Thursday, November 30, 2006

Earth Shattering

I love my neighborhood Starbucks. They know exactly what I want when I go in; they don't even ask, they just make my venti, no water chai. Yesterday, I was talking to the manager and I mentioned that my son and daughter had told me that I should try their peppermint hot chocolate. I said to the manager, but I have to be careful because if I didn't order my "usual," the world would slow down or speed up or something else catastrophic. We both got a good laugh out of that.
I started thinking. Over two thousand years ago something did happen that shook the earth. God moved into the neighborhood. The only people that knew it was happening did everything they could to stop it. It was revealed to some nomadic shepherds and it occurred in one of the poorest places in the world. Immanuel. God with us. It happened and the world accused Him. It ridiculed Him. It eventually killed Him. But He lives...and the world is a different place because of it. During this time of the year, I hope that you will remember how earth shattering this event was and I pray you'll take time to thank God for sending His Son to earth. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Get Rid of the Baggage

I've noticed the older I get, the longer it takes me to get ready to travel. And I won't even bring my wife's packing habits into this! When we say we'll leave at 8:00, it usually means 9:00. Why is that? Because we haven't gotten everything ready to take on our journey.
When I was young, I didn't have a care in the world. Life was to be lived. Laughter came easy. Spontaneous was the catchword. No planning, just do it. Now you might be asking, "What do these two things have in common?"
That's life isn't it. Topsy, turvey, and upside-down. Really when we're young, we should be careful to spend the time "packing" for the journey, but we really haven't a care in the world. When we're older, rather than being wiser, we take more baggage than we really need.
My thought today was that as I get closer to my heavenly home, I should be having less baggage and less "stuff" that keeps me down. I should be more as I was when I was young--laughing more and living life to its fullest. Really it should be the opposite of what we normally do. The Hebrews writer said that we should lay aside everything that weighs us down. Fix our eyes (stare) at Jesus. Paul said that we should forget what's behind and strain toward the future.
As we get older, let's get rid of the baggage. Let's enjoy life more. Let's realize that the sun is only rising and it can only get better. Have a great day. JW

Monday, November 27, 2006

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas

It was a great time of rest and relaxation. Nothing to do but eat. Our Thanksgiving Day was full of activity, but still relatively slow. We didn't get to do quite everything we had planned. Meredith wasn't with us since she was with her in-laws. She'll be with us for Christmas in Searcy. But it was good.
It was hard to get back into the swing of things. I woke up this morning with some stomach "issues." After a little rest, I think I'm fine. Something I ate rather than a virus. I don't usually have anything like that, so when it does hit me it wears me out.
Now we race to the end of the year. Although there have been evidences of Christmas, there is nothing hidden now. Radio stations are playing Christmas carols. The decorations are up in the stores. It's getting cold in Nebraska. School will be out in a couple of weeks. People finally do, even for a brief, short minute, treat each other better and reflect on the Prince of Peace.
I hope we continue the journey of thanksgiving. My prayer is that these next few weeks, though hectic, will be filled with quiet moments of reflection...and of course, family. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What's On Your Ear?

I walked into my local Starbucks today to get my customary venti no water chai and, as usual, there were a number of people sitting at the table chatting. One table of four men caught my attention. They were visiting with one another and laughing. What was odd (at least to me) was two of the men had their phones on their ears. You know what I'm talking about, those kind that hang on your ear. The thought that went through my mind was, "How sad." Here are other gentlemen who like your company, who are enjoying the few minutes from work, who would like to have a human, relationship, and you have a phone on your ear just in case someone calls. In other words, the call that comes in is more important that you.
What's hanging on your ear? What stops you from having these wonderful conversations with your spouse, your kids, your family? What's more important than those relationships? Can't you just for one moment stop listening to the world and listen to those who really count? Do you hold the newspaper up instead of listening? Is the television blasting? What's hanging on your ear? During this time of Thanksgiving, take it off...please, and listen to those who want to visit with you.

BTW--Went and saw The Nativity last night. The first thing I tried to do was scrutinize everything to see if they were biblically accurate. But if you go, don't do that because you'll miss the really important message of the story. Immanuel. God came and lived in our neighborhood. Go see it. It's a good movie.

