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