Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Me, Momma, and Mrs. Crabtree

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36

I went just a little too far.  When you are an overactive six-year-old, church can be quite difficult.  My pastor was one of my favorite people but when you’re an overactive six-year-old, preaching can be, well, a little boring.  I’ve always loved church music but when you’re an overactive six-year-old, well, the best singers just aren’t enough.  Momma tried to keep me busy.  Her favorite tool was to give me the bulletin and a pen or pencil and I would color in all the little circles.  You would be amazed how many different little circles there were each week.  Well, that would work for a while, but you know, when you are an overactive six-year-old, nothing is going to work for long.

Well, one particular Sunday, the circle thing didn’t even make it past the song service.  By the time they were passing the plates I was out of things to do.  The service was always very predictable.  There would be an opening song, the announcements, a couple of more songs, then the offering, a special music thing, and then the preaching.  After the pastor finished, we would have one more song and call it a day.  Of course, there were always a couple of prayers thrown in for good measure.  So, I knew it was just about time for the preacher to start preaching when I heard Mrs. Rosalyn Crabtree start singing.

Now let me tell you right now, Mrs. Crabtree could flat sing.  I don’t know if she had voice lessons or not, but she sounded like one of those opera singers.  When there was a solo in the choir it was usually Mrs. Crabtree who sang, and more often than not, she sang right before the preacher.  She and her husband Jake were two of my favorite people too.  They taught me in the youth department when I got older, and we even had Rosalyn sing at our wedding when my wife and I were married.  They were great folks.

But this Sunday, well, it was just destiny that I was going to get in trouble.  I was bored by the time the offering was done, so I started poking Momma in the side.  She had her girdle on and it always amazed me just how tight that thing was.  Well, she finally had enough of the poking and said so in a way that I knew if I continued, it wasn’t going to be pretty.  But then Mrs. Crabtree started to sing.  Well, while she was singing, I decided to cover my ears with my hands. Why?  Well, I guess that is what overactive-six-year-olds do.  Well, when I took my hands down there was obviously a big sound difference.  So, I put them back up and then took them down.  I had discovered a new game.

I thought this was a pretty grand entertainment. Momma didn’t think so.

I found out if I did this fast it made a “wa-wa” sound in my ears.  The faster my hands covered and uncovered my ears, the faster the “wa-wa.” I thought this was pretty grand entertainment. Momma didn’t think so. I stopped for a minute but decided it was worth the risk. It wasn’t.  Before I knew it, she and I were heading out the door. I had crossed the line and me and Momma had a little “come to Jesus” meeting.  And do you know what?  That urge to put my hands over my ears strangely disappeared and has never returned.  I guess you could say that Momma discovered a vaccine for that like the one for the COVID virus and it was highly effective. Very.highly.effective.

I am glad that I had a Momma who knew how and when to administer a little discipline…even if it meant taking me out smack dab in the middle of church.  And I am glad that we had a church where no one smirked, and no one said I shouldn’t be there.  We had a church where families and kids were more than welcome and I have tried to make sure that at the churches I pastor, the same is true today.  Rich or poor, black, white, or brown, young, or old—everybody is welcome.  I know that is the way it ought to be because that is the way that Jesus did it. I figure if that was the way He did it—we should do it too.

One time when Jesus was teaching, He looked at the people and had compassion on them because He saw them like a flock of sheep needing a shepherd. Compassion—love in action.  Compassion—love that says come on in, you are welcome here.  I like that.  You see, God is an inclusive God.  He even invites overactive six-year-olds like me and you into His presence.  And He’s always ready to help, always ready to love and always ready to say, “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel

Same Words, Different Melody

When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them.”  Matthew 9:36a

It was familiar but not.  One of the highlights of our recent trip to England was the opportunity to experience so many things that were similar to life in America but at the same time different.  After all, we all spoke English, but our English and the English the Brits spoke was just a little different.  More on that in another story.  We both drive cars but on different sides of the road.  They drive on the left (who knows why) and we drive on the right because…we are right.  We like (love) ice in our drinks, and when we ask for ice, they look at you like, “What?” Crisps are potato chips and flats are apartments.  Like I said..we both speak English but not quite the same.

Another thing I enjoyed while there was attending worship.  I am a Christian who happens to be a Baptist.  The church I attended there was Baptist too and while it was the same, it was different.  They didn’t have offering plates…they used these little bag things with a pole attached.  It was like a fish net but was made a cloth instead of netting.  One of the things we really loved…and wished we could import…was the fellowship time at the end of the service.  After the last prayer, instead of rushing out the door to the nearest restaurant or appointment, everyone, gathered at the back of the worship hall and just visited.  There were some light refreshments but mostly people just talked.  How novel.

