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

Tic-Toc

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.    Romans 10:17

It was one of those defining moments.  We have lots of clocks in our home.  Now I’m speaking of the clocks that you need to wind and they go “tic-toc-tic-toc.”  I have always prided myself on my good eyesight and hearing.  So, when I turned 40 it was bye-bye good eyesight and hello reading glasses.  About five years ago, it was my hearing’s turn.

I enjoy sitting in our house and listening to our clocks go tic-toc.  I know, I don’t get out much–no pun intended. I would distinctly hear each clock ticking in the room.  Over here was the grandfather clock, over there was the regulator and over there was the mickey mouse clock–just kidding.  Then one day it happened.  I was a bit sleepy, so I leaned my head to one side using my right hand to cover my right ear and bam.  No more clocks ticking.  “What is wrong with the clocks?” I said.  Uh, it wasn’t the clocks.

Well, I got up and stuck my finger in my right ear and suddenly I felt like I was living Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “The Sounds of Silence.”  So, I stuck my finger in my left ear and things were ticking just fine.  I’m no ear doctor and that was not a definitive test by I discovered something wasn’t working in my left ear.  Can someone say, “What did you say?”

Yup, that’s right.  So, I made an appointment with an ear doctor, and he confirmed what I knew.  I had significant hearing loss in my left ear but fortunately just a little in my right. I’m sure, I know what caused it.  I cut firewood every weekend for about 15 years without ear protection.  Not a good idea.

Here is the interesting part of the story.  In what is now officially known as my “bad” ear, I am almost totally deaf to certain frequencies but can hear others perfectly fine.  Most music is ok, but when it comes to clocks ticking–nothing.  I can put my ear up to the clock and plug my good ear “old faithful” and I can’t hear a thing.  Amazingly that is also true with my wife’s voice.  How odd.

Well, fortunately, no hearing aids yet, but there are a few “whats” and “what did you says.” If I look at you funny when we are speaking, it probably means that your voice is the same frequency of a ticking clock.  Since hearing clocks tick is not a life essential, I’m good. But then what about other things?  What about other frequencies?

I wonder sometimes if God’s voice is like the ticking clock?  I wonder if He speaks and all I get is “the sounds of silence?”  Of course, the worst fear is what if I have developed selective hearing.  I’m sure Judy’s voice is not the frequency of a ticking clock but strangely she speaks, and sometimes I don’t hear.  Or better put–I don’t listen.

I’m not the only man to think that–I’m just the only one crazy enough to write it down.  But this God thing—now that’s another matter. What if He speaks and I don’t listen? If there is one voice I need to hear–it is His.  I mean missing Judy’s voice might mean missing supper.  Missing God’s voice can mean consequences–big consequences.  Fortunately, God does have an incredible hearing aid and it comes in the form of His Word.

Romans 10:17 says “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  You see, faith is essential every day, but especially these days. We gain faith not just from hearing but hearing the Word of God.  Here’s the big part–hearing isn’t hearing–it is comprehending.  Our faith grows when we READ the Word, comprehend the Word and apply the Word.  It’s not about ears, it is about hearts.  Receiving hearts. Our hearts.

So, if you can’t hear your clock ticking, go see the tic-tic ear doc.  But in this crazy busy world if you are having trouble hearing God, get alone, get quiet, and start reading the Word.  Take your time, savor every word of the Word, and don’t be surprised as you find yourself resting in Him.  Don’t be surprised when you find your believing–really believing, “He’s got this.” Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, thankful, travel

Confused?

For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.” Romans 15:4

It’s just a little confusing.  After attending yesterday’s Memorial Day service and doing a little yard work, my wife and I decided to go to Paducah, Kentucky to look around for a couple of chairs or perhaps a small sofa to complete a project we have been working on at home.  So, we loaded up and headed south across the river to the land of grits. And the point of this story all began with traveling.  You see, we did a lot of traveling this past week or so.  We had flown to Denver and then driven a thousand miles or so in Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.  We saw a lot of things and some of them were simply beautiful.  The mountains and canyons are spectacular.  We also saw some things that were hard. We saw some extreme poverty as some folks tried to eke out a living in the barren desert hills and valleys of Wyoming.  We saw the results of a wildfire that ravaged a large portion of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.  Those were hard.  But some things there and closer to home were just confusing.

The confusing part was what to do with that 4×6 piece of cloth or paper we now know as a face mask. We used to only see them on the evening news and donned by folks in other countries such as China.  And then, suddenly, ready or not, they became a part of our lives.  And now…it is mask or no mask? Flying, there was no doubt about the mask.  When you stepped in the airport it was required…and then you didn’t take it off till you, like Elvis, left the building. They were very adamant about it—threatening arrest, jail time, and the loss of your first born if you didn’t comply.  I guess all that was fine, but it seems to me, they didn’t have to act so mad about it.

Once we left the airport, it was a whole different world.  Regardless of where we went or to what state we traveled, the mask requirement weren’t a deal.  I mean, that is really good news.  We have all heard from all kinds of sources that the COVID thing, while not gone, is in full blown retreat.  I just wish someone would have told the airport folks too.  As we traveled, whether it was to a gas station down the street ,or to a National Park…no mask.  One restaurant proudly posted that, “following the CDC and Colorado Guidelines you are welcome NOT to wear a mask.”  That was followed by something like, “unless you want to.” That made me smile. Want to? Really?

Well, anyway, that was the way it was throughout the states we visited out west.  Now back to Paduach.  We stopped at a local business there. Walking to the door we realized that we had forgotten we were back in the Midwest, and I didn’t have a mask.  I told Judy we will just have to see.  When we got to the door, sure enough, it was plastered with signs about wearing a mask.  We went on in and asked the nice lady at the door if masks were required.  She told me that they were asking people to wear one and I told her I had forgotten mine…did she have one? She said they did, and I slipped one on. I asked her when their governor was going to “open the state” and she said, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, our company is the one making the rules.” What? See what I mean about confusing?  And, to make matters worse, virtually every person in the store was mask-less.  I wore mine for a while and then reverse peer pressure took over and I took it off.

By now you have got to be wondering what this story is about!  Me, too.  No, not really. All of this was just a gentle reminder for me to be grateful for the Bible…the Word of God.  Though written over 1,500 years by a bunch of different writers, it has stood the test of time. It is as solid today as it was a couple of thousand years ago.  It is refreshing to know that God won’t change His mind and issue a revision tomorrow, next month, or next year.  It is refreshing to know that He got His Word right the first time.  In a world where no one seems to know what is right or wrong…the Bible hasn’t changed and personally, I like that surety.

Paul, one of those writers I told you about, was writing a letter to some Jesus followers in Rome.  It was during the time when being a follower of Jesus could cost you your life.  Speaking about the scriptures, he said, “For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.”  In other words, God gave us His Word to help us along this journey called life and to encourage us too.  That is good news.  If you haven’t read it in a while, you might want to check it out for yourself.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  It has sure been a help to me…especially during these confusing COVID days.  It was there that I learned the great truth I close with each time we meet.  Here it is…are you ready?  “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

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

GPS and Me

Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

About 13 years ago, something happened that literally changed the way that I navigate and travel. Before this day, I would get out my trusty atlas and Judy would do her best to read and translate what it said.  It was, uh, challenging.  But then came the night I discovered—GPS.

You see, Judy, a friend, and I were heading to First Baptist Church of Metropolis to report on a mission trip we had taken.  When we left my house, she said she had a new something in her new car that could tell us where we were and how to get to where we were going.  “Say what?” I said.  Well, she was right.  She punched in the address and that thing in her dash started talking.  Turn here, go straight, turn again and eventually we found ourselves in the parking lot of First Baptist.  Amazing.

Well, if you know me you know I am a tech guy.  I love gadgets.  I remember what I said that night–“I’ve got to have one of these.” So off to Best Buy I went and before long I had one of those “talky” things in my car (I mean besides Judy—smile).  Well, my talky thing had a glitch.  It would say things like a trip that should take three hours would take eighteen. That was not helpful or encouraging.  But hey, a quick trip back to Best Buy and the rest is history.

Now we all know now that the “talky” thing is called a GPS receiver. It is common now but back then it was cutting edge.   It is simplistic yet amazing.  First, far above the earth out in space there is a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).  It’s job is to watch out for the little “talky” things.  The “talky” things both send a signal and receive a signal from the GPS.  It’s really quite simple.  The talky thing says this is me and the GPS says, “This is where you are.” What makes it even more powerful is that the map built into the talky thing, shows the lay of the land–the roads, the places to eat, the places to do life and on and on. These three, the GPS, the talky thing, and the map, all work together to get you where you need to go. But it is the thing in the sky, the GPS, that makes it all work. It knows all.  It.Knows.All.

Of course, God had this GPS thing down long before the government and Best Buy came up with theirs.  First, He made the “talky” things–that would be us and gave us the privilege of talking with Him and listening to Him (don’t miss that part).  Second, He is up there with an advantage point that we can only imagine. He sees even the craziest of days in a way we cannot. Ever wonder why His directions seem so “odd?”  Ever wonder why we sometimes are forced to admit, “God works in mysterious ways?”  Well, there you go–He can see further, clearer, and better than we can–by a long shot.

All this is nice, but the clarity all comes from the map–the Word of God.  It is God’s revelation of Himself to us and where we learn about Him, about us, where we are, and where He thinks we should go.  It’s pretty incredible. So, we pray, and we listen–He listens and speaks (through His Word, through others, and through circumstances) and life goes better–even when it is crazy like 2020, or 2021 or like tomorrow.

