Thursday, December 20, 2007

The End of 2007

This will be my last blog of 2007. Sometimes I wonder if writing these little snippets of my mind is worth it. But then I'll get an e-mail from someone or somebody will say, "I really appreciated what you said on your blog." Then it makes me all the more determined to continue.
It is my hope that your 2007 has been a good year. I also pray that 2008 will be a new opportunity for you as you follow Christ. Next year will bring about some major changes in the White household. Our youngest will be leaving for college in August and we'll be empty nesters. I'm excited, yet fearful. Glad and sad. It's the realization that life goes on, people get older, and we must move on in our lives.
So here's to 2007. It was a good year. And here's praying that 2008 is the best ever. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy the time off. Rest. Eat. Rest some more. And above all, be thankful. Thanks for reading. JW

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Creature of Habit

I am a creature of habit. I hate to admit it, but it seems I do the same things in the same ways all the time. My first item of business is to read my Bible, do the Sudoku and Crossword Puzzle from the USA Today, then I read my e-mail. But it's even more disgusting than that.
Today I was talking to my wife about Christmas in Searcy. My mother-in-law tells me it's my job to make a fire. You have to realize in Searcy, Arkansas, it's not always cold on December 25th. There are times when it's just downright balmy. But that doesn't matter, we have to have a fire. I make it the same way every year. You get one of those starter fire block things, then add the wood. I stuff myself silly with the cooking of so many good cooks, especially my wife's.
But one habit that I hope to never get out of is to be thankful. Count your many blessings, name them by the ton. Paul was the epitome of gratefulness. Don't be anxious about anything but with prayer and thanksgiving make your requests known...I thank God every time I think of you...Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Take some time to write down what you are grateful for. This year is almost over. Time for a new start. Our God, however, is the God of new starts every day. Don't believe me? Read II Corinthians 4. I hope your day is a good one. By the way, that's how I end nearly all of these blogs, isn't it? JW

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

God With Us

I preached a sermon Sunday about the birth of Jesus and the Westroads Mall tragedy. Some might say, "Those two events have nothing in common." My point was they had everything in common. Jesus came so that we would have life. This young man felt as if he had no life. Jesus came to be light. Robbie Hawkins' life was full of darkness. It became evident that it is our responsiblity to make sure that life, which was the light of men, is proclaimed to as many as possible, including the many Robbie Hawkins of the world.
Some might say, "Where was God in all of this?" He was right there during the murders. He was with them every dying moment. In fact, it added new meaning to the name given to Jesus...Immanuel. God with us.
There is hope. There is a new day. There will be more opportunities. I pray that we will continue to allow Jesus to work in us and to change us. That is where real change will occur. I hope your day is good. JW

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Westroads Mall Tragedy

Yesterday afternoon at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, about 1/2 mile from my house, a young man went into to Von Maur (an upscale store similar to Dillards) and opened fire on innocent Christmas shoppers. Try to understand why and you'll come up short. Attempt to understand the loss of those whose loved ones were innocently murdered and you'll find yourself feeling empty.
Why did this happen? We live in a fallen world. Satan and his minions work hard. And we allow God to be kicked out of Christmas, out of our government, out of our schools, and we wonder why this happened. The only moral standard, if there is one, is the common good. Situational ethics allows us to do what's "right" in light of the present circumstance.
The answer? I can think of only one. Jesus. Only Jesus could have given young Robbie Hawkins the sense of value that he so longed for. Instead, he felt like human debris. It's a sad day, but one one that helps us to realize our need for the Savior. JW

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Pundit Christianity

I've noticed something that is getting worse in our culture. As a result, I think it's creeping into the church. My biggest pet peeve with television right now are the talk shows. Turn on Pardon the Interruption on ESPN and you'll find Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon discussing various aspects of the same time....loudly. They yell at each other and they disagree with each other and they talk so you can't hear what the other is saying. The only way one wins the argument is to yell louder than the other.
I'm dreading the upcoming political season. It's already started way too early. The "experts" (and by the way, it doesn't matter which party, which network, conservative or liberal, they're all the same) sit around and table and interrupt each other, talk over the other, and virtually outrude each other to win the argument. "Let me finish" becomes the favorite saying.
I think this attitude is creeping into the church. There is a note of disagreement or dissatisfaction, so what do you do? You begin talking to each other and the conversation gets louder and louder. Finally, the bond frays, the relationship suffers, the hurtful words have been said, and the friendship is, at best, tense. So we gripe at everything the other does. It becomes fashionable to complain about the preacher, the elders, the deacons, the worship leader, the Bible class teacher, the ministry leader, the others in the church. Finally, it's a place you don't want to attend because "nobody does anything right at that church."
"But doesn't the Bible say to be ready to give an answer?!!" Yes, it does. But did you read the rest of the verse? Here it is in it's entirety.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. I Peter 3:15, 16
While we're at it, how about another verse?
Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and deparaved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life--in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:14-16
As God's children, we are to settle disputes differently. We are to think differently. We are to respond differently than the world does. And if the world cannot see a difference, we're no different than the pundits on TV. It shouldn't be hard and it won't be hard to act differently. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Prayer is So Good!

Two things I've noticed about prayer this morning. I knew them both beforehand, but it is easy to see why Satan doesn't want us praying. First, when you begin the day in prayer, you'll notice a change in everything. A change in your attitude. A change in the attitude of others. A freshness of the new day--a renewal if you please. A confidence in the Lord. I could go on and on.
Second, if you have the opportunity to pray with shepherds like I have, what a wonderful experience it is. To paraphrase one of my elders. "Take away the dreams that I have for this church and fulfill Your dreams for this church." What a great attitude! What a tremendous humility. Now you can see why prayer does so much. It exposes what we're really like and it helps us to see what God is like.
So why don't we pray more? Good question. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Bride

Did you see the story of the Iraqi insurgent who dressed as a bride to try to get past a security checkpoint? Man, he was ugly! He had a big nose, stubbly face; he just didn't look like a bride. The only thing that resembled bridehood (is that a word?) was he was dressed in white and had flowers.
At the end of the book of Revelation, the church is described as "coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." I don't know about you, but I've worked with some churches that looked anything like beautiful. They may have been wearing a white dress, but the face was a dead giveaway. Snarly and mean. Judgmental and surly. Jesus, the bridegroom, deserves more than that. He deserves a bride who is loving, pure, and beautiful outside andinside. What is your contribution to that picture? I hope your day is a good one. JW

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a wonderful day. It's Thanksgiving. I love this day for many reasons. It is my wish for you that your day is filled with good memories and family time. Gratitude is one of those things that is not an option for Christians. It's not what we do, it's who we are . It lies at the very core of our being. Spend some time thanking God, really thanking him for the many, many blessings you have. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

God Spoke

When I tell about these things, I'm sure there are those who think I'm nuts. But I still believe in this. Yesterday in our worship, we dedicated the entire services to being thankful. We prayed prayers of thanksgiving, we sang songs of being thankful, we read scriptures of praise. One time as we were singing Father of Mercies, something interesting happened. You know what it's like to have your eyes closed and then you sense lights getting brighter? That happened as we sang that song. I thought someone had turned up our lights in the auditorium. No, what happened was the sun came out and shown through our stained glass and it was brighter than usual. It was almost as if God was saying, "Good job! Thanks for being thankful." There have been a number of moments like this in my life. Some will say it was just a natural thing that happens in the course of nature. I chose to believe that God spoke. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I've Trained Her Well

I've trained her well. Here it is November 14th and the Christmas lights are coming up. The lights from the Jack-o-Lanterns aren't cold yet, and the Christmas trees and other decorations are evident. There is a holiday in between. In fact, it's really my favorite holiday.
What do you mean you've trained her well? My daughter, my 24-year-old married daughter was with us in the car last night as we drove past a house with the Christmas lights glowing. "It's Thanksgiving!" she yelled. (Really, she yelled.) Perhaps this is a symptom of our country. We've forgotten to say, "Thank you." Let's just go from dressing up like a fruit cake and go directly to the "show me the gifts." I was pleased to know that she still sees the Thanksgiving holiday as important. Please don't misunderstand me. I love Christmas, too! I just don't want to rush it.
Colossians 3:15 says, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Thankful. Def. Thank--ful. Full of thanks. I'm glad my daughter still sees Thanksgiving. Shouldn't we all? Have a great day! JW

Monday, November 12, 2007

Bumper Sticker Theology

I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, "God is too big to fit into any one religion." Here's the problem I have with that saying. And I think it may surprise you what I say. God's not concerned with religion anyway. God is concerned about hearts and what is spiritual. And I think, at least in our culture today, and perhaps it's always been this way, the two are very different.
I think the Jews of Jesus' day thought they were religious. Jesus told them, "You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me." This is a quote from the Old Testament. In other words, they had the same problem then. I associate religion with rules and following the rules because they are the rules and you know what happens when you don't follow the rules. Maybe this is faulty thinking, but it's where I am. Jesus spent the entire Sermon the Mount saying that it's not about the rules. You can follow all the rules and still not be spiritual.
That's why I have a problem with the bumper sticker. Perhaps we need to understand that God doesn't fit into religion....period. It doesn't have anything to do with Him being too big. It's not what He wants in the first place. I hope your day is a good one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Keep Me From Judging

People disappoint. They do things they shouldn't do. They say things they shouldn't say. My initial reaction is to lash out. Tell them what they are doing wrong. Insist that they reverse, retract, and repent. Then a haunting verse enters my mind.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Now I understand this statement. Perhaps all too well. But I know we do and we have to make judgments daily. Motivation is a key element in this. We can never know why somebody does what they do. We can't read minds, we can only see fruit. What bothers me is the last part of the verse. ...with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

So I try to see people through God's eyes. I try to allow grace and mercy to follow. Sometimes it's just impossible. So I allow God to be God and I take my rightful place as a clod of dirt. A clod of dirt, mind you, that God loves totally. And I back off. And I look forward to the day when I don't live in this fallen world anymore. Fatalistic? Absolutely not! Faith filled? Yes! I hope your day is good....and full of faith and hope. JW

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No Contract, No Shows!

I really don't have a dog in the hunt. I watch so little network TV that the recent writer's strike really is not going to have much effect on me. The only possibility is the late night shows. I get a kick from Leno and Letterman and O'Brien. But when I heard that as a result of the strike there would be more (un)reality shows, I nearly choked. Best I can figure, this is about money (isn't it always?) and something to do with internet and other things. Frankly, it doesn't matter much to me.
What I find amusing is these are writers who are on strike, right? I saw them on the picket line with their signs and they were chanting. Here's what they were saying, "No contract, No shows; No contract, No shows." Now c'mon! They're writers! Couldn't they be a whole lot more creative than that? You could at least have a black screen and a deep, movie voice kind of guy saying, "They say they're not willing to pay....but pay they will." Then you have that little bumper music thing from CSI and then, in slow motion show them carrying picket signs. Hey, at least show a little creativity even in rebellion mode. Or maybe that would include the sound guild or the picture guild. Oh, it gets too complicated.
Sorry for the rant. Aren't you glad your life is based on whether or not the writers are on strike? Have a great day. JW

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Last Saturday I was perusing our local newspaper and saw where there was an exhibit in town for the 9-11 memorial being built in New York City. We decided to go and see and we were not disappointed. As I saw those terrible pictures and heard the horrifying stories, tears welled up in my eyes. Six years removed we have forgotten the agony of that day and the months that followed. Now the event is politicized until it's nearly unrecognizable.
What I saw in those pictures and in that presentation were people. People who had lives and families and dreams. People whose lives were snuffed out for no apparent reason except for a blind hate for what the West stands for. It helped me to realize anew that the world needs a Savior. It needs Jesus so much.
My wife and I signed a beam that will be used in the memorial being built on the spot where the World Trade Centers stood. In reality, that doesn't really matter. Instead, the autograph of Jesus on the hearts of men and women in this world would make a difference that would last for all eternity.
I've written about attending church services at the Manhattan Church of Christ just one month before the first anniversary of that horrible event. I still remember one of the songs they sang that day.

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!

In haunts of wretchedness and need, On shadowed thresholds dark with fears,
From paths where hide the lures of greed, We catch the vision of Thy tears.

The cup of water giv'n for Thee still holds the freshness of Thy grace;
Yet long these multitudes to see the sweet compassion of Thy face.

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.

That last phrase caught me...especially while singing just a mere distance from where it all happened. "O tread the city's streets again." Wow. Let it be so. I hope your day is good. JW

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oil on the Beard

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precioius oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.Psalm 133, 12

I have to admit I've never had the experience of oil running down on my beard. It must be good although it doesn't sound that great to me! But our service together Sunday with the brethren from the Omaha Church was wonderful. There was an excitement, an electricity that I haven't felt for a long time. When we ate together afterword, it was a wonderful time of fellowship. And even though we took the Lord's Supper together, I imagine that our meal afterward was more like the meal that they ate together in New Testament times.
Now I know why some fussed and griped about this. It was Satan at work. He can't stand brethren worshiping together, fellowshiping together, being together in harmony.
My call to anyone who reads this is to gather together with others just as we did. In spite of differences, there is a beauty that is indescribable. If we did this more often, the world would see the beauty of Jesus. Jesus prayed about the unity of His church in John 17. Paul encouraged us to be like-minded in Philippians 2. Why don't we do it more often? I think I know. I hope your day is good. JW

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unity and Exclusion

A case could be made for the theme of the entire New Testament epistles to be unity. Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get along. In Philippians he tells Euodia and Syntyche to get along. In fact, he tells all of the Philippians to "make my joy complete by being like-minded." Every epistle seems to have that as, at least, an underlying theme if not overt.
Jesus pled for the church to be one. One of his final prayers on earth was for unity.
We are hosting the International Church of Christ congregation here at our building Sunday. Their minister and I have been talking for a long time. He's a wonderful man and a lover of God and Jesus. This great church wants to make an impact in the world. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet I have heard from several in the community (not our church) how they can't believe we are hosting them.
Now, a couple of observations. First of all, are we to stop anyone at the door and keep them from coming into worship? Do we ask all visitors to fill out a questionaire and ask them if they worship the way we do, believe the way we do, or understand all of the omnipotence of God the way we do? Secondly, what happen to unity? Unity doesn't come at the cost of agreeing on everything, everyway, everytime.
Jesus had a word for those like that. Pharisees. I find it very sad. Our youth minister ask me what I thought about this minor controversy. I told him, "I don't care." But the truth is, as you can obviously see, I do care. It cuts me to the heart when those who claim to be Christians (i.e. Christ-like) would look to exclude.
Our worship will be phenomemal this Sunday. Not because of my sermon, not because of what any of us do, but because of the great God we serve. And let's make sure we keep it that way. It's God we serve and not ourselves. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Conventional Wisdom

A phrase that's been around for awhile that keeps cropping up is interesting to me. It's the two word phrase "conventional wisdom." The expression is defined as a way "to describe certain ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public." Just because something is generally accepted by the public dosen't make it wisdom. In fact, if the public generally accepts it, it's immediately suspect in my eyes.
Here's an example. Recently a football player at a well-known universitiy was charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault, etc. He felt it was consensual sex. The woman he "slept" with certainly wasn't his wife. His response was, "I went to bed that night with a clear conscience." Of course, rape is wrong. But having casual sex with someone who isn't your wife is all right. That's conventional wisdom.
I hear it all the time with political commentators. "The conventional wisdom is....." It seems to me that it's a oxymoron. Conventional wisdom is neither conventional nor wisdom.
Listen to how James describes wisdom:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. but if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual,of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full or mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:13-17
In the first chapter of James, he encourages those who want wisdom to ask God who will give it to us. Freely. Now that's the kind of conventional wisdom I want. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Mind of Christ

I was thinking of writing about how God moves mysteriously. I'm still going to, but on another topic. God still moves in a mysterious way. Perhaps another blog.
Paul is talking to the Corinthian brethren about unity. He's already told them "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (I Cor. 1:10) As I read the Scripture following that verse I thought of the fusses and feuds at my own congregation. I even thought of how I wanted my way and how unreasonable some people were and "if the church would just do things my way." Paul advises them about wisdom and the Spirit. Then out of the blue he says something and it hit me right between the eyes. If we would think of this when we start to have our petty arguments, I guarantee they would be short-lived.

But we have the mind of Christ.

It's the ultimate "what would Jesus do?". He didn't say if you get your act together, I'll give you the mind of Christ. He says that we have the mind of Christ. Friends, maybe it's time we (I) use it. My feeling is we lay aside the mind of Christ to give people "a piece of our minds." And that is really lacking! Perhaps we should bite our tongues and speak with wisdom. Maybe it's time we speak out against real injustice and quit fussing about the color of the carpet, the temperature of the building, or the song that we didn't like. You know what? If we did that, our problems would fade quietly and we would become the people that God intends for us to be. So why don't we? Let's start today. Let's realize that we do, indeed, have the mind of Christ. I hope your day is a wonderful one! JW

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I've been reading Ecclesiastes lately. I've known this and I have read it before, but there is some great stuff in there. Listen to this:

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. or

In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise--why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool--why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. or how about this one...

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. or how about this.

There was a small city that was under seige by a powerful king. He basically overwhelmed the city. But there was a poor, wise man who lived in the city. Somehow he saved the city. Solomon says: The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

I haven't even done the "for everything there is a season" or "Fear God and keep his commands." It's full of rich things. Read it sometime soon. I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, October 15, 2007

What the World Needs Now

I haven't written much lately. There hasn't been too much to say. So my theory is, if there isn't much to say, don't say anything!
When I do have something to say, it seems to hit me like a ton of bricks. There was a song years ago that was written in my early teen (or pre-teen) years. It says, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." Now on the surface, I think that's true. After all, Jesus told the lawyer that the greatest command was to love God with all your heart and the second greatest was to love your neighbor. What has hit me lately is what the world needs now is grace, sweet grace. What a fallen world we live in! I'm saddened each day as I see what Satan does. He tears apart homes, he destroys lives, he lies, he cheats, he devours. He doesn't win. God is victorious! Satan will not make it. God conquers! We need to understand that. But what we need is God's grace. Now I now that grace stems from God's love.
And the more I see the fallenness of the world, I know the world needs God's grace. Not so that we can do whatever we want. No, because I believe that grace changes us. John Newton says that grace is a sweet sound. Listen to his words:
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Thro' many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

Oh, for a world with more grace. My it begin with me. I hope you have a great day. JW

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Perfect Word

I'm looking for the perfect word. The search has been fruitless so far, but that doesn't stop me from finding it. I've blogged before about God's love and how it seems there is always a descriptor or superlative when defining it. I'm just trying to find one word that hits the nail on the head.
"Amazing" seems to fit, but it's already been taken by grace. I know that grace has to be an outgrowth of God's love. Amazing grace is already in our vocabulary and I just don't want to use it again.
Unfailing seems to be a word used by the Psalmists. Once again, it's a good word, but it just doesn't seem to be the all-encompassing word I want. I know that God's love is unfailing. I'm just looking for something that just fits.
I heard the word "astonishing" the other night in a song. That comes a little closer because God's love is astonishing. It's not quite there, but I like it.
I'll just keep on searching for the right word. If you have a suggestion, I'd like to hear it. Until then, I'll keep looking. Perhaps I'll never find the word I want. Maybe His love is just indescribable. Nevertheless, I'll keep exploring. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Do I Make You Proud?

I am extremely proud of both of my kids. I don't tell them enough how much they mean to me and what a joy they are in my life. Now, they don't always do as I want, but by their lives they please me.
Last night I was listening to my son's show choir as they sang a song by Taylor Hicks, "Do I Make You Proud?". Try sitting through that without getting tears in your eyes. It began a walk down memory lane. As I thought of both of my kids, my daughter with her curls and big bow in her hair and my son with his big brown eyes, it blew me away to realize that my nest will be empty next year. They have grown up, they are becoming mature. They're crossing over to "my" side.
Our Father is the same way with us. Listen to this, "By faith, Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God." He pleased God. God was proud of him. I imagine that God looks on us and says, "See that one? He's mine. I'm proud of him/her." That seems to have been the conversation with Satan concerning Job.
Isn't that our life? Shouldn't that be what we're about? Doing our best to glorify the Father who has done so much for us? It is my duty, my responsiblity to please God.
Father, in my life I pray that my deeds and my actions are such that they make you proud of me. Forgive me when I'm not proud of You. Please forgive my stubborn ways. I pray that my life glorifies you every day. In Jesus name, Amen.
Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Romans 8

In my opinion, Romans 8 is the capstone of the New Testament. It is the continental divide, the Mount Everest, the....well, you get the picture. Let me give you examples.

Romans 8:1--"Therefore," (I was always told when it says that you should always see what it's there for!) "there is no now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Do you see that! No condemnation in Christ. Not some condemnation. Not a little. None. Zero. Zilch. Not that we can live our lives as wrecklessly as we want, but we don't have to worry about sin condemning us!
Romans 8:5--Look at the contrasts. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires..." On the other hand, look at the contrast. "...but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." See also, "The mind of sinful man is death..." Then, "...but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace..." "...the sinful mind is hostile to God." Now look what he says about those who don't live according to their sinful minds. "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
Romans 8:12--We have an obligation. When you think of an obligation, what do you think of? A car payment? House payment? A debt of some kind? A commitment to work is to help with something? Our obligation, according to Paul, is to not live according to our sinful nature. This allows us to have the closest relationship to God (Abba {Daddy], Father) possible.
Romans 8:28--"And we know..." We know. Not think or hope or wish. We know that God works in any and all circumstances. Good and bad. Hopeless and more hopeless. Something good and something God can and will and does occur.
Romans 8:31ff--Look at the questions here and answer them from your perspective. And be honest. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?" "It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?" "Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ?" If you answered those questions honestly, I don't know how it couldn't lift your day.
Romans 8:37--"...we are more than conquerors." How can that be? If you win a game, you win. You can't "more than win." Oh, it can be by a big margin. But it still counts as a "W." Paul says we are more than conquerors.
Finally, the conclusion of the matter. God loves me. Personally. Me. (Put your name here) God loves _________.
Wow! After reading this chapter, I feel as if I could go out and change the world. But isn't that what we are supposed to do anyway? Isn't that why He sent His Son? This isn't a one time thing. This is our life. Isn't it time we acted like we belong to Him? I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, October 01, 2007

Glorify God

I had an argument with a guy one time about honoring people at church. His argument was that we are not there to honor men, but to honor God. Everything we do should be to honor Him. My argument was, when my children are honored, I am honored. Now if my children are in it just for praise, then I agree. I'm not honored in such a situation. Likewise, if someone is doing something to be honored at church, then the Scripture says that they have received their reward.
Sorry for the personal note here, but it's been a good year for my son. Just last March I bragged on him for winning a solo competition at Disneyworld. Last weekend he was selected as Homecoming King. (They didn't have those kind of things when I was in high school!) He was selected by a vote of his peers and teachers. I felt that was quite an honor and my buttons are a little tighter on my shirt today. I've been trying to get people to call me King James. Wouldn't that be right as father of a king?
When we serve and honor God, isn't He honored too? When Jesus submitted to baptism, God said, "This is my son whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Wasn't God glorified in that event? I think so. So I'm encouraging all of us to do good things...not for personal glory, but for the glory of the One who made us. Jesus said, "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Have a great day. This little Christian light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.... JW

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Standing Beside Me

I just finished reading the book of Acts (again). I don't know how many times I've read it, but it gets better every time. I remember in junior high school having to learn Paul's missionary journeys in our Wednesday evening class. Then I had the privilege of having Dr. Jerry Jones for Acts class at Harding.
Something caught my eye this time. Paul has been arrested by the mob in Jerusalem in spite being warned by Agabus. There's a bounty on his head. He's in prison not knowing what's going to happen to him. The Roman commander was so afraid for Paul's life because the crowd wanted to tear him apart. Then in verse 11 of chapter 23 it says, "The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, 'Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.'" The Lord stood near Paul. Then I remembered Stephen's stoning. He saw Jesus standing next to the throne of God. Later on in my reading this morning, Paul is on a ship that's about to sink in stormy waters. Paul tells the crew, "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me..."
How many times in our lives do we feel oppressed? Things are going from bad to worse and we're not sure what's going to happen. It's in those times that I believe the Lord stands beside us. He's ever present. He's always there. And He will not let us fall. Like with Paul, He'll be there right beside us. When we think He's far away, He isn't. When we feel abandoned, we aren't. And that brings me comfort. I hope it does you, too. Have a great day! JW

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Chesnutts

It was a great weekend. I first scheduled to go down to Arkansas for one event and ended up at four. My first foray was the Green Valley Bible Camp golf tournament. Even though our team was four under for the round, I was reminded once again that I should not give up my day job. Then that evening I was privy to the Arkansas Razorback debacle. It's sad when the highlight of the game was the band and the flyover by the B-2 bomber. Sunday night I was asked to speak at an area-wide youth gathering. Although I did my best, there are other more talented and more engaging speakers than I. My prayer was that God used my words and entered the hearts of those listening.
But the highlight of the weekend was the Sunday morning service at the Southside Church of Christ in Rogers. There, my friend Jackie Chesnutt and his wife Mackie were honored for 30 years of service at the Southside church. Jackie and I came to NW Arkansas the same year and became good friends. Down through the years our paths continued to cross and as always, Jackie never ceased to amaze me with his friendship, his wisdom, and his love. One thing is always certain around Jackie, you will laugh.
Through the years I have sought Jackie's advice and he never ceased to amaze me with his wisdom. And as I said Sunday, there are those who may be smarter than Jackie and certainly more handsome, but there is no one with more godly wisdom than Jackie Chesnutt. One of the greatest gifts God has given to me in this life is to have Jackie as a friend.
The mayor was there to honor this wonderful couple. Terry Rush spoke in his own inimitable way about the "Wow!" of God. Gifts were given, lunch was served, and Jesus was honored. Yes, you read that right. Jesus was honored. You see, these two have their life built firmly on the Rock of Ages. Paul said one time, "Follow me as I follow Christ." I think that's the motto of Jackie and Mackie Chesnutt, because they have followed Christ as long as I have known them.
So today in this blog, I also honor my good friends Jackie and Mackie Chesnutt. Jackie, you married way above yourself. But I will tell you this, I count it a privilege to call you my friend. God bless you richly!! I love you! Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Privacy Anymore

She was obviously upset about something when she sat down. Nate and I were sitting in the airport in Columbus, OH when this girl plopped herself down across from us. She pulled out two cell phones, dialed a number and began talking. Now I could hear everything she was saying. "I know, I know. We can make it. We'll just get to see each other once a week. I know it's hard." I can only assume she was talking to her boyfriend, fiancee, perhaps husband. I doubt the latter because she didn't have a wedding band on. She sobbed as she said several things to him about missing him and being with him, etc. As soon as she hung up, she picked up the other cell phone and I think she was texting.
Have you noticed, though, there is no privacy anymore. Used to, we took calls in our office. Now the phone is on our ear or in our pocket. And when people talk, it's as if they have the tin cans with the string connecting them. So they yell. "I JUST WANTED TO SEE IF YOU STILL WANTED TO RENT THE ROOM FOR THE CHRISTMAS PARTY." Another conversation I heard in an airport. Business is conducted, personal lives are revealed, and there is nothing private.
Ah, for the days. I love cell phones. But along with them come the quirks and nuances about them. Sometimes I just wish we'd go back to talking to each other. Not on Instant Messaging or Facebook or cell phone or anything else. Just talk. It's no wonder our world is the way it is. Oh, well. I need to get over it. Excuse me, my cell phone just rang. I hope you have a great day. JW

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Churches Die

Nate and I drove by it the first time. I turned around and we tromped up the hill and found it. It's the old Bedford church. It's where my Great-Great Grandfather White went to worship after he migrated to Ohio following the Civil War. It's mentioned in his obituary. There's nothing there now. Only some old tombstones, many in disrepair. An old tree has fallen separating the cemetery part from where the old church used to stand.
While visiting with my aunt, she showed me a little history of the Bedford church. It was found in a little booklet about another branch of my family (the Staneart's pronounced Stan-ert). I nearly wept as I read about what happened. It talked about the harmony of the church and how everyone got along. There were a lot of family members who attended together. mentions a preacher who came and had a different teaching than one they were used to. It pitted brother against brother. The article went on to talk of the hatred that erupted through these arguments. So much so that another church was started. That new church was the one where my dad grew up. It's the church I remember so well in my youth. In fact, in front of Bearwallow is the stone step from the old Bedford church. My grandfather told me he wanted it put there. I took a picture of it the other day.
Last week as I drove by the "new" church, I realized that it was nearly dead. There's basically one family left with a few others. It made me sad to realize how good Satan is. Both churches are nearly gone.
In order for our churches to survive, we will have to fight. Fight for people. Fight against Satan and not against each other. Agree to disagree, but don't let hatred lead the way. "Don't let Satan Pffff it out. I'm gonna let it shine." Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

I sat down to write about September 11, 2001. My thoughts were completed when I felt compelled to look back and see if I had commented on this before. Sure enough, I had. Oddly enough, it was almost identical. My conclusions where the same. I'm glad I looked.
You see the world has changed so much, but the solution to our problems is the same. I wrote about it today, then deleted it. It's in my other blog about September 11. The solution is Jesus. I've learned more than I care to know about Islam, politics, and terrorism over the last several years. My desire is to learn more about Jesus. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Simple, yet so hard for people to understand. But when Jesus lived, even then was scandal and upheaval. Yet the cross towers over time and draws us to Him. Lord, please forgive us when we forget about you.
Remember those who lost their lives for all the wrong reasons. Pray that this will never happen again. JW

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dress Like a Preacher

My dad would make the (at that time) 14 hour drive to Ohio from Arkansas wearing a tie. "I just feel better with a tie on," he would say. I've worked in a field (enrollment management in higher education) where ties are not an option. Many times I've walked into a room and had the people say, "Okay, the suits are here." And when I was a little boy, how many times did I hear my mother say to me, "Stop running; you've got your church clothes on."?
So it didn't surprise me when I heard my aunt say, "I want a preacher to dress like a preacher." She also asked me if I wore a tie when I preached. "Sometimes." So I was interested to see what her preacher dressed like. Oh, my goodness, I stepped back into the 60s. He had dark pants, a white, short-sleeved shirt, and a smiley face tie. The smiley faces were all different expressions. It reminded me of some of the gatherings I would go to in college/university circles. We would be in a somewhat formal setting and someone would have a cartoon tie on.
So what how does a preacher dress? What is the correct attire? If you have the answer, I would love to know. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Family Reunion

There was belly-busting laughter. There were tears of sadness and remembrance. There were moments of wonder and awe. Now, you might think I am talking about a movie, but I'm talking of our family reunion.
My great-great grandfather James Hiram White moved to Meigs County, Ohio immediately after the Civil War. He served for the South during that war. If what I'm finding is true, it's a wonder that any of the White family is alive today. According to my grandfather, their land was so torn up they decided to move West from Virginia. There they settled and many of them still live in the area today.
We laughed and laughed at stories of my grandmother killing ants with her walker. We heard old jokes and laughed anyway. Laughter came naturally as we saw each other for the first time in years. My aunt cried as she told of her six month old sister dying of the flu in 1934. She woke up with a sniffle on Christmas day and was buried on January 1. She told a story of them opening the casket up at the cemetery on that cold winter day. My grandfather told them to close it because he didn't want her to get cold. My uncle cried as he mentioned missing my dad. I couldn't belive the story I heard about my grandfather being run over by a wagon when he was a little boy. Later in his life they found his stomach had been separated into really two stomachs causing many of his problems later in life. And as I told you yesterday, I was amazed at the lady who Dad baptized years ago.
That's what family reunions are like. And that's what our family reunion will be like when we all get together again in heaven. You might say, "How can there be tears?" My Bible says that God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. I'm looking forward to it. What a wonderful day that will be! I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Woman in Aqua

She was wearing an aqua pant suit. Her hair was a brilliant out-of-the-bottle red. It had to be dyed because she was, well, she was old. The glasses she was wearing looked as if they covered her entire face. She saw me and made a bee-line for me. I was introduced by my aunt as Edward's youngest son.
You may already know this, but my son and I have been in Athens and Meigs County, Ohio at a White family reunion. I have so much more to write about with all of that, but I'll save it for another blog. My 17-year-old son went with some deep reservations and returned having the time of his life. I told him it was probably the highlight of his entire 17 years on this earth.
But back to the lady in aqua. Her smile was so wide on her skinny face that I thought I could see all 32 teeth. She stuck out her hand, "Lucille Carter," she said. "Your dad was a good friend of mine." "In fact," she continued, "he baptized me 65 years ago." Suddenly there was a connection. This previously unknown person and I had our lives eternally linked. A man who has been dead for 14 years, a woman in her 80s, and another man who previously didn't know the connection all of a sudden clicked. Her life was eternally changed because of the relationship she had with my dad. My dad's life was changed because of a relationship he had with the Savior of the world. My life is changed because of all three. It was a circle of life moment.
It meant a lot to me. It made it seem as if Dad was alive again. But really, he is alive. And once again, he's alive because of the relationship he had with our Lord. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Blame Game

A report just came out blaming the Virginia Tech administration for acting fast enough to save a number of lives killed by a deranged young man. Here's a thought. Let's blame the deranged young man for senselessly killing over 30 fellow human beings. We're acting as if killing people is a common thing. It happens all the time and if we had just done something.
We blame so many things. Let's put the blame right where it belongs. Satan is a liar. He is a roaring lion. He is the father of lies. He is the one who should be blamed.
This is an extreme case, but it happens in our lives, too. "You make me mad!" we scream. Not really. The other person may know what buttons to push, what things to say. But it's really me who decides to become angry. When we sin, we are quick to point out what others should have done so I wouldn't have done that.
Ah, once again in our negative world we look to blame. Lord, forgive us. Forgive us when we blame everyone except for the one who needs to be blamed. I hope your day is a good one. JW

P.S. My son and I leave for a family reunion tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to seeing family and I'm really looking forward to spending time with my son. I hope he's interested in family history because he's going to get a boat load of it! See you next week. Happy Labor Day!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

All the Answers

If you have all the answers, you don't have to read anymore of this blog. I'm afraid that's been the way with our movement. And once we have all the answers, we quit studying and searching. We become stale in our faith and our beliefs. And the answers to the questions are, "Well that's what we've always believed."
Hence all of the hubbub about Mother Teresa. She had doubts? Oh, my goodness! She struggled with her faith? How awful! In my opinion, the fact that she had doubts and struggled with her faith makes her more human. In other words, she didn't have all the answers.
I'm learning the more I study, the less I know. The more I learn, the more doors I open up to other questions. The more questions I have, the more I realize I don't have all the answers. But I do know One who does have all of the answers. You know what? I'm comfortable with that. In fact, I bask in that. I have no problems with that at all. So I'll keep searching. I'll keep questioning. And in the meantime, I'll make a list of questions I want to ask when I come into His presence. Really though, I'll be so busy doing back flips, I may forget or even lose my list. Oh, well. He can tell me the answers to my questions anyway. Have a great day! JW

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Cross on the Mirror

I was driving down the road the other day when I noticed a car slightly over the center line driving very slowly. As I passed, I noticed it was an older lady. At the next stop light she was able to get ahead of me in traffic. What caught my eye was the guy in the pickup truck behind her. She wasn't moving fast enough for him and he was on her bumper. I mean, he was close. If she had stopped suddenly, he would have slammed into the back of her. He was obviously agitated by her driving. She was not going fast enough to suit him and he was pounding on the steering wheel, he was yelling at her, and he had a general look of disgust on his face.
Once again, I was able to pass her and he whipped in behind me. Watching him in my rearview mirrow, I could see him glaring at her as he drove by. (By the way, he was a young man.) He whipped back over into the right lane and passed me, glaring at me as he passes. Just as he got past me, I noticed something hanging from his rearview mirrow. It was a cross.
My reaction to this was one of shame. You see, I've done the same thing. I've worn my watch with the cross on it and complained mightily about similar things. I've worn my WWJD bracelet and used my hands for ignoble purposes. I've proclaimed His name in worship, and profained it after being with my brothers and sisters. Somehow, we have to learn how to connect the two. Our actions with our gestures. Our deeds with our intentions.
I'm trying to relax a little bit. It's not easy. People don't always move as quickly as I need to. They don't always have my best interests in least I don't think they do. But I'm trying to be as He would want me to be. Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble....Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


My wife and I were on our obligatory trip to Sam's Club Friday night when we came upon a bargain. There in the corner was a box of lawn furniture which had once been priced around $1000. The price had been reduced to $200 something and then to $100. The picture on the box had a table, several chairs, I think it may have had an umbrella or something that fit into the table. It was nice wicker furniture. It caught my wife's eye because it had been reduced.
Just a side note here. And if you mention this to my wife, I'll deny it. It doesn't matter if we need something or not, if it's on sale and a great deal, it's as good as bought. You don't know how many times she's brought something home telling me what a great deal it was. "But do you need it?" "It was 75% off." "But do you need it?" Guys, just give up. Shake your head and say, "That's great!" And by the way, she is a great shopper. I've never seen anyone who can ferret out bargains as she can.
Anyway, on the side of the box it said "Notable." That just piqued our interest all the more in this great bargain that once cost $1000. "I wonder what's notable about it?" my wife asked. What a wonderful price, but what a strange notation on something for sell. How many times have you seen "Notable" on a box selling something. Of course, it's notable. It's a product your selling!
After a few second, it hit me. I looked at my wife and said, "No table." No wonder it was so cheap. One of the main items of furniture wasn't even in the box. Thus, "No table."
Satan does the same thing to us. He tries to sell us a bill of goods. It looks so good and it's "notable." But he deliberately tries to get us to buy something that we think is full value, when in reality it isn't worth much at all. He switches the price tags all the time. So whatever is valuable, Satan makes it cheap. And whatever is really cheap, Satan makes it "notable." Don't get caught up in Satan's lies. He's called the father of lies in Scriptures and a lion. Wolf in sheep's clothing. Now does that sound like something we want to associate with?
I hope your day is a good one. Make it a "notable" day. A truly notable day. JW

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Elvis, The President, and John

It was 30 years ago today that Elvis died. As we speak people are flocking to Elvis to worship his life. In November it will be forty-four years since the asassination of President Kennedy. I stood at the top of the steps of Willard Elementary and heard one of friends tell me of the president's death. On December 8, 1980 I was driving back from Columbus, OH when I heard of John Lennon's death. It's amazing how many people get all in a dither when it comes to these people and their tragic deaths.
How many, however, remember the death of Jesus? What a privilege it is to take the Lord's meal on Sunday's. There are those who say we cheapen the death of Jesus by partaking of this meal so often. But if that's the only time I think of his death (and by the way, his burial and resurrection), then He's not as important in my life as I think. Read the letters from Paul and see how many times he invokes the name of Jesus. He is my life. Far more important than any of the three already mentioned. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the whole world looked at the sacrifice that Jesus made in the way these mere men are honored? Maranatha. Lord come quickly! Have a great day.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Good News, Bad News

I've just about gotten to the point where I don't want to listen to the news anymore. For instance, while listening to the news the first thing as I got up this morning. There's a hurricane in the Pacific. There are two more brewing in the Atlantic. They could bring much, too much rain to the Gulf Coast. Then, there was a recall of toys. Toys, mind you. Things that little children, yea those precious little children play with. There is lead paint in their toys. And magnets. Magnets they could swallow. One swallowed one and threw up green. (I'm not kidding about that. I actually saw the report on that one.) And then, they're not sure if they're going to find the miners alive in the mine in Utah. It's like that every day. Every day. No wonder we have many who are depressed and down and worried and just plained scared!
The apostle Paul had one of those lives. He didn't know if he was going to survive from one day to the next. His life was constantly in danger. He was arrested and take to court for preaching the gospel. Yet, it didn't look good for him. He was beaten with rods (three times), stoned and left for dead, whipped with 40 lashes minus one (five times), shipwrecked (three times) and he calls them light and momentary troubles (II Corinthians 4). He's chained to Roman guards and he says, "...what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ." (Philippians 1:12, 13)
No bad news. Only good. Take what is thrown at you and make something good of it. The gospel is, by definition, good news! That's what we have to proclaim. And if we can't proclaim good news in a society that sees everything through the lens of negativity, then we are truly in trouble.
Bad news? Let me tell you some good news. Bad events? I'll bet some good will come out of that. Bad people? God can change bad people and make them into good ones. And if they don't, don't worry. God will take care of them, too.
I am convinced that we can stand out, as Paul says, like stars. More so now that ever before. Because we can approach the world with a positive attitude and nature. We can see the world with a smile on our faces because we serve the God who can make all things new. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Monday, August 13, 2007

Growing Older

They move very slowly. They don't remember much from time to time. They don't hear very well. Yet, there's a sparkle in their eyes when they see each other. They call each other nicknames, like Missouri, Trouble, and other funny pet names. Yet, they love to sing God's praises. They love to hear you talk about Jesus.
From time to time, I bring a lesson to the residents of Skyline Manor. They appreciate me coming. I have to admit, that I kind of dread going sometimes. I dont' know why. Perhaps it's because it is at the end of my week and I'm ready for some private time. But I always come away inspired, encouraged, and uplifted by these (mostly) ladies. "I Come to the Garden Alone" is one of their favorite songs. They also wanted to sing "Just As I Am" and "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less." They sing the songs with their eyes closed and then say, "That's a good one." "It Is Well With My Soul" is another favorite. Shows where their hearts are. Shame on me when I don't jump at the chance to visit with these godly people. I hope someone will take the time to visit with me when I get older. They talked to me last week of just getting along. Perhaps we need to listen to these folks a little more. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

It's Really Pretty Dull

I've only written one book. The title is "A Case Study Involving the Critical Factors of Enrollment Management Practices at One Church of Christ University." Yeah, you guessed it. It was my dissertation for my doctorate in education. I finished it because (1) I was paying for tuition to write it and (2) there were four guys sitting around a table waiting for me to finish it. I've started two others that I haven't finished. Perhaps one day I'll get a sabbatical or something and get to finish at least one of them.
But I already have an idea for another book. Typical, isn't it? The title would be "It's Really Pretty Dull." It would be a description of the life of a preacher. Not that my life is dull, but to many it would be terribly mundane. Oh, I get to see the joy of parents as they gaze into their newborn's eyes. I get to see the last breath as a tired saint leaves this life. Seeing a father or a grandfather baptize his child or grandchild has thrilled me beyond measure. But these things don't happen every day. In fact, many days are spent in wading through commentaries and Scriptures trying to extract some meaning or example for a sermon. Or the phone calls of those who are struggling with a particular sin. Perhaps a tragedy that can't be explained except for the fallenness of this world. Reading books, writing blogs, preparing for elders meetings, visiting with benevolence cases, listening to sermons, preparing classes, planning...the list goes on and on.
It could probably best be illustrated by something that happened the other day. I visited with someone whom I rarely see outside of church services. I showed up in my usual weekly apparel--jeans and a polo shirt. "Wow! I never see you looking like this. You usually have a tie on." I think that's how people see the preacher. All flash.
Don't get me wrong. It's a wonderful life. But there is a lot more wandering in the wilderness than there is receiving the 10 commandments on the mountaintop. Paul has just finished a beautiful discourse on knowing Christ when he reveals, what I think, are the same feelings I've just described. He says:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Did you see that? He said, "I haven't been able to get all of the 'Wow!' factor every day, but I press on." Those three words continue to push me, to haunt me, to encourage me. "I press on." That's what I encourage you to do. Press on. Sometimes life does get a little slow. But when those moments come, Bam! (I feel like Emeril!) God comes shining through. He's there all the time, you know. It's in those moments that I fall on my knees realizing who He is. I hope you have many of those moments in your life. In the meantime, won't you join me in this journey? It'll make it even more fun. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Heaven Again

I've been thinking a lot about heaven lately. Not that I'm getting a group together to go soon. Although I can think of many, many things that would be worse. Isn't that what Paul said in Philippians 1:21?
Our brotherhood hasn't talked much about heaven at all. We've focused on the other place. I heard Rick Atchley tell a story, I believe it was about Senator Everett Dirksen, when someone said to the senator, "Sir, I wouldn't vote for you if you were St. Peter." He responded, "If I were St. Peter, you couldn't vote for me because you wouldn't live in my district."
I think it's time we start thinking and talking of heaven again. Because God has promised it would be a wonderful place, much more awesome that we can think or imagine. And since it is a glorious place and since we want to be there, it will affect the way we act here in this life.
Like many other topics, we haven't fully researched them because we have felt as if we had all the answers. Well, we don't. It's time to take up the search again and find out what heaven will be like. We're going to do it at my church. I hope you will do it at yours. Open your minds. Get rid of all of your prejudices. Be ready to be wowed. And with that discussion of heaven comes many other questions. What is hell like? Where do we go when we die? What does "the kingdom of heaven" mean? What is "the day of the Lord?" See? Have fun. I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another Year of Green Valley is Done

I'm back after a great week at Green Valley Bible Camp. Last Saturday evening before camp began, a pretty good thunderstorm blew in causing the creeks to fill and everyone to scamper for cover. After a short but intense rain, a beautiful rainbow appeared. I looked at my co-director (really, he directs, I just show up) and said, "This is going to be a special week."
We had some difficulties because kids are dealing with things these days that I never had to deal with as a kid. We tried to hit these challenges head-on. All camp weeks are different. Momentum builds and ebbs during the week. This week the momentum just finally exploded. On Friday night as I was returning to my camper, there in the same valley, in the same place the rainbow had showed up, there was a beautiful half-moon. Almost as if God was saying, "I was glorified this week."
So, I'm physically tired. I'm not as young as I used to be. But I am spiritually overflowing. I'm seeing second generation kids come up through camp and it's a joy to see them. I think one of the attributes of strong Christian families is they do things together. I'm talking about things like going to camp, enjoying each other's company, and the like. Perhaps another blog for another day.
Pray for the camp. Pray that good will continue to be done through that little plot of land in Northwest Arkansas. It's good to be back home. Have a great day. JW

P.S. By the way, please pray for my friends Craig and Jan Jones. Jan had breast cancer several years ago and beat it. Now she's fighting pancreatic cancer. Please keep that good family in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Take My Life

I have been extremely blessed in my life. It was my pleasure (yes, it was a pleasure) to attend a Christian high school. I had godly teachers and have wonderful friends as a result. At my baccalaureate services, we sang several hymns. I happened to lead "Take My Life, O Father, Mold It." It's number 502 in the blue Great Songs of the Church book. This morning, as I walked out of Starbucks, that song came to mind. Why? I don't know; perhaps the Spirit thought it was time I revisited the song.

Take my life, O Father, mold it in obedience to Thy will;
And as rip'ning years unfold it, keep it true and child-like still.

Father keep it pure and lowly, strong and brave, yet free from strife,
Turning from the paths unholy of a vain or sinful life.

Ever light Thy might surround it; strengthen it with pow'r divine,
Till Thy cords of love have bound it, Father, wholly unto Thine.

When I was 18 years old, those words rang true. Looking back on the 35 years since, I wondered about if I have heeded those words. Have I continued to be child-like? Not in maturity, but in dependence and trust and simple faith. Have I been pure? Has my life been vain or sinful? I have to admit, at times it has. But God has continued to be faithful. He has surrounded me with his power and love and He has truly bound His cords of love around me. How truly blessed I am! Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


One of my earliest remembraces of childhood is going to Fort Hill Christian Camp near Chillicothe, OH being with my dad for the week. There were Bible classes, singing, SWIMMING, and canteen, and SWIMMING, and horseshoes and so many fun things. There were kids all over the place. By the way, at that time, the swimming was in a nasty creek with cold, cold water. I went back several years later as a camper.
Later, I counseled at Camp Tahkodah in Arkansas. It was so much fun. The people there seemed to have the same beliefs as I. I'm not talking about clones, but they loved God and have a moral system that coincided with mine. I think back on some of the close relationships I established at that time.
As a youth minister, I would go to camp. It was a great experience! At one camp in Louisiana, one of our members flew A-10 bombers. When he found out we were at camp, he would come and give us an aerial show. It was sooo cool.
In 1991, we moved to Springdale, AR and began anew (I say "anew" because I had been to camp there before in the late 70s) with Green Valley Bible Camp. Since 1991, I think I have only missed twice. I have driven from my home in Nashville, TN and now from my home in Omaha. Now I help co-direct the session and it has become a family affair. My entire family attends. My wife as a counselor, my daughter as a former camper, now counselor, my son-in-law as a counselor, and my son as a camper. We're also taking two of his friends. So many say, "Oh, you are so nice to go and help those kids." Let me let you in on a little secret. I do it because I get a lift. Think about it. How many camps do you know with plush surroundings? How good is the food at camp? Where is the fellowship so sweet? Where can you go where worship is releasing? Where else is the singing so, well, angelic?
My daughter asked me the other day, "Dad, will you still go to camp when Nate's gone?" The answer? Probably. Got a camp story? Let me know. Have a great day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Unfailing Love has Vanished

There are times when I want to write about something, but it's best not to. Today is one of those days. Perhaps in the future when I've calmed my thoughts down will I consider writing what is really on my mind.
With that bit of intrigue, here's what else I've been thinking about today. I love talking about God's love. Read the descriptions of the Bible writers and they can't get enough. It's overflowing, it's wide, deep, long, and wide, it's poured out, etc.
But what's it like when you don't feel God's love? When He seems so far away or absent? I think of Job in his misery. Even Jesus asks why God has forsaken Him. I came across an interesting scripture the other day that may give us a clue into this. What does it feel like to be without God's love?

Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time? Psalm 77:7, 8

"Unfailing" is how many describe God's love. I would think that unfailing would be never-ending, eternal, constant, consistent. Don't miss the contrast. Is the unfailing love gone forever? Has his promise (something He will never renege on, again, constant, consistent) failed?
When one feels as if God's love is absent, even the consistent becomes inconsistent. The norm becomes the rare and the only thing that is constant is the lack of constancy.
I imagine there are a lot of people who feel this way. Your job today, should you decide to accept it, is to let people know how much God loves them. Even though the psalmist said the unfailing love was gone and the promise failed, it didn't. If that's the way you feel, oh friend, please rest assured that God's love indeed never fails. His mercies never come to an end and they are new every morning. God's love is steadfast and sure. And when all else fails, you can know that God's love will be the one constant in your life. Have a great day. JW

P.S. There! I feel better. I shouldn't have been thinking about that old nasty negative stuff in the first place.

Monday, July 16, 2007

God is Running

I was indulging in one of latest pasttimes yesterday--bike riding--when I noticed something. There are always people riding or walking on the path. But I passed someone a little different. This guy was running and while he was running, he had his dog on a leash and was getting the dog some exercise. But wait, there's more. He also had (I presume it was his) a small child in one of those strollers for runners. The kid was sleeping away as the guy ran, exercised his dog, and put his kid down for a little nap time.
It got me thinking. I know it's a poor example, but humor my small mind. It reminded me of what God does, except on a much more huge scale. He keeps us going. He meets our needs. He allows us to take a nap. He takes care of everything while we go about our daily business. The psalmist said, "....he who watches over you will not sumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."
Now can you imagine if the dog would have had these thoughts? "How far are we going to run? Do you think the baby will wake up? Will I get a drink at the end of this run?" Or maybe the baby was thinking, "This ride sure is bumpy. I'm hungry, right now! It's so hot out here. When are going to stop? (said in whiny tone)" Isn't that us? Complain even when God has everything in control?
I know I've put this quote in my blog before, but it bears repeating. "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 sympathy, and His unfailing attitude toward all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. By his nature He is inclined 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." A. W. Tozer
Friends, indeed. And in control. And caring. And not sleeping while I am. And.....Have a great day. JW

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Empty Nest and Dad's Tears

Now it starts. Oh, it's been going on for about 17 years now, but it really is becoming reality starting tomorrow. You see, my baby boy leaves to go to Harding for an Honors Symposium tomorrow. He'll be flying by himself, making his own connections in Chicago. Slowly it's been happening. It began with the toddling walk, then to the tricycle, then the bike with training wheels, now with the car.
He's getting ready to enter his senior year. We've done the senior pictures, we've got the senior schedule, we've already got senioritis. We know it's been coming, but the stark reality is starting to sink in. In about a year, we'll have finished most of our training with this life that God gave us. I know, it never stops. In fact, my daughter and her husband still live here in town near us. I think I ought to be able to declare her as dependent on my taxes because she still eats all of my food. But that's a small price to pay to be able to see her so often.
Tomorrow begins a new era, a new day. When I put him on the plane tomorrow, it will be like saying, "Begin your journey into manhood my son. I pray you're ready. Remember what you've learned. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus." Now I have to rely on others to help him make the mid-course corrections, to encourage him to seek God's face, and to whack him in the head when he blows it. Actually, the world will do a pretty good job of that. I guess what gets me is the unknown. What's lurking out there? What good things does God have in store? How will he turn out?
"Dear God, here's my son. You understand my feelings right now because you gave your Son up, too. It's been too fast, Lord. He was just born yesterday. Thank you for letting me have him because he has made me smile. Make him strong. Don't let him wander from you. May he make his Mom and Dad proud. And even though I said I had to depend on others to lead him now, it's really You on whom I'm depending. Hold him in Your hand. Lead him. Keep his heart pure. As I prayed when he was born that he would belong to You, I now give him You praying that you will keep him from the evil one. Make him strong. Help him to depend on you, as I have to so much right now. In Jesus name." Have a good day. JW

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tell Your Story

I don't like the word evangelism. Not that it's not a good word. You cannot, however, find it in the scripture. But that's neither here nor there, it's just a personal bias. I think I don't like it because of the images it brings up, i.e. door knocking, evangelism committee meeting in Room 13, etc. Talking about Jesus is who we are, not what we do.
Hence, I came across this psalm this morning:

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16.

Isn't that the essence of the gospel? No one tells your story better than you do. I'm not talking about bragging about all your accomplishments or talking solely about yourself. But I can hear these words spoken in humility, love, and gratitude..."Can I tell you what God has done for me?"

And as David finishes this wonderful psalm he realizes the impact of all of this on his life. He says:

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Amen, King David. Amen! Have a great day. By the way, telling your story is true evangelism. JW

Monday, July 09, 2007

Some Days are Diamond...

In southwest Arkansas, there is a little town called Murfreesboro. Near that little burg is a state park that consists of 37 acres of dirt. You can go in there anytime, pay a fee, and dig to your heart's content. What you can find in this little state park are diamonds. It's called Crater of Diamonds State Park. In 2006 there were diamonds found that were 6.35 carats, 5.47 carats, 4.21 carats, and 2.37 carats. This year, one has been found that is 2.67 carats. I have heard of people who take their lawn chairs and sit and watch the field. If they see something glisten, they'll send someone to the spot to dig.
Why do I tell this little story? There have been so many times that I feel as if I have read the Bible and found everything I can find. Whenever I hear someone preach, I've heard the topic and I'm up to date on everything that's said on the topic. I wonder if anything I say is a new thought to anyone else. Sounds arrogant, doesn't it? You see, that's the devil talking. He wants us to admit mundane. He thrives in the ordinary and wants us to always have mountaintop experiences. He gloats in us sitting by the property in our lawn chairs just waiting for something to come to us.
But then it happens. I read a passage I have read hundreds, yea thousands of times. And there it is...something I've never seen before. I have uncovered the nugget that has been there all along, I've just not been patient enough. I have to admit, the most comments I get on a sermon come after one that I think I've bombed on. So I have quit swinging for the fence. I just keep digging and digging and digging. It's in those moments when God reveals His splendor to me. I know He does the same for you.
John Denver used to sing a song, "Some Days are Diamond, Some Days are Stone." Satan wants us to dwell in the stone age. I want to find the diamond. I hope this is a diamond day for you. Have a good one. JW

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

June 30, 1942

Diary entry: June 30, 1942:
Our wedding day! Everything went along in fine shape. George and I left Washington (PA) this a.m. and went to St. Joe (OH). Spent p.m. completing arrangements for wedding at 7:30. They serenaded us. Mother, Dad, Leo, Maude, and Seldon came up. We took George home after wedding supper and stayed in tourist home between there and Pittsburg.

Thus it began 65 years ago. Names of family and friends, few words, and the marriage began between my dad and mom. From that union came four boys, three of whom preach (one in a foreign field for the last 31 years), the others in local work. The other teaches school, just like Dad.
Most of the time it doesn't take a lot of words to describe such things that gave life. And they gave life to many people, not just their sons. Happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! A few days late, but what do you care? You're enjoying God's riches all the time. Take care. We love you. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, June 28, 2007


I tried something different this morning. Ever since I began shaving (I believe that was about the age of two), I have shaved the same way. On the neck under the chin, then the sides, then the tough chin, then under the nose. Same way for all these years. I've done it with mirrors and without. I've shaved in the shower. I've shaved nearly everywhere. I've tried the electric stuff and only ended up with ingrown hairs.
This morning I experimented. I started with the chin. My hands could hardly move there. I went to one side of my face, then to the lip. The neck was the last thing I shaved. Even a moment ago, I felt my face to see if I was really able to shave cleanly. It was different. It accomplished the same task. But I'm telling you, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done? Why? Because it was the way I always did it.
You already know where I'm going, don't you? Change is inevitable. If we don't grow, something is wrong. We don't look the same as we did when we first started shaving. We don't look the same as we did when we were born. Change happens. So many times we play church and when someone comes around with an idea of how to do something differently, we immediately brand them as a heretic, liberal, or change agent. The latter is one of my favorite terms. Change agent. Kind of sounds like a spy.
God never changes. He's the same today as He was yesterday and the way He will be tomorrow. But I MUST CHANGE! The songwriter said it best when he said, "New heights I'm gaining every day." It is up to me to become more like God. What? "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a frangrant offering and sacrifice to God." Ephesians 5:1
Don't be afraid of change. In fact, change is one of the most natural things that happens. Make sure you hang on to the things that never change. Then change what you must. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Proud or Ashamed?

Sometimes I think I'm such a cynic. Paris Hilton gets out of jail after serving about 3 weeks. She was in, then she was out, then she was back in, now she's out. And the press goes wild. Fans are everywhere. She has received her celebrity status back. In fact, she never lost it.
I see the same thing happening in life. There are those who brag about their past life. Then Jesus came along and saved their souls. Please don't get me wrong, I think that's wonderful. What I don't like is those who really like to talk about the sin. Instead of being humbled, instead of being ashamed, it's like a mark of pride.
Sin is ugly. Sin crucified our Lord. Praise God for the lives that are changed. But let's spend our time talking about the incredible work He did and less about the stupid things we did. Thanks for letting me rant. I hope your day is good. JW

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Keep Your Eyes Open

Wow, what a game! One of the advantages of living in Omaha, NE is being able to go and see the College World Series. The second largest crowd in CWS history was there at the second game last night and it was a dandy! (Did I just sound like a sportscaster?)
It had been a fairly boring game, a hit here, a run there, for most of the game. Then in the eighth inning, Arizona State struck for three runs. Now it's 7-3, and UC-Irvine is probably going to lose. People start streaming out of the stadium. After all, who comes back from a four run deficit to the number 5 rated team in the country? Guess what? In the bottom of the eighth the Anteaters (Can you believe that nickname for UC-Irvine, reminds me of some of the mascots for teams in Arkansas) scored four runs and probably would have scored more had their third base coach not tried to stop one of his players from going too far. He reached out and tried to keep him from running home. He was automatically called out. The inning ended soon after. But in the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded, the center fielder (Ol-lie! Ol-lie! Ol-lie!, the crowd chanted) singled to drive in a walk-off run. The crowd went wild, the game was fantastic.
But a lot of the crowd left. They missed it. They missed the excitement, the cheers, the drama. Isn't that what happens in our lives? We think everything is boring so we turn to other things. We leave, we check out. Much of life is mundane. Much of life is feeding the kids, going to work, and paying the bills. But there are times, and you never know when they're going to happen, when the kids do something that just WHAM!, hit's you in the face spectacular. Or there is something where God just knocks your socks off. Where will you be when that happens?
You see, that's my problem with the quality/quantity time debate. The problem with the quality time is, you never know when it's going to happen. So the best way is to spend the quantity time you need to.
Keep your eyes open today. Put your nose to the grindstone. But don't miss a beat. You never know what fantastic thing will happen. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Baling Hay and Hard Work

You have probably read a blog of mine talking about how aromas can be one of the most specific memory reminders of us humans. You can take one whiff of something and it takes you back to certain places in your past. I have talked about smelling a lamination machine and thinking of my days at Yarnell's Ice Cream where they packed the half-gallons in plastic.
Well, it happened again as I was riding my bike. This time, it was the fresh cut grass. It reminded me of my granddad's farm, fresh cut hay, and hard work. What was the hard work? Once the hay was cut, my grandfather took his Allis Chalmers tractor and connected the rake to it. He would then rake the hay into neat rows. My Great Uncle Seddie owned the baler. He would come and bale the hay. When the hay was baled, my grandfather would, this time with the wagon attached, come along behind and the bales were put up on the wagon. In my younger days, I could only watch the others lift the heavy bales onto the wagon. In my teen years, I got the "privilege" of doing that. It was hard work for little pay.
So today, I laugh at my son when he complains of a double shift, i.e. working eight hours or two four hour shifts at Olive Garden. He's a host. He gets paid $8 an hour to smile at people and seat them. "When I was a boy...." Once he hears those words, the eyes roll and the brain disengages. That's all right. I did the same to my father when I heard his tales. I've been reading his diaries lately. They are filled with hard work. Work that I never did. So one day, my son will tell his son about his double shifts. Wow, I'm getting old. Have a great day. JW

Monday, June 18, 2007

Religious Blowhards

One of the pleasures of living in Omaha, NE is being able to go to the College World Series. What a blast to see eight great teams come in and compete. I have to admit, in spite of the blast of sunburn I got last Saturday, it's really something that's fun. Unless....
Friday, my son and I were sitting along the third base side in the corner of left field. Behind us was a guy who was, well, I'll just say it, a blowhard. He had no clue what he was talking about. And talk he did. He commented on every pitch. He called the pitcher "Meat." "C'mon, Meat. Throw the curve ball, Meat." His friend who was a baseball novice asked him the question, "How do all these teams qualify to come?" His answer? "Well, they have these things called regionals and they play each other." Wow! That's bright, Sherlock. The fact that they have regionals all over the country where 64 teams compete. Four in each regional. Then they have Super Regionals where the final eight teams are decided by a best two out of three series. Then it's a double elimination at the CWS with the final two teams playing the best two out of three.
There was a foul ball down the third base line. "Awwww, c'mon ump! How could you call that foul. It was in fair territory. I'll pay for your next eye examination." The gentleman in front of me turned around smiling, he said, "It wasn't even close." Constant talk, never saying anything.
I wonder if that's how we come across in the church. Always talking, rarely acting. Spouting off as if we knew everything, but really knowing very little. And truly we often come off sounding like religious blowhards. Yet we keep talking and talking and talking. Who was it, Francis of Assisi who said something like, "Preach the gospel always. if necessary, use words." Perhaps that should be our motto.
You've got to realize, these are hard words for a preacher because I am one who talks for a living. But I need to realize that actions speak louder than words. How cliche. How true. I hope your day is good. And I hope you don't have to sit in front of a pseudo know-it-all. JW

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart.....Those of you who have ever attended Vacation Bible School know that song. Now you have to sing it with a scowl on your face because it's very serious singing about joy. Nowadays we sing songs like, Who is the King of the jungle? (Ooo Ooo) Who is the King of the sea? (Wadda Wadda Wadda), etc.
Yes, tomorrow night we begin our VBS. I remember the "Brought One" buttons. If you brought somebody, you got a pin. If you brought 10 by the end of the VBS (we were industrious back then) then you got a "Brought 10" button. No door prize, only a button.
But a lot of teaching goes on at these. Robert Fulghum wrote a book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it he tells of basic things we need to know. Well here's what we learn in VBS.

1. God is God and there is no One like Him
2. Singing is fun
3. There are a lot of people who care for children
4. Church buildings can be used for a lot of cool things
5. Kool-Aid and cookies are good
6. My teachers act a lot like Jesus would
7. I like learning with others
8. You can learn about Jesus days other than Sunday and Wednesday
9. The Bible is God's Word
10. I can't wait until next year's VBS

I hope your day is good. JW

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Paul's Task

We often talk about the apostle Paul, about his mission in this world. He mentions that he is the apostle to the Gentiles. Missions are good. Mission statements are important. They give us direction. They give us a starting and ending point. But I found something today that just verified my thoughts lately.
You who have been reading my blog know that I have mentioned a lot about grace. You've heard me say that I had an elder (not where I am now) tell me that he thought we could talk too much about grace. How can that be? It's by grace that we're saved. Grace is one of the foundational things we must latch onto. The New Testament is full of grace. Paul's teachings are full of grace. The apostles taught grace often.
Today, as I was reading in Acts, I found Paul's mission. He was talking to the Ephesian elders and he tells them that he is being warned by the Holy Spirit that hardships were facing him at every turn. But here's his reply to that.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--

Here it is! The task the Lord Jesus has given him. What is that task? Is it to go to all the world? Is it to preach in Rome? Is it to tell the Gentiles of God's love? The answer to all of those questions is "yes." But not in the form we often think. Listen to what the task is.

...the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Acts 20:24

There it is again. The gospel (good news) of God's (The Almighty, the Creator, I AM) grace (God's riches at Christ's expense). Wow! If you ever needed evidence of our message, there it is. God's grace. That's our task, our mission. To tell the world of God's grace. Why don't we start today. Why don't we start believing in our own lives today. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, June 07, 2007

What Defines You

I was picking up my (not as often) venti, no water chai from Starbucks this morning. The young barista who made my drink called out, "Venti, no water chai." "That's me," I proclaimed. She said, "I hope that's not you. That's just your drink."
I started to think about that. When Hal Holbrook did a Mark Twain imitation, the advertisement said, "Hal Holbrook is Mark Twain." When referring to Jerry West, former West Virginia Mountaineer and Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, they call him "The Logo." They call him that because the logo of the NBA is Jerry West. He's also called "Mr. Basketball."
Who do people say you are? Or, what defines your life? Is it your job? Is it some extra-curricular activity you are involved in? Some civic club? Are you called Mr. or Ms. Kiwanis? Really, ask yourself, "What defines me?"
For Paul it was easy. "For me to live is Christ..." He spoke with deeds and actions, not just words. Truly he lived de facto for or as Jesus. Perhaps that our role here on earth. To show people who Jesus really was. To truly ask the question before every action, "What would Jesus do?" We need to be Jesus with skin. What a challenge! What a mission! What a Savior! What a Lord! Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Three years ago yesterday I stood on the shores of Omaha Beach looking out over the North Sea where the Normandy Invasion occurred 60 years earlier. What an inspiring place to stand knowing that thousands of heroes died that day. The walk through the cemetery is equalling humbling.
Several years before that, I stood in the memorial that spans the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor. Over 3000 soldiers are still entombed in the ship. There is a permanent oil slick there, described as the ship weeping for its inhabitants.
I have also walked among the graves at Arlington National Cemetery and have been moved to tears while hearing Taps being played at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. All of these places are ones of sacrifice and honor and quietness.
Yet, one day there was One who was sentenced for a crime He didn't commit. He was killed for speaking the truth. He was nailed to a tree in my place. And though I am moved by seeing the sacrifices of our troops, I am even more humbled by my Lord and Savior who died so that I could have life. It was He who taught the world about sacrifice. He led the way, as always. He did so willingly so that we might have life, hope. Thank you, Lord! Thank you! I hope your day is good. JW

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Come Ye Disconsolate

I remember it as if it were yesterday. Fifteen minutes of uninterrupted quiet time seemed like an eternity. Yet at Fort Hill Camp, we were required to find a place of solitude and listen to hymns piped over the intercom while we read our Bibles or prayed or played in the dirt. The latter seemed more interesting to me.
There was one song (and only one song) that I remember that played over that loudspeaker system. There were others, but for some reason I remember this one. We don't sing it much anymore although the words are comforting and the tune is beautiful.
Come, ye disconsolate, where'er ye languish;
Come, at the mercy seat, fervently kneel;
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure;
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
"Earth has no sorrow that heav'n cannot cure."

Here see the bread of life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above;
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heav'n can remove.

For some reason those words have stuck in my heart. We have a place of consolation, a place where God meets us and loves us and forgives us. And there is no sorrow that He cannot heal. Words of hope. Words of comfort. Ah, those old hymns. Have a great day. JW

Monday, June 04, 2007

Evelyn Juanita Garloch White

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I have talked a lot about my mother. Today, June 4, would have been her 86th birthday had she lived. How appropriate, though, I've been listening to Rick Atchley's sermon series on Heaven. That is, I'm convinced with all my heart, is where she will be for eternity.
I learned so much at her feet. Her compassion, her tenderness, her grit, her joy, her devotion were all things I admired greatly about her. She used to sing at the kitchen sink. She didn't sing songs about just anything. She sang hymns. She was teaching her boys about Jesus through song. And when I collected the white flowers of clover from our yard, mere weeds, she acted as if they were a dozen roses. She would get a glass of water and put them in there. And when I knocked over my drink at the table, even though my brothers would fuss at me for making a mess, she would say, "It'll come out in the wash." And although I towered over her physically in her later years, I never measured up to her spiritual greatness in the Lord. So today, I wish you a happy birthday, Mom. I miss you. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

It's Like Riding a Bicycle

"It's like riding a bicycle." That means it's supposed to be easy. Well, for my 53rd birthday this year, my daughter and son-in-law gave me money to help buy a bicycle for me to ride. This, of course, is for my health. And frankly, I do like it better than walking...somewhat.
I remembered when I was young I would get on the bike and with a few pumps of the pedals I was going so fast. The breeze was flowing through my hair. I got places really fast and I could ride forever. Now I have to wear a helmet so my hair doesn't flow in the breeze and besides it's a lot shorter. And I've noticed how many hills there are in Nebraska. My old bike had one gear. This new one has 25 or 30. And I don't remember sweating as much as a kid when I rode the bike. Now in 30 minutes, I can see all the houses in my general neighborhood. It just doesn't seem that I go near as far in the amount of time.
So don't let anyone use that saying anymore. Because it's not. It's much, much harder. I hope your day is great. JW

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pray for Your Leaders

We have a tradition of buying a little book for those who are moving out of our area. We place those books out in the foyer and people sign their best wishes to the family who is leaving.
Yesterday, I was signing one of the books and I happened to notice a message placed by someone. The book is a book on prayer. It has a drawing of President Bush with President Lincoln on one side, President Washington on the other. Both have their hands on the present president's shoulder and they are praying. The book is extremely appropriate for the couple who is leaving because 1. they have been people of great faith and prayer and 2. the husband is former military.
What was written was something like this. "The only thing President Bush deserves is life in prison. Shame on all you Republicans who voted for him."
First, it was extremely inappropriate for something like that to be put in a book honoring someone who is leaving. Second, what about the Democrats who voted for President Bush? Third, why didn't they sign their name? I don't think that whoever wrote that goes to church with us. I think it was probably someone else who ventures through our building at one time or another. Our building is used a lot by other people.
So what's our response? Cover it up and move on. Prayer is not about politics. It's not about partisanship. It's not about Republicans or Democrats. Frankly, I think God really couldn't care less about which party is in power. We are told to pray for our leaders. And, if you read your Bible, you will see that God uses nations that don't follow Him to accomplish the tasks He wants accomplished. So God is neither American or Democrat, Russian or Republican. God is God.
Well, I've spouted enough. I hate to see this couple go. And I've stood on my soapbox long enough. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Desert

There are times when it just doesn't happen. There's nothing pertinent or glib to say. The words just don't come, nor do the thoughts. To one who makes his living by talking, that used to be and sometimes is still frustrating. But I'm learning. I'm learning that sometimes it's better just to shut up. (We weren't allowed to say "shut up" in my home growing up, so it's hard to even write it!) Sometimes it's better to "be still and know that I am God."
So when the words don't come, I still know that God is faithful. When I just don't seem to be hitting on all cylinders, I know that God never slumbers. When I dont' have anything bright to say, I know that God has already said it. Period. No need for another paragraph. But as I read today in II Chronicles, and with these words I'll leave you today, "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." Have a great day. And don't worry if you feel like you're in the desert. The rain is coming. In fact, they're showers of blessings. JW