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

Rainy Days

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

It was just another love note. It seems this love note thing happens all the time.  A love note is when there is something, a crisis, a life bump or just something we need a little help with and well, Calvary shows up.  I always think it is God’s way of helping me out.  He knows and He cares.  It happened several weeks ago again.  First, it had been dry and overnight God turned on the faucet and sent several inches of rain.  We so needed it.  The farmers needed it, the gardeners needed and the people who find some twisted joy in mowing grass needed it.  And it came in abundance.

So God has blessed us with a really great home.  We like older homes and this one qualifies in anyone’s book.  Best we can tell the core of the house was built in 1898 with a couple of additions added by a couple of brothers after World War II.  The house is brick (part of the post-World War II renovation) and has some great 1940’s trim work inside.  Like I said, we are blessed.  But there is one thing I wish we didn’t have and that is a wet basement.  When it rains a lot quickly, we get water in our basement. Fortunately we have a good drain so it usually runs across the floor and into the drain and it is no more than an annoyance.  That is…until it is not.

Well, the morning of the big rain, Judy came and got me and told me we had a shallow swimming pool in the basement.  This produced a groan and a moan.  Before I even saw the Red Sea that had gathered in my basement I was thinking plumbers and dollar signs.  What if the drain pipe had collapsed? What if they had to dig up the yard? What if I had to sell my first born to pay for all of this?  It was the old “Lions, tigers and bears, oh my” reaction which is pretty typical for me when I hear there is a small sea in my basement.

So, I followed her down and sure enough there was about three or four feet (just kidding) of water in my basement.  I told her I would call the plumber after a while and see what needed to be done.  Then…I had a thought.  I decided I would go over to the drain and see if the problem was there.  So I put on my scuba gear and got my shark repellant and headed over to the drain. There is a strainer over the drain and the first thing I did was remove that.  When I looked it was indeed pretty clogged up and when I removed it the water did begin to drain…some.

It was time for phase two.  I stuck my finger down into the drain hole and immediately a giant anaconda grabbed my finger…no just kidding.  What I did find was a piece of wire that had either got under or through the cover or broken off of something in the drain and it was covered with slimy stuff.  I pulled that out and bam…the water started draining faster…fast enough to make that little tornado thing that happens when water is draining good. Soon, the water was gone and I was smiling again.

I was thanking God, and Judy, my wife, was thanking God because we both knew that He had acted on our behalf.  You see, our default reaction these days is no matter how routine, no matter how everyday—we are learning to thank God and give Him the glory.  And do you know what?  We do it because we believe it.  We just believe that from the smallest to the biggest it is God acting on our behalf.  We just refuse to believe things are circumstance and happenstance. We believe in a God who is into the details. Now all that doesn’t mean that things always turn up roses.  No, we have our share of dandelions too, but we are learning to thank God for those too because He can and does turn dandelions into daisies.

A verse I quote a lot and that holds a lot of value in my world is found in a letter Paul wrote to the Romans about 2,000 years ago.  It was true then and it is true now.  It says that God can cause good to come out of any circumstances…for those who trust and believe in Him.  It doesn’t mean that He snaps His finger, and everything is good but that He can bring good from everything.  So, as you bump along life’s path and you have a flat tire on a rainy Monday or a basement full of water, just remember, no matter the outcome…God loves you and cares about you.  Before you call the plumber, talk to Him.  You may still have to call the plumber, but you can have the assurance that, “He’s got this.”  Oh, and by the way, if my house is up for sale and you are thinking about buying it…forget what I about the basement. Smile. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, missions, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials

Stalled on Lake Victoria

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

It was like something out of National Geographic. I was on a vision trip to Uganda several years ago and it was one adventure after another.  I was working with a missionary who had a ministry to the people living on the islands of Lake Victoria.  This massive lake is the second largest in the world and is more like an inland sea than a lake.  There are places that you can lose sight of the shoreline and you feel very much like you are out on the ocean.

Our vessel was anything but an ocean liner.  It was a handcrafted open vessel that was about twenty-five feet long and powered by a fire breathing dragon of a motor with a whopping ten horsepower.  We would tear across the lake at a heart stopping ten miles an hour. Ok, there really wasn’t a fire breathing dragon effect, nor were we tearing across the lake, but it was a great adventure!  Usually.

