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