Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

One Thing I Know

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Momma always knew best.  I was blessed to have a good Momma and Daddy.  They were everyday people but in so many ways they were anything but every day.  Willing to take on the task of raising eight children, they gave up a lot for us.  Daddy worked hard as a jet engine mechanic and Momma mostly stayed home and took care of us.  Momma was always there when we needed her.  I remember one time I was sick with a stomach virus.  It was the middle of the night and Momma sat down in an old wooden rocker we had and then invited me up into her lap.  There she gently held me.  It didn’t do much to ease my unhappy stomach, but it sure made my heart feel better.

Momma had her own brand of medicine.  As best as I can remember, Momma was a big believer in “family herd immunity.”  In case you are not familiar with that, it is where a certain illness is almost intentionally shared with members of the family, especially siblings. I guess Momma thought it was best to get it all over with at one time.  And it seemed to work.  I remember one of my sisters came down with the measles.  Rather than isolate her from my sister and I, Momma just put us all together in the double bed in the spare bedroom and waited.  Sure enough, we all promptly got the measles and we also all got well about the same time.  I’m not sure modern medicine would approve, but that’s ok.  It worked for us, and Momma was always there to help us get better.

However, Momma didn’t always use herd immunity.  When I was about nine, there was a pretty serious flu outbreak in our north Florida city.  I really don’t remember too much about it.  I also don’t remember if I became a patient or not.  But there is one thing I do remember—I knew what we had in our family wasn’t good and I felt I needed to do something—so I did.  I found a piece of paper and a pencil, and I made a sign warning other people to stay away.  The sign said something like this, “Warning.  We have the FLEW.  Don’t come in.” Even if my spelling wasn’t the best, it still got the message out.

When I was in the second grade, Momma’s brand of herd immunity took on a different look.  My sister Kathy was not feeling well so Momma took her to the doctor, and I tagged along.  Dr. Smothers was our ears, nose, and throat doctor.  He checked my sister out and it was determined that she had tonsillitis.  That was something a lot of kids back then seemed to get. Well, Dr. Smothers suggested to Momma that perhaps it was time for my sister to get her tonsils out.  Again, back then that was the standard treatment.  So, Momma agreed and then said to Dr. Smothers, “Why don’t we take Dewayne’s out too?”  Hmmmm.  Herd immunity strikes again. So, the doctor says, “Well, Dewayne, what do you say?  Would you like to get your tonsils out too?”  Now I had no clue what in the world he was talking about.  But I think he said something about all the ice cream you wanted, and I was in.  A few days later I found myself in the hospital with my sister and the world’s worst sore throat.  I’m still not sure if that ice cream was worth it!

I’m sure there are many more stories about Momma’s medical skills and judgement, but they have slipped from my memories.  But let me tell you one thing that hasn’t slipped away, that is the concrete knowledge that my Momma loved me.  Whether it was the measles, the flu, or getting rid of some pesky tonsils, Momma always did what she thought was best for us.  Some people probably wouldn’t agree with her medical practices, but I know everything she did was for our good.  For my good.

And do you know what?  I think that is just another way my Momma was like God.  You see, God is constantly working in my life for my good and His glory.  I mean He is working out His purposes but at the center, at the core of it all is—my good.  The Bible verse that is so poplar is so true.  It goes like this, “all things work together for good, for those who love God, the ones who are called according to His purpose.”  Like I have said so many times that doesn’t mean that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all things.  I know Momma loved me a lot but even her love must pale to the love that God has for me—for us.

Now I am certain if you asked me in the middle of encounter with measles, that truth might have been a little clouded.  If you asked me after the surgery to remove my tonsils, well, I probably would have doubted it.  But in the long run, looking back—well, my Momma loved me and did her best to show that love.  So, today if you bump into a hot mess—today if things go south and it is hard…maybe real hard—just remember how much God loves you.  You can take it to the bank—it is a sure bet.  When life leaves you hurting worse than a bad stomachache, you just crawl up in His lap and let His strong arms ease the pain away.  Then, just nod off and take a nap.  You can safely do that because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Unwanted Legacy

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

1 Corinthians 15:33

It was an unwanted legacy.  My wife Judy and I have three adult daughters. It is a standing joke in our house that anything that is bad or negative (weight, cholesterol, heart issues, blood pressure, etc) always come from me…the dad.  The good stuff invariably is attributed to the mom.  Now there can be no doubt that our daughters get their good looks from her, but I think there might be a little prejudice about this other stuff.  I am sure it all can’t possibly come from me.  Or can it?  You see, sometimes I think that I might, accidentally, unintentionally pass on an unwanted legacy.  Let me give you an example.

So back in August of last year I went dancing with my worse girlfriend, Corena.  In case you don’t know that was my nickname for the COVID virus.  Yes, I had been vaccinated but regardless she asked if I wanted to dance and apparently, I said yes.  It wasn’t fun.  As COVID cases go, might wasn’t too bad but it was enough to make me glad when the dance was over. Fortunately, as far as I know, no one, including my wife, came down with it.  After a week or so, it was all over and in the rearview mirror.  No harm, no foul just a bump in the road of life.

Well, late this past fall I started feeling crummy again.  I checked in with my doctor and friend and he quickly diagnosed me with the flu—let’s nickname that “Flo”.  Now this wasn’t the stomach flu…this was the real deal.  I’m not sure if it was Type A or Type B but I do know it was the kind that made you want to die. It, like Corena, lasted long enough for me not to want to have it again and I was glad when she waltzed out of the room.

Well, it all started on a Friday evening. I developed a cough and just started crashing.  Unfortunately, three of my grandsons were spending the night and not knowing what the deal was…they just cuddled up with “Papa.” As the night went on it was apparent that I had something, but we just didn’t know what.  The next day they all loaded up and went home and I went to bed. At the time I didn’t know what I had but I hated that I might have infected them. My diagnosis didn’t arrive until Sunday and the bad news came on Monday.

Yup…my daughter called and two of the three had an unexpected, unwanted legacy.  It wasn’t high blood pressure, or cholesterol, or hair loss…it was the flu.  Fortunately, there weren’t any complications, but they sure felt lousy for several days.  I can remember Judy talking on her phone to our daughter with the speaker on and I could hear one of coughing and it just broke my heart.  Unexpected, unintentional, or not…I had infected, impacted them.  It was an unexpected, unwanted legacy.

Well, all that thankfully is in the rearview mirror but the whole deal left me with an important lesson.  Whether it is a health deal or some other sort of deal, we need to understand and realize that we are all impacting those around us.  And, often, it is the ones closest to us…the ones we love the most.  Of course, there are plenty of good legacies and for those we can and should be grateful and proud.  But there are others…actions and words that scar or habits that hurt…that we need to arrest so we can avoid passing them down and around.  Perhaps it would be a good idea to take our “legacy temperature” frequently. Perhaps we should ask and honestly answer the question, “Is there something that might be a story, a memory, a habit that might be an unwanted legacy?” If there is, we should take action to stop it or change it.  The good news is- rarely is it too late to stop before there is an unwanted impact or infection.

It’s probably not the best verse for this story but it sure rings true.  Paul, the one who wrote a bunch of the New Testament Bible said, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Usually, bad company is intentional, and unexpected and unwanted legacies are not…but the outcome can be same.  So, starting today, ask the hard questions and make sure what you are leaving behind is not only worth sharing but a story that would make others smile.  Need a little help?  I know just the one…my Dearest Daddy. He is always there, always willing to help.  He’s got this too. Bro. Dewayne

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The Word

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

It was bound to happen.  In my forty years of being a pastor I’ve managed to dodge the bullet on missing various things.  While I’ve had to miss several Sundays over the years, I never missed a wedding or a funeral.  Ironically, I almost got off to a really bad start. Yup, I almost missed my first wedding with a bout of the stomach flu.  With a bag in my pocket…we made it somehow.  I never missed a funeral…that is until now.  Last week came the type A flu…the kind that makes you think there are worse things than death…and I had to bow out.

It was hard.  It was the mother of a member of our church, a friend, and I was honored that he asked me to do her service.  Fortunately, I began preparing for the service several days before I got sick.  He had shared about his mother, and I wrote her life story.  With that done, I wrote the rest of the service.  I was sure I could do the service and that was a mistake.  So, the morning before the service that afternoon, I threw in the towel and asked one of our staff members to do the service and then texted my friend and called the funeral home.  I hated it but it was the right thing to do.

Suddenly, I was very grateful for the work I had done earlier that week.  I was able to give my work to our worship leader who would be filling in.  Now because of the short notice it was still a deal for him to step in, but the preparation and his willingness saved the day.  The bottom line was the service went great and the family was blessed.  The only problem was I felt like I had failed.  I know, I didn’t, but sometimes feeling trumps facts.  Know what I mean?

Well, I called the family later and told them I was so sorry and that I wished I could have been there for them.  They were very kind and understanding. After the phone call something came to my mind that changed my feelings of failure.  From nowhere, or maybe from God, came the words, “Dewayne, you weren’t there but your words were, and they made the difference.”  Instantly, I got it, I understood.  God’s plan for me this time was to be a part in a different yet important way.  God knew the flu was coming and He encouraged me to prepare and because of that preparation, the family was ministered too, and He got the glory.

“Even though I wasn’t there, my words, were.”  What a powerful thought.  It reminded me of how blessed we are to have the Word of God in our lives.  In so many parts of the world, people don’t have access to a copy of what we call the Bible.  In some places in the world, people treasure mere fragments of His Book.  Here in America, and other parts of the world, we can own multiple copies of this blessed Book.  No other book brings the comfort of His printed Word.  It is a confident assurance for no matter what we face.  There is a reason for that.  You see, the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us. It is unlike any other book.

As a matter of fact, speaking of Jesus, the Bible says, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.” Who is this “He?”  We find the answer a few verses later.  It says, “So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” All that makes the Bible even more amazing.  When we read the Book, we are experiencing, we are walking, hand in hand, with God.  Wow.  Even though God is not physically here…His Word is and that makes the difference.

If you have never checked out the Bible, Christmas is a great time to start.  Discover it for yourself. Get a copy or get online and discover the power and presence of the Word of God.  It is filled with peace, comfort and promises.  And throughout all the pages you will find that special promise that means so much, “I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne 

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

Corena came First

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

They say that some people have all the luck. And those same people would probably agree with the statement, “If it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” Well, I have never been a big fan of luck.  I rather lean toward the sovereignty and providence of God.  That word providence is from the Latin that means “to see before”.  Add in sovereignty and you have more than seeing…you have action. You end up with God watching and allowing somethings while disallowing others.  It’s been said that, “God must have a sense of humor” and that is something I can definitely agree with.  In fact, I am glad that He does.

So back in January and February of this year, as soon as I could get the COVID shot I did.  I figured the chances of getting COVID were greater than the chances of growing a horn or something else from the shot.  So I was vaccinated. I didn’t feel well for a few hours with each shot but other than that…I was good to go…and go I did.  There was a new sense of normalcy and freedom… and I wasn’t the only one. People started moving and traveling just like the good old days…well, sorta anyway.

Life was good, life was fun until August rolled around.  Sometime around mid-August I started to feel lousy…almost like a sinus infection.  I’m known to get those every once in a while and I figured this was just one of those times.  The problem was it just got worse and worse and in a couple of days I was just sick.  Against my will, my wife forced me to call the doctor.  My doctor is the kind of doctor you want…he is my friend and he genuinely cares for me.  I told him what was going on and and I said, “I don’t want to take the test but I will if you think I should. Anybody wanna guess what he said?  Yup…that would be a yes.  Anyway, I was a breakthrough case—positive in spite of the shot. I am sure the shot helped the severity of the case, but I still got it.  I guess I should have read the small print that came with the shot: this shot does not prevent COVID. Hmmmm

So after the infusion and ten days in lockup I was on the road again. Life was good, life was fun and so Corena, my pet name for COVID, was long in the rearview mirror.  So, remember that thing about getting your flu shot?  Was I the only one who had it on their to-do list but didn’t quite get around to it? Am I the only one that wishes they had?  Well, last Thursday, on the way home from our trip to Atlanta for Operation Christmas Child, I developed a little pesky cough. Over the next 24 hours it became just a little more pesky.  I even made a joke about it in a funeral I was doing that Friday.  Well, the cough got worse and worse and by that night I was feeling lousy.

All Friday night I coughed and I woke up Saturday in the pits of despair.  In an attempt to be optimistic, I thought I could still preach on Sunday (dumb) and thought I could still do a funeral I was asked to do Sunday afternoon (dumber).  Finally, Saturday night I gave up hope of preaching and Sunday afternoon I gave up hope of doing the funeral.  I called my doctor friend and because I had already had Corena and the vaccinations, the other suspect was…wait for it…the flu.  Good grief and holy moley. God sure knows how to slow a man down. At any rate, I did discover the difference between Corena and the flu.  Corena has the potential to kill you and the flu makes you wish you could die.

Well, I am into day four of the flu and besides feeling like a truck ran over me I am on the mend. And while I am still cataloging everything that I am supposed to learn from this, for sure it includes a continued trust in my Dearest Daddy and His marvelous sense of humor.  Somehow and someway He figured this was best for me.  James, the half-brother of Jesus said it like this, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” I like that…a lot.  Neither Corena or the flu felt good when I was in the throes of despair but through it all I still had the comfort of knowing that He loved me. Game. Set. Match.

So, if you are comfortable with it, go ahead and get your flu shot and whatever happens has got to be better that what I had.  And shot or no, just remember this, He is with you always. Looking back, one night at about 2.30 am, I just might have heard a whisper from the whisperer and He said, “Don’t worry son, I’ve got this.” Bro. Dewayne

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

Mama Knows Best

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Mama always knew best.  I was blessed to have a good mama and daddy.  They were everyday people but in so many ways they were anything but everyday.  Willing to take on the task of raising eight children, they gave up a lot for us.  Daddy worked hard as a jet engine mechanic and mama mostly stayed home and took care of us.  Mama was always there when we needed her.  I remember one time I was sick with some kind of stomach virus.  It was the middle of the night and mama sat down in an old wooden rocker we had and then invited me up into her lap.  There she gently held me.  It didn’t do much to ease my unhappy stomach but it sure made my heart feel better.

Mama had her own brand of medicine.  As best as I can remember, mama was a big believer in “family herd immunity.”  In case you are not familiar with that, it is where a certain illness is almost intentionally shared with members of the family, especially siblings. I guess mama thought it was best to get it all over with at one time.  And it seemed to work.  I remember one of my sisters came down with the measles.  Rather than isolate her from my sister and I, mama just put us all together in the double bed in the spare bedroom and waited.  Sure enough, we all promptly got the measles and we also all got well about the same time.  I’m not sure modern medicine would approve, but that’s ok.  It worked for us and mama was always there to help us get better.

However, mama didn’t always use herd immunity.  When I was about nine, there was a pretty serious flu outbreak in our north Florida city.  I really don’t remember too much about it.  I also don’t remember if I became a patient or not.  But there is one thing I do remember—I knew what we had in our family wasn’t good and I felt I needed to do something—so I did.  I found a piece of paper and a pencil and I made a sign warning others to stay away.  The sign said something like this, “Warning.  We have the FLEW.  Don’t come in.” Even if my spelling wasn’t the best, it still got the message out.

When I was in the second grade, mama’s brand of herd immunity took on a different look.  My sister Kathy was not feeling well so mama took her to the doctor and I tagged along.  Dr. Smothers was our Ears, Nose, and Throat doctor.  He checked my sister out and it was determined that she had tonsillitis.  That was something a lot of kids back then seemed to get. Well, Dr. Smothers suggested to mama that perhaps it was time for my sister to get her tonsils out.  Again, back then that was the standard treatment.  So, mama agreed and then said to Dr. Smothers, “Why don’t we take Dewayne’s out too?”  Hmmmm.  Herd immunity strikes again. So the doctor says, “Well, Dewayne, what do you say?  Would you like to get your tonsils out too?”  Now I had no clue what in the world he was talking about.  But I think he said something about all the ice cream you wanted and I was in.  So a few days later I found myself in the hospital with my sister and the world’s worst sore throat.  I’m still not sure if that ice cream was worth it!

I’m sure there are many more stories about mama’s medical skills and judgement but they have slipped from my memories.  But let me tell you one thing that hasn’t slipped away, that is the concrete knowledge that my mama loved me.  Whether it was the measles, the flu, or getting rid of some pesky tonsils, mama always did what she thought was best for us.  Some people probably wouldn’t agree with her medical practices but I know everything she did was for our good.  For my good.

And do you know what?  I think that is just another way my mama was like God.  You see, God is constantly working in my life for my good and His glory.  I mean He is working out His purposes but at the center, at the core of it all is—my good.  The Bible verse that is so poplar is so true.  It goes like this, “all things work together for good, for those who love God, the ones who are called according to His purpose.”  Like I have said so many times that doesn’t mean that every thing is good but that God can bring good from all things.  I know mama loved me a lot but even her love has to pale to the love that God has for me—for us.

Now I am certain if you asked me in the middle of encounter with measles, that truth might have been a little clouded.  If you asked me after the surgery to remove my tonsils, well, I probably would have doubted it.  But in the long run, looking back—well, my mama loved me and did her best to show that love.  So, today if you bump into a hot mess—today if things go south and it is hard…maybe real hard—just remember how much God loves you.  You can take it to the bank—it is a sure bet.  When life leaves you hurting worse than a bad stomach ache, you just crawl up in His lap and let His strong arms ease the pain away.  Then, just nod off and take a nap.  You can safely do that because, “He’s got this.”