I think it was Dave Ramsey who said we should turn off the news and read our Bibles. Wow, that is a great idea and it really works. Of course, as you read, get ready to act. I’m learning when the GPS says “turn” I should turn.  I’m also learning to listen to the other “talky” thing in my life–Judy–smile.

The map says in Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” This whole new normal has us in uncharted waters and on untraveled roads. Let’s be honest—the unknown can be a little frightening.  My wife and I just returned from a pastor’s conference and the guy was speaking on “ministering in a land that you have never been before.”  So right and so true.  Trust me (and a whole boat load of experts) if we try and do church (or life) like we did in 2019, well, it will either fail or worse. So, let’s trust the GPS (God’s Powerful Son), the map (His powerful Word) and let Him navigate this trip for us.  Hey, rest in Him.  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in missions, Scripture, travel

Peg Leg Sally

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Strange things happen in Africa.  For the past 12 or 13 years, our church has made regular trips to Africa.  We began in Niger and later moved down to Mali.  The last six years or so we have been working in Uganda. Regardless of what country, you can count on Africa to give you plenty of unusual  and strange sights.  So in some ways I wasn’t surprised.

We were on an island in Lake Victoria, Uganda.  On any given trip we visit at least three or four different islands offering free medical care, children’s ministries, ladies ministries and visiting the people in their huts to tell them the stories of Jesus.  The point of it all is to let them hear the Good News that there is a God who loves them—a lot. So we were winding down the day.  The medical clinic was finishing and four or five of us men were sitting in the shade under the “front porch” of one of the buildings.

So, we were talking and like I said you see some strange things in Africa so I wasn’t surprised when my friend said, “Look, there goes a woman with a peg leg.” Well, I turned around to look and didn’t see what he was talking about. I did see a lady some distance away but couldn’t see her peg leg.  I mean, the only peg legs I knew about were in Peter Pan, so my curiosity was peaked.

I turned back around but didn’t say anything.  But, it stuck in my mind.  After ten minutes or so, I just had to ask my friend about this strange sight.  I said, “Tim, did you say something about a lady with a peg leg?” His expression told me I must have missed something. He gave me a perplexing look. All he could manage was a “uh?”  I said, “You know, a few minutes ago you said you saw a lady with a peg leg.” He responded with, “No.  I said I saw a man carrying a stringer of fish.”  Silence. Snickers.  Laughter.

Yup.  Somewhere in the process of the conversation what was said and what I heard were two totally, and I mean totally, different things.  There was no lady with a peg leg only a guy with a stringer of fish.  You are probably wondering how I got “peg leg” out of “stringer of fish.”  All I can say is strange things happen in Africa. I’m glad there wasn’t a crippled lady but the idea of a peg leg like Captain Cook’s sure did intrigue me.

And do you know what?  Sometimes I think this happens with God and me. I think He is saying something and I totally miss it.  Does that happen to you? I think it’s more common than we think. We think we hear Him say, “You have the right to be mad” and in fact He’s saying, “Forgive.”  We think we hear Him say, “Take” and really He was saying, “Give.” Oh, and then we thought He said, “Quit” and He was saying, “Serve.” And it just goes on and on.  We hear “Leave” and He is saying, “Stay.” We hear “Go ahead” and He is saying “Stop, wait, don’t.” Seems strange things don’t happen only in Africa.  Smile.

So, I’m not sure what caused the totally humorous miscommunication in Uganda.  It may have been my hearing, could have been the village noise…who knows.  There may not have been a fix for that, however, when it comes to hearing God clearly there is something that will really help.  It is His Word.  In so many situations (though I’m not sure peg legs are one of them) the Bible gives us clear guidance.

Here is one thing you can count on.  The voice of God (what we think we hear God saying) will not, ever, never, contradict the Word of God.  If you think you hear Him saying, “Revenge” when someone has hurt you, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.”   If you think you hear Him saying, “Be afraid” when circumstances are frightful, you probably have “Peg Leg Syndrome.” You get the idea.

Talking about the Word of God, Paul said that it is good for learning, good for insight about what is wrong in our lives, good for correcting us when we are wrong and good for teaching us about how to live right.  The Bible is an amazing Book. It has stood the test of time and, while there are different translations, there is not a version 4.3 because God got it right the first time. So if you are talking with your friends and someone mentions a lady with a peg leg, you might want to ask for some clarification.  And if you think you heard God say something that sounds a little not like Him, check the Book, go to the source.  Peg leg stories can be funny but withholding forgiveness when it is ours to give, hating instead of loving, leaving too soon instead of staying…well, that can cause a lot of pain.  And if find yourself singing and living that 1974 hit “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights” it might just be a bad case of Peg Leg Syndrome.  Just pull out the Book, read a little and rest in Him.  He’s got this.