Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Standing Beside Me

I just finished reading the book of Acts (again). I don't know how many times I've read it, but it gets better every time. I remember in junior high school having to learn Paul's missionary journeys in our Wednesday evening class. Then I had the privilege of having Dr. Jerry Jones for Acts class at Harding.
Something caught my eye this time. Paul has been arrested by the mob in Jerusalem in spite being warned by Agabus. There's a bounty on his head. He's in prison not knowing what's going to happen to him. The Roman commander was so afraid for Paul's life because the crowd wanted to tear him apart. Then in verse 11 of chapter 23 it says, "The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, 'Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.'" The Lord stood near Paul. Then I remembered Stephen's stoning. He saw Jesus standing next to the throne of God. Later on in my reading this morning, Paul is on a ship that's about to sink in stormy waters. Paul tells the crew, "Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me..."
How many times in our lives do we feel oppressed? Things are going from bad to worse and we're not sure what's going to happen. It's in those times that I believe the Lord stands beside us. He's ever present. He's always there. And He will not let us fall. Like with Paul, He'll be there right beside us. When we think He's far away, He isn't. When we feel abandoned, we aren't. And that brings me comfort. I hope it does you, too. Have a great day! JW

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Chesnutts

It was a great weekend. I first scheduled to go down to Arkansas for one event and ended up at four. My first foray was the Green Valley Bible Camp golf tournament. Even though our team was four under for the round, I was reminded once again that I should not give up my day job. Then that evening I was privy to the Arkansas Razorback debacle. It's sad when the highlight of the game was the band and the flyover by the B-2 bomber. Sunday night I was asked to speak at an area-wide youth gathering. Although I did my best, there are other more talented and more engaging speakers than I. My prayer was that God used my words and entered the hearts of those listening.
But the highlight of the weekend was the Sunday morning service at the Southside Church of Christ in Rogers. There, my friend Jackie Chesnutt and his wife Mackie were honored for 30 years of service at the Southside church. Jackie and I came to NW Arkansas the same year and became good friends. Down through the years our paths continued to cross and as always, Jackie never ceased to amaze me with his friendship, his wisdom, and his love. One thing is always certain around Jackie, you will laugh.
Through the years I have sought Jackie's advice and he never ceased to amaze me with his wisdom. And as I said Sunday, there are those who may be smarter than Jackie and certainly more handsome, but there is no one with more godly wisdom than Jackie Chesnutt. One of the greatest gifts God has given to me in this life is to have Jackie as a friend.
The mayor was there to honor this wonderful couple. Terry Rush spoke in his own inimitable way about the "Wow!" of God. Gifts were given, lunch was served, and Jesus was honored. Yes, you read that right. Jesus was honored. You see, these two have their life built firmly on the Rock of Ages. Paul said one time, "Follow me as I follow Christ." I think that's the motto of Jackie and Mackie Chesnutt, because they have followed Christ as long as I have known them.
So today in this blog, I also honor my good friends Jackie and Mackie Chesnutt. Jackie, you married way above yourself. But I will tell you this, I count it a privilege to call you my friend. God bless you richly!! I love you! Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

No Privacy Anymore

She was obviously upset about something when she sat down. Nate and I were sitting in the airport in Columbus, OH when this girl plopped herself down across from us. She pulled out two cell phones, dialed a number and began talking. Now I could hear everything she was saying. "I know, I know. We can make it. We'll just get to see each other once a week. I know it's hard." I can only assume she was talking to her boyfriend, fiancee, perhaps husband. I doubt the latter because she didn't have a wedding band on. She sobbed as she said several things to him about missing him and being with him, etc. As soon as she hung up, she picked up the other cell phone and I think she was texting.
Have you noticed, though, there is no privacy anymore. Used to, we took calls in our office. Now the phone is on our ear or in our pocket. And when people talk, it's as if they have the tin cans with the string connecting them. So they yell. "I JUST WANTED TO SEE IF YOU STILL WANTED TO RENT THE ROOM FOR THE CHRISTMAS PARTY." Another conversation I heard in an airport. Business is conducted, personal lives are revealed, and there is nothing private.
Ah, for the days. I love cell phones. But along with them come the quirks and nuances about them. Sometimes I just wish we'd go back to talking to each other. Not on Instant Messaging or Facebook or cell phone or anything else. Just talk. It's no wonder our world is the way it is. Oh, well. I need to get over it. Excuse me, my cell phone just rang. I hope you have a great day. JW

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Churches Die

Nate and I drove by it the first time. I turned around and we tromped up the hill and found it. It's the old Bedford church. It's where my Great-Great Grandfather White went to worship after he migrated to Ohio following the Civil War. It's mentioned in his obituary. There's nothing there now. Only some old tombstones, many in disrepair. An old tree has fallen separating the cemetery part from where the old church used to stand.
While visiting with my aunt, she showed me a little history of the Bedford church. It was found in a little booklet about another branch of my family (the Staneart's pronounced Stan-ert). I nearly wept as I read about what happened. It talked about the harmony of the church and how everyone got along. There were a lot of family members who attended together. mentions a preacher who came and had a different teaching than one they were used to. It pitted brother against brother. The article went on to talk of the hatred that erupted through these arguments. So much so that another church was started. That new church was the one where my dad grew up. It's the church I remember so well in my youth. In fact, in front of Bearwallow is the stone step from the old Bedford church. My grandfather told me he wanted it put there. I took a picture of it the other day.
Last week as I drove by the "new" church, I realized that it was nearly dead. There's basically one family left with a few others. It made me sad to realize how good Satan is. Both churches are nearly gone.
In order for our churches to survive, we will have to fight. Fight for people. Fight against Satan and not against each other. Agree to disagree, but don't let hatred lead the way. "Don't let Satan Pffff it out. I'm gonna let it shine." Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

I sat down to write about September 11, 2001. My thoughts were completed when I felt compelled to look back and see if I had commented on this before. Sure enough, I had. Oddly enough, it was almost identical. My conclusions where the same. I'm glad I looked.
You see the world has changed so much, but the solution to our problems is the same. I wrote about it today, then deleted it. It's in my other blog about September 11. The solution is Jesus. I've learned more than I care to know about Islam, politics, and terrorism over the last several years. My desire is to learn more about Jesus. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Simple, yet so hard for people to understand. But when Jesus lived, even then was scandal and upheaval. Yet the cross towers over time and draws us to Him. Lord, please forgive us when we forget about you.
Remember those who lost their lives for all the wrong reasons. Pray that this will never happen again. JW

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dress Like a Preacher

My dad would make the (at that time) 14 hour drive to Ohio from Arkansas wearing a tie. "I just feel better with a tie on," he would say. I've worked in a field (enrollment management in higher education) where ties are not an option. Many times I've walked into a room and had the people say, "Okay, the suits are here." And when I was a little boy, how many times did I hear my mother say to me, "Stop running; you've got your church clothes on."?
So it didn't surprise me when I heard my aunt say, "I want a preacher to dress like a preacher." She also asked me if I wore a tie when I preached. "Sometimes." So I was interested to see what her preacher dressed like. Oh, my goodness, I stepped back into the 60s. He had dark pants, a white, short-sleeved shirt, and a smiley face tie. The smiley faces were all different expressions. It reminded me of some of the gatherings I would go to in college/university circles. We would be in a somewhat formal setting and someone would have a cartoon tie on.
So what how does a preacher dress? What is the correct attire? If you have the answer, I would love to know. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Family Reunion

There was belly-busting laughter. There were tears of sadness and remembrance. There were moments of wonder and awe. Now, you might think I am talking about a movie, but I'm talking of our family reunion.
My great-great grandfather James Hiram White moved to Meigs County, Ohio immediately after the Civil War. He served for the South during that war. If what I'm finding is true, it's a wonder that any of the White family is alive today. According to my grandfather, their land was so torn up they decided to move West from Virginia. There they settled and many of them still live in the area today.
We laughed and laughed at stories of my grandmother killing ants with her walker. We heard old jokes and laughed anyway. Laughter came naturally as we saw each other for the first time in years. My aunt cried as she told of her six month old sister dying of the flu in 1934. She woke up with a sniffle on Christmas day and was buried on January 1. She told a story of them opening the casket up at the cemetery on that cold winter day. My grandfather told them to close it because he didn't want her to get cold. My uncle cried as he mentioned missing my dad. I couldn't belive the story I heard about my grandfather being run over by a wagon when he was a little boy. Later in his life they found his stomach had been separated into really two stomachs causing many of his problems later in life. And as I told you yesterday, I was amazed at the lady who Dad baptized years ago.
That's what family reunions are like. And that's what our family reunion will be like when we all get together again in heaven. You might say, "How can there be tears?" My Bible says that God will wipe away all tears from our eyes. I'm looking forward to it. What a wonderful day that will be! I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Woman in Aqua

She was wearing an aqua pant suit. Her hair was a brilliant out-of-the-bottle red. It had to be dyed because she was, well, she was old. The glasses she was wearing looked as if they covered her entire face. She saw me and made a bee-line for me. I was introduced by my aunt as Edward's youngest son.
You may already know this, but my son and I have been in Athens and Meigs County, Ohio at a White family reunion. I have so much more to write about with all of that, but I'll save it for another blog. My 17-year-old son went with some deep reservations and returned having the time of his life. I told him it was probably the highlight of his entire 17 years on this earth.
But back to the lady in aqua. Her smile was so wide on her skinny face that I thought I could see all 32 teeth. She stuck out her hand, "Lucille Carter," she said. "Your dad was a good friend of mine." "In fact," she continued, "he baptized me 65 years ago." Suddenly there was a connection. This previously unknown person and I had our lives eternally linked. A man who has been dead for 14 years, a woman in her 80s, and another man who previously didn't know the connection all of a sudden clicked. Her life was eternally changed because of the relationship she had with my dad. My dad's life was changed because of a relationship he had with the Savior of the world. My life is changed because of all three. It was a circle of life moment.
It meant a lot to me. It made it seem as if Dad was alive again. But really, he is alive. And once again, he's alive because of the relationship he had with our Lord. Have a great day. JW