save it for special occasions, but the problem is, to me everything day is special and almost every situation an opportunity to practice my gift.  But tonight, tonight it is valid.  Tonight, I have the right to whine…and I have.  Here’s why. So, a couple of months ago, my wife Judy and I planned our fall vacation and decided to go back to Fort Myers, Florida.  It just sounded like a good idea.

We began to make all the appropriate reservations and arrangements.  Car rental…check.  Places to stay…check.  Plane tickets…check.  Yup…we were all set.  And then it happened.  The airline, which I won’t name but whose name starts with a D and ends with an A decided to change our flight schedule.  Hmmm.

We always fly in and out of Evansville because it is so convenient.  As close as it is, it is still about an hour and a half from where we live to the airport.  We had arranged for the return flight to land in the early afternoon.  This is especially important since as a pastor I am supposed to speak the next morning.  It’s always good to have a cushion…just in case. Anyway, here comes the email.  Surprise, surprise, surprise…we have changed your flight from landing at 4:40pm in the afternoon to 9:09pm (yawn) in the evening.  Add an hour and a half drive and it makes 5:00 am come pretty fast.

So, I checked and found out there was indeed a flight that landed at 4:40 pm and there were indeed seats available.  I decided to call the airlines and ask them to fix the problem. I dialed the number and the chirpy voice on the recording assured me that I was a valuable customer (I even had a special number to call) and they would be right with me.  The expected wait time was just four hours.  I’m not kidding, 4:00 hours.  Well, I just knew there had to be another way but after spending an hour trying to find it, I realized there was not one.  Not an email solution, not a wish, or a prayer…nothing, nada.  If I wanted to talk to the nice airline, I would have to stay on the line for four hours.  Can someone say crazy?

Well, rather than stay on the line for four hours (yawn) I decided to spend the time writing a story about it.  I just know all of you out there in grits land will understand and whine with me.  I’m not sure how I’m going to fix the problem, but I assure you it will not involve me holding on the phone for four hours.  I can also assure you it will involve an appropriate amount of whining.

Now, fortunately, not all customer service is as poor as this.  In fact, there is one place where there is no wait, no busy signal and each person is indeed special.  And where would that be…on God’s hotline.  I love the fact that my Dearest Daddy is never too busy, never too overwhelmed to take my call.  And the best part?  He always makes the right call—pun intended. He is too kind to be mean and too wise to make a mistake.  Even when His way doesn’t match my way, I am sure that it is the best way.  I guess I could ask Him for patience, but I hear the training program for that involves six hour hold times.  Yikes!

Well, I feel better now.  Thanks for reading and understanding.  Who knows, all this might work out for my good…actually, I’m sure it will.  I mean the Bible says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose,” and I suppose that includes long holds on the phone. Someone (and that would be me) tells everyone that will listen, “He’s got this” and I believe that He does.  I even believe that includes airlines with four hour hold times.  How about that. God bless you!  Bro. Dewayne

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

Divine Rescue

Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)

It was a close call.  It all started a while back when I received an email from a website called “Travelzoo.”  Each Wednesday they send out a “Top 20” list of their best travel deals.  Well, in June that list included a really, good deal at a really nice hotel in Naples. Now you probably ought to know that one thing trumps all else when it comes to me and hotels:  PRICE. I love a good deal.  But this one had a great price along with a nice pool, hot tub, great decor, good location and a free shuttle to the beach. I talked it over with Judy and we began making plans for a trip to Southwest Florida.

Well, as time went by, I arranged our flight to and from Naples and of course the now famous car rental—a Mustang convertible.  Well, as the days got closer, and for a reason I don’t remember, I just started wondering if we should look at another place to stay—something with more space, perhaps a kitchen—you know, a small condo.  So, we started looking and low and behold we found one—actually me, Mr. Price Trumps Everything, found one.  Yes, it was a bit more expensive and it wasn’t in Naples but rather Fort Myers Beach.  But it seemed to be saying, “Rent me.”  We did.

Now there are lots of ways I can tell this story but perhaps the shorter version is the best version.  I apply this often to my sermons—NOT.  As we got to Fort Myers, we found this condo was a home-run, grand slam.  It overlooks this large, beautiful bay with a fabulous view from the seventh floor.  It had a large balcony and the living room wall was floor to ceiling glass.  It really was amazing.  Fish and dolphins were jumping in the bay, birds were everywhere, boats zipped up and down the channel, and each morning a beautiful sunrise greeted us.  Paradise.

