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.