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 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, 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 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, food, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Mushroom

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

Her name was Mushroom, and she was a hoot.  The other morning on our way to a pastor’s conference, my wife Judy and I decided to eat at a Waffle House (WH).  Now, I need to be honest and tell you that for no apparent reason, WH has never been on my list of places to eat.  I think it probably is some sort of prejudice from my days as a teenager when I formed some sort of opinion (based on nothing, I am sure) that it wasn’t my kind of place.  So, I very rarely, ever went.  It has probably been 25 years since I ate at one.  And, then just like that, there I was.

The WH was next door to our hotel where we stayed so it made logical sense.  We made our way through the flower bed and into the WH parking lot and right into the front door.  It was a “sit where you want” kinda place and we found a booth in the corner.  A few minutes later, Mushroom came over to serve us.  I’m not sure the 26 letters in our English alphabet can adequately describe her…but let me try.  She was funny.  There you go—that’s all you need to know.  If you get Grits with a picture (some don’t) that is her in the picture, (yes, we have her permission). The mask she is wearing is supposed to be Santa Claus but I’m not sure there was a likeness.

As she asks what we want to drink and, in the process, Judy and I strike up a conversation with her.  So, Judy said something like, “How are you doing?”  Mushroom (and yes that was her name) said she was having a real bad morning.  One of us asked her why and she indicated that she had had a really, bad dream the night before.  Well, I just asked her, “What kind of dream did you have?”  And she said, “Well, I dreamed I was in a muffler shop and I woke up exhausted.”  Right there on the spot, two things happened.  One, I died laughing (I love corny jokes) and two, I liked Mushroom and started liking WH.

Well, everything she said from that point on was corny.  She turned our order in and then would occasionally stop by and make us laugh again.  I asked her about her name, and she said it was indeed Mushroom. I’m not sure if it was her given name, or one she picked but it sure seemed to fit. She went on to say that she had a twin brother named Rick (I assume it was another joke, but it wasn’t) and he was a pastor and very sick with COVID.  She asked us to pray for him and I told her we would when we blessed the food.

She stopped by again a little later and she shared she liked to sing and then right there and then, she broke into an old hymn which Judy and I quickly recognized.  Mushroom turned out to be the highlight of our day.  She was a breath of fresh air in a world that has forgotten how to breathe.  Oh, and by the way, the food was awesome.  Eggs, sunny side up, awesome grits swimming in butter, salt and pepper, three strips of soft bacon and, of course, a waffle (with sugar free syrup, thank you) and it was just plain ole good.

So that day I believe I learned a couple of good lessons.  First, don’t let an old, unfounded prejudice keep you from trying something like WH. If I had, I would have missed meeting Mushroom and I would have missed a good breakfast.  Second, there are a lot of great people out in the world and Mushroom was one of those.  While I didn’t ask her directly (or did I?), Mushroom was a sister that I had not yet met, and I was glad that we bumped into each other.  I’m a fan of that verse in the Bible where Paul reminds us that we are created by God and that we are masterpieces of His, created to do the good works that He has planned for us.

Not all masterpieces look alike.  Some look like the Mona Lisa and some look like a Picasso on a not so good day.  Regardless, God is fond of His kids…very fond.  We all know the verse—the one that says He loved the world enough to send His Son to a Roman cross. I am always amazed about that measure of love—totally undeserved and unwarranted.  And I’m glad that God didn’t make everyone just like me, or you for that matter.  I’m glad He put a few Mushrooms in the mix because they sure make life interesting.  As you journey today, keep your eye out just in case God decides to send someone special your way.  I’m glad He and Mushroom have a sense of humor because we all need a good laugh.  Even in a difficult world, we can find a reason to sing, and laugh because…He’s got this.  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 Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Divine Interruptions

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have to admit I chuckle every time it happens.  At the church where I work, I have an office and I spend a lot of hours there.  I have an iMac computer and a desk and we are good friends.  It is there that most of the sermons that God gives me to share with our church are born.  And believe it or not, that is what I do.  I do check email and I may even occasionally check BestBuy.com for some gadget but the bottom line is I craft sermons, build the worship event for each week’s message, create the sermon video and sometimes write stories.

It is not too uncommon for there to be a knock on my door and someone will stick their head in and say, “Are you busy?”  That’s when I chuckle.  I mean, I think that is what I am supposed to be—busy.  I really do appreciate their kindness but each time it strikes me as funny.  Sometimes when I get home from work, I will ask my wife Judy, “Did you get this or that done today?”  If she didn’t get it done, she will respond with something like, “Oh, you know me, I just watched tv and ate bon-tons.”  We both laugh because we both know she stays plenty busy.

When people do knock on the door I am usually glad for the interruption.  Without knowing it, I can sit there for a couple of hours and not even realize it.  So most times I do need a break…I need an interruption. Need.An.Interruption. That is true when I am working at the office and it is true in my life—in our lives.

