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 Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Chief Wounded Cheek

For all have sinned.” Romans 3:23a

Turns out this falling thing isn’t new.  If you are a regular reader of Grits, you might remember that about once a year I decide to see if my body will bounce.  Last year it was Indian Point Trail.  I tripped over a root and before you could say, “shoot that thang” I was stretched out flat on my face.  It was painful.  Then a little over a month ago I hung my toe on the edge of my patio and did it all over again.  And yes, I fell hard and yes, it hurt.  In fact, my hand is still healing from that one.

So, the other day, I was thinking (I sometimes do that) and remembered another time and another fall and this one garnered me a new name.  When I pastored another church in another town, we had a great guy named Bob who would take a bunch of us to the Smoky Mountains and hike to the top of Mount Le Conte. We did this for several years and I am pretty sure I made the trip each time.  We would leave early and get to the mountains around mid-afternoon.

Bob was a pro at this hiking stuff, and he knew the importance of warming up.  So that afternoon, the day before the big hike, we would take a warmup hike.  I remember one time the warmup hike was the Chimneys and if you have ever done that one you know it isn’t that long but it is a killer.  As I remember, the warmups made the real deal almost anti-climactic.  And then, there was another time that I remember…well.

So, we got to the mountains and prepared for the warmup.  This one, as I remember, wasn’t straight up…in fact it was kinda level but it did involve crossing a couple of boulder strewn creeks.  And crossing one of those creeks gave me a new name.  As we crossed, we carefully picked our way over and around the rocks…leaning on our hiking sticks and trying to stay dry.  We did pretty good…I did pretty good…until I didn’t. Yup…you guessed it…down I went.

Gratefully, back then I bounced even better than I do now.  That time I didn’t fall flat on my face, I didn’t fall on my side, I fell on my, uh, well, my bottom.  It all happened in a split second, and I am sure if my pants hadn’t been double stitched, I would have split something else.  Well, once everyone determined that I wasn’t mortally wounded, the laughter started.  The sight of their fearless pastor laying, sitting catawampus—half in and half out the water—was too much to contain.

And then someone, who knows who, said it.  “It” was my new name.  They said, “Look there is “Chief Wounded Cheek.”  Well, then everyone, and I mean everyone, started laughing again.  Well, they helped me out and up and we continued our warmup hike but for the rest of the trip and several months later, I was “Chief Wounded Cheek.” Even to this day the memories make me smile because we had shared life together and laughed together.

There is one more thing that I so appreciated about that special group of friends, and friends like them through the years—they allowed me to be human.  You see sometimes people like to put leaders on some sort of pedestal.  The problem is that is a place they should never be because if and when they fall, well, sometimes it is unrecoverable. One of the best things you can do for a leader is love them, respect them, but allow them to be human.  And what is true of leaders and pastors is true of husbands, wives, and yes, parents. Remember, we all walk on clay feet.

Well, I’m glad to report that Chief Wounded Cheek is still bouncing along and gratefully most of the time, most of the people allow me to be human. Paul, the guy who wrote a large portion of the New Testament, reminded us that everyone of us are sinners—you know, broken people.  At one time or another, we have all messed up. The good news is that failure doesn’t have to be final.  The other good news is if we are wise, we will learn when we fail.  Someone said, “If you aren’t failing, you aren’t learning.” I like that. Oh, and the final good news is that when we fail, there is Someone standing by who says, “Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Mother's Day, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Remembering Momma

Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: Many women have done noble deeds, but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:28-29

Well, it’s time. Enter Mother’s Day…a day to celebrate our mothers, our wives and other ladies who have poured their life into our lives, but time can make that harder.  Let me explain. You see, time can be a bane and a blessing. It is difficult to live with but we sure can’t live without it and as we get older, it can begin to fuzz the brain and our memories. Things that at one time were vivid and clear become a midst and sometimes disappear into the fog.

That seems to be true of so many of my childhood memories—my Momma memories. Things that I am sure were so valuable, so definitive at the time, are now simply not there. I am sure that is the case with my memories of my parents as a child. When that happens, I simply fill in the gaps with hints and clues from the things I do remember. As the pieces come together, it quickly becomes obvious that my Momma was one of my anchors and a huge blessing in my life.

As I scan the landscape of my childhood, as I piece the pieces together, I realize that I had a really good childhood, and it was largely because of my parents and in particular, my mother. As the baby of eight, by the time they got to me, two things were obvious: they had it down to a science, and I was pretty spoiled.

Because of our finances, we didn’t get everything we wanted (not by a long shot), but Christmas, birthdays, and usually even ordinary days were special. Momma was often the one who made that happen. She was a stay-at-home, hold the fort down, mom and was always there when I needed her. Perhaps you have heard of a Swiss Army knife.  It is one crazy invention where a simple pocketknife becomes an all-purpose, whatever you need tool. And that describes Momma. Whatever the occasion she was there for us…for me. Well, truth be known, while she didn’t wear a habit like Mother Teresa or a nurse’s uniform like Florence Nightingale or banish a sword like Joan of Arc, she was that and more in my eyes.

I wonder how many times was I sick, and she became Doctor Momma?  On so many occasions I can remember her pulling me into her lap and holding me. On one particular occasion when I was over five and under ten, I was very sick— fever, nausea, and a young body that felt like it had been beaten.  I know now it was probably the flu and probably contagious and yet there she was in our old rocking chair, at two in the morning, cradling me and holding me.  That was Momma.

Sometimes Momma put on her Leonardo da Vinci hat and showed a designer flare. I can remember as a teenager I had a rather new pair of jeans—ordinary to some—valuable to me. I was horseback riding one day, and the horse cut a corner too sharply and ran me into a pole, ripping my jeans right above the knee. Bummer. My Momma simply cut the legs off the jeans where they were torn, put in some bright red cloth, and sewed them back together. There you go…good as new, and since it was the 70’s, it made a statement. I had a one-of-a-kind pair of jeans.

Two or three times a day Momma always put on her chef’s hat. A couple of years ago I made a thoughtless and inaccurate comment about Momma’s cooking not being “the best in the world.” Can someone say, “Dumb?”  Can someone say, “Really?” No, Momma was a great cook and my waistline still proves it.  She had the amazing ability to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. To me, her chicken and dumplings and blackberry dumplings were both legendary.  Oh, and did I mention her fried corn beef hash?  No, Chef Momma was amazing…and we loved her for it.

Yup, my Momma was amazing and the longer I live the more I realize just how blessed I was to have her.  It has been said that men often marry women like their mothers.  Well, that at least helps to explain the amazing wife that God has given me.  In so many ways she too is that wife, that mother, that grandmother that so many wish they had.  I don’t have to wish…Judy is my wish come true. Someone once said that a person who has one good friend in their life is blessed.  Well, without going any further than my home I know I have had two—Momma and my precious wife Judy.  Thank You, Lord…a bunch.

Remember, there is no such thing as perfect Momma’s but a lot of us have been blessed with great ones. On this Mother’s Day, if Momma is still around, be sure and let her know how much you appreciate her.  And if she isn’t…well, be sure and thank the Lord.  And one more thought…be sure and thank your wife, for all she has done. Guys, trust me, we would be lost without them.  Oh, and do remember this, there is a God who loves you more than your Momma ever could or did.  It’s good to know that no matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Uncategorized

Open Hands, Open Hearts

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, 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, 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