Monday, April 30, 2007

Pepperdine and Prayers

I leave tomorrow for the Pepperdine Lectures. Last year was my first trip and I loved the opportunity. To hear the caliber of speakers is truly an honor. This year is no exception.
One of the greatest things about being one of God's children is when people say to me that they are praying for me. I've had that happen several times lately and it means a lot. Encouragement is one of God's greatest gifts. Barnabas...son of Encouragement. He's one of my favorite Bible characters because he always is positive. I think about Paul in Philippians when he tells them whatever is true and right and noble and of good report, think about those things. Instead of thinking of gossip, dirt, trash, and other such things, think of noble things. I think that is what praying is.
So to all of you out there who are praying....thanks. More than you'll ever know. Have a great day. I'll see you next week. JW

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Good News!

I just read one of my favorite Bible stories. It's found in II Kings 6 and 7. Ben-Hadad, king of Aram besieges Samaria and the situation is beyond dire. There's no way out. Finally four lepers say, "You know what, if we stay here, we die. If we go and surrender, we may die. But what choice do we have?" So they go out to Aramean camp. There these four outcasts, find all of the riches they could ever imagine. You can just see them putting on new clothes, hiding precious metals, gorging themselves on the food they've found. One of them says, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves."
Isn't that us? We are the lepers who have found the riches of God's grace. We did nothing to earn it. We haven't bought the merits of God's glory. But we enjoy it. However, it is a day of good news. Everyday is in the kingdom. It is our responsibility to live and act that way.
The lepers went back and told everyone. Some believed, some didn't. They did what they should. So should we. Not everyone will listen, but it's seed sowing time. It is good news. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

Does it seem to you that things are going from bad to worse? You have the killings at Virginia Tech. You have a guy at NASA killing someone for a bad job review. More casualties occur in Iraq every day. Iran is threatening. Israel is threatening Hamas. Everyone is blaming everyone else. Frankly, it causes my head to spin and to wonder what is happening in our world.
I've been reading from the book of Revelation lately. There is a key element there that we can apply to today. The Christians of the first century are being brutally persecuted. They are struggling with life in general and they ask, "How long?" In chapter 4 we find all of God's creation around His throne. God is in control. We come to the end of chapter 6. God is in control. One of the things that is hardest for us to realize is that God is in control. Twila Paris has a great song that I used to listen to every morning because my life seemed out of control itself. "God is in control. We believe that His children will not be forsaken," she sings. Really, isn't it the truth? There is an old song that used to be sung all the time. Now I rarely hear it. It was sung on the Ed Sullivan show. (I can't believe I'm saying that! It shows my age.) "He's got the whole world in His hands." Yes, He does. He still does. He always will. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Sometimes we bemoan the fact that bad things are happening to us. Some of that is brought on by the fact that we live in a fallen world. And, in reality, bad things do sometimes happen to good people. Sometimes, bad things happen as a result of choices. They are called consequences.
I was watching Bruce Almighty the other night starring Jim Carrey. I know, some of you don't like him and there are some coarse elements in this movie. But overall, there are some good points made, too. At one point, Bruce finally comes to the end of his rope. While walking in the pouring rain, he gets on his knees and looks up to the heavens. He shouts, "You win, I yield myself to your will." At that point a light shines on him, he looks up, and it's a semi coming right at him. The next scene, he's in heaven wearing white. He's walking among the clouds and he's talking to God. "Why me? Why did I die." God says something like this to him, "You can't kneel down in the middle of the high way and not expect to get run over, ya dummy."
I imagine there's a lot of time when the Lord would love to say, "Ya dummy. Why aren't you listening?" I know why He doesn't. It's the same reason we don't call our own children by such names.
As hard as it is to accept, there are always consequences for the choices we make. It's a tough concept, but one we need to realize. How does one make good choices? Ask God for wisdom. James 1 says He'll give to all liberally, without finding fault. Two, seek first His kingdom. Jesus said if we'll do that God will take care of all of our needs. And, three, we need to be content with what we have. Godliness, Paul said, with contentment is great gain.
I hope your day is a good one filled with good choices and full of God's contentment. Have a good one. JW

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Charles Edward White

Since I won't blog tomorrow, I want to blog on something I have talked about really every year about this time since I began this record. On April 20, 1920, Charles Edward White was born to Clyde Emerson and Mary Lucille Stout White. He was the eldest of seven kids. Even before my grandparents died, he was the patriarch of the family. Everyone looked to him for advice about everything, especially church things. He was the only one who had gotten more than a high school education. Although he wasn't the wealthiest of the bunch, he was considered the wisest.
He came by his spiritual fervor naturally. His father was a deacon at the Bearwallow Church of Christ. His grandfather, John Edward White, was also a faithful member of the same church. And his great-grandfather, James Hiram White, belonged to the long gone, "Old Bedford Church," all there in Meigs County, Ohio.
I didn't always agree with Dad, but I respected him too much to fight with him. He passionately defended the church. He loved my mother. He read his Bible faithfully. He served His God. He loved Jesus. He loved his sons. Although he wasn't perfect, he was a great example to me. I celebrate his life and know that he is waiting, along with Mom, to welcome me home.
What a wonderful legacy I have. Why was I born to such a family? I don't know. I have been blessed with a lot and I know God expects a lot of me, too. So it is with that thought, I wish Dad happy birthday. He would have been 87 years old tomorrow had he lived. But he lives forever in the place he taught me about. I'll see you soon, Dad. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Spring, Part II

On my morning walk, I noticed that the trees are starting to try to leaf out again. There are some with flowers blooming once again. And although the forsythia is gone for this year, there are still some tulips that are trying to peek their way up through the ground. Spring is arising again...the second time this year.
After Mount St. Helens erupted, the ash and lava flow destroyed the natural life that grew near the mountain. Several years ago, wild fires raged through Yellowstone National Park and destroyed much of the beautiful flora of the region. But scientists have be amazed at the return of the natural beauty of the area. What many thought would take decades, maybe even never to return, has come back in just a matter of years.
Isn't that like us. We bloom and then we're crushed. The tragedies and hardships of life cause us to wilt and die. But God allows us to grow once again. And not just once, but over and over again. "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22 Are you one of those who has been crushed? Has your spirit died within you. Take courage, my friend, life is coming again soon. God has not created you to stay in such a state. He wants you to bloom and grow. Yes, He encourages it. He adores you and wants you to become what you can be, what you ought to be. So Spring comes again in Nebraska. And it can come again in you. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Life and Death

I was talking to the mother of a marine the other day and she told me something interesting. She said they teach their soldiers to prepare to die in Iraq. That way, if and when they come back, it's a blessing. Isn't that the same way Jesus told us to live? Paul said, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Jesus said if you find your life, you will lose it. If you lose your life, you will find it. Paul said to the Romans, "If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."
Even Jesus knew this. Philippians says that He became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Seems to me we work at teaching people to live. Maybe we ought to teach people how to die. And when that happens, life follows. I hope you have a full life today. JW

P.S. My deepest condolences to those victims of the Virginia Tech massacre. I heard a reporter ask, "How do you make sense of this?" Dumb question. It doesn't make sense in any way. But there are a lot of things in this life that don't make sense.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Are you a perfectionist? Do you worry? I have to admit that I do worry about some things. I have never, however, been accused of being a perfectionist. I've known some in my time and I could give you a list, but I don't want to do that. Perfectionists are never happy because things are never quite the way they should be.
Last night, we were listening in class to Dr. Norman Wright and he made this statement. I thought it was classic: "There's no such thing as a successful perfectionist." Isn't that the truth? To see the world through a perfectionist's eyes is to see a world that's never quite there.
There are those in the church who look at the world this way. We can know everything and every answer to every question. There is no leeway and perfection can be attained. I'm sorry, if that were true, there would never be any room or need for grace.
So give it up, if you are one of those perfectionists. There's only one who was perfect...and you're not Him. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Another Good Day

What a beautiful day! As I walked this morning, the sky was just brightening up and the birds were singing. There wasn't quite (operative word here, "quite") the nip in the air as there has been the last several days. It is supposed to snow again tomorrow, but for today, that's past.
God and I had a nice walk together. New thoughts came to mind as I pondered my lesson for Sunday, my lesson for tonight, my lesson for Pepperdine. I thought about a blog I read recently by Terry Rush. In fact, any blog by Terry Rush. He hits a home run every time I read him. He talked recently about measuring our ministry by the seed we sow, not by all the other tangibles the world uses. I was thinking about sowing seed. Yesterday, he talked about the pivotal part of his ministry was when he quit talking about brotherhood issues and started preaching Christ. I appreciate his attitude.
So I was joyful as the day began. And to top it off, as I came down the last stretch to the house, my son drove out on his way to school. He stopped and opened the door (he tried to roll down the window, but failed. He's only a junior in high school and they are electric windows) and gave me the hand bump or the rock, whatever you call it. It's what we do before he goes to school. We say, "Jesus is Lord." We have to do it twice. Now I ask you, how could a day start off better than that? I hope yours goes as well. JW

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well, well, well. The old saying goes, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." I remember this saying from my first grade class years ago (and I mean years ago). Truthfully, March did come in like a lion here in Nebraska. We had a blizzard right at the first of the month. By the end of March it was warm and pleasant. Flowers were blooming, grass was growing, and everything looked like, well, like Spring. March went out like a lamb.
But as I look out my window here on April 11, it's snowing. However, it's actually quite warm (32 degrees) considering the weather has been in the teens overnight for over the last week. We had a record (a record, even in Nebraska) cold night at 18 degrees several nights ago. March may have come in like a lion, but somebody forgot to kill it! And it killed the lamb.
But you know what? What does the weather really matter? What matters is friends and relationships. Just ask my California friends. Paul said, "But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us." Tell me the weather was on Paul's mind when he wrote those words.
So when you start getting down about rain, or snow, or even too much sunshine (An old Arab proverb--Too much sunshine doth a desert make.), remember your relationships.
Now, just for the record, I would take a nice sunshine type day with temperatures in the upper 70s. Hope your day is great. Mine's going to be. JW

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Please Pray for Wayne

I just got a shudder during a phone call that I just had in the last hour. In 1993, my father died of prostate cancer. After surgery, broken bones, and finally the cancer literally eating through his hip, he died from the horrible disease on July 8, 1993.
I just talked to my eldest brother, Wayne, who is a preacher in Dallas, TX. He just informed me that he's been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Now I know treatments have changed a lot since Dad was first told of his cancer, but that doesn't make the thought of his cancer any easier to take.
So it is my prayer that you remember my brother Wayne. He leaves for the Ukraine on Thursday of this week to teach and preach for a little over two weeks. Then on his return, he will have surgery. I'll try to keep you informed.
God is good. God is faithful. Have a great day. JW

Monday, April 09, 2007

God is Good

"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

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD gives grace and glory.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11

Taken from God as He Longs for You to See Him by Chip Ingram

Have a great day. JW

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Two Deaths

I don't usually blog on Saturday morning, but I'm in my office. In a few minutes I'll be attending the second funeral for our congregation this week. The first was an 82 year old woman whose life was good. She lived a long, fruitful life in service in the Kingdom. In a few minutes, a fairly young man in his 40s who learned about Jesus later in his life.
Both of these situations have caused me to realize once again how really short life is. I'm only 30 years from the lady who died earlier in the week. She had Alzheimer's. I've been married for 30 years and I can't believe how quickly it's gone by. Today's funeral is a man younger than I am. I first met him a couple of years ago when he and his wife moved here. Soon after I met him, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. After a bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, other treatments, a visit to another doctor in a western state, being sent home to die, he passed this life quickly. James says our life is but a vapor. The Old Testament writers say basically the same. Why is it that it takes something like this to get us to really believe it?
"Teach us to number our days aright." Live them all to the fullest. Love your family. Hug those you love. Spread grace to everyone. Smile. Enjoy the journey. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Selective Grace

This is one of those posts I want you to consider deeply. It's been on my heart and mind for a long time. Please don't write me off if you don't agree with what I say. Instead, let's talk.
If you've been a consistent reader of my blog, you'll know that I have mentioned quite a bit about grace. You've read that I have said we need to be more about grace and less about law. Most will give me a hearty "Amen!" But there are still who don't buy it. But consider this.
Say when I die, I get to heaven and God says to me, "Jim, you know you were wrong about....(Pick any C of C issue, women's role, instrumental music, etc.). Would I depend on God's grace? Absolutely! I depend on it in every aspect of my life. I can't take one step without it. All right, if someone from another religious heritage does the same and God says, "You know you were wrong about...." (Once again, pick any issue where we disagree.) Why wouldn't God's grace be effective in the same situation? Why is it that only "our" people receive God's grace? How arrogant is that and how arrogant are we?
It's time we allow God to add to the number of His church and to quit being in the legalistic selection business. I hear the collective gasp of some of you. "Then what do you preach?" The same things I have always been preaching. But I allow God to be God and I will continue to rely on His grace mightily.
There, I said it. No grace makes us legalistic. All grace gives us what Bonhoeffer calls "cheap grace." But true grace changes us. It makes us serve out of gratitude and praise rather than a sense of "have to." I prefer serving out of gratitude. It makes our lives more joyous and full of purpose.
There. I said it. Agree or disagree. Just be kind. I hope your day is filled with joy...and grace. JW

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Bring up the word "Meditation" and it conjures up images of sitting in a lotus position mumbling some mantra that makes no sense. At least, that's what I thought of. Yet, the Bible tells us to meditate. I think I've got it.

I'm not good at it, but I think I have a better understanding. On my morning walks (and by the way, I highly recommend this) I have kept my iPod in my ears listening to Christian music. I would begin with prayer and then switch to the music. It's been a great experience. But lately, I have prayed and then allowed God's word to dwell in my mind. All of a sudden, my thoughts are clear, I have new points for sermons, I think of things I should.

Now that's meditation. I like it. I'm not good at it yet. But I think I have a better understanding of it. And I hope you do, too. Have a great day! JW

An old song we used to sing:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart,
Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Song Tag

The last time I was tagged, it was a book tag. This time Franklin has done a music tag. I'm supposed to list seven songs I'm listening to. I'm going to cheat just a little. But I'll explain that in my explanations:

1. Your Are A Child of Mine--Mark Schultz, anything by Mark Schultz. This song encourages me in the mornings when I hear these words.

2. You Found Me--FFH. I just like this upbeat song about my relationship with God.

3. What Will You Do With The Time That's Left?--Another Mark Schultz. Wow, I could put any of his songs on this list. Letters from War, Walking Her Home, etc.

4. Untitled Hymn--Chris Rice. This song became special to me after the deaths of my father-in-law and my mother. Tears fill my eyes everytime I hear this song.

5. When Peace Like a River--We sang this in our worship yesterday. There is nothing more moving than our congregational affirmation of whatever happens, we trust God. I know this isn't technically a song I'm listening to right now. But in a way, yes it is.

6. My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less--Okay, sorry. I get to do another one like number 5. There are no better words than, "On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand."

7. I Can Only Imagine--Mercy Me. I've got to admit. I almost put in So Long Selfhere. But once again, since the passing of two dear people, this song has come to mean a lot.

8. Everywhere I Go I See You--Rich Mullins, or Michael W. Smith. Actually, I prefer Rich Mullins version. As I walk in the mornings, I see the glorious sunrises, I hear the birds singing, and the whole world wakes around me, I see the Father. By the way, I listed eight when I was only supposed to list seven. It's my blog and I can do what I want. There are so many and the list changes from day to day.

Okay. I tag Karen Koonce. She will love this. Have fun with it, Karen. Have a great day. JW