Posted in Family, food, Grace, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, thankful

The Best Part

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Second Corinthians 12:9a

I like it straight black—plus nothing, minus nothing.  Coffee has long been a part of my life.  It all started when I was growing up.  The name Taylor and the word coffee have gone together for a long, long time.  I can remember every day my Daddy would get home from work about 4:00 in the afternoon. He carpooled with three other men and just like clockwork they would pull up and he would get out.  It was a certainty.  The other certainty was the coffee.  Momma would have a fresh pot percolating on the stove and perfectly timed to be ready when he got home.  She would meet him in the yard, and they would share the day and have a cup of coffee.

He didn’t just drink coffee then either.  It was not unusual for him to say, “Dewayne, go get me a cup of coffee.”  The please was implied and it seemed there was always a pot on the stove.  One time there wasn’t so I improvised.  I didn’t understand the ins and outs of coffee making, so I just spooned in some coffee grounds in the cup and added some lukewarm water.  That day I learned how not to make coffee!  As I remember it, Daddy liked his coffee with sugar and cream and always drank it from one of those thick Victor coffee cups made after World War II.  It didn’t hold much but it was a good cup to drink from.

I can’t even remember not drinking coffee though I can remember Momma telling me about coffee stunting my growth.  Since I ended up on the shorter side, she must have been telling the truth.  And, like my Daddy, I drank mine with sugar and cream—lots of sugar and lots of cream.  Eventually I switched to a powered creamer called Cremora along with a hefty dose of artificial sweetener.  Somewhere along the road they said that Cremora was bad for you, so after much consternation I went to having my coffee with just the sweetener—three packs please.  It was so sweet it would make you pucker.

Well, you know how it goes.  They (whoever they are) then determined that the sweetener was bad for you, too.  I talked it over with the guys at work and one of them said, “If you will drink coffee black for three weeks, you’ll never drink it any other way.”  Well, I did, and he was right.  Ever since then, I drink my coffee strong and straight black.  And the amazing part is for the first time I began to taste the coffee and not the stuff I added to it. It was just about then I began to understand the Folger’s commercial that said, “The best part of waking up is Folger’s in your cup.”  I take one exception to that though—it is always best to wake up—breathing.

I think if I learned anything from my coffee journey it was that sometimes more is just more.  It seems most of us are tempted to add something to whatever we are doing at the time.  Have a great recipe—we are tempted to add this or that.  Have a truck pretty tricked out?  Well, hey, why not add one more thing?  I know my office is stuffed to the gills with stuff from all over the world but sometimes, well, more is just more.  Instead of seeing things, you start seeing a wall full of stuff. I have a box on the floor in my church office.  It is full of things that I’ve decided can go home…the problem is it has been there for, uh, several months.

Now one thing we must be careful not to mess with is God’s grace.  It is fine just the way it is.  When you start messing with grace you end up with something that is not very “gracey and when something is not very “gracey” it loses it “graciness” and that is never a good thing.  I love the fact that God got it right from the start.  There has never been a grace 2.0 because version 1 was just exactly right.

When it comes to God stuff, it seems we want to make it harder and more complex than it really is.  Grace is enough. That’s why I like the first part of Second Corinthians 12:9 that says, “Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” Boom…perfection.

Well, I think I’ll have a cup of straight black coffee a little later and I think I’ll rewrite that Folger’s jingle to say, “The best part of waking up is Jesus in your cup.”  It doesn’t get any better than that. Just knowing Him makes it worthwhile…because always, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Bread, Potatoes and Pecan Pie

The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4b

It came in the mail.  It was an advertisement, an offer really, to join a program that would not only help me control my diabetes but to reverse it.  If everything went according to plan, I could come off both of my diabetic meds and lose the “I’m diabetic” label.  There were two more things.  First, thanks to my insurance program, it would be provided to me at absolutely no cost to me.  I’m sure it is costing my insurance plenty, but the price for me was paid in full…hmmm, can someone else besides me see a parallel there.  Can someone say, grace, mercy, and Jesus?

The second thing was that the program would provide several things they called sensors…I call them gadgets.  First, there was one of those totally cool glucose monitors that you wear and through your smartphone it tells on the fly what your sugar level is.  Second, was a Garmin activity tracker that tells you all kind of stuff…more on that in a later story.  Third, was a scale that not only tells you your weight but also how much body fat you have.  This one, for obvious reasons, was not one of my favorites. Number four on the list was a meter that tells me if I have too many ketones.  I’m not sure what they do or what they are, but I know you don’t want too many of them.  Finally, there was a blood pressure “taker thinger” and it does just what it says.  What also made the cool list is the fact that all these things talk to an application on my phone and all that information is compiled and it tells me and them if I am failing or succeeding.

So, there you go.  No diabetes, no cost, lots of gadgets and only one problem.  When I talked to the nice lady on the phone, she told me there wouldn’t be a lot of weird food like tofu or jellyfish eggs.  What she didn’t tell me was that there wouldn’t be any really good food on the program either.  Well, to be fair, that is not totally true.  In fact, there are a lot of foods that I can eat and some a southern boy like me even like but there was no bread, no potatoes, no anything that had carbohydrates in them—and that is about every good thing besides meat and eggs.  Hmmm…we have a problem.

Now all this is made worse by the fact that I have my sugar 100% under control.  I turned the sweets thing almost totally off and cut way back on the starchy stuff and my sugar quickly plummeted.  Thank you, sir…mission accomplished…but not quite.  You see, if you remember my new friends want me to get off medicine. However to get off the medicine, I have to give up a whole category of stuff that I love and have loved all my life.  The problem is I am quite content to take a couple of pills if they will allow me to eat some of my favorites.  I am quite willing to let the two, my self-control and my medicine, work together.  Honestly, it would probably be better for me to ditch the medicines but no bread, no potatoes, and worst of all, no, none, never pecan pie.  What?

I think this is just a human nature thing and as you know our human nature can get us in trouble.  Another name for our human nature is our sinful nature and our sinful nature wants us to sin—maybe not a whole lot but at least some of our favorites.  We usually think the price is worth it.  So, we control this and control that but often refuse to take the giant leap into total surrender.  I know there is a difference between indulging in bread and lust or potatoes and anger but the principle is the same.  We want what we want—even if the price is high and it is.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this new thing I’m enrolled in.  I think I am going to try and find a place somewhere in the middle.  I know that isn’t the best solution but regardless that is probably where I will land.  But hear me clearly—that does not work with sin.  With sin the best thing you can do is run fast and hard in the opposite direction.  Remember this…sin will always win, and it will take you further and cost you more than you think.  That is why our Father sent His Son, that is why the Son died and resurrected and that is why we need Him to rescue and save us.

Listen, all the cool sin gadgets in the world aren’t worth what they cost in the end.  It will cost you a whole lot more than a pile of mashed potatoes.  Just remember, what you can’t do on your own, you can do with Him. 1 John 4:4b says, “The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  In other words, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Bare Shelves and God’s Faithfulness

So don’t worry, saying, What will we eat or what will we drink? or what will we wear? For [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”  Matthew 6:31-32

One of the things (among at least two billion) that was weird about the time during and since COVID was the various shortages that we experienced. Some were expected and some were not. It really was (and still is) a strange sensation to go to the store and find everyday things not there every day. Oh, and did I mention inflation? It seemed like the land of plenty had become something else.

I’m not much for going grocery shopping and that is probably a real paradox. I really like food–we are great friends–just not buying and preparing it. I remember sometime last year Judy and I went to the park for a walk (good idea–walk with your wife…she cooks food) and then I agreed to go with her to WalMart to get a few items.

So, we get to the store and there was in fact plenty of food there. For sure some items were sold out (toilet paper—remember that? Still have a supply stashed?) but others were plenteous. The cookie isle was hard hit but strangely the broccoli wasn’t. But the shocker was when I got to the bread isle it was empty…bare. For a southern boy who was raised to believe that bread is its own food group, well, that was a crisis of Biblical proportions.