One thing that was a little different was the songs that they sang.  While some were familiar there were several that were totally new to us.  So, I was glad when the song person said we were going to sing, “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”  That is a wondrous (pun intended) song and one of the older hymns that I enjoy singing.  As the instruments, a piano, flute, and guitar began to plan the introduction…something wasn’t quite right…not familiar.  And soon, very soon, I realized that while I knew the words, I certainly wasn’t familiar with the melody. How about that?  Same song, same words, different melody.

So, I jumped right in and worked my way through the unfamiliar melody motivated by the beautiful familiar words.  And even with the different melody, the words carried me into worship.  And just about then it hit me.  In life, church or no church, we can come together and do life.  We may walk or dance to a different tune but still can be carried by the same message.  Wouldn’t it be a better world if we realized that we are all created by the same God and the things that make us different are not a weakness but a strength?  Wouldn’t it be a better world if we were not driven apart by skin color, or our heart language or the social economic station we are in life?  Let me tell you. It.Would.Be.Better.

Of the thousand things that I love about Jesus, one of the best is that He loves people.  Period.  When He lived here, He just saw people as people.  Some might have been more broken than others, but He loved them all the same.  One time a bunch of people met Him on the shore as He got out of a boat.  I’m sure there were all kinds of people there that day but all He saw was people and the Bible just says He had compassion on them.  He loved them.

If you are a Jesus follower, or even if you are not, why not follow the example of this lowly man from an obscure part of the world.  Why not set out today to see people as people…and love them regardless.  Even if they look different, speak different, believe differently or, gulp, vote differently than you…why not just love them?  If you happen to be a Jesus person, well, I’m sure that is something that would make Him smile…and if not well…He probably would smile anyway.  Accepting people as people isn’t easy but with a little help from the One who made us…anything is possible.  In other words, He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Grace, gratitude, life, love, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Mona Lisa

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 wonder if he really knew it? I’m talking about Leonardo de Vinci.  He was the painter of the infinitely famous “Mona Lisa.”  It has been called “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world.” Now by any standard that is a masterpiece.  It was finished around 1517 and is likely the portrait of Lisa Gherardini.  Its name “Mona Lisa” would translate to Ma’am Lisa.  I’m glad her name was Lisa or else we would have Mona Hazel or Mona Gertrude. Nice names but, well, you know.

But did he know it?  I wonder if de Vinci realized what a powerful masterpiece he had created?  Did he know the way he captured her smile, or the light would captivate the world? I suppose that in his lifetime the painting was appreciated but did it make it to rock star status?  But there really is a bigger question.  Did she know it?

Did Mona Lisa know that the portrait of herself was a masterpiece destined to be the most valuable painting in the world?  Did she know that her slightest of smiles would capture the hearts of men and appreciation of women?  Did she ever look in her mirror and see herself for what she was, a masterpiece?

Can I ask you a question?  What do you see when you glance in the mirror?  Do you know that the someone staring back at you is as valuable as the Mona Lisa? Do you know that even though you are not famous in the neighborhood, you are famous in the halls of heaven?  It’s true.

Ephesians 2:10 is one of my absolute favorites.  It seems to pop up over and again in Grits.  It says,  “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.” You see an artist far more talented, far more substantial than Leonardo de Vinci created you.  He carefully applied stroke after stroke and then stood back, looked at His work, and declared you a masterpiece.  Declared you, yes you, a masterpiece.

Don’t ever doubt this. You are what God declares you to be.  Don’t let a glance in the mirror, don’t let a harsh comment from a friend or critic, don’t let an act of unkindness steal that away.  You are a masterpiece.  Don’t let your crazy circumstances, your empty portfolio, the nameless brand of your clothing, or your street address, steal that away.  You are a masterpiece.

In our bathroom, we have two small tiles with a few words on them.  They are small in size, but the words are massive.  Here is what they say, “It is not who you are that holds you back, but who you think you are not.”  There is real truth and freedom in those words.  So, if you are haunted by the thoughtless words of someone in your life and you are living that lie…today is freedom day.  Today is name change day.  You are not an accident, a mistake, or junk.  You are a masterpiece. God says so.

As we move on after a fabulous Easter Sunday, remember this.  Each time you worship, Easter or not—in church or not, you are praising Someone who thought so highly of you that He died for you.  He.Died.For.You. And then, like whip cream and cherry on a sundae He adds a description, “masterpiece.”

God bless you today.  The weather guy said it is going to be a beautiful day.  It’s gonna be a great day for a masterpiece like you to step outside and enjoy what the Master Creator has made–just for you.  Enjoy this day and rest in Him.  No matter what…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne