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

Three Days, Day Three

Catch the foxes for us—the little foxes that ruin the vineyards—for our vineyards are in bloom.” Song of Solomon 2:15

It seems that God has a sense of humor after all.  Day two was a bust.  As bad as I wanted and needed everything to go right…it went wrong.  Mornings are my most productive time and it quickly became obvious that Monday morning and afternoon were not going to be productive…except to fuel and feed my frustration.  None of the circumstances were life threatening, nor were they going to matter in eternity, and they weren’t going to change the world. However, they had left me wondering what was God up to.  I just missed the part that He had enrolled me in the school of faith.

Tuesday, day three of “Three Days” began better—not because anything had changed but maybe, just maybe I had.  I got up and prepared the usual way.  Coffee, check. God time, check. Breakfast, check. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the office and see what God had in mind.  Something told me it might be different. When I arrived at the office, made a cup of coffee—first priority—and restarted my Apple computer for what seemed like the twentieth time.  Hmmm. It seemed to be happier so naturally I was happier but happier doesn’t mean the problem was gone.  I still had to do the one thing that started this fiasco—updating the church digital sign. I decided to try something different.

About two months ago, I had installed the software that was supposed to talk to the sign on another computer but no matter what I did, it simply wouldn’t talk to the sign. I called the expert and no matter what he did it still wouldn’t talk to the sign.  We gave up and I turned it off…until that morning…the morning of day three.  Well, figuring I had nothing to lose, I turned the PC on, opened the sign talking software and guess what? They started talking.  Like two old friends they started chatting like nothing was ever wrong. And just like that the thing that I had worried and fretted over was in the rearview mirror.  Just like that the one thing that I really needed to do was, wait for it, possible.  I really couldn’t believe it.  There was no explanation but one.  God not only heals bodies and creates universes—He works on computers.

I hope you are smiling right now because when all this happened I was.  I wrote the computer expert guy and told him the problem was solved and I thought it was a miracle.  He agreed.  So the bottom line is God proved that He is concerned about the little things that cause frustration and stress. He also proved that even when we are wondering what “He did to us,” He quietly and mysteriously works for us. So the rest of the first part of day three I merrily pressed the keys and fed data to the church sign for all of December and January.  Yay.  It turns out that people won’t be wondering why the church sign is still wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving.

I am glad that God granted me these three days…even day two…the less than trophy day.  That frustrating day set me up to appreciate the miracle day.  God used my frustration from day two to fertilize and grow the wonder of day three. In frustration on day two I said, “God why did you do this to me?”  At the end of day three I was saying in gratitude, “God, why did you do this for me!” because I am sure I didn’t deserve it. I hope this made sense to you because it was pretty cool.  I learned once again that God is God and I am not and that He is good all the time and if I am willing to trust and wait, He is willing to see me through.

So, that is the story of the three days…three days that I am sure all of us at one time or another have both enjoyed and endured. It is a story of how it doesn’t always take a major disaster to derail us on the tracks of life.  Sometimes, too often, it is just the little things gone south.  Sometimes the little things are more difficult to manage that the monsters that ravage us.  It reminds me of one of those good verses in the Old Testament.  It says, remember, it isn’t the elephants but the little foxes that spoil the vines and the harvest. I’m just glad that He is a patient loving Father who doesn’t grow weary with my groans or my whines.  No, instead the Whisperer whispers, “It’s ok child, don’t worry, big or small, “I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials

Three Days Day Two

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Psalm 37:23-24”

I never saw it coming. Day one of “Three Days” was so awesome you would think that the day following a trophy day would be at least somewhat awesome, right?  Let me tell you that is not always the case.  If you read, “Three Days, Day One” you know that I my day job is being a pastor and one day recently, I and the church, had a “trophy Sunday.”  Now I need to be honest and let you know that not every Sunday qualifies as a “trophy Sunday.”  In fact, some of them can be pretty difficult but that’s not a deal because it just the way life is.  “Less than days” have nothing to do with where you work or what you do—it has to do with life.  Like I said in day one, when you have a really good day, put it on your trophy shelf so you can easily find it when you need a reminder that you are blessed.