It made me think about the children of Israel and their trips to the grocery store. For forty years they would walk outside the camp and there all around them were little mounds of manna. The Bible describes manna as small, round and sweet (Krispy Kreme’s?) and it was always there. Never a time did they go out when the store was open (it was closed for the Sabbath) and the shelf was bare.

God was teaching them—and us—something. They couldn’t hoard (can someone say toilet paper?) because God told them to go out every day and get one day’s supply. The only exception was the day before the Sabbath when they could get two. And every day they went and there were the “Krispy Kreme’s” all around and they would pick them up and God would say, “I am good, I am faithful, and I can be trusted.”

Day after day, week after week, month after month–“I am good, I am faithful, and I can be trusted.” Never a bare shelf, never a failure to deliver, never an oops. Can you imagine? As Jesus followers, I think we can and should. We may not have manna laying around today, but we do have the faithfulness of that same God. He takes care of His kids. You can bank on it.

Jesus talked about this in the Bible when He said, “So don’t worry, saying, What will we eat? or what will we drink? or what will we wear? For [those who don’t trust God] eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Let that soak in.  We don’t have to worry because we have a Dearest Daddy who loves us and cares for us.  Period.

So, as we reflect on the past and present, and look forward to the days to come, we can rest in the blessed assurance that God will be there. We need to remember every time there is a need met or a blessing given, to say, “Thank You, Father.” And slowly but surely, we will learn the valuable lesson of God’s faithfulness. God is good. God is faithful. God can be trusted. He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

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

Walking Away

“I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?” Four times they sent me the same proposal, and I gave them the same reply.” Nehemiah 3b-4

Well, it was definitely smarter than me.  We live in a world of smart devices. I remember years ago when phones were just getting smart, and I was all in up to my eyeballs.  Through the years, I have been amazed as device after device got smarter and smarter. Everything from locks to thermostats to televisions got smarter and smarter and smarter.  And then one day, they got smarter than me.

A while back I bought some smart plugs.  These little wonders allow me to control a device either from my smartphone or with my girlfriend Alexa.  I just tell her to turn on the lights and she does.  In my living room, I have several lights all plugged into a couple of these smart plugs.  All I have to do is say, “Alexa, turn on the living room lights” and just like that all the lights come on.  Want to turn them off?  No, problem.  Just tell Alexa and she will turn them off.  How great.  How smart.  How awesome.

Well, one day my smart world came crashing.  All the smart plugs became very not smart.  None of the lights would turn on and none would turn off.  After an hour or so I figured out I needed to restart my internet modem and bam…just like that…we were back in business…almost.  There was one plug that didn’t get the message. It said no, nada, ain’t gone happen.  Well, I figured if I messed with it long enough, I could persuade it to get on board.  I was wrong.

I messed with it and messed with it and then messed with it some more.  It wasn’t a matter of minutes but hours.  I finally gave up and went to bed, but I am not one to throw in the towel.  First thing in the morning, after coffee and Jesus, I started in again and it wasn’t long before all that Good News Jesus stuff had leaked out and I was one frustrated dude.  And just about that time it occurred to me to…just stop…and I did.

I picked up the tools and put them away and walked away.  It occurred me that nothing including a smart plug gone dumb or one that was smarter than me should have that much control over me.  And guess what.  That particular light still does not have a plug…at least not one that is smart.  I might give it another shot one day but that day was not yesterday, is not today and probably won’t be tomorrow.  It just isn’t that important. Let’s be honest…I like to win but there are times when walking away is better than fighting a battle that doesn’t matter.

Someone once told me to be sure and choose my battles carefully.  We need to learn to ask, “Is this a hill worth dying on?”  So often our pride keeps us in the fight long after the fight doesn’t matter—after the fight has long left us. So, when you find yourself beating your head against a wall or bumping into that same stubborn wall, ask yourself, “Does this really matter?” Now if it does you stay in there but if it doesn’t don’t let your pride keep you where you don’t belong.

You know, Jesus knew about “hills worth dying on.”  The one that held Him and His cross, Calvary, was so important nothing, and I do mean nothing, could keep Him from it.  At the same time, He knew when to walk away…to let it go. We should do the same. Nehemiah, one of the guys in the Old Testament, was on mission to rebuild the wall that surrounded his hometown Jerusalem. His enemies kept trying to distract him so he finally said, “I am doing important work and cannot come down. Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?”  Isn’t that great? And four times they tried and four times he said no. He simply refused to leave what mattered for something that didn’t.

So, like the song Kenny Rogers made famous, “You need to know when to hold them, know when to fold them and know when to walk away.” It will not only make your life easier, but it just might also make it more purposeful.  Need a little help figuring out when to do what?  No problem, just ask the One who is never wrong.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in friends, Grace, gratitude, Integrity, life, love, loving others, missions, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful


Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

I watched and liked what I saw.  I am a pastor and have been one for just about 41 years.  It has been a great ride and I have to admit it still surprises me when I realize just how quickly time and has come…and gone.  I have been at my present church for going on 23 years and if the first number was surprising to me…the second is even more so.  To be at one place that long…to say hello to so many people and sadly goodbye to others…is eye-opening.  It also has been fun watching the kids grow up.  The guy who leads worship for us was five years old when I came.  Amazing.  I even had hair back then…or at least more.

In my 41 years serving as a pastor and in my 22 years here where I serve now, I have bumped into a lot of people.  Some of them were nice by nature. You know, always smiling, always optimistic, and always holding the door so someone could enter first. They never forgot a birthday and were always looking for ways to lend a helping hand.  When these folks met Jesus, there didn’t seem to be a lot to change…at least on the outside.  That’s one kind of people but there is another.  Take the opposite of everything I just wrote and meet the other side of the fence. And this is what is really exciting because it so shows the power of the gospel.

I love to hear everyone’s Jesus story but I especially love the ones where the change Jesus brings is like night and day.  It’s kinda like when you mow your grass and it really needs it…you stand back and say, “Wow…that looks better.” Now to be sure, every Jesus story is a “wow” story but to see a rough old sinner become a saint by God’s grace is simply amazing. And here’s the deal.  Whether it is someone who oozes kindness or someone as rough as a corncob, the truth is they are who they are because of the Heartmaker.

I was officiating at a funeral one day for one of those really good people and I told the audience that we should remember that the person we were honoring that day was who they were because of Jesus.  When they met Him, the Heartmaker gave them a new heart…a heart just like His. Tucked away in the Old Testament part of the Bible is a word picture of this.  It says, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” That’s what the Heartmaker does for every person who chooses to follow Him.

I’ve said before, “I wish I had that person’s heart.” Oh, I’m generally a pretty nice guy but when I see someone who seems to do Jesus really well, it creates a longing in me to be more like them which is more like Jesus. The good news is that we don’t have to wish…all we must do is ask and the Heartmaker will come to the rescue.  But you need to know this…a heart like Jesus doesn’t come cheap…it will mean seeking, surrendering, and maybe suffering…just like Jesus.  It means loving the unlovable and forgiving those who hurt us the worse..just like He would.

There is a story about a young pastor who was visiting with an old, respected pastor. The young pastor said he wished he could have the maturity and respect he saw in the older pastor’s life.  The elderly statesman said, “Son, those things came into my life through great toil and suffering.  Are you ready to pay that price?”  Not surprising, his answer was no.  We can all admire a man or woman with a great heart but how many of us would be willing to pay the price that comes with it?

The truth is all of us who are Jesus followers can and should have a heart like Jesus…the Heartmaker. I think the path that leads to a Jesus heart is found in Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” If you’re interested in having a heart like Jesus, it starts with asking the HeartMaker. Trust me—He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, heaven, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Not Bad, Just Hard

I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” Jesus in John 14:6

It was Monday…and my brother died. It wasn’t a total surprise as we knew his health was deteriorating. He and his wife had been living in an assisted living facility for several years.  As he grew older, as often happens, his body began to wear out and finally Monday morning it just quit working.  He not only was my brother, but he was my oldest brother. He was seventeen years older than me and in so many ways he was more than just a brother…he was like a second father. To a large degree he helped mold me into who I am today…especially spiritually.  My brother was a believer, a Jesus follower and if I may say so…a pretty good one at that.  In fact, I can’t remember him ever not being a Jesus follower. 

He was the one who always made sure I had a ride to church.  He was one of those three-time-a-week goers, so I suppose that is why it has been a habit in my life too.  Over the years, he shared a lot of good advice with me…advice that has guided me along my journey. When I became a pastor, he offered me some Godly wisdom and for my birthday gifted me with a couple of foundational books.  At one of the churches I pastored, he felt led to lend a hand financially…something he did for more than a few years. He was like a father but he also was like the State Farm commercial that says, “just like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” He was always there.  Oh, we lived in different parts of the country…but that didn’t matter.  That’s how some relationships are.

My brother wasn’t just my oldest brother…he was my last brother.  When he left town on Monday for a bigger and better place, I looked around and realized I was the last brother standing.  And that was another of those, “mortality moments.”  He was just shy of 86 when he left here and went there—there being heaven.  Eighty-six is a pretty good number, especially for men and especially for Taylor men. At first there were five of us Taylor men and three had already changed addresses—thankfully all in heaven.  So, that left the bookends—my oldest brother at one end and me, the youngest at the other. He lived a long, good life…not the richest guy, not the most popular guy, and not the most powerful guy. In the end those don’t matter anyway.  What matters is he was a Jesus guy. He made a difference. He made an impact. He left a legacy.

So, what happened that Monday morning when the last heartbeat came? Often our first thought is something bad happened.  Well, I guess you could say God, through His Word, helped me have a different view.  As I looked at all of this, death, life, and all that it entails, it seemed God said, “Dewayne, this isn’t bad…it’s just hard.”  It immediately became lodged not in my throat but in my heart.  Not.Bad.Just.Hard.  Now don’t misread this, because there is plenty of bad in the world but with God painted into the picture, His grace and mercy can change bad to just hard.

You see, when my brother’s heart stopped the other day, he gave up a broken world for one that is perfect. He gave up a broken body for one that is perfect. He gave up sickness, tears, and sadness for a place where none of that exists. No assisted living, no hospitals, no funeral homes—just a home like none we can ever imagine—at home with his Dearest Daddy.  See, it’s hard for us, sometimes really hard for us, however for him…no…he’s doing better than ever before. You might say that he is more alive than ever before.

My brother loved our family reunions and guess what? There is one coming that will outshine them all.  Because of my pastoral responsibilities and distance, I didn’t make too many of the reunions but this one coming up…I’ll be there.  Oh, it isn’t because I’m a preacher, or go to church, or belong to one denomination or another.  No, just like my brother, I’ll be there because I am a Jesus guy and He is the way to the reunion of all reunions.  Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but by Me.”  Yes, it is a narrow road but the grand part is everyone is invited to participate.  All you have to do is say, “Yes” to Jesus.

So, my brother died…well…actually His body died but not him.  I’ll see him again and that’s not bad. The separation is hard but there is a party coming…one for the ages.  You need to know that God wants you there also, and He made it possible for that to happen.  Jesus, faith, grace, and mercy.  Indeed, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, prayer, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Biscuits, God, and You

Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”  “Your brother will rise again,” Jesus told her.” John 11:21-23

Biscuits…hot, with butter and syrup.  There are certain foods that almost act like a time machine and one of them is a good, southern biscuit.  My Momma was a good cook, but her biscuits were like their own food group.  She would clear off the counter, get out the lard, flour and milk (and I guess a couple of other things), mixed them together in a bowl, plop out the mixture on the counter and roll it out with her ancient rolling pin.

If I remember right, she would grab a ball of the dough, flatten and shape it in her hand and then put it on the pan. Then, for whatever reason, she would take a finger or her thumb and put a little dimple in the top.  After a few minutes in the oven, out they came, heaven in a pan.  While still hot, we would add butter and just like that—a timeless, priceless southern delicacy. Need dessert? No problem, just add butter and syrup and you have southern dining at its best.

When we recently traveled south, we visited with two of my three sisters and both of them made…biscuits.  I’m not sure if it was Momma’s recipe or not but what I can tell you is that they were delicious. While both served real butter, not that fake stuff, one served them with orange marmalade. My, my they were good.  But wait…there is more.  We also visited with Judy’s brother and his wife Sandra also made biscuits.  I am sure somewhere down the line we must be related because the biscuit DNA was a perfect match. Awesome…pure awesome.

My oldest biscuit making sister recently sent me an article about prayer that just happened to mention biscuits and I knew I needed to share it here with all my grits and biscuit loving friends. 

The story goes like this. One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, ”Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going. The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate lard.” Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, “Lord, I ain’t too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix ’em all together and bake ’em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.”

“Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making. After You get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something even better than biscuits. Amen.”

I just love that story and isn’t it so true? If we took the ingredients for biscuits, or most any other thing and tasted them individually, we probably wouldn’t eat much. But when mixed together…well good things happen.  We have a loving Heavenly Father, our Dearest Daddy, who can and will masterfully mix circumstances and events in our life.  Sometimes, perhaps often, by themselves they make no sense and leave us wondering what God is up to.  But, if we are willing to wait, if we are willing to trust, we will usually find that God had a surprise for us…better even than hot biscuits.  Now, I need to be fair and say that some of those surprises might be on the other side of the last heartbeat but regardless…He can be trusted.

So, the next time, you are enjoying a good homemade hot biscuit smothered in melted butter and perhaps a big baptism of syrup, remember that biscuit only happened when the biscuit maker put everything together.  And, when the circumstances of life don’t make sense, well, just hang on.  When the heavenly “Biscuit Maker” gets done, well, it will be worth it all, worth the wait.  Don’t you worry…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful


But Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

It’s tucked away in the memories of my mind…a snippet in a sea of remembrances.  I’ve said it so many times by now that some might say it is overkill, but the bottom line is my Daddy and Momma went so far to make special days…special.  The king of the hill, of course, was Christmas but they also tried to make each birthday special. They couldn’t afford it but somehow, they did it. And one of those sacrifices is the center of the snippet.

It was probably 1959.  I was about five years old growing up in a world so different from today you would think that we moved to a different planet. It was a dozen days past Christmas, and it was my birthday. I’m sure there was cake, I’m sure there was a family celebration but what I remember most is the present.  I’m not sure how you decide what to get a five-year-old, but Daddy and Momma sure knocked it out of the park that year.

Since there were no K-Marts or Walmart’s, I can only imagine that Daddy and Momma went down to the local Western Auto to shop.  If you don’t remember they were a neighborhood store that was part appliance store, part general store and part household store.  They also had a selection of toys…especially at Christmas and maybe that is why they had what I got.  That year my parents bought me an ice cream truck.

Well, it really wasn’t a truck, and it really didn’t hold ice cream, but it was something special.  It had three wheels, like a trike, but behind the seat it had large metal box with decals that said, “ice cream.”  The handlebars had those plastic streamers on each end, the front wheel had a fender and of course, it had a bell.  I can remember driving and peddling down the road in front of our house.  There was little traffic so there was also little danger of getting run over.

For some reason I can remember about a quarter of mile down the road a man was building a small box house.  He was singlehandedly taking on this project, and I decided to peddle down there, and he was working away.  I “pulled up” and asked if he would like an ice cream and the reason I remember him, his house and that day was that rather than brush me off…he played along and if I remember correctly, almost every day I would peddle down the road to see my new customer and friend.  The ice cream was pretend, but his kindness was not.  Looking back at this snippet of a memory, it still makes me smile.

Hanging over the fireplace in my wife’s “keeping room” is a quote by Maya Angelou.  Something she said says so much.  She said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And that is the very reason I remember this man taking time from building a house to talk and befriend a five-year-old boy.  I don’t remember his name, but I do remember his heart.

What about you?  What about us?  I wonder will we take the time to be kind…to treat someone with an extra measure of kindness and implant a “snippet” in their hearts? In those days when I was five, kids were supposed to be more seen than heard.  There seemed to be the adult world and the kid’s world and while there weren’t walls there were boundaries and this kind man chose to move beyond the boundary.  He made me feel…important.  He made me feel like I mattered.  Perhaps today, we should try to do the same.  Today, perhaps we should choose to be like…Jesus.

Jesus was famous for seeing the invisible people and touching the untouchable.  He even said one time, “Let the little children come to Me.”  He would have said to that little five-year-old boy with an ice cream truck, “Let Dewayne come to me.”  And I want you to know that no matter how invisible you feel, no matter how insignificant…you are not either to Jesus!  Tattoo that on your hearts…you matter, and you matter a lot to Him.  So, if life seems overwhelming, or maybe underwhelming, just remember you’ve got a friend in Jesus.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, New Year, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful

The Captain

The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of Man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!” Matthew 8:27

It was a long, long time ago.  There are many historical events that are almost timeless.  They carry with them a mystical allurement that keeps them alive in the minds of people.  No matter how much is written, when that event is mentioned, immediately interest is peeked, eyes focus and ears open. Such is the story of the Titanic.  It was on May 31, 1911, that the Titanic was launched.  Now launched didn’t mean open for business…ready to sail.  No, it meant that Titanic had what it needed to be called a ship but not what it took to make money.  The hull, the keel, the engines all were in placed but people don’t pay for that…they pay for the good stuff, the nice stuff, the luxurious stuff.

Well, almost a year later, on April 10, 1912, all that stuff was in place and the great Titanic was ready to set sail.  The appointments of luxury were amazing.  For that time and that place there simply was nothing like the Titanic.  Of course, there were different classes of people who bought tickets—from the very rich to the improvised poor looking for a fresh start in America. But the Titanic was really…or was she?

Four days after her maiden voyage began, she struck an iceberg and, in a few hours, sank in the icy North Atlantic taking with her well over a thousand souls.  While all the details are a matter of debate, most agree that the basic design of the ship was flawed.  The watertight compartments instead of being totally sealed allowed water to overflow from one compartment to the next.  Like a cascading river, the water flowed from one compartment to the next sealing the fate of the “unsinkable” ship.  Not one detail for the comfort of the Uber rich was overlooked and yet the one thing that could have kept her afloat was.  Amazing…and disconcerting…worrying.

I think what prompted me to write this story was the New Year.  We all, well those who were awake, watched the ball fall, the peach drop, the fireworks explode.  We celebrated; we partied launching into the seas of another New Year.  But as we launched, did anyone, did someone, did I, did you stop and examine the “ship” that was going to carry us into 2023?  Did we carefully craft the “luxurious” while ignoring the crucial…the vital?  Did we plan diets and dream of vacations while being strangely silent about the most important? Did we launch into 2023 without the one thing that would ensure our safety…our survival?

What is the one thing?  Better yet, who is that Someone?  Well, the answer is Creator God. These days I still feel compelled to make sure we understand that I am not talking about church (though that is profitable) or religion (though that can be good) but I am talking about making sure He is the Captain of our ship.  Try this on for size.  When the Captain of your ship is the Master (and dare I say Maker) of the storm, there is great comfort.  The passengers have the calming assurance that no matter what, He is there, He is ready, He is in charge.

One time the disciples of Jesus found themselves in the midst of a terrible storm, in what could only be described as an oversized rowboat.  They were frightened to the point that they thought death was imminent. Just about then they remembered that Jesus was asleep at the back of the boat.  They woke Him with a shout of “Don’t you care we are about to drown?”  Well, Jesus got up, spoke to the wind and waves, demanding calm…and it happened.  He then asked the guys about their faith.  Where.Was.Their.Faith.  Looking around at the now calm sea and their frail oversized rowboat they asked a question, “What kind of Man is this? Even the winds and the sea obey Him!” Hmmm…good question.

The answer, of course, is that He is and was a one-of-a-kind Man, a Man like no other, God in human form. He was the Captain and Master of the storm and what was true then is true now…with Jesus in your boat you don’t have to fear. So, as we launch into 2023, shouldn’t we make sure that our Captain is Jesus, and shouldn’t we invite Him to lead and guide us?  Any unknown, any new horizon can be frightening…unless the Creator and Master of it all is on board.  If He is…we don’t have to worry because we have the confident assurance that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, friends, gratitude, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Cooking Lesson

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

It looked like a chocolate mud puddle…or worse. Well, I am a firm believer that God wires people in different ways. Some people are gifted in music, some in speaking; some are mechanically minded while others are whizzes at math.  It is no wonder why the Bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Now if you are a regular Grits reader you know that I am a “foody.” I am blessed to have a wife who can cook very well. As a pastor at a church, one of my favorite things is when we decide to have a potluck. A potluck is when all the families bring a dish or two or three and we all share. At my church, a potluck doesn’t involve luck at all—you know it is going to be good.  I guess I appreciate good cooks so much because I am not one.  If cooking is a gift, I was in the wrong line when the gifts were distributed.  Let me explain.

One day I decided I wanted something sweet to eat.  I looked in the pantry and, in the refrigerator, but came up empty handed. I looked in the kitchen cabinets and found several boxed mixes.  There were two or three for cakes and one for brownies.  As my mind thought of sweet, gooey brownies–it was a done deal. I read the box and found I needed several ingredients–the mix–check; oil–check; water–check and two eggs–uh, no eggs.

I asked Judy what would happen if I skipped the eggs–she simply said, “It won’t work.”  She said something about a chemical reaction and the brownies being as flat as a pancake, but my mind had one thought–sweet, gooey brownies. I decided to press forward.  In fact, I even added more oil, more water, and some heavy whipping cream just for good measure.  After all, doesn’t more make everything better?  Who cares if it has nothing to do with brownies?

Well, I put them in the oven and set the timer for about twenty-five minutes.  Soon the timer was going off and I opened the door and peeked inside expecting a pan of delicious brownies.  What I found was anything but.  In fact, it resembled an oil slick…the kind you see when a tanker spills its cargo. It was some sort of goo—I guess a combination of pools of the oil, a black slime in the middle and a hard edge all around.  I guess that thing about the chemical reaction was right. Instead of ending up with a nice gooey brownie I ended up with a gooey mess.  It turned out that I wasted all those ingredients and twenty-five minutes of electricity.

So, what is the moral of the story?  Well, for one there is a reason why there is something called a recipe.  Someone smarter than me determined what it takes to make a delicious brownie and they were kind enough to share their wisdom.  If the recipe calls for eggs–it needs eggs.  I don’t know what the eggs do but I do know it does something important.  Someone on the internet suggested you could use Diet Coke instead of eggs.  I don’t know if that is true or not and I am not going to try and find out.  I’ve learned my lesson.  From now on Judy can cook the brownies and I will remain the eater in the family.

Oh, by the way, that following the recipe thing applies to God also.  You see, the greatest “cookbook” for a successful and purposeful life is the Bible. It is filled with recipe after recipe for a life that is truly worth living and it all starts with trusting and having faith in God.  In the Old Testament part of the Bible, a guy named Jeremiah said, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” He knew what we need to know…God is reliable.

The Bible says that Jesus is the one essential ingredient to our salvation.  I don’t know if Diet Coke will replace eggs, but I do know nothing can replace Jesus. You can add all the good works you want; add all the church you want and get baptized till you wrinkle but without Jesus—it just won’t work.  It is He and He alone that makes salvation possible.  All our additions will only make a gooey mess out of salvation.  Add the key ingredient and you can’t miss!

Well, for all you brownie lovers out there I hope you learned from my disaster!  Just remember, those ingredients are listed and needed for a reason–it won’t work without them.  And for each of you who are looking for a full life—one with purpose and peace, don’t forget the key and that is Jesus. Go ahead, ask others, and ask Him.  You will find He is the real deal.  Need a hand in the kitchen of life? Give God a chance. I’ve found that He is always willing and always there. Even when your life looks like a chocolate mud puddle…or worse…you can have the assurance that “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne