Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, wisdom

Money Tip

For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10

I never considered myself an entrepreneur but looking back…maybe I am.  Fortunately, I was raised by a Momma and Daddy who believed in a strong work ethic.  While they weren’t overbearing about it, I grew up knowing that I should get a job and go to work. It must have worked because over my 53 working years I have always managed to have a job and go to work.  I consider that quite a blessing. Looking back, I think my working career really started when I was about ten years old.

In the early sixties, we had an old lawn mower or two that had seen better days but my Daddy, ever the mechanic, managed to keep them running.  And then, he was willing to let me borrow the mower and go around the neighborhood offering to mow people’s yards. Today, that is big business but back then…not so much.  I would grab the lawn mower, the gas can and start going door to door.  My business plan was simple.

I would go to the door, knock, or ring the bell and wait for someone to answer.  When they did, I would simply say, “Hello.  Would you like your grass mowed for $2.00? Now, most of these yards were a pretty good size so even back then that seemed like a fair price to me…but guess what?  That $2.00 then is equal to $27.40 today.  What? Ok, I must admit I was surprised to learn that.  That might explain why more often than not, the answer to my question was a polite, “No.”  You see, it turns out that $2.00 was a sizable investment back in ’64.

But there were plenty of folks that said yes, and there were a few repeat customers.  The bottom line is it was enough to give me some spending money and, of course, keep the gas can filled.  At the end of the day there was always a trip to Jackson’s Minute Market that was down the street from my house.  There I would pull out one of the wadded-up dollar bills and trade part of it for a RC cola or Icee and a honey bun.  That would set me back a quarter.  The rest of my earnings stayed in my pocket or in a safe place back home just waiting for a trip to the Pic-N-Save or some other store.

Speaking of Pic-N-Save, that is one thing I wrestled with—saving.  If memory serves me right, I did a whole lot more spending than saving.  It seems I remember my Daddy saying something about that money, “burning a hole in my pocket.”  Well, he was right.  While money didn’t come easy for me in ’64 it sure went easy.  Me and my dollars were all about me.  I never thought about giving or sharing…only spending.

Well, I am glad to let you know I have learned a little more about money since those days.  First, I learned (well, actually I’m still learning) that Jesus was right…it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Me and Jesus (and my wife Judy) came to terms a long time ago about giving back a part of what He gives to me. I’m even learning that everything belongs to Him anyway, so it only seems right to give some back.  And that isn’t all.

I’m also learning about saving.  I’ve always said that I was a spender and not a saver but now I can honestly say that I’m a pretty good saver. In fact, sometimes it is hard for me to let go of those hard earned dollars.  That might explain why I don’t go to the grocery store too often.  Judy will send me looking for a can of beans.  When I get there, I find out that there are all kinds of beans, and some are cheaper than others.  So, it might take me a couple of days to decide which one to buy.  Hmmm…how about that?

Another thing that I have learned is that money isn’t good or bad…it is just money…a tool that we can use either wisely or foolishly. One of those verses in the Bible that is often misquoted says that money is the root of all evil.  Turns out that isn’t what the Bible says at all.  It says that the love of money is the root of all evil.  In other words, when we start worshiping money or when greed becomes a monster in our lives…we are in deep weeds, and the answer to all of that is—generosity.

So, it turns out what to do with money is one of those lifelong lessons.  I’m grateful the ten-year-old Dewayne was taught to work but I wish he had learned a lot earlier about giving, sharing, and saving. But the good news is that it is never too late to change.  One of the greatest joys in life is sharing with others.  I think it must be a Jesus thing because He always shared with those around Him.  If you need some help, why not ask the One who owns it all…and chooses to share with you.  Take it to the bank (pun intended) He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne 

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Out of Alignment

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Something told me I was a day late and a dollar short. A couple of years ago we bought a “new to us” car.  It was a 2014 Volkswagen Jetta.  I drove all the way up near St. Louis to look at their lot full of Jetta cars.  Volkswagen had gotten in trouble about emissions and recalled all their diesel cars.  It took them a couple of years to get them fixed and rerelease them to the market.  Judy and I decided to dive into the diesel market and get one.

So, off I went to St. Louis.  When I arrived, I saw dozens and dozens of VW Jettas.  However, the problem was most of them were in pretty rough shape.  Apparently as the owners turned them in, they decided to treat them like an unloved dog.  Even after they cleaned them up it was pretty apparent, they had lived a hard-knock life.  So, with my trusty salesman by my side, I went from car to car to car—with no luck.  I’m particular about cars and these were not making the cut.

Finally, after checking almost every car in my price range, we found one that was not as perfect as I wanted, but it was the best one available.  I drove it and liked it and before long it was ours.  Driving it home I noticed that the VW emblem on the steering wheel was not pointing straight up.  Hmmmm.  But trying to control my perfectionism I chose to ignore it—for a while.

So, even though it was “Judy’s car”, it had to go.  I asked my super mechanic, Chris, if we could pull the steering wheel and straighten it up.  He said, “You don’t have a steering wheel problem, you have a front-end problem. You need a front-end alignment.”  Well, what about that. I had noticed the car was not wanting to stay straight on the highway, but I didn’t think too much about it.  I should have.

After we got the front end aligned and sure enough there it was—the VW emblem was straight up and down.  Yay—I said. Problem solved…and it was.  However, the problem was that I had waited too late.  Then, a little later I was looking at my front tires and realized that the outside tread was virtually gone…outta there. My choice to ignore and live with a problem ended up costing me nearly $500.00 dollars for new tires.  Bummer.  Big bummer. Oftentimes, procrastination can be very expensive.

Life can be like a car out of balance. It got me thinking, what in our lives might be a little misaligned, out of balance?  What habit, what misplaced priority, what sins are we hiding, ignoring, or choosing to not take care of? I know, it seems easier not to worry about it, but truth be known, the longer we wait the more it costs. The longer we wait the bigger the consequences and the greater the regrets.  It has been said that if you aim for the moon and are less than one degree off you will end up somewhere, but it won’t be the moon…it might be Mars.

Solomon, one of the smartest guys in Bible, said it best. He said that we should learn to trust in the Lord with everything we’ve got, and don’t try to figure it out on our own. He goes on to say that in all our ways check with Him and He will make our paths straight. Make. Our. Paths. Straight.  In other words, if the steering wheel on our life is crooked, He can give us the realignment that we need.  He can make our lives straight.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think I will save the $500.00 next time and head to the alignment place as soon as I notice something’s going wrong.  I think I’m gonna do the same thing with life.  When my “VW emblem” is a little crooked or I find myself pulling away from the One who loves me most—I’m gonna head to the Master mechanic and let Him check me out.  I can trust Him.  The Creator always knows the creation best.  I’ll rest in the waiting room while He works.  I know He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, wisdom

Bruiser

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

I saw it coming.  I never saw it coming.  Both are true, and the truth is, it didn’t matter. So, about a month ago now, two-thirds of the family (that would be two of my three daughters and their families) were able to jail break and go to Florida for a week.  The middle daughter had been going to the Palm Coast of Florida for the last several years and she suggested we give it a try. I was a reluctant participant.

You see, I was raised on the Northeast coast of Florida.  My growing up years consisted of regular trips to the beach.  Many years later I discovered the Gulf coast with its sugary white sands and clear blue-green waters, and I was sold.  Because of this, I wasn’t overly excited when the plans for the East coast were drafted.  However, having done life being the only male in the house (there was my wife, three daughters, a girl dog, a girl cat or two and six female tropical fish.  Even the mice in the barn were girls.) I realized that resistance was futile.  So off to the East coast we went.

I was pleasantly surprised.  We were about an hour or so South of Jacksonville (where I was raised) in a nice condominium complex. We shared the place with our middle daughter and family, and it was just perfect.  It overlooked the golf course with a great view of the ocean.  The grounds were well maintained, and it had two very nice pools—one family and one for the adults who liked things a little quieter.  The normal vacation crowd was much smaller and that was good news given the COVID thing. The only problem was “they” were there.

“They” were waves.  Pretty big waves.  You see on the Gulf side you usually have little friendly waves.  The waves gently bump into you and seem to say, “Hi, we are glad you are here.”  The waves in the Atlantic are from the Southside of Chicago.  They are gangster waves. When we went to the beach they were waiting.  This is the part I remember from my growing up and from one or two vacations from earlier years.  You can hear them before you see them.  They are inviting you into the water—so they can bully you.

Anyway, we get to the beach, and you know they didn’t look too intimidating.  I mean they weren’t gentle “hey, glad you are here waves” but they weren’t “terminator” waves either.  We set our stuff down on the beach and off we went into the water.  First, I tested the waves with a knee-deep stand.  Not bad.  Then I went a little deeper.  Still not too bad but I could begin to feel them.  They wanted me.  They had my number.

I was out in waist deep water and realized the power of perception.  Those waves that didn’t seem so big from shore were suddenly larger—much larger.  I turned to talk to Judy who was close by and looked back just in time to see a large wave coming.  Fortunately, I was able to keep my footing and survived the onslaught.  I smiled.  My sunglasses were still on my face and my hat was still on my head.  I was an overcomer.  Who’s the man now?! That’s when “Bruiser” came.

“Bruiser” was epic, “Bruiser” had one goal in mind—take me down.  I saw him coming but it was too late.  “Bruiser” was well over my head and broke right on top of me.  One minute I was standing and the next minute I was in a washing machine of ocean water…in the spin cycle.  When I came to surface, of which I was very grateful, “Bruiser” had moved on.  My swim shirt was over my head, my hat was gone, and my pride and body were a little bruised.  He had won. I had taken on the big boy and come up short.  Probably worse of all my Seattle hat, the one I had worn for several years was lost to the jaws of “Bruiser.”   It never had a chance.  May he rest in peace.

Well, one time in the spin cycle was enough for me that day. And somewhat gratefully I was glad to learn that others in the family had suffered similar fates. Even the son-in-laws got bowled over a time or two. Hats and sunglasses were lost but what was found was the joy of being with family.  We had a good time.

I did learn, or perhaps more accurately, relearn a lesson about the waves of the Atlantic.  They can be powerful.  Usually there is a flag system that warns of particularly rough waves.  Our beach didn’t have that, but I later heard on the news there had been some big waves.  Oh well, hindsight is 20/20.  Sometimes they manage to sneak in but even when you see them coming, they can take you down.

Life is the same way.  A day at life’s beach can quickly turn into a spin cycle of ocean water.  We can get bowled over by circumstances, uncertainties, tragedies, and pandemics. Even when we see them coming, they can be overwhelming.  After my encounter with “Bruiser” that day, I decided it was time to visit the pool—eventually all of us did.  The Bible says, “The one who walks with the wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.”  Translated another way that means there is a time to swim in the ocean and there is a time to head to the pool. Wisdom is knowing when to do what. Wisdom is also knowing that no matter what life throws at you, we can rest in the One who makes the waves because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, Southern born, wisdom

My Clock is a Liar

Hi Grits Family! Hey, my wife Judy and I are going to be “out of pocket” aka “not available” to write for the next couple of weeks.  During that time, we decided to send out some of our past stories.  I hope you enjoy the ones we selected and look forward to some “fresh Grits” in a couple of weeks. God bless.  Bro. Dewayne

You are of your father the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44

My clock lies to me.  Throughout my life I have had times when I collect things.  Once it was eagles.  To this day I love eagles but there was a time I would go to the mall or any store that might sell them and tell Judy, “I’m going to look for eagles.”  If I found one, I would buy it.  Not too long ago it was BB guns.  It started with a Red Ryder model (the one from the movie, “A Christmas Story”).  The next thing I knew I had nine BB guns and pistols.  Boom. Just like that. Over the years urges have come and gone but there is one that has kinda stuck with me.  Clocks.

A long time ago (and in a galaxy far, far away…you know, like the Star Wars movies) I started collecting clocks.  Unlike eagles and BB guns, this one can get rather pricy.  But it started rather innocently.  When Judy and I were stationed in Germany near the French border, we went to a flea market with a couple of good friends.  My friend spied a German wall clock laying on the ground, halfway in a mud puddle and ended up buying it.  The long story made short is that I ended up talking him out of it.  It was a swap kinda thing.  It is a bing-bam clock which means it strikes on the hour and half-hour.  It was pretty old then, and now, 42 years later, it is like me, a lot older.

It is a special clock because of the story and all the memories but it does have a problem.  It lies.  You see, over the years it has developed this nasty habit of saying one thing and doing another.  As I mentioned, it is designed to bing-bam on the half-hour and then on the hour it counts the time out.  If it is 4:00 then it will bing-bam four times.  You can hear it shouting out the time almost throughout the house.  It was nostalgic and handy.  And then it starting lying. It started innocently enough—at 1:00 it would sound two times instead of once.  It was predictable so I just lived with it.  Now, well now, it lies big time.  Randomly, and throughout the day it sounds the wrong time.

Well, adjusting the clock is quite easy…or at least it is supposed to be.  So, if it was showing 4:00 but counting five, I would simply stopped the clock and moved the hour hand to five.  I waited an hour to restart the clock—problem solved—or not.  I restarted old faithful and at 6:00 it sounded five.  So, I slid the hour hand to 5:00 and waited and sure enough it chimed six.  No matter what I did the clock lied.  It has stubbornly developed a very bad habit. Hmmmm.

Fortunately for the old clock, I like it a lot. Its value to me goes way beyond its value as a time teller—it is part of the family.  Because of that, I’m willing to tolerate its bad habit.  I don’t like it.  I don’t trust it. It is frustrating, but in this case, it is mostly harmless.  I simply have learned to believe it when I can read the dial but not when I can only hear it.  It’s a negotiated settlement. That works fine for clocks—but it is not fine for people.

When I was growing up telling the truth was a pretty big deal.  Now, I would be the last to tell you that I always did it.  I didn’t.  But the bottom line was if you did the crime—you did the time.  Lie and get caught (and invariably I did) and Alston and Leslie (that’s daddy and mama) made sure you received a refresher course on the importance of telling the truth. Whether it was a spanking or washing my mouth out with soap—I learned lying was a bad deal.

I think daddy and mama must have talked to Jesus about it because He thought it was a big deal too. One time, there was a group of religious leaders who had a problem speaking or even liking the truth.  Jesus cut loose on them and said, “You are just like your father the devil.  When he lies he is just speaking his natural language.  He is the father of lies and the truth is not in him.”  Wow—so if you ever wonder why lying made the big ten—now you know.

Today we live in a culture of convenience and whatever works for you—you kinda go with it.  If telling a lie makes things a little easier—just cut loose and worry about the consequences later. Its like the 60’s “if it feels good do it” on steroids.  Just know this.  No matter what culture says lying is a big deal—regardless if you are a preacher, a politician, or the guy next door.  God says it so it is a nonnegotiable for His followers. Oh, and even if you’re not a God follower you will still find life has fewer consequences and less regrets when you make the truth the standard.

As I finish this story, the old clock got it right.  An hour ago—it got it wrong.  Good grief…I just wish it would make up its mind to tell the truth.  Speaking of truth—here are two you can count on every time.  First…you can always trust and rest in creator God.  Second…He’s got this.  And that friend—is the truth.  Bro. Dewayne

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

Got Your Boots On?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

Thank you, Ruby and Laura.  I was preparing for a message that I was going to share at the church I pastor.  I am always amazed how God brings to my mind different angles and ideas and illustrations to help make a truth stick.  I learned a long time ago if we can’t remember what we hear, well, it can’t help us a lot.  Stories help things to stick.  They are like “duct tape” and I’ve learned that sermons need a lot of duct tape.

The message was about being ready…ready for whatever God has next in our lives.  And for the record that can be just about anything.  My wife, Judy, and I have had several God “whatevers” through the years. Some we saw coming and some we didn’t, but it was always exciting to know that God was and is on the move.  Well, when I thought about being ready, I remembered part of a message that pastor John Piper taught.  He was speaking in the year 2000 to a huge group of young people and he was making the point that they should make their lives matter.  Well, let’s just say he did a good job.

As part of his message that day, he told the story of two women, Ruby and Laura.  Ruby was a nurse who had committed her entire life to caring for the poor and broken of the world for the cause of Christ.  She chose to remain single so she could devote everything…everything…to her mission. She was all in…one hundred percent.  Laura was a medical doctor who took “early retirement” so she could do the same thing.  She wanted to make a bigger difference, so she closed up shop and joined Ruby doing mission work.

So, they were loving God and loving people in Cameroon, East Africa.  By the time the story was told, they were, well, older.  Ruby was into her eighties and Laura was chasing her…she was in her very late seventies.  As John Piper tells the story, these two incredible ladies were driving their jeep in the mountains when, without warning, their brakes went out and they sailed over a cliff and literally into eternity.  Both ladies died in the crash and both ladies went out “with their boots on.”  At a time when most would be at home rocking grandbabies, they were still making a difference.

I know, some would say what a tragedy it was that these two ladies died that day.  Some would wonder why they just didn’t play it safe.  I have a feeling that Ruby and Laura would tell us that they were playing it safe—because their lives were not held by circumstance or chance but rather by God.  They would tell us they danced into eternity with the One they loved…Jesus and they would, of course, be right.

I find myself desiring to finish well.  I know, I will not be a Ruby or a Laura, but I do want to go out “dancing” with the One who loves me most and best.  I want to go out with my boots on.  Sometimes we see our later years as years to relax but I wonder if we aren’t missing something. Maybe our later years are our best years to serve Him and them.  Maybe our later years are intended to be the finest chapters of our lives.

Tomorrow, Judy and I will be getting on a plane and flying to Europe to minister to a group of folks from East Africa. They are in a poverty-stricken area and few, if any, know Jesus.  It is going to challenging but it also is going to be a great adventure. I won’t be driving a jeep on dangerous mountain roads, so I won’t have to worry about my brakes giving out. Smile.  But I do know that no matter what, our lives are in the hands of our Dearest Daddy and that is never a bad thing.  In fact, there is nothing better.

Paul, the guy who wrote a chunk of the New Testament, knew about dangerous mountain roads and losing your brakes.  He was an “all in” sorta guy and ultimately was martyred for his faith.  Anyway, he wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” In other words, if God chose to keep him here on earth…that was good.  If God chose to call him heaven…that was good too.  All that mattered was living “all in” and going out “with his boots on.”

So, no matter what, if you are a Jesus person let me encourage you to go “all in” and leave the details to the One who loves you most.  If you haven’t discovered Jesus yet, let me encourage you to make that your pursuit starting now.  It is a journey you won’t regret.  Living “all in” and being willing to go out “with your boots on” can sound daunting. Truth is, it just doesn’t sound daunting…it is.  The good news is the One who loves you most will always be right by your side, whispering softly, “Go ahead, don’t worry, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Memorial Day, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Bumped. Bruised. Battered.

When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them.”  Matthew 9:36

It was the week before Memorial Day.  Well, believe it or not, I have started exercising again.  For the last six weeks, I have been walking a couple of miles five times a week. To keep it interesting, I try and walk different routes.  So, on the Thursday before Memorial Day, I decided to walk in our local cemetery.  It is quite large, and I had a route picked out that was about nine tenths of a mile long.  I would do two laps and then part of another to get my two miles in.

I like walking in the cemetery because of all the stories that are told on the various headstones. It is almost like walking through a large library with each headstone representing the book of a person’s life.  The length of life and the things they valued are often shown. Some have many details and others leave that up to the living to figure it out. However, on that particular Thursday, I noticed that many of the graves were marked with an American flag…the symbol of our great country.  These were largely on the graves of those who had served their country.  There were dozens and dozens, and I found my eyes drawn to them…and what they represented.

It was then that I noticed something.  While many of the flags were pointed straight to the sky above…others were not.  Some were bumped and haphazardly pointed someplace besides up.  They had been hit by something…whether a careless foot or lawnmower.  Others had been knocked completely down and lay in the grass and dirt…someplace they were never intended to be and then some had become victims of the mower’s blade and lay tattered. As I walked something began to stir in me.  It occurred to me that someone should do something.  It just wasn’t right.  And then it also occurred that that someone was me.

So, as I walked, I began straightening some, replanting others and gathering the shredded remains of others.  Yes, it did require some time, it did require some detours, but it was worth every minute.  It simply was the right thing to do.  On Saturday, I found myself again back at the cemetery and once again straightening, replanting and gathering shreds to be property disposed of later.  It was right and it felt right.  When I once again entered the cemetery that Memorial Day Monday, I looked at the flags and felt a good sense of pride that I had made a difference…not to all but to some.  And then it hit me.

In a moment of time, I didn’t see flags but I saw people. I realized that all around me were people that had been bumped, bruised, and battered.  And I began to wonder what could I do to help them?  I know that often there isn’t a fix…certainly not one as easy as picking up or straightening up a flag in a cemetery but maybe – just maybe, a kind word or action could help the wounded, the bruised, and the bumped have a better day.

So, today I write a story, but I am also writing a reminder to me, to you, to all of us.  The reminder is to look around with seeing eyes and look for the wounded and the hurting and extend a hand, a hug, or a heart.  And who knows, another day when you see that person you may see their step is a little lighter and their smile a little brighter…because you took the time to straighten the bumped, replant the bruised, and maybe help pick up the pieces of a broken life.  It is probably risky, and may be costly, but trust me it will be worth it.

Jesus was so good at this.  One time He was coming ashore after a ride across a lake, and he was greeted by a whole crowd of bumped, bruised, and battered people and the Bible simply says, “When He saw the people, He had compassion on them.” He loved them, touched them, and sometimes even served them lunch.  He simply couldn’t leave them the way they were…love wouldn’t allow it.  If you are a Jesus follower…and even if you are not…love demands that we act. Love demands that we show a little kindness.  Sound challenging?  It is but know this…that God you believe in or at least want to believe in is just waiting to help.  Trust me…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

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

At the Door

Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20

My doorbell can talk.  We are blessed at 217.  The original part of the house is well over a hundred years old. Back in those days it had a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and probably a dining room.  Well, at the end of World War II a family bought it and totally remodeled it.  They added a living room, a couple more bedrooms and a breakfast area.  They took it from wood siding to brick and added a new front and rear entrance. And that is where my talking doorbell comes in.

I’ve always heard that backdoor friends are best and at our house that is the door we use and most of our guests use.  The front door is nice to look at, but it pretty much sits there looking pretty.  But just in case someone wants to use it, we have a doorbell there and at the backdoor.  Well, I’m not sure how it works but when that occasional someone comes to the front door and mashes the doorbell, inside we get a ding-dong sound.  But, when someone comes to the backdoor, we get a ding and skip the dong.  It’s a nice way to know which door to go to…if we can remember which is which.

For whatever reason, sometimes we don’t hear the doorbell, but we have a backup system.  On the front door we have a knocker and in the event, we don’t respond quickly enough, we get a rap, rap, rap. The back door is just a little more old-fashioned.  There the backup is a knock, knock, knock.  The important thing is that we know someone is at the door and would like to come in.

There is a scripture in the New Testament part of the Christian Bible that talks about knocking at the door.  It is found in the book of the Revelation, and it describes Jesus standing at a door and He is knocking…desiring to come in.  And the verse also says that if we are willing to open that door He would like to come in and have a visit.  For some folks, perhaps His visit would be for the first time.  He is saying, “Let Me come and be a part of your life.” For others, it is like a good friend coming for a visit—you know a cup of coffee and a piece of pie kind of visit.  Either way, He is courteous enough to wait for us to respond.

