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

Posted in Family, food, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, priorities, Scripture, thankful, travel

Mushroom

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Scripture

Got a Truck?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

I needed a truck.  They say that there is one thing better than owning a truck.  It is having a friend with a truck.  Judy and I needed some new chairs for our patio.  We found what we wanted at a not-so-local home and garden center.  There were two problems.  First, the store was located exactly 36.6 miles from our house.  The other problem was the fact that eight chairs were not going to fit in our little car.

We used to have a van and that served as our pickup truck.  While it wasn’t too manly it did get the job done.  But now we have a little car.  The little car is zippy and the little car gets 42 miles per gallon but the little car will not carry eight chairs.  The fact of the matter is the little car will not carry one chair.  I had a problem. I needed a truck.  Fortunately for me I have a friend who has one.  He’s also the kind of friend you can call at 2:00 am and he will come.  He’s the kind of friend who would loan me is great, big, shiny pickup truck.

I called, he said yes, and soon Judy and I were on our way to pickup the pickup.  I had ridden in the truck before but never driven it.  It was a big, manly truck which probably explains why I ran over six curbs in the first five miles.  Judy, with some effort, climbed into the passenger side and I, with some effort, climbed into the driver’s side.  Instantly something happened.  As I slid behind the wheel I felt like John Wayne, Bruce Willis and Iron Man all rolled into one.  Watch out boys, here comes “the Duke.”

I felt manly. I found myself looking down at people in lesser vehicles to see if they were looking up at me and admiring my manly throne on wheels.  They weren’t.  But the bottom line is when I climbed into this massive hunk of raw steel, I felt more. Bigger. Stronger. Almost invincible.  Somehow, what I was in changed the way I saw myself.  Let me say that again.  What I was in changed the way I saw myself.

It was just about then that I realized the massive truck I was riding in was a lot like Jesus and me. You see the Bible teaches us that if anyone is in Christ they become a new creation.  Everything in the past is past and everything becomes new.  While climbing in the truck didn’t change who I was it did make me see myself differently.  Jesus goes one step further.  He not only makes me see myself differently…He in fact makes me different.  Climb into Jesus and things change—you change.  You become a new creation.

It gets even better.  In Romans 8:1, Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  No condemnation.  That means all the sins are forgiven and all the charges have been dropped.  I stand before the Judge knowing that I can’t be condemned. He wrote the law, passed the sentence and then paid the penalty. The Judge, paid the price for my sin.  That is amazing.

Why stop now?  Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship [His masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Whoa.  Masterpiece?  Created for good works?  You see, the truck made me feel like more but Jesus made me more.  Now don’t start getting all puffed up thinking you did something to deserve this.  It’s all Him.  The only thing we do is climb in and that happens only because we believe.  That’s it.  Faith alone. So, if you need a truck, I hope you have a good friend…the kind you can call at 2:00 am…the kind that will loan you his big, shiny truck.  But when it comes to a Savior, well, you can’t borrow that; you need Him for yourself, personally.  And the best part, He is just waiting for you to call.  He’s just waiting to make you new…to make you a masterpiece.  He’s just waiting to be there for you.  And all that stuff, the worry, anxiousness, fear, uncertainty, doubt, insecurity and a bunch of other stuff you’ve been carrying…just toss it in the back of His truck and let Him carry it.  You just rest in Him.  He’s got this.