Ok, so now, fast forward.  We left there on Wednesday and drove down to the keys in our Mustang convertible (can someone say, “cool”) and stayed for a couple of days before returning to Naples on Friday, to spend the night and fly home on Saturday morning.  So…we spend Friday night in the hotel we had originally booked for the first six nights of vacation.  Now, it was nice, but there were no restaurants nearby, the beach was several, and I do mean several, miles away.  The room was small with no fish or dolphins jumping anywhere, no birds, no boats, and no morning sunrise to say “Hi.”

Now that was fine for one night.  However, I looked at Judy and she looked at me and we both realized we had been blessed and rescued.  That small room could have been our home not for one night but six nights and every meal would have meant a hunt for a restaurant.  And anytime, and I mean anytime, we were outside our room and in the building, a mask was required.  The whole tenor of the vacation would have changed. It would have been away but that was just about it.  Away.

Let me tell you that we firmly believe that our Dearest Father acted on our behalf.  He knew we would not have been happy for six nights in that hotel and He whispered and nudged at just the right time and gently moved us in another direction…a direction that exceeded our needs and expectations.  It occurred to both of us that God had sent us a love note.  God knew what we needed better than we did.  He knew that saving a few bucks paled in comparison to what He had picked for us!  It was so cool.

We had a great time.  And over and over, throughout the time we were there, we kept saying, “God rescued us” and we knew it was true.  And here’s the best part—while we got to recognize this one, I wonder just how many times and how many ways does He do it over and over again?  He works behind the scenes, silently changing plans and directing our steps towards His blessings and away from our disasters.  I believe when we get to heaven it is going to be crazy good. We will see Jesus and our loved ones who knew Jesus and have gone before us. It’s gonna be awesome. But until then the Psalmist says we should just keep tasting, keep discovering just how good God is and that will keep us busy for a long time.

I think one of my favorite things about heaven is going to be the fact that we will finally see all the ways that God acted on in our behalf.  I can imagine the walls of heaven covered with sticky notes—love notes from my Dearest Daddy to me and you—all saying in a million different ways, “I love you.”  Oh, I know it won’t be exactly like that but I also know in heaven I will see all the things He did for me.  I can’t wait.  Till then I’m going to have to be satisfied with the times I see them and the times we get to sit together and rest in our love…especially His for me.  Oh, and then there are the times when I realize, I know, that He’s got this.  And that is in everything and every day.  How about that? Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Military memories, prayer, Scripture, travel, Trials, USA

Losing Lift

Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 7:24-25

It was something I thought I would never see.  From 1977 to 1980 my wife Judy and I were stationed with the Air Force in Germany.  I have said it so many times, but it was a great time.  We were young, still newly married and had the opportunity to see and experience so much of Europe.  It was good duty too.  I was assigned to a small base and provided administrative support for one of the flying squadrons.  We flew the OV-10—a twin engine forward air control aircraft.  There weren’t many enlisted guys in the squadron and the pilots treated us like family.

Obviously, safety, and in particular flight safety, was always a big deal.  I remember right before I left to come back to the States, we were on a long streak of accident-free flying.  The commander was also due to rotate back to the States in just a couple of weeks.  He said, “The best gift you guys can give me is to remain accident free.” A couple of days later, however, one of our planes crashed.

What I thought I would never see, and certainly didn’t want to see, was another crash.  One day, I was standing in my office talking to one of the pilots about who knows what.  I was looking out the window as we chatted and saw an aircraft, not one of ours but a F-4 fighter jet, literally falling out of the sky.  I blurted out to the pilot I was talking to, “That plane is going to crash.”  I remember his response to this day, “That’s not something to joke about.”  I wasn’t joking.  Less than half a mile from where we were this massive fighter aircraft did literally fall from the sky.  The pilot ejected but sadly did not survive.  It was devastating.  I can still see the explosion in my mind.

As it turns out the plane wasn’t trying to land and where he crashed had nothing to do with our base.  He was flying over the area, lost airworthiness, and went into what is called a flat spin.  When this happens, planes can lose their lift and they crash.  You see, to stay in the air, planes must have the lift provided by forward movement and air moving in and around their wings.  When that doesn’t happen, planes fall from the sky.

It not only happens to planes…it happens to people…like me…like you.  A couple of years ago, I did the healthy thing.  I began eating right, checking my sugar levels, and exercising five or six times a week. The results came quickly and were amazing.  After three months I had my blood checked and the results were what my physician called, “beautiful.”  Literally every critical number was in the normal range. It was amazing…it was awesome.  And then, I lost my lift.

The best I can tell my success began my downfall. After winning so big, I wasn’t sure what was next.  It was like the day after Christmas.  The win was in the bag, and I lost my drive to keep on winning.  Over time I returned to my poor eating habits and slowly, or perhaps not so slowly, things began to change…for the worse.  Like I said, “When you lose your lift…you crash.”

I was thinking about this before I began writing and decided I really should share my story.  Maybe I can help keep someone from crashing.  And, it really doesn’t have to be about health…it can be anything.  The bottom line is when we lose our momentum, our drive, our lift in any area of our lives—spiritually, emotionally, or physically—we are in danger of crashing.  Marriages can go south; God can become a distant relative and we can become emotionally disconnected.  We need to be careful.

Paul, the guy who wrote a chunk of what we call the New Testament, knew about losing lift and I think he knew about crashing too.  He asked the question, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?”  Can you identify with that question?  Honestly, I can.  But it is the answer that gives me hope.  It is the answer that can give you hope.  He writes, “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Bam!  There you go.  The answer is our faith and trust in Jesus.

I’m glad he didn’t just say to try harder or maybe pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  I’m glad he confirmed what I know and what you might know.  The answer is Jesus.  He doesn’t just limit His help to obvious God stuff—He is there always and in every way.  He loves me when I get it right and when I don’t.  And no matter what, spiritually, emotionally, or physically He goes with He—never condemning and always encouraging.  I like that.  It’s good to know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

The Phone Call

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

It was a phone call that was to change my life.  It was from my brother-in-law’s brother.  We were fringe friends, and he had an idea.  We were both seniors in high school and both really didn’t have plans for after graduation.  So, he says, “Hey Dewayne.  Why don’t we join the Air Force together?  They have the buddy plan.  We can attend basic training together and go to our first duty station together.  We can be buds.”  Well, I didn’t have any better ideas and I liked the idea of serving my country and I was always kinda adventurous so, “Why not?”  I went down and signed up singing, “Off we go into the wild blue yonder.”  We were set.  Or not.

After I went down to sign up, I called my brother-in-law’s brother and said, “Have you signed up yet?”  Silence.  He then told me that he had changed his mind.  We were no longer buds.  Well, regardless, I was going into the Air Force.  That much was decided. What wasn’t decided was what to do in the Air Force.  They have this test they give you to decide what best suits your talents and abilities.  I took the test. When the recruiter gave me the results he was smiling.

“Well, Dewayne, looks like you are strong in the administrative field.” “What?” I said.  “Administration.” he said. 

He tried to make it sound really important, but he was really saying I was going to be a secretary.  Now this was not cool.  My dad was a jet engine mechanic.  One brother had served in the Army and I’m not sure what he did but it wasn’t typing.  Another brother who joined the Air Force saved the world—or at least that’s what he told me.  My other brother joined the Coast Guard—saving lives and stuff. Me?  Well, I get to be a secretary.

So anyway, I kept my word and joined the Air Force.  I even realized that being a 702X0, (that is the official designation for an administrative specialist), was not too bad.  When guys were standing in the rain guarding planes I was in a nice, warm office.  There were always a few unkind jokes about 702X0 guys but when those guys wanted their leave papers processed, the joke was on them.  Yup, it was totally unexpected but it turned out the Air Force was right.  I was in my groove.

Now for the best part of the story.  Later I met my wife Judy and we decided to make the Air Force a career.  Secretary or not, she thought I was rather dashing even if I did type instead of fly a plane.  The days and years went by and then I heard a whisper—the God kind.  It said something about pastoring and preaching.  I told the Whisperer that I was gonna stay in the Air Force and we could talk later.  Another year passed and the Whisperer kept whispering and finally I said, “Yes.”  So, after twelve years I left the Air Force and walked from one office…and right into another.  Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had been in school for twelve years.  I suddenly realized that God had been grooming me for the pastorate all along.  Can you imagine if I had done my thing and become a mechanic and then walked into the pastorate where working on jet engines didn’t help you write sermons?  Because of God’s sovereignty and wisdom, I left one office where I typed, wrote, researched, supervised, filed and zillion other things and walked right into another where almost all those skills were needed.  Can someone say, “Amazing?”

So here I am 40 years into my calling as a pastor sitting at a computer and writing.  It all happened because the Whisperer whispered and for once I had the common sense to figure out He was a lot smarter than I was.  Proverbs 3:5-6 has been a powerful force in my life, all my life.  It says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t lean into your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  I know from personal experience that is true.

I haven’t always gotten it right.  I haven’t always listened to the Whisperer, trusted Him totally or not leaned into my own understanding.  But when I did, I have always had better outcomes and fewer regrets.  And do you know what? Even in this crazy new world, even in today’s circumstances, He’s still got a plan.  This isn’t a world gone mad or to use my favorite word, “crazy.” This is a world under the watchful eye and caring heart of our God.  And He is crazy about us.  So, go ahead and surrender to Him—rest in Him.  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Mysterious Ways

Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy.”
Psalms 34:5

They say that God works in mysterious ways…and I believe He does.  Throughout my years as an adult believer, God has shown up in different ways and it always leaves me feeling very grateful.  When people ask me can God be trusted, without hesitation, I can give an unqualified yes.  And I can say that not only because the Bible tells me so but because of the times He proved Himself.  Some were big and some were small but each one, every one, was significant and real.

Let me tell you a story.  When my wife Judy and I were married I was a buck sergeant in the Air Force and, well, things were quite lean.  With a lot of help from the Lord (and that’s another story), we were able to travel to Germany together for a three-year stint.  We loved it but honestly things were even more financially tight there than here.  With the fluctuation of the German Mark and the fact that things just cost more—there were plenty of times when there was more month than money.  It was during one of those times that God showed off.

Judy and I had gone to the Base Exchange (the store on base) to get a few things that we had to have.  It was one of those times when there was more month than money and we had to choose what was important very carefully.  Well, I don’t remember the details, but we had a discussion right there in the store about what to do.  Now when I say discussion, it wasn’t exactly a friendly chat, but neither was it a hollering match.  In fact, I’m grateful because I don’t think we’ve ever had one of those.  But anyway, it was a little “heated.”

Well, we made our way to the front of the store and the tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.  Like I said, I don’t remember the details, but it was all about money—or rather, the lack of it. And, I can probably say with certainty that most of the heat was coming from Sergeant Taylor and not his sweet wife. So, there we were standing in line, me yakking and sweet Judy holding her tongue.  And just about then…it happened. Believe it or not, over the din of the crowd I heard something sliding…being pushed on the tile floor.  I looked down.

As I looked down, there at my feet, was a crumpled up twenty-dollar bill.  I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I think I said, “Judy, look down.”  We both were flabbergasted.  Apparently, and I do believe this to be right, that crumpled up twenty-dollar bill was just what we needed to get past whatever crisis we were going through.  Now, to put your mind at ease, there wasn’t any way to determine who had lost or dropped the money. As far as I am concerned God had acted on our behalf.  He put it there.  He is the One who somehow caused me to hear the slightest of sound of paper on a tile floor.  It was my Father who caused me to look down.

Well, we picked up the gift and went to the cash register and paid for our items with what God had provided.  It was amazing.  What else is amazing is how quick my demeanor changed too. Frowns changed to smiles. Frustration turned to peace. Hopelessness changed to hope. You know, I personally believe that things like this happen all the time—everyday and in various ways.  The reason we don’t usually see them is that we aren’t looking. The reason we don’t recognize them is we tend to explain them away.  Small miracles become mere happenstance and sadly, we miss the blessing, and He misses His glory.

All the events of that day were the orchestration of my Dearest Daddy.  The tight budget that I looked on with distain was the setup for God’s grand provision.  Without the first, the second wouldn’t have happened.  One of the authors of the Psalms wrote and said, “Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy.” And, that Grits family, is the truth.  So, starting now, starting today, let’s look carefully, let’s listen carefully for the Whisperer whispering, “Don’t worry child…I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne