Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Miracle

I was listening to the morning radio and they were talking of Christmas miracles. A lady told the story of her daughter's cat. The family had had the cat for many years and it disappeared. Finally, about a month later, they found the cat about a block away. Someone had been feeding it hot dogs. It was pretty dehydrated......Are you kidding me? THAT was her Christmas miracle!!????!!
Let's talk Christmas miracles. God, the God of the universe, the God who is All-Sufficient, El-Shaddai, Jehovah God, wanted us to know Him. So He sent His Son, not to glamor and glory, not to hype and hoopla, but to a dirty, dingy manger. Immanuel. God with us. He became flesh and moved into our neighborhood. He showed us the glory of the Father. God in flesh. Now THAT'S a miracle! Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Best Day of My Life

I was watching FOX News this morning when the host was talking about he and his daughter attending the White House Christmas party. His daughter made the comment, "Dad, this was the best day of my life."
How would you answer that? Was it the day of your baptism? Was it a particular time when you heard a beautfiul peace of music? Was it a beautiful sunny day?
I have to admit there have been some glorious days in my life. There have been some from which I thought I would never recover. But I started to think, "How would I answer that question?" What's the best day of my life?
I think it's today. Nothing particularly special has happened. I've gotten to eat lunch at Taco Bell with my wife, my son has called twice, I worked on my sermon for Sunday, oh, and I almost forgot, I drank my venti no-water chai from Starbucks this morning. I know what you're saying. "Dull! Dull! Dull!" Maybe, but today is the day the Lord made. And it puts me one day closer to heaven. What a day! Yes, I think today is my favorite. Tomorrow will be my favorite too. Have a good (favorite!) day. JW

Monday, December 08, 2008

Baptism vs. Immersion

In studying the word "baptism" I came across some interesting uses of the word. James and John asked Jesus if they could sit at His side in the kingdom. Jesus asked if they could drink the same cup and be baptized with the same baptism. In Luke 12:50, Jesus says, "But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" In the Corinthian letter there is a statement about being baptized into Moses in the could and in the sea. All of these seem to talk about a type of immersion, but not the watery kind. It's an immersion into a life, a situation, Jesus tells John and James that they will be immersed into a difficult life following Him. They'll face trials and persecutions. Or as we say, "A baptism of fire!" Jesus had to face the ordeal of the cross and He called it a baptism. The whole Moses experience of wandering in the wilderness was called a baptism.
So when it comes time to follow Jesus, how foolish of us to just see the water baptism. Instead, we should see and should be teaching the immersion into the life of Jesus. His thoughts become ours. Our actions relect what He would do. We become Jesus with skin.
I truly believe that's what Jesus meant in John 6 when He said that we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. It's not the Lord's Supper. It's the immersion into His life. And oh, what a sweet immersion. We truly become His followers. Our water baptism signifies the "pledge of a good conscience" toward God. That we commit ourselves to dying to ourselves and immersing our souls, our lives into the One who can truly make a difference. Lord, come quickly. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Toothless in Omaha

On December 2, 1972 (that's 36 years ago) I was playing basketball for Ohio Valley College. The game before we had lost two of our starters because they had their noses broken in a fight which ended the game with less than two minutes remaining. (By the way, that game was against Robert Morris). Anyway, it was my