Posted in Grace, gratitude, love, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Trust

Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:23

It seems so easy…but it just not. In the Disney movie Aladdin, the central figure named Aladdin (bet you saw that one coming) and the beautiful young princess are in a difficult situation.  Options are limited because the bad guys are just about to win the day–grab her and jail him.  He reaches out his hand, looks her in the eyes and says, “Do you trust me?”

Well, you’ve probably seen the movie a dozen times, but the bottom line is she does, they escape, and eventually live happily ever after.  But not before one more precarious situation, one more extended hand and one more time the all-important question asked, “Do you trust me?”  She does.  She extends her hand and well, you know.

Times like these times help us begin to understand just how difficult it might have been for these two fictitious characters.  To not trust meant certain disaster. To trust meant risk.  It’s a hard call–well especially in the movie because Aladdin wasn’t some dashing, super strong, super-hero but a, gulp, “street rat,” a nobody, from the wrong side of town.

But what about us–what about our plot–our uncertainty.  Well, there is an extended hand and there is that all important question, “Do you trust me?”  But that’s where things change.  The hand extended to us doesn’t belong to a “street rat” but rather to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  It belongs to the One who speaks and a billion stars begin to twinkle. And the one on the receiving end?  Oh, that would be us–the one He calls son, daughter, child of mine.

I love Psalm 37:24. Speaking of God and us, it says, “Though they [that would be us] stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand.” Never fall, never perish, never. Let that soak in.  The word picture is that of a person—perhaps a small child or maybe a frail senior adult—who has lost their footing and consequently is on their way down to certain pain and suffering.  Then, at the last minute, the hand reaches down and takes hold, and they are saved.

That has to be what caused the prophet Habakkuk 3:17-18 to say, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18.  yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

It’s not a hard call really.  I mean He’s all powerful and loves us like no prince has ever loved his princess…cares for us more than any husband his bride.  He has a perfect track record. Never fails…no, not once. Regardless of how scary the days were or may become, He is bigger, He is stronger, and He can be trusted. So, listen carefully today. Tune out or turn down the volume of a screeching world and you will probably hear a soft whisper saying, “Do you trust me?”  And look with Spirit eyes and you might even see a hand extended.  You don’t even need to try and take hold for He’s got you and yes, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Learning to Speak Love

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35b

It was, well, amazing.  I like to receive presents.  I love to receive presents.  Some guy wrote a book about the five love languages and basically, he said that everyone has at least one love language.  If you want to “ring someone’s bell” or “top off their love tank”, you do it by speaking their love language.  Well, my two primary love languages are gifts and words of affirmation.  Every time one of you leaves a kind comment about Grits, the nozzle goes in my love tank and fills it up.  How about that?

Well, my other love language is this gift thing.  When someone gives me something, it just rings my bell.  Several years ago, a friend visited Gettysburg and brought me back a set of coasters.  It was totally unexpected, and it just rang my bell.  He probably thought, “What’s the deal, dude?  It is only a set of coasters.” But no, it was more.  It said, “I thought of you.”  And, several years later it still brings a smile to my face.  We have a couple of good friends that like to travel and they often bring me a souvenir of their travels and it is always blesses me. Boom—a full love tank.

Well, something happened recently that was pretty awesome.  We have a family who is part of our church family and they are just a special group of people.  It is hard to put a finger on it but words like authentic and caring come to mind.  Well, a couple of weeks ago after our morning service, the mom in this family came up to me and was just beaming—and I mean beaming with joy and excitement. Her entire countenance said, “Something good had happened.”  I wasn’t sure what it was, but I couldn’t wait to hear what it was.  I was in for a surprise.

Here is what tumbled out of her mouth.  “We bought you something and I couldn’t wait to tell you.  I know I was supposed to wait but I just couldn’t.  I saw this on Facebook and said, “We have to buy this for Bro. Dewayne.”  She bubbled and bubbled, and I was in awe.  The gift was the “Fingerprint” of God.  It was a print in the shape of a fingerprint and the fingerprint was made from a scripture from each book in the Bible.  It sounded amazing and when it came in and they gave it to me, it was.  It will soon have a home in my church office, and it will have a story…this story.

You see, the gift really was amazing, but the unseen gift was equally so.  What was the unseen gift?  It was their—her—unbridled, unlimited joy and enthusiasm in not “getting” a gift but “giving” one.  Her joy in giving this special print to me, her friend, and her pastor, touched me and taught me.  It touched me that this special family made a sacrifice and bought me this gift.  It taught me that just like Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  I have heard that verse for many, many years and have seen it on display at different levels.  But this time…this act of love taught me what it really means.

I have to wonder if this is what it is like when a person comes to follow Jesus for the first time.  I mean the Bible says God throws a party. The Bible says that all heaven breaks loose when someone comes home.  I can just imagine the smile on Jesus’ face when a person He loves and died for finally gets it and trusts Him.  I bet it looks at least something like the face of this family and especially my friend who shared the news with me, “We bought you something.”  We want to..wait for it…not get, but give.  Amazing.

Though I love to travel and try and go to Africa once a year, I have always struggled with learning a new language.  But I wonder if that might need to change?  Maybe today, maybe this week, maybe I, maybe you, need to learn a new language.  No, I’m not talking Swahili—I’m talking about someone’s love language.  Someone in your world, your spouse, your kids, your neighbor ,or maybe someone else.  Learn what tops their love tank and do it.

The guy who wrote the book says the love languages are gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, and quality time. Why not learn and practice someone’s love language today?  If you are like me and struggle with learning (I can barely speak English), just ask the Father for a little help.  He will be more than glad to help you.  He loves it when His kids can speak love.  Yup…He’s got that too.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Mona Lisa

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

I wonder if he really knew it? I’m talking about Leonardo de Vinci.  He was the painter of the infinitely famous “Mona Lisa.”  It has been called “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.” Now by any standard that is a masterpiece.  It was finished around 1517 and is likely the portrait of Lisa Gherardini.  Its name “Mona Lisa” would translate to Ma’am Lisa.  I’m glad her name was Lisa or else we would have Mona Hazel or Mona Gertrude. Nice names but, well, you know.

But did he know it?  I wonder if de Vinci realized what a powerful masterpiece he had created?  Did he know the way he captured her smile, or the light would captivate the world? I suppose that in his lifetime the painting was appreciated but did it make it to rock star status?  But there really is a bigger question.  Did she know it?

Did Mona Lisa know that the portrait of herself was a masterpiece destined to be the most valuable painting in the world?  Did she know that her slightest of smiles would capture the hearts of men and appreciation of women?  Did she ever look in her mirror and see herself for what she was, a masterpiece?

Can I ask you a question?  What do you see when you glance in the mirror?  Do you know that the someone staring back at you is as valuable as the Mona Lisa? Do you know that even though you are not famous in the neighborhood, you are famous in the halls of heaven?  It’s true.

Ephesians 2:10 is one of my absolute favorites.  It seems to pop up over and again in Grits.  It says,  “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” You see an artist far more talented, far more substantial than Leonardo de Vinci created you.  He carefully applied stroke after stroke and then stood back, looked at His work, and declared you a masterpiece.  Declared you, yes you, a masterpiece.

Don’t ever doubt this. You are what God declares you to be.  Don’t let a glance in the mirror, don’t let a harsh comment from a friend or critic, don’t let an act of unkindness steal that away.  You are a masterpiece.  Don’t let your crazy circumstances, your empty portfolio, the nameless brand of your clothing, or your street address, steal that away.  You are a masterpiece.

In our bathroom, we have two small tiles with a few words on them.  They are small in size, but the words are massive.  Here is what they say, “It is not who you are that holds you back, but who you think you are not.”  There is real truth and freedom in those words.  So, if you are haunted by the thoughtless words of someone in your life and you are living that lie…today is freedom day.  Today is name change day.  You are not an accident, a mistake, or junk.  You are a masterpiece. God says so.

As we move on after a fabulous Easter Sunday, remember this.  Each time you worship, Easter or not—in church or not, you are praising Someone who thought so highly of you that He died for you.  He.Died.For.You. And then, like whip cream and cherry on a sundae He adds a description, “masterpiece.”

God bless you today.  The weather guy said it is going to be a beautiful day.  It’s gonna be a great day for a masterpiece like you to step outside and enjoy what the Master Creator has made–just for you.  Enjoy this day and rest in Him.  No matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne