Posted in fear, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Believing Again

I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

What do you know? There is light at the end of the tunnel.  This morning it happened again.  I got up about 5:15 am (I put the “am” there for those of you who might not be aware that it does happen twice a day) and it was dark.  It was dark yesterday and it will be dark tomorrow but somewhere down the road, it will not be.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  Though my day started in the dark today, it didn’t stay that way either. After a while, actually quite a while, the black turned to gray, and slowly the gray turned to light.  Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The past 365 days or so may have caused us to doubt that the light at the end of the tunnel would ever come.  When each day seems the same as the one before, we tend to think all days will be like that. We come to expect the same and even if the same is a good same—well, it gets old.  Live in a place where every day is sunny and dry, and you soon start to long for rain.  Live in a place where rain is abundant and clouds the norm, and you soon long for sun.  It’s just the nature of the beast.

But, what if?  What if we could learn to live in anticipation?  What if we could learn to be content with today and anticipate the wonder, the unknown of tomorrow?  That was the monster of this last year, wasn’t it?  We just didn’t know what tomorrow would look like—what the future would look like.   And, honestly, it scared most of us to death.  For many, it was a deal breaker with our faith.  Simply put, at minimum our faith took a hit and at worst there was a faith funeral.  That was then, but this is now.  Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and there is hope.

I’m still pretty sure that the post COVID world and the new cultural landscape—well,  things will be different.  Some of them, most of them, we may not like.  It may seem like a too long walk on a soft-sanded beach where each step is like quicksand or shifting sands.  So what are we to do?  Well, maybe, just maybe we should have a repairing—a faith repairing or perhaps a resurrection—a faith resurrection. You see, there is nothing like uncertain times or new times to cause us to return to faith.  It’s a paradox really—often the thing that weakens or slays our faith is the very same thing that will cause it to be strong or come to life again.

After the children of Israel had left Egypt, they woke up one morning to find the whole Egyptian army hot in pursuit.  It looked like game over—it looked like slavery all over again.  But.Then.God.  Let those three words soak in.  But then God acted again on their behalf and split a sea wide-open and invited the people to trust Him and walk over on dry ground.  They took Him up on the offer and they were saved—and the Egyptians, well, they should have paid closer attention at swim lessons.

It’s still true.  God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.  It’s true in the brilliant sunlight and it is true in the dark of night.  The One who we trusted in the beginning is the One who is worth our trust as dawn begins.  Paul, the Jesus hater turned Jesus follower, said there was never the slightest doubt in his mind that the God who started this great work in you—in us—would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish. How great is that?

So, I know Easter is in the rearview mirror but maybe today would just be a great day to have a resurrection—a faith resurrection.  Maybe today is the day you just start believing again or maybe, just start believing more.  God hasn’t changed—He never does.  The One who was faithful before is faithful now.  No matter what—and you know it—He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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 Easter, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Hard Day–Good Friday

Jesus knew that His mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture He said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to His lips. When Jesus had tasted it, He said, “It is finished!” Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:28-30

Good Friday.  What an unusual name for such a hard, hard day.  Imagine with me as slowly the light increased over Jerusalem.  It was another early morning in spring and men were going to die.  The Romans regularly crucified criminals–it was business as usual for them.  But this day, well this day, would be different.  Three men would die on crosses–two criminals and one perfect human being.  His name was Jesus.

As the light increased so did the sounds.  If you had been there you would have heard the sounds of a crowd–a mob really.  Some were crying, some shouting, some angry, some broken.  You would have heard the sounds of struggle–anguish as a man carried a cross too big for even the healthiest of men.  At the top of a stark hill the sounds intensified.

You could hear without trying the sound of metal on metal as hammer meets nail.  Cries of humanity suffering as three crosses are lifted skyward.  The message was clear.  You don’t mess with Rome.  Scattered around are the sounds of women crying and men in anguish.  Stares of disbelief filled the eyes of many.  Listen now–there are words.

The Man in the middle–the perfect One–is speaking and what He says is almost beyond belief. “Father, forgive them.  They don’t know what they are doing.”  Forgive them? —Forgive the very ones who passed the judgement–who drove the nails–who lifted the cross? Wait, for there is more.  One of the criminals is mocking Him but the other is begging Him.  “Remember me,” he says.  And Jesus responds “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.”

There are more words.  Lean in–strain to hear. The Man in the middle–the perfect One–is asking His friend John to take care of His mother.  And then there is the cry of brokenness as He cries, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”  He knows why.  The Man in the middle–the perfect One–has become sin and His Father can’t look on sin.  There’s a price being paid, and it involves wrath and death.  And He is willingly paying it.

As His end draws near a silence begins to fall over the hill.  The women are cried out, the soldiers are bored, and the crowd confused.  And then they all hear it.  “Tetelestai.” It’s a common word really.  It means finished.  An artist would say it when the last stroke is applied to a masterpiece.  A carpenter would say it when the last peg is driven in a newly built table. A farmer would say it when the last sheave of wheat is harvested.  But when the Man in the middle–the perfect One–says those words, everything changes.

“It is finished.”  The mission is accomplished. The price for sin has been paid and atoned for.  The wrath of God for sin is satisfied.  What justice demanded He has paid. And what He promised the criminal becomes a reality for any person. My sins, your sins, our sins, can be forgiven and you can be with me in heaven.

So, then He dies.  Actually, He wills himself to die for no one could take the life of the Man in the middle–the perfect One.  He could give it, but they could not take it.  Rocks crack, thunder rolls and then in the distance a tearing, ripping sound is heard as the massive curtain separating man from Holy God is torn from top to bottom and God–God hangs out the welcome sign for the first time ever.  And it’s all because of the Man in the middle–the perfect One.

In any other story that would be the end, but you see it’s only Friday.  The final act is coming on Sunday. Friday ended with His followers discouraged, defeated, and afraid. Maybe like some of us. But if you lean in again…if you listen closely…you can hear the Father saying, “Rest in Me. Wait till Sunday.  I’ve got this.”  And…He does.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Thursday To-Do List

“As you go into the city,” He told them, “you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with My disciples at your house.’ ” Matthew 26:18

Well, it is Thursday.  Several years ago, something happened that changed the way I do business—do life.  I’ve done the pastor thing now for almost four decades.  Even as I write that, it seems hard to believe.  Anyway, there were a couple of things that pastors do that I never quite got the hang of.  First, they always carried a little calendar.  You would ask them a question and they would say, “Let me check my calendar.”  You would tell them you were having open heart surgery a week from next Friday and they would say, “Let me put that on my calendar.”  There was a problem.  Try as I may I never could get into the calendar thing.  It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to remember important dates—I just couldn’t remember to grab the thing when I left the house in the morning.  And honestly, I didn’t like having it stuffed into my pocket.

I hate to admit this, but it was the same deal with a pocket Bible.  Every pastor seemed to always have a little Bible stuck in their pocket. Not me.  It just didn’t work.  I mean I loved the Bible, but it just didn’t work.  Well, the solution for both of these lapses occurred kinda together.  First, along came the smart phone.  The smart phone is a little computer that you can easily carry.  Nice and flat, it can be stuffed to the gills with information, but it never feels bulky.  It wasn’t long after the advent of the smart phone that you could read the Bible on the thing.  Boom!  Just like that I had a Bible when I needed it.  It got better.

A couple of years later a friend introduced me to my new best friend—gmail and their calendar.  All of a sudden, I could pull out my trusty phone and not only check my calendar but quickly add things to my calendar.  It was a big deal.  It was a game changer deal.  Now I am not one of those folks who are “married” to their phone—in other words there are times when I forget it.  If I do, I kindly ask the person to shoot me a text and when I get to my phone there is a reminder to add what I needed to add.

So, being somewhat of an organized person, these tools were a great help.  I like knowing where I am going and when I am supposed to be there.  Somethings I don’t need to put on the calendar…I just know to do them.  They become part of my “to-do” list.  Thursdays are study days for the next week’s message, finalizing the worship event in the YouVersion Bible app, making some visits and a host of other small administrative details.  It is a catchup day.  As days of the week go…Thursday is usually a lighter day but of course as a pastor that can change quickly—very quickly.

I wonder if Jesus kept a “to-do” list.  I know—probably not.  But if He did, I wonder what it would look like.  In one sense it would be short—love God—love people.  But in another sense, it would be long as He was always doing something, and it was always what His Father wanted. Thursdays might have been one of His lighter days too.  But not this Thursday—not the Thursday before He died on a Roman cross on Friday.  That Thursday, the Thursday we celebrate today, was jam packed with incredible things.

His list would include celebrating Passover, His last Passover, with His closest friends in an upper room.  That was a must.  He also designed and planned an event that we call “The Last Supper,” “The Lord’s Supper,” or “Communion.”  He needed to give His followers something to help them understand what was about to happen and then remember it—forever.  Oh, and then He did something kinda unusual—He washed everyone’s feet.  Boy, that was a big one.  He did it to teach them, and us, about humility and service. He wasn’t done yet. In fact, there wasn’t an end to Thursday—it just bled over into Friday.

There was an important prayer meeting in a garden where only a few were invited.  He needed to talk to His Father about Friday.  He invited His friends along to help, but they were tired so He had to go it alone.  That would happen a lot as Thursday became Friday.  His “to-do” list also included healing someone’s whacked off ear and being arrested.  It also included that awful feeling of desertion when all of His friends left Him. And then, somewhere in the darkness, Thursday became Friday.

I know it isn’t possible for us to fully understand what those days were like for Jesus.  We do need to remember, though, that He experienced them as God but also as a man—a man who knew spiritually, emotionally, and physically where it was going.  And, amazingly, He did it willingly and He did it knowing the cost.  So today, as we walk our Thursday, let’s remember His Thursday and be grateful. He was a Man of details—of destiny.  He told them, “As you go into the city, you will see a certain man. Tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time has come, and I will eat the Passover meal with My disciples at your house.’ ” Yes, a Man of destiny—a Man of details.  A God-Man who had that—and who’s got this—no matter what that may be.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

It’s Wednesday

For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

It’s Wednesday…not just Wednesday but Wednesday as in two days before you die.  Not just die, but die what the Romans called the death of deaths.  Not just die, but die a death so horrible it was outlawed for Roman citizens.  So, if you knew Friday was coming, what would your Wednesday be like?  What would your attitude be like?

The scriptures don’t actually say, “On Wednesday before Jesus died on Friday Jesus got up and did this or that.”  We do know this.  His actions were not dominated or determined by dread or fear.  His actions were governed by His desire to please His Father and driven by His love for us.  He wanted to please the Father and He wanted to save us.  Let that soak in.  He wanted to save us.

Jesus knew the full awfulness of the cross.  He understood the awfulness of experiencing the wrath of His Father for our sins.  In John 12:27-28, He says, “Now My soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” He understood that if He was rescued there could not be a rescue or redemption for us and without redemption, you and I are burnt toast.

So, what did He do?  The author of Hebrews gives us a glimpse.  He says, “For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Do you see it? “For the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross…”  Jesus handled the awfulness of the cross by looking beyond the awfulness to a time when He would be returned to His rightful place in heaven right beside His Father. He handled the present by looking to eternity.

That is really good advice for these days—actually, for any day.  We can be shortsighted and only see the craziness around us or we can look toward better days.  Now I want you to track with me. Many of those better days we dreamed about last year are already here.  Last year we mourned that we couldn’t worship together on Palm Sunday and Easter.  Last Sunday we did and this Sunday, Lord willing, we will.   Yay.  Last year we were longing to minister and serve others as a church family. This year we are or at least we can. And just like these things came to pass, so will the others.  We will have jobs again. We will have family parties again. The Cubs will win the series again.  Well, let’s not stretch it.  But you get the idea.

And by the way, one day, if we place our faith in Christ, we will have a reserved seat in the longest, greatest celebration of all–heaven.  None of the earth junk will be there. In fact, according to Revelation 21:4 “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.” Wow–no grief, crying, pain, or death.  No funeral homes, nursing homes, hospitals, prisons, fear or any number of things that give us gray hair or no hair.

So, some of the better days are here and many more are coming–some sooner–some later.  And the same thing that got Jesus through can help us get through–the joy set before us.  We learned in a message recently that Biblical joy can be defined as “a deep sense of well-being based on our faith in God and trust in His sovereign will.”

As we trust Him the fear fades, the sun rises, and we can face today, and tomorrow. In fact, we not only can face it–we can embrace it with the confident assurance He is in control. Knowing that–rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Rubicon

Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want Your will to be done, not Mine.” Luke 22:42

It was a Saturday morning, and it was my rubicon. I was reading an email this morning and it used this word—rubicon.  I had seen the word many times plastered on the side of a special edition Jeep and that is why the email and this word grabbed my attention.  I wondered, “What does it mean?”  Well, as it turns out there are two definitions but the one that mattered to me was this:  a point of no return.”  I guess for the Jeep owners it means that their Jeep is designed to go to and past that point.  In the email it meant more.  It meant that Jesus was willing to go past His rubicon—His point of no return—even though He knew what that meant.

Back in 2018, I had a rubicon of another sort.  Back in those days, I was walking 5.25 miles a day at a pretty brisk clip.  It really was quite an accomplishment as I had been doing it for many months.  But something was happening.  In October of that year, it was just getting harder.  I had put on a few pounds and I was sure that was the reason.  Each day I would arrive back to the house exhausted, my heart rate a bit higher than it had been running and worse—it wasn’t coming down.  I would walk five days a week and each day was the same—hard.  Then came Saturday.

Saturday, October 6th, I reached my rubicon…my point of no return.  After my walk I literally collapsed in a chair in my backyard.  A guest staying in our Airbnb, who happened to be a resident medical student, asked what I was doing.  I told him I was trying to breath and then humorously added that he might want to stick around as I might need him.  Turned out I was a prophet.  That day, I ended up in the hospital and it turned out the following Tuesday, I had a heart cath where they discovered a 90% blockage in one of the arteries of my heart.  All of a sudden, things began to make sense.

You see, the high heart rate and the shortness of breath were symptoms that something was wrong.  Each morning, my body was sending me a message—something is wrong—something is coming—-do something.  I am sure the Tuesday before my rubicon was like this Tuesday morning, a normal day.  I am sure that day I got the warning message and that day I excused it away.  But what if I had known?  What if I had known that Saturday, I would reach a point where going was not an option.  Would it have changed things?  Honesty, it probably would have…but I ignored the warnings.

This week, as we look forward to Easter, the resurrection of Jesus, think about the fact that all the signs were there.  Jesus, as the Son of God, knew His rubicon had come.  It was time to fulfill the mission for which He was sent.  It was time for Him to suffer and to die.  Unlike me, He knew what was coming and pressed on.  The reason was simple.  It wasn’t that He loved the thought of enduring the abuse and suffering of the cross and the events leading up to it—no not at all.  But He was in love with something else—us.

Jesus knew full well all of the details of His rubicon and went on because He loved us.  It was love that led Him to cross—it was love that caused Him to place one foot in front of the other—each one leading to a Roman execution. It was love that caused Him to go all the way.  Growing up,  when I did something that had difficult consequences, my mama would tell me that I should have known better.  Jesus knew better—and went anyway.

This week, ponder and think about the days leading to the day when Jesus died—His rubicon.  Remember that He did it for me and He did it for you.  When He prayed in the garden Thursday night that if there was any way this thing might pass—He knew full well it couldn’t.  That is the reason He kept on praying, “nevertheless, not My will Your will be done.”  In other words, He would say, “bring on the rubicon because that is why I came.”

If your week, this week has any unpleasantness or difficulties, just remember the week when He marched forward knowing full well what lay ahead—and remember He did it just so you and I could call God, Abba Father or Dearest Daddy.  How amazing is that? He was able to do it because He trusted and loved His Father.  And we can do it for the same reason.  No matter what, we have the confident assurance that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

The Last Part-The Best Part

“Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” John 31:1

Some of you might remember Paul Harvey.  He was a radio commentator for many years and was particularly famous for his “rest of the story” stories.  He would tell a somewhat familiar tale and then add a surprise ending to it and conclude with, “And now you know the rest of the story.”

Well, you might remember a story I wrote several days ago. Elisha and his servant were surrounded by the bad guys and from the servant’s perspective, it wasn’t going to end well.  Elisha asked God to open the servant’s eyes so he could see what was going on.  God did and the servant saw that the hills were surrounded with heavenly warriors and chariots of fire.  Things got better…quick.

So, the bad guys came down upon the city and Elisha prayed that God would smite them with blindness and boom–He did.  It sounds almost comical, but Elisha basically tells them, “You guys are lost…let me lead you to where you need to be.”  He leads them smack dab into the middle of Samaria…the Israelites’ stronghold.  And that’s where the rest of the story gets amazing.

Elisha then prays for the bad guys’ eyes to be opened and just like that—they were.  They took one look around and realized they were in very deep weeds. The Israelite king saw an opportunity and said to Elisha, “Can I kill them, can I kill them?”  I love this.  Elisha said, “No, you can’t kill them…that’s not what you do to people who surrender.  What you can do is give them something to eat and drink and let them go.”  I’m sure the king’s jaw hit the ground.  The “let’s kill them” plan sure sounded better.

Well, he fed them and let them go. Guess what?  We’ll let the Bible tell the end of the story.  In 2 Kings 6:23 we read, “So the king prepared a great feast for them, and after they had finished eating and drinking, he sent them away, and they returned to their master. Then the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.” Did you get that?  The bad guys weren’t the bad guys anymore. A little kindness changed the whole story. How about that?

If the king had killed them, there would have been revenge. They would have attacked and then the king would have attacked and on and on it would have gone.  But instead, a simple act of kindness broke the domino effect.  Instead of war there was relief–and peace.  In days when sides are still being chosen and tempers still flare—when hate and division are the new headlines and bylines—when no one trusts anyone—we Christ followers can and should be different.  We should be givers more than takers.  We should be lovers and not haters.  We should be like Jesus.

The Bible says in John 13:1 “Before the Passover Festival, Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Those “ones” He loved–included the guy who would betray Him to the crucifiers.  It included the one who would deny that he even knew Him.  How amazing is that? We can’t really do much about how people act, but we can do a lot about how we respond to them.  If the dominos are going to be interrupted, it will have to be us. The chain reaction is broken when we act like the One who chose not to retaliate but rather to redeem—to restore.

Some days it seems that a too short fuse has been lit and there is not time or hope to stop the future devastation. Let me challenge us today—during these crazy days that are getting crazier by the minute—to do the crazy thing and love, serve and care for others. Let me challenge us to be like Jesus.

How can we do that?  Well, first, as Jesus followers we are God’s kids and that is what He expects us to do. Jesus said we should be peacemakers—whether it is on the street, in the church, or at home.  Second—we can trust Him.  We can rest in Him because we know the end of the story—and it ends well—and no circumstance, no ploy of Hell can change that.  Third—remember, He’s got this—He really does.  Whether it is a resurgence of the virus or another revolting piece of news.  God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.  Sounds like a no brainer to me.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Stinking Allergies

For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.”  Romans 6:14

It’s just about to drive me nuts.  For as long as I can remember, I have had to deal with allergies.  From the days of running the woods in Northeast Florida as a kid to now, stuff in the air drives me bonkers.  I can well remember the days in my early twenties when the only weapon I had to fight the battle with was some nose spray.  And the crazy part of that is if you use it too often and too long, it actually makes matters worse.

In the earlier days, my main issue was the fall.  There is this crazy plant called ragweed and when it starts to bloom, I start to suffer.  Itchy eyes, clogged nasal passages, and a sneeze that sounds like a chihuahua chasing their tail and wound way too tight.  Oh, and I don’t sneeze once—try six to eight times.  In this COVID mess this has been a real issue because people think I am coughing instead of sneezing, so they give you the death stare and then run.

About a zillion years ago, I discovered something called Flonase that changed my life.  It is a nasal steroid that tricks your nose and eyes into believing that there is nothing in the air.  It was a game changer and I have used it probably for 30 years or more.  Wow, it sure made fall easier.  I might still have some symptoms but at least it was tolerable. Well, about five years ago, something happened.  I started having the same symptoms in the spring too.  They weren’t as bad, and the Flonase keep everything in balance.  All that was true until this year.

As spring began to spring, my allergies started acting up, first in a little way and then in a big way.  Today they are acting in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” way.  So, when I started sounding like an overactive chihuahua I just start using my medicine.  For some reason, this spring, it didn’t work like before.  Now for the last couple of days, I have been sneezing and my eyes have been itching like crazy.  I went to the store yesterday and brought some drops but so far, well, we are still at war.

All of this is so crazy.  Some stuff from some plant is doing something to the lining of my sinuses causing them to go nuts and I end up in misery.  I mean, first, I did nothing to the stinking plants and second, what’s up with my hypersensitive sinuses.  Something that I can’t even see is making me pretty miserable.  I know, I should think positive but when you want to take your eyeballs out so you can scratch them better, it is hard to be positive.  And then I know you aren’t supposed to put your fingers in your eyes, but it feels so good to scratch them.  Oh, my goodness.

You know, I wonder what if sin (you know the things that God says we shouldn’t do) was as irritating as whatever it is that is driving me nuts?  What if it bothered me to the point that I would do anything to stop?  I do believe my life would be better…I know my life would be better.  But the problem with sin is the fact we like it way too much.  To many of us, it’s like the satisfaction I feel when I scratch my eyes or sneeze for the eighth time.  It feels better…it feels good.  But mark this down.  There are consequences.

Sneeze eight times with your eyes closed while driving and you end up running a red light or running into a ditch.  Bummer.  Scratch your eyes too often and you end up with an eye inflection or scratching something like whatever it is that makes your eyes work in the first place.  Regardless—you end up in a mess.  The best thing to do is what I am going to do.  I am gonna call my eye doctor friend.  I’m gonna ask her if there is anything, she can prescribe for me that will stop this infernal itching.  I’m gonna ask for help.  If there is anything that can be done, she will know and she will help.  She is my doctor, but she is also my friend.

It is the same way with this sin thing.  We need to call the sin doctor and that would be Jesus.  He knows all about sin—how to beat it—how to subdue it, and how to avoid all those nasty consequences.  He died so that sin wouldn’t win, and He is more than willing to help us, if we ask.  His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin but He also gives us victory over the sneezing and itchy eyes part of sin—the day-to-day messiness of sin.  He gives us sin relief and I love that.

Paul, one of the main writers of the New Testament part of the Bible says that sin (along with all its messy consequences) does not have to rule over us—because we are not under the “thou shalt not’s” but under grace—God’s unlimited and unmerited favor.  And because of that, sin doesn’t have free-rein—so long consequences, you know, like too many sneezes and itchy eyes.  That sounds like good news to me.

Just know that if you hear something that sounds like an overactive chihuahua or see some guy with red eyes, don’t worry it is probably just me going nuts.  But remember, and this is the take-away, there is Someone who can handle your sin issues and that Someone is Jesus.  He loves you a lot—so much He died for you.  And whatever your issue is, you can take this to the bank, He’s got this, too.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Bare Shelves and a Faithful God

So don’t  worry, saying, What will we eat or What will we drink? or What will we wear? For the [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”  Matthew 6:31-32

One of the things (among at least two billion) that was weird about last year was the various shortages that we experienced. Some were expected and some were not. It really was a strange sensation to go to the store and find everyday things not there every day. It seemed like the land of plenty had become something else.

I’m not much for going grocery shopping and that is probably a real paradox. I really like food–we are great friends–just not buying and preparing it. I remember sometime last year Judy and I went to the park for a walk (good idea–walk with your wife…she cooks food) and then I agreed to go with her to Wal-Mart to get a few items.


So, we get to the store and there was in fact plenty of food there. For sure some items were sold out (toilet paper—remember that? Still have a supply stashed?) but others were plenteous. The cookie isle was hard hit but strangely the broccoli wasn’t. But the shocker was when I got to the bread isle it was empty…bare. For a southern boy who was raised to believe that bread is its own food group, well, that was a crisis of Biblical proportions.


It made me think about the children of Israel and their trips to the grocery store. For forty years they would walk outside the camp and there all around them were little mounds of manna. The Bible describes manna as small, round and sweet (Krispy Kreme’s?) and it was always there. Never a time did they go out when the store was open (it was closed for the Sabbath) and the shelf was bare.


God was teaching them—and us—something. They couldn’t hoard (can someone say toilet paper?) because God told them to go out every day and get one day’s supply. The only exception was the day before the Sabbath when they could get two. And every day they went and there were the “Krispy Kreme’s” all around and they would pick them up and God would say, “I am good, I am faithful and I can be trusted.”

Day after day, week after week, month after month–“I am good, I am faithful and I can be trusted.” Never a bare shelf, never a failure to deliver, never an oops. Can you imagine? If you are a Jesus follower I think we can and should. We may not have manna laying around today but we do have the faithfulness of that same God. He takes care of His kids. You can bank on it.


Jesus talked about this in the Bible when He said, “So don’t worry, saying, What will we eat? or What will we drink? or What will we wear? For [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Let that soak in.  We don’t have to worry because we have a Dearest Daddy who loves us and cares for us.  Period.


So, as we reflect on last year, and look forward to the days to come, we can rest in the blessed assurance that God will be there. We need to remember every time there is a need met or a blessing given, to say, “Thank You, Father.” And slowly but surely, we will learn the valuable lesson of God’s faithfulness. God is good. God is faithful. God can be trusted. He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Overcomer

You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

2020 in too many ways was a monster—perhaps a cookie monster.  It seemed to take so many of the things that were precious to us and just consumed them.  One minute they were there and the next…they were gone.  Like Cookie Monster it crunched and munched its way through the calendar and our lives declaring, “Me like cookies.”

As the year progressed we struggled, pushed, and pulled, but we must not lose sight of what we learned.  We learned things about ourselves and we learned things about God.  We stopped just reading about faith or listening to some preacher tell us about it and we were given opportunities to taste it, to experience it.  Keep in mind that kind of learning can only happen in situations that we can’t handle.  It can only happen in darkness.  But it is then that we get to see  the dawn coming.  We get to see what He saw.

The man woke up early…just as dark was turning to dawn.  He quietly stirred so as not to disturb his master, Elisha.  It was then that he heard them.  “Them” were masses of horses and warriors lining the surrounding hills.  It’s wasn’t going to be a good day.

Day after day, we awoke to a world and the sounds of warriors and horses were louder and closer than the day before as COVID stopped being something that was happening on the national news. Slowly it inched its way nearer, first, in nearby counties and then even closer. Perhaps you felt the fear creeping into the pit of your stomach…again…and again.  You asked, “What can I do?”  Now the question is “How did we do?”

Well our friend shakes his master out of a deep sleep.  The Word of God records it like this in 2 Kings 6:15 “When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked. What.Shall.We.Do.

Did you ask that question last year? Recently? This morning?  Well, welcome to normal.  The best part is there is a great answer coming.  Elisha, in 2 Kings 6:16, says “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

“Calm down, friend” Elisha said because the odds are on our side.  Well the servant did the math and it looked like a zillion to two.  Hmmm.  So, do you find yourself doing the math and no matter how you rewrite the equation it doesn’t look good?

Well get ready because something is about to change.  In verse 17 the Word says, “And Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

And boom, just like that everything changed.  When he could see clearly it was clear that the odds were in their favor and the fear eased and the panic fled and well, it was gonna be a better day. 1 John 4:4 puts it this way, “You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

That was true then and it is true now.  Yes, we had enough stuff in 2020 to cause the strongest knees to knock.  The enemy was great but our God was and is greater. Yes, the carnage of 2020 scars the landscape but the virus, the division, the economic and emotional eruption was and is no match for our God. He is bigger…by a lot.  Ask God to open your eyes so you can see what the odds really were and are–and feel the fear ease and the panic flee.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne