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

Before Daybreak

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

Something just wasn’t right.  You know you never know what you are going to get when you stay with someone.  From the bed to what’s for breakfast, well, it’s all up for grabs.  That is especially true when it comes time to shower.  I’ve learned you just have to be flexible.  Sharing the house with my wife, three daughters and a girl dog meant that things could get pretty girly.

I am a man, so I used man soap.  It might be whatever was on sale, or it could even be Lava—that soap that grinds off the first layer of your skin.  One thing was for sure—it didn’t smell like a girl.  Then came all these women in our household along with the advent of body wash.  It wasn’t long before the Lava, he-man soap was replaced with something that smelled like roses or gardenias.  This really causes a problem when you walk into the office and smell like a garden.  The guys on staff kinda give you a strange look.

But here is the deal.  It didn’t stop with just the soap or even the shampoo.  It got down to the toothpaste.  Oh, it wasn’t that it tasted like flowers…it tasted like bubblegum.  Judy and I were recently spending the night with our daughter and son-in-law and their kids…a couple of our grandkids.  So, anyway, I survived the sweet-smelling soap and shampoo only to discover that I was out of toothpaste.  I looked around and gratefully found a tube on the vanity.  I didn’t read the label past the part that said, “toothpaste.”

I squirted a glob on my he-man electric toothbrush and proceeded to give my teeth the once over.  About two seconds in the process, I realized that this toothpaste tasted different.  You see, I am old-fashioned.  I believe that toothpaste should taste like peppermint on steroids.  You know, the kind that when you are done you know you don’t have bad breath.  And mouthwash? It’s gotta be the same.  I like to take a big swig of Listerine and swish it around for as long as I can stand it…about five-seconds.  Well, that day was not like any of that.

As I brushed, I realized this toothpaste was sweet and gooey.  It took me a moment before I could place the taste and then it hit me.  It was bubblegum.  Now, excuse me, but who ever heard of bubblegum toothpaste? What’s next, “Snickers?” I thought the whole point of this process was to clean your teeth not to birth a desire to blow bubbles.  What is the world coming to? Well, anyway, there was no other option, so I finished up.  I went out into the kitchen still kinda wanting to pucker my lips to blow a bubble.  And besides that—something just didn’t feel right and then it hit me.  It just didn’t feel clean…and I told Judy so.  I knew I had brushed my teeth, but it didn’t feel like I had brushed my teeth.

You know, and this probably seems weird, but that is sometimes how I feel after another of my morning habits—my quiet time.  A quiet time is when you get by yourself, read God’s Book, the Bible, maybe read what someone else wrote about God and then talk to God.  It’s God time to get you ready to face the day.  I know it is a good idea because Jesus did it.  More than once in the Bible we are told He got up early and went out by himself and prayed. I figure if it worked for Him, it would certainly work for me.

Now there are some days I know that what I read stuck and what I prayed got heard. Even though I couldn’t see God—I knew He was listening. But then there are the “bubblegum” days.  Days when I read and don’t remember and pray and feel like my prayers were just circling the ceiling fan. Oh I “brushed” but it just didn’t feel like it. Just like bubblegum toothpaste. Hmmm.

I know that if you want minty—well, you must get some minty toothpaste. All the sweet gooey toothpaste in the world just won’t get the job done.  And if I want to have a God time that is going to make a difference…it must be intentional.  Not just a habit but a special time with your Heavenly Father…the One who loves you no matter what—the One who patiently waits for you—for me…the One whose grace leaves us fresh and spiritually minty!  So, why not mark your calendar for a time tomorrow when you can meet with the One who loves you the most.  Take a moment to rest in Him and know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, gratitude, life, loving others, Military memories, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Unkept-the Look

Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” Proverbs 4:23

It was unkept…but it was cool. Ok, let’s just lay it out there.  I am just a tad on the old school side.  I was a teenager in the late sixties and early seventies with a daddy who wasn’t fond of anything countercultural—and that included longer hair.  That was phase one.  Phase two was twelve years in the United States Air Force.  They and my Daddy would have gotten along really well- since they weren’t fond of anything countercultural either.  Phase three was being a Baptist pastor.  Back in the days, Baptists were pretty much not fond of anything countercultural either.  Suits and ties were the norm and facial hair was basically a no-no.  So, you can probably understand that I wrestle with some of the new fashion norms. It’s not that I don’t like them—it’s just that I don’t understand some of them.

As an example, part of my morning routine is having a time with God.  Part of that is watching a short video of someone speaking.  This morning it was a pretty successful young pastor from somewhere.  As the video began I noticed a couple of things.  First, his hair had the now fashionable “unkept” look.  It was like he got out of bed, ran his fingers through his hair and went to work.  Again, that’s cool.  Hang with me.  Second, he sported the wildly popular beard stubble look.  I mean, if you don’t have a stubble… you’re not ready to rumble.  He had a good stubble.  Hey, that’s cool.  I wish the Air Force had discovered that when I was in. Again, the cool “unkept” look.

Another fashion statement with the “unkept” look are jeans with holes in them.  They are crazy poplar.  When I was growing up jeans with holes were tossed out and people who wore them were poor.  Now, people pay big bucks to have jeans with holes.  Hey, just buy a regular pair and give them four years—bam—another cool “unkept” look.  And you save a few bucks.  Another “unkept” look that is popular with the “we don’t own an iron” crowd is the wrinkled look.  You just grab your shirt or whatever and throw it on and you are in. Again, totally cool—totally in.

I’ve even seen this in yards.  There are folks who have unkept yards because they just don’t like to mow grass or trim their yards but there is another group that simply loves that look.  To them unkept is “unkept—the cool kind.”  To some folks an “unkept” yard is all about nature.  I really liked that when I was young—my Daddy did not.  It just wasn’t his thing.

So, what’s up?  Well, through the years different things have come and gone.  It’s just the way culture works.  Things are fashionable for awhile and they move on.  I know there was a time I couldn’t imagine preaching without a tie.  I even said one time that I didn’t think I could preach without a tie.  Now days, I usually preach with an open collar.  Things change.  Right now “unkept” is cool and one day it probably won’t be and I’m good with it either way.  But wait.

While “unkept” is cool, fashion wise…it is not cool or healthy to like an “unkept” life.  You ask, “What is that?”  It is a life that is lived solely in the moment.  In the sixties it was the “if it feels good, do it” thing and each decade has had its version of that thought pattern.  But the bottom line is that when we live “unkept” lives there are usually consequences and regrets.  I said this morning to my wife Judy that “success is not accidental, it is intentional.”  That almost sounds deep.  I also think that God’s peace, and joy, and happiness, and a host of other things that make life worth living aren’t accidental either…they are intentional.

For me, as a Jesus follower, that intentionality involves checking in with God on a regular basis to see what He thinks about my day…my life.  For me it is a daily dose of His Book, the Bible. Trust me on this one…there is a reason why it remains one of the best-selling books of all time.  The truths and teachings of Jesus are found in the second part, the New Testament, and they were groundbreaking two thousand years ago and they still are today.

Ok, so I don’t know if I will ever do the “unkept” thing or not.  It took me a long time to figure out I could teach without a tie.  But I do know this. When it comes to life, a “kept” life is just better—fewer consequences—fewer regrets.  That is probably why the Book says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” God really wants what is best for us…He loves us that much.  If you find yourself in an “unkept” mess, just remember that He is there waiting and no matter what it is, “He’s got this.”

Posted in Family, Grace, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, wisdom

Bubble Gum Toothpaste

Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1:35

Something just wasn’t right.  You know you never know what you are going to get when you go stay with someone.  From the bed to what’s for breakfast, well, it’s all up for grabs.  That is especially true when it comes time to shower.  I’ve learned you just have to be flexible.  Sharing the house with my wife, three daughters and a girl dog meant that things could get pretty girly.

Since I am a man, I used to be used to man soap.  It might be whatever was on sale or it could even be Lava—that soap that grinds off the first layer of your skin.  One thing was for sure—it didn’t smell like a girl.  Then came all these women in my household and the advent of body wash.  It wasn’t long before the Lava, he-man soap was replaced with something that smelled like roses or gardenias.  This really caused a problem when you walk into the office and smell like a garden.  The guys on staff kinda give you a strange look.

But here is the deal.  It didn’t stop with just the soap or even the shampoo.  It got down to the toothpaste.  Oh, it wasn’t that it tasted like flowers…it tasted like bubblegum.  Judy and I were recently spending the night with our daughter and son-in-law and their kids…a couple of my grandkids.  So, anyway, I survived the sweet smelling soap and shampoo only to discover that I had ran out of toothpaste.  I looked around and gratefully found a tube on the vanity.  I didn’t read the label past the part that said, “toothpaste.”

I squirted a glob on my he-man electric toothbrush and proceeded to give my teeth the once over.  About two seconds in the process I realized that this toothpaste tasted different.  You see, I am old-fashioned.  I believe that toothpaste should taste like peppermint on steroids.  You know, the kind that when you are done you know you don’t have bad breath.  And, by the way, mouthwash has to be the same.  I like to take a swig of Listerine and swish it around as long as I can stand it before gratefully spitting it out.  Well, that day was not like any of that.

As I brushed I realized this toothpaste was sweet and gooey.  It took me a moment before I could place the taste and then it hit me.  It was bubble gum.  Now, excuse me, but who ever heard of bubble gum toothpaste? I thought the whole point of this process was to clean your teeth not birth a desire to blow bubbles.  What is the world coming to? Well, anyway, there was no other option so I finished up.  I went out into the kitchen still kinda feeling around in my mouth with my tongue.  Something just didn’t feel right and then it hit me.  It just didn’t feel clean…and I told Judy so.  I knew I had brushed my teeth but it didn’t feel like I had brushed my teeth.

You know, and this probably seems weird, but that is sometimes how I feel after another of my morning habits—my quiet time.  A quiet time is when you get by yourself, read God’s Book, the Bible, maybe read what someone else wrote about God and then talk to God.  It’s God time to kinda get you ready for the day.  I know it is a good idea because Jesus did it.  More than once in the Bible we are told He got up early and went out by himself and prayed. I figure if it worked for Him, it will certainly work for me.

Now there are some days I know that what I read stuck. I know that when I prayed that even though I couldn’t see God—I knew He was listening. But then there are the “bubble gum” days.  Days when I read and don’t remember and pray and feel like my prayers were just circling the ceiling fan. Oh I “brushed” but it just didn’t feel like it. Just like bubble gum toothpaste. Hmmm.

I know that if you want minty—well, you have to go get some minty toothpaste. All the sweet gooey toothpaste in the world just won’t get the job done.  And if I want to have a God time that is going to make a difference…it has to be intentional.  Not just a habit but a special time with my Heavenly Father…the One who loves me no matter what—the One who patiently waits for me…the One whose grace leaves me fresh and spiritually minty!  So, why not mark your calendar for some time tomorrow when you can meet with the One who loves you the most.  Take a moment to rest in Him and know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne