Tuesday, February 28, 2006


They're replacing the carpet in my office so I had to take everything out. I'm still at my desk, but it will have to go soon. Everything else is gone. Books, boxes, credenza, stuff in my desk. Everything has to be cleaned out. Thankfully, they aren't going to paint, but I feel as if the whole place is being renovated. Junk is everywhere!
Hmmm. Do you see a spiritual application? When we turn our lives over to Jesus, a major change has to occur. Old has to be emptied out in order for Him to replace it. Sometimes there is junk everywhere...and it is so painful.
A few years ago I was in Vladivostok, Russia. There I studied with a welder who worked very hard every day. He'd come to our evening sessions extremely tired, but he wanted to hear the gospel. After studying with him and showing him Christ, he wanted to become a disciple. He was baptized (That's another long, interesting story!) He wrote me a letter that my translator put into English for me. He talked of becoming a Christian and how his life was new again. He said he felt as if he had been renovated. Renovated. We have all kinds of names for it. But I kind of like renovated. It kind of gets it all. Out with the old, in with the new. Some stuff you do get to keep, but other--the most damaging stuff--is gone forever.
So, soon we'll back to normal here. We'll once again be back at our desks, doing what needs to be done, and we'll be renovated. I hope it happens more and more every day. "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day." Have a great day! JW

Monday, February 27, 2006

Non-Performance Based Value

I had another one of those moments with my son the other day. He had a show choir contest last weekend and we were driving to the school so he could catch his ride. I told him that I was proud of him and I wanted him to know that I didn't care if they won or lost the contest. His value to me was not based on his performance at the event. It was found in the fact that he was my son. He looked at me and said, "Well, I want to win." I told him that was all right, but I was proud of him win or lose. He looked at me and shook his head. I think he got it. When your kids are at that age, you take what you can get and I got a head shake. I think it made it through.
By the way, they did win. I was proud, but I would have been anyway. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Colors and Other Important Matters

I don't want you to think that all I do is write about deeply serious stuff of a spiritual nature. Most of my writings are dribblings from a soul who falls woefully short of God's glory. Something struck me in the shower today, though, that I find very interesting.
I have discovered a huge difference between men and women. I know, you think I've lost my mind, but bear with me for a minute. There is a gene in all women that differentiates colors. Let me explain. My wife and I one time had an argument (slight disagreement) about the color of a house. She said the bricks were grey, I said the bricks were brown. Or was it the other way around? But it goes deeper than that. By the way, this is what set me off on this topic. My shaving gel is blue, my shampoo is orange, and my pants are tan. Now my wife would say my shaving gel is navy, my shampoo is peach, and my pants are khaki. To me, blue is blue. To her (and to all women at large, not all large women) there are shades of blue. There is navy, there is aqua, there is sky blue. It's blue, for heaven's sake!!
It's kind of like the Southern term for all carbonated drinks. We used to say, "Would you like a Coke?" That meant, some kind of carbonated drink. In the north, Coke is the drink "Coke." In the south, a Coke could be a Sprite or Dr. Pepper or even, wonder of wonders, Coke! In the north, it's called pop. Other places soda.
But back to my original premise. And it goes further than just colors. I go to a wedding and if my wife wasn't there, she would say, "What did the bride's dress look like?" That's easy. White. The bride's maids carried flowers and the groomsmen had flowers on their lapels. What's wrong with that? To hear my wife describe the dress, you would hear words like taffeta, and cream, and v-neck, and bodice, and (by this time my head is back, eyes rolled into the back of my head, and I'm snoring.) tulle. I thought tulle was what I had in my tulle box. You know, hammers, screw drivers, wrenches. Guys, you know what tulle is? It's a fabric! I didn't know that until my daughter got married last spring.
So upon further review, I've decided that this gene is a detail gene. It goes beyond colors and soft drinks and wedding details. It is the essence of women. It's what sets them apart from men....among other things. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Noise of Life

Go figure. There are times when my mind has nothing to say in the world of blogdom. Then then are times when I have three or four thoughts come to mind and I have to decide. Or do I???? Don't worry, only one thought today.
My van, bless her heart, (that was for you, Karen) is really old. She now has over 155,000 miles on her. You read that right. We purchased her in Nashville. She's been to Florida, made a number of trips between Nebraska and Nashville, several trips to Colorado, she broke down once in Sundance, Wyoming, she's faithfully shepherded me to camp in Arkansas. Her air conditioner hasn't worked for two years. I haven't wanted to fix it because I would have to retrofit it (new government standards) and that would cost way more than I want to spend. But she's been faithful. Until lately.
With the advent of the really, really cold weather we've had in Nebraska the last week, she's decided she doesn't really want to run. My son started it the other day and I could her it inside the house. He turned it off because it scared him. He came in and said, "That can't be good." I think it's the transmission. It makes a nasty sound every time it shifts. But press on we have. The noise isn't quite as bad as it has been because the temperature has been somewhat warmer.
Which brings me to my point. There was a pretty thick covering of ice on my windshield this morning so I had the defrost on full blast. You know defrosters, they make a lot of noise. So much so that I couldn't hear the noise of the transmission. I was driving down the road thinking, "Wow, this van is running all right." Until I turned off the defroster. No, it's still making the noise.
Satan is good at doing the same thing. We struggle, we moan, there's something wrong in our lives. There is a noise droning forth from our souls and we know that the only solution is to have the Master Mechanic, the Great Physician fix it. But then the noise comes. The noise from everyday life. This appointment. That commitment. Those people. Pretty soon, the defroster makes enough noise that we forget about the pain. It's still there, we just can't hear it.
I couldn't help think about a song we used to sing at the College Church in Searcy. The last time I sang it was at the Manhattan Church in New York City one month before the one year anniversary of 9-11. I may have mentioned it in an earlier blog. The words go like this:
Where cross the crowded ways of life,
Where sound the cries of race and clan,
Above the noise of selfish strife,
We hear Thy voice, O Son of man!

O Master, from the mountain side,
Make haste to heal these hearts of pain;
Among these restless throngs abide,
O tread the city's streets again.

It's Jesus who quiets the noise of our turbulent lives and soothes our hearts. When Satan tries to cover the pain with volumunous noise, Jesus hears our cries. And only He can heal the noise that emanates from our hearts. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Not Happening

I am a little slow blogging today. The reason? I've been struggling with a sermon. Try to explain who God is. Try to relate how He loves us. Try to understand. It's impossible.
So today has been one of those frustrating days...trying to understand, yet knowing I can't. Trying to get my arms around God, but often resisting when He puts his arms around me. Trying to put into words when a thousand lifetimes couldn't explain.
There are a lot of good books that say a lot of good things. But to understand...sorry, it's not happening. That's all right. Once I have God figured out I put Him in a box as J.B. Phillips says. So I'll leave it alone and try to grasp how wide and long, high and deep God's love is. Have a great day. JW

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Lord's Approval

Jesus used questions to teach. Questions are a good way to get to the bottom of something. Questions are good for evaluation and renewal. In the book of Judges, everyone is doing what's right in their own eyes. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
To make a long story short, Micah steals from his mother--then returns the money. She makes a god and Micah decides to become the "priest" until a young Levite shows up. Micah pays him good wages to become his personal priest. Along the way come some Danite men and they hear and recognize the voice of the Levite. They ask him three questions. These are wonderful questions. Questions that I ask myself all the time. Questions that, perhaps, should be in our repertoire of all questions. Listen to them carefully.
Who brought you here? What are doing in this place? Why are you here? Think about these questions in your life.
Who brought you here? Think of all the people who have influenced and continue to influence you. Grandparents, parents, preachers, friends, teachers--who brought you to this place? On whose shoulders are you standing on right now? How did you get to where you are?
What are you doing in this place? Since you have made it to this spot in your life, what are you doing? What does your life consist of? Can you say as Paul said, "for me to live is Christ."? What are your doing?
Why are you here? What is your purpose in life? Why do you get up every morning? What is it that makes you tick? What are you doing for heaven's sake?
Great questions aren't they? How did you do? If you answered them correctly, then the response the Levite had for the Danites is the same response for you. They asked the young priest if their journey had the Lord's approval. How about your journey? Does it have the Lord's approval? Which way are you going?
Judges 18:6--"Go in peace. Your journey has the Lord's approval." I hope and pray that your journey has the Lord's approval, too. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, February 16, 2006

God's Cherished Possession

Allow me to print an excerpt from Donald Miller's Book Searching for God Knows What.
"....I had always assumed a kind of anonymity with God. When I saw myself in heaven, I didn't imagine sitting at the right hand of God, as the Scripture says, but I pictured myself off behind some mountain range doing some fishing and writing a good detective novel. But if the gospel of Jesus is relational; that is, if our brokenness will be fixed, not by our understanding of theology, but by God telling us who we are, then this would require a kind of intimacy of which only heaven knows. Imagine, a Being with a mind as great as God's, with feet like trees and a voice like rushing wind, telling you that you are His cherished creation. It's kind of exciting if you think about it. Earthly love, I mean the stuff I was trying to get by sounding smart, is temporal and slight so that it has to be given again and again in order for us to feel any sense of security; but God's love, God's voice and presence, would instill our souls with such affirmation we would need nothing more and would cause us to love other people so much we would be willing to die for them. Perhaps this is what the apostles stumbled upon."
Wow! Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Here I Stand!

Those of you who know me, know that I am a HUGE Arkansas Razorback fan. I was in graduate school there when we won the national championship in basketball in 1994. I went to the the Final Four in Seattle in 1995 right after I had turned in my dissertation. I wear Razorback sweaters, Razorback jackets, I wear a Razorback watch, I have a stuffed Razorback in my office that plays the fight song, I drive down for at least one Razorback football game every year, (this is the first year in a long time that I wasn't able to get down), if you cut me I would bleed red (what a minute, I would bleed red anyway!). So a few years ago when Nolan Richardson was still coaching basketball there, he made a comment that he never watched game film from his opponents. His comment was, "We're going to do what we do anyway, so I don't watch what my opponents are doing." At first blush, I cringed. I couldn't believe he would make such an asinine statement. Not knowing what your opponent would do????
It hasn't been until the last several years I've come to appreciate his comments. He wasn't saying he didn't care what his opponents did, he was just sure of what he was going to do.
We talk a lot about baby boomers, generations X'ers, modern, pre-modern, and post-modern, and just about any other topic you want to talk about, but have we put the stake in the ground and said, "This is what being a Christian is all about. Do what you want. I'm going to serve God regardless." Does that mean we don't want to know about all of the above I just talked about? Of course not. But we need to spend more time being who we are. Perhaps we have a hard time with this because we have been too affected by the culture around us. Perhaps we struggle because we look too much like the world. Maybe we have forgotten what it means and what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus.
So here I stand. I just want to be a Christian. I just want to serve Him come what may. I love the statement made by Jim Eliot when he said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." If you don't know who Jim Eliot is, go see "The End of the Spear." Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Small World

There was a young couple many years ago in Ohio with dreams and aspirations for the future. They met another young couple, a preacher and his young wife. They became great friends. Through the years their lives would cross and their children got to know each other and all looked forward to time spent together. The couples moved and only got to see each other occassionally. But they communicated by mail and when they did get together, usually in the summer, there was home-made ice cream, laughter, and joy.
Their lives were connected in many ways, mostly through the church. It was a connection that went beyond surface, it was entwined with eternity. The son of the preacher couple went on with his life. Every once in awhile he would also come across the other couple and their kids. But not near as often as the original two couples. And less and less as time went on.
Yesterday the son went to a funeral of a colleague's father-in-law. There he saw the man who was his father's friend. Small world, isn't it? Especially since the funeral was in Bentonville, Arkansas. All those many miles, those many experiences, those many memories. I saw Carl Lamp. I hadn't seen him in years. It was my parents who were his friends. "I miss your Dad," he said. "I miss them both," I told him. But what a joy to see him. And what a connection was made those many years ago that even though the time has separated, eternity has not. It's the Carl Lamps of the world and everyone else I've had the privilege to know in my life time that I will look forward to singing praises to God with for all eternity. And I have my own list. And I hope my kids will enjoy the friendships and relationships that I have been able to make down through the years. You know who you are. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Car dealerships are great at it. First there's the New Year's Blowout! Then there's the President's Day Sale! Then the St. Patrick's "All Cars Gotta Go" Sale. You get the picture. Then you have the Super Bowl and the Grand Opening Sale and the Mega-Deals of the century.
So it's no wonder that we wonder where God is. We get up and we do the same old things we've done for the same old life. We make the same old breakfast and go to the same old work. We want excitement! We want miracles! We want "Water to Wine" activities.
I've missed the presence of God lately. That doesn't mean I've quit praying. It's just a time in my life when I have not felt God's presence as much. Don't worry, I've talked to Him about it. He knows how I feel.
So today, I get up in the same old way to take my son to school. What a glorious sunrise. I notice it. My son and I talk briefly about it. I go to Starbucks for the essential venti Chai. The guy says, "So, you got big plans for the weekend?" "As a matter of fact, I do," I reply. I tell him about the dinner for tomorrow to honor the ladies of the congregation. "Where's that?" he asks. "At the church across the street." Did you see it? Two things. Bang, bang! God says, "I'm here!!!" Don't miss me. He said it in the glorious red colors of the morning sun. He said, "Here's an opportunity for you to talk about Jesus with the guy at Starbucks." We live in such a consumer society where everything is "Big, Grand, Super!" that we forget that most of our lives are mundane. Plodding along, seeing God in little things. In those "cup of water" moments. I pray that you see God today. Don't be as blind as I am. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

