Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Change My Heart

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.”  2 Corinthians 7:10

I have a sorry prayer life.  No really, I do.  I know that prayer is a very important part of life.  The Bible talks so much about it.  And honestly, it isn’t that it is terribly hard.  If you look and listen to what Jesus says about prayer, you will not only see how important – but how simple it is.  He gave us His now famous lesson on prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer, but it is better called the Disciples Prayer or the Model Prayer. The Model Prayer was not that long, contained no big, spiritual words, and it was straight to the point.

Now if all this is true, why do I struggle with prayer so much?  Why do you struggle with prayer so much?  Well, I can’t and shouldn’t speak for you but I can speak for me.  I have a “sorry” prayer life.  Now you might be sayings, “Dewayne don’t be so harsh on yourself.  It can’t be that bad.”  Well, actually I’m not using sorry as an adjective for my prayer life but rather as a way to tell you about two things that I throw in my prayer life that really shouldn’t be there.  What are they?

Here’s how it works, way too often I find myself telling God that I am sorry for this and sorry for that.  Now that really sounds good, doesn’t it?  Well, I can’t think of a single time where God told me to tell Him I was sorry for my sin.  Nope, I can’t think of once.  You know how it goes.  We tell God good morning and then begin to tell Him that we are sorry for this and sorry for that and of course, we are sorry for this and that.  And most likely the next morning, you find yourself telling Him you were sorry for the same things all over again.  There is a better way.

The better prayer is a prayer of repentance.  It is fine to let Him know you are sorry, but don’t stop there.  Let Him know that you intend to not do this or that again.  Repentance is a great Bible word that means to have a change in attitude and/or a change in direction.  When you repent you are telling God that you are changing your attitude toward that juicy sin.  You are going from liking to hating and from clinging to leaving.

Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, said that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death. In other words repentance leads to life and being sorry leads to the death of your joy and peace. Oh, and by the way, be sure and ask Him for His power and strength to do that because you will surely need it.  This whole Jesus journey is all about Him anyway.  So be sorry, that can’t hurt, but better, repent.  It’s a game changer.

Now the other part of my “sorry” prayer life goes like this.  I spend several minutes or longer telling God just how sorry I am.  No, not like what we’ve already talked about.  This kind of sorry is the kind that tells God how much of a failure I am, how I am worthless, how I have never succeeded and so I probably won’t succeed today either.  I am one sorry piece of creation.  Really? I hate to admit it but I’ve been known to do it.  It’s like telling God He is junk maker and not a masterpiece creator.  I’m speaking to me but you can join in.  It is time to believe what God says about us and not what the devil says.  Let’s not waste our prayer time telling God how messed up we are but rather thanking Him for making us a new creation.

I know, trust me I know, I (or we) are not perfect.  I know I (or we) fail too many times.  But those imperfections, those failures, do not determine who we are.  God determines who we are and when we put our faith in His Son we are precious in His sight and we are His trophies of grace.  Let’s not try and convince Him otherwise (as if we could) but rather let’s spend those precious moments in prayer thanking Him for all of His marvelous grace.

I think it is time we change our “sorry” prayer lives.  What about you?  Are you willing to leave the mess at the door and enter His grace room with repentance and gratitude for all He has done for you?  Are you willing to turn your “sorry” prayer life into a time of celebration of forgiveness and hope?  Well, I’m sure going to give it a whirl.  I know that when I do, I’m going to find that rest I’ve been looking for.  And I’m going to get up and believe like He’s got it.  Because He does.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Pay Attention

Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?” Proverbs 6:27-28

I should have been more careful.  I should have known better. I have a long history of cutting firewood and being around the woods.  For the better part of 17 or 18 years, wood was our primary, and sometimes only, source of heat.  It all started back in LaMonte, Missouri and continued when we moved to Cobden, Illinois…in fact, that is where it really became a part of our lives.  We lived in a large Victorian home and our heat was whatever was piled in the driveway.  So, with the help of a very good friend named Gerry, virtually every Saturday we would go and “cut wood.”

As the years went by, I learned a lot about safety in the woods.  I remember the first time I used a chain saw back in LaMonte.  The guys told me to be careful and never pull the saw toward you.  Yeah, well, one of the first things I did was pull the saw toward me (call me a slow learner) and nick my leg.  I learned about how to notch a tree, sharpen a chain and how to load and stack wood.  I learned a lot.  But one thing that I never paid much attention too was poison ivy.  While I never intentionally rolled in it, it seemed for the most part I was one of those lucky people who it didn’t affect.  Well, that all changed one day…not in the woods but in my backyard at 217.