Well, you know that Mondays always follow Sundays.  It is no accident that Mondays get a bad rap.  It just seems that if you are going to have a challenging day, Mondays get the call and in my case, that is exactly what happened.  So after the trophy day at church on Sunday, I bounded (slight overstatement there) out of bed about 4:10 am, ready to embrace the day.  Because it was Thanksgiving Week and because my wife Judy and I were taking a trip down south to see family, I only had two days in the office that week.  I expected and needed some productive time.  There were several things that just had to get done before I left but I was confident that I could get it done.  So, like a horse in the starting gate, I raced to the office…early.

When I got to the office, for fortification, I made a cup of coffee and then hit the spacebar on my computer and immediately noticed that it was a little slow to wake up. “Hmmm,” I said, wondering what was up with that. It did eventually start responding but things were just not right.  One of the things I had to get done was to update the electronic sign for our church.  To do that my Apple computer needed to talk to the sign which— speaks Windows—think EngIish and German. I have a program on my computer that is supposed to act like a translator but it was on strike. From there things just went downhill.  Not only was the Apple computer not speaking to the Windows sign, everything, and I mean everything,  just came to standstill.  No matter what I did, no matter how many times I restarted the computer, nothing helped. I watched the clock as my precious day slipped away through my idle hands.

Now, I believe in God.  I believe that God directs my day and my path.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible says, “The steps of a good (good as in God’s goodness) are directed by the Lord and it is He who directs His path.”  I know it and I believe it though my faith that particular day was sagging.  In fact, I left the office that day feeling just a little put off with God.  I mean didn’t He know I had to get this stuff done?  Didn’t He know I only had a little time to get a lot done?  Well, I finally just said to Him, “God why are you doing this to me.” I was frustrated and maybe, just maybe a little angry…if not at God at least the circumstances.  Looking back, I realized that I was having a little case of “spiritual amnesia.”

Spiritual amnesia?  Yup…it’s a real deal and I really had it.  You see, I had already forgotten the “trophy Sunday” and even forgot to revisit it to remind me of God being a good God.  I had forgotten that I believe that God directs and plans my day…meaning He had planned that day as an exercise of faith and trust…in Him.  I forgot it all and that was not fair to Him, my wife, Judy, who bore some of the brunt of my frustration and anybody else who happened to be close enough to feel and hear my frustration.  Are you getting the picture that Monday was not a “trophy day?” Ever had a day like that?  Trust me, I get it and I understand and so does our Dearest Daddy.

Well, that night, I sat down at my happy home computer and worked and watched how that same God that I had grumbled about multiplied my time and efforts and much of what I needed to get done, got done in just a couple of hours.  It was then that my “spiritual amnesia” fog began to clear.  It was then that I remembered that God doesn’t do things to people…He does things for people.  You see that non-trophy day was about learning—-I was in “God school” and He was teaching me things like faith, trust and patience.  I also remembered the rest of that favorite verse.  It says that even if I should stumble and fall, I will not stay down because He, God, will pick me up.  I may fall in the mud puddle of frustration but He loves me too much to leave me there.

So the day ended better than it started.  I went to bed that night with a feeling that no matter what tomorrow held, I would do what I could do and just leave the rest to Him.  I got out of bed, had my coffee and had a little talk with Him and He whispered to me that He would be with me that day and that no matter what He would not abandon me.  I knew that somehow the third day of “Three Days” was going to be ok and that what I write each day is indeed true, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, loving others, missions, prayer, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

Three Days, Day 1

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

They say that God works in mysterious ways.  Last week God showed up in three very different ways on three very different days.  Now if you aren’t a God follower you might write this off as chance and circumstance, but my life and faith journeys won’t let me do that.  Regardless, sit back and enjoy the story.

If you are a Grits reader you know that my day job is leading a church.  I am the senior pastor (by position and by age) at a local church so God plays a big part of my walkabout life—both at church and otherwise.  Well, it all started on Sunday.  It was a special day because we had a guest visiting our church who works in another part of the world.  She is a good friend of ours and our church.  We have visited her and served with her several times in another country. She shared about her work at a brunch we held and also some in our services. And it was so good.

Our worship services consist of two big parts—the music part and the Word part.  The Word part is when I get to share with the folks both in the room, on the radio, Facebook Live, and YouTube.  I love it…when it goes right. Smile.  Well, this particular day, the music part was just awesome, and the sermon came together in a way that only God could orchestrate.  He was good.

We also gathered our shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  If that doesn’t ring a bell just google it and you will discover one of the most purposeful things you can do to help kids and share the Good News of Jesus. Basically, you fill a shoebox with kid’s stuff, pray for that special child and then drop it off at a collection point.  Samaritan’s Purse will ship the box (about 12 million of them) around the world with the purpose of sharing the love of Jesus and making some child’s day.  It is awesome.  Well, that day we collected our boxes, all 519 of them, and the climax was our kids marching in carrying a bunch of filled boxes.  It was very good.

So, when I was giving some closing comments at the end of the service, I told the folks that this was a “trophy Sunday.” What I meant was that it was the kind of day that you put in the special part of your brain where you put memories that you don’t want to forget.  Just like a trophy reminds you of a special event, so that day was one we should keep safe because one day, someday, you just might need to be reminded that God is indeed good.

You see, not every day is a trophy day.  Not every day is going to be cloudless and sunny. There are going to be days that make you wonder “what in the world was God thinking?”  It may be one of those days when you think “how could a good God ever allow something like this happen?”  It may be one of those days that rub you wrong…like a cheap, scratchy wool sweater.  We all have them, don’t we?  When one rolls around, you simply go to your trophy shelf and remember that God is good and even that is bigger than it sounds.  You see God doesn’t just do good…He is good.  And that is true even when our world goes south.  And sometimes it will.

The biggest trophy on my trophy shelf is a bloodied, Roman cross.  It is where Jesus died a sacrificial death…not for His benefit but for ours.  His death that day paid the price for the sin, the messes, the brokenness of an entire world.  And God said if we would believe what He did and choose to follow Him, we could have His love on our trophy shelf forever.  I know in today’s world that sounds hokey but trust me, it is anything but.  Go ahead check it out, check Him out.  It is a trophy worth having. One of the best-known verses in the Bible is John 3:16. It simply says that God loved the lot of us—all of us—so much He allowed His only Son to die so that anyone who believed in Him, could live forever.  Like I said, check it out.  Hey, and watch Grits for the next couple of days for parts two and three of “Three Days.” It is a story that gives weight to the fact that, “He’s got this.” See you then. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Military memories, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Thanksgiving, travel, Trials

The Rock

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” James 1:17

The Rock.  If you talk to someone that has done “hard time” they will probably think you are talking about Alcatraz.  If you talk to someone who likes action movies, they will probably think you are talking about Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson.  But if you are talking to me or my wife Judy, then we will know you are talking about “the rock.”  It’s a long story.

Judy and I met and fell in love in short order.  I walked into her church one Wednesday night. I asked her out the next week and ever since then we have been a “we”.  We were together as much as possible—we wanted to be together as much as possible. Since my Daddy had passed away that summer, Mama decided to spend Thanksgiving with my brother Joe up in the mountains, and I was invited to come join them.  It was a deal because I really wanted to be with Judy, but I knew my place was with family and my Mama especially.  So, I went.  I told Judy I would miss her, and I would bring her something back from the mountains.

Now I’m known for doing crazy things—it’s just me. While in the mountains I tried to think of something to take to Judy.  It didn’t seem appropriate to take her a typical souvenir, so I got an idea.  I would take her part of the mountains. I went out and found a rock. It was about the size of a pumpkin roll…elongated and was even orange with white stripes. As Thanksgiving rocks go…it was a pretty, good one.  I washed it up and put it in the car.  Game. Set. Match.

I’m sure in the book of love etiquette there is a chapter on what to bring your love when you go to the mountains.  I am also sure if I had read that chapter a rock would not have made the cut.  But hey, I was inexperienced.  So, I get back to Valdosta where I was stationed in the Air Force and where Judy lived.  After the appropriate number of hugs and kisses I presented her with her gift.  She seemed thrilled and seemed to appreciate my thoughtfulness.  Please note the word seemed.

Time goes by.  We were married a while later and the rock made the trip from her parent’s house to our new apartment.  We later received orders to Germany and the rock made the trip with us.  When we came home from Germany and moved to our new duty assignment in Warrensburg, Missouri, the rock came with us. And on and on it went.  To the home we built in Warrensburg, to the little parsonage in LaMonte, where I had my first full-time pastorate, to Cobden, Illinois where we pastored for 14 years.  Finally, it came with us to Harrisburg. It was part of the family. It was more than a pet rock it was “the rock.”

About ten years ago, around 2010, somehow the topic of the rock came up. I was sharing how endeared I was to the rock—how important it was and then it happened.  Judy told me she never liked the rock.  She told me that she wasn’t thrilled all those years ago. She only pretended to be thrilled to make me happy.  The bottom line was the rock was just a rock.  Oh, the agony.  Oh, the pain. Oh the “you’ve got to be kidding me.”  Here I’ve been hauling this rock all over the world for nothing.  I knew I should have gotten her one of those Smoky Mountain snow globes!

Well, like a pet who’s forgotten how to be potty trained, the rock was moved to the yard. It was still special to me, so it now sits on the grave of one of my favorite pets.  Somehow that just seemed appropriate and if I were to move tomorrow—yes, the rock would go.  If nothing else, it is a monument on what not to bring the girl you love from the mountains.  I’m glad that God is better at gifts than I am.  It seems—no, it more than seems, that He always gets it right.

He talks a lot about gifts in His Book.  He loads us up day after day.  Every sunrise and sunset is a gift.  Every breath is a gift.  Every fall leaf that floats to the ground full of color is a gift.  We need to look and recognize all that He gives us.  James, one of Jesus’ half-brothers, wrote that every good gift, every perfect gift comes down from our Dearest Daddy.  He just loves to shower us with His best and He does it again and again.

Well, it was no accident that I brought a souvenir rock home that year, it was no accident it was orange with white stripes, and it was no accident that it is still with us. In fact, the word souvenir is from the French, meaning “a memento, keepsake, or a token of remembrance which a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it.” How about that! Still, I guess it wasn’t the right gift for her on that day. Today though, it was the right motivation to remind us of this year, above all years, to be grateful for a God, a Heavenly Father who is oh so generous to His kids.  Why not sit down today and make a list of all the things God has provided and all the needs He met?  Take your time…enjoy the moment and when you are done…read the list to Him and say “Thank-you, Father.”  And then for all the things that are bigger than you or for the things that just look like rocks, gratefully give them all to Him because, as always, He’s got this.     Bro. Dewayne

Posted in forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, love, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

Exhibit Now Open

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’m not much of an art fan but with that said, sometimes I am just amazed.  That amazement usually happens when I am watching one of several travel shows on PBS.  Invariably, wherever they are traveling they visit an art gallery.  And one thing is certain.  The art is as varied as the people who paint them.

To me it is hard to believe that Picasso and Rembrandt are both considered masters.  Both are held in high acclaim and yet they and their work are totally different.  Picasso’s later works, at least from this art critic, appear to have been drawn in a kindergarten classroom.  Amazingly he didn’t always paint this way.  In his early years he was a masterful realist in his work.  What happened?  I think he got bored and went artistically berserk.  And people now love it.  Notice that word “now” because “then” they didn’t. His masterpieces became masterpieces mostly after the master had died.

I frequently find myself thinking about how incredible it is that according to God…and because of God…you and I are a masterpiece…a true work of art.  In case you missed it, the scripture reference is Ephesians 2:10 “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.”  Isn’t that just an incredible thought that the God of the universe holds His children—you and me—in such high regard?

Now it is only because of God!  It certainly is not anything that we have done…not because of any of our own merit–it is just amazing grace. Sometimes people will say you are “a work of art” and you just know it isn’t exactly a compliment.  It is like Picasso’s work pictured above–not exactly a masterpiece—in my eyes anyway.  With apologies to his fans, I just can’t figure how he became famous for his artwork.  I know beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I’m just saying…

I know sometimes maybe our lives look more like a Picasso than a Rembrandt but just remember–often–beauty is in the eye of the beholder and in this case that is God.  When Jesus comes and gives us new life, we become this beautiful new creation.  The great part is that His opinion is the only one that matters.  It doesn’t matter what your spouse says, your kids say, or even what you say.  Nope, in Christ you are a masterpiece because God has declared you so.

One thing I know is that we must determine who we are going to listen to.  Will we listen to the worse critics of our life…those whose spiritual gift (they think) is demolition or the One who died for us?  Hmmmm….not too hard of a decision, is it? Why is all this so important? Because as we understand how God views us, we begin to live as the masterpiece we are.  We begin to live and understand that we are created in the image of Creator God, and He thinks very highly of us.

Not once has God ever taken a masterpiece off the wall of His gallery of grace and declared it unworthy or junk.  Never has, never will.  And the reason is simple.  We are who we are because of Whose we are.  We are what we are because He has made us so and He just doesn’t make mistakes.  So today, rest in the declaration of your Dearest Father that you, yes-you, warts and all, are a masterpiece.  Rest in the full assurance that even if your life looks like a Picasso, His grace can rearrange the squares and make you a Mona Lisa.  How? Because He’s got you and He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Where’s Brett?

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

It was a long time ago and, in a galaxy, far, far away or at least it seemed that way.  It was so long ago that the semi-local mall was still a mall with stores that were open.  Anyway, we were at Target to get a dining set for my daughter Jen and my almost son-in-law Matt as a shower gift.  When we found it, the box clearly said it was a “team lift” item.  Now what that means is that unless you are just dying to have a hernia, you need to have a person help you load the box. I wasn’t…so I did.

I followed the rules and called in the cavalry.  A young man with bigger muscles than me loaded the box while I watched—now that’s what I call teamwork.  So, with the box in the cart, off we went to the checkout area.  When we got there, I wisely asked for some help loading the box into my car.  The young man checking us out called for help and his supervisor came and took over the register while he loaded the box.  I think it must have been his lucky day.

In the process, Sarah, a co-worker, helped and teased how she was used to “helping” Brett out.  That seemed odd to me. “Why?” you ask?  Well, the reason is simple—his name tag said David.  So, I had to ask the obvious question. Speaking to the young man with muscles bigger than mine, I said, “So, why did Sarah call you Brett if your name is David?”  “Well,” he said, “my name is Brett, but I left my name tag at home so I’m wearing this one.”  Obviously, Target has a policy:  you must wear a name tag at work—even if it isn’t yours. That made me smile then and even now.

I thought it ironic that any name tag would do…as long as you wore one.  It seems that Target and the world have one more thing in common.  You see, Target said that any name tag will do, and the world says, “It doesn’t matter what you believe—as long as you believe.”  You know, it’s the old “all roads lead to Rome” theology. That saying comes from a time when there were very few roads, and at least in that part of the world, since Rome built them…they did indeed lead to Rome.  That worked then but it won’t work for heaven.

You see, unlike Rome, God is the only One who made the road that leads to heaven.  And that road leads right through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one can come to my Father except by Me.”  God, the Heaven road builder, laid the rules and the way.  Now you might not think that is fair except for this.  He invites everyone and anyone to travel the road.  No restrictions, no exceptions, no toll.

Remember this.  I suppose you can wear a name tag with the wrong name on it if you want—after all, the only consequence will probably be some confused people.  After all Brett wasn’t really David. But, when it comes to what you believe, the consequences are much, much greater.  You see, it really does matter what you believe—believe the wrong thing and you can end up eternally separated from God and that is a bad deal all the way around.  God loves each of us and longs for us to be able to call Him Dearest Father. 

In a confused, upside-down world, in a world where yes is no, and no is yes or right is wrong and wrong is right…well it is good to have a certainty we can lean on.  Not certain about the whole God thing?  Why not get a copy of the Bible and read it for yourself?  Even today it remains a best seller…for a reason.  In its pages you will find many great promises and among them is this.  No matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

Some Things Don’t Change

For I am the Lord, I do not change” Malachi 3:6a

At the church where I get to serve, we have our team meeting (aka staff meeting) on Tuesday mornings at nine.  It is a time for us to get together and plan and chat—and invariably we do a lot of chatting.  While the topics are always varied…it seems to always come back to the “you’ve got the be kidding me” world we are living in.  That usually includes a variety of COVID topics as well as the economy.

I recently was going through some files on my computer and discovered something I had written way back in 2008.  As proof that somethings never change, it was about what we talked about at staff meeting that week—the price of gas.  I was surprised to remember that gas that particular week was…get ready…$3.47 per gallon.

Here we are 13 years later and while it is not $3.47 it is close…very close.  If it makes you feel better, I own two Volkswagen cars that use diesel and it is $3.69 per gallon.  And to think…diesel is made from the leftovers that make gas.  Hmmm. All this is more ironic because I remember (I can’t believe I’m old enough to finally say that) when gas was 32 cents per gallon, and I filled up my Volkswagen for $2.42. Oh, and when there was a “gas war” on you could pick it up for 18 cents per gallon. Ah, those were the days.  At any rate, just like the price of gas seems to change daily so are the days of our lives.

That’s one good thing about God—He simply doesn’t change.  He never had a beginning and will never have an end (despite what our liberal “friends” think) and throughout all that time, He has never changed.  Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore, you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.”  That’s good news for the reason stated in the verse—He won’t change His mind about me or you. Pretty awesome.

Because of the COVID mess and about a dozen other “stranger than life” things, our whole economy, well, our whole country, is in a flux. It seems like there is nothing solid to stand on…but there is…and He is creator God.  For many He may be out of vogue or out of style.  For some He might seem like wishful thinking but for others…well He is the one thing solid to stand on in these shifting sand days.

In the movie “Hidden Figures” some of the smartest people in the nation and the space program were trying to figure the right numbers to get John Glenn up and down safely.  They couldn’t seem to invent a new math that would work and finally someone said, “Maybe it isn’t new math, maybe it is old math.”  And, sure enough, they used an ancient formula and it worked.  They rediscovered that the truth about numbers don’t change.  That is one reason why maybe, just maybe it is time to go back to what worked for eons…faith in God.

The Bible…the oldest and most tested of any sacred writing, says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”   And do you know what?  That is simply true. Someone said a real friend never changes and that is so true of Jesus Christ.   He will be there no matter what and I like that.  James Taylor, a songwriter and singer from the 70’s wrote, “winter, spring, summer or fall, all you have to do is call and I will be there.” Well, I can’t verify that for James, but I can for God.  Go ahead and give Him a try. You will find that He is all that He says He is, and you will also find that no matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Root Canal Joy

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

He looked at her and said, “Root canal.” My dentist is my friend.  For 21 years he has taken care of my family.  He is a good man and a man of integrity.  But with all that said, one day recently, he uttered the words that sends fear into every rational, sane person.  Root canal.  It all started on a Thursday. We were out of town and my wife Judy was munching on some pork rinds.  For those not familiar with this example of fine southern cuisine, it is fried pork skin.  Yes, I know and understand.  Well, she finished her snack and put the bag away.  Just about then it happened.

Without warning and really for no apparent reason unless you count the pork rinds, one of her teeth broke in half.  We both couldn’t believe it but apparently this tooth was one she had had filled a long, long time ago and over time the filling had deteriorated, weakening the tooth.  Now, hang on.  From the get-go this thing was a God thing…you just had to look a little closer.  We called our friend the dentist and made an appointment for when we got back in town.  But here is the amazing part.  She had absolutely no pain.  The rule book says if you break a tooth, you hurt but God blessed and for the entire weekend, she had no pain whatsoever.  Thank you, Lord.

Well, we got back into town, and she went to see our friend the dentist on Tuesday morning.  At first it looked like a standard put a cap on it thing but then he took a closer look and realized that there was a pretty good chance that the repair would abscess and if it did…well, it wouldn’t be pretty.  And that is when our friend the dentist said the words, “root canal.”  Judy had had one of those when she was about ten and it was not a good experience.  Root canals rank up there with being drawn and quartered. My friend the dentist always teases me when I go to get my teeth cleaned.  He would smile and ask, “Need a root canal today?”

Anyway, his office referred us to a place in Paducah, Kentucky and believe it or not they had an opening that very day.  Obviously, someone had chickened out.  We made the appointment and then made our way to Paducah.  She got there and of course was just a little apprehensive, but the bottom line is this…in an hour they were done.  She said, “Dewayne, it was easier than getting a filling.”  Well, she was amazed, I was amazed, and it was just about that very moment that we figured out it was just another love note from our Dearest Daddy.

I know what you are thinking.  The words love note, and root canal can’t go in the same sentence but indeed then can and did.  When you combine a good God and a good dentist like my friend…well, we almost shouldn’t be surprised. But the truth is this whole deal was incredibly different from what it could have been from start to finish.  I mean no one prays for a root canal, in fact, no one would dare want a root canal, but this is just a good example of God saying, “You are going to have to walk this path, but I want you to know I am here to walk with you.”  And He did.

The “root canals” of life can be far more difficult than this experience and honestly not all of life’s difficulties go as smoothly as this.  But here’s the deal.  This one will serve as a gentle remind for Judy and me that God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.  His faithfulness is not dependent on the outcome or the circumstances.  His faithfulness is defined by His presence, and He is always there, always watching and always caring.

So, as you journey, maybe munching on a bag of pork rinds or maybe not and you hit a bump, try and make your first response to be looking, sensing His presence.  Try not to panic rather try to rest in His peace. Remember what He said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” In other words, regardless of how the story ends, His gentle whisper remains the same, “I’ve got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, Trials, wisdom

His Plan

 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!” Matthew 6:8

 I read it…and I just didn’t like it.  We live in a house with what seems like a lot of rooms.  I once heard Pastor Andy Stanley say that we know we are blessed because we even have rooms for our cars.  They are called garages.  I suppose my favorite room is the kitchen because that is where Judy cooks our delicious meals.  She is a very good cook, and I am a very good eater!  My second favorite room is my home office or, you could say my, “Man Cave.”

While it is true that it is where I do a lot of my studying and writing, its walls are full of memories.  On one wall is a display of my career in the Air Force.  There is a picture of my flight (think squad in the Army), as well as several awards and medals I received while in the service.  I also have a couple of items from World War II that I treasure.  Then there are five pellet and BB guns hanging over my desk.  Several bring childhood memories. On two walls are items from mission trips in Africa and Asia.  My two favorite things are a Tuareg sword that a friend in Niger gave me and a picture of me and another team member praying over a man who was demon possessed.

Rooms can be very special and for various reasons.  I was reading this week and by way of illustration a writer told a story of young boy who had a dream that he was in heaven.  Someone showed him a room filled with cars, boats and other toys but piled on the other side of the room were arms and legs and other body parts.  I know it sounds gruesome. When the boy asked his guide what it mean he was told that all of it were answers to prayers that people never prayed.  I guess it makes for a good story but honestly—I didn’t like it.

“Why” you ask?  Well, the idea that the God that loves me and cares for me, would let me walk around blind or crippled only because I didn’t ask just doesn’t work for me.  I mean He loved me enough to send His Son to die for me…for the whole world…and that God would allow His kids to be lame only because they didn’t ask just doesn’t work.  Oh, and then, Jesus said that He knows what we need even before we ask.  No, I think God is an opened handed, loving Father who cares for us.

Of course, I also believe that prayer is far more than a wish list.  I believe the scriptures teach about prayer being more about fellowship and an intimate relationship between God and His children.  Prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind or persuading Him to do this or that.  No, prayer is about changing us…to believe…to trust…to love the One who made us.  I know there are a lot of scriptures in the Bible about prayer, but we only get a clear picture when we put them together. Like a giant jigsaw puzzle comes to life when all the pieces are in place…so it is with prayer.

Well, I don’t think there will be those kind of rooms in heaven but if there were…I know one I do think would be there.  And that room would be a gallery of pictures of all the things our Dearest Daddy did for us that we never even knew about.  It would be a room filled with unnoticed miracles, love notes, and blessings and it would have to be a big room because He is a busy God…loving, blessing and caring…for each of us.

I’m grateful for the open-handed love of our great God.  If we will take the time to pause and look, we will see more and more of what He does for us every day.  My wife Judy and I are learning that so often the joy is in the journey, and do you know what?  I am learning that the power of prayer is in the intimacy, the relationship that can only come from time spend together with the One who made me…made us.  Oh, and when we are talking, and I’m sharing my concerns, I just know He is there listening and sometimes whispering…telling me not to worry because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Precious Memories

And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.” 1 John 5:14

It’s a song we often sing at funerals…but it’s also a good song to live by.  The other day I was sitting around talking with some friends and we began sharing about some of our experiences.  Before long we discovered that our friend had been in the military and spent some time in Germany…just like my wife and I.  Before long, our sentences were punctuated with, “I remember…” and the room swelled with great times and great memories.  I know from where I sit there are some incredible times where God just blessed.  One of those times was my vision trip to work on the islands of Lake Victoria in Uganda.

This would be one mission trip that I would be taking all by myself.  There was not a team and Judy was unable to go.  It was me and God and I discovered that was good combination…a great combination.  I remember (there’s our word) that I had asked the church family to really pray for me while I was gone.  In fact, I gave them three specific things to pray for. First, I asked them to pray for my time in the boat.  Because we were ministering on the islands, we would spend several hours a day in a small (about 25 feet) open boat.  We would be cruising Lake Victoria, the second largest lake in the world.  In fact, it was like a small sea.  I sometimes have a tendency for motion sickness. Normally that is limited to going “round and round.”  However, when it comes to waves and boats it can be “game on.”

My second prayer request was for an effective interpreter. When you speak with an interpreter, you say a few sentences then you pause, and he interprets what you said. Well, during my previous trips to another part of Uganda when I was teaching and preaching, my interpreter was very good.  It was almost like he was an extension of me.   I knew having a good interpreter would greatly impact the effectiveness of the trip.  So I asked for prayer that God would send just the right man.

Finally, I asked my friends and family to pray that I wouldn’t wimp out.  Now hang on–I’m not a newbie in the world of mission trips, but it was my first solo journey.  There is a time to whine and a time not to whine. Is that in the book of Ecclesiastes? The bottom line is the time on any mission trip is too valuable to be a whiner. So, I needed to be flexible and remember this whole deal wasn’t about me but Him and them.  There is saying for people who go on mission trips.  It says, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not break.”  Amen, Lord, Amen.

So, for those of you who wonder if God answers prayer, the answer is, “He does.”  When we pray for His will to be done and His purpose to be accomplished, hang on because those are prayers He loves to answer. To be direct and to the point—God answered the prayers of His kids clearly and specifically.  First—no motion sickness.  The lake was not calm–in fact one day we had whitecaps.  Still—without a pill or a patch—I was totally free from motion sickness.  That interpreter?  God answered that prayer with a local pastor who was better than any other person I have worked with.  He was so animated and led of the Lord—totally awesome.  Last, wimping out?  Well, those of you who know me best would probably have said, “Who is this guy?”  One time when it was 10:00 pm and our supper had still not yet appeared, I almost whined but was able to stifle it. God was just incredibly good, and I came home with a full heart and a vision of how we could begin a ministry to the people who lived on the islands of Lake Victoria.

It is important to remember that God is not a genie with a magic lamp.  God is not Santa Claus waiting to receive our wish list. God is not a vending machine where we put our quarter in and get what we want.  God is God.  And when we pray for His will to be done…amazing things can and do happen. John, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, said, “And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.” That is not a statute of limitations but rather an invitation to join God in His work.  Let’s join God in a conversation…not just when you are in trouble…but rather every day.  You will find that He is waiting and willing to have a chat with you.  Oh, and don’t be surprised, when He responds, “Don’t worry, I’ve got that.” Bro. Dewayne