Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A Mother's Blessing

May I share one more Christmas thing? Most of you know my mother died in March. She passed away in her sleep in such a wonderful, peaceful way. If you knew my mother, she was a sweet and godly woman who raised four boys. She was a faithful wife to my father who died in 1993.
My brother who lives in France sent my brothers and I a poem that he found in my mother's papers. The poem is in her handwriting so I don't know if she wrote it herself or if she was just copying another. My inclination is that she wrote it. But it helped me feel her presence once more and to understand what was important to her. Listen to these words

I may not be there Christmas eve,
But I would have you folks believe
That my heart will be there with you
With all my love and I'd renew
The family ties that bind us fast
With memories of Christmas past.

I'll close my eyes and see your faces
And all those sweet remembered places
About our home that I shall miss.
And on that day, remember this:
I'm thankful God has given me
So wonderful a family.

Merry Christmas one last time. And a Happy New Year. Let's make this one a good one. And let's make it for the Lord! JW

P.S. I'd put the other one poem he sent in, but you only have a limited supply of kleenexes. She had another one called My First Christmas in Heaven. Let me know if you want to see that one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

What Are You Going To Do Differently?

I have been on both sides of the fence on New Year's resolutions. But I think I like them. In my desk is a list of things I want to do better next year. Will I accomplish them? I don't know. But I do know that I took the time to think about them and to write them down. These are things I want to do.
Isn't that what the Bible says? "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning." I hear you now. "That's talking about God's love and how it's new every morning." All right, how about this. "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Or how about "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Or how about, "Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator." There's plenty in there.
The key is first, don't rely on yourself too much. The power to change is not in us. It is in the Lord. Second, don't get down on yourself when you fail. Once again, the only One who is unfailing is Jesus Christ. So go ahead and make some resolutions. We'll compare notes! Have a great day. JW

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas

As I contemplate Christmases past, I have some funny/fond memories. Most of our Christmases have been filled with family and friends. There was one when Martha was pregnant with our eldest and we couldn't travel. The doctor said it wasn't a good idea. We lived about 13 hours from both sets of parents so we stayed home. Nobody came to visit. We ended up eating Christmas dinner with an elderly couple from church. It was fun.
Another time we intended to go to Searcy to visit for the holiday. We had skipped Thanksgiving because we lived (live) in Nebraska. Making two trips in such a short period of time was just too much. We were concerned about our weather because you know about Nebraska winters. Turns out Arkansas had one of the worst ice storms in history and we couldn't make it home because of the weather in the South!
One year we put our Christmas tree upstairs. The upstairs portion of the house was Nate's room and we seldom went up there. But there was a nice window up there and the tree looked so pretty. But in our life of chaos, the tree stayed up until March. Please understand that we didn't turn the lights on, but the tree stayed up there in all its splendor. I wonder what the neighbors thought. Hey, they left their lights up all the time. Why should it matter if I left up the tree?
Each year as I place the ornaments on the tree, I remember places we've been and people we love. It's our tradition to buy ornaments on trips we make. Friends will give us ornaments. And they become an instant memory as we place them on the tree. "Remember when we bought this?" "Ahh, this came from..."
I know some holiday seasons are times for grief or stress. But I ask you to remember fondly the reason why we give gifts, the reason why we sing "sleep in heavenly peace," and remember how much God loves you and how much our family loves you. Have a wonderful Christmas. Merry Christmas!! I'll see you next year. JW

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I Would Walk a Thousand Miles

I've been amused at the songs that use language such as, "I would walk a thousand miles just to be with you tonight." Or what about, "My love is warmer than the warmest sunshine, softer than a sigh, my love is deeper than the deepest ocean, wider than the sky, My love is brighter than the brightest star that shines every night above, And there is nothing in this world that can ever change my love." How about, "Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you. Whatever it takes or how my heart breaks, I will be right here waiting for you."
Beautiful songs, beautiful words. But most of them represent relationships that are here today and gone tomorrow. The Scripture says that we need to grasp "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge..." "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us." And he crossed the valleys the the miles and the depths of eternity to send His Son. He didn't send Him to the riches of the earth or to the mansions of mankind, but to squalor. "See how great a love the father has lavished upon us that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are." During this time when hearts are turned toward the manger in Bethlehem, take some time to realize what a journey that was and that by taking His name, you say to the world how much He has changed your life. Amazing! JW

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Different Christmas

This has been a year for a lot of firsts in the White household. This year my eldest and only daughter married. My son, turned 16 just the other day and now holds a driver's permit. This is the first year that my mother has not been here with us. Thanksgiving was a quite a bit different without seeing her and I know Christmas will be the same. Even when we didn't see her at one of the holidays, we did talk and it was always good to hear her cheerful voice. But she never held it over me that I wasn't always there. I knew she loved me and the miles that separated us were brought together by the love that flowed from her heart to mine.
So my old married daughter wasn't with us for Thanksgiving. She and her husband had to work. That's the reality of getting married. For Christmas, they are flying to Oregon to see my son-in-law's brother, family, including the new baby. So it will be a different Christmas this year.
My mind goes back to the kids young years when they couldn't sleep the night before and we had to get up so early just so they could open their gifts. Then we had to wait for grandparents to show up. More ripping and tearing. Perhaps we would go to the other set of grandparents (we were fortunate in that for a while we lived in the same town as both sets of parents). I don't know that I remember one single gift. But I do remember the smiles, the hugs, the love. There'll be lots of those this year, but two sets less than the year before.
Life goes on. And the assurance I get is that God is right there in midst of us with his own set of smiles and hugs and mostly love. Merry Christmas! Remember that one day over 2000 years ago there was a little child who was born. Immanuel. God with us. He changed everything. JW

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Magi's Visit

I remember hearing Jim Bill McInteer saying one time that the way he studied the Bible was to read until he read something that he'd never seen before. That impressed me that a man who had so much Bible knowledge could find so much that he'd never thought of before. That happened to me while preparing some things for Sunday's sermon.
While combining the two accounts of Matthew and Luke, I saw something that made me think. Flash back for just a second to my first grade classroom. I went to Highlawn Elementary School in Huntington, West Virginia. That was a time when we still recited the Lord's Prayer every morning and we had Christmas plays in December. I remember that I had the role of one of the wise men. (Of course, our version had three) I had a crown and some kind of gift for Jesus. In that play, as in most re-enactments I've seen, the wise men (Magi) come to the manger where Jesus was born. They make an appearance right after the shepherds show up.
Now, come back to the present. While reading Matthew's account, I saw something I'd never seen before. The Magi want to see Jesus, they contact King Herod who becomes paranoid about a new king, and they leave on a different route after their visit. Here it is--Check out verse 11 of chapter 2 of Matthew. It says, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh." Did you see it? Look again. They came to the house. Where was the house? What did it look like? How was it decorated? Wow, I have a million questions. But I never thought of Jospeh and Mary having a house. And I never thought the Magi would come there to see him.
Why have I never seen that? It had to have been a humble place, nothing fancy. But these men of great knowledge and evidently great wealth thought it was worth their while to visit this baby while stiffing the King Herod. Let's realize the significance. Let's note the importance of this event. Emmanuel. God with us. Have a great day. JW

Friday, December 16, 2005

He's 16.

My baby turned 16 years old yesterday. Why didn't I write about it yesterday? I don't know. I was sitting here in "his" spot this morning and the thought hit me hard. I heard all the jokes about "get off the roads because he'll be driving," and "sweet 16 and never been kissed." But for some reason, this is serious.
It means I don't have that many more days with him at home. It means the little boy I held in my arms is growing into an adult. It means my influence is slowing diminishing.
The day was very cold and snowy/icy in Searcy, Arkansas 16 years ago. My wife was already in delivery, I was told to put on the scrubs and wait. They came and got me and it seems I was only there for a few minutes (Martha had a c-section) and they said, "C'mon, Dad! You're going with us." Dr. Stinnett looked at him. Basically, he was okay. A little skin problem. A little jaundiced.
What a fun kid he's been. He was pleasant, obedient (until lately, those wonderful teen years, he's still pretty good), and funny. He could zing his older sister and she would never knew what hit her. He was a good athlete, yet he never took it too seriously. He has been fun to watch grow up. It's just happened a little too fast to suit me. . .just like his sister.
But 16 years later, he still has a little skin problem. But now he's dealing with other problems. Problems with the opposite gender. Problems with teachers. Problems with his unreasonable parents. And I love him. So today, even though we celebrated yesterday, I salute my 16 year old son. He's a good boy. I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of man he will be. Have a great day. And hug your kids, not matter what age. JW

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Raging Lion, Annoying Gnat

Yeah, I stole the idea for the title from the old movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. What got me started on this was my attitude. After reading Chip Ingram's book, God as He Longs for You to See Him, I was inspired and walking anew. I have cards that I read every day about God's goodness and His sovereignty and His love. And then Satan comes along and says, "I can't believe those people pulled out right in front of you." Even this morning at Starbucks, the girl mixed up my drink and the guy before me. I didn't take a sip until I was almost at the car and yuuuuuccccckkk! Coffee! I knew it! I knew she would get it wrong. She was new and seemed to have an attitude. Pretty soon, my anger is rising and I've forgotten everything I've read about God's goodness.
The Bible says that Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. That's not the Satan I'm dealing with right now. The one I'm dealing with is the annoying gnat that never leaves my face. He keeps flying around reminding me of what's bad in this life. I swat and he goes away momentarily, but then he's back within a split second driving me crazy. And instead of seeing the sunlight, all that attracts my attention is this minute annoyance that buzzes around my eyes. Been there? Help me find the holy fly swatter and let me drink from God's goodness again. Help me to return back to looking for God in everything. Thanks for listening. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Yeah for Krispy Kreme

I've always liked Krispy Kreme. When I was traveling over here from York to fill in, before I got this job, we would leave early enough to stop by Krispy Kreme. Now that we live here, I have Krispy Kreme so rarely. Of course, if I did eat it all the time, I would weigh about 3 tons. You've seen the guy on the news who lost about 500 pounds? That would have been me. The guy was from Nebraska so maybe he got that way from eating Krispy Kreme.
Wow, I digress. Krispy Kreme has a policy that any kid who gets an "A" in a subject at school would be treated to a free donut. I've considered going back to school just for the prospect. Anyway, in Indiana the Krispy Kreme denied a kid a freebie when he showed he had received an "A" in Bible. After much ballyhoo and a response from Dr. James Dobson, the company apologized, sent out a notice to all of their Krispy Kreme franchises and said that the policy stood for a free donut for any course, even Bible. Yeah! Let's all go down to Krispy Kreme and celebrate. Finally, there's been some response to standing up for what's right. I've seen it several times lately. Let's do it some more! Have a great day. . .and go get a hot donut. JW

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

They Got His Goat

I was talking with some people about how giving changes us. For instance, when we were kids we couldn't wait for Christmas morning. Sleep was hard to come by, when you did sleep it was it 30 minute increments, and finally you got up way earlier than you usually did. But now when I'm asked what want for Christmas, I struggle to come up with an answer. I'd rather see the faces of my family and their excitement. (My wife feels the same way so it makes for a hard time to know what to get her.)
One father said he told his kids not to give him anything for Christmas, but to take the money intended for his gift and get something for someone else. You know what they did? They bought a goat! Heifer International is a group that raises funds for Third World countries and buys cattle, goats, and other essentials for those who can't afford it. What a great gift!
Not only does this honor someone, it benefits someone else who is really in need. I guess you could say that someone got his goat this year. (GROOOOOAAAAANNNN!) Sorry, I couldn't pass it up.
I really don't need anything. As long as I have family and friends and Jesus, I have all I need. Perhaps we should make this the season of need, not greed. Have a great day. JW

Monday, December 12, 2005

Looking Up Integrity

I had already decided what I was going to talk about in my blog this morning until I heard a startling fact on the radio. Really it just complements what I was going to say. The number one word looked up in the dictionary this year was the word "integrity." Now you look up a word in the dictionary for two purposes. One, to see how it is spelled. Two, to see what it means. What does it mean? Have we lost the meaning of integrity in our society? Has our culture so blurred the lines that we don't even know what it is to be a person of honesty and honor?
This morning I heard a colleague talk of how people shoplift in his wife's store. They really can't confront them because they are concerned about having a gun pulled on them. He told of girls who bragged about jewelry that they stole from a store. They compared notes as to who got the nicest piece of bling. My son was filling out an application for a clothing store. They asked all kinds of questions concerning stealing and honesty. Evidently, they are having a problem with employees not being entirely honest.
What I originally was going to talk about was how when I stepped outside this morning the temperature was 36 degrees. But after having highs of 9 and 10 degrees, it seemed like a heat wave. In the fall after having a day of 60 or 70 degrees, 36 degrees was cold. But today it seemed like a virtual heat wave. So much so, that I didn't wear my jacket. It's kind of like the frog in the pot of water. The weather doesn't seem cold after having gone through what we did last week. I have gotten used to it. In the same way we have gotten so used to sin that we don't know what it is anymore. I find myself being that way, too. Movies that I see I just blow it off as our culture. Instead of being outraged, I tolerate. Now I'm not asking that we become fanatical and excessive in our views. I'm just wondering where we stopped seeing sin as it really is. So much so that our socieity has to look up the word "integrity" to see what it means.
I'm not usually this depressing, but I think it's something we need to think about. I'll try to be more positive tomorrow.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

My Cup Overflows!!

I always learn more in class from others than I do my own study. We've been studying the 23rd Psalm on Wednesday evenings. It has been a rich study and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. Last night we talked about "my cup overflows." I stoppped and asked the class to let me know how their cup overflows. Someone said, "My family." That wasn't a good enough answer for me so I pushed, "How?" I received a little better answer. But what came next was one of those "moments."
Someone said, "The struggles I have come through help me to realize how blessed I really am." C'mon now! That's crazy and it sure isn't it? "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2, 3) Daniel thanked God when the King Nebuchadnezzar put forth the edict that no one was to pray to anyone save the king or he would face the lions den. Read it. Daniel 6:10-12. He thanked God "just as he had done before."
God brings me through those times. He carries me. He lifts me up. He tends my wounds. And He doesn't leave me there. He always has something better. Maybe you're coming through some difficult times. Read Psalm 23 and realize that your cup is overflowing. Careful, it's spilling on the floor as we speak. God is so good. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Pearl Harbor

In 1996, my wife and I went to Honolulu, Hawaii for our 20th anniversary. While there we took the bus to Pearl Harbor. I wasn't prepared for the experience we had there that day. The visitor's center was well run and there were veterans around explaining what had happened that day. The night before there had been a big party with bands and dancing. I was struck by the young faces of those who were on the ships and serving in the military. Put color in the pictures, change a few hair styles, and they are the sons and daughters of today.
The short boat ride to the memorial was nothing to be remembered. But the visit on the memorial is what is etched in my mind. The memorial straddles the U.S.S. Arizona. You can still see the turret protruding out of the water. But what hit me was the constant oil slick that reminds us 64 years later of the ultimate sacrifice made by those serving on that ship. I've heard it described as the ship weeping for its crew. Nevertheless, I was inspired and continue to be inspired by the sacrifice our military makes so that we can enjoy the freedom we have.
So today on December 7, 2005, I salute all of those who have served and who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Thank you for serving. JW

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Aroma of Memories

I've read a lot of blogs lately about a variety of memory retrievers. By that I mean, music, sounds, etc. A lot of things bring back memories. One of the strongest senses that brings back memories is the sense of smell. I smell a laminating machine and I go back to my youth when I worked at Yarnell's Ice Cream in Searcy, Arkansas. We packaged the half gallons of ice cream in heavy plastic warmed by heaters that eventually would shrink wrap the ice cream containers.
Smell the tar of a parking lot and I go back to Silver Dollar City. There's a kind of sick smell that I smell occassionally that reminds me of my hotel room in Vladivostok, Russia. The smell of cigarette smoke reminds me of football games in the fall in Arkansas.
This time of year, the smell of sweets baking make me think of holidays in my early years. The aroma of a baking ham, the wonderful smell of rolls cooking, the sweetness of the melted marshmallows on the sweet potatoes, all bring back good memories.
But I wonder what smells took Jesus back in His memory. Was it the smell of cow manure? The musty smell of a barn with hay? Was it the wild smell of a sheep's wool? No wonder the Magi brought frankincense and myrrh. If it had been me, I would have helped God a little bit. If He was going to bring the Savior of the world, the Messiah, I think I would have staged a better event. Let's bring out the magazine ads, let's call in the reporter's from the Bethlehem Press, or even the Jerusalem Times. After all, this is big. Let's get some video of the star.
It wasn't about the event. It wasn't about the wise men. It wasn't about the star. It was about simple things in simple ways, bringing enormous news. Amazing, isn't it? So I wonder, what did Jesus think about when He smelled the dung?
What are your memorable smells? Have a great day! JW

Monday, December 05, 2005

Cold Day, Warm Heart

It's a sick joke. I think God is snickering at me right now. I basically grew up in the North. Born in Canton, Ohio, moved to Huntington, West Virginia, then to York, Nebraska, and back to Parkersburg, West Virginia. So I know what cold is. When we moved to Arkansas I knew that I would love to spend the rest of my days there. Mild winters. Just enough snow to say it snowed, but it was usually gone by the next day.
Now I have lived in Nebraska for six years. It was hovering near zero this morning. We have six inches of snow on the ground with the promise of 1 to 3 inches more today. And the snow never leaves! It's too cold for it to melt.
But I've learned something from this. It's the warmth in the heart that makes the cold days go by quickly. Friends and family make the place where I am seem like year round springtime. And there is nothing colder than a sour relationship. So if I had a choice, pick the relationships or the weather, relationships win hands down. I'll take a cold day anyday as long as I have friends and family with me. Have a good day. JW

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Called Back From Galilee

I saw something yesterday that I had never seen before. (Why is it so many posts begin that way?) I was studying for Wednesday evening class and came across something intriguing. I was looking into some of the things Peter had done before Jesus' death. I think we're awfully hard on Peter, but nevertheless here is what I saw. Let me explain by asking some questions.
Where was Jesus crucified? Well, you know. Jerusalem you probably said out loud. Where was Peter in John 21? This is the passage where he says he's going fishing. He sees Jesus cooking breakfast. And there's the whole "Peter do you love me? Feed my sheep" talk. He's in Galilee. Maybe you had seen that before, but I hadn't. Peter had left Jerusalem after Jesus' death. He went back to fishing. (Now that fact I already knew.) But it never occurred to me that he went back to Galilee...several day's journey to go back fishing.
So what't the importance of that? I don't know, it just seems to me there are several interesting observations. The resurrection of Jesus had to seem extremely real to these guys because he did show up in Galilee. They saw Him dead. Now He's in Galilee. Second, Peter was serious. All hope was gone. He was going back to his former life. How many of us do that? We fail. We think we're worthless. I think I'll go back to my life the way it was before. We've all been there. But Jesus never intends us to stay where we are. The word is "transformed."
Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him. I know, I know the Greek words are different. But it is significant that Jesus asked him three times. Didn't Peter deny Jesus three times? "I don't know Him. I don't know Him. I don't know Him." "I love you. I love you. I love you." There Peter. You don't have to go fishing anymore. Let's go back to the original call, "I'll make you fishers of men."
Wow! Scripture surprises me everyday. What do you think? Am I crazy or does this make sense? (You don't have to answer the one about me being crazy). Have a good day. JW

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Where Will You Be Hanging?

My niece was at the house last night. She was born and reared in France so I didn't get to see her much. But as we were conversing, I showed her a picture of her great-great-great grandfather White. It proudly hangs on our wall at home. James H. White, born in 1837 in Frederick County, Virginia. He fought for the South in the Civil War. When he came back to the land after the war, it was so torn up he decided to go West. West he did. All the way to Ohio. It doesn't seem like much of a trip to us, but to them I'm sure it was a long one.
Tess said to me, "I wonder who's wall you'll be hanging on in 130 years?" Wow! What a question. What kind of legacy will you leave for those who follow? Will it be money? Will it be a building or a house? Will it be a good name? It's a question worth pondering. When I was in graduate school I had a professor who made us write our own epitaph. It was a worthwhile exercise and one designed to make us think. Maybe we should do that occassionally. And let's consider our legacy. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Remember the magic words? Please and thank you. If you ask for something, your mother would say, "What do you say?" Of course, that's when the obligatory, "Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaassee!" came in. Sometimes it was sincere, most of the times not.
Last night I was listening to one of my shepherd's pray and he said something like this, "Lord, hear our pleas." What he was saying was, "Lord, hear our requests, our beggings, our asking." What I heard was, "Lord, hear our "Please." Have we forgotten one of the most important magic words? Have we forgotten to say "Please" when we petition God. If it was important to say that in requests to our parents, wouldn't it make sense that we say it when we petition our God? And so today in this short blog, I ask God to remember our "please." Now that He has heard my "please," I hope He hears my "thank you!" loud and clear. Have a great day. JW

Monday, November 28, 2005

Great Kids

I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one! It was good to visit with family and friends over the holidays. Now it's time to settle back into another holiday. Don't the years fly by?!!??
It was so much fun catching up on what everyone is doing. You know, I'm getting better at noticing God moments. These are just little snippits of time where someone says something or does something that just bowl me over.
This time it was Sunday after worship services. We were visiting a congregation where I once worked. Many good friends still there. One came up to us and I asked him about his family. His son and wife were in the military, but making plans to go to the Czech Republic for 5 to 7 years to do mission work. Tears welled up in his eyes as he talked about them. "I don't know," he said. That's a long ways away. I told him that my brother had been on the mission field for nearly 30 years. He could go see them if he wanted. But I said, "You'll have all of eternity to be with them." Again, tears welled up. "I know."
This gentleman and his wife have two sons, both wonderful Christian young men. I told my friend that he had great kids. He said, "You know, people always ask me the secret of raising kids. There's no secret. You just spend time with them." I added, "And you love them unconditionally." That's what this father did. He spent time. They fished together, hunted together, did everything together. In this day and age of go, go, go, and microwave ovens and instant messaging, it was good to hear that time spent with kids is still an important activity., it's essential. There is no substitute. I've heard people talking about spending quality time with their kids. I contend that you never know when the quality time will show up. You only discover it when you spend quantity time.
There you go. My God moment. I treasure those times. Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me loud and clear. Go out and hug your kids. Spend some TIME with them. You'll never regret it. I read an author one time who said he never saw any man who said at the end of his life that he regretted not spending more time at the office. Have a great day...and welcome back. JW

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!!

The drive is worth it. It's a long way to Searcy, Arkansas from Omaha, Nebraska. But we're set to go. We have CDs to listen to. My golf clubs are packed. (I have a tee time for Friday!) The food is being prepared. And by this time tomorrow, the good Lord willing, I will be spelling the wonderful smells of Mamma Lou's feast.
But, this is the first year that Meredith hasn't been with us. She and her husband are staying in Omaha to work. This is the first year Mom hasn't been with us. One by one, the traditions pass and the people you love are gone either through death or by just plain growing up.
You know what, though? I'm still so very thankful. I'm thankful for knowing the people in my life. I'm thankful that I can still enjoy the journey! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving! I am. I'll see you on Monday. Full report!! JW

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Thanksgiving Lesson in the Most Unlikely Place

I often spend my morning drive to work contemplating the contents of this blog. Today, I saw the big snowmen in the yards, the Santa's being put up, the Christmas lights all over the houses, the trees making their way to the windows. Once again, I thought of how quickly we go from Halloween to Christmas leaving out, in my opinion, the most important holiday--Thanksgiving.
After seeing the icons of Christmas future, I wondered aloud what the symbol was for Thanksgiving. People don't put anything in their yards to celebrate this wonderful holiday. (Actually, we do. It's a turkey that says, "Be Thankful!") At my mother's house, she would put out these candles of Indians and Pilgrims. It was tradition that I build a log cabin from Lincoln Logs. I looked forward to it every year and even built the little log cabin after I had been away and married.
But my thoughts were that how ridiculous we are sometimes in our celebrations. We try to reduce the sublime to something inane. How do you describe the utter gratitude of what God has done for us? With a turkey? By eating ourselves silly? As I contemplated these great platitudes, I was ready to write. But first, the obligatory stop at Starbucks where I received the real LFTD (Lesson for the Day). Isn't it funny, when your mind is somewhere else, God slaps you right in the face with something really significant.
I'm standing in line and Celeste the manager greets me by name as she always does. "Good morning, Jim. The usual this morning?" I smiled and gave her the thumbs up. "This one's on me today," she said. Astonished, and yes, grateful, I thanked her. About that time one of the employees knocked over a basket of brownies on the floor. What do you think my reaction was? Would I sit there and laugh at the foolishness or clumsiness of the employee? Would I say, "If she wasn't in such a hurry, she wouldn't have to worry about knocking things off."? I didn't give it a second thought. I was down on the floor picking up the fallen brownies.
Then it hit me. I just heard the lesson of Thanksgiving in the most unlikely place. God says to me when He sends His Son, His only Son to the cross so that I could enjoy life, "It's on Me." And what is my response? I'm on my knees trying to help clean up the world that somebody else messed up. No complaining.
I carried my free gift to my car with, once again, tears in my eyes thanking God for showing me His glory in the most unusual places. Keep looking for God...and keep being thankful. Have a great day. JW

Monday, November 21, 2005

You Sing Louder

Since this is Thanksgiving week (month, year), I want to dedicate my space to the trait of gratitude. Yesterday, we sang in church a song that I really love. Here are the words:

There is a Redeemer, Jesus God's own Son;
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One.

Jesus my Redeemer, Name above all names,
Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Hope for sinners slain.

When I stand in Glory, I will see His face.
There I'll serve my King forever in that holy place.

Thank you, oh, my Father, for giving us Your Son,
And leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done.

When we sing the chorus, it gets louder. There's no notation in the music to do so. It just happens. As I stood in front of the congregation and heard those words, tears welled up in my eyes and I couldn't sing. Why did we sing louder? I think it's because you can't truthfully sing the words of gratitude without singing louder.

You've got the blues and you have sad songs and you have dirges. But when you sing of thankfulness, you sing louder. Even today as I write these words, my eyes fill with tears as I think of all the things I'm grateful for. I can't even write them down; they are so many. . .and I sing louder. Thank you, oh, my Father, for giving us Your Son, and leavng Your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done. God is good. Have a great, thankful day! And sing louder! JW

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Blah, Blah, Blah, and Coffee

Those of you who read my post often know that I have an affinity for Starbucks Chai. Most days when I walk in, I'm greeted by someone who calls me by name and they look at me with this knowing look and say, "Venti no-water chai?". It's my "NORM!" experience when I walk in (watch the sitcom Cheers if you didn't understand that comment).
Occassionaly there is a girl that works there that wants to knock me off my routine. I don't do coffee. I just don't. My dad tried to get me to "learn" to develop a taste. Yuk! Now don't say, "Oh, if you would try it now you would like it." Wrong again. I've tried it. In the last two months I've tried it again. The best I can do is a couple of sips of cafe au lait from the Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. (Actually, I just go there to eat the beignets. In fact, that's one of the few good things I've found in New Orleans. Just don't breathe in when taking a bite or you'll choke on the powdered sugar. It's not a pretty sight. Again, I know.) or some of the flavored Gevalia stuff. Now, back to the story. So if I don't drink coffee, that kind of limits my choices at Starbucks. Which is fine with me. Anyway, this girl says to me, "Have you tried the blah, blah, blah with a just a little blah, blah in it." Now, I include the language "blah, blah" because once she gets into the sentence of "have you tried," I zone her out. I don't want to try the blah, blah, blah with a pince of blah, blah.
Oh, Jim. C'mon! Try something different. You've got to live a little. You'd like it. See? You've fallen into the trap. It's the same thing Satan does. Peter thought he'd help Jesus out when he told Him to quit talking of His impending fate. Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." (Matthew 16:23) Jesus had the routine down. He knew what was to happen. Then someone came in and said, "Have you tried blah, blah, blah?"
It happens to you all the time. You're following the Lord the best you know how. You journey is going upward. You think you've go it figured out. Then someone says, "Have you tried this?" The rub is in what your reaction is. Then the next thing you know, you're going the opposite direction of what you intended. Oh, Satan's good at it. What we have to do is to learn how to zone him out and only hear, "Have you tried blah, blah, blah." The secret is in knowing the Shepherd's voice. There are a lot of voices out there. But the sheep know the Shepherd. Next time Satan tries to get you to try the other stuff, zone him out. Listen for the Good Shepherd.
And by the way, put that cup of coffee down. It's bad for you. Try some chai. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Hot or Cold?

"I know your deeds, that you are neithter cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
We know those words from Revelation quite well, don't we? I think I understand them even better today. I've read the commentaries--one city had real cold water, another had hot springs. I've read the tepid life stuff. But I have a different insight today.
Friday and Saturday it was in the 70s here in Nebraska. Odd, but it does happen occassionally in November. Yesterday it snowed about 3 or 4 inches and the temperature dropped all day long. This morning I noticed it was 19 degrees. Now I don't mind the 19 degrees so much (what I do mind is the wind blowing hard and the wind chill being zero.) I can't get a handle on what I'm supposed to wear. I put on a sweater and it gets hot. I wear a polo shirt and it snows. This back and forth, up and down is just not conducive to living life. If it got cold all the time, I would bring out all of my sweaters and put them in a closet and put away the polo shirts until the spring. But this back and forth, I can't take it!!
That's why it's so important to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That's why I care that God is consistent. Satan isn't. He moves around. He's sneaky. The only thing that's consistent in our lives is God. No back and forth. Always consistent. Always dependable. Never changing.
God doesn't want us being flighty either. Be consistent. Not one way with one group and another way with the others. Let your "yes be yes and your no be no." In other words, try to become like God. Wow! I've said that before. Maybe I'm becoming consistent! Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Do You Know Me?

I love the church. I know it has its foibles and faults. But it is made up of faulty people who sometimes do dumb things. Me included. My father, when he was alive, was really one who took criticism of the church very seriously. He didn't like anyone to say anything bad about it because, as he said, "Christ died for it."
But that's not what I want to talk about. I love the church because of its network. I can't go anywhere without knowing someone or knowing someone who knows you or someone you know. Huh? You know what I mean. When I worked at Ohio Valley College back in another life, I would travel to various churches and talk about Christian education. Walking in cold turkey, people would just kind of stare at me suspiciously. I'd say, "Do you know Ed White? He's my dad." The ice would melt and we became quick friends.
My good friend (Hi, Brian) asked me about a missionary in France. He asked if my brother knew this particular missionary. On a side note, my brother is a missionary in France also. The worship leader of Brian's church is a good friend to this missionary. Well, not only does my brother know this missionary, they're best friends. They work in the same city, the same church.
When my wife was working in a Nashville, TN dental office, one of the ladies she worked with wasn't a member of the church. The dentist my wife worked for was. They were always talking about different people they knew in common. This lady commented that it was amazing that the church just had this connection. Everybody seemed to know everybody else.
Isn't it great? One day when we get to heaven, we'll find out even more connnections, I'm sure. That'll be fun. That's the way God intended it to be. "This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples--when they see the love you have for each other." (John 13:35, The Message).
"Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, sing His mercy and His grace.
In the mansions bright and blessed, He'll prepare for us a place.
When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!"
Have a great day! JW

Monday, November 14, 2005

I Know Why God Invented Sabbath

I grew up thinking that Sabbath was Saturday and it was something bizarre that the Jews observed. However, my father would never let me mow grass on Sundays. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm getting older, but I just can't go at the pace I used to.
This weekend our church hosted a youth rally. We kept 12 (count 'em, 12) boys at our house for two nights. Actually 11 one night and 12 the next. That's not including my own son. The youth rally was Friday and Saturday. I taught a couple of classes on Saturday, no biggie. My son's musical was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday--the same weekend. My wife and I worked the concessions all three nights. The weekend before I had a wedding. So on Friday night we had the rehearsal dinner. After the dinner, I went to a friend's house who was hosting a game night for the teenagers. My son had a friend of his stay at our house the entire weekend. Saturday evening was the wedding after which I ran over to the local Valentino's (pizza place in Nebraska) for a presentation for our teens by the Harding (University) guy. So basically, my wife and I have been going for three weeks straight.
When I worked at Harding, I would travel a lot--up early in the morning and return late at night. I remember being so tired that I sat in the shower rather than stand. It was so hard to get going. That's kind of where I am now.
In my younger years, I owned an MGB. These little cars had little engines. Consequently, when you drive those things at a high rate of speed for extended periods of time, the blocks would crack. They just weren't engineered to take that kind of stress for so long. God said, "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy." Sabbath simply means rest. There's something holy about rest. In essence, God was saying, "You need your rest. The human body wasn't intended to go 60 m.p.h. for long periods of time." So he told us to guard our rest time. Protect it. Keep it holy. See, my definition of of holy was something pure. Kind of a monk with a robe kind of mentality. But holy simply means set apart for a special purpose.
So, remember the Sabbath. Rest up. Don't get burned out. Even Jesus would go to the mountains to pray and to rest and relax. That's why God invented the Sabbath. Don't ask us to do anything this weekend. I have blocked it off of my calendar. It's time to rest. ZZZZZZZZZ JW

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Smoothies and God

I was a pretty obnoxious kid when I was young (now I guess I'm just an obnoxious adult!). But last night took the cake. My son is in a musical at his high school and my wife and I are doing the obligatory work in concessions. We're in charge of the smoothie machine. This little kid comes up and helps himself to a straw(s). Then he asks for a napkin. By this time, my wife is curious and asks what he needs it for. Of course, he doesn't answer. But I find out the reason. He and his buddy are shooting spit wads at each other. The stuff is all over the place where they have adequately moistened it in their mouths and then shot it at each other through the straw. I admit, I'm getting old and cranky. Not necessarily in that order. I saw what they were doing and had pity on the poor maintenance guys who work there. "Who's going to clean that up?" I asked. They looked at me and said, "Oh, we'll clean it up." Now I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday. But boy, did I scare them.
Next the boy comes to the machine and asks for a free smoothie. We're selling these things for $2 each, we're paying for the mix personally and we're trying to make money for the drama department. "C'mon! Why can't I have one." He was a persistent little buggar. He left and came back with a $5 bill. Now we're talking. I sold him one and his friend wanted one, so out of his generosity he bought two. He offered to keep his $5 for my generosity of making him two smoothies. But once again, I'm too perceptive and grabbed the $5 and gave him his $1 of change.
The same little boy goes to the table where all the brownies, cookies, etc. are. These treats are only 50 cents. He demands a free treat. Now I know he has at least a dollar. The workers politely decline. He then says, "I know you have a play going on and I'll yell." Our workers were much more nice than I would have been.
Then he comes back to my table a little while later and asks for a free refill. By this time this kid is really getting on my nerves. "Please?" "No." "Please?" "No." "Please?" "Where's your mother?" "I don't know." He finally walks away. Then he comes back and asks again. "I want to get one for my mother. So I'll get it and take it to her." Once again, I didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday. This time I said, "Until I have my grubby hands on two dollars, you're not gettin' anything." My wife said, "You need to go now." And he did need to go. He was bothering us and he was hurting business. And he wasn't going to get anything. In fact, I told him the more he pleaded, the harder my heart got.
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Yes, you heard it right. While I was an obnoxious, persistent, rude, boring jerk, Christ died for me. When I kept pleading for more, just like this little boy, Christ gave.
I still wouldn't give the boy a smoothie for free. But he helped me to learn a lesson about God. He didn't wait until I got it right. He overlooked my boorish ways. And he loved me and gave and gave and gave. Wow! That makes my day. I hope it does yours, too. JW

Thursday, November 10, 2005

She's Dying

I visited this morning with a lady who is dying of cancer. We had a nice visit about her life. She was perfectly healthy until diagnosed several years ago with this nasty disease. Her life right now is her dogs. She has three. Believe me, I know. I have smelled all of their breaths and petted all of them. One of them, Molly, was in my lap with her snout about 2 inches from my face and I asked, "What kind of dog is this?" "Well, I call her a big daschund, but the Humane Society says she is a Rotweiller." Okay, the dogs teeth are right at my nose. With a name like "Molly," she has to be a good dog. Right?
I asked this lady about her religious background. She said, "Presbyterian, Catholic, Baptist..." It was a telling statement. And when I asked if I could pray with her, she said, "No, not today." I asked if I could read a Scripture to her. Once again, the answer was negative. Her time on this earth is limited. I worry about her relationship with God. Maybe I'll have another chance. But for today, we visited about life, about her job, about retirement, about her cancer. But she didn't want to talk about God. She'll be there soon. Pray for her. JW

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Tired of T.O.?

Is it just me or is anyone else getting tired of Terrell Owens? Back in my day (I just heard a collective groan from anyone who reads this blog) that would not have been tolerated from the very outset, let alone after several months (years!) of moaning.
Example. I played a little basketball in high school. I wanted to know how many points I had scored, etc. My coach wouldn't ever let me see the score book. The important thing was the total points of our team compared to the total points of their team at the end of the game. If our total was greater, that's what mattered. I remember one game I broke the single game scoring record for our school. (That has since been broken) But at the end of the game when coach took me out, he leaned over to me and said, "If I'd have known you were that close to the record, I would have taken you out sooner."
Now my coach wasn't a mean tyrant. He was not an egotistical man who jumped up and down and screamed from the sidelines. In fact, to the contrary. He rarely said anything. I never saw him get a technical foul. And by the way, we weren't allowed to get a technical foul either. He demanded class from us and he expected us to be controlled on the court. AND, we were to be an example in school outside of basketball. What mattered to him was that we were Christian young men first, the team was far more important than any individual, and he cared more about effort and hustle than he did winning. I would do anything for this man...even today.
One of my favorite comments from him was after I had won a sportsmanship trophy in a tournament. He said, "I'm more proud of that than I would be if you won the MVP trophy." And he meant it.
So, I'm fed up with T.O. Go back and learn to be a man. And once you learn what it means to be a team member, then maybe you will find some team who will take a chance on you. But you won't get any sympathy from me.
And Coach Martin, thank you! You taught me more than just about anyone I know. About basketball, about life. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

God's Heart

When Saul didn't wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice at Gilgal, Samuel asked him, "What have you done?" Samuel was disappointed with Saul to say the least. It's like the scene from the Indianana Jones movie, he said, "You acted foolishly."
What he said next was what moved me today. He said, "...the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." A man after his own heart. That's what I want to be. I hope that's what you want to be, too. Someone after God's own heart.
I pursue too often my own heart. I want my way, my things, my will. So for today, I will try to seek God's heart. And maybe I can make it a habit. Have a great day. JW

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just When You Think

I opened up our phone bill this month, much to my dismay, and noticed that our bill was more than seven times more than usual. Okay, my daughter's out of the house since she's now married. All she does now is eat my food. It's not my wife's cell calls. Aha! There's the varmint. He's getting hairy on the face, the legs, the arms, his voice has changed and he had (not the emphasis on had) a cell phone. He got in the car singing, And I'm feelin' good." "You won't be feeling good for long," was my retort. So follows the tongue lashing, the confiscation of the phone, the threat of bread and water for the next six weeks, and the possibility of a greatly reduced Christmas since we could have bought two or three of the one item he wanted. GRRR! You blood pressure increases. Your wife blames you for that son of yours!
Then last night we go to Caberet Night, a musical revue at his school. He sings with the choir, he sings a beautiful duet, he sings a song from the upcoming musical, he performs with an unbelievable show with his high school's show choir. Wow! I was so proud. Tears welled up in my eyes as they are as I write this. I told him on the way to school how proud I was of him. But in the next breath I told him I was proud of him when the phone bill was extravagant. And the only thing I care about right now is, I hope he heard me. I'm proud of him even when he does dumb things. He's my son. That will never change. And just when you think you want to cut off his ears, he goes and does something like that. Amazing. Y'all have a good day. I am. JW

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Month of Thanksgiving

Even though I have no authority, no particular position to do this, I'm officially declaring November as Thanksgiving month. As you read that statement, I'm sure there was a trumpet blast in the background suitable for such an announcement. I'm may be bold and declare next year the year of Thanksgiving. Or better yet, how about the life of Thanksgiving?
Those of you who know me have heard me rant on this subject, and yet I often don't take my own advice. Let me take you the the book of Colossians. I know you'll recall it as the book proclaiming Christ's pre-eminence. But let me boldy proclaim that it's a book on thanksgiving. Don't believe me?
Colossians 1:3, 4--"We always thank (all the emphasis will be mine) God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for the the saints..."
Colossians 2:6, 7--"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness."
Colossians 3:15--"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
Colossians 3:16--"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing spalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."
Colossians 3:17--"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 4:2--"Devlote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."
I think my favorite passage in Colossians is 3:15. Paul talks about everything quality that we are to have--humility, compassion, kindness, etc.--and at the end of the last, almost as an afterthought, he says, "and be thankful." Not an afterthought of, "Oh, I guess I should put this in there, too." But an afterthought of "of course thankfulness is a given."
So this morning as I walked out into the beautiful morning of a Nebraska fall, I gave thanks for the wonderful day. And I'm trying to be thankful all the time, at least for this month. Maybe I'll get good at it. I hope so. My attitude is so much better when I have that attitude. I'm thankful for you! Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

God's Love and Goodness

When you look in the dictionary to find the word "love" God's picture should be by it. Max Lucado said if God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. A. W. Tozer said, "The goodness of God is that which disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tenderhearted and of quick sympaty, and His unfailing attititude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By His nature His is inclinded to bestow blessedness and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people...The whole outlook of mankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, though exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us."
I love what Chip Ingram says in his book God as He Longs for You to See Him, "Put in simple terms, if someone paid a million-dollar ransom to free you from a kidnapper, do you really believe you'd have to worry about who's going to buy lunch the next day?" Such is the way we many times view God. God poured out His love. He lavishes His love. The psalmist calls it God's unfailing love.
When we understand God's love and His goodness, surely our lives are changed. And as Tozer said above, God is eager to be friends with us. "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory. No good things does he withouhold from those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11) Wow! Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

How Do We View God?

I'm reading a new book on God. I'll give you the title later if I end up liking the book. So far, it's really good. The author says the way we act and live our lives is dependent on our view of God. If we think God is harsh and punishes at the drop of a hat, we'll live our lives on egg shells. If we think that God is just like us, we'll be glib and trite in the way we live because, "God is just like us!" Think about that thought for a minute. Isn't that true? Don't we live our lives in the way that we view God? I'll reserve my thoughts for later. Today is your day to speak. What do you think? (By the way, have a great day! JW)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Schools, Paul McCartney, and Halloween

Just a few random thoughts for today. If you're not from Omaha, let me give you a brief synopsis of what's going on in the public school districts. There are a number of independent school districts in the city and since Omaha has been growing at a phenomenal rate, the Omaha Public Schools decided that the law says, "one city, one school district," they should take over all school districts. There was no discussion, they just announced it one day. You can imagine what's been happening. The lawsuits have been filed and the words have been flying. Well, now it looks like a political campaign going on because there are yard signs, flyers, and bumper stickers everywhere. Our school district is allegedly safe because they wrote it into law back in the 50s. But others aren't so lucky. So our school district joined in the lawsuit with the others. So now these signs say, "Millard Schools Forever." "Westside Schools Forever." Now I find this interesting and I appreciate the passion of these people. But in my humble opinion they've gone a little too far. Please. Forever? The only thing that is forever is the unseen and not the seen. None of what we can see, what is tangible, i.e. touch, smell, hear, see, taste is permanent. No building, no program. Only the unseen. Isn't that what Paul said in II Corinthians 4? "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal." The school district isn't forever. God and His eternal glory is.

On a lighter note, I went to the Paul McCartney concert last night. I know, I know, preachers aren't supposed to go to things like that. I'm a child of the 60s (born in the 50s). I remember when I rushed home from church services on a Sunday night to hear the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I enjoyed the music.

My thoughts on Halloween. There are a number of those who refuse to do anything on this date because it's set up by Satan. (Do you give candy and flowers to your wife or girlfriend on Valentine's Day?) Anyway, here's my philosophy on Halloween. I'm not much into the ghosts and ghouls and skeletons and all that. But the whole purpose of Halloween in my opinion is to get as much candy as possible in a short amount of time. And if that means you have to dress like a princess or a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger to get it, more power to you. Especially if you share the chocolate stuff with me. Go get more candy! Let me know and I'll give you an address to send the leftovers to me! Have a great day. JW

Thursday, October 27, 2005


This morning I went to a "Pastor's Appreciation Breakfast." It was sponsored by a local Christian bookstore and several were in attendance. Now I've been to things like this before and there is a little cynical side to me that says, "What's in it for them?" And I know there is some reason for some of the cynicism. But I was pleasantly surpised. On top of a nice breakfast, we were all give probably over $150 of books. Bibles, other books, CDs, and a $20 gift certificate.
I had a boss who used to pop into my office and say "preciate ya". Then he was gone. I never really believed him. This, on the other hand, was nice. Not that I want physical things in spite of encouragement. It was just nice.
Ten lepers came to Jesus and He healed them all. Only one came back and thanked Him. "Didn't I heal 10?" Jesus asked. "Where are the other nine?" A simple "thank you" was all Jesus wanted. Only one came back to do so.
There must have been 30 or so of us there today. I wonder how many of them will thank the people who put this on? I did. Have a great day! And by the way, I appreciate you! JW

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tabloid Christianity?

My son had to get one of those tabloid magazines for a mass communications class he has at school. I sat down and started reading some of the stories. By the way, this magazine makes the claim that it is the only reliable magazine around. Here is a sampling of the some of the stories. "Congress Repeals the Law of Gravity." "Aliens with Three Eyes Occupying the Earth" (This headline was accompanied by a picture from the back of someone's head, holding some hair apart to reveal an extra eye in the back of the head) "Husband and Wife Switch Bodies" (This one had the woman's head on the man's muscular body and the man's head on his wife's lingerie clad body, both with surprised expressions on their faces. 'We just got up one morning and it felt funny.')
I was laughing so much I was making my wife angry because she was trying to concentrate on something. How ridiculous these stories are.
But I started to think about what I believe and how it must seem to others. I believe that a man pushing 100 and his wife of 90 had a child. I believe that a donkey talked to his master. I believe that the Israelite nation walked across dry ground when the Red Sea split in two. I believe a man named Jesus was crucified and then raised from the dead.
Now, I want to be careful because I think I have more of a leg to stand on than do the tabloids. But we do have to admit, what we believe may sound pretty bizarre to those who have no faith, no reason to believe. I think the difference is the leg work behind the stories. Both do, however, take faith to believe. Our lives are one big faith walk. Let's admit that. Our faith is based on the most reasonable explanation we can come to. But it is faith. Let's not forget that. Paul said, "I know whom I have believe and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." (II Timothy 1:12) The Hebrew writer said "without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) So have some faith today. Smile and have a great day. JW

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But I saw something today (as you know, this happens a lot!) that I had never seen before. You probably have ascertained that I am reading about Samuel. What a man he was! But only because he sought after God. Sometimes I don't think Samuel gets his due, but that's another story for another day for another blog.
He was considered in Scripture as a judge. He traveled from town to town ruling on disputes throughout Israel. In fact, the Bible says that he ran a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah. Meaning, he traveled a lot.
Here's what I had never seen before. Listen to these words: "But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also judged Israel." Where his home was. In spite of all the traveling, he never forgot where home was.
My married daughter wants to spend time with us when her husband is working. At first, I found that a little strange. Really, she just wants a free meal. But when I started thinking about it, that is home. I know, I know, her home is with her husband. But her home was with us far longer, she is just developing the one with her spouse.
Maybe that's why I've had such a hard time dealing with my mother's death. Even after Dad died, Mom was stilll home. Now that she's gone, home is gone. I love my home with my wife and married daughter and almost driving teenage son. But originally, my home was with my parents.
Make a spiritual application here. Jesus said, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Heaven. . .Home. And the older I get, the more people I know have gone on and I want to see them again. And I will. Paul said, "I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. I want to go be with Jesus which is far better. But if I go, the work here will suffer." (Philippians 1:23, 24, MOV {My Own Version}). Where's your home? Don't forget where it really is. Have a great day! JW

Monday, October 24, 2005

Praise God for the Mundane

If you heard me yesterday, you have already heard my thoughts on the following. I hope you will take this in the light that I mean in. Nothing bitter at all here, just my thoughts and feelings.
Why is it we will listen to someone who has been through the mill--tragedy, horrible life then recovered, divorce, death, etc.--but won't listen to someone who's been there every day? So many of us have, thankfully, never had to suffer from the things others have. But for some reason, the story is not worth listening to. I say, thank you for those who survive the mundane. Thanks for those who have perservered in everything. These are the salt of the earth people that I hear about in Scripture. There's nothing fancy, just a faithful life.
I want to listen to them. I need to know how they survived the average, the mundane, and the normal. Thank you for listening to your parents. Thanks for having faith of your own learned from wonderful examples. And that fact that you haven't had to go through so horrific tragedy, and you are still there, I appreciate.
Wasn't that the problem with the Israelites? They couldn't take the mundane. They wanted more. Wasn't that the problem with the Pharisees? Jesus said they were always looking for a miracle. Do we do that? We want the flash, the glitz, and the miraculous.
Praise God for the mundane, for the salt of the earth. You are what makes the world go round. Your journey is a worthy one. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Did Not Know the Lord

Do you believe that you can be around the spiritual all the time, hear songs of praise, be a good person, see acts of righteousness and obedience and still not know God? Of course you do. It happens all the time. I just didn't think it could happen in a place of worship. But it did.
Check I Samuel 3. You know the story. Hannah had no children. She prayed to God and promised to give the first child she had to God. She conceived and gave her son, Samuel, to Eli to be raised by him. Eli's sons were evil, doing what was right in their own eyes. Hannah came to visit her son with a new ephod every year. There you have it.
Now here's a kid who has been working in the temple. He's seen the sacrifices. He's supposed to know what's going on with the Israelites. See verse 7 of chapter 3. "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord." It blew me away when I read that. Think of all the lessons from this.
1. Just being at the church building doesn't mean you know God.
2. You can be all around things that are spiritual and still not know God.
3. Maybe what was going on at the temple wasn't necessarily spiritual.
4. What does this mean to me?
I ask you that last question. What does this mean to me? Am I truly sincere about my walk or am I just faking it. Someone said, "If you can't be sincere, fake it." I'm afraid that's what happens all too often. Am I just going through the motions? Do I do what I do just to look good? That was the problem of the Pharisees. And sometimes, that's my problem. I would hope I would truly know the Lord. Not just the facts, i.e. born in Jerusalem, father was Joseph, mother was Mary, 12 apostles, 33 when he died, crucified on a cross, etc. But do I really know Him? Do I talk to Him? Do I have a relationship? Do I want to be like Him? Do I really know Him? Go out and have a good day. And get to know Him. JW

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


As I have previously said in this blog, we have had Jerry and Lynn Jones here at our congregation this week doing their Marriage Matters Seminar. It's been 13 intense lessons (well it will be 13 after tonight) on all kinds of marriage issues. It has been good and I have been able to spend some time with Jerry. Many of you know that he was one of my professors when I was a young student at Harding. He is a mentor and he took the role of my father yesterday as we visited for a while. It was good.
One of my co-workers made a comment yesterday that it felt as if we lived at the church building. My wife and I were talking this morning about how tired we were. Don't get me wrong. We're not complaining. In fact, Martha and I were asking how we used to do gospel meetings all the time. She remembers one week meetings. I remember two week ones. And you were expected to be there every night. What's the deal?
Well, for one, it's a different time. Our schedules have gotten busier. Life has become faster and more complicated in many ways. I know that Solomon has said there is nothing new under the sun. But part of our fatigue is just being too busy. Perhaps that is why God gave us the admonition to "be still and know that I am God."
Another reason why we're tired is because Jerry and Lynn are right. We have seen the destruction Satan brings to good people who are trying to have good marriages. Unfortunately, it's seminars such as this that really brings that to light. I rembember in the movie Field of Dreams when Ray sees his "young" father for the first time. He remarks to his wife the wonderful physical condition he's in. He says that he only remembers seeing him when (and I'm paraphrasing now) when he was worn down by life.
That's why we fix our eyes on Jesus. That's why we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. That's why we look at Jesus and not the waves. But the weekend is virtually free (at least for me) and I'll rest up. Then we're together for the Lord's Day! I can't wait. Have a great day. . .and get some rest. JW

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I've been hearing the word "safe" a lot lately. Watch any baseball game and the guy slides into home and the umpire shouts "Safe!" (or out, depending on whether the catcher catches the ball, tags the runner, and holds onto it). But I like the concept. Safe at home.
When King David went to war and things were going South (against his own son, Absalom, I might add) he warned his commanders to be gentle with his son. And, when not knowing when his son was killed, the message came back that his armies had been successful. David didn't care. He asked, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" Twice he asked that before he found out he had been killed.
We've been talking a lot about being able to come to church (I know, I know, the church is the body) and being safe. It breaks my heart when I hear people say they don't feel safe enough. My goodness! The Scripture says we'll be known as His disciples if we love each other. James says that love covers a multitude of sins. The word in the Greek means, a large number, a bundle, a company, a multitude. When are we going to quit keeping score? When are we going cover each other's sins. I'm not talking about condoning, I'm not talking being co-dependent, I'm not talking being accomplices. I'm saying when people totally wreck their lives where are we? When are we going to take these in our arms in a non-judgmental way and say, I will be here for you always. I'll never leave you. (and in doing so emulating so much the way God feels about us and treats us?)
It is during these times that I wish we could hear in our assemblies, in our churches, "Safe at home." It would just be a little foreshadowing for when we hear our God say the same when we reach heaven. Have a great day. . .and be safe. JW

Monday, October 17, 2005


Jerry and Lynn Jones are here at our congregation this week and they are, as expected, doing a wonderful job. Jerry said something yesterday that really hit home with me. He said that we are in a journey to become like God.
Think about that for a minute. We are to be forgiving people. That's like God. We are to love our enemies. God loves those who don't love Him back. We are to be full of grace and mercy. God is full of grace and mercy.
Obviously we are not going to take on the characteristics of omnipotence and omnipresence. But we are to become like God. We have talked of "becoming" for a long time, but it was the top of the Maslow pyramid of needs where we become self-actualized. It's not that. If it is, it's for the wrong reason. It is to become more like God. Wow! Ruminate on that and have a good day. JW

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Glasses Make You Happy

I saw a commercial today for an optical place. If I told you the name , you would recognize it. Many of my years have been spent in a marketing field (admissions), but I have to say marketing is one of those things that really bugs me. The word "marketing" has become synonymous with the word "spin." i.e. Make people think of something else, make your product look better in spite of how bad it is, or basically you have a license to lie if part of what you say is true. Now I know that's an extremely cynical view of marketing, and I'm sure there are marketing majors and marketing people out there with wonderful scruples and ethics. I'm just telling you my view. And after all, isn't that what blogging is about?
All right, back to the commercial. Basically what it said is if you wear our glasses you will be happy. The commercial showed people dancing and jumping up and down and smiling, all while wearing glasses. Now I've got to tell you, coming from a person who has worn glasses since I was in eighth grade, glasses are a pain. I wear contact lenses, but with my old age I am now having to wear reading glasses. And the last thing that happens when I put on glasses is to jump up and down smiling. "Yeaaaahhhhh, I have glasses on!" Now don't give me the lecture about "you should be glad you can see, there are people in China who are blind....."
Isn't this what Satan does? He's a phenomenal marketer. Do this and you'll be happy. Drink this and it will ease your pain. Sleep with her and you will enjoy life. On and on ad nauseum. And we buy it hook, line, and sinker. I know I do.
Paul lets us know in Philippians that joy does not come from outward events. It that were so, he would have been the most miserable person on earth. It doesn't come from things because things rust away. It comes from one source and one source only...Jesus. "Rejoice, and I'll say it again, rejoice," Paul says. The happiness talked about in the glasses commercials ends when somebody sits on them and breaks them. But Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6, 7)
Instead of searching for happiness, perhaps we should be pursuing joy, peace, contentment. Those seem to last longer and aren't affected by things and events. Peace to all of you. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I have noticed the word "hope" a lot lately. We talked about it in our class at church last night. To most of us the word "hope" means "wish." "I hope I can do that," meaning, "I wish I could do that." But as we talked last night, hope in Scripture means eager or confident expectation. The illustration I used was I have hope that the sun will come up in the morning. Probably a poor example, but it works for me. You see, the sun has come up everyday since I've been alive. It hasn't missed a day. Yes, it's been covered at times by clouds and fog, but it's still there and always has. I have no control over it, but I have enough faith in the solar system (and the One who created it) to have hope that it will come up every morning.

Hebrews 11:1--"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Romans 8:22-24--"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption of sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope, we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

I Peter 1:3, 4--"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you..."

Psalm 33:20-22--"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our hlep and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."

What I hear in this are things like unfailing love, confidence, trust, hope. Hope--an eager, confident expectation of what God can and will and continues to do. May you have hope today. JW

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't Be Anxious

God is good. I have been studying the book of Philippians and I am continually amazed at Paul's attitude toward life. "Do not be anxious about anything," he says. "Do everything without complaining or arguing, " he says. "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" he says. All this while chained to a Roman guard. All this while under house arrest. All this while being restricted to one small area.
My head hurts. It's raining. It's so cold. Seems kind of trite doesn't it. While Paul calls his beatings, shipwrecks, and other horrendous trials "light and momentary," we think a bad hair day is the end of the world.
I've tried lately to just be more positive. To realize that God is alive and well and watching over me. To "cast my cares on Him because He cares for me." You know what, it makes a difference. I don't worry as much. I smile more. I sleep better. God is so good. He's so good to me. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Culturally Relevant

Solomon says there is nothing new under the sun. Sometimes I wonder. I've heard this commercial a couple of times and it just blows me away. It lets me know how sad our culture is. Basically, it's a commercial for DNA testing to determine "if the baby really is yours." They go on to tell of the simple test where you swab the inside of your mouth and the inside of the baby's mouth and send the information to this company and they'll let you know the results in about a week.
People making money on bad situations. What do we do with our culture? I've been struggling with this lately. We've been talking of vision at our congregation and we want to be culturally relevant. But when do we change the culture and when do we let the culture change us? I don't know the answer. I just know that Jesus is the answer. I know that I am to be merciful. And I know that I am a sinner. Make a difference today. JW

Monday, October 10, 2005

Nice Haircut

Rick Atchley, the pulpit minister at Richland Hills Church of Christ, said one time that people often say he has a gift for preaching. He said if it's such a gift, why does it take 40 hours to unwrap it? A number of things go into a sermon not the least of which is prayer. But it's amazing how sermons come together. (I can only speak from my own experience) I plan what I'm talking about 6 months to a year in advance. That way I can pick up illustrations along the way, study and read what I need to read, and pray for the lessons. But when I actually get the lesson ready, it just seems to come together (most of the time). And where I preach, the lesson has to be basically ready 10 days in advance so we can prepare the entire worship assembly.
Having said that, my first prayer after a sermon is an apology to God for not having the best words worthy of His glory. But I know He can take what is said and make something happen. I guess what I'm saying is that each lesson is a work of humility, prayer, desire to say the right thing, etc. After every sermon I get the almost obligatory, "I enjoyed your sermon, preacher," response when people file out of the auditorium. There are those who honestly come to me and tell me what the lesson meant to them. For that I praise God and am humbled.
As in all congregations there are a variety of elements with different beliefs and opinions on all kinds of topics. At one congregation where I used to preach I had preached a sermon and for the life of me I can't remember what it was about. One person from one of the elements came up to me and said, "Do you think they heard that?" To which I replied, "I hope so." Soon after, someone from the other side of the element came up to me and said, "Do you think they heard that?" To which I replied, "I hope so."
Now I'm not out there to get compliments about my sermon. My prayer beforehand is that God say the words He wants and uses me to do so. And I want Him to get the glory. Yesterday I had quite a few people compliment me. But it was about my haircut. I wasn't tremendously offended, but I wondered if anyone heard the lesson or if they were sitting in the audience thinking, "I wondered where he got his haircut?" Oh, well. I'll take what I can get. And I hope they heard what God was saying yesterday. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Turkey Loaf

I live in a residential area of Omaha, not in the country. We're talking regular established houses in an established neighborhood. It looks like a scene from suburbia with well-manicured lawns, some really nice houses, and some regular, built in the 50s houses (these houses were well-built and well-maintained). So I've just taken my son to school yesterday morning, a task that he thinks will soon end when he turns 16 in December, when I'm driving back home through the neighborhood.
Now I'm getting older and my eyesight isn't as sharp as it used to be, but there is definitely something up ahead. It's big and standing along the side of the road. A statue, perhaps, that people place in the yard. A fake bird that someone has put as a fundraiser or a gag. No, it's a wild turkey. This bird is huge! We're not talking a white Butterball that will be on your table next month, we're talking a wild turkey. I slow down and roll down my window to get a better look and she isn't real comfortable with me, but she moves a little deeper into some bushes.
Telling this story to several people and I'm surprised at the response. One said, "Oh, yes, there are wild turkeys in that area and in other parts of the town." Another told my wife, "Yes, that turkey is also in Regency (another area of Omaha near us) and we share it."
My favorite story was from class last night. I told about my turkey and another brother told a story of a turkey in town. He slowed down when he saw her and let her pass. While the car behind him drove so fast that he hit the turkey. Feathers went everywhere, he said. Then he said, "How could you miss a turkey?" To which another brother in class responded, "He didn't."
But I do have a more serious point. Turkeys aren't supposed to be in residential areas. They have their own natural habitat and when they are in areas of homes and people, it's not natural. It's not where they are supposed to be.
John told us not to be of this world. Peter says the same. Jesus told us the same. What seems to happen to us is that we get awful comfortable in places where we shouldn't. Culture changes us instead of vice versa. We become content in a place where we shouldn't be, and the world wins again. And Satan wins another battle. When are we going to learn. Paul said that he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He wanted to stay and help the Philippians, but he desired more to go and be with God. But he would do what the Lord wanted him to do. As Christians, we are placed in an environment that doesn't fit us. Let's not get comfortable to the point that we think this is natural. Have a great day, you turkeys! JW

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

There's Still Hope

Last night I went to a choral concert. It was the obligatory son's high school choral concert. He's in two groups, but I had to listen to six. But after reading Mike Cope's blog yesterday about enjoying the journey, I decided to enjoy the singing. I usually do anyway. There's something about music that moves me. It stirs my soul and helps me to live in the moment. My friend David Underwood is good to keep taking us back to how music affects our lives. Especially when it's live music.
One of the choirs sang songs from the Nebraska All-State Choral Festival. They were preparing for the contest which comes up in a couple of weeks. These songs were picked in advance by a group (I assume) of panelists who thought this would be good music for high school students to sing. Four of the five songs song were spiritual. The first, a beautiful number by Mozart sang of our glorious God. Another was about peace in our lives with Jesus as our leader. The third was a song about John the Revelator.
Needless to say, I was moved and pleasantly surprised. You know, there's still hope. I'll cling to that until the day I die. I'll keep after it and after it. I'll not stop proclaiming how good God is how Jesus is our leader. I'll still maintain that God is in control and I should not worry because "the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (I John 4:4) Please join me with this. Let us not give up hope. Several years ago before my father died I was talking to him about some of the good people I know. He looked at me and said, "There's still a lot of salt." That's what I want to be....salt. Salt that preserves. A light that reflects the love of Jesus and the glory of God in this world. Don't give up. JW

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Computer Problems and Life

I am about as good with a computer as I am a car. I can't fix either one. So I am utterly helpless with the things go on the fritz. Which brings me to my computer at home.
Last night, I sat down at my home computer because my wife had asked me to check her e-mail. She had been on it the night before (it has to be all her fault!) and so I'm trying to log on. It's frozen and getting worse. One of the "tricks" I've learned over the years is to reboot. You don't know how many times I've worked on computers trying to get them to work. Finally, in complete exasperation, I'll call the computer people and they'll ask, "Did you reboot?" With one click of a button, the problem is solved and I look stupid. Maybe that's why there's a side of me that hates computers. Anyway, I digress. So I reboot my computer at home and it gets worse and worse and worse and finally a blue screen. Now I don't know much, but I know a blue screen is bad. So I call the company on their convenient 1-800 number. You have to know that I can get nothing from this computer. If I reboot, it comes up a blue screen. I can fiddle with it all I want and nothing comes up except the blue screen. You know the routine, I'm placed on hold. But all during the time I'm on hold, two things are happening--music occasionally interrupted by a message. The message says to log onto the computer and type in Obviously that's not the website, but again, you get the drift. HOW CAN I LOG ON AND GET MY COMPUTER FIXED IF I CAN'T GET PASSED THE BLUE SCREEN!!!
I saw a biblical principle here believe it not. How many times do we tell people to buck up and to straighten out their lives? It can't be done without help. It's like the passage in James when he says, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action is dead." (James 2:15-17) Don't we do the same thing? Aren't we just as guilty as the computer company? "Go read your Bible and find all the answers," we say. But then we do nothing to help in any way. Makes no sense. I was frustrated last night. Can you imagine what it's like not getting any spiritual help? No wonder people get disillusioned and leave. Let's not be that way. Let's care. Let's help...truly help and not be guilty of giving good advice that can never be followed. Have a great day! (There, I did it myself!) Can I help you have a great day? JW

Monday, October 03, 2005

Two Words/Two Letters/Two Meanings

They both have 12 letters. They have the same letters with the exception of one. One word has an extra "m" and the other an extra "n." Yet they have eleven common letters. The words sound alike, begin with the same letter and end in the same way. Yet their meanings are totally opposite. The reason I noticed is that someone tried to say the one word and accidentally said the other. The rest, as they say, is history. At that point my mind started racing and hence this blog.
If you want to compliment someone for a job well done or you want to encourage someone or if someone gets an honor, it's called a "commendation." On the other hand, if the intent is to blast away and to complain and to criticize, it's a "condemnation."
I thought how ironic that is for two words to be so close in pronunciation and letters, yet be so opposite. Is it an accident that the two words are so close to the edge? I like commendations. They make me feel good, they urge me on to better things and I can go for months on one commendation. On the other hand, five seconds of condemnation brings me down for a long, long time.
So what kind of person are you? Are you one who commends or one who condemns. I see Jesus or I see Pharisees. I see positive and I see negative. And it doesn't really take much to see the difference and it doesn't take much to make a difference. Either way. What are you? Have a great day! JW

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Today's News Story

I was amused as I listened to this morning's newscast. Not amused by the story, per se. What is happening is tragic. The reporter talked about the wildfires in California. What amused me was, where are the stories about the hurricanes? They were buried after the commercial breaks. Wow! That was short-lived. First there were forest fires, then a politician was indicted, then the cost of gasoline (related to the hurricane story), then criticism about the hurricane relief. When was the last time you heard much about what's going on in Iraq? Isn't that just like us? We stress about the MOST IMPORTANT NEWS STORY OF ALL TIME, and then we're off to the next most important one.
The Israelites did the same thing. No, I'm not talking about a news story. But they saw the ten plagues including the passover angel, they saw the Red Sea split, they saw their miraculous release by Pharoah, they were led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. And when Moses went up to the mountain for 40 days, they wanted to know where he was. So they built an idol. They were given manna and quail to eat, miraculous manifestations of water supplies, their clothes didn't wear out, and they still complained and wanted to go back to the good old days.
In the New Testament, the people saw Jesus do miracle after miracle and then the Pharisees asked what sign Jesus would give them to let them know He was of God. That's why I don't think miracles would be such a big deal in our age. They'd be gone with the next story the next day.
Following Jesus isn't the miracle a day experience we think we long for. We'd tire of them anyway. "Yeah, Yeah, another one raised from the dead. Let's see someone fly from a ten-story building. Now that would impress me!" No, following Jesus is up and down. Good days and bad. But it's a relationship that never fades. It isn't off with the next miracle or news story. It's constant, insured, deep, and meaningful. And it's here tomorrow. Hang in there with Jesus today. The story won't change tomorrow. JW

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


There have been so many things that have crossed my mind since I last wrote. There's the one about the little 6-year-old boy here in Omaha who was suspended from school because his little brother slipped a butter knife into his backpack. Zero tolerance. Watch out! He may spread oleo all over you. I've been thinking about Pharisees a lot lately and wondering if I am one. But for some reason, what keeps creeping back into my limited brain is the topic of contentment.
After reading Mike Cope's blog on slowing down, after seeing all around me hurrying everywhere to make a living, to get somewhere on time, to earn more money to buy this or that, contentment has just been a topic on my heart. To make matters worse, we feel as if we must have a lot of activities here at church or we'll be a dead congregation. This person coming in this weekend, that person the next, this activity and on and on the cycle goes.
"Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11b) "But godliness with contentment is great gain." (I Timothy 6:6) "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'" (Hebrews 13:5) I know I've written about this, but it has struck the chord again.
Perhaps it's because I've seen the devastation brought on by Katrina and Rita and I know that in a heart beat all of my worldly possessions could be gone. Maybe it's because I have moved everything I own in the last week. Or perhaps it's just God's Spirit telling me to calm down, slow down, and be content. I chose the latter. I hope you do, too. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Did you know the Pharisees were righteous? Jesus said they were. He told his disciples that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Pharisees they could not enter the kingdom of heaven. Does that mean there are degrees of righteousness?
Mike Cope has an excellent book on this called Righteousness Inside Out. I think he hits the nail on the head by the way he describes their righteousness. The Pharisees looked good, they followed the law, they did everything right for the wrong reasons. They did it because they had to. No joy, no purpose, just duty.
We, on the other hand can and should be righteous because it's the right thing to do. Because our hearts want to serve God. When serve God because He is holy, because He is good, because He is I AM, then our whole demeanor changes. We serve because we want to. Then it becomes a joy to live and to serve. Big difference!
Where are you on this journey? Do you grit your teeth and serve God. Or do you relax and allow His grace to fill your heart? It's your choice. Righteousness always looks better from the inside out. Have a great day! JW

Monday, September 26, 2005

Moving Day(s)

As I promised yesterday, I want to blog about my experiences last week while moving. There are so many lessons learned.
First, one accumulates a lot of stuff over 30 years of marriage and 51 years of life. And it's easy to see why you don't throw it away. For example, I was wearing a pair of jeans that really were destroyed in the process. By the time I finished my work on Saturday the jeans were really in a state of disrepair. There were four large holes in the legs. The pocket had a hole so that my keys stuck out of the pocket and out of the hole in the leg. They were filthy. (Actually, with all of the holes they were quite stylish!) The only thing they were good for was to throw away. Now I don't know if exhaustion just puts the mind into stall or what, but as I thought of those jeans, I thought, "You know, if you just wash these things, they'd made good work jeans." Remember those four holes? I would probably be arrested for public indecency. But my mind continued to work. "Or I could use these as a good rag." THROW THEM AWAY!!! That's all they're good for. But the mind works in weird ways when tired.
Second, have you noticed how all the stuff multiplies? You finish moving one room and then another, but you leave some things around that you'll get later. By the time you come back into the room the floor is once again covered. Clean up portions of it and come back later, the floor is covered again. Or the stuff finds its way into empty drawers. I've been cleaning up the leftover stuff for two days now!
Third, I'm convinced no one likes to move. I even called a service to see how much they would charge to move the heavy things. $96 an hour with a two hour minimum. Another words, it's $192 just to walk in the door and laugh at me. "Oh, Mr. White, it'll take at least two hours to move that refrigerator." (Muffled laugh) "Then the washer and dryer won't take too long. Perhaps another hour for those." (The laugh is a little louder) "And the couches and chairs, well that'll probably take another two hours because we have to stand those on end to get them out the door." (By this time they're on the floor hee-hawing) They don't like to move either so they make the price exhorbitant so you'll do it yourself.
Which brings me to the U-Haul place. I asked them why every U-Haul truck I've ever ridden was beat up, scarred, and generally in disrepair. Then they have the audacity to ask me if I wanted insurance! "For what!" The bumper is nearly off and the door barely closes, why would I want insurance? There's not going to be more damage to the truck in case of an accident! In fact, it may improve the appearance.
Needless to say, I'm tired and sore and ready to go back to work. But come on over and see the new place. Give us some time to hide all the stuff in the closets and basement. Oh, no, I just realized. It'll multiply again. Ahhhhhhhhhh! JW

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Moving Experience

Well, I am back. To all of you who read my blog (my best guess is two) the reason I have been gone is because we have been moving. We are now living just south of Dodge around the 96th Street area for those of you who know Omaha.
You wouldn't believe the number of blogs I can get out of this one. However, I'll probably just limit it to one. Perhaps a list of moving examples of life.
But for now, today is the Lord's Day. I am glad to get the rest and to let my weary bones rest. I'm looking forward to singing, to praying, to communing with my brothers and sisters. I have missed being around my office this week. It has not been what I like not knowing what's happening in the congregation. But today, that all changes again because we're all together again. Have a great day! JW

Sunday, September 18, 2005


I thought I was supposed to be in a meeting today at 4:00. Nobody's here. I called, no answer. I called another, no answer. I'm sure I heard the time right. Now, did I assume we were meeting here or did I not hear where we were meeting? Did the meeting get cancellled?
Those are the thoughts going through my mind right now. But have you ever felt that way in life. Was I supposed to be here? Where am I supposed to be? Jesus knew all of this about himself. In John 13, the Scripture says that He knew where had come from and knew where He was going. And he washed the feet of the disciples. I wish I had such clarity. But life sometimes just isn't that easy.
Find your way today. Seek His will. Trust Him. Have a good day. JW

P.S. I won't be blogging for a few days. I'll tell you why on my return.

P.S.S. Everybody just came in. The meeting was a 4:30.