It turns out, I guess, that I was indeed lucky but not in the way that I thought.  I was lucky that it never “got me” and somehow, someway, recently it did.  We were sitting around one day, and I was wearing shorts.  I noticed on my left leg several (five to be exact) small red dots.  I told Judy, “Look at these bites on my leg.”  They were in random places, and I thought that a mosquito or two had decided to have lunch.  Well, again, I was wrong.

In a very short time, it became evident I had somehow, someway, gotten into some poison ivy.  Those five small dots grew into narrow strips of angry, red, raised, skin and it was very apparent that what I thought couldn’t get me…did.  Now as outbreaks go, this one wasn’t very bad but for a guy who never had it, for a guy who thought it wouldn’t, couldn’t get him, it was bad enough. It itched, then itched some more, and then just for fun…itched some more.  Well, it took a while but finally all of this was a memory in the rearview mirror, and I was very, very glad.

The crazy thing is I really don’t know when or where it happened.  We have a little bit in our yard but even though I didn’t think I was allergic; I was also very careful.  I hadn’t been in the real woods, but one thing is for sure…I got too close somehow, somewhere. And, because of that I have some pretty unpleasant circumstances.  Maybe I wasn’t careful enough.  Maybe I thought it might get you but not me.  Maybe I didn’t look close enough in the flowerbeds around our yard.  All that really doesn’t matter I suppose.  What does matter is that it got me.  It.Got.Me.

Did you know that sin, those things that God and culture both warn us about, can and will get us?  Did you know that even though we think it will happen to someone else and not us…it can…it will?  Did you know that regardless of how “innocent” we think we might be…the consequences are the same?  Judy always told me about poison ivy.  Being a garden person, she told me, “Leaves of three…let it be.”  I clearly heard her but frankly, since it seemed I couldn’t get it, I just didn’t pay close attention.  Now, oh yes now, I know differently.  We would do well to treat sin the same way.

The Bible, in the Old Testament part, asks a very good question.  In the Book of Proverbs, it asks if a man can hug fire to his chest and not be burned?  Of course, the obvious answer is no, you can’t.  But it turns out the writer isn’t talking about fire…he is talking about sin.  Mess with sin and you are going to get burned and with the burn comes the consequences and with the consequences come misery.  It is true with poison ivy, and it is true with sin.

Well, the bottom line is regardless of my long history with not getting poison ivy, I now have a new history and trust me I am going to be even more careful around my three-leaf adversary.  Green and lush or not…it is not my friend…and neither is that thing we often run to…sin.  By the way, if you stumble into poison ivy there are a few things that can help with the itch.  And, if you stumble into sin, well, His grace is more than enough.  Just ask the Heavenly Father and He will be more than willing to help.  You might say, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Packing Extra Weight

Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us.”  Hebrews 12:1b

I thought it felt heavy. You might remember I told you a story about a group of friends from our church in Cobden, Illinois who took a trip up to Mount Leconte in North Carolina.  In that particular story I slipped on a slippery rock and earned the name, “Chief Wounded Cheek.”  Well, that wasn’t the only story from that trip.  There was a least one more.  You see, even though we were only staying one night, most of us still had a backpack full of stuff to tote up the mountain.

What do you carry up a mountain?  Well, I guess it all depends on the person.  I know one lady in our group had her husband carry just about everything but the kitchen sink.  I remember we laughed when we found out she was taking her curling iron.  It wasn’t that it was inappropriate it’s just that the top of the mountain didn’t have any electricity! In my case, I decided to leave the curling iron at home (smile) but did have a good selection of food.  I mean can you ever have too much food? I didn’t think so.

So finally, with our packs on our backs, we headed up the mountain.  The climb took us most of the day.  It was about five and a half miles and a lot of it was…up.  We went up and up and up and finally we made it.  The lodge was rustic, but the feeling of accomplishment made it all more than worthwhile.  Bob, our leader, said when we got there, they would give us some of the best hot chocolate in the world.  Well, they did but honestly, I think it was some of the best because we were pretty tired, pretty chilled, and pretty desperate. 

For supper he told us we would be having canned horse meat.  Remember there was no electricity and that meant no refrigeration.  As it turned out, it really wasn’t horse meat, but I do believe it was canned and for the record…it was pretty stinking good.  Pretty soon it was time for lights out…well, there really weren’t any lights because…well, you know why.  We slept well, got up and had breakfast and soon started our journey back down the mountain.

I threw my backpack on my back and started the journey down.  I remember being surprised how heavy my backpack felt.  Again, a lot of what I carried up was food and it  was no longer there…well, at least not in my backpack.  Anyway, we continued walking and after about an hour or so, it was time for a break.  I found a place to sit down, being careful of my “wounded cheek,” and opened by backpack for a quick snack.  And I found a surprise.

Yup, my backpack was heavy all right.  It turned out that some of the guys in the group had put several grapefruit size rocks inside.  They were just waiting for me to make the discovery and when I did, they laughed—we laughed until we couldn’t laugh anymore.  I love practical jokes regardless of what end of the stick I am on—giving or receiving. Well, needless to say the rocks came out and the pack was considerably lighter and we had a new story to tell along with my new “wounded cheek” name.

I learned a great lesson that day.  First and foremost—check your backpack—especially when you are traveling with a group of guys who love practical jokes.  I also learned that you should never carry extra weight up or down the mountain. Period. And in hindsight, that is true with hiking and that is true in life.  All of us have this tendency to carry extra weight around…and I’m not talking about around our waist.  I am talking about things that tend to weigh us down.  It might be a bad habit, or it could be the consequence of not starting a habit we should have, like exercise.  It might be misplaced priorities that steal time away from family.  Whatever it is, the truth is we need to chuck the unneeded and unnecessary.

Paul, one of the big writers of the Christian New Testament, said that we should lay aside every weight and the sin that slows us down.  Now that is good advice.  As we travel through this life, let’s get ready to go but let’s also be sure and check our backpacks.  We never know what might be in there and weighing us down.  If you need help figuring it all out, just ask the One who made it all.  You know, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

The “I Want You to Die” Tick

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Romans 13:14

You know there are one or two things that are good about a really cold winter.  Number one is the fact that it kills all the bugs. As you remember, last winter wasn’t very cold. I’m not sure what you thought about last winter’s weather, but apparently the local tick population thought it was just fine.  Even around my house—and I live on the main drag in the small town of Harrisburg, Illinois—we have had to check every once in a while, to make sure we didn’t pick up any unwanted hitchhikers.

Last summer Judy and I went hiking in a wooded area.  The trail we were on was plenty wide, but I guess ticks are good jumpers. Later in the week, I was working at my desk at home, and I felt just a little itch on my leg.  You know, nothing major—just a “hi—I might need you to scratch me later” itch.  I ignored it.

After a bit, it developed into more.  It went from a “you might need to scratch me” to more of a “hey, now would be a good time to scratch me” itch.  So, I did—and when I did, I felt a small bump.  At first, I thought it was a small bite and whoever had done it had moved on to greener pastures.  I was wrong.  It was a dirty, rotten, no good, “I want you to die”… tick.  Oh, he wasn’t big—in fact he looked quite innocent. He was only the size of a writing pen head.  Well, I try to be a friendly guy—just not with ticks and especially not with one having dinner—and I’m the meal.  So, in my best interest, we departed company and I made sure he went to the tick afterlife. So long friend…adios. No prayer, no service…just “you’re out of here.”

So, I thought it was not big deal—but I guess big is relative.  You see, by the next day that little bite site had turned red and was about twice as big as before—and it was still itching—only more.  Now fortunately it was NOT the kind of dirty rotten, no good, “I want you to die” tick that gives you weird diseases. But even so, the spot where he bit me itched for several weeks.  Even a couple of months later while the itch is gone the scar remained.  It’s hard to imagine that one little tick can cause so much trouble.  Write that one down:  little things can have bigger consequences.

Yep, that’s right.  Some small habit, some little action or inaction, a few seconds of a wandering mind, a few misspoken, unkind words—can have large and lasting consequences. And the worst part is that it doesn’t just affect us—it can and does affect those around us. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because it starts small it stays small. It rarely does.  It really isn’t practical to totally avoid the outdoors so there must be another way.  A good insect repellent is a good start.

A guy in the Bible named Paul wrote gives us some good advice on how to avoid pesky sins.  He said, “but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  Paul said the best way to avoid the aggravation and consequences of sin is to give yourself a good smattering of Jesus and then avoid sin wherever and whenever it is likely to jump on.  The truth is the more we read the Bible and apply it and the more we act like Jesus the less likely we will find ourselves infested with pesky, troublesome sin.  Trust me…life is just better.

Well, the site where the friendly little tick decided to visit is finally about gone but it was a journey to get here.  The bottom line is it would just be better to avoid it in the first place. The old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is so true.  That is true in avoiding ticks and it is also true in avoiding sin. One thing is for sure.  It is good to know that God is more than willing to help us know when there’s a pesky sin close by.  All we need to do is ask, and He will help.  Mark it down…we can rest assured with Him close by.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, love, priorities, Scripture, Trials

The Law and Gravity

“But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.” Romans 7:12

The Law and Gravity: Simply put–things tend to fall downward. It goes something like this–if you hold a rock out and drop it–it probably isn’t going to float–in fact it will “drop like a rock.” That is just what gravity does. And we should be grateful for gravity because without we would just float off into space. But there is more.

Have you ever thought about this? The law of gravity can work for you or against you. Let me explain. Several years ago, we bought my wife Judy a new bike. She and I both like to do some causal riding. Well, a short time later, I said, “Hey, do you want to go for a ride on your new bike.” She said yes and off we went. I learned a long time ago to more or less let Judy lead the way when we ride or walk. She is more adventurous than I am as I tend to do the same thing over and over again.

Well, I let her lead the way. The bottom line is that seven miles later we got back home and because of the route she chose there were some slightly sore body parts. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable ride–for the most part. Let me explain. We ended up on a bike trail near our house and then we cut through over by our middle school and ended up on Liberty Road. I had ridden this way before, and she had too but it had been a while.

What I didn’t know was they had moved Mount Everest onto Liberty Road. You probably have never ridden that road but maybe you have ridden on one like it. My road had a pretty good hill on it and since it had been a while since we had faced a hill–well–we experienced the law of gravity. As we climbed that stinking hill, the law of gravity said, “Pedal harder.” My legs responded with, “I don’t think so.” My legs got the short end of the stick and reluctantly pedaled me up the hill. There was no doubt—the law of gravity was against me.

Then an amazing thing happened. As we reached the top of the hill, we started DOWN the other side and all of a sudden we were flying–without even pedaling. Oh the joy–oh the wonder…and guess what–the law of gravity that was against me was now for me and it made all the difference. Same law–same hill just two different sides.

So, the law of gravity can be helpful or hurtful and so can another set of laws. You see God’s law, like the law of gravity, has a good side and a more difficult side. Let me explain. One of the primary purposes of God’s Big Ten is to show us our sin and need for a Savior. It says, “This is how you come up short and you need some help.” Our sin, as pointed out by the Law, is the very thing that condemns us to be eternally separated from God–at that point it is against us. But the bottom line is the law itself is holy, and it’s commands are holy and right and good.”

But, receive the forgiveness offered by God through Jesus and the Big Ten become a great guideline for living. It says, don’t lie–it really complicates life. Don’t steal–it will put you in jail. Don’t commit adultery–it will destroy your marriage. Don’t have other gods–enough said. You see the do nots and do’s are there because God knows that life is better within the scope of these laws. In that way the law of good–it is for us.

So, the next time you are pedaling or walking up a hill or the next time you drop your keys, remember the law of gravity has two sides. And the next time you are tempted to disobey God’s law remember it is there to point you in the right direction. And if you have never trusted Jesus as your Savior, it is shouting that it is time for a U-turn–right into the arms of a God who loves you very much. Oh, there’s more. When you are heading uphill in life, it’s great to know that “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, prayer, Scripture, Trials

Help!

For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under the law but under grace.”  Romans 6:14

It’s just about to drive me nuts.  For as long as I can remember, I have had to deal with allergies.  From the days of running the woods in Northeast Florida as a kid to now, stuff in the air drives me bonkers.  I can well remember the days in my early twenties when the only weapon I had to fight the battle with was some nose spray.  And the crazy part of that is if you use it too often and too long, it actually makes matters worse.

In the earlier days, my main issue was the fall.  There is this crazy plant called ragweed and when it starts to bloom, I start to suffer.  We are talking itchy eyes, clogged nasal passages, and a sneeze that sounds like a chihuahua chasing their tail wound way too tight.  Oh, and I don’t sneeze once—try six to eight times.  In this COVID mess this has been a real issue because people think I am coughing instead of sneezing, so they give you the death stare and then run.

About a zillion years ago, I discovered something called Flonase that changed my life.  It is a nasal steroid that tricks your nose and eyes into believing that there is nothing in the air.  It was a game changer and I have used it probably for 30 years or more.  Wow, it sure made fall easier.  I might still have some symptoms but at least it was tolerable. Well, about five years ago, something happened.  I started having the same symptoms in the spring too.  They weren’t as bad, and the Flonase keep everything in balance.  All that was true until this year.

As spring began to spring, my allergies started acting up, first in a little way and then in a big way.  Today they are acting in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” way.  So, when I started sounding like an overactive chihuahua I just start using my medicine.  For some reason, this spring, it didn’t work like before.  Now for the last couple of days, I have been sneezing and my eyes have been itching like crazy.  I tried the over-the-counter stuff, and we made a little progress but so far, well, we are still at war.

All of this is so crazy.  Some stuff from some plant is doing something to the lining of my sinuses causing them to go nuts and I end up in misery.  I mean, first, I did nothing to the stinking plants and second, what’s up with my hypersensitive sinuses.  Something that I can’t even see is making me miserable.  I know, I should think positive but when you want to take your eyeballs out so you can scratch them better, it is hard to be positive.  And then I know you aren’t supposed to put your fingers in your eyes, but it feels so good to scratch them.  Oh, my goodness.

You know, I wonder what if sin (you know the things that God says we shouldn’t do) was as irritating as whatever it is that is driving me nuts?  What if it bothered me to the point that I would do anything to stop?  I do believe my life would be better…I know my life would be better.  But the problem with sin is the fact we like it way too much.  For many of us, it’s like the satisfaction I feel when I scratch my eyes or sneeze for the eighth time.  It feels better…it feels good.  But mark this down.  There are consequences.

Sneeze eight times with your eyes closed while driving and you end up running a red light or running into a ditch.  Bummer.  Scratch your eyes too often and you end up with an eye infection or scratching something like whatever it is that makes your eyes work in the first place.  Regardless—you end up in a mess.  The best thing to do is what I did today.  I went to see my eye doctor friend.  Fortunately, she confirmed it wasn’t some weird African eye disease.  She prescribed some medicine that will stop this infernal itching. It’s gonna take a few days but eventually with her help, I’m gonna win.  I knew if there was anything that could be done, she would know and she would help and she did. She is my doctor, but she is also my friend.

It is the same way with this sin thing.  We need to call the sin doctor and that would be Jesus.  He knows all about sin—how to beat it—how to subdue it, and how to avoid all those nasty consequences.  He died so that sin wouldn’t win, and He is more than willing to help us, if we ask.  His death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin but He also gives us victory over the sneezing and itchy eyes part of sin—the day-to-day messiness of sin.  He gives us sin relief and I love that.

Paul, one of the main writers of the New Testament part of the Bible, says that sin (along with all its messy consequences) does not have to rule over us—because we are not under the “thou shalt not’s” but under grace—God’s unlimited and unmerited favor.  And because of that, sin doesn’t have free reign, you know, like too many sneezes and itchy eyes.  That sounds like good news to me.

Just know that if you hear something that sounds like an overactive chihuahua or see some guy with red eyes, don’t worry it is probably just me going nuts.  But remember, and this is the take-away, there is Someone who can handle your sin issues and that Someone is Jesus.  He loves you a lot—so much He died for you.  And whatever your issue is, you can take this to the bank, He’s got this, too.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, forgiveness, Grace, life, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials, wisdom

The Old Clock

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” Genesis 3:8

I have a clock.  Well, the truth of the matter I have lots of clocks.  Throughout my adult life, starting in about 1978, I have had this love affair with things that go, “tick-tock.” Then, somewhere along the way, I even began to love clocks that didn’t.  That doesn’t mean they were broken it just means they were electric.  One of the things that I love about clocks is their tenacity—like the Energizer Bunny—they just keep going.  I have some “tick-tock” clocks that are well over a hundred years old, and they are still ticking and still tocking. Something that is almost equally impressive as that are some of the electric clocks that are almost that old and they are still humming along.

And that brings up the clock.  About thirty years ago, I was at a friend’s antique shop on a Sunday afternoon.  I had been there many times before.  As I browsed around, I came across a camel back electric mantle clock.  I instantly recognized it…not because I had seen it before, but one like it.  It was a General Electric, Model 414, Westminster Chiming clock.  The reason I knew it so well was because my grandfather and grandmother had one like it and every time I went to their house, I listened to the song of that clock.  And this clock sounded just like it because—it was.

The song transported me back in time…to a different era when life was slower and to some extent easier.  Well, the clock in the antique shop that day found a new home.  It went first to 319 E. Poplar Street in Cobden and followed me to 217 W. Poplar Street in Harrisburg.  For the last 35 years or so, it has filled the place where it sat with song.  I loved it. Well, about two months ago, I heard sometime and realized it was coming from my beloved friend.