In today’s world, unannounced guests are not too common. In fact, show up unannounced and you might get a strange look or two.  But in the time of Jesus, guests are always expected and always welcomed.  It is just the way that it was.  In our busy, hurry-up world, we are often too busy to take the time for a visit—even from a man like Jesus.  Each time He knocks on the door, He brings more than He takes.  He isn’t there to bother but to love. He isn’t there to judge but to bless.  It is one visit you don’t want to miss.

I know each of us at one time or another, deliberately ignore the door.  We are either too tired, too busy, or too something else.  But the next time you hear the doorbell of your life, the next time you hear the knock, knock, knock at the door of life, I hope you will go and see who is standing there.  It just might be Jesus and a visit from Him is always worth the time.  Maybe you can settle down in the living room and chat a while…maybe share a few worries or concerns.  And then, because it is just what he does, He will smile and tell us not to worry because, as always, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful, travel, USA, wisdom

Mountains or Monuments

Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18

It was on my bucket list.  I confess…I am a pretty big fan of America. I mean, even with all of its warts, and there are plenty, with all its flaws, surely a bucket full, it is the best place to call home.  Over the years I have visited over twenty-five countries—some in Europe, some in Asia and some in Africa.  Some were affluent, some were poor, and some were somewhere in between. All had something to offer but none could match this land I call home.  While some of my visits were brief, my wife Judy and I lived three years in Germany and the final word was…wait for it…home is better…there is and was no place like home.

I think the secret to learning to appreciate where you live is to learn to look for the good and not bad, the whole and not the broken.  The way we look at things can vastly change how we experience things.  A few days ago, I mentioned a quote from a movie that I had watched which, by the way, was based on a true story.  The guy said, “There are two ways to live—either nothing is a miracle, or everything is a miracle.” He opted for the latter and I think I will too.

Last year, we were out west on a trip with part of our tribe.  The main, but not only, destination was to see Mount Rushmore.  I’ve seen a chunk of America, but I hadn’t seen that…and yes, it was on my bucket list.  So, the day came. As we drove toward the monument, suddenly, around a curve we were face to face, if you will, with Washington, Roosevelt, Jefferson and Lincoln and it was amazing.  We parked the car and frankly, the closer we got, the more amazing it became.

This great tribute to America (no, it wasn’t just a tribute to four men) took over fourteen years to build.  As you keep in mind it was about ninety years ago, you begin to appreciate the vision, work, and skill that it took to turn a mountain into a monument.  I was amazed to learn that many of the workers, who often had 12 hours days, were paid about $14 dollars…a week.  Those were hard times, and they were grateful to have a job.  But for many…the job became a passion…a mission…a cause to believe in.

Somewhere along the journey, they stopped seeing a mountain and began to see presidents.  Somewhere along the journey they began to see what Gutzon Borglum saw. While the project wasn’t his idea (that belongs to a guy named Doane Robinson) he was the one that chose that mountain.  The quality of the stone led him there and, honestly, where others saw just a mountain, he saw presidents. He.Saw.Presidents.

So, perhaps, just perhaps, it does matter what we see around us.  Perhaps if we choose to see miracles…or like Borglum to see monuments where others see just a block of stone, perhaps we can help make this world a better place.  Perhaps our lives, regardless of our messy circumstances, will take on a deeper meaning and a deeper purpose.  Perhaps if we learn that it is not about us but about others…things will change…for the better.

One of the writers in the Old Testament part of the Bible said that when people don’t have a vision, when they choose to see desolation rather than miracles, well, they perish.  It is true individually and it is true corporately.  If we are going to see a better world, two things need to happen.  First, we need to learn not to just see a mountain but what that mountain can become.  Secondly, and this one is for God followers, we need to believe again that with God nothing is impossible.  As we stand on the edge of the new normalcy, with that stinking COVID in the rearview mirror, let’s choose to believe again.  And why stop there?  Why don’t we determine to see presidents where others see mountains and believe that “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, 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