One day, after a long day of preaching and teaching, it was time to head back to our home island.  We were a little late leaving and night was coming soon, so it was imperative that we begin heading back.  Our boat was parked in a small, secluded harbor and from there we all loaded up.  There were only about six of us in the boat and the small engine started and off we went.  As soon as we left the harbor we were greeted by some rough water.  The waves were large enough to be “white caps” and I gave the missionary a glance but he assured me that these were not big waves. Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is wave size.  These were boat swallowing monsters.  And then, after a few minutes, it happened.

As the pilot guided the boat and tried to determine just how to navigate the large waves…the motor quit.  I mean, it just stopped.  Suddenly, at least in my eyes, things got a bit more interesting.  We could no longer navigate the waves, rather, we were at their mercy and no matter how hard the pilot pulled, the engine wouldn’t start.  About then I began a worship service of sorts, part music, part prayer and part personal eulogy. You know, “Friends we are gathered here to honor the life of…” Meanwhile the pilot is still pulling on the motor and I kept praying.

Finally, one of the guys in the boat named Joseph went to work on the motor.  Joseph is a young man that can do just about anything—from preaching to apparently fixing motors.  The shorter version of a long story is that He proceeded to take the carburetor apart and “blow it out.”  Now keep in mind we are still rocking like crazy…and I still am praying and preparing to die.  But I had planned my funeral just a little too soon.  Before long, Jospeh had the carburetor reassembled and back on the motor.  Three or four quick pulls later and we were back “on the road.”  The waves were still big (at least to me) but we were underway and eventually we arrived back at the other island.  Safe—if not too sound.

It really was one of those times that I wished I had paid more attention at swimming lessons because I wasn’t totally sure of the outcome.  But thankfully I did remember one thing. I remembered that whether I am rocking in a boat on the world’s second largest lake in East Africa or driving down the Interstate at 70 miles-per-hour surrounded by people looking at their cellphones or doing life in a tumultuous point in history, my Father, my Dearest Daddy, is in control.  Fate and circumstances are not calling the shots—He is. And if that isn’t enough, we have the promise that the Lord will personally go ahead of us. He will be with us; He will neither fail us, nor will He abandon us.

Now to be clear that doesn’t mean that everything is going to turn out exactly as I would like.  It doesn’t mean that I get to write the script and He has to follow it.  Quite the contrary, He is writing the script and He invites me to trust Him and to believe that ultimately the end of the story is for my good and His glory.  I’m learning that the story never ends here—it ends there.  For the person who decides to trust Him there is always a surprise ending and that is—the end is not the end.  We may change locations, but the story continues.  How about that?

So, I survived that day on the lake and now have returned many times…each time taking others with me including the one that I love most on this earth—my wife, Judy. I do so knowing, that while there are risks, ultimately the pilot of the boat doesn’t sit at the back but up in heaven and He’s got his eye on us and everything we do.  It’s true in East Africa and its true where you and I live.  We can say with certainty that if we belong to Him, we don’t have to worry because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

What’s in a Name?

She will give birth to a Son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Satan.  I’m sure it sounded logical at the time. Everybody needs a dog.  Now I know that is a generalization, but the fact is dogs can add a lot to life.  Sometimes that “lot” is good and sometimes not so much.  The bottom line is that dogs are kinda like people.  They are all different, they all have different personalities, and they all have different names.

When I was growing up, I can remember three outdoor dogs that we had.  Momma and Daddy had an indoor dog named Penny. She was a, uh, well, overweight chihuahua mix and was pretty much the queen bee of the house.  But through the years that I remember we had three other dogs and all three were as different as night and day. The first one had a very unusual name.

Now, first remember these were real outdoor dogs.  We are talking their dog food was whatever scraps were left over from dinner and they rarely, very rarely had a bath.  So regardless of what adjectives I use to describe them, you would never find them at a dog show.  The first one was a beautiful, red, long hair, Irish setter.  I’m not sure where we got him, but I can assure you he was free.  We definitely did not pay for dogs.  Besides the fact that this dog was really pretty, his name set him apart.  His name was, wait for it, Satan.  Yes, folks, we actually had a dog named Satan.  Even as I type this, I am saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”  But…I am not.

Satan, the dog—not the king of evil—didn’t get his name from his behavior but rather from his red coat.  You know how we like to dress Satan (the king of evil not the dog) in red? Well, I guess Momma and Daddy decided it seemed appropriate.  I know when I am introduced to someone, sometimes I hear their name and say, “Well, he or she looks like a Judy or a Sam.  Well, Satan, the dog, with his red coat fit the bill.  What a crazy name for a dog.

The second dog that holds a spot in my dog hall of fame was a beagle named Sally.  Now Sally, I think, is a kinda happy name.  I have a hard time imagining a stern-faced Sally though I am sure there are plenty out there.  Well, Sally, the dog, had a bubbly personality and had the unique ability, wait for it, to smile.  Now, as Jerry Clower the comedian, used to say, “if I am lying, I am dying.”  You could walk up to ole Sally and give her a greeting and she would turn her upper lip right up and smile at you.  Bring her supper and up the lip would go.  She was a nice contrast, as you can imagine, to, uh, Satan (not the king of evil but the dog.)

The third and final dog that fills my memory of dogs in my growing up years was a rough and tumble, short legged, who knows what breed or breeds, dog we named, Ruff. Our dog Ruff didn’t stand out with a shiny red coat, nor could he smile.  He was just Ruff. If he was a human, he probably would have driven a big Harley hog, wore a leather jacket, and smoked cigarettes.  He was rough.  He may have had small dog syndrome because truthfully, he was short and stocky.  But, regardless, he was a good dog, and he was loyal.  He ruled the backyard and protected us from all the bad guys.

Three dogs, three distinct personalities and characteristics and three names that kinda, sorta, fit them.  Back in the old days of the Bible, names were a really big deal. You would name your son or daughter based on your hopes and dreams for them.  Sometimes it worked out…and sometimes, well, it didn’t.  I know when Joseph learned that Mary was going to have Jesus, he had some inside help on the name.  I mean an angel shows up and says, “Hey, Mary is going to have a baby and you are to name Him Jesus because He is going to save the world.” Now that is one important name.

And guess what?  That is exactly what He did.  His destiny was to die on a Roman cross to pay for the sins of the whole world—mine and yours and well, everybody’s.  When you hear the name of Jesus—think Savior because that is what He is.  His name is special, very special, and is one that should not, ever, be thrown around lightly.

Guess what? God likes to give names to His kids too.  In the last book of the Bible, it says that God will give us a new name written on a white stone and no one will understand the name but the one who gets it.  Until then, well, He just calls us son or daughter. I like that.  And as His son or daughter, we have the assurance that no matter what comes our way, we can count on Him.  We can know for sure, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

Dancing With Corena

Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials.” James 1:2

I didn’t even know she was invited to the dance and I certainly don’t remember dancing with her.  Her name is Corena…my new name for COVID-19.  As we all know, in early March 2020, the word on everyone’s lips was the COVID-19 or the corona virus.  Regardless, it changed our lives.  We went through lockdowns, closedowns, and mask mandates.  Toilet paper and dozens of other items suddenly flew off the shelves and became hot items on the black market.  Myself included and millions of others escaped the initial onset of the virus, and I breathed a sigh of relief when at the end of January, I was able to get the first of two shots of the Moderna vaccine.  A month later I received my second shot, and I counted the days, hours, and minutes for the next two weeks.  I made it. I was fully vaccinated and fully expected not to have to endure a personal attack of the COVID-19 virus.

I know in our area there were like 13,000 people fully vaccinated.  Of those, there were only 41 break-through cases—cases of people getting the virus after being fully vaccinated.  Imagine only 41 out of 13,000. Those were odds I could live with.  Well, I guess I should go buy a lottery ticket because I became one of those break-through cases.  I had unknowingly danced with Corena, and lost. It went like this. Last Tuesday, I woke up with a bit of a cough…not the deep throaty kind but the itchy, catch in your throat kind. You know, these days if you cough people scatter in six different directions. Well, I went to work and told my co-workers not to worry. “Just allergies,” I said. “It happens every year,” I said. And it does, but not this time.

That night I slept horrible.  When my wife got up that morning, I explained I had really slept poorly.  “Just allergies,” she said. “It happens every year,” she said.  So then I merrily went to work at the office, attributing my occasional cough to allergies and my tiredness to lack of sleep.  Wednesday night was, well, not fun.  I tossed, turned, coughed, got hot and then got cold.  In the morning, I told Judy that I thought I had a sinus infection.  I messaged my friend and doctor to see if he would write me a script for an antibiotic…like a Z-Pack. At Judy’s prodding, I also told him that I would take a COVID test if he felt I should.   He thought it wise.  I have a wise friend and doctor.

So, it was Thursday morning, when I got tested and twenty-five minutes later I learned that I had indeed danced with Corena—the COVID virus.  I don’t know where I got it, nor does that matter.  What I do know is that in a matter of a few hours I had a new respect for the virus and those who danced with her before it became my turn. I felt awful.  In fact, referring to my heart stint deal three years ago, I told my daughter I would take the heart attack over my dance with Corena. Judy said I was talking out of my head.  No, I really think I would.  I managed to have almost all the symptoms and none of them made my list of top things I want to do again.

Well, if nothing else comes out of this, I know I have a better empathy for others.  You see empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It is to walk a mile or so in someone else’s shoes.  I have prayed for a lot of people who danced with Corena, and I promise you I will pray a little harder now. I have felt sympathy for those who have suffered from the dance, but I will feel a deeper sympathy now.

There is one thing that didn’t change from my dance with Corena.  It is my absolute certainty that God is in absolute control of every aspect of my life…and yours.  He allowed me to dance with her so that I could learn about empathy, and sympathy, and maybe, just maybe, about slowing down because trust me…I slowed down.  Remember that verse that James the half-brother of Jesus wrote that said, “Hey, count it all joy when you find yourself in all kinds of trials?” Well, I’ve taught that Biblical joy is a “deep sense of wellbeing based on one’s faith in God and trust in His sovereign will.”  It is the chance to test what you say you believe.  Now, that’s a good thing.

So, if you have danced, or are dancing with Corena…I feel your pain.  If your family has suffered loss after the dance, I hurt with you and pray you will keep trusting the heavenly Father.  And I know one more thing.  I always try to end my story with the words, “He’s got this.”  Well, I am more, not less, convinced that He does indeed, “have this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, thankful

Poud and Pouder

I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Revelation 2:17

What in the world is a “Poud?”  Last week I wrote a story about my wife Judy, and me. It was a special week with an anniversary and birthday to celebrate. And celebrate we did…but that’s another story. Anyway, in last week’s story I mentioned Judy’s nickname, and someone asked, “What is the story there?”  Well, I am glad you asked.  Admittedly, it is a rather unusual nickname. It goes something like this.  A long, long time ago, before I was around and when Judy was young,  one of her brothers stated calling her “Judy Poudy.”  Since she was the last of nine siblings, maybe they ran out of creativity? Anyway, I am assuming it was because it rhymed.  Sometime later, the family shortened the name and started calling her “Poud.”

As the years rolled by, she was “Poud” this and “Poud” that.  Well, finally, in the fulness of time (you know, like the Bible), I show up on the stage of her life.  After we began dating, I met her parents and then I got to meet the extended family. There probably aren’t enough letters in the alphabet or adjectives in the English language to describe this crazy bunch of South Georgians. Let it be enough to say that they believed in having fun and telling tall tales.  Oh, the things one learns from sitting around the table at family gatherings and just watching and listening! Get them in a room together and the tales would start and wrapped up in those tales would be the occasional “Poud” this and “Poud” that.

Well, that could be the end of the story, but it isn’t.  You see, this crazy bunch of South Georgians knew how to make a guy feel right at home and before long I was the object of several stories, some true and some not…. and some of those stories caused me to end up with my own nickname, “Pouder.”  Now I’ll leave it to your imagination how that came about, but the new couple in the Allen clan had a new name—“Poud” and “Pouder.”  Finally, after years of marriage, we decided to make it easier by simply calling each other “Poud.”  It goes something like this, “Hey Poud?”  And the other would simply reply with “Yes, Poud.”  It doesn’t matter much now, but when we get really old, it should at least be convenient.

It’s funny (no pun intended) how “Judy” became a “Judy Poudy” and together we became “Poud” and “Pouder.”  New relationships sometimes generate a new name and that is just what God does for us.  When we join His family, whatever we once were slips away and we become something new—one of His children…His son or daughter.

In the Bible, there was a woman who had an unclean issue of blood. Basically, that meant she wasn’t welcome anywhere…especially at church and because of her sickness she only knew the scorn and harshness of those around her.  But one day she met Jesus and He healed her and gave her a new name—daughter.  And when we meet Jesus…well, whatever the world and those around us used to called us, no matter how condemning, that all changes and He calls us His. I love that.

There is a scripture in the last Book in the Bible, the Revelation, and it says that one day God will give us a new name.  It says there, “I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.”  I don’t know what all that means but I do know it will be special.  To be called His son is amazing enough but to know that He has a special name for me, for us…well, that is incredible.

I hope you have made the decision to be called His child.  It’s not just church, it’s certainly not religion—it is a relationship with Creator God.  And that unknown and special name…well, we will just have to wait and see what that is all about.  One thing is certain—it will be special and He’s got it reserved just for me and just for you.  Until then we will just have to wait and trust that…He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Divine Interruptions

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have to admit I chuckle every time it happens.  At the church where I work, I have an office and I spend a lot of hours there.  I have an iMac computer and a desk and we are good friends.  It is there that most of the sermons that God gives me to share with our church are born.  And believe it or not, that is what I do.  I do check email and I may even occasionally check BestBuy.com for some gadget but the bottom line is I craft sermons, build the worship event for each week’s message, create the sermon video and sometimes write stories.

It is not too uncommon for there to be a knock on my door and someone will stick their head in and say, “Are you busy?”  That’s when I chuckle.  I mean, I think that is what I am supposed to be—busy.  I really do appreciate their kindness but each time it strikes me as funny.  Sometimes when I get home from work, I will ask my wife Judy, “Did you get this or that done today?”  If she didn’t get it done, she will respond with something like, “Oh, you know me, I just watched tv and ate bon-tons.”  We both laugh because we both know she stays plenty busy.

When people do knock on the door I am usually glad for the interruption.  Without knowing it, I can sit there for a couple of hours and not even realize it.  So most times I do need a break…I need an interruption. Need.An.Interruption. That is true when I am working at the office and it is true in my life—in our lives.

Francis Chan said, “God, interrupt whatever we are doing so that we can  join You in what You’re doing.”  I like that…a lot.  I am certain that last year’s hot mess and its overflow into this year was a big interruption in our lives. Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it.

But what if…what if…God was up to something?  What if He has a plan and all-of-this is part of that plan?  Do we have the faith to trust Him and believe that He is in fact working things for His glory and our good?

Well, here’s the deal.  He does indeed have a plan and He is working that plan.  While the corona virus and all of its ripples are part of our broken world–we serve a God that from the get-go has been bringing rescue and redemption to that broken world.  The events of last year and this year are a story that will take months and maybe years to be fully written but I know the end. God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It was true for the nation of Israel and it is true for us. I believe God is up to something bigger than we can imagine.  The best is yet to come.  The question though is “Will we be open to receiving it and ready for it when it comes?”

That’s a big question.  Maybe we should pause and pray, “God I want you to know that I am willing to trust You in this interruption of my normal.  I am willing to trust You, that You have a plan for me..for us… not to harm us but to give us a hope and a future.  Give me the faith and the patience to wait on You.  In Jesus name. Amen.”  Now that is a prayer He likes to answer.  God bless you today.  Rest in Him…because He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne .

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, life, Military memories, priorities, Scripture, Trials, wisdom

Mr. Bowlen

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

It was a long, hard day.  When my wife and I lived in Warrensburg, Missouri we were renting a home in a still developing subdivision called Valley View.  We were just back from a three-year USAF stay in Germany, still newlyweds with only four years under our belt, and with a newly hatched dream.  While we loved the house we were renting, we, like so many, dreamed of owning our own home.  It was a crazy time economically as interest rates were running about 18 percent and inflation was at a record rate. And then a window opened.

The developer of our subdivision was a rough around the edges man named Mr. Bowlen.  We bumped into him around the neighborhood as he was still building houses. He planted a thought in our minds and hearts.  He said the government had a program that might allow us to build a house.  They would pay half the interest.  Well compared to eighteen percent, nine sounded pretty enticing. And before we knew, we were approved and a piece of land on Hilltop Drive had our name on it.  He let us add a few things like a bay window and a fireplace in the basement.  It added a bit to the bottom line, but they were worth it.

I’m still not sure if this was a wise financial decision for us.  It ended ok, and that’s another story, but it did cause some financial tension.  To help, he suggested I do some work equity and let me tell you…it was hard work.  I ended up doing all the painting and staining inside and out.  And for a guy who had never done anything like that—it was a challenge.  That’s another story, too.  There was also another opportunity to help with the financial tension.

Mr. Bowlen told me that he would be willing to let me work for him on Saturdays doing some basic labor.  He then said he would pay me $15.00 per hour.  Now that was good money back in 1983 so I agreed although I was way out of my comfort zone.  To set the stage, I was in the Air Force, that was my day job, I was pastoring a small church for a whopping $50 a week, that was my Sunday job, and now I was going to work for Mr. Bowlen on Saturdays.  Like I said…it was way out of my comfort zone.  So, Saturday came.

The work site was just down from our rental house, so I just walked over.  It was early in the morning and we were going to be putting up metal (as in heavy metal) forms to pour a basement for another house.  We had to lift the forms in place and hammer pins in place to hold it all together.  Well, besides dropping my hammer one time inside the forms, things went pretty well.  We called it a day about 4:00 pm…just in time for me to get home and start trying to write a sermon for the next day.  I was exhausted.  I bet that was at least one short sermon!

So, the next week I bumped into Mr. Bowlen and he had a check for me.  Finally, the fruit of my labor that Saturday was in my hands.  Based on his comment about $15.00 per hour and eight hours of labor, I was expecting a check for around a hundred dollars. Instead, I found a check for forty dollars and some change.  I was, uh, shocked.  I said, “Mr. Bowlen is this right?” He assured me that it was, and I said, “I thought you were paying $15.00 an hour.”  He chuckled and said, “Oh, I was only kidding about that.  We pay laborers $5.00 an hour.”  I wasn’t laughing.  In fact, as much as I liked him, I felt betrayed—ripped off.  From my view, one thing was promised, and another given. And that was my first and only Saturday working for Mr. Bowlen.

Betrayed and ripped off.  Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever felt that way about another person?  Have you ever felt that way…about God?  Because people are broken and imperfect, just like us, there is a measure of understanding. It doesn’t make it any less painful but at least it sometimes softens the blow.  But what about God?  What about when it seems God doesn’t keep His Word?  That’s a tough one.

What I have learned over my years as a Jesus follower, and as a pastor, that when it seems we feel betrayed or ripped off by God it is because we have misread or misapplied His Word.  You see, His Word is full of promises, but we need to make sure that the promises were made to us and for us.  We can’t claim promises that were made to another person or group of people.  God made promises to Abraham that just aren’t ours to claim.

Too often, unfortunately, preachers, teachers, and ordinary people make promises on God’s behalf that God never intended or said.  And, when they don’t come true, well, we blame God and that is not right or fair.  I’ve been a Jesus follower for 45 years now, and I can tell you one thing—He has never failed me or failed to keep His Word.  He is a promise keeping God—when the promise is mine.  No, I’ve not always liked how things turned out or His way of working something out, but I can say I’ve never felt betrayed or ripped off.  He is a good God who is good at being God.  You can trust Him.

Well, Mr. Bowlen’s little joke was a hard lesson for me to learn but it was a valuable one.  His heart was good, but his sense of humor was not.  I’m glad my Dearest Daddy, the God I can call Father, has a perfect heart and His will and plan for me is perfect.  I know no matter what I will face, His plan is for my good and His glory—and that is good enough.  I can face today knowing, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, gratitude, Holidays, life, New Year, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, wisdom

James

The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD and He delights in his way.  And even if he falls, he will not be utterly cast down because He upholds him with His strong hand.” Psalm 37:23-24

The other day we were down at my daughter’s house who lives near Murray, Kentucky.  They have blessed us with two of our eight grandchildren and if you know anything about grandkids they are just a bunch of fun.  Matt and Jen live in the country near Kentucky Lake and my wife Judy decided we needed to take a walk.  Now if you know Judy you know she believes that people build houses for essentially one reason—to sleep in.  If you aren’t sleeping, you need to be doing something—outside.  Period.

So, naturally, we took a walk.  I was with my grandson James and we were having an adventure.  Soon we were walking hand in hand.  Now, James, who is six, is a very thoughtful young man.  So, eventually, he asks me, “Papa, what is your real name?”  Now I knew what he was asking but why not have some fun when you can?  So, I told him my name was Papa.  “No” he said firmly, “your real name.”  Well, I gave in and told him it was Dewayne.

He took a shot at pronouncing it and got real close.  I thought that might be the end, but no, the best was yet to come.  He then asked me, “Papa (he didn’t try Dewayne) how old are you?  Well, that was a good question, so I gave him the answer.  “James,” I said, “I am almost 67 years old.” Again, almost without hesitation he said, “Papa, you’re almost dead.” I died laughing—no pun intended.  The Bible mentions something about out of the mouth of babes, truth comes, and I guess truth be known…there’s a lot more days behind me than before me.

Another of my favorite James stories occurred several years ago. Judy and I drove down to Vienna to Jon and Becca’s house and the Johnson clan drove up from Murray. Everyone was there with the exception of Sarah and Blake who at that time were stationed in Savanah, Georgia.  The occasion for us getting together was my oldest granddaughter’s 15th birthday. So, anyway, it is always more fun when the grandkids are around. If you just wait you will learn something—or at least get a good subject for a sermon or a story. The latter was true in this case!

The family had migrated to the basement and only James and I were left upstairs.  So, I said to James (who was two at the time), “Come on, James, let’s go to the basement.”  We headed toward the stairs and I wisely offered my hand and he even more wisely took it. The wisdom of that decision became apparent quickly. Now James was and is, all boy.  As we headed down the stairs, he didn’t go slowly or carefully—he literally headed down.  I mean, full speed, Katie-bar-the-door down.  As we started down, he performed a combination of running, jumping, and skipping maneuvers.  Stairs were missed but hey, who cares, it was fun.  Let me just say I was glad that I had a good grip on him because if I hadn’t, well, it wouldn’t have been pretty.

We made it somewhat safely to the bottom of the stairs and I had to share the story and we all had a good laugh.  But later, as I pondered how that all played out, it made me appreciate God in a whole new way.  I freshly realized how glad I am that God has a good grip on my hand.  As I charge head first into life, especially in years like 2020, if He didn’t have ahold of me—well, it just wouldn’t be pretty.  But just like I held onto James, so God has ahold of me.  Only eternity will tell how many times He saved me from pain and suffering and the consequences of thousands of bad decisions.

Years ago, while reading the Bible, a passage jumped off the pages and into my life.  It said, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD and He delights in his way.  And even if he falls, he will not be utterly cast down because He upholds him with His strong hand.” That is such powerful truth.  The fact that God directs my steps, that the path He chooses for me is cause for Him to delight and that when I fall, He’s got me…well, that is good, good news.  And the best part is, it is true.

As we get ready to leap into 2021, it’s good to know that we can have someone like God holding our hand.  If you are a Jesus follower you know all about that and, if you aren’t yet, He is just waiting for you to take the leap of faith. Why not give Him a try?  God’s not big about denominations or even religion but He is real big about loving you and He wants to walk with you in this New Year.  James didn’t know too much about stairs when he took the plunge, but his Papa did.  James could rest assured that when it came to stairs…Papa had it all under control.  And when it comes to life, we can rest assured that our Dearest Daddy knows all about life and has it all under control.  You might say, “He’s got this.”