Francis Chan said, “God, interrupt whatever we are doing so that we can  join You in what You’re doing.”  I like that…a lot.  I am certain that last year’s hot mess and its overflow into this year was a big interruption in our lives. Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it.

But what if…what if…God was up to something?  What if He has a plan and all-of-this is part of that plan?  Do we have the faith to trust Him and believe that He is in fact working things for His glory and our good?

Well, here’s the deal.  He does indeed have a plan and He is working that plan.  While the corona virus and all of its ripples are part of our broken world–we serve a God that from the get-go has been bringing rescue and redemption to that broken world.  The events of last year and this year are a story that will take months and maybe years to be fully written but I know the end. God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was true for the nation of Israel and it is true for us. I believe God is up to something bigger than we can imagine.  The best is yet to come.  The question though is “Will we be open to receiving it and ready for it when it comes?”

That’s a big question.  Maybe we should pause and pray, “God I want you to know that I am willing to trust You in this interruption of my normal.  I am willing to trust You, that You have a plan for me..for us… not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future.  Give me the faith and the patience to wait on You.  In Jesus name. Amen.”  Now that is a prayer He likes to answer.  God bless you today.  Rest in Him…because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne .

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, life, Military memories, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Mr. Bowlen

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

It was a long, hard day.  When my wife and I lived in Warrensburg, Missouri we were renting a home in a still developing subdivision called Valley View.  We were just back from a three-year USAF stay in Germany, still newlyweds with only four years under our belt, and with a newly hatched dream.  While we loved the house we were renting, we, like so many, dreamed of owning our own home.  It was a crazy time economically as interest rates were running about 18 percent and inflation was at a record rate. And then a window opened.

The developer of our subdivision was a rough around the edges man named Mr. Bowlen.  We bumped into him around the neighborhood as he was still building houses. He planted a thought in our minds and hearts.  He said the government had a program that might allow us to build a house.  They would pay half the interest.  Well compared to eighteen percent, nine sounded pretty enticing. And before we knew, we were approved and a piece of land on Hilltop Drive had our name on it.  He let us add a few things like a bay window and a fireplace in the basement.  It added a bit to the bottom line, but they were worth it.

I’m still not sure if this was a wise financial decision for us.  It ended ok, and that’s another story, but it did cause some financial tension.  To help, he suggested I do some work equity and let me tell you…it was hard work.  I ended up doing all the painting and staining inside and out.  And for a guy who had never done anything like that—it was a challenge.  That’s another story, too.  There was also another opportunity to help with the financial tension.

Mr. Bowlen told me that he would be willing to let me work for him on Saturdays doing some basic labor.  He then said he would pay me $15.00 per hour.  Now that was good money back in 1983 so I agreed although I was way out of my comfort zone.  To set the stage, I was in the Air Force, that was my day job, I was pastoring a small church for a whopping $50 a week, that was my Sunday job, and now I was going to work for Mr. Bowlen on Saturdays.  Like I said…it was way out of my comfort zone.  So, Saturday came.

The work site was just down from our rental house, so I just walked over.  It was early in the morning and we were going to be putting up metal (as in heavy metal) forms to pour a basement for another house.  We had to lift the forms in place and hammer pins in place to hold it all together.  Well, besides dropping my hammer one time inside the forms, things went pretty well.  We called it a day about 4:00 pm…just in time for me to get home and start trying to write a sermon for the next day.  I was exhausted.  I bet that was at least one short sermon!

So, the next week I bumped into Mr. Bowlen and he had a check for me.  Finally, the fruit of my labor that Saturday was in my hands.  Based on his comment about $15.00 per hour and eight hours of labor, I was expecting a check for around a hundred dollars. Instead, I found a check for forty dollars and some change.  I was, uh, shocked.  I said, “Mr. Bowlen is this right?” He assured me that it was, and I said, “I thought you were paying $15.00 an hour.”  He chuckled and said, “Oh, I was only kidding about that.  We pay laborers $5.00 an hour.”  I wasn’t laughing.  In fact, as much as I liked him, I felt betrayed—ripped off.  From my view, one thing was promised, and another given. And that was my first and only Saturday working for Mr. Bowlen.

Betrayed and ripped off.  Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt that way about another person?  Have you ever felt that way…about God?  Because people are broken and imperfect, just like us, there is a measure of understanding. It doesn’t make it any less painful but at least it sometimes softens the blow.  But what about God?  What about when it seems God doesn’t keep His Word?  That’s a tough one.

What I have learned over my years as a Jesus follower, and as a pastor, that when it seems we feel betrayed or ripped off by God it is because we have misread or misapplied His Word.  You see, His Word is full of promises, but we need to make sure that the promises were made to us and for us.  We can’t claim promises that were made to another person or group of people.  God made promises to Abraham that just aren’t ours to claim.

Too often, unfortunately, preachers, teachers, and ordinary people make promises on God’s behalf that God never intended or said.  And, when they don’t come true, well, we blame God and that is not right or fair.  I’ve been a Jesus follower for 45 years now, and I can tell you one thing—He has never failed me or failed to keep His Word.  He is a promise keeping God—when the promise is mine.  No, I’ve not always liked how things turned out or His way of working something out, but I can say I’ve never felt betrayed or ripped off.  He is a good God who is good at being God.  You can trust Him.

Well, Mr. Bowlen’s little joke was a hard lesson for me to learn but it was a valuable one.  His heart was good, but his sense of humor was not.  I’m glad my Dearest Daddy, the God I can call Father, has a perfect heart and His will and plan for me is perfect.  I know no matter what I will face, His plan is for my good and His glory—and that is good enough.  I can face today knowing, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Easter, Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, thankful, wisdom

Resurrection

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection.” Philippians 3:10

Like it or not…it was time.  Every spring and summer, my wife and I are blessed to have one of the most beautiful yards on our street.  Some people say it is one of the most beautiful yards in town.  When we moved to 217 West Poplar Street, it was a blank canvas.  There were literally no flowers and no flowering trees.  Judy, who has a green thumb, over the years has made our yard into several beautiful gardens.  She plants it and it grows.

Well, every fall, as the temperatures fall, some things go to sleep and some things just die.  The perennials go to sleep to be awakened the next spring and the annuals die and will have to be replanted or reseeded. Fall and winter leave a carnage of dead stems, leaves, and blooms and before the perennials can be awakened, last year’s carnage needs to go.  There’s where I come in.  She is the “make it happen” person and I am the “cleanup the carnage” person.  So, every later winter or very early spring, I have my work cut out for me.

Last week, I would come home from work and select a section of the yard to cleanup.  Using my string trimmer (hey, don’t laugh…it works), my rake, my loppers, and a couple of other tools for good measure, I would wack, cut, trim and rake my way through each flower bed.  When I was done, I would have a pretty clean slate for the coming spring.  If you saw all this when I was done, it would look pretty empty.  You would think, “Nothing is gonna happen there.”  But you would be perfectly wrong.

You see, beneath the soil, all those perennials (plants that come back year after year) that have slept all winter, that for all practical purposes seemed dead, are about to spring (no pun intended) back to life.  Green sprouts will be pushing up everywhere.  Before long what was bare is filled with new life and what is filled with new life will soon be filled with the beautiful blooms of spring and summer.  It really is quite amazing.

Well, let me just tell you.  For five days, I went out, two or three hours a day and did my carnage removal thing.  And, at least for this guy whose job has him sitting at a desk studying, it was hard work.  My arms were tired, my shoulders ached, and I was thoroughly and completely—pooped.  Somewhere along the journey, I lost my vision. All I knew was I was tired and that there seemed to be no end to the carnage of last fall and winter.  But then it hit me, and my focus returned.

It wasn’t just work. It wasn’t just something that had to be done.  I was on a mission.  I was preparing for…resurrection.  My work for those five days, was a work with purpose.  As I cleared away the old, I was making way for the new.  And because of my faithfulness in late winter or early, early spring—the resurrection could happen.  Already, tiny green sprouts are breaking through the dirt and reminding me that my work was not in vain.  It has a purpose.

In a few weeks, we will be celebrating another resurrection and this one is the biggie.  We are going to celebrate the fact that two thousand years ago, a man—the God-man—willingly died on a Roman cross to pay the price for the sins of the entire world.  That day the sin for every man, woman, and child was atoned for, making it possible for those same people to have forgiveness, power to live this life, and live forever in heaven.  Anyone who is willing to believe and choose to follow Him can have the privilege of calling God—Father. But He didn’t just die.

See, anyone can die on a cross and claim anything.  Jesus didn’t stay dead—He physically, really and completely came back to life.  He resurrected and one of the reasons He did?  He did it to prove that He was Who He said He was and did what He said He would do. His death shouted, “I love you” and His resurrection shouted, “I am victorious over death.”  Wow.  So, here’s the deal. 

Remember I mentioned in a few weeks we were going to celebrate the “biggie?”  Well, this is what I was talking about.  And these weeks are like my time preparing the gardens for their resurrection.  These weeks are a time for us to prepare our hearts and minds for the big event—Resurrection Sunday.  The more I prepare the gardens for their resurrection, the bigger the celebration of life as they sprout and bloom.  And guess what?  It’s true with Easter.  The more we prepare, the bigger the celebration. Like Paul, said, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know [to celebrate] the power of His resurrection.”

Each evening after work I had to make a conscious decision to prepare the gardens for resurrection.  Wanting to, longing to, intending to, just wouldn’t cut the mustard.  It is time for us to prepare to celebrate His resurrection.  Wanting to, longing to, intending to, just won’t get the job done.  We have to decide to prepare—for the resurrection.  It’s a reason to celebrate you see because He lives—we too can live.  So, start today, get ready for the biggie—the resurrection of Jesus.  Need help in preparing? Not sure how? No problem.  The One who made it all possible is a great party planner.  Just ask Him.  He’s got that, too.  Bro. Dewayne