All posts by 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!

Indiana Porter” and the Lost Bike Path

Have you ever wished that you had listened?

I ride my bike often to try to stay in shape–three miles out to the top of a hill overlooking grain-laden fields near the village of Variscourt, a small prayer pause while I admire what a beautiful painter the Lord is, and three miles back huffing and puffing the last 100 yards.

Monday the 9th of June was a holiday here in France (Pentecost Monday), so instead of following my normal trajectory I decided to return by a bikepath next to a canal on the other side of the village. Phyllis and I had ridden through these fields and woods last year but from the other direction.

I crossed the old canal bridge and headed down the path through the trees. On the other side of the water people picnicked, fished and generally enjoyed the warm, afternoon sunshine.

Funny though, after a while grass and weeds obscured the bike trail. “They’re not taking very good care of this,” I thought. Finally to my surprise I came to a barrier, a plastic ribbon stretched between two poles, with a sign warning me I didn’t have the right to enter. Said there were “traps.”

“Traps!” I scoffed to myself. I was nearly sure that the main road wasn’t far ahead. What was going on with this bike path? (I had taken a wrong turn, but I didn’t realize it yet). I decided that I was going ahead anyway. “What are they going to trap around here?”

I ducked under the ribbon and pushed forward. Pushed was the word because the grass quickly got too high to pump my bike comfortably. At the top of a little hill I looked down from the lip of a sort of grass-covered bowl with a little lake at its bottom, off to the side. I startled some wild ducks.

This was beginning to look more difficult than I thought. Turn back? Who me? Never! Besides, it was a long way back now and I didn’t want to prolong this trip. This was an ADVENTURE. Something like “Indiana Porter and the Lost Bike Trail.” Got a nice ring doesn’t it?

I followed the rim of the artificial bowl as that looked easier than wading through waste-high grass straight across. Looks can be deceiving. I soon found myself fighting through high grass, briars, and bullnettle. I was wearing short pants and the front of my legs stung. “The path must be just ahead.” Instead of turning back I plunged on, often in tangles as high as my bicyle. I had to carry it a good part of the way.

Several times I thought, “I wish I had paid attention to that sign. Why in the world did I come in here?” I wondered if anyone would find me if I died of a heart attack. Probably some future hard-head would wander by this place, ignore the sign and find my bleached skeleton, staring hollow eyed into space, my faithful bicycle rusting next to me.

I finally fought my way through and sure enough on the other side was the bike path. It didn’t look promising to the right so I turned left and followed a wonderful path. And followed it and followed it and followed it, forever it seemed, until I saw a little bridge over the canal and off to my right people picnicking and fishing.

I had come back to where I started and still had three miles to go!

Had a hard time sleeping that night, because my legs were screaming, burning, itching, and throbbing from my knees to my ankles. Several times I thought, “I wish I hadn’t ignored that sign.”

Have you ever ignored a sign? God teaches us how to live by His Word, but we think we can do a little better. “He probably put that there so that we wouldn’t be happy. That was for back then. We know better now.” or “Usually it’s wrong but my case is an exception.” Or simply, “Things have changed.”

We know we shouldn’t and we do it anyway. And like “Indiana Porter” we discover that God really knew best. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesiens 5:6, NIV)

Are you tempted to get involved in something that you shouldn’t? READ THE SIGN!–God’s Word. This thing really is dangerous. You really will suffer from it. Are you already caught in the trap? Go back to the start! “But’s it’s tough. I’m tired. I’m sure there’s a way out of this just ahead.”

Don’t buy that line. Go back to where you left the right path, even if it costs you something. It will cost you a lot less than if you persist in trying to make a wrong path right.

By the way, if you need it, I found a good cream that sooths bull-nettle stings. I’ll give it to you. I’m not planning on needing it again.

Police Ladies and Truck drivers

What’s wrong with this picture?

A shrill whistle pierces the bubbly mood of the Paris sidestreet. Pedestrians crane their neck to see, as a look of raw fear flashes across the face of the driver of a big truck.

He’s lost. He’s going the wrong way on a one-way street and he’s caught.

Down below his cab waits a 5 foot 2, 105 pound policewoman—a blonde her friends call Gigi. She’s mad. “Just what do you think you’re doing?” she asks shrilly. “Get down from there immediately.” Horns start to honk as the hairy-armed 6 foot four, 280-pound truck driver climbs sheepishly out of his realm.

D.D. (Denis DeGalle) is worried. Honestly he’s scared to death. He shakes as he stands before this pert officer of the law. She pushes her too-big policewoman’s cap back off her eyes, while reaching for her ticket pad. “Stupid uniform,” she thinks. “They never could find one small enough for me.”

Wait, wait, wait. What’s going on? This big ruffian could smash her into the sidewalk with a blow from his ham fist. A little sideswipe with the back of his hand and she would fly into the tables in front of the nearby sidewalk café. She doesn’t even have a gun. How does she intimidate him so?

The lady has authority and D.D. knows it.

All the power of the Paris police force backs her up. If needed, gendarmes from all over France could help her. Who knows? She might even call in the French Foreign Legion, if they are not too busy. She’s not too scary by herself (though her husband might argue that) but she has a delegated authority that is impressive.

God’s kingdom is similar to that.

Jesus told a story of a Roman soldier, captain over one hundred men (Luke 7). He desperately wanted Jesus to heal one of his servants but he didn’t feel worthy to have the Lord come to his house. No problem. He understood authority.

To him it was simple. When he gave an order it had better be obeyed. Or else. And when one of his superiors told him to do something he snapped to it. Or else. He knew that Jesus was at the head of the universe and whatever He commanded was done. All Jesus had to do was give the order to set in motion a chain of spiritual events. All the Father’s power backs Him up.

Hang on just a minute and I’m going to shake you up. When God gives us a job to do He delegates all the authority we need to accomplish it. I know some have been somewhat silly with this, trying to make everyone think they have authority. They make lots of noise but not much happens. Like Barney Fife trying to arrest the town drunk, they blow their “whistle” but the devil just laughs.

Either they don’t believe or they are not really doing what God has told them to do. But when we do the will of God we walk in His authority and those spiritual “D.D.s” shake. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19, NIV). He speaks of the powerful signs which will follow those who believe (Mark 16:15-18) and the clothing of power from him that he puts upon us (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

Our little police lady knew what kind of power backed her up. Do we?

Bear On His Back

I never saw any particular reason to run unless I had a ball in my hands and someone was chasing me, or someone else had the ball and I was chasing him. That was fun. But track and field events were a waste of time as far as I was concerned. You run and there’s nothing to take you mind off the pain.

Nonetheless, our football coach thought we should all participate in track in the spring in order to stay in shape. I threw the discus and the shotput and suffered through the required running. The worst was at track meets when the coach decided that everyone who wasn’t running in another event had to run the half mile. Aaaugh !

There were usually about a half dozen of us fifteen-year old Mineral Springs Hornets, unwillingly drafted into this event. You didn’t have to look at the uniform color to figure out who we were. We were that gaggle bringing up the rear. The goal wasn’t to win the event. We tried to avoid finishing last. It wasn’t too hard because there were usually one or two short fat guys with us. Everyone trotted leisurely until the end of the race, whereupon we sprinted (actually we trotted a little faster) for the finish line, leaving the short fat guy bringing up the rear.

One day my friend “Bug” told me before the race, “Today I’m going to run hard. I’m going to try to finish among the first ones.” I was impressed. Sure enough the gun sounded and Bug took off. Rounding the first curve he was challenging for the lead. Two-hundred yards into the race he still figured among the leaders. “Look at ol’ Bug!” I wondered.

Unfortunately my ambitious friend had forgotten one thing: to run half a mile you have to work hard in training. You have to prepare yourself. “Want to” isn’t enough, you body has to be ready. Bug began to fade like sunlight, late on a winter’s afternoon. We had an expression for it-a bear climbed on his back.

Soon others passed my red-faced friend. He was sucking air violently when I jogged past him. To his credit, he finished the race, but dead last. Even the little, fat guy beat him.

It’s hard to run with a bear on your back. An old time “track coach” gives us some advice about how to run our race,

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus”(Heb. 12:1, 2).

I’ve noticed a few “bears” that are slowing me down in my race for the Lord. One is the tendancy to dread things that are coming up. A new teaching assignment, messages for a week-end youth camp, an article that I have to write, desk-work that piles up in the in-box (you recognize it because it’s been in the inbox so long that green spores have grown upon it). I agonize and then finally I do it and think, “That wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was fun. What was I worried about?”

Don’t dread! “Help me Lord by your Spirit.” Don’t dread. Look forward to these opportunities the Lord gives you.

Do you have any “bears” that are slowing you down? An attitude full of doubt? A tongue that can’t stop criticizing? A life lived with self at the center? Days on end where worry and frustration replace joy? A constant search for something “big” to make you happy, ignoring the small joys that the Lord loads us with each day? Hidden sin? Laziness in prayer and study of the word?

Lay aside those weights. You can’t run like that! Ask the Lord to help you conquer the tendency to live with that grinning bear perched on your shoulders. Old Grizzly won’t get down of his own free will. You have to decide to make him descend and you have to do it each day, until he goes away and bothers someone else. It’s called discipline.

The goal in this race is not to avoid losing. “Run in such a way as to get the prize,” “coach” Paul bellows (1 Cor. 9:24). We’re motivated because we’re daily looking at Jesus our Lord. Don’t just run to beat the slow guys.

Run to win!