Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oil on the Beard

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! It is like precioius oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.Psalm 133, 12

I have to admit I've never had the experience of oil running down on my beard. It must be good although it doesn't sound that great to me! But our service together Sunday with the brethren from the Omaha Church was wonderful. There was an excitement, an electricity that I haven't felt for a long time. When we ate together afterword, it was a wonderful time of fellowship. And even though we took the Lord's Supper together, I imagine that our meal afterward was more like the meal that they ate together in New Testament times.
Now I know why some fussed and griped about this. It was Satan at work. He can't stand brethren worshiping together, fellowshiping together, being together in harmony.
My call to anyone who reads this is to gather together with others just as we did. In spite of differences, there is a beauty that is indescribable. If we did this more often, the world would see the beauty of Jesus. Jesus prayed about the unity of His church in John 17. Paul encouraged us to be like-minded in Philippians 2. Why don't we do it more often? I think I know. I hope your day is good. JW

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unity and Exclusion

A case could be made for the theme of the entire New Testament epistles to be unity. Paul pleads with the Corinthians to get along. In Philippians he tells Euodia and Syntyche to get along. In fact, he tells all of the Philippians to "make my joy complete by being like-minded." Every epistle seems to have that as, at least, an underlying theme if not overt.
Jesus pled for the church to be one. One of his final prayers on earth was for unity.
We are hosting the International Church of Christ congregation here at our building Sunday. Their minister and I have been talking for a long time. He's a wonderful man and a lover of God and Jesus. This great church wants to make an impact in the world. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet I have heard from several in the community (not our church) how they can't believe we are hosting them.
Now, a couple of observations. First of all, are we to stop anyone at the door and keep them from coming into worship? Do we ask all visitors to fill out a questionaire and ask them if they worship the way we do, believe the way we do, or understand all of the omnipotence of God the way we do? Secondly, what happen to unity? Unity doesn't come at the cost of agreeing on everything, everyway, everytime.
Jesus had a word for those like that. Pharisees. I find it very sad. Our youth minister ask me what I thought about this minor controversy. I told him, "I don't care." But the truth is, as you can obviously see, I do care. It cuts me to the heart when those who claim to be Christians (i.e. Christ-like) would look to exclude.
Our worship will be phenomemal this Sunday. Not because of my sermon, not because of what any of us do, but because of the great God we serve. And let's make sure we keep it that way. It's God we serve and not ourselves. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Conventional Wisdom

A phrase that's been around for awhile that keeps cropping up is interesting to me. It's the two word phrase "conventional wisdom." The expression is defined as a way "to describe certain ideas or explanations that are generally accepted as true by the public." Just because something is generally accepted by the public dosen't make it wisdom. In fact, if the public generally accepts it, it's immediately suspect in my eyes.
Here's an example. Recently a football player at a well-known universitiy was charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault, etc. He felt it was consensual sex. The woman he "slept" with certainly wasn't his wife. His response was, "I went to bed that night with a clear conscience." Of course, rape is wrong. But having casual sex with someone who isn't your wife is all right. That's conventional wisdom.
I hear it all the time with political commentators. "The conventional wisdom is....." It seems to me that it's a oxymoron. Conventional wisdom is neither conventional nor wisdom.
Listen to how James describes wisdom:
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. but if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual,of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full or mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
James 3:13-17
In the first chapter of James, he encourages those who want wisdom to ask God who will give it to us. Freely. Now that's the kind of conventional wisdom I want. Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Mind of Christ

I was thinking of writing about how God moves mysteriously. I'm still going to, but on another topic. God still moves in a mysterious way. Perhaps another blog.
Paul is talking to the Corinthian brethren about unity. He's already told them "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." (I Cor. 1:10) As I read the Scripture following that verse I thought of the fusses and feuds at my own congregation. I even thought of how I wanted my way and how unreasonable some people were and "if the church would just do things my way." Paul advises them about wisdom and the Spirit. Then out of the blue he says something and it hit me right between the eyes. If we would think of this when we start to have our petty arguments, I guarantee they would be short-lived.

But we have the mind of Christ.

It's the ultimate "what would Jesus do?". He didn't say if you get your act together, I'll give you the mind of Christ. He says that we have the mind of Christ. Friends, maybe it's time we (I) use it. My feeling is we lay aside the mind of Christ to give people "a piece of our minds." And that is really lacking! Perhaps we should bite our tongues and speak with wisdom. Maybe it's time we speak out against real injustice and quit fussing about the color of the carpet, the temperature of the building, or the song that we didn't like. You know what? If we did that, our problems would fade quietly and we would become the people that God intends for us to be. So why don't we? Let's start today. Let's realize that we do, indeed, have the mind of Christ. I hope your day is a wonderful one! JW

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I've been reading Ecclesiastes lately. I've known this and I have read it before, but there is some great stuff in there. Listen to this:

A good name is better than fine perfume, and the day of death better than the day of birth. or

In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise--why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool--why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. or how about this one...

The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all. or how about this.

There was a small city that was under seige by a powerful king. He basically overwhelmed the city. But there was a poor, wise man who lived in the city. Somehow he saved the city. Solomon says: The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.

I haven't even done the "for everything there is a season" or "Fear God and keep his commands." It's full of rich things. Read it sometime soon. I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, October 15, 2007

What the World Needs Now

I haven't written much lately. There hasn't been too much to say. So my theory is, if there isn't much to say, don't say anything!
When I do have something to say, it seems to hit me like a ton of bricks. There was a song years ago that was written in my early teen (or pre-teen) years. It says, "What the world needs now is love, sweet love." Now on the surface, I think that's true. After all, Jesus told the lawyer that the greatest command was to love God with all your heart and the second greatest was to love your neighbor. What has hit me lately is what the world needs now is grace, sweet grace. What a fallen world we live in! I'm saddened each day as I see what Satan does. He tears apart homes, he destroys lives, he lies, he cheats, he devours. He doesn't win. God is victorious! Satan will not make it. God conquers! We need to understand that. But what we need is God's grace. Now I now that grace stems from God's love.
And the more I see the fallenness of the world, I know the world needs God's grace. Not so that we can do whatever we want. No, because I believe that grace changes us. John Newton says that grace is a sweet sound. Listen to his words:
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved; How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.
Thro' many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; 'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.

Oh, for a world with more grace. My it begin with me. I hope you have a great day. JW

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Perfect Word

I'm looking for the perfect word. The search has been fruitless so far, but that doesn't stop me from finding it. I've blogged before about God's love and how it seems there is always a descriptor or superlative when defining it. I'm just trying to find one word that hits the nail on the head.
"Amazing" seems to fit, but it's already been taken by grace. I know that grace has to be an outgrowth of God's love. Amazing grace is already in our vocabulary and I just don't want to use it again.
Unfailing seems to be a word used by the Psalmists. Once again, it's a good word, but it just doesn't seem to be the all-encompassing word I want. I know that God's love is unfailing. I'm just looking for something that just fits.
I heard the word "astonishing" the other night in a song. That comes a little closer because God's love is astonishing. It's not quite there, but I like it.
I'll just keep on searching for the right word. If you have a suggestion, I'd like to hear it. Until then, I'll keep looking. Perhaps I'll never find the word I want. Maybe His love is just indescribable. Nevertheless, I'll keep exploring. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Do I Make You Proud?

I am extremely proud of both of my kids. I don't tell them enough how much they mean to me and what a joy they are in my life. Now, they don't always do as I want, but by their lives they please me.
Last night I was listening to my son's show choir as they sang a song by Taylor Hicks, "Do I Make You Proud?". Try sitting through that without getting tears in your eyes. It began a walk down memory lane. As I thought of both of my kids, my daughter with her curls and big bow in her hair and my son with his big brown eyes, it blew me away to realize that my nest will be empty next year. They have grown up, they are becoming mature. They're crossing over to "my" side.
Our Father is the same way with us. Listen to this, "By faith, Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God." He pleased God. God was proud of him. I imagine that God looks on us and says, "See that one? He's mine. I'm proud of him/her." That seems to have been the conversation with Satan concerning Job.
Isn't that our life? Shouldn't that be what we're about? Doing our best to glorify the Father who has done so much for us? It is my duty, my responsiblity to please God.
Father, in my life I pray that my deeds and my actions are such that they make you proud of me. Forgive me when I'm not proud of You. Please forgive my stubborn ways. I pray that my life glorifies you every day. In Jesus name, Amen.
Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Romans 8

In my opinion, Romans 8 is the capstone of the New Testament. It is the continental divide, the Mount Everest, the....well, you get the picture. Let me give you examples.

Romans 8:1--"Therefore," (I was always told when it says that you should always see what it's there for!) "there is no now condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Do you see that! No condemnation in Christ. Not some condemnation. Not a little. None. Zero. Zilch. Not that we can live our lives as wrecklessly as we want, but we don't have to worry about sin condemning us!
Romans 8:5--Look at the contrasts. "Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires..." On the other hand, look at the contrast. "...but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires." See also, "The mind of sinful man is death..." Then, "...but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace..." "...the sinful mind is hostile to God." Now look what he says about those who don't live according to their sinful minds. "But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
Romans 8:12--We have an obligation. When you think of an obligation, what do you think of? A car payment? House payment? A debt of some kind? A commitment to work is to help with something? Our obligation, according to Paul, is to not live according to our sinful nature. This allows us to have the closest relationship to God (Abba {Daddy], Father) possible.
Romans 8:28--"And we know..." We know. Not think or hope or wish. We know that God works in any and all circumstances. Good and bad. Hopeless and more hopeless. Something good and something God can and will and does occur.
Romans 8:31ff--Look at the questions here and answer them from your perspective. And be honest. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" "Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?" "It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?" "Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ?" If you answered those questions honestly, I don't know how it couldn't lift your day.
Romans 8:37--"...we are more than conquerors." How can that be? If you win a game, you win. You can't "more than win." Oh, it can be by a big margin. But it still counts as a "W." Paul says we are more than conquerors.
Finally, the conclusion of the matter. God loves me. Personally. Me. (Put your name here) God loves _________.
Wow! After reading this chapter, I feel as if I could go out and change the world. But isn't that what we are supposed to do anyway? Isn't that why He sent His Son? This isn't a one time thing. This is our life. Isn't it time we acted like we belong to Him? I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, October 01, 2007

Glorify God

I had an argument with a guy one time about honoring people at church. His argument was that we are not there to honor men, but to honor God. Everything we do should be to honor Him. My argument was, when my children are honored, I am honored. Now if my children are in it just for praise, then I agree. I'm not honored in such a situation. Likewise, if someone is doing something to be honored at church, then the Scripture says that they have received their reward.
Sorry for the personal note here, but it's been a good year for my son. Just last March I bragged on him for winning a solo competition at Disneyworld. Last weekend he was selected as Homecoming King. (They didn't have those kind of things when I was in high school!) He was selected by a vote of his peers and teachers. I felt that was quite an honor and my buttons are a little tighter on my shirt today. I've been trying to get people to call me King James. Wouldn't that be right as father of a king?
When we serve and honor God, isn't He honored too? When Jesus submitted to baptism, God said, "This is my son whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Wasn't God glorified in that event? I think so. So I'm encouraging all of us to do good things...not for personal glory, but for the glory of the One who made us. Jesus said, "...let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Have a great day. This little Christian light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine.... JW