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

An Angel from Bowling Green

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord…and He delights in His way.” Psalm 37:23

Did you know that some angels come from Bowling Green, Kentucky?  Well, my wife Judy and I recently returned from vacation.  Now, I really like vacations.  We are blessed that God has provided the means for us to go and our church (I’m a pastor) provided the time.  And believe me…it was time.  We saved, planned, and decided a return trip to Punta Cana sounded like just the thing we needed.  We bought tickets, made the reservations, and like the old Willie Nelson song says, we were back on the road again. And…we were excited!

We decided to stay at a place where we had stayed several times before.  We figured with Covid and all of that it might be better to go to a place we were familiar with.  We had a great flight down and soon we are were in paradise….well, sorta.  Truthfully, it was somewhat apparent that Covid had taken the wind out of the sails of our familiar place. It just wasn’t the same.  But, like we always say…at least we were away. The Dominican is a great place, but you still must be careful…stay at the resort, eat at the resort and above all…don’t drink the water. Most of the time Judy and I are good rule keepers…and we were this time, too.

Then came Wednesday.  That day I could tell my appetite was a bit off, but it was no deal. At supper that night I ate very little and as we walked back to the room, I told Judy I just felt a bit sad.  Well, in a few minutes, I found out I wasn’t sad…I was sick.  In spite of all my precautions, I apparently had the dreaded “traveler’s disease.”  If you don’t know what it is…I’ll let you look it up, but it is enough to say it ain’t fun. Period.  Well for the next two days I pretty much stayed in the room and by Saturday, going home day, I wasn’t much better.  We boarded the bus for the airport and things went from bad to worse.

As we sat there, my stomach got more and more queasy, and I was pretty certain I was going to quickly be the most unpopular guy on the bus.  Meanwhile as I doing my best to “keep my cookies,” Judy was having a great conversation with the mother of a family sitting by us.  She was talking to them, and I was talking to myself, “Don’t lose it, don’t lose it.”  Soon we arrived at the airport, thankfully with stomach intact, and got into a very long line to check our luggage for the flight.  I tried but I just couldn’t stand there so I told Judy I was going to the restroom and try and sit-down.  She kindly handled the luggage and both backpacks and I went and collapsed.

I watched from a distance.  I was praying, “God, I sure need Your help, but I know I need to trust you…so Your will be done.” While I was praying there, Judy was praying in line. Soon, but not soon enough, Judy was almost at the counter and waved for me to come on over.  I did and when I got there, the friendly family “just happened to be” in front of her.  I was standing there, more miserable than ever, and the mother’s mother, mouthed the words, “Are you ok?” I simply said I was not, telling her my stomach was very upset.  And then…it happened. The mother said, “I have some Pepto Bismol in my luggage, would you like some”?  I responded with a very grateful “yes”.

So right there, though she was next in line, she laid her luggage (which was the size of Texas) on the floor, opened it up, dug around (she packed like Judy…smile) and quickly produced a small bottle of Pepto.  I quickly opened it up and took a swig.  Borne on the wings of prayer, within a few minutes, and I do mean a few minutes, I was much better.  No, I wasn’t normal, but I knew I wouldn’t be losing my cookies.  A dose or two later and I was much, much better. I was going to survive.  And all of that…because a caring Dearest Daddy heard the prayers of His kids.

Some would be tempted to say it was happenstance, some would say it was just a nice person being nice, but for those of us who know God, we know differently.  It makes me go back to that great verse in the Old Testament part of the Bible, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in His way.”  You see this whole thing was all about God and not about me.  He took care of me…and it delighted Him to do so.  I love that.  So, while the vacation didn’t make the top ten…God did.  In fact, He is number one and the only One.  It just proves what we have learned together…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel

At 217

The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” Psalm 37:23

It stands tall.  When we moved to 217 West Poplar Street our yard was a blank slate.  The house had sat empty for more than a few years and while someone made sure the grass was cut, no one cared if it was beautiful.  When my wife Judy came…all that began to change.  Somewhere along her journey she acquired what can only be described as a green thumb. She has a way with plants that causes them to grow…to thrive.  What was once a blank slate is now a garden, lush and green, with many kinds of plants, trees, and flowers.