A very distinct noise, more than a hum but less than a grind, was coming from the clock.  The long and short of it is the old motor, after more than sixty years, was showing signs of death.  When the noise started, I immediately did some research and landed at a site of a man who works on this kind of motor…a Telechron.  I told him what my songbird was doing, and the prognosis was grime.  He said the noise meant that the motor was nearing the end of its life and the only answer was to replace the motor.

Well since the clock was still working and because the rebuilt motor was far from inexpensive, I decided to try and live with the clock…noise or not.  But I need to be honest and let you know it is not going well.  Now instead of hearing and loving the beloved song, all I can hear is the sounds of a motor dying…getting louder by the day.  And the problem is the sound of death has drowned out the song of life.  Oh, the dear old clock is still singing its song but for some reason all I can hear is the noise it is making…not the song it is singing.

Somehow, almost unintentionally, I have decided to listen to the noise and not the song.  While the noise is louder it is not louder than the latter.  The noise only wins the day because I choose to listen to it.  Try as I may, when I walk into the room, the first thing I hear is death and not life.  I wonder, no I know, that this happens in our lives.  In a world filled with wonder and life, if we are not careful, we only hear a world heading south. Instead of hearing a baby’s first cry or a robin’s spring song, we choose to listen to brokenness, loss, and death.

I know I have a choice with the old clock, I am just struggling to choose wisely.  It must have been that way for Adam and Eve when God came to the garden each day to visit.  Genesis, the first book in the Old Testament part of the Bible, says that they would hear God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.  It was a sound they used to run to but now it caused them to run away.  Sin, their sin, had gotten in the way.  If you find yourself running from what you used to run to, maybe just maybe, something has gotten in the way. Perhaps you are hearing the noise of dying instead of the song of living.

The answer for the old clock is a new motor and the answer for us is new heart or maybe a new or adjusted perspective.  If you’ve not discovered the joy of believing in God, check Him out.  You will find a song you’re sure to like.  For some of us, it might be an adjustment in our hearing, choosing to hear the song and not the noise.  Regardless, we have one confident assurance…He loves us and cares for us and no matter what, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, life, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, travel, Trials

They Drove Us Batty

He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Micah 7:19

It was years ago but trust me…it is still fresh in my memory. We had made one of our journeys to the land of grits and collards to see family.  We enjoyed some good southern cooking, some great times of fellowship and revisited several places from Judy’s childhood and our days together before God and the Air Force sent us on the next chapter of great adventures.  There’s no place like home, Dorothy said it and I agree.

We decided to do something different so rather than stay with the relatives, we rented a nice Victorian home in Valdosta at a very reasonable rate.  It was wonderfully decorated, and we had the whole house to ourselves.  The location was great, the hot tub in the backyard was great, everything was just great…and then I looked in the sink. Something was moving.

After we arrived, we were still checking out the place and my wife Judy and I went into the kitchen and happened to look in the sink and there were some rotten banana peels lying there.  Well, that wasn’t too cool.  Who would leave rotten banana peels in the kitchen sink of a nice rental house anyway?  The answer—no one.  You see, about that time one of the banana peels moved!  Yikes—they weren’t banana peels after all—they were—BATS—five of them.

Well, I mustered my courage and threw a towel over them, scooped them up and tossed them out the door.  There—gross but end of the story—nothing could be worse than that—right?  Wrong.  That evening we were watching some TV and I stepped out of the room to hear Judy holler “Dewayne, here’s another one!”  Sure enough, one was walking across the floor, so out he went.  Then I looked and one was hanging on the fireplace screen—out he went too.  Well, surely it can’t….don’t bet on it. We went to bed that night and I dozed off pretty quickly…Judy didn’t.  Soon, I heard, “Dewayne, there’s one flying around in the room!”  Well, she was wrong…there wasn’t one–there were two.  The batman (that’s me) knocked ‘em down and hauled them out and called the owner.

The next day a bat removal guy came. He told us he had been there the previous Saturday and had patched a couple of entrances he assumed the bats were using. I guess he missed one…or two.  Well, he searched the house and came up with seven more bats. Can you believe this?  He patched and sealed some more entrances and we thought that was the end of problem—finally!  Well, that is we thought.  Long story short—by the end of the week we had removed 25 bats from the house. He caught and released them somewhere.  It turns out they were endangered…more so than they knew.

This is one reason I said, “There’s no place like home.”  The only bat at 217 W. Poplar is a ball bat! So, by now you are wondering, “Why didn’t you guys leave?”  Well, the landlord did offer us a partial refund and there was a bed and breakfast down the road, but the bottom line was twofold.  First, we really, really liked having the whole house to ourselves and in such a good location.  Second, I didn’t know on day one that there were 25 bats in the house—I always thought the last one was the last one. I was wrong.

I wonder if my reluctance to leave explains why some people continue in a bad habit or a sin even though everything in the world is telling them to get out. It becomes obvious that we like the habit or the sin.  Sin can be pleasurable but mark it down—it not only offends God, but it is also expensive (on a couple of different levels) and it can wreak havoc in your life (or your vacation). Secondly, sin will take you further than you want to go and make you stay longer than you want to stay.  I kept thinking the last bat was the last bat but there was always one more.  Finally, the week was gone and if nothing else I became an expert at bat removal.

So, if you need a house to stay at in Valdosta and you don’t mind bats let me know.  I can promise you it will be an interesting visit to say the least. Personally, it just about drove me batty…pun definitely intended.  Oh, and if you need someone to help you remove some of the “bats” from your life, I know just the One.  He is my Dearest Daddy, and He would love to help you out.  He will cast those pesky “sin bats” to the bottom of the sea. You can trust Him…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, friends, gratitude, life, prayer, priorities, Scripture, thankful, wisdom

Chatting With the Father

And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:12

“What was that, again?”  Last week we had a winter storm.  Though it wasn’t as nasty as they said it was going to be it was still more than enough to warrant staying off the roads and in the house. Turns out, it was a two day in the house deal.  Well, we had an invitation to go eat dinner with a couple on Friday night, but it looked like the weather was going to nix that.  Another good friend was invited to go and frankly, I was disappointed when it looked like it wasn’t going to happen. She wasn’t sure the roads would be safe. I mean, this was one of those good invites…great friends and great food.  So, my wife Judy and I were thrilled when she called and said it looked like the roads were going to be clear enough…so Friday night we were off and running.

Judy sat up front and I was in the backseat.  Our friend owns one of those Toyota off road things…you know, the kind that would be at home in a safari in Africa so trust me the roads were not going to stop us.  I told her we should go four-wheeling before the night was over. Smile. So, anyway, soon we were on our way.  Now, her vehicle may be made to conquer Africa, but it is not made for conversation…especially for those in the backseat.  I was content to just ride but several times a question or something came from the front seat, directed my way.  The result was a “Huh,” or a “What?”

You see, first, I do have some hearing loss.  There are some frequencies that I hear perfect and some that I just don’t.  Usually, questions from my wife fall in the latter category.  Second, her Africa eating vehicle had those tires that like to sing…loudly. Third, there was a pretty good portion of wind noise and finally, I was in the back seat, and they were in the front seat facing away from me.  The bottom line, there wasn’t going to be a lot of conversation…at least not any that involved me.  It was true going…and it was true coming home. All that was fine by me except when it was a question requiring an answer and then well, we were back to the “Huh,” and “What’s.”  I must confess it was just a hair frustrating.

I wasn’t surprised…with that much interference a person with good hearing would probably have struggled.  You put enough interference out there and nobody can hear anything.  That is true with people and wait for it, it is equally true with God.  I believe in prayer…not the wish list kind but the kind where I get to know God better. I believe in prayer…the kind where I can chat with my Dearest Daddy.  No, it is not formal, but it is respectful.  The one thing I forget too often is that it is a conversation, going both ways.  I do the part of me speaking very well…I just don’t do the part of me listening as well.  Sometimes I forget that He probably has more to say to me than I do to Him.  How interesting.

Another thing is that interference thing.  Just like my experience in my friend’s “over the river and through the woods” vehicle, so too often there is plenty of interference between me and my Father.  Yesterday’s sin and failures, today’s plans and worries about tomorrow all tend to speak loudly in my mind and heart and if I am not careful…drown out His voice.  You see God often is more of a whisperer than a shouter and trust me His whispers are worth hearing. One time, He was talking with one of His prophets.  There were all kind of big things going on, a fierce wind, fire, and earthquake and yet God didn’t speak through those…instead, He whispered.

So let me encourage you to take the time to get away, get quiet and get still.  When you get there have a chat…not filled with big and flowery words but words from a sincere heart spoken directly to a Dearest Father who loves you more than you can imagine.  Then be sure and give Him a moment or two speak into the conversation.  Listen carefully for He might speak softly.  He will whisper His love and probably just assure you that, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

Eating Your Words

The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth.” Proverbs 20:19

The more I chewed the bigger it got.  I have lots of food memories from growing up.  First you need to remember that I was born in the South and folks from the South have a whole different way of eating.  And trust me…that means it was good…mostly.  I can remember fried chicken Sunday dinners with green beans and mashed potatoes…the kind that didn’t come from a box but from a real potato.  A lot of Sundays we had pot roast with those same yummy potatoes and green beans. And “dinner on the grounds” at church was a potluck straight from heaven.

My mama was the biscuit queen.  You can’t imagine how good they were hot out of the oven.  While we did occasionally have desert, we really didn’t need it.  We would just take one of mama’s biscuits, slather it with butter and then pour cane syrup all over it.  Shoot-that-thing! You don’t know good if you’ve never had homemade biscuits and cane syrup.  Now with all that said, there were a few things we had that were a bit—different.

I remember I decided to try something new with peanut butter. It could have been that we were out of jelly but anyway I got the mayonnaise out of the refrigerator, smeared it on some bread and then loaded on the peanut butter.  Bam…just like that a new delicacy was born.  That became one of my favorites for years.  One day, though, I had one and then got the stomach flu and well, we parted ways. No pun intended.

We didn’t have a whole lot of candy growing up and I’ve always had a sweet tooth.  Somewhere along the journey I discovered the sugar bowl.  Did you know you can get a teaspoon full of sugar and put it in your mouth and it tastes like a candy bar?  Well, it probably didn’t taste like a Snickers, but it was plenty sweet.  You know what they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

School lunches were always an adventure.  There were deviled egg sandwiches (awesome), deviled egg sandwiches with potted meat mixed in (not so awesome), potted meat sandwiches without deviled eggs (yuk) and finally Vienna sausages (uh, well, somewhat good).  You just never knew what mom was going to put in the lunch bag.  My all-time favorite was and is pimento cheese.  And then there was—tripe.

Tripe wasn’t a lunch item, it was always for supper.  Some of you may not have discovered the wonder of tripe or even know what it is.  Well, for those of you who don’t know tripe is cow’s stomach.  Yup and let me just tell you it was an experience.  It always smelled great cooking but eating it was a real challenge.  Mama usually cut it up in pretty small pieces, but you still had to get a sharp knife to get it down to bite size.  Now tripe was…chewy.  In fact, tripe was very chewy.  Which is why it never made it into the lunch bag—it took two hours to eat one small piece.  You see, the more you chewed it, the bigger it got! 

I’ve heard it said that celery is one of those negative calorie foods…it actually takes more calories to chew it and digest it than are in the food itself.  I think tripe must be one of those also.  In fact, I am sure there is a tripe diet somewhere out there.  You take a bite, chew for two hours and bam…lose two pounds.  Good, ole, tripe.  The supper of champions.

Did you know that tripe and gossip are first cousins?  No really. You mutter a few words about your friend and before you know it, you have yourself a belly full of trouble. Those few hurtful words just get bigger and more hurtful each time they are repeated. Feelings get hurt, relationships are broken and talk about a belly ache…oh yeah.  While the Bible doesn’t say much about tripe it does say a lot about gossip.  One of my favorites is Proverbs 20:19, “The one who reveals secrets is a constant gossip; avoid someone with a big mouth.”  How’s that for being straight to the point?

One of the best ways to avoid gossip is to remember a couple of things.  If the person you are telling isn’t part of the problem…don’t say it. Also, if you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face you shouldn’t share it behind their back.  Now the problem is, most of us just love a good piece of juicy gossip.  The Bible says, “A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.” That might be true but I know one more thing about tripe.  If it gets stuck in your throat you are in deep weeds.  That choice piece of gossip can get stuck too, and can cause heart breaking consequences.

Well, I gave up tripe a long time ago.  I guess I had enough when I was a kid.  I wish I could say I have totally given up gossip the same way.  I have found out given half-a-chance I can find myself saying, “Hey, did you hear…” and that tripe-like-sin is right back in my mouth.  We just need to be careful to keep it out of our mouth.  The good news is Jesus is more than willing to help if you ask.  He can handle all kind of things whether it be a tough piece of tripe stuck in the wrong place or a juicy piece of gossip right on your lips.  Just ask Him.  He will help…cause He’s got …even this.  Bro. Dewayne