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.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


In studying the Sermon on the Mount, I have found that everything that was being in the religious world at the time was topsy-turvey. The Jews tried to make sure they were doing things right. Jesus came along and said to do the right thing, with the right motives.
When my children were young (yours did this, too, if you have children) I would give them a directive. They would respond, "Why?" I would follow with a very good reason. "Why?" they would once again respond. Another good reason. "Why?" Finally, out of frustration I would blurt, "Because I said so!"
I'm not trying to reduce God to a frustrated parent who sits in His celestial Lazy-Boy chair and shouts out directives. And when we don't respond, He shouts, "Because I said so!" It all depends on a relationship where we decide to please Him. When will we learn that it's better to obey God than to push the envelope, go to the edge of the cliff, or execute just what we need to do to get by? It's with open and loving hearts we obey without question. It isn't a matter of looking good on the outside so the world can see. Rather, we follow because our hearts say it's the right thing to do. Have a great day. Brian and Karen, give Mickey a hug. Happy birthday, Joel!! JW

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lessons from Traffic

There are so many lessons one can learn by driving a car. I'm trying to be more patient, to let people in when there's a long line, to lay off the horn when someone is rude. It is a process and I am getting better.
Yesterday, on the way to work I was driving up a busy boulevard here in town approaching a busy crossing street. There happens to be a turning lane to go left at the intersection, but I was to proceed straight. My lane, however, was backed up so much that people couldn't get into the turn lane. The person behind me was distraught. She wanted to hurry up and get in that turn lane. I could tell by her body language that she was extremely frustrated that I wasn't getting further up so she could go around. But honestly, there was no room. So I edged forward as far as I could. The car in front of me noticed and he edged forward a little. The light had been green for awhile, but you know how it takes awhile for the traffice to move.
Finally, the lady behind was able to get around me. She was obviously elated as she sped by me. Meanwhile, my lane is going and guess what happened? The woman in a hurry was stopped by the turn signal while I just kept going through the intersection merrily on my way. She was stopped. I was going. She was in a hurry. I wasn't. I was able to move. She couldn't.
That is so much like us. We try to get God to hurry up and let us pass. He understands what's ahead and tries to hold us back. "Patience," He says. But we insist we know better. So we speed past God trying to do our thing only to be stopped short. It's happened before. It's happened to me. It's happened to you. It happened to Jonah. Those great Bible scholars tell us the four chapters of the book of Jonah--Chapter 1--Running from God, Chapter 2--Running to God, Chapter 3--Running with God, Chapter 4--Running ahead of God. We know better. Yet He tells us to be patient. Perhaps that was what Paul was talking about when he talked about contentment in Philippians. "I can't do that," you might say. That's why Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Go ahead. Go back and read it. That's what it means. Have a great day. And don't run ahead of God. JW

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Jerk

Those of you who know me well know that I have my moments (by this I mean where I'm a jerk, a clod, an idiot, etc. Okay, okay, you can stop now!). I had one of those moments yesterday.
I have volunteered to help with the evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. They flew in a little over 150 of them to Omaha on Saturday. I was told by the pastor on the Mayor's Clergy Advisory Board to make sure I came down to the United Way Office in Omaha to get a badge for clearance on the floor of the Convention Center which is where the evacuees are housed. So I drove all the way downtown to have that done. I arrived to a smiling face who sent me up the steps to get my picture made. Now this office is probably a ten mile drive from my office. So I had to get on the interstate, drive all the way downtown to do this. When I got to the top of the steps, identified myself as the savior for all of those in the Convention Center, the lady said, "Well, the lady who takes those pictures for the badges isn't here." Seems she said she would be there at 1:00 pm and she wasn't there. And guess what? She had taken the picture taken equipment with her!!
"Just write your name and phone number on here and we'll call you when she gets back." I explained that I had driven all the way down to downtown Omaha from the Southwest part of town and it was possible for me to get all the way back out there before somebody called requiring another trip downtown just to get my picture made???? Then it hit me.
What if the attitude of those who had been flown to Omaha had been the same as mine. Lands knows they had much more of a right to feel that way as I did. Let's compare. They were flown hundreds of miles to a city that had no idea about. I drove 20 miles round trip in my van. They didn't have a vehicle. I did. They didn't have a house to return to. I did. They didn't have jobs to go to. I did. They were glad to receive assistance. I was mad that I was "put upon" to come to have my picture so I could help these people. You get the picture.
"I need to back off," I replied. "I'm sorry." At least I had the presence of mind to stop what I was doing and repent. So now I feel bad. I've asked God to forgive me. But I still feel bad.
So once again I ask you to count your blessings. Realize how much God has blessed you. And I ask that you would also forgive a jerk like me. JW

Monday, September 12, 2005

Smiling Jesus

We've been watching "The Gospel of John" based on the Good News Bible Translation. Although there are many things I don't agree with in their interpretation, I really like other things. Since it's word for word from the Scripture, it would be hard to disagree with that. But some of the visuals I struggle with. But they have every right to interpret that the way they want. (Man, that sounds like a jumbled brain!)
I love the way they have a smiling Jesus. I love some of the reactions of the people. As we watched their version of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles, I loved the way they interpreted Peter's response to Jesus when he knelt to wash his feet. There was a smile on both of their faces. It began very seriously, but then Peter realized it what Jesus was saying was so right on the money. He couldn't do anything but smile. And Jesus, rather than sternly rebuking or staring into space like a zombie as most movies do, he smiles back. Realizing that Peter's just a man who struggles with the concepts Jesus is trying to teach him, Jesus smiles.
I like that. When I struggle with life, Jesus smiles. Not because he doesn't care. On the contrary, because he does care! He knows what it's like. He's not making fun. It's a "it's going to be all right" smile.
My mom was best at it. When I was a little boy, I was supposed to take a nap. I coerced her into "if I take a nap, can I have a coke when I wake up?" bribe. I went to bed and didn't sleep a wink. I tossed and turned, played and made noise. It wasn't long after I went to bed, I got up. Mom looked at me with the the best stern face she had. I asked, "Can I have a coke now?" She couldn't keep a straight face. The furrowed brow turned into a smile. She took me into her arms and hugged me.
I'm not saying we can bribe Jesus. But Jesus loves me. This I know, for the Bible tells me so. So what a great day we can have with a Jesus who smiles. I hope you have one of those days. JW

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Be Still

Sometimes you just run out of things to say. I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you're a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." As I continue to write these blogs, there are times when words come easily and other times when they don't. Today is one of those days when they don't. Perhaps it's best to heed the advice of the psalmist when he said, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) Good advice for me today. I hope your day is going well. JW

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Blame

I have come to a conclusion. Perhaps this will be earth shattering to a lot of people. But since everyone else from the network anchor to bank tellers to restaurant owners to politicians, I thought it was my turn to weigh in on this issue also.
The question at this point is "Who is to blame for the disaster in the South, particularly New Orleans." By the way, devastation is everywhere. I think the reporters happen to be in New Orleans which explains why it gets more coverage. I am here to give my thoughts and where the blame needs to be for such a disaster. Are you ready? Drum roll please. I think Hurricane Katrina is to blame. It was a category 5 storm until it hit the coast. Then it became a category 4. Wind gusts were over 150 mph. It caused the 17th street levee to break and caused the water from Lake Ponchartrain to enter the city. Call it the forces of nature. Call it whatever you like, but I think it was the hurricane that caused so much destruction.
What? Did I hear a murmur out there? Ohh. I see. Everyone's been blaming everybody else for everything else, I just thought it was time to realize what really caused the damage. Now we're going to waste an incredible amount of time on hearings and finger pointing. Time that could be far better used telling others of the love of God and how much He cares. So I think we should leave the politicians to their devices and get on with the work of God. Have a great day. Shame one you Hurricane Katrina! JW

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Because I Can

I was in Starbucks and ordered my usual. Many times I don't have to even tell them what I want--Venti, no water chai. It's kind of like the scene from Cheers when Norm walks in. Everyone yells, "Norm!" It's not quite like that, but similar.
One of the familiar faces saw me and smiled. I knew I was welcome and things were aligning right in the universe. She picked up the cup and started making my drink. I had already slapped down my money on the counter and she walked over and picked it up. She did something that was quite unexpected....she handed it back to me. "What's this? You don't have to do this," I protested. "I know, but I can." "Why are you doing this?" I protested anew. "Because I can."
How about that for a Christian motto? Because I can. You don't have to be nice to me. You don't have to be honest, nobody will ever know. You don't have to let that car in. You don't have to smile. You don't have to serve. I know, but I can.
That seemed to be the attitude of Jesus. He didn't have to come to this earth to die for me. He didn't have to go through the agony. But I hear Him say, "I know, but I can." If He can, so can I. Have a great day.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Every time I get ready to write something, I think how silly and mundane it is compared to the things going on in the South. So when I begin to feel down (something that has happened to me a lot more since the death of my mother), I begin to think of those who have lost everything.
But God is good. He continues to be faithful. The verses that keep coming to mind are the ones that say, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoek upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Ah, rest. I'm sure that's what these people are wanting. I don't mean sleep. I mean rest. A respite from the worries of what's happened. A calm from the cares of what happens next. A peace that passes understanding. Lord, please forgive me when I whine about my life and please care for those who are truly in need. Count your blessings today. JW

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

Dickens began his book A Tale of Two Cities by saying, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." I have had a hard time really understanding what he was trying to say until now. With the Hurricane Katrina tragedy, we have seen the worst in people. Looting and stealing have been chronicled by network television. I read where there had been something like 6 murders and 12 rapes in the Superdome. Relief planes couldn't land at the airport because they were being shot at.
On the other hand, the governor of Alabama launched Operation Golden Rule where he encouraged people to help people and to treat them as they would like to be treated in this horrible tragedy. In talking to a friend of mine who is the president of an oil company, he told me he has reminded his employees that, yes, this is a business loss for them, but there are thousands of people who have lost their lives and their possessions. It was heart warming to see he had his priorities straight. My uncle from Ohio called me and told me they had supplies going from the Columbus area to northern Louisiana for eventual distribution in the ravaged area.
The best of times and the worst of times. Why is it that these kinds of events bring out the worst in people? And the best? Count your blessings. Thanks for being you. JW

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What If It Had Been Me?

I've been thinking about this whole tragedy in the South. What if that had been me? How would I respond? Where would I go? What would I do? If I truly had nowhere to go and there was nothing left and there was no food or drinkable water, what would happen? Would I loot? Would I steal? Would I run?
See, it's easy to sit here in Nebraska and say they should have left, they should have done this, they should have done that. But really what would I have done? What would you have done? There's no way to communicate. These people haven't even seen the destruction elsewhere because they have no televisions. And if they had televisions, they wouldn't be able to see anything because there is no electricity. Think about this, the financial institutions can't be working. Schools are closed. I heard that Texas is opening up their schools to the refugees (for lack of a better term) from Louisiana. The University of Nebraska and Creighton have said they will allow students from the South to pay in-state tuition at Nebraska and Creighton has said they'll accept students from Jesuit colleges.
Now I can get just a sense of what Jeremiah was feeling when he wrote these words: "How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave." (Lamentations 1:1) But in spite of all of this, Jeremiah was still able to say (and I quoted this several blogs back), "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" (Lamentations 3:22).
I would like to think I would wait on the Lord. I would like to think my brethren would watch after me. I would like to think that this would help to realize anew that this world is not my home. Count your blessings today. JW