Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, thankful

Dessert or Desert

By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

Hmmm…I said.  I like to talk, and I guess it can be said I like to write.  When I write I love to use words in special ways.  One of those is playing words off one another—using the same word in the same sentence in a different way. I’ve found that I often bump into words that can dramatically change in meaning by changing just one letter.  Here’s an example. First, we have the word dessert.  Now this is one of my favorite words because of all the images that pop into my mind.  In one corner of my brain, a picture of a perfectly prepared pecan pie appears.  Over in another corner is my daughter’s apple crumb pie.  Oh my, is that good!  Wait, over there is my friend Maggie’s fried pecan pies. And then over there is the dessert display case at my favorite local restaurant.  It is filled with pies, cakes, cookies and cream horns.

Well, now that we are all drooling you can almost taste the word dessert.  Even if you are not a fan of sweets, surely it stirred your heart a little.  Now we are going to change just one small letter.  Are you ready?  We are going to go from dessert to desert.  Wait? What?  Yup, just remove one of the “s” in the word and we go from sweets heaven to the Sahara.  We go from visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads to sand…lots of sand.  Now we are not thinking about pleasure but rather pain.  There is not abundance…there is leanness. Just like the word dessert makes our mouth water…desert makes us thirsty.  And it all happens with just one small letter.

What is true with words is also true about birds.  I was reading the other day and it talked about two different kind of birds.  Even though they are radically different, the bottom line is they are still both birds.  Both defy gravity and fly and both have feathers.  One is one (there’s that play on words) of the smallest birds in the world and the other is one of the larger ones. One is tiny and cute and the is large and ugly.  One is a hummingbird and the other is a vulture. Both birds…but both miles apart…just like our words dessert and desert.

One of the ways the birds are different is their eating habits.  The hummingbird spends it’s time zipping around our yard, going from feeder to feeder and flower to flower looking for “dessert.” Their diet consists of nothing but something sweet—nectar.  The vulture, on the other hand, soars overhead.  He could care less about something sweet—he is looking for his next meal too but his is a “desert” or to put it plainly…something dead.  Both are birds, but both are entirely different.  Their differences may seem big, but really they are not.  You might say they are separated by a letter or two.

You know, that is true about us.  We really aren’t that different and yet…we are.  Each one of us is uniquely made by God.  You might say we are each handcrafted by the Master craftsman of it all.  An old children’s song that used to float around the Christian music world said, “Look all the world over, there’s no one like me…no one like me.  Look all the world over, there’s no one exactly like me.” God made each one of us different…on purpose.  What a boring world it would be if we were all the same.

Now my intention when I started writing this story was to say how in our world we should be more like the hummingbird and look for sweetness than the vulture who looks for death and decay.  But as I wrote I realized the bigger truth is that we should just be who we are…and allow others to do the same. Skin color, economic status, music tastes, piercings and tats or not…we are all uniquely made.  I wonder how much better the world would be if we learned to love one another.  I mean after all, the biggest sign that a person is a Jesus follower is not if we go to church but if we love other people.  How about that?

So the next time you are in a bakery…or your backyard…remember that we aren’t as different as we seem.  Rather than judge and criticize, why not go ahead and see people as creations of God. After all,…the Bible does say He loved everybody enough to send His Son to die on a Roman cross…everybody.  And if you happen to know that story…then be sure and spread it around.  It is the best news ever.  And while you’re chatting with that person, be sure and let them know that there is Someone who, no matter what, has it under control.  Tell them that, “He’s got this…no matter what this or that is.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

No Trespassing

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” John 13:35

It was kinda confusing.  A while back I was walking in our neighborhood.  It was early in the morning and the birds were singing, the sun was shining and as Mister Rogers would say, “It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  As I was walking, I would look at the different houses and their yards.  I noticed that several, well actually more than several of the homes, had no trespassing signs in their yard or stuck on the house. One home had six or seven signs and about a half dozen security cameras.  I think they must have had something very important inside.

I’m not sure what the deal is but there probably is a valid reason. But being from the friendly side of the South, we generally didn’t stick “no trespassing” signs up.  More than likely, we would stick up a “hey, y’all come on in” sign.  Of course, that was several decades ago and maybe now they have some not so friendly signs up too.  At any rate this is America, and you can pretty much put up what you want as long as it isn’t too mean.  But this one house confused me.

As you probably can guess, they had a no trespassing sign.  But right next to the no trespassing sign, they had a big welcome sign.  It caused me to wonder which one was right.  I didn’t know if I was welcome to come up on the porch and sit, or I was going to get shot if I did.  I wasn’t sure so I kept right on walking, and I was real sure I didn’t want to find out. To be sure there are lots of times when we also seem to send a conflicting message.

Sometimes I see this in churches.  There will be a sign on the message board that says everyone welcome.  There might even be a parking spot in the parking lot that says, “reserved for guests.”  Sometimes they have people standing at the door to shake your hand when you come in.  But then I wonder, “do they really mean that or are they trying to act nice?”  I mean everyone expects churches to be friendly because Jesus was.  He liked everybody.  I heard a preacher say once that it was pretty amazing that people who were the least like Jesus, felt the most comfortable around Him.  It seemed they liked Him, and He liked them.

On the other hand, Jesus was always bumping heads with the religious elite.  Theoretically they should have been the most like Him, but they didn’t like Him and I’m not sure He was too fond of them.  Of course, Jesus was always trying to find the best in others but some of those guys in the New Testament were really mean.  I don’t think there was a welcome sign on their house for either Jesus or the ones He hung out with.

However, there was one group they really didn’t like and that was the tax collectors.  They worked for the Roman government, and they were seen as thieves and traitors.

Do you know what Jesus did?  Jesus invited one of them to be a part of His inner circle.  Can you even imagine that?  “Hey Matthew,” Jesus said, “why don’t you come and be a part of our group?”  I bet the religious guys about fainted and so did the rest of Jesus’ followers.  I can just hear them now, “Well, there goes the neighborhood.”  They might have been right, but Jesus was always more concerned for the neighbor than the neighborhood.  He really loved people.

When Jesus was explaining to those who followed Him how people would know that they were friends with Jesus, do you know what He said?  It wasn’t because they went to church on Sunday.  It wasn’t because they knew all the answers.  And it wasn’t even because they wore the right kind of clothes when they were hanging around Jesus.  Nope.  Jesus said that people would know that we were friends with Jesus because of the way they loved—and in particular… loved each other.  This is never a popular topic when I speak in church. The reason is it is a lot easier to dress right, talk right, and go to church, than to love someone—particularly someone who is not very lovable.  But that is what He said do.

There is a secret to loving others.  All we need to do is remember that when we were not lovable at all, Jesus chose to love us.  And if we will let that roll around in our heads and hearts a while, I think we will find that loving others is just a little bit easier.  The next time you are all worked up about something, maybe trying to love someone, just get up next to Jesus and sit awhile.  You won’t find a no trespassing sign there…just one that says “welcome.”  And you can just sit back and let Him handle whatever you’re stressed about…because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born

“No Trespassing”

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

It was kinda confusing.  A while back I was walking in our neighborhood.  It was early in the morning and the birds were singing, the sun was shining and as Mister Rogers would say, “It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.”  As I was walking I would look at the different houses and their yards.  I noticed that several, well actually more than several, of the homes had “no trespassing” signs in their yard or stuck on the house. One home had six or seven signs and about a half dozen security cameras.  I think they must have had something really important inside.

I’m not sure what the deal is but probably there is a valid reason. But being from the South, we generally didn’t stick “no trespassing” signs up in our yard.  More than likely we stuck up a “hey, y’all come on in” sign.  Of course, that was several decades ago and maybe now they have some not so friendly signs down South too.  At any rate this is America and you can pretty much put up what you want as long as it isn’t too mean.  But then there was one house that kinda confused me.

As you probably can guess they had a “no trespassing” sign up.  But right next to the “no trespassing” sign they had a big “welcome” sign.  It caused me to wonder. Which one was correct?  I didn’t know if I was welcome to come up on the porch and sit or if I would be shot if I did.  I wasn’t sure so I kept right on walking because I was real sure I didn’t want to find out. Oftentimes we seem to send conflicting messages.

Sometimes I see this is at churches.  There will be a sign on the message board that says “everyone welcome”.  There might even be a parking spot in the parking lot that says, “reserved for guests.”  Sometimes they have people standing at the door to shake your hand when you come in.  But then I wonder, “do they really mean that or are they trying to act nice?”  I mean everyone expects churches to be friendly because Jesus was.  He liked everybody.  I heard a preacher say once that it was pretty amazing that the people who were the least like Jesus were the ones that felt the most comfortable around Him.  It seemed they liked Him and He liked them.

On the other hand, Jesus was always bumping heads with the religious elite.  Theoretically they should have been the most like Him, but they didn’t like Him and I’m not sure He was too fond of them.  Of course, Jesus was always trying to find the best in others but some of those guys in the New Testament were really mean.  I don’t think there was a “welcome” sign on their house for either Jesus or His friends

There was one group they really didn’t like, the tax collectors.  Because tax collectors worked for the Roman government, they were seen as thieves and traitors. But do you know what Jesus did?  Jesus invited a tax collector to be one of them, to be a part of His inner circle.  Can you even imagine that? “Hey Matthew,” Jesus said, “why don’t you come and be a part of our group?”  I bet the religious guys about fainted and so did the rest of Jesus’s followers.  I can just hear them now, “Well, there goes the neighborhood.”  They might have been right, but Jesus was always more concerned for the neighbor than the neighborhood.  He did more than talk about loving people, He really loved people.

When Jesus was explaining to those who followed Him how people would know that they were His friends, do you know what He said?  It wasn’t because they went to church on Sunday.  It wasn’t because they knew all the answers.  And it wasn’t even because they wore the right kind of clothes when they were hanging around Jesus.  Nope.  Jesus said that people would know that we were His friends because of the way we loved—and in particular, the way we loved each other.  Whenever I share about that, it never goes over very well.  The reason is that it is a lot easier to dress right, talk right and go to church than to love someone—particularly someone who is not very lovable.  But that is what He said we should do. There is a secret to loving others. 

We need to remember that when we were not lovable at all, Jesus chose to love us.  And if we will let that roll around in our heads and hearts awhile, I think we will find that loving others is just a little bit easier.  The next time you are all worked up about something, maybe trying to love someone, just get up next to Jesus and sit awhile.  You won’t find a “no trespassing” sign there…just one that says “welcome.”  And you can just sit back and let Him handle whatever you’re stressed about…cause He’s got this.