God Up Front

I uncovered some cards I wrote earlier in the year after reading Chip Ingram's book, God as He Longs for You to See Him. That book was a reading that so excited me. I had written the cards, at Chip's instruction, to remind me every day of the love, sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God. Those words inspired me so much. Then life happened and I got busy. My desk got covered up...until today when I uncovered the cards anew.
And I read words like, "God's love is His holy disposition toward all that he has created that compels him to express unconditional affection and selective correction to provide the highest quality of existence, both now and forever, for the object of his love." Or how about this, "By his (God's) nature he is inclined to bestow blessednes and he takes holy pleasure in the happiness of his people." And I realize I've pushed God aside and let life take over. Instead, I should allow God to take over and let Him lead my life.
I've pulled these cards back out from underneath the mess and they serve as a metaphor for my life. I want God there but they get pushed under the mess of events, appointments, and works. Some never find Him again. Fortunately, I commune with Him daily. But to be honest, I need these words to tell me of how good God is to me.
How about you? Do you have the same challenge in your life? Does the tyranny of the urgent assign God to a back row seat? Try as you may to cover Him up, it can't happen. But He stands and waits for the prodigal to come home and then He runs to greet us. Praise God! Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who's Side Are You On?

One of my favorite songs from my youth was a song, "Who Will Follow Jesus?". Remember it?
Who will follow Jesus standing for the right,
Holding up His banner in the thickest fight?
Listening to His orders, ready to obey,
Who will follow Jesus, serving Him today?

Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply?
I am on the Lord's side, Master here am I.
Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply?
I am on the Lord's side, Master here am I.

I thought of that song as I read my Bible reading this morning. The Israelites are getting ready to fight Jericho when a man appears before Joshua. His sword is drawn and Joshua asks him whose side he's on, ours or our enemies. "Neither" is the the response. Now is this guy from Switzerland? Is he the neutral guy in all of the wars? No! He says he's the commander of the Lord's army. Now think about that for a minute, if anyone should be on the Israelite's side, it should be the Lord. Right?

Perhaps we don't get the right picture. God's side is always the right side and it is we who decide if we want to be one His side...not vice versa. One of my pet peeves is the saying, "God and me, we make a majority." It almost sounds like it's in the balance until we decide and then the scales are tipped. Let me tell you something, God was in the majority long before we came along.

In our battle and struggles in life, we need to realize that God's side always wins. Always. Every day we wake up and we decide who's side we'll be on. I wish I could say I always select the right side, but I don't. And just like the Israelites when I don't, Whamo! I get slapped along the side of the head. When will I ever learn?

So today, my song is "I am on the Lord's side, Master here am I." Join me, won't you? Have a great day. JW

Monday, February 06, 2006


I've mentioned before in this blog that we as a nation, as a church, as families are entirely too busy. Multi-tasking is a word we didn't use several years ago. Yet it is something we all do. On the other hand, there are more and more books talking about how must slow down, shift our loads, not commit so much. And though I agree with most of the latter, I think the key to all of this is balance.
As I drove to work this morning, my overwhelming feeling was a lack of contentment. Paul seemed to deal with that in Philippians when he said "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Huh? That's not talking about contentment. Yes, it is. Read it and weep. See the context. Paul says that he has learned to be content in any and every situation. "Godliness with contentment is great gain." Another great Paul quote. And though balance and contentment are not the same things, they are complementary. They are close. In seeking contentment, perhaps we will find it in balance. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Brand New

I must be thinking about golf because the weather in Nebraska this year has been unbelieveable. People think the weather is so bad up here, but we have had three snows this year, all about three inches, all within about two weeks, all the first week of December. We haven't had any snow in January. The temperature today is supposed to be close to 50. Now I understand that's going to change. But it got my mind ruminating about golf. Now before you tune me out, this blog is not about golf. Bear with me.
In my golf stuff I have something that I use on a regular basis when I golf. It's an old metal golf spike. Most courses don't let you use these spikes anymore because they tear up the greens. My wife bought me this old golf spike as a gift several years ago. You're probably thinking, "What a nice wife you have. She buys you an old, worn out, metal golf spike. Woohoo!" Now what's glued to the back of the golf spike is an old quarter minted in 1954, the year of my birth. That's right, I'll be 52 this year. Now this gift is getting better, but what good is an old quarter glued to an old golf spike?
Thanks for asking. The golf spike was used for traction. The quarter to buy things. But both have lost their usefulness. But what this thing is now is a ball marker. It marks the spot on the green where my golf ball sits. Two items that lost their usefulness years ago now find a new use.
Isn't that what Christianity is all about? God takes old worn out people like us, and makes us brand new. Something that has lost it's usefulness to the world, now has a new purpose and meaning. We become worth something again! Purpose, meaning, a reason for living, a smile on our face. We become instruments for God to use however He wants. If you feel as if you've lost your usefulness, allow God to take you, polish you up, maybe glue something (or someone else) to you, and "Voila!", you become useful in God's eyes. What a concept! What a God! What a life! Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Influence and Prayers

Two purposes for this post this morning. The first to show the influence of people whom you don't even know who can change and influence your life. Many know of Dr. George Benson, former missionary to China and president of Harding University for 29 years. I knew Dr. Benson when he was chancellor at Harding and I have his autograph on a Harding print that hangs on the wall of my office. I was privileged to attend Harding Academy and Harding University. Both were among the greatest experiences of my life.
But his influence went further than that. In my sophomore year at Harding, I worked at Camp Tahkodah. There I met a young girl by the name of Kerry McEuen, granddaughter of Dr. George Benson. I didn't know she had such a pedigree and she didn't flaunt it, although she could have. She had a nice smile and she accepted me right off the bat. We became friends. Over the course of the next year, she started dating a club brother of mine, Mark Trotter. After college, I don't remember seeing them very much. Mark went off to dental school. We'd see them occassionally at homecomings and such. One day we were taking our daughter to Camp Tahkodah and there was Kerry, much as I remembered her. Sweet smile, blond hair. She was taking her daughter to camp also. Kerry was pregnant with her sixth child at the time. It turns out my daughter and Kerry's daughter were in the same cabin and they became friends. Isn't it amazing how generational values and friends are passed on?
Not long after that meeting, we learned that Kerry had been diagnosed with cancer. She remained in our prayers until we heard that she went to meet her Lord. We were saddened that her children did not get to know their mother as they should.
We were thrilled to hear that Mark had married again to a lovely lady who took those children in as her own. (By the way, one of the children had Down's Syndrome) They've now been married for six years. I found out yesterday that Mark has a brain tumor.
Both of these wonderful people lived beautiful Christian lives and left footprints on Martha and my hearts. And now I ask the question, "Why?" I don't know, but God is good. And so today, I ask you to please pray for Dr. Mark Trotter. Please pray for his family. Please pray for his wife, his children, his parents, his brothers. Pray that His will is done. Mark's oldest is a youth minister. He has served the church and His Savior faithfully. So you can see the lives he has touched. And so I ask that when you get on your knees, that you pray for this wonderful man and his family. JW