Her style, though planned, is not one that is starchy or stiff.  The flowers and plants are allowed to grow freely…to multiply.  While there are times when pruning has to be done and digging has to occur, largely they are allowed to “bloom where they are planted.”  The best example of that is Herbert the tree.  I need to tell you that I only recently named the tree Herbert.  I thought it might add more human interest to the story.  Anyway, several years ago, a maple tree began to grow in one of our flower beds.  Now, honestly, that usually doesn’t end well for the tree.  But this one, well, somehow the story turned out differently.

Herbert started growing too close to the fence in our front yard.  I can say with certainty that he was probably cut down a couple of times and each time he came back.  So finally, somehow, we decided to let him grow—and he did.  Time gets away from us all and it may be longer than I think, but I think Herbert is now about five years old.  He has grown from a little maple sapling into a 25-30-foot-tall tree.  He was planted by nature, but it was our decision to let him grow…to bloom where he was planted.  I’m glad we did.

Herbert is now big enough to provide shade in our front yard and he also adds depth and dimension to our yard. Oh, and now, for the first time, when I rake leaves in the fall, at least some of them are mine and not my neighbor’s.  Somehow that is satisfying. A friend says I should have cut Herbert down a long time ago…you know, wrong place. But I told him that we were going to give him a chance.  While the place nature put him isn’t the best, he is a constant reminder to us that we should grow, to flourish, wherever God plants us.

Our life has been a series of great adventures.  While some folks choose to grow in the same community all of their lives and maybe live in the same house…well, ours has been different.  It really wasn’t us making the call…I believe it was a sovereign God working and planning what He thought best for us.  Our path isn’t your path, but it was the one that God chose for us.  One of the writers of the Jewish hymnbook in what we call the Old Testament said, “The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.”  In other words, life, and especially the life of someone who follows Jesus, isn’t a series of accidents and circumstances but rather the handiwork of a Master Gardener. And for those Jesus followers, well that Master Gardener just happens to be their Dearest Daddy.

So, when you drive by our house on Poplar Street look at Herbert.  He lives by the alley and by the fence on the East side of our front yard.  Notice that he is closer to the fence than he should be but also remember that he is simply, “blooming where he was planted.”  It seems to be working out well for Herbert and guess what?  It seems to work out well for us humans too. Regardless of where you’ve been planted and regardless of the soil—just keep trusting the Master Gardner…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Lizards and Cats

They asked Jesus, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus replied. “Haven’t you ever read the Scriptures? For they say, ‘You have taught children and infants to give you praise.’” Matthew 21:16

It was a priceless moment.  You might remember the MasterCard commercial that starts with a special moment in life and the ending tag line is something like, “for everything else there is Mastercard.”  You also might remember the old Kodak commercials that coined the phrase, “Kodak moment.”  When cameras were finally affordable and easier to use, more and more people were able to save their “Kodak” memories.  Well, this one wasn’t recorded on file, but it lives in my heart.

Three of my grandsons were spending the night with my wife Judy and I one Saturday night.  I passed by the open bedroom door and there were the three boys with Ma-Ma. She had a Bible story app open and each of the grandsons would pick a story and they would listen to it.  Well, I went into the room and plopped down on one of the two double beds and soon Will, the middle of the three, plopped down beside me.  Before I knew it we were having this really cool God discussion.

We talked about this and we talked about that.  I mentioned the Bible character named Abraham and Will wanted to know was his name Lincoln.  I assured him this was a different guy.  Well before long we had moved on to Jesus and I explained that He was in fact God. Well, Will knew about Mary and Joseph and he was a bit confused.  He wanted to know, and this is excellent, how two people could have a baby that was God. Now Will, in fact all three of this bunch, are as sharp as tacks. So, I wasn’t too surprised.

Before I could respond, he said this, “So isn’t that kinda like two lizards have a cat?”  Boom.  I loved it.  What a great analogy.  He figured out that two normal everyday people could definitely not conceive a God.  And this is one of those times I’m glad I had an answer for him.  I told him, “Well, Will that is absolutely correct.  But the deal is there weren’t two lizards.” I then explained to him how Jesus had a regular human mother but in fact Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ real dad.  We talked about how some people have a stepdad because of a divorce or something.  He said, “Or if the real dad dies.”  Spot on, Will.

And then I explained how Jesus’ real Father was the Heavenly Father.  How, miraculously God caused her to become pregnant and the Child would be like no other…literally the God Man.  And the really cool part is that He seemed to get it. Like I said it was definitely a spiritual Kodak moment.  The Bible talks about how sometimes out of the mouths of the young come truth and praise and this was one of those times.

The Bible also talks about how it is important that we have the same kind of faith that children do.  They rarely have all the answers, and they don’t always fully understand and yet they trust.  They simply take some things at face value.  I’m sure that Will didn’t under that night all there is to know about the Virgin birth of Christ.  In fact, I’m not sure I can fully grasp it, but you can take this to the bank…I believe. 

So, as you journey along, and you bump into God stuff, you will find some things that make sense and some that simply do not.  You will find some truth that you just can’t get your head around, but don’t let that stop you from believing. Sometimes with spiritual truth, 1 + 1 doesn’t add up to two.  It is then you just trust.  When you wonder how two lizards can have a cat…you gotta believe that maybe one of them is a whole lot more than a lizard.  Smile.  I still love that.  After all, I don’t fully under how the sun rises so precisely every day but that it doesn’t stop me from believing.  I just know this.  No matter what…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

Writing Every Day

Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts. Numbers 90:12

It wouldn’t cut soft butter today but back then it was cutting edge. I’m a tech guy.  I loved the newest and greatest technology.  When a new something comes out, if I’m not careful, I am on my way to grab one.  Of course, the funny part is it usually ends up sitting around somewhere.  Even my iPhone is mad because of the hours it sits on the counter—unloved and unattended.  Frequently I have to apologize for not returning a call or not answering a text…not because I’m ignoring a person—I’m ignoring my phone.

This love affair with tech began when I was a kid. When it came time for Christmas, I would browse the Sears catalogue and dream of the cool gifts that might come my way. And somehow, Momma and Daddy, with a little help from Santa, would pull it off.  Of course, sometimes they surprised me.  It would have been Christmas of, oh, 1966 and I received something totally unexpected and totally cool. It was a small, battery powered, portable reel-to-reel tape recorder.  This was before eight-tracks, before cassettes…before anything.  The size of large book, it gave me the ability to record something and play that something back.

One time I took my recorder to my grandparent’s house in Gainesville, Florida.  My grandfather (there was no “Papa” with him) was talking with my Daddy and was even telling a joke.  I decided to start the recorder and record what they were saying. Sure enough it worked and later, I played the tape for everyone, and we all marveled at the ability for something so small to do that.  But here is the amazing part.  Somewhere in my stuff, is a small reel of tape and on that tape is my grandfather and my Daddy’s voices…probably one of the few recordings to exist.  Even though they are gone…their voices live on.

Their.Voices.Live.On.  Think about that for just a moment.  Both of these men who influenced me so much have long since passed away. But through technology their voices can still be heard.  Oh, I know it is not a big deal now but back then…it was so unusual and that makes the recording valuable.  They are, if you will, speaking from the grave.

In one of those moments of clarity, I recently realized that I too, one day, will speak from the grave.  My life, my actions, my priorities, my values, sermons I have preached, and stories I have written, will all be left behind and all will speak.  And I wonder…what will they say of me and what will they say of who I was?  When my great grandchildren hear the stories of their great Papa, will those stories be stories worthy to share? Will the words encourage them to live right and do right, or leave them scratching their head like a batter thrown a good curve ball on a hot Saturday afternoon? We should all hope to leave a story that is worth telling…one that brings some light and laughter into their world.

There is a verse I keep coming back to time and again.  Moses wrote it thousands of years ago and yet is as fresh as today’s news.  He asked God to help him number his days that he could gain a wise heart.  He wasn’t asking for his math to be accurate when he counted birthdays.  No, he was asking that he be wise enough to make the most, the very most, of every single day.

Legacy.  It is a great word, and we are all leaving one.  The only question is, “What kind will it be?” That is up to us.  Five days a week I write a story but in reality…I write one everyday…and so do you.  Let’s be sure to write one worth telling.  Fortunately, there is a publisher who is all about helping us and if we are Jesus followers, we call Him Dearest Daddy.  He is more than willing to help us write a best seller…after all, that’s just one more thing He does.  He’s got that too.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, life, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Barefoot

The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.” Habakkuk 3:19

Ok…it just hurt. I grew up down South and there and especially then things were just a bit different.  Back in those days before Nintendo and Game Boys, we played…I mean we just played.  Even though we had television, and yes, it was black and white,  it was rarely on…especially during the day.  When school was over for the day, we would go outside and run the neighborhood and…the woods.

We lived in a small country neighborhood that was surrounded by brushy woods.  We played army, built forts, and played every game you could imagine.  We had a large Chinaberry tree in our backyard, and we would load our pockets with the small berries and then chase one another trying our best to “ping” someone with the berries. As you can imagine we ran…a lot. And the best running shoes then were no shoes at all.  We ran and played barefoot most of the time.  There were times of regret, like when we would stub our toe on a big old pine root, but most of the time we did just fine.  Of course, all that “barefoot-ness” toughened our feet up till the soles were leather tough.

Well, things change, and we all grew up and started wearing shoes.  With the shoes, we lost our toughness but not our love to occasionally go barefoot.  There’s still just something about the feel of grass and soft sand on the bottom of your foot.  Yup…what good memories…that is until I stepped on a stupid rock. It all started when I went outside early in the morning, as in the sun was still yawning, to have a cup of coffee with Judy.  Of course, I wasn’t wearing shoes.  We have a paved driveway and patio so no deal…right? Not so fast.

I walked out to the patio, visited awhile, and then decided it was time to head back into the house to get ready for the day.  Our patio is a foot or so higher than our driveway and we have a small step there to make things easier.  So, I stepped down onto the step and then on down to the driveway.  Not thinking, nor thinking to look, right where I stepped was a nice, small rock.  Now this wasn’t the smooth stone kind of rock but the kind that you find in an unpaved alley.  Anyway, I stepped, and stepped hard and landed right on that stinking rock.  Ouch.

As things would happen, it was in the middle of my heel, and it just hurt.  I muttered something about stupid rocks, picked the rock up and chucked it back in the alley where it belonged.  It really was a “no harm, no foul” deal.  I mean, it wasn’t like it hurt all day and it wasn’t like I had to go to the doctor, but for those few moments…it just hurt and for those few moments…I was mad at the rock. Mad.At.The.Rock.

Wait…later I decided there was something wrong with that.  I am sure that rock didn’t wake up that morning (do rocks wakeup?) and decide to be in the exact wrong spot.  In fact, I am sure the rock had nothing to do with it at all. I am sure that I am the one who chose not to wear shoes that morning, who didn’t look to see if there was a rock in the way, and who wasted my emotional energy by getting mad at a rock.  It sounds like this one is on me.

The bottom line is when you do life, you will occasionally step on a rock and it may cause some pain.  But like the Disney song says, maybe we should just, “let it go.” The Bible gives us some even greater counsel.  It says that we are to remember that God is our strength, and we should ask Him to guide our feet as sure as a mountain deer.  In other words…to help us watch where we step…whether it is off our patio or into a questionable decision.

Well, I know, and you know it wasn’t the rock’s fault that day and really, in the scope of things, it wasn’t mine either. It was just one of those things.  Oh, and this morning, I went out barefoot again but before I stepped off the patio, I looked and that means, I may have learned and that is always valuable.  So be sure and look before you step and remember, even if things don’t go exactly like you plan today…He’s still got this. Bro. Dewayne

Oh wait…I thought that was the end of the story, but it wasn’t.  So, the same day I wrote this, at lunch I went home to eat and kicked my shoes off.  As I was walking across the kitchen floor, I stepped on a…get ready…rock.  Yup, right there in the kitchen.  I guess you just never know.

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, love, loving others, Memorial Day, Military memories, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Heroes

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”        John 15:13

There are some Grits’ stories that I just can’t let go of.  Today is Memorial Day…the day we honor all those who gave their lives for our freedom.  This special day is so close to my heart and so is this story. I hope you will enjoy it now and probably each Memorial Day in the years to come.  God bless you and God bless America.

Years later, it still tugs at my heart. I’m not sure how I found my way there, but I was grateful.  During my assignment with the Air Force in Sembach, Germany we had the opportunity to see so much.  From Hitler’s hideaway called “The Eagle’s Nest” in Berchtesgaden to the windmills of Holland to the Alps of Switzerland we were constantly amazed at what was all around us.  But nothing prepared me for Luxembourg.

We had some friends that we had known in our days at Moody Air Force Base in South Georgia.  They received orders to Germany several months before we did.  They were only a couple of hours from us, so we saw each other often.  It must have been during one of our forays that we came to it—Luxembourg American Cemetery.  It was one of the most hallowed sights I have ever seen.

There, in the cemetery, are 5,075 white Lasa marble crosses and stars of David.  Row after row of headstones that mark the final resting place of American heroes.  Each one made the ultimate sacrifice for us, for you and me, so that we can live in freedom.  General George Patton is buried there. Two Medal of Honor recipients are also buried there: David G. Turner and William D. McGee. Twenty-two sets of brothers lay buried side by side throughout the cemetery. Some, 371 in fact, were never found.  They are simply listed as missing in action.  102 are just unknown.

This place of honor was established on December 29, 1944.  Many of the soldiers died during the Battle of the Bulge…Hitler’s last push to turn the tide of the war in Germany’s favor.  It failed but it came at great cost to the Allied forces. It was a harsh winter and because of the urgency of the times many were sent to fight with little or no winter gear. The desperate Germans showed little mercy to those taken prisoner.  And, all this occurred just nine months, nine months, before the war ended.  So many had survived D-Day and countless days of combat only to make the ultimate sacrifice months before the grand reunion with family.

Heroes.  It is a word we throw around lightly these days.  In a world where everyone gets a trophy, we are in danger of losing the value of this incredible word.  Hero. Dictionary.com defines it as “a person noted for courageous acts.” Oxford says it is a person who is admired or idealized for courage. Webster defines it as an illustrious warrior or one who shows great courage.  Another place said it is a person who at great danger to themselves puts others first.

I went to Toys-R-Us one time and there they had several aisles of superhero stuff.  As I turned the corner a sign caught my eye.  It simply said, “Real Heroes.”  Along that aisle were the soldiers and sailor figures as well as police, firemen, and other emergency responders.  If I went to that aisle today it would have to include doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals.  Real heroes…real people putting others first at peril to themselves.

But there would be one missing.  Jesus Christ, the Hero of Heaven, who willingly, who bravely, gave Himself to a Roman cross that men, women, and children could be free. The cross was so horrible it was called the death of deaths.  It was so horrible it was illegal to crucify a Roman citizen.  And yet…He went.  Why?  He loved me. He loved you.

Amazingly it was not for some of us, but all of us. Skin color, economic station, language, nationality, capacity to be bad or good doesn’t matter.  The Bible simply says, “He came to seek and save that which was lost.”  It simply says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  It simply says He is not willing for any to perish but all to come home. Anyone—I like anyone. Anyone who acknowledges their need for a rescue will find one in Jesus. And this Hero not only does a meet and greet, He invites you to join His family and He walks with you throughout life.  How about that!

So when you hear the national anthem, place your hand over your heart as a salute to those who paid the price for our freedom.  When you see a veteran, thank them for his or her service and sacrifice.  When you walk through a cemetery with your kids, point out the graves of the men and women who served and tell them why they are so special.  And when you talk to the Hero of Heaven next time, thank Him for forgiving your sin.  Thank Him for always being there.  Thank Him for giving you a place to rest.  And, thank Him for having this….because He does.  Bro. Dewayne

Learn more about Luxembourg here: Luxembourg American Cemetery | American Battle Monuments Commission (abmc.gov)

Posted in fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Stalled on Lake Victoria

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 like something out of National Geographic. I was on a vision trip to Uganda several years ago and it was one adventure after another.  I was working with a missionary who had a ministry to the people living on the islands of Lake Victoria.  This massive lake is the second largest in the world and is more like an inland sea than a lake.  There are places that you can lose sight of the shoreline and you feel very much like you are out on the ocean.

Our vessel was anything but an ocean liner.  It was a handcrafted open vessel that was about twenty-five feet long and powered by a fire breathing dragon of a motor with a whopping ten horsepower.  We would tear across the lake at a heart stopping ten miles an hour. Ok, there really wasn’t a fire breathing dragon effect, nor were we tearing across the lake, but it was a great adventure!  Usually.

One day, after a long day of preaching and teaching, it was time to head back to our home island.  We were a little late leaving and night was coming soon, so it was imperative that we begin heading back.  Our boat was parked in a small, secluded harbor and from there we all loaded up.  There were only about six of us in the boat and the small engine started and off we went.  As soon as we left the harbor we were greeted by some rough water.  The waves were large enough to be “white caps” and I gave the missionary a glance but he assured me that these were not big waves. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is wave size.  These were boat swallowing monsters.  And then, after a few minutes, it happened.

As the pilot guided the boat and tried to determine just how to navigate the large waves…the motor quit.  I mean, it just stopped.  Suddenly, at least in my eyes, things got a bit more interesting.  We could no longer navigate the waves, rather, we were at their mercy and no matter how hard the pilot pulled, the engine wouldn’t start.  About then I began a worship service of sorts, part music, part prayer and part personal eulogy. You know, “Friends we are gathered here to honor the life of…” Meanwhile the pilot is still pulling on the motor and I kept praying.

Finally, one of the guys in the boat named Joseph went to work on the motor.  Joseph is a young man that can do just about anything—from preaching to apparently fixing motors.  The shorter version of a long story is that He proceeded to take the carburetor apart and “blow it out.”  Now keep in mind we are still rocking like crazy…and I still am praying and preparing to die.  But I had planned my funeral just a little too soon.  Before long, Jospeh had the carburetor reassembled and back on the motor.  Three or four quick pulls later and we were back “on the road.”  The waves were still big (at least to me) but we were underway and eventually we arrived back at the other island.  Safe—if not too sound.

It really was one of those times that I wished I had paid more attention at swimming lessons because I wasn’t totally sure of the outcome.  But thankfully I did remember one thing. I remembered that whether I am rocking in a boat on the world’s second largest lake in East Africa or driving down the Interstate at 70 miles-per-hour surrounded by people looking at their cellphones or doing life in a tumultuous point in history, my Father, my Dearest Daddy, is in control.  Fate and circumstances are not calling the shots—He is. And if that isn’t enough, we have the promise that the Lord will personally go ahead of us. He will be with us; He will neither fail us, nor will He abandon us.

Now to be clear that doesn’t mean that everything is going to turn out exactly as I would like.  It doesn’t mean that I get to write the script and He has to follow it.  Quite the contrary, He is writing the script and He invites me to trust Him and to believe that ultimately the end of the story is for my good and His glory.  I’m learning that the story never ends here—it ends there.  For the person who decides to trust Him there is always a surprise ending and that is—the end is not the end.  We may change locations, but the story continues.  How about that?

So, I survived that day on the lake and now have returned many times…each time taking others with me including the one that I love most on this earth—my wife, Judy. I do so knowing, that while there are risks, ultimately the pilot of the boat doesn’t sit at the back but up in heaven and He’s got his eye on us and everything we do.  It’s true in East Africa and its true where you and I live.  We can say with certainty that if we belong to Him, we don’t have to worry because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, wisdom

What Time Is It…Really?

Teach them Your Word, Your Word is truth.” John 17:17b

It was the 60’s and 70’s. The novel, “A Tale of Two Cities” starts with “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” and that pretty well describes those two decades.  Out of those somewhat crazy times came some of the best music ever written—at least modern music.  I know that is true because people from all the other decades seem to come back to the 60’s and 70’s. Some, ok, maybe a lot of it, was kinda crazy but that is what made it so cool.  There was a song that was released by the group Chicago in 1969 called, “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is.”  It was a quirky song, in fact, that is how the guy who wrote it described it.

What is kinda funny is that it is a song that my wife Judy and I live daily.  If you read Grits, you might remember that I like clocks a lot. It all started a long time ago and is one hobby or obsession that has stuck with me through the years.  I am intrigued because of the design and engineering that went into each clock.  Some of my clocks are babies, only sixty or seventy years old.  Some though are well over a hundred.  Some were bought at a shop somewhere, one special one was built by a couple of friends and two were built by me…with a little help from my friends.

In today’s world, so many clocks are engineering marvels and keep time very accurately.  But some of the older ones tend to be a little less accurate.  So that is where our song comes in.  You see most rooms in my house have a clock or two or three and often they are the older mechanical types.  So, you go into the room and look over there and there is a clock.  It says it is, oh, let’s say 2:13 pm.  Then you look over there and there is another clock, and it says it is 2:20 pm. Then on the wall going up the stairs is another clock that declares it is 2:05 pm.  What?

Well, all of that is not a problem until you are about to leave, and you need to know if you are on time or late.  And trust me, more than once, Judy has said, “So what time is it, anyway?”  Well, I know my clocks pretty well and I know their habits as well.  I pretty much know who runs slow and who runs fast and who doesn’t run at all.  So I can usually tell her just about what time it really is.  It can be a bit confusing…but in a pretty good if not quirky way.

The bottom line is if I really need to know the time, I have three good choices.  First, my trusty Apple Watch.  It is very accurate and if it is strapped to my wrist…it is an obvious first choice. The second choice is my phone which is married to my Apple Watch.  The only problem is I’m not married to my phone which means it may or may not be close by.  The third choice is the kitchen stove.  It always tells the truth…but it still depends on me setting it correctly. And if the power goes off, well, you get the flashy thing until I get around to setting it.

I was thinking, which is always a dangerous thing, that where we go for truth is a lot like trying to find the correct time.  Similar to the question in the song you might ask, “Does anyone really know what truth is and what it is not?”  Well, the answer is…wait for it…the Bible.  For millennia this most ancient of sacred writings has stood the test of time.  It has made the best seller list forever and while there are many different translations and reading styles…there never has been a version 2.1.  Do you know why?  It is timeless, changeless and without error.  I know, I know you might think differently or maybe heard differently but let me encourage to check it out for yourself.  Do some honest research and you will probably come to the same conclusion that I did—it can be trusted because it is the real deal.  And trust me…these days we need the real deal.

When you find yourself running around and asking everyone you meet, “Hey, does anyone really know what’s true and what’s not?” I hope you will turn to the one source that is spot on, right on and always on target. Jesus said it best when He said, “Teach them Your Word, Your Word is truth.” I like that…plain, simple truth. And, when you have a question, when you are stumped, just ask the One who knows and always speaks the truth—God.  Oh, and don’t worry, He always has the answer because He is the answer.  In other words, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

A Bad Idea–But God

I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25

It seemed like a really, bad idea.  Right after high school graduation I jumped into the Air Force, and it turned out to be a really good idea.  Back in those days, or so it seemed, college wasn’t pushed for everyone, and I was pretty uncertain about what I wanted to do.  So, through a strange set of circumstances, I found myself in the military.  I loved it.  Raised as a good southern boy, the discipline required for a life in the service came naturally.  I was taught to respect others and especially those appointed over me.  “Yes sir” and “Yes ma’am” were part of my vocabulary long before the Air Force taught me to say it.

By 1980, I had been stationed in Minot, North Dakota, Valdosta, Georgia (where I met and married the best wife a guy could ask for), spent three years in Germany and finally landed in Knob Noster, Missouri.  Like I said, I liked the Air Force, and it seemed the Air Force liked me.  I was picked for several key assignments and was on track promotion wise.  With a young family, the security the Air Force provided was an added benefit and while I wasn’t going to get rich in the Air Force, the pay provided a good life.  Yup…life was good.

Then God spoke.  No, it wasn’t an audible voice, but it was one clear enough that I knew He had a change of plans in mind.  I felt, I knew that He was calling me to become a pastor but that wasn’t all.  I also knew for me that meant leaving the Air Force.  I think that was probably for a couple of reasons.  First, I knew that as long as I was in the Air Force, I would be tempted to lean on that for security and not God.  Second, I also knew that the Air Force would be calling the shots about my future.  Well, that led up to me making one of the biggest changes in my life…after 12 years…leaving the lifestyle and security of the Air Force and jumping into the secure arms of faith and the life of a pastor.

When I went public with this it seemed that everyone had an opinion and a lot of those opinions followed one school thought—you are nuts.  Certainly, the military thought it was a bad idea. After all, they liked me, and I liked them.  I was on track for a good career and great retirement.  You see, with the military, you can retire with 20 years and draw a pension equal to half of your base pay.  You also get other benefits for the rest of your life.  All that led to the “you are nuts” thing and this is really not good idea. But then…there was God.

You see, I was, oh, somewhere beyond probably and just shy of absolutely certain that God was asking me, telling me to do this.  And somehow, some way, Judy and I with two toddlers under three were able to believe and jump.  And now, forty years later, I am able to say that God took that “really not a good idea” and turned it into a really good idea.  He has faithfully and completely cared for us over these four decades. I’m sure if I had stayed in the Air Force, I would have had a nice, secure life. I’m sure things would have turned out just fine.  But God’s idea went somewhere beyond nice and secure and somewhere beyond just fine.

If I’ve learned anything from all of this, it is that God’s ideas are always, and I do mean always, better than mine.  I have learned and I am learning that faith beats fine every time.  The adventure, the challenges, the “mysterious ways of God” that we have experienced together trumps a nice retirement and manmade security.  There’s a verse, and I’m really not sure all that it means, but it sure seems to ring true with me.  The author says that he had never seen the righteous forsaken or his family begging for bread.  Like I said, I’m not sure what that means entirely but looking back from where I sit, it says, “God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.”

God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted. Period.  Your story is probably a lot different than mine but if you are a God follower let’s all agree on that part.  He really is good, He really is faithful, and yes, He can be trusted.  So, in these days of uncertainty and in these days when up is down and down is up—listen carefully for the still small voice of your Dearest Daddy.  Let Him whisper His better idea…and then trust. Don’t worry, you are not nuts—you’re a man, a woman and child of faith.  And that is always best because, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Military memories, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Life from the Back Left

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

I guess I got in the wrong line.  I don’t know if there are lines in heaven or not but if there are…I may have missed one or two.  If there is a line for being tall, missed it.  If there is a line for being skinny, missed that one too.  Oh, the line for hair, missed it again. Oh well, I am who I am and probably in a different world I would be alright with at least some of it.  But it seems we live in a world where we are constantly being reminded that we always come up…a little short (pun fully intended).

And speaking of short, the Air Force had this unusual way of reminding you that you weren’t tall.  Now, first, you need to know I really, really enjoyed my time in the Air Force. Once you made it past basic training, in many ways it was like working for any other first-class organization.  Now granted, we were still in the warrior business, but Basic Military Training wasn’t the real Air Force…thankfully.

You see, in Basic, we marched where we went.  I’m sure the Army and Marines do that all the time anyway but once we got out of Basic and tech school, we rediscovered the wonders of buses and cars.  But not so in Basic.  So, it went something like this.  The Drill Sergeant would holler “form up”.  Now we had done this enough that we would get into lines about seven across and seven deep.  The sergeant would then have us do a “right face” and would say, “If you are taller than the man in front of you, tap him on the right shoulder and move up.”  In other words, if you are tall, move up…if you’re short don’t.

Well, I simply waited for the inevitable tap on the right shoulder and sure enough…it came.  Then the sergeant would have us do a “left face” and we would do it all over again. The command came, “If you are taller than the man in front of you, tap him on the right shoulder and move up.” So, the end result was the tallest people were at the right front and the shortest people were in the left back.  Well, it seems I spent a lot of time in the back left.

I’m sure there is a reason for all of this.  It certainly must have looked more uniform, and I guess it probably looked more impressive.  I’m glad we didn’t apply this logic and formula to family photographs.  If we did, some of us would have never been seen.  I always wrestled with things like this because it seemed to make me feel kinda…small.  It sometimes seems that the world places great value on a man’s stature—the taller the better and it is true in so many arenas and places around the world.  But there is one place that it doesn’t matter one bit…and that is the place that matters the most.

You see, when it comes to God, He is not impressed even a little bit with our height, weight, or even how much hair we have.  In fact, He is the one who made us and since He doesn’t make mistakes, well, that means He got it right. When God was choosing the second king of Israel, the search committee naturally assumed the biggest and tallest would be selected.  Well, God said, “Nope.”  It turned out that there was a short, ruddy, teenage shepherd boy that, through God’s prospective, fit the bill perfectly. You see, God looks at the size of the heart and not the height.  He looks on the inside and not the outside.  I like that. A lot.

So, as you journey through life, and you are bugged because it seems you got in the wrong lines in heaven (and just to be clear…there really aren’t any lines) remember that God made you just way He wanted you.  When they were doing the selection process for that king, God said, “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  Well, there you go. You won’t find any of that, “tapping the shoulder thing and moving up” in God’s family. We made us equal and loves us equally.  And if anyone tries to tell you differently, just remind them who’s calling the shots and remember that no matter what, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne