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!

Do Boomers Have Anything To Say To Millennials?

This Generation Isn’t Going Down the Tubes!

Piling on a few years of age seems to change your brain. I’m not sure if it augments it or addles it, but the years sure confuse it. For instance, here’s something I’ve wondered.

In the 1950s a crooner named Pat Boone warbled, “On a day like today, we pass the time away writing love letters in the sand.”

Then when I was a teenager the Marvellettes were so unhappy that their boyfriend hadn’t written, they sang to the postman,

“So many days you passed me by

You saw the tears standin’ in my eye

You wouldn’t stop to make me feel better

By leavin’ me a card or a letter. *

And the Boxtops didn’t have time for a fast train so they jumped on an airplane because “my baby, done wrote me a letter.” *

My question is: “What do young people today do, to express their everlasting love? No one writes letters anymore.  

If you say they tweet, text or email, we’re in trouble. How can you utter undying devotion in 150 characters or less? Can you say stupid things that you think are romantic on Snapchat? Do you want everyone to see that? Remember, your mama may be lurking in the background.

There you are though. That’s what the world has come to.

Did Cavemen Write Letters?

Wait, though? How did cavemen express their undying love? They didn’t write letters. Maybe they chiseled sweet nothings on the wall of their cave. Or native Americans two thousand years ago? I guess a lot of people have figured out a way to wax mushy without letters.

There is more than one way to get the girl.

Which brings me to another idea. Maybe some of the things that puzzle me about churches today aren’t a matter of right and wrong. It’s just another generation with another way of expressing itself. And if some of the things I see aren’t the best, my generation sure had it share of stuff like that.

I’ll have to confess to saying, “Half the evangelical church is going to be deaf in five years because of the volume of the music.” I’ve joked about a worship leader introducing himself like this: “I’m a worship leader, I write music, I write music, I write music, I write music, I write music, etc.”

Back in ye olden times when a line of music was repeated continually it was because the phonograph needle was stuck in one place. I’ve suspected that some worship leaders needed to be unstuck.

I may also have complained about the hall being so dark I couldn’t find my place, that the worship songs were sung in a key that no one but a professional could sing them, and I might have had a few other complaints. (note: none of these is true of my church, in case my pastors are reading this).

I also complained about the ultra-light scriptural content of some of the songs … until I started looking closely at some of the old hymns and Gospel songs and realized that the good old days weren’t always better. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that the old Southern Gospel song that people liked to cry along with, Precious Memories, didn’t even mention God! Mama, yes, and plenty of nostalgia. Momma and daddy prayed briefly.  

But, God must have been in the verse that got left out.

You know what, though? I’m willing to put up with things I don’t particularly like, if it those songs reach my children and grandchildren. They might not be turned on by, “I’ll Fly Away,” or get teary eyed singing, “Come ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish your mind.” But all of us can be touched by singing,

“What a beautiful Name it is

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus Christ my King

What a beautiful Name it is

Nothing compares to this

What a beautiful Name it is

The Name of Jesus.*

I heard a message Sunday morning that I consider prophetic. The pastor spoke of Caleb’s generation. Caleb’s name meant “dog,” but this wasn’t pejorative. It could also translated as faithful, devoted, whole hearted, bold, brave.

He was a warrior dog, meaner than a junkyard dog for those who  stood between him and what God had promised him.

Caleb was itching to fight giants when Moses lead them to the cusp of the Promised Land. But everyone else except his buddy Joshua and their leader Moses trembled before these monsters.  That generation turned from the promise and wandered 40 years in the desert until the cowards had all died and a new generation of desert warriors had grown up. Caleb and Joshua were old but they were still looking for a fight.

One of the first heroes of this desert generation was Caleb’s little brother Othniel. His name meant, “Lion of God.” But, do you know who mentored that lion? That “warrior dog,” Caleb.

The pastor said he felt like the Millennial generation (ages 21-38, more or less) was going to be the channel for a great move of God but he cautioned the Baby Boomers (old dudes and dudettes like me), “Some of you have put the baton down. Some of you have dropped it. You need to pick it back up.”

He challenged the Boomers who had seen a move of God to help the Millennials who had heard of what God had done in the past but hadn’t always seen it. Caleb had seen it. He challenged “the Lion of God,” to live it in his generation, to take down that city full of giants.

And the young man did.

Maybe God hasn’t called us to show the younger generations how to dot “i’s” and cross “t’s”. We may never like their music (though if you tone down the bass guitar and drums and turn up the lights just a little, I love a lot of it). But, he has called us to love the generations following us, show them how to pray, show them how to walk in faith, full of the Spirit. God wants us to help them learn to tear down giant strongholds.

Because there sure are a lot of strongholds that need to be torn down. There is an inheritance to claim.

Do You Thoughts Go To the Dogs … or the Cats?

Hoping and Rejoicing When It Hurts (Lam. 3:42- )

Dogs are often social creatures, given to adorning your face with long, drooling licks. Some think these are kisses but it’s probably a dog’s way of slobbering on you without getting punished. Call a dog and get ready. Here comes the calvary.

Cats on the other hand are choosy about responding to summons. “Here kitty, kitty!” works if you’ve got a bowl of his favorite food at your feet. If the only reward that you have for your feline friend is your loving self, though, he may just ignore you.

When he hears, “Here, kitty, kitty,” he acts like Schultz on Hogan’s Heroes—“I hear nothing. I see nothing.”

You persist, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” You call is greeted by studied aloofness. “HERE, KITTY, KITTY!”

And finally, “Get over here you stupid cat!”

Dog Thoughts, Cat Thoughts

My thoughts are often more like cats than dogs. Instead of running to me with their tongues lolling and a doggy smile on their face, they look my direction as if I were a wandering idiot, then they meander off wherever their heart leads them.

One of the keys to joy in tough times, though, is our thought life. If my thoughts wander around like cats, doing what they wish, I’m not likely to be victorious. Here’s something from a fellow who knew how to control his thought life.

“  and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope…” (Lam. 3:20, 21)

Let’s see what this writer did (probably Jeremiah). He was in a horrible situation, his country ravaged by enemies, but in addition he had faithfully delivered the word of the Lord. And many of his people despised him for it and worked for his downfall.

I like that phrase, “call to mind.” It’s like there’s a thought that’s not present and this fellow summons it.  Joy stands waiting to be called. Or joy attacks us when we call certain truths to mind.

“Come here faith! Come here memories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Come here promises of what God said in His Word. Come here knowledge of the nature of God. Get out of here doubt, fear, selfishness, self-pity.”

Joy is a by-product of faith in the Lord. Trust Him and joy starts licking your face.

Call up those memories of what God is like?

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,

   for his compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;” (Lam 3:22-25 NIV)

If you remind yourself of these truths constantly faith grows, then hope and joy germinate from our faith.

What Are You Calling To Mind?

What kind of thoughts and memories are you “calling to mind?” God’s love and faithfulness or your weakness? The impossibility of what you see, or the power and care of your God?

C’mon David! Do you remember your failures, or the times God helped you to win? Do you constantly picture defeat and what terrible things might happen, or do you call for those promises of God to fill up your thoughts?

Do you try to measure up to deserve God’s blessings or do you repent for your failures, trust His forgiveness, and expect God to work for you?

What are you putting in your mind?

When you hurt, it’s easy to focus on the pain. When the one who roars like a lion screeches, it’s hard not to allow that to echo through your thoughts.

But we can call things to mind. Call faith! Call the memories of his faithfulness to you. Call your knowledge of how God really is, not how Satan says He is. Trust the Lord Jesus. Even in hard times. Especially in hard times.

“3:31 For no one is cast off

by the Lord forever.

32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,

so great is his unfailing love.

33 For he does not willingly bring affliction

or grief to anyone.”

Armed with these truths we know:

“ it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” (3:26, NIV)

“Wait.” We don’t like that, do we? Sometimes we wait a few hours. Sometimes we wait years. Sometimes the prayer is answered in your children’s lifetime and not yours. Be we wait in confidence, knowing He’s got it in control.

One other thing we need to do in hard times: take a hard look at our life and see if we had something to do with these tough times. Then if the answer appears to be, “yes,”repent and change.

“3:40 Let us examine our ways and test them,

and let us return to the LORD.

41 Let us lift up our hearts and our hands

to God in heaven, and say:

42 “We have sinned and rebelled

and you have not forgiven.”

Not all tests come as the result of our rebellion or sin, but some do. Have we been unfaithful in how we handle our money? Are we at war with someone else? Have we been unfaithful to our promises? Have we justified sin in our life?

Repent and he will forgive. But it we persist in following a way that’s not his, we live in the land of reaping what we’ve sowed.

Cat People … Dog People

God emphasizes how important it is to come when He calls. Let’s be like dogs and not cats when it comes to responsiveness to the Father.

“Repent at my rebuke!

    Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,

    I will make known to you my teachings.

But since you refuse to listen when I call

    and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,

since you disregard all my advice

    and do not accept my rebuke,

I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;

    I will mock when calamity overtakes you—

when calamity overtakes you like a storm,

    when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,

    when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;

    they will look for me but will not find me,

since they hated knowledge

    and did not choose to fear the Lord..”

(Proverbs 28: 23-29, NIV)


Invitation To a Free Concert

When I was a teenager certain letter combinations were magic. Say, “WNOE,” “KEEL,” or “KAAY,” and we all perked up. Those were the call letters of popular radio stations which broadcast into our area and most of the ‘with-it’ young people tuned in. (“With it” is what we wanted everyone to think we were. “Without it” was what most of us were. Who knows what “it” is anyway.

You could only hear WNOE, New Orleans at night. It wasn’t a country music station back then. K ‘double E’ L broadcast from Shreveport and KAAY was in Little Rock.

I’ll admit that one of my greatest joys in life is music. I warble for Phyllis sometimes, “I’ve got sunshine on a cloudly day … what can make me feel this way? My girl.” (She appreciates my singing when I stop. The silence that follows is comforting). I can’t play an instrument to save my life, but I listen to anything from Southern Gospel to Antonio Vivaldi and most points in between. Vestal Goodman or Luciano Pavarotti, Diana Ross or André Rieu, I’m ready for you. (Though if you’re talking Madonna and Katy Perry, I’m out).

You know who my favorite singer is, though? God! You didn’t even know that He’d recorded anything, did you? He has some incredible concerts. And they are free!

Listen to this (and for those who know me, this probably isn’t the first time you’ve read this verse): “

“For the Lord your God is living among you.

He is a mighty savior.

He will take delight in you with gladness.

With his love, he will calm all your fears.

He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

(Zeph. 3:17, NLT)

And this:

“For you are my hiding place;

you protect me from trouble.

You surround me with songs of victory.”

Psalms 32:7

Somehow, singing doesn’t seem dignified enough for God, does it? I can’t imagine the Lord belting out a song on “The Voice” or “America’s Got Talent.”

God loves us so much that He doesn’t worry about dignity. Have you heard Him singing in a hurrying stream, a water fall or the powerful, silent music of a clear mountain night with the stars and moon as His microphone?

You might hear Him in your pain if you hush and listen. He sings a lot, it’s just our radio is rarely turned to the right station. Our hurt causes static and questions and doubts drown out His voice. But, He’s singing all the time. We can’t hush Him.

His voice resonates with the bell-like purity of an opera singer, the soul-moving power of a folk singer and the toe-tapping inspiration of a blue-grass band. Can’t you hear Him?

If I’m whining, pouting, doubting, or shouting at Him, my emotions stop my ears from hearing His voice. A prophet in the Bible had that problem. He looked for God’s voice in an earth-shaking event, in a burning fire and in a powerful wind, but the Lord wasn’t there.

Then a still, small voice penetrated His depression and God touched his soul and healed Him.

God’s singing can heal your past, too. We can’t change what happened, but we can change our understanding of what happened. His beautiful voice gives significance and beauty to even the painful things that rack us.

How can you hear God singing?

We must be intentional about hearing. If I want to listen to a certain radio station, I turn my radio to that station. It’s not a problem of ‘if’ God’s singing. He’s crooning like a songbird. I’ve just got to tune in.

The Bible says if we want to hear His voice, we musn’t harden our hearts. Make you heart sensitive and open to God.

It helps to escape the noise of daily life. Sometimes, a day or two away from the cacophony of daily living helps. Once I tried to sing while an old lady next to me sang off key. Finallly, both of us were off key. To hear the Spirit’s soul-restoring music, we often have to move away a little bit. Take your Bible with you. You might sing a bit to Him.

Quieten your spirit before the Lord. If you can’t, ask Him to do it for you. “”But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” (Psalm 131:2 NIV)

You may have been hurting for a long time. Jesus came to open deaf ears—natural and spiritual ears. Get away a minute, listen. There’s healing in the song you will hear.

He wants to sing for you.

Images: EvgeniT pixabay.com

Decoding God’s Will for Your Life

I wish knowing God’s will for my life was as easy as it seems to be for some people. I hear testimonies, “God spoke to me and said, “Go to lower Afghanistan,” or “Go take two apple pies to your neighbor,” or “I’ve called you to great things.”

For big life changes it seems He has to whisper, nudge, pinch and encourage and/or shout for quite a while, before I get enough clarity (and courage) to jump.

It was that way when I struggled with God’s direction for my life. When I left home, headed for college, all I knew was that I wanted a degree so I could make some MONEY! I didn’t want to be filthy rich. Just averagely rich would have been sufficient.

Then I found some friends who valued God’s will above theirs. I was attracted by the depth of their relationship with the Lord. I wanted that.

I had finally settled on a life as a journalist as a life goal, but God kept poking at me. When I looked forward, I kept seeing myself serving God as a minister of the Gospel. I wasn’t against it, but I didn’t think I had the spiritual “chops” for such a life.

I talked about it with my friend Marvin and said, “I think the worst thing you can do is to go preach when God isn’t calling you.”

“There is one thing just as bad,” he remarked. “It’s to be called and not go.”

“Thanks Marv. You’re a big help.” (note: Marvin claims to be the one who called me to preach but he’s just kidding himself).

The Lord wouldn’t let me alone though. I told my wife that I had to do something, so I went to talk to pastor Northcutt. He basically told me that he’d been expecting this and scheduled me to preach the following Sunday evening.

All Kinds of Voices

The morning after I talked to the pastor, I was working at my Summer job. A voice divebombed me like a persistent horsefly, “You’re not called. What are you doing? Besides, you’ve got those college loans you must pay back. Pastors don’t make much money. You’re going to starve to death.”

That’s when I recognized who was speaking.

If the voice had continued singing my inadequacies, ok. But starve to death? That voice wasn’t God. The Lord never threatened to let me starve to death.

So, we jumped.

My first year of ministry that voice often sneered, “You’re not really called!” After that things changed. I’ll admit there were times when I was discouraged and wanted to quit but now, I knew God had created me for this. I didn’t want to fail Him, though there were times when I REALLY wanted to quit.

I knew what pleased God and I wanted to do that.

“Ah, David,” you say, “All that is good but I’m not called to be a preacher or anything like that (thank goodness).” Listen up!

“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12, 13 NLT)

Three Elements of God’s Will

“…what pleases Him,” is His will for our lives. There are at least three elements involved in doing His will.

–Knowing Gods will, what pleases Him for us to do. I got my mouth squeezed, checked, explored and I don’t know what all this morning by a lady dentist that loves the Lord wholly. If it pleases God, drive that truck, bang on that computer keyboard, sell those clothes or whatever else God directs you to do. Go after God to know what pleases Him. Trade in your dream for His dream for you.

–Wanting to do God’s will. I haven ‘t always wanted to do God’s will. Sometimes what He was telling me scared me—other times it challenged and excited me. Sometimes it bothered me because I had other plans. If that’s you, don’t feel bad. In the most horrible trial of His earthly life Jesus saw the cross, God’s will for Him, before Him and prayed an agonizing prayer:

““My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26:39 NLT

Don’t worry if you don’t want to do what He’s telling you. Moses didn’t. Jonah didn’t. Your feelings will come around. Probably. And if not remember one thing: He’s the boss, we’re the servants.

–Doing God’s will. “giving you … the power to do what pleases him.” If God calls you, He equips you. He’ll give you a smile for those grouchy Sunday morning visitors, superpowers to overcome that four-year old in Sunday School, patience to listen to and help that aged neighbor, perseverance to pray until you know you’ve touched heaven. And a thousand other things He calls us to do.

Don’t worry if you don’t have what it takes. God’s job is to equip you. Just do what He’s says.

Hmmm …

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.” C. H. Spurgeon

image: Alessandro Augusto Lucia flickr creative commons

Hungry for God

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.’” (Matt. 2, NLT)
So, these wise guys show up and Herod worries about the birth of a rival king, the Christ. He’s evidently up to speed on Jewish belief and he has an idea of what this means.

He gathers the chief priests and men learned in the Law. He asks them the question: “Where will the Christ be born?”

Hands shoot up all over the room. “Bethlehem!” says one, beaming with pride to have distinguished himself in front of his colleagues. He probably quoted the verse from the Bible.
“Bethlehem…” says Herod as his eyes narrow.

Stop the film! Wait! I want to ask a question.
Here are the leaders of God’s people. Strange men have traveled hundreds of miles to seek for the Messiah of Israel, talking about a star or something. Herod poses the question, “Where will He be born?” Every one of them knew the answer. That was kindergarten stuff, they knew it so well.

So What? What’s for Lunch?

Then they all went home? Went home!
Not one of these spiritual leaders was hungry enough for God and looking for the Messiah to make the little trip down to Bethlehem and see what was up?

“Oh, David, you don’t know. We get these Messiah alerts all the time. No big deal. You’ve got to be realistic. He’ll come in His own time. Besides, have you seen how these wise men are dressed? Weird. Wonder what’s for lunch?”

Question for David, sitting in front of his computer, typing these words: “Would you have gone?” How about you? Would you have gone?

Am I hungry for God? Bible knowledge gushed out of the ears of these learned Jewish leaders. But not one of them had enough spiritual insight to realize that at last, this was it. The Messiah had come.

All their head wisdom didn’t tip off their heart that something had changed.

But, the hungry hearts continued their voyage. Scholars speculate about these “wise men,” “magi,” or whatever. Were they astrologers? Who knows?

Funny where you find hungry hearts isn’t it?

The truth is that they had probably heard about the Messiah from the time of the Jewish captivity in Babylon, hundreds of years before. They might have read Daniel’s prophecy about the coming King.

The trip from Babylon to Jerusalem was 520 miles as the crow flies. Following the main road, one would travel 900 miles (this was the road taken by armies and large bodies of men). The trip from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was about six miles.

These strange men walked (or rode their camels) hundreds of miles (plus six), to find the Messiah. And the leaders of God’s people couldn’t walk six miles to check it out?

Here’s a truth: It’s easier to say, “No,” and go home to the status quo than it is to take the time to see if it’s real.

Leaders do have to be prudent about people claiming to have the latest revival from God. We’ve swallowed that line enough to know that it isn’t always so. But, sometimes it is.

When you check out something that claims to be of God, don’t go like a hunger-crazed fish looking at a worm. Swim around it a bit to see if there is a hook. Look to see if there is a line attached, etc.

Does this honor God? Does it draw people to Jesus for salvation and help?

Does it help people be delivered from sin and to live a holy life? A LOT of what passes for God is just glitter and noise, so be careful. Observe the fruits.

But, by all means, go with a hungry heart. Pastor, if you lose your desire for God, so will the people you’re responsible for.

Knowing God

Once in France I received about four different invitations to a meeting that was going to “help people live something new with God.”

When I went, though, there was a ton of talk about outward manifestations. I saw and heard a lot of strange things, and honestly, I do think the people loved the Lord. But, I’m not sure I heard the name of Jesus one time that night, at least not in the teaching. “Manifestations,” yes plenty of them, but Jesus?

I wonder if there is anything more important than a heart that wants to know God through his Son. Bible knowledge without experience won’t get you there. Spiritual thrill-seeking won’t get you there, but hunger and thirst for the living God always gets you there, most especially when your search for more of God is grounded in His Word and prayer.

We’re after God, not just feelings, experience or a doctrine. We want more of Jesus.

Hmmm …
“Grief never ends but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness or a lack of faith … It’s the price of love.” (source unknown)