All posts by David Porter

About David Porter

When he was in college, David Porter wanted to be a journalist. Today he is a preacher.

In Coffee Stains, the preacher and journalist meet to bless everyone who likes a funny East Texas story with a spiritual kicker at the end!

The “Ungoofer” Machine

The screen fills with the face and white teeth of the handsome television reporter. “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today we’re talking with Professor I.M. Goofy about his new machine–the “Ungoofer.” It takes negative things and makes them positive.”

Next to our famous television announcer stands a little man in a white lab coat. His disheveled, thinning hair looks like it has been out in a high wind. Thick glasses magnify dark, sparkling eyes. “Tell us about your machine, professor Goofy.“

“John, this new invention of mine will revolutionize the way we live. Take this huge hamburger for example.”

He lifts a triple-decker hamburger from the table in front of him. “This triple cheeseburger will cost you about 1200 calories in your diet. But …” here he cackles triumphantly… “Let’s put it in my Ungoofer machine and see what happens!”

Next to him a strange contraption about the size of a microwave oven hums and flashes. The nutty doctor puts the hamburger in, adjusts the dial and the machine explodes into action. Bells and whistles sound. In the background the music from “Stars and Strips Forever” blares.

After a few minutes, the contraption dings and Professor Goofy eagerly retrieves a hamburger that looks as if it had been on the receiving end of an airstrike. “Voilà, the little man proclaims. Your 1200-calorie cheeseburger only has 100 calories now.”

The announcer eyes the remains with distaste wondering if anyone would have the stomach to eat the doctor’s wonderful sandwich. “That’s not all,” the scientist cries. “This wonderful machine takes all the calories out of milkshakes, Snicker bars, and cheesecakes.”

“That’s very interesting, Professor Goofy. We’ll take you back to New York now. folks. It’s all yours Tom.”

Somehow I doubt if the good doctor is going to make a lot of money with his invention.

I needed a machine like that, though, in some of the counseling sessions I’ve participated in. Just like the doctor tried to let people enjoy the pleasures of chocolate without broadening their waistline (wasted line), if I could figure out a way to let people continue in their sins without reaping the wages of sin, I would be rich.

The problem is that the law of sowing and reaping is an eternal truth. You can’t plant spinach and reap peaches.

Once in Luxembourg a couple came to me wanting help. Their whole situation flaunted disobedience to the Lord. I saw the problem quickly and I knew the answer. But I also strongly suspected they weren’t willing to change.

We spent a lot of time with them and tried to be patient but in the end they drifted away, still happily disobeying the Lord. Still miserably reaping the consequences. They needed an “Ungoofer” machine to turn their dumb way of living into something good. I didn’t have one.

Have you been looking for an “Ungoofer Machine” to get you out of a bad situation? If so, why don’t you try my foolproof solution?

Really repent of your wrong acts before the Lord. Don’t just ask Him to forgive you. Pray that he will change you. Put your faith in the Lord Jesus to help you.

Then if you’re suffering for stupidity and disobedience—Stop! Don’t think that God is going to suspend the laws of sowing and reaping just for you. Begin to sow good things.

James Baldwin has well said, “People can cry easier than they can change.” Change is tough but essential.

If your marriage is goofed up because of pornography, do what you must to get loose from this plague. If your job is goofed up because of laziness and lack of focus, get to work! If your friendship is goofed up because of neglect and jealousy, find the time it takes to make it work. If your health is goofed up by horrible eating habits, alcohol, or tobacco, make the changes necessary. If your spiritual life is destroyed by laziness, unbelief, and lack of commitment, get on the ball. Seek God.

We’re going to reap what we take time to sow.

It’s not as easy as popping things into the Ungoofer Machine. It takes commitment, time, and it takes God’s power. We can’t do it without Him. We need His help. He can change the bad into good.
Here’s how Eugene Peterson paraphrases James counsel to us:

“Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.

“So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:12-19, The Message).

No machines or quick fixes will do it. We must change by His strength and our decision.
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Think About It—
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Jim Rohn

Marriage Proposals

How many of you ladies would like a wedding proposal like this? He drops to one knee, looks tenderly into your eyes and whispers, “Darling, you’re the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me.” (In the background nightingales warble—or whatever they do. Violins play. Crooners croon).

This is starting out good, isn’t it? Hang on.

“I want you to be my wife for now and eternity. I’ll be faithful to you. I’ll never again go out with other women–not more than once or twice a month anyway. I’ll take care of you. I’ll work steadily two weeks out of four each month.

“I’ll help you with the kids, if I don’t have anything else to do.”

“I expect you, for your part, to be 100% faithful to me. You’re to cook my meals, have my children, clean the house, and after your eight hours of work each day, I expect you to feed the dog and make sure I’ve got some fresh coffee in the pot. Gotta have something to sip on while I watch tv.”

Let me give you some advice: just shove him over on the ground and go find someone who will make you a good husband. He can be as good looking as Tom Cruise but a man (or woman) with that attitude will make your life miserable.

I wonder though …

We come to the Lord with joy. “I accept You, Lord Jesus, as my Savior. I accept forgiveness of sins. I want to start a (mostly) new life with You.

“I’m going to serve you. I’ll read Your Word each day (that I’m not too tired or otherwise busy). I’ll be faithful to get together with others who love You to worship and learn of You (when it’s convenient for me or I don’t have something else to do or I’m not too tired or it isn’t raining).

“I’m going to serve You by serving my neighbor in need (just as soon as I finish worrying about my own problems). I’ll tell others of You (if I’m in a situation where they won’t laugh or think I’m a fanatic or something).

“Lord, on the other hand, for your part, I expect You to answer all my prayers just as quickly as I pray them. Don’t lollygag. Keep me out of tough times, even if they come as a result of my stupidity. Make my life easy and take me on Your little cloud and float me to heaven without problems.”

I can tell, this is going to be a great marriage.

When we come to the Lord, it’s to receive eternal life and forgiveness of sins but it’s much, much more than that. We enter into a relationship with Him, very much like a marriage.

I don’t know about you but I’m pretty quick to clamor for my “rights” in this relationship but I’m not as prompt to obey when He tells me to do something. God wants us to give ourselves wholly to Him, because He gives Himself wholly to us.

It’s not fair for one partner to demand 100% of the other without giving 100% of himself.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

“`People of Israel, you have only one Lord and God. You must love him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.’ The second most important commandment says: `Love others as much as you love yourself.’ No other commandment is more important than these.” (Mark 12:29-31, CEV)

Let’s love Him. Let’s serve Him with everything we have.

The Shoeless Preacher

I got a shock recently. I was in a hotel room, getting ready for the Sunday morning service when I realized that I hadn’t seen my Sunday Shoes.

When I asked my wife about it, she said, “Oh, no!”

Now “Oh, no!” isn’t necessarily that bad because sometimes she does that just to scare me and try to make me think I left whatever I’m asking about at home. But this time she added something that shook me a little. “I’m not kidding.” After 35 years of marriage I know that sometimes she says, “I’m not kidding,” and I can tell she’s kidding.

This time she was serious.

Here I was, far, far from home with a terrible vision flashing in front of my eyes : There I stood in my blue Sunday suit, preaching in my basketball shoes ! I had worn them when I came up the day before. I know I’m supposed to be humble but just the thought of that caused my face to glow a dull red. If I actually had to preach in my dirty white basketball shoes, I would be glowing a bright red from embarrassement.

I’d look like a first class goofus (a goofus is a mentally-challenged nerd).

Fortunately … thank You Lord … my Sunday shoes were in the car. Just like in the fairy tales, I lived happily ever after.

Appearances are important, aren’t they? Ladies spend a lot of time and money cutting, coloring and arranging their hair. Honestly, they sometimes look better when they go into the beauty shop than when they come out. (Lots of husbands are forced into a sort of verbal gymnastics, trying to steer clear of lying while at the same time avoiding reducing their darling into a pile of tears. “That hairdo is really unique, honey. You’ll be the only one at church with hair like that. I admire your creativity.”

We men spend big bucks to buy jogging suits (extra-large waistbands) so that we can stretch out on the couch and watch football games. We think we’re goooood looking.

So that’s why I was a little surprised when the Bible talks about how God revealed Himself to Moses (Exodus 33:18-23; 34:5-10). Moses wanted to see God’s glory, but the Lord warned him that a full revelation of that glory would kill him.

The revelation that Moses had might seem a little disappointing for those who wanted God to make an entrance like players being introduced at an NBA basketball game. If I had been the Lord, I think I would have showed up in style—lightning flashing, thunder rolling, ground shaking and ten thousand angels singing for all they were worth.

And we see a bit of that in the Bible sometimes, because when God shows up it’s impressive. He can’t get away from it. When you’re as big, powerful and wonderful as Him, you can’t hide very well

But the Lord revealed Himself to Moses, hiding His outward appearance in a cloud. The focus wasn’t on outward style but on what God IS.

Here’s the Almighty, distilled into a few words:

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! The Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, Keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation … And the Lord said, Behold, I lay down [afresh the terms of the mutual agreement between Israel and Me] a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels (wonders, miracles) such as have not been wrought or created in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord; for it is a terrible thing [fearful and full of awe] that I will do with you.” (Exodus 34:6, 7, 10, Amplified)

Think a minute about those people who’ve had a powerful influence in your life. We’re you impressed with them because they are so good looking ?

Or do you think of how they treated you and invested themselves in your life? I don’t want to say that the people who’ve marked our lives are all ugly (I wouldn’t dare because some of them are reading this) but if those people touched our lives by what they are and how they acted towards us, what does that tell us about what is really important? One commercial says, “Image is everything!” I don’t think so.

How much substance is there in us? Are we growing in our character, changing for the good? Are we different than we were, more like the Lord? Are we investing our lives in others? Or do we spend most of the time on our outward looks and worrying about what people think?

Hard questions but we don’t need to brush them off and say, « Yes, we need to change,” without deciding how we’re going to do it. Stop! Think! Evaluate ! Get moving to change things !

If you found yourself wearing dirty basketball shoes with a Sunday suit during your evaluation of yourself, you might want to slip to your knees and ask forgiveness of the Lord. Ask Him for power to be what you should be. Be good looking in what you ARE.

Missing Pieces

Sometimes missing things get you into trouble.

Back in my teen years my uncle Donnie came by early one teeth-chattering cold morning, proposing a little hunting expedition. It was so cold that any duck, squirrel, rabbit (or chimpanzee for that matter) with any sense should have been hugging a warm fireplace in some snug corner of the woods.

But optimism springs eternal in hunters so we plunged into the icy forest, around the time the sun announced a beautiful—brrr!—morning.

It didn’t take long to realize that most of the intelligent animals were at the bottom of a hole somewhere else. We came to a small creek and were puzzled about how to cross it. Finally we found a place where a log crossed the stream. The middle of the log was hidden under the water but it came back out and continued to the opposite bank.

My uncle is nine years older so he bravely went first, negotiating the log carefully like a tightrope walker. Everything went well until he got to the middle. When he put his rubber-booted foot where the middle of the log should have been, he fell in!

Seems that the log had lain there so long that the water had rotted out the middle portion. Uncle Donnie got a freezing bath. He ran to the car to try to get warm and I decided that it would be smart to find another way across.

Lots of things disappoint us if all the parts aren’t there, don’t they? Missing log centers, or one ingredient absent from a favorite recipe, or one puzzle piece mislaid (or swiped by your husband) from 1500-pieces, can take a lot of the fun out of life.

Can you imagine how it would be if there were something “missing” in God? If only one time he proved unfaithful, He would no longer be the God He is. If He acted unholy one time, He would no longer be holy. If just once His love failed, He would no longer be our loving God. And I believe our universe would then come crashing down because everything is based on God and what He is.

The Bible says of the Lord Jesus,

“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body,” (Col. 1:16-18, The Message).

“…in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together),” says the Amplified version.

“He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power.” (Heb. 1:3, Amplified).

If the Lord failed even once, we’d all be in big trouble.

“David, I don’t want to disappoint you,” you might say, “but I prayed about something one time and it didn’t happen. And I’m not alone. Look over there at that child who died. How about those people who loved God, who’ve lost everything in war? Or those Christians rotting in an Asian prison? Seems to me there is something missing. Things don’t always go the way I pray for them to.”

We have a tendency to put ourselves in God’s place. We tell Him when He does right and wrong. A little cheeky, don’t you think? “C’mon now Lord. You could do better than that. I think you ought to answer me much quicker. I’m tired of this. I think You should do differently.” We become God’s judges!

But who am I?

God reveals His ways and His character in His Word, the Bible. Admittedly we don’t always understand but God will always act in accordance with His nature. He can’t do otherwise. It’s impossible for Him to lie, or to fail us when we’re trusting Him. He would have to become someone else to let us down.

Sometimes events happen to us that, in the short-term, leave us perplexed, but eternity will prove that God always did what was right and He always acted for the good of those who love Him.

Even if you’re in a period where you don’t understand what’s happening, put your confidence in Him. He’ll take care of you, even when you fall into the cold stream. He’s still there.

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Think about it—

“We will have as much (of God) as we can take in and pass on. Your desire determines your capacity.” Peter Schlebos

Lessons From a Milkshake

 

If the perfect food scored 100 on the food scale, I think milkshakes would come in at about 95. I like them.

But even milkshakes come with complications. Suppose, for instance, that you’re driving home late from somewhere and you stop and get a milkshake, as I’ve been known to do. There in the darkness of your car you insert your straw in the lid of the concoction and you suck.

Nothing.

So you suck again–harder. Still nothing. So you pull again and again. Finally you get a tiny taste of the marvelous liquid. You summon up all your strength and suck so mightily that your face implodes. Still nothing.

Clearly this calls for another strategy. So you tap yourself on the back of the head to make your face pop back out and there in the darkness of the car you take the lid off the milkshake and decide to drink it the caveman way. Bottoms up!

Only it’s thick and you can’t see in the dark. So you turn it up and tap it against your mouth. Nothing. So you tap harder … and harder … and finally the whole thing comes sliding down, baptizing your nose and mustache in the sticky stuff.

At least you get a little in your mouth.

Course you could always just use a spoon, if you have one handy. But if you eat it like that you may as well order plain ice cream. And you usually manage to drop some on your dress pants in the dark which gets you fussed at when you get home.

So I would score it like this. If a milkshake starts out with a value of 95, you have to take away 20 points for the guilt factor. (You know that voice that’s saying, “You’re gonna get fat if you eat that. Can’t you just feel your arteries clogging? Blah, blah, blah!”). Then you take away another 10 points for the sticky mustache and ten more for the frustration of sucking at the stuff without any results. Subtract ten more points for the trouble you’re going to have because you have to take your pants to the cleaners to clean away the milkshake droppings.

Your 95 point milkshake has dropped to 45 points. Brocolli on the other hand has just the opposite results. It starts out at about 10 on the good-tasting scale and ends up with about 50 points because of all it’s healthy attributes. I’ll spare you the story of how it happens.

But I ask you, what kind of scale is it when broccoli scores better than milkshakes?

Let’s be honest. If we’re going to get something good in life, we have to put up with some inconvenience on the way. We have to work hard. We have to trust the Lord, even when it seems things are not going according to plan.

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10).

Sometimes it easier in the short run to roll down the window and throw the stubborn milkshake away. Get rids of a problem but it doesn’t do much for my sweet tooth does it?

In any good thing that God has for us to do there will be times of frustration, discouragement, and times that you will honestly ask, “Is it worth it?” Yes, it is worth it. Stay in touch with the Lord. When the situation gets harder, call out more and more for his help.

Eventually the milkshake will melt enough to enjoy it.