Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Words Mean Something

We had our first Letters from Dad meeting the other night and we had a good turn-out. Having had a wonderful father (certainly not perfect, and sometimes stubborn and downright conservative!), who loved me in spite of my imperfections, I sometimes have a hard time identifying with someone whose father was less than what they should have been.
In our discussions, the emotions came to the surface quickly with some of the men. Some (Really, all) want to be better fathers. Others told stories of how difficult it was for their fathers to simply tell them "I love you." It helped me to realize that words mean something. The words we so flippantly say to our children can cut to the quick. They remember them for years. It was a lesson to me to measure my words carefully and to make sure that I tell my children how valuable they are, what a blessing they are to me, and how much I love them. I used to take Nate to school and the last thing we did was the rock (hand bumps) and we say, "Jesus is Lord." He told me the other day that he missed that. We don't get to do that often enough. A little thing I thought was trivial was special to my son. Fathers, be careful what you say and realize that everything you say, no matter how trivial you think it might be, makes an impression on your children...and of course eventually to their children.

He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers...." Malachi 4:6

Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

They Love Each Other

She was having surgery today. This is her second surgery in about three or four months. The first to replace her shoulder, today's to replace her hip. She couldn't stand with the use of her arms (shoulder) when she had the hip replaced so the shoulder was first. He had surgery last month, an aortic valve replacement. They are in their upper 80s and have been married a long time. Occasionally, they seem to get on one another's nerves. I've heard them talk about selective hearing.
Yet when he came in today, there was genuine concern on his face. He looked at his daughter and said, "How is she?" Nothing else mattered at that point except for her well-being. What a wonderful love story. In this day and age when marriages don't last as long as car loans, it's nice to see one that has lasted and is thriving.
She's fine. She'll be fine. She's a tough woman and I woudn't bet against her for anything. But thanks for your prayers anyway. God is good. Have a great day. JW

Monday, January 29, 2007

Tag, You're It

Well, there is a new kind of "tag" going on. I've been tagged by our youth minister, Franklin Wood who says I'm supposed to do these things:

1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence.
3. Post the text of the following three sentences.
4. Name the author and book title.
5. Tag three other people to do the same.

So here's mine:
He was purchased with a great price. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Johnb 15:13). But He laid down His life for His enemies (Rom. 5:10).

That came from Warren W. Wiersbe's book Be Rich. So I'll tag these three people.

1. Karen Koonce
2. Brian Koonce
(Husband and wife team with two different blogs)
3. Bobby Stokes

Have a great day. JW

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunlight Lessons on Sunday Morning

I was here at the building earlier than usual this morning. There were some things I needed to do before everyone arrived. As I walked into the auditorium, there was a sliver of sunlight that streamed through the stained glass windows. That light landed right across the plexiglas podium where I would speak in about an hour or so. Contrasted with that was the computer monitor that sits in front of the podium. In the sunlight you could see the cobwebs that had gathered around this piece of technology. It was quite a contrast, the light on the podium; the cobwebs on the monitor. We've come to rely an awful lot on machines and I'm the worst at that. I've got to have my cell phone, my computer is not far away from me, microwaves, fax machines, palm pilots, hand-held computers. In the sunlight in the quiet of this Lord's Day, it was almost as if God was saying to me, "Jim, the technology means nothing. Preach the Word." I stopped and prayed just that. That God would take my words and take me out of the way and allow God to go far beyond the technology of our day to hit the center of what really counts....relationships. Relationships with God, Jesus, the Spirit, relationships with our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends, the world. "I want to know Christ," is what Paul said. Indeed, we all want to know Him. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, January 25, 2007


There is a little story that's been overused (IMHO) called "Footprints." Good stories tend to be overused. Kind of like the guy throwing starfish back into the ocean. You get my drift (pardon the pun).
But since we had an influx of snow last Saturday, I've noticed footprints in the snow around our house. Most of the time, they tell a little story. It's fun trying to figure them out. (I know, it sounds as if I've lost my marbles, but hang in there with me.) First you can see where the squirrels have been digging. Hungry, they're trying to reach the stash the buried in the ground in the fall. You can see the steps leading up to the spot where they have dug. I wonder if they found what they were looking for.
Then I noticed a rabbit track. It was steady, straight, committed, almost as if someone had made them in a straight line on purpose. It looked as if this creature was on a mission.
Finally, there were some human footprints that led up to our house. From there, they crossed our yard into our neighbors. Who did this and what was he after?
In all of our lives, we leave some kind of indication that we've been around. Footprints, so to speak. What kind of impression will you leave. Will there be indication of hard work? An impression of purpose or commitment? Or will people wonder what you were up to? It's up to you. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

We Want To See Jesus!

