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!

Enough Pain

Having babies must not be that hard. After all, ladies have been doing it for hundreds, even thousands of years and they just keep it up.

My wife did her part well. She gave birth to three little rugbugs. It did get a bit complicated at times though, especially until we got the hang of it. Our firstborn (actually our first unborn who became our firstborn) kept us running back and forth to the hospital with false labor.

Actually the first trip might not have been as false as all that. I had left her with her mom while I was off preaching somewhere. When I got back that night they were at the hospital, so off I sped to see what was up.

In those days hospitals did things a bit differently, so there were three ladies in the same room, all in labor at the same time. I guess they moved them later from the early labor room to the serious labor room to the delivery room. Or something.

Evidently the doctor hadn’t finished his evening coffee just then and didn’t want to come out, so the nurse gave my wife and the other two ladies a shot to slow their labor pains. And their labor stopped!

When it became evident that no one was going to have a baby that night, the African American lady in the bed near my wife moaned with frustration, “I done had enough pain to have this child.”

Steve finally showed up a month later one and we all lived happily ever after. But that lady’s words have stuck with me over the years. Sometimes I get in a tough place and I want to tell the Lord, “I done had enough pain to have this child!”

Enough pain…

Discouraged Elijah waits to hear from God. He’s a man of action and power and he expects God to speak to him the same way—wind, fire, or earthquake. A few days earlier he thought the revival had arrived when the fire fell and the rain fell and the people fell on their face and cried, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!”

Horrible pagan priests were massacred and wicked king Ahab was docile, meekly doing what the prophet told him. But then his witchy wife Jezebel showed up and our prophet friend found that the revival might not have been as ingrained as he had hoped.

He boogied out of there as fast as he could to try to save his skin.

Then he settled into depression. Let’s stop here a minute, though. It’s easy to beat on old Elijah but think of what he’s been through–three years of hiding out. His picture decorating every post office would have proclaimed “Israel’s Most Wanted Man” with frontal and side mug shots. People were blaming him for the drought and subsequent famine.

He thought people were going to love and serve the Lord and now…nothing!

Everything had fallen apart, and he was on the lam again.

I remember passing through a troubled period in a church we were pastoring. Then one night we had a wonderful service. People were touched by God’s love and I thought my problems were over.

But it got worse, so I quit.

Ever been there? Exhausted from praying about that financial need that never quits? Weary of talking to people about the Lord with seemingly no results? Frustrated with people who don’t seem to change? Dog-tired of that trial that just seems to go on and on and on. You thought it was better and “pow!” Same old thing.

“Lord, I done had enough pain to have this child!”

What do you do? Quit? I’ve done that and it didn’t solve a lot. I found that further on down the road I kept meeting the trial that I ran from. Sooner or later I had to win the battle.

Elijah heard God’s voice and it was enough for him. The Lord spoke in a “still, small voice” that cut straight to the prophet’s heart.

Things weren’t as bad as Elijah had supposed. Seven thousand people still refused to bow before Baal. God was still moving and He had some big things planned just ahead.

I wonder how many times I look for big, BIG, flashy answers and God just speaks in that still small voice? Am I willing to listen? Is He doing things that I don’t see yet?

Our son didn’t come that night at the hospital. It took some more waiting and some more pain but he was well worth it (the other two, also).

You may feel like you can’t go any further. You’re so tired of holding on. You’ve had enough pain and frustration. Take a lesson from Elijah and go to God with you fatigue and frustration.

He’ll give you the strength you need until the answer comes.


You know how it is when you go to the restaurant and you aren’t really hungry?

You look at the menu and mutter, “Let’s see now … ‘rib-eye steak.’ Nah, doesn’t sound good. ‘Lasagna?’ Nope, not in the mood. ‘Enchiladas?’ (This place has a varied menu). No, my stomach couldn’t handle the hot stuff today. ‘Hamburgers?’ Too fattening.”

The waitress taps her foot, pencil poised to scribble your order as you peruse fifty possibilities. Nothing sounds good. “They just don’t have much choice in this place,” you grumble.

The next week you go to a cafeteria, Luby’s for example. You’re ravenously hungry as you look over the possibilities before you.“I’ll take potatoe salad and green salad,” you tell the serving ladies, slowly gathering steam like a freight train. “And give me some beef stew, and oh, yeah, how about some chicken-fried steak? I believe I’ll try the spagetti too. Some chicken and rice would be good. Then some green beans, corn, French fries. Spinach? Why not? (You’re on a roll). I’ll take the Boston Cream pie, too. And some banana pudding, and some coconut cake. Yes, put one of those pickles on there too.”
The harried ladies waiting on you have to go for a break after they’re finished serving you, they are so tired. You have to make three trips to get all your food to the table. It costs so much that your credit card starts to smoke when the cashier puts it into the machine to pay your bill.

What was the difference? You were hungry.

It’s like that with God. Notice the verbs in these verses. (I’ve underlined them for those who slept in English class).

“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 2 turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 3 and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 4 and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. (Prov. 2, NIV).

This fellow desires something from God. There’s nothing “ho-hum” about his attitude. He’s famished.

What are you hungry for? What’s on your menu?

I woke up a bit early Monday, and lay awhile in bed thinking about the weekend’s football games. It was one of those rare times when both of my favorite football teams won. (It’s good to play St. Mary’s School for Women in order to get a victory now and then. :))

Then I wondered. Do I spend as much time thinking about God, ruminating about God, hungering to know the Lord better as I do thinking and reading about sports and other hobbies?

Passion inspires growth because it compels you to spend you time pursing excellence in the area you’re excited about.

When Solomon wrote Proverbs chapter two he was passionate about God. The benefits of knowing Him enticed this king. Listen to what treasures are in store for those who pursue a deeper comprehension of God–wisdom, knowledge and understanding (2:6, 9); you’ll know what direction to take and how to live your life; you’ll have an intimate knowledge and friendship with Jesus; victory and protection will be yours (2:7,8) ; you’ll be saved from crooked business deals and the temptations of illicit sexual relationships (2:12-20).

You’ll still be standing at the end of the game when those who weren’t so smart in God’s ways have fallen (2:21, 22).

But how does this knowledge of God come? By faith. Hungrily we read and meditate on His Word so we’ll understand what to do. Eagerly we get together with other Christians to hear what they are learning about God. Passionately we spend time in prayer and worship so that the Holy Spirit can teach us about God.

Faithfully we serve Him, viewing each challenge in life as an opportunity to grow into a bigger person in order to meet even greater challenges in the future. We commit ourselves wholeheartedly to His church. We want to be faithful in order to encourage the person running alongside us.

God has some succulent dishes on the menu. Are you hungry?

Prayer—Lord make me hungry for You and your ways. Help me be excited about the things that excite You. Challenge my heart with the benefits of knowing You more and more intimately. Because I do love You Lord. In Jesus’ Name.


Think about it–

Zig Ziglar calls TV the “income reducer and the morality buster.” Jim Rome says that “poor people have big TVs, rich people have big libraries.” (source Mountain Wings)


Not Really Hers?

My son Charles heard the following story from Pastor Mawan in Sudan. It’s a bit unclear if it was a parable, but he believed it to be the true story of a Sudanese woman who gave birth to a biological son. Some time afterwards, she also took in a child off the street.

Years passed. One day while playing, the elder boy began mocking the younger adopted son. “You’re not really mama’s boy. You’re just adopted!”

In tears, the little tike ran to his mother. “Mommy, mommy, is it true? I’m not really your son? My brother says I’m adopted and I’m not really your son!”

Taking the little boy by the hand, the mother stormed into the room where her biological son played. “Boy, you see this one here?” she said indicating his crying brother. “Of all the children in the world, I went out looking for him. I chose him. I picked him. He’s my son.”

“You?“ she asked pointing at her elder son. “ You, I had no choice. You just… came out!”


Have you ever felt like a second-class child? In church you fake it pretty well but if someone could look under your skin into your heart, you just don’t feel like you are as good as those around you.

It’s the same in life. Outside you function and everything seems all right, but inside there is a voice that says, “If they only knew me! Why can’t I be like others? I try so hard but I can’t seem to measure up.”

The devil taunts, “You’re not really God’s child. Look at how weak you are! Just give up. God couldn’t love someone like you!”