Have a great Thanksgiving! See you Monday! JW

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

...And Be Thankful

A friend of mine told me of being on an airplane when they used to serve meals. He said the gentleman next to him stopped and prayed before consuming the food placed before him. My friend commented that he appreciated seeing this gentleman praying before eating. To which his fellow passenger replied, "I may not be much, but I'm thankful."
I've remembered that story for years. I may not be the world's greatest speaker, or the best father, or the best husband or the name it. But I can be thankful. At this time of year, it's amazing to me that we, for the most part, do slow down for just a day and most of us count our blessings. Oh, how I wish we would get into the habit of doing the same every day. For that is the basis of our service to God. Not out of fear or dread that He may force us to do something we don't want to do. But out of gratitude for what He has done and continues to do every day.
So this Thanksgiving Day, I pray that we will begin our New Year's resolutions early but vowing to be more thankful...beginning today. Have a great day, and have a great Thanksgiving. JW

Monday, November 20, 2006

Where's the Scripture?

Those who preach or speak know what a gut-wrenching experience it is. I've heard it said of Rick Atchley, preacher at the Richland Hills Church in Fort Worth, TX, that "if I have such a gift of preaching, why does it take 40 hours to unwrap it?" Others will say, "Do you ever get nervous before you speak?" My answer to that is, "If I don't, then it will be a pretty boring sermon." Anyway, after speaking, I'm emotionally and physically exhausted.
Yesterday, I delivered a lesson on the new organizational structure of the congregation where I preach. We're instituting a new structure with new deacons. It's something we've been working on for a long time. I've been here for about 3 1/2 years and it seems we've worked on it in some form ever since I got here.
So the elders asked me to make a presentation on this new way of doing things. Afterwards, someone came up to me and said, "Where were the Scriptures?" Now I know of at least three I quoted, Matthew 7:24, Acts 6, and I Corinthians 3:11. We talked of deacons. We talked of Acts 2 and our church family and having everything in common. And someone has the audacity to say, "Where were the Scriptures?" What I want to say is, "They are in my life. They are in my preparation. They are in the years of study that I've done. They are inherent in everything I say. They are in the middle of all I do. They are there between every line. And just because I don't quote book, chapter, and verse, it doesn't mean they're not in there." That's what I wanted to say. Instead, I just said, "Well, this was an unusual week."
Now you might be concerned that the person who said that might be reading this blog. No they won't. People like that tend to strike and then disappear. So I'll just keep preaching. I'll just keep speaking my mind. And most of all, I'll just keep trying to please the only One who I need to please. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Letters from Dad, II

I just returned from Dallas for training with "Letters from Dad." What a great program! I recommend this program for anyone. Should you need information, let me know. I don't get any money for this although I'm certified to teach the class. It's a wonderful to get a blessing to your family.
For those of you who are familiar with the program, I saw the tacklebox. For those who aren't, I would encourage you to visit their website at I'll tell you more about it, I'm sure, in the coming days. For now, I'm just trying to catch up. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Contrasts III (I think)

I love contrasts. I have a number of posts on my blog concerning such contrasts of life. I think Jesus was a man of contrasts. He talked of light and darkness. Isaiah talked about "Woe unto them who call good and good evil, who place darkness for light and light for darkness. Who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

As I was doing my morning walk/prayer, I was listening to my iPod. Mark Schultz (see yesterday's blog) has a great new song on his new album called "Wallking Her Home." It's the story of a man who basically describes the life with his girlfriend who eventually becomes his wife as a walk. Every stage of their lives together, he is walking her home. And when it comes to die, he's right there with her, walking her home. It's a real tear-jerker and a song that means so much. Right after that song came a song by the Doobie Brothers. (My musical tastes are extremely eclectic!) The song? "What a Fool Believes. It talks of a guy who sees a girl he used to like and he describes what their relationship used to be, but she can't see it. She smiles at his "nostalgic tale" never coming close to what really happend. Hence....what a fool believes.

I couldn't help but think of godly, God honoring relationships. They are pure, they are honest, they are truthful, they are pure, they are sweet, and they are fulfilling, and they are life long, no, eternal. The second song describes an empty, hollow, and non-existent relationship. One that only existed in the mind of one. Now, which one would you prefer?

God's ways and His paths are always right, fulfilling, and wonderful. I chose God. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mark Schultz

I went and saw Mark Schultz in concert last night. What a phenomenal show! Of the things that impressed me, we sang an acappella version of "It is Well with My Soul." He also told a story about "Letters from War." He said the Army had asked to use that song in a video that was sent to our troops. Then he said the Pentagon called and asked him to come for a concert. He told them he wasn't sure they knew what they were getting; that he was a Christian artist. He said the music wafted down the halls and a general came down and said, "I've been praying for 25 years for something like this to come to the Pentagon." Praise God!
By the way, the election is over. The people have spoken. Pray for our country. Just remember, another election is coming in two years. In the meantime, show people Jesus. Have a great day. And listen to Mark Schutz music! JW

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What Kind of Campaign Would Jesus Run?

I started writing a post yesterday, but it just didn't flow. Those of you who write know exactly what I'm talking about. So I just erased it and saved it for another day. Today is a slightly different story. Thanks to some timing and events, I'm ready to write.
I voted this morning. Finally, all of the politicians can quit running their commercials on television, they can take their signs down, and they can stop demagoging. (Is that a word? And if it is, did I even come close to spelling it right?) Here's a question. What kind of campaign would Jesus have run? Now I already hear the harummphs about how Jesus wouldn't have been involved in such tomfoolery and you're probably right. But I think I know. He would have kept His mouth shut. When asked who He was before Herod, He never spoke. If you look at Jesus, He rarely told anyone who He was. And when He did, He either told them not to tell anyone or they were not in a position to put it in the Jerusalem Post. He told the woman at the well in John 4. The group of fighting, jealous, egotistical, self-serving apostles, He told. But when He had the opportunity to make it big (some tried to force Him to be King), He hid.
As I listen to the politicians of our day tell us what they are going to do, more often than not, how bad their opponent is, I sense they are looking for power. Power to bring change. Personal power. Power over people. But as the Michael W. Smith song says, (and this is one of those "coincidences." I heard this song right after I voted.) "Above all powers, above all kings, above all nature and all created things." That's my Jesus. It doesn't matter who gets the power here on earth, the real power is represented in our Lord. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, November 02, 2006

God's Pursuit of Me

Yesterday, I finished reading through my Bible for the year. I read through The Message because I wanted a fresh take on Scripture because I tend to get to parts I'm familiar with and just skip across them. There were times when I thought, "Does it really say that?!!?" I'd go to another version and sure enough, it did say that. There were other times when it didn't. But it was a new read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. People often ask me which is the best translation of the Bible to read. I really want to say, "The original language." But that would be smart-aleck and glib. So what I say is, "The one that you'll read." Which is almost as smart-aleck and glib, but it's true.
I've also been teaching a class this year called, "How to Read and Study the Bible." It has brought new insights into my life also. There is a tremendous freedom that I have found this year in reading the Scriptures. I hope it continues to resonate in my life as I continue to read about God's pursuit of us. That's the theme of the entire Bible...God's constant pursuit to have a relationship with us. Someone might say, "It's taken you the entire year of reading through the Bible to come up with that?" The answer to that is "No!" It's taken a lifetime of hardships and beatings (not literal, but spiritual) and mistakes, and I still haven't gotten there yet. But I'm learning. I hope you are, too. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A Small Reminder

Last night we hosted what we called "Trunk or Treat" in our parking lot. Twenty cars were parked with trunks open and we gave out candy and other treats to the kids of our community. It was fun to see the smiling faces, the shy kids who under normal circumstances would be yelling and otherwise making noise at home, and the costumes they were wearing. But, alas, all good things come to an end. I went to the hospital immediately following to visit a little girl who didn't get to go out trick or treating last night. (I took her a bag of candy. Of course, her parents have to oversee the disbursement. Ha!)
This morning, after all the candy was given out, the parking lot cleaned up, I walked up to the building and reached into my pocket only to find a small can of Play-Doh that we were giving out last night. I smiled as I was reminded of those precious faces, smiling as they received their little treats. I heard their "thank-you's" once again as I held the can in my hand.
I was reminded of the words of Jesus. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." What we did last night, in my opinion, would have been exactly what Jesus would have done had He been here. In fact, He was here. Have a great day. JW