I was watching television this morning and came across one of those televangelists. You know the ones. I kid you not, "...there is a woman sitting in a rocking chair. She has short hair, she's got lumps in her breast, just lay your hand on the television set and you'll be healed." He was wearing a jacket with all kinds of sparkles on it, so many it would have made any country singer proud.
He told the people of his audience, "If you will call, I'll send you a vial of miracle water and you do what I tell you to do and you'll be healed. " Do what I tell you to do!! I'm sorry, first of all, he lost me at the sparkles. I couldn't see Jesus wearing such an outfit. Second, the arrogance to say to do what I say to do.
Sorry. Just one of those days when that stuff rubs me the wrong way! I guess it's because I know of people who are suffering from cancer. The treatments have caused them to lose their hair. Or a friend of mine will have by-pass surgery tomorrow to take care of serious blockage. And then this guy shows up and says, "Do what I say to do." I'm sorry, I want to be like the ones who said, "Sir, we want to see Jesus." Let's continue to look for Him. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Between Intellect and Transcendence

I've never been accused of being intellectual. Philosophical discussions even make me dizzy. So yesterday, I was asked this question. "God can do anything? Right? Then can he make someone change their free will?" Really, that's the wrong question to ask. God can do a lot of things that He won't do. This got me thinking.

For instance, why pray? Why would the God of the universe who created all things listen to some of my silly requests? And there have been times where He has said "no" or just wasn't listening. At least that's my perspective at times. Why doesn't God heal certain people and allow others to die? Why was I born in the United States to godly, Christian parents?

Then I realize that I am a human being. God is God. I liked Mike Cope's blog today where he has the quote, "The biggest difference between you and God is that God doesn't think he's you." (Anne Lamott). So when reason fails me, I start to think that God is beyond me. His ways are higher than my ways. His thoughts higher than my thoughts. And so I get stuck between intellect and transcendence. When it gets far beyond my intellectual capabilities, I cede back to the fact that God is who He says He is. I read Job 38-41. Then I rely on something called "faith." Being sure of things hoped for and confident of the unseen. I'm sorry, that's where I always land. . .at least that's my answer. I trust in One who is greater than I and realize there are some things I just don't understand. Perhaps one day I will. I hope you have a great day. JW

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bad Day

At first I thought when I wrote a blog and it didn't post that it was a sign from God that He didn't want me to publish those particular thoughts to all who might see. Now, I'm just thinking I'm just pretty stupid! It's been one of those mornings. I lost a glove (one glove! It was my father-in-law's glove.), I deleted a perfectly good blog that I thought was poignant and witty and good, and then I've had someone disappoint me by not following through on a task.
But God is good and reminds me constantly not to take things too seriously. Once again, my friend Dee Skillen sends me something and #1 on the list is "Life isn't fair, but it's still good." Okay. I can handle that, but I still am not having a good day. I'm a busy man and I have things to do and these roadblocks are not making it any easier. #4--"Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does." But you don't understand. I thought this stuff was taken care of and I don't need this today. #16--"Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying."
Okay! Okay! Okay! My bad. I have a smile on my face. "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." I'll be happy. But I'll be happy being dragged kicking and screaming. Have a great day. JW

P.S. By the way, I called the place where I think I lost the glove. They found it. Hey, the day's getting better already!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Coffee Cups

I received this from my friend Dee Skillen and I thought it was worth putting in here.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups--porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite--telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said, "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all you you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups...And then you begain eyeing each other's cups. Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money, and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us." God brews the coffee, not the cups...Enjoy your coffee!

"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Thanks, Dee! Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My Brother, Judas

The hometown crowd was amazed. How did this guy get to be so smart? After all, we've known him since he was a little tyke. He's the carpenter's son. His mom lives with us and his brothers live here. You know them, James, (Ah the eldest. The one with a good name. That's a good name derived from Jacob) Joseph, (You remember Joseph. The one who saved his brothers. The one who wisely predicted Pharoah's dilemma and ended up being the salvation of Israel) Simon, (Didn't Jesus have an apostle by that name? Yes! Simon. Simon Peter. Good strong name!) and Judas. Are you kidding me? Jesus had a brother named Judas?
What do you think he thought all of his life knowing that He would be betrayed by someone named Judas? Do you think it was a constant reminder of what was to come? Do you think He ever had a conversation with the betrayer and tell him, "You know, I have a brother named Judas."? What a strange mix of betrayal and home. Do you think Judas ever "told" on Jesus? How do you think that would make Jesus feel? Perhaps in some small way it helped to prepare Jesus for what was coming and for the forgiveness He felt in His heart toward the man who was an accomplice to His death. Maybe this is a great lesson of forgiveness for us, too. Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


For some reason, my post didn't publish this morning. I guess it wasn't worth reading! My goodness it is cold in Nebraska this morning! The sign at the bank said it was -4 below zero. I started to bemoan the fact that it was so cold and then I started to think about those in Antarctica. (I know, I know, what a weird thing to think!) But here's what I was thinking. No matter what your condition in life, you can always find someone or something worse. Green Valley Bible Camp was over 100 degrees this summer. But I bet if you had gone to Death Valley, CA it would have been hotter.
Paul said that no matter what place he found himself, he was able to be content. So that's where I am today. If it's cold, there's somewhere else that's colder. If it's windy, there's somewhere else that's having a tornado. If I have a cold, someone is dealing with cancer or something else more serious. Content. That's what Paul told us to be. You want to know how to find something really good in all of this? You want a big return on your investment? Paul said that godliness + contentment = great gain. All right, all right. I get the picture. But you have to admit, it's still cold! Have a great day. JW

Monday, January 15, 2007


This weekend my family attended a show choir competition that my son participated in. After performing they are judged on a variety of things and then ranked. Obviously, I'm not biased. But I was amazed that my son's show choir didn't place higher than they did. If you know me very well, this got me thinking.
We are judged by so many things in our lives. Teens are given a score by the video game they play judging their skills. They are also judged daily by their peers on their clothes, their talents, and just about anything else you want to name. Teenagers are not shy about expressing their opinions, nor do they care what anybody thinks when making those judgments. Teachers rate their students all the time. Bosses evaluate their employees and if they are not performing, they are fired.
Can you imagine if our Christianity were judged by the same standards? That's how some people measure the "Christianity quotient." If you do a certain amount of good deeds, and your bad deed numbers are smaller than the good deed numbers, then it's been a good day. Thankfully, we don't serve a God who measures us in such ways, although to hear some, that is the way He judges us.
But if you enter the courtroom of judgment, you'll hear these words, "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? Who is he that condemns?" Then listen to these words. "Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." So in the courtroom of judgment, we serve a God who's Son intercedes. I'll take my chances with Him! Have a great day. JW

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Prayer On a Different Level

I can be pretty dense. Now wait a minute, I just heard a resounding "AMEN!" from those of you who know me out there. I have done studies on prayer, taught classes on prayer, read books on prayer, but it wasn't until this morning I understood something about prayer. There are all kinds of passages talking about different kinds of prayer, i.e.

And pray in the Spirt on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone--for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. I Timothy 2:1, 2

There are all kinds of prayers mentioned and I have done the word studies because they all mean something different. Intellectually I understood, but my heart wasn't in tune. Today, I was praying earnestly. It was different that my morning prayer of greeting and thankfulness for the new day and the beauty that surrounded me. It was a heart felt prayer asking God for blessings in a certain situation. Then it hit me.

There are conversational prayers that I have with God. Prayers of relationship. I don't want to make light of it, but it's the same with any relationship. It can be surface level. You just keep the channels of communication flowing. Nothing deep. Just making sure the water is still flowing. But there comes a time when there is a gut-wrenching, heart cry of need to the only One who can do anything about it. A little girl (and little girls aren't supposed to have to be tested for multiple sclerosis) who lies in a hospital, a dear friend who is going on a mission trip, a marriage that is getting worse. Not that my other prayers don't mean anything, but these prayers mean something.