Why don’t you run to the Lord to see what He says about it? Are you really his child, his “first-class” child just like all believers in Jesus Christ?

The enemy once tried to discourage one of God’s leaders.

It was a time when God’s people had recently come back from captivity and He gave a vision to a prophet. Zechariah the prophet saw this leader/priest, Joshua, standing before the Lord in dirty clothes and the devil accused him before God. Maybe there was a bit of truth in what Satan was saying …

Before Joshua could speak in his defense, Another spoke for him—the Lord Himself!

”The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

There was a little problem though. He was clothed in dirty garments.

“Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.” Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.” (Zechariah 13, NIV)

God went on to make some powerful promises to this man who had been dressed in dirty clothes. He does the same for us.
When Satan accuses us God rebukes him and tells us,

“… I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (Jer. 31:3, NIV). He doesn’t leave it there though. Listen as He hammers home his point: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death …”
He just can’t stop Himself. Listen … “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

These last verses are from Romans chapter 8 (NIV). I suggest that you read them this morning if the devil has been mocking you lately.
When our enemy attacks us, it’s not “mama” who comes running to defend us; it is God Himself.
Think about it—“Doubt and fear are hindrances to faith. Doubt questions if God can, fear questions if God will.” Maurice Lednicky in “The DNA of Faith.”


When I got out of college, I worked awhile for a small-town newspaper, the Nashville (AR) News. On a bi-weekly paper you learn to do a little bit of everything so sometimes I got to help proofread articles.

That was okay when it was our correspondent from south Nashville. In those days that would have been an ageing lady who was a bit funny, in a strange way. Along with her community gossip she sometimes had some observations that were out of the ordinary, so proofreading her copy could be interesting.

But once a week the county agricultural agent had a column. Borrrriiinggg! Don’t get me wrong, agriculture can be interesting but this guy was on a mission. He was trying to convince local farmers and ranchers to plant a certain sort of grass called “fescue” in their fields.

One article on fescue might have been enlightening but he kept at it, week after week. “Fescue, fescue, fescue!” I saw his pick-up truck one day and he had a bumper sticker that said … dah, dah, dah, tee, dah! … “Plant fescue.”

I can imagine him sitting on the living room couch one night, staring dreamily into space. “You know what would be wonderful,” he murmurs to his wife. “No,” she answers romantically. “It would be soooo marvellous if everyone planted fescue.”

He might have to eat fescue himself after that.

One night, though, I was visiting a farm family near the little church I also pastored at the time. The lady of the house came to our church but her husband didn’t. I tried to talk about his world, though I wasn’t an expert. The conversation turned to grass so I decided to pop the question.

“Have you ever planted fescue?” I ventured as if I knew what I was talking about, halfway expecting him to look at me like I had fallen out of a tree.

He didn’t even blink. “No, I think winter wheat is better.” Whoa! It worked—all because of our county agent. I was grateful.

Flash forward 33 years. The other day I was looking for some grass seed to reseed a burnt, bald backyard. As I surveyed the different varieties suddenly my eye spied one that surprised me—fescue!

I thought it was only for pastures but evidently you can plant it in yards too. I looked around a bit longer, but eventually came back. “Plant fescue!” flashed in my mind. Why not? After 33 years the county agent finally had a convert.

So I planted fescue in the bald spot. If I don’t like the way it looks when it grows up, I can always buy a cow.

What amazed me afterwards was that a message (a boring message at that) planted in my head over 30 years ago had suddenly sprung to life.

There’s some hope there. How many times have we talked to someone about the Lord, and there seemed to be no response? Maybe the message isn’t dead. It’s just germinating. Did you plant a good message in your kids? It’s still in there somewhere.

God must feel that way about us at times. He drops His Word in our heart but we are a bit dense. He keeps looking for little plants to sprout up in our lives. He rains on his seed and sends the warm sunshine. Then one day the class dunces start to get it.

And we see God’s promises in our difficult situation. We grab hold of them and believe them but it seems like nothing is happening. Then one day…

“Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.”

(Isa. 55:10, 11 The Message)

If I can get some rain on it, I think I’ll have a good crop of fescue. There are some other areas in my life where I’m looking for “grass” to grow too. I’m holding on.

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.
Think About It—
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” Jim Rohn