Thursday, December 28, 2006

Seatbelt Christianity

Coming up Interstate 29 the other day just north of Kansas City, the road splits and a decision has to be made which direction one will go. The problem? The left option was blocked off by the state police. Once we got passed, we could see a serious wreck on the other side of the freeway.
I happen to be in the left lane, the one I need to be in, the one I'm in to go to the right which is the way I'm supposed to go. However, the lady in the van next to me one lane over realized that she had to get over because she had no options. So she decided to get over....Now!....Right where I was....I guess she thought I should let her in. As she crept closer and closer to me (realize that she is slightly behind me) I look over and I'm looking at her passenger mirror. I mean, it's right beside me. I glance at her and she's putting her seatbelt on! If I hit this guy in his Honda, that doesn't matter, but I sure as shootin' don't want to get a ticket for not having my seatbelt on!
Isn't that just like us? Things are going badly for me. The world is caving in. Oh, I think I'll go to church services. Let me put on my spiritual seatbelt and surely I'll be fine. Never mind the fact that our lives are caroming wildly out of control. The key is to take care of those things before we our lives get out of control.
Fortunately, everything was fine. She realized what was happening and slowed down. But what about the next time? Or the next? I remember hearing Dr. Paul Faulkner asking the pertinent question, "Where do you want to be in five years? ten years? twenty years? Then throw yourself in that direction today. The journey starts today and not years later. Good advice. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A New Resolve

Driving to the office this morning, I realized the end of the year is near. I was trying to get "the" right song on my iPod, but I couldn't find it. Finally, Point of Grace came on singing, "Everybody's worshiping something, I choose You!" Perfect!
With new resolve I face this new year. I have already written down goals most of which I won't share with you. I do want to exercise more. There are some other personal goals for my life. But today I had the resolve to make 2007 a great with for the Lord. I want to love more, care more, be more sympathetic, to worship more freely, to sing His praises more loudly, to celebrate His life by living a life worthy of my calling. I want my heart to become more like Jesus'. I want to see things as He does, to respond the way He would. I want to recommit myself to being His servant, to allow Him to work in me, to be His instrument to play and use however He chooses. To quote Paul, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
I hope you resolve, too. To be more like Him. It's all right if you miss the mark, because you will anyway. The effort will make you better and you'll become more and more like Him. Have a great day. JW

P.S. Please keep my friend, Al Fowler, in your prayers. He lost his lovely wife way too early in her life right before Christmas. She's celebrating with the angels right now.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mom's Poem

Last year I placed a poem in my blog that found in my mother's papers after her death. I don't know if she wrote it or not, but my hunch is she did. I wanted to place that here again. This is for all of you who will not be able to spend the holidays with all of your loved ones for whatever reason.

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.

Have a wonderful Christmas. JW

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jesus and Silver Dollar City

One of my favorite places in the world used to be Silver Dollar City. My family used to live close and we would get the season passes every year. The rides and the entertainment were good for the two little children I was given the privilege to raise. But at Christmas time, my wife and I used to make a trek up there just to see the 100 miles of lights. Silver Dollar City has the typical train ride where you go through the woods and you are "robbed" by a group of bandits armed mostly with bad lines, i.e. while holding a twig in the air, one would shout, "This is a stick up." Get it? Stick up?
But at Christmas, the ride was different. You stopped at the same place where you were "robbed" in the summer. A man came out in his overalls and told the story of Jesus. It was the first time I had ever heard Mannheim Steamroller's rendition of Silent Night. I was stunned by its simplicity. That's the story of Immanuel. In all the complexities of life, God sent His Son to become like us. It's the mystery that's talked about in the Scripture. In amazing simplicity, God gave us the one thing that could and does change our lives. It was announced with heavenly pomp and circumstance only to those who knew nothing regal celebrations. It was revealed to wise men who searched for several years before finding Him. And in some people's lives, it takes a lifetime to find Him while others grow up knowing His excellent greatness. But the message is still the same. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish but have eternal life." Have a great day! JW

Monday, December 18, 2006

Prepare the Way

John the Baptist was Jesus' cousin. He was considered the one who would prepare the way for Jesus. He was born first (at least on this earth) and he did what he was intended to do. He called Jesus the Lamb of God. At times he sent some of his disciples to Jesus to say, "Are you the One, or should we look for another?" He also said, "He must become greater, I must become less."
As I think of the story of Jesus' birth, I flash down 2000 years later. John is no longer around. Who will prepare the way for Jesus now? I think that's where we come in. It's now ourresponsibility to prepare the way. It's our job to tell of His greatness It now becomes our task to tell of His coming to this world.
And so the Christmas story continues. Only now, we tell it. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mary and Joseph

One of the questions I've had about the story of the birth of Jesus, why did God pick Mary and Joseph? Everything that I read about them I see total compliance to what God says to them. When the angel comes, they obey, no questions asked. Now I know that you might say, "Well, if I had an angel come to me, I wouldn't have a hard time believing either." Is that so? Then answer me this. Why did the children of Israel who saw the 10 plagues on Egypt, (including the Passover Angel), the Red Sea divide, the cloud by day and the fiery pillar at night, the manna and the quail, the water from the rock and everything else they saw, why didn't they do everything God told them to do?
With Mary and Joseph, you had two people who had soft hearts and were attuned to God's call and they did everything He asked them to do. No wonder God entrusted his One and Only Son to them. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Great Announcement

One of my fond memories is a 4th of July at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. On the 4th, there is a HUGE fireworks display that is phenomenal. After the baseball game, they allow people to go down on the field and watch the fireworks. They even give you 3-D glasses if you want, but you don't need them. The "bombs" burst right over you even so much that some of the debris falls on you. I was covered with little black flecks of firework residue. It looked as if they were exploding right down on me.
When the birth of Jesus was announced to the shepherds, the Bible says an angel appeared and then it says the glory of the Lord shown around them. Can you imagine that. It would make the Rosenblatt display seem like a little firecracker. I what it looked like, but it says they were terrified. Then there was a great heavenly host praising God. What were they doing? How were they praising God? I've heard great choruses sing beautiful music where I had goose bumps. Can you imagine a heavenly host praising God?
But why to shepherds? Seems as if they would have wanted to alert the Jerusalem Press or KJEW television. Why wasn't there a story by the Bethlehem Times? But shepherds? If you read the passage, the shepherds told everyone they saw. So it is with us. Perhaps we don't have the connections. Maybe we can't have the impact that a person of position or power could have. But we can tell everyone we see about the Savior who came to this world so that we might have life to the full.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.

Have a great day. JW

Monday, December 11, 2006

His Star

If you watch the movie The Nativity, they do what most everybody else does concerning the star that comes to rest right over where Jesus was. They can understand the miracle of a virgin birth, they can understand the miracle of nearly everything else. But for some reason the miracle of a star just doesn't cut it. It has to do with the convergence of several planets and those planets light up the night sky, etc., etc., etc.
Why can't it just be accepted that the star was another miracle? It was there to show not only where Christ was, but that this was one of those extremely important events. When you read about it in the Scriptures, the Magi say, "We have seen his star. (emphasis mine). It was His star. I know, I know, they are all His stars. But there was something special about this one. It wasn't the planets coming together. It was the announcement of an the most significant event up to that point in history. Immanel. God with us. God moved into our neighborhood, according to Peterson in The Message. And the world has never been the same since...and neither should our lives. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Three gifts. That's how some have determined that there were three wise men. It's the impetus for giving gifts at Christmas. I've been wondering, what did Mary and Joseph do with those gifts? How much did they get for them? Did it help support them for the next several years? Did they give them away?
How often are we the recepients of gifts? Gifts of great value. Perhaps they are not material, but spiritual. Maybe they are tangible. I think the fact we really don't know any more about the gifts is because they really didn't matter in the whole scheme of things. Maybe there were more symbolic than anything. But here were men who were known for their wisdom and they wanted to give of their means to the Messiah, the baby whose star they had seen.
So it is with us. What do we have to give. I love the old hymn that says, "Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." Even if that's all we bring, it will be accepted by our Lord. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


What was it that worried King Herod so much about a child being born in Bethlehem? It was a king. A new king would be a threat to his reign in Judea. For so long the Jews had looked for a king, a new King David who would free them from the bondage of the Romans. These Romans who taxed them and abused them and generally tried to ruin their way of life.
Now the thought of a Messiah had reached a fever pitch. They were looking for armies, for another man who stood head and shoulders above the rest, another who would make them favored in God's eyes again.
He came. Now with flash, pomp, and circumstance. He came with humility and poverty. They never could quite understand His kingship nor His kingdom. They tried to make Him king by force, but He slipped away. And when we try to make a secular Jesus, He will also slip away. His kingdom was and is not of this world. It is holy. It is spiritual.
Although Jesus may have disappointed many of His time, I pray that He doesn't disappoint us. I hope we are not looking for the wrong kind of Messiah, but One who will be our King, our Lord, our Ruler. I hope we don't try to make Him King by force. Instead, it's my prayer that we invite Him into our hearts. Quietly, calmly, once again without flash. Have a great day. JW

Monday, December 04, 2006


After watching the latest movie on Christ's birth, "The Nativity Story," I realized what a scandal it was for Mary to be pregnant with no father seemingly around. She went to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. She is engaged to marry Joseph. When she returns, she's pregnant. What happened while she was gone? With whom did she sleep? You can imagine the reaction of her parents, the townspeople, Joseph. Here's this seemingly innocent girl who comes home pregnant. She's not innocent, she's promiscuous. She's not holy, she's sinful. She claims nothing happened. She says the Holy Spirit came upon her. She says that an angel told her she would be pregnant. This is just plain bawdy, scandalous, and wrong.
I remember a few years ago teaching about one of the theories of Mary's pregnancy...that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier. A woman came into my office in tears, saying, I can't believe you said my Lord was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier." "I didn't say that," I responded. She was horrified the words would even come out of my mouth. "Our children don't need to hear that." "Yes, they do," I replied. "I would rather them hear it from us so we can explain what really happened. I want them to hear it from us."
It was pure scandal when our Savior was born. Raised by a poor family. It's a wonder Joseph hung around. But in the end, he believed Mary--and the angel who appeared to him. But it would be hard even in the best of circumstances to believe their stories. And that's the atmosphere our Savior was born in. Scandal. Have a good day. JW