The light bulb went off. And I finally got it. There are different kinds of prayers. There is a difference in intensity in prayers. Don't believe me? Check Jesus out in the Garden of Gethsemane. Why didn't I see it before? I don't know, I'm still learning. Hope you are, too. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

We Are Not Animals!!

The news has reported an experiment being done in Australia where humans are put on display in the zoo. These humans are allowed to snack only on bananas while there and they are allowed to go home at night. Some psychologist will evaluate them to determine what the similarities and the differences we have with our "ancestors."
My first reaction to this was laughter. But then, my thoughts turned to how ridiculous and demeaning this is. This is, in my humble opinion, one of our problems. You see, if our view of our fellow humans is that we are animals, then whatever we do is just instinct. We can't help ourselves. We can act however we want, there is no accountability, there is no correction, there is not recourse because we can't help it. That's just the way we are. Scary thing is, I've heard those words many times to explain behaviors.
Oh, we are not animals. We are created in God's holy image. We are made for relationship with Him. David said, "What is man that you are mindful of him." We are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Don't let Satan sell you this bill of goods. He wants us to see ourselves in such light. But God has made us for special relationships, for special purposes, for special lives. I don't buy this. I hope you don't either. Have a great day. JW

Monday, January 08, 2007


Lately I have been struck with the exclusiveness of the Jews in Jesus' day. After all, they were thechosen people, the one's with whom God had a covenant, Abraham's descendants. They were the only ones, the chosen ones. When did problems arise in the early church? When the Jews insisted on doing things the "right" way. The Gentiles could become Christians, but they had to do things the Jewish way. When did Paul have problems with the Jews? When he went into the synagogues on his missionary journeys. Oh, he had success for a while, but when the leaders came in, they made sure that everyone toed the line and followed orthodoxy. Jesus' harshest criticism was for those who "honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."
So why my obsession with this topic? Well, when I started thinking, haven't those same attitudes been the norm in the church of Christ? Haven't we been exclusive? Haven't we had all the answers? Haven't we excluded so many people because they didn't do things the "right" way? And if Jesus' harsh criticism was inflicted on the Jews of His day for such things, what would He say to us today? We make the circle as small as we can so, I guess, we can make ourselves look better. Instead, we make ourselves seem smaller. God forgive us for such attitudes. Help us to not only enjoy God's mercy and grace, but be the instruments of the same. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Dealing with Life

I am often amused by the stories I read in the news. It's interesting to see what people get all riled up about. Most of the stuff is not worth even mentioning. Yet, there it is many times on the front page of the newspaper, or on the internet, or on the evening news. Where it's happening, though, is in the trenches. People are struggling with life everyday. Divorce, health issues, relationships, (or lack thereof), are where it's really happening. Once we understand that everything is not just fine, that it's hard, maybe then we can start helping. We don't have to have all the answers. In fact, it's good that we don't. As I see it there are two important things we must do. First, we must point them to Jesus. He does have all the answers. They may not be the one(s) we want. But He told us to bring all our cares and burdens to him. Peter said to "cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you." Second, we must care. Rather than explaining to someone why their loved one died or giving your particular thoughts of God's reasoning is futile. But a hug and a sincere, "I'm so sorry," goes a long way. Then, and only then, can we begin making a difference. I hope your day is blessed. JW

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Press On!

At this point, my father would always say something like, "I haven't seen you in a year." I know, it's corny. But it was my Dad. Here we are at the beginning of 2007. There is so much to say, but I won't say it all here. First, I want to say that 2006 is over. Good or bad. Profitable or unprofitable, it's over. There's nothing we can do or say that can change a thing. Paul said, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
I love that passage. Forget what is behind...good or bad. It's over. The trophies won, the losses that occurred. The victories, the defeats. They're all over. This is a new day, a new year. And besides, our Lord renews us every day. What a comfort. What a joy! What a message!! That's the message for 2007. Our mistakes are never fatal. Our victories are only temporary viewed only in the fact that the real victory has already been won by Jesus. Let's press on. Let's strain. Strain to what? The prize that we've been called heavenward. Have a great day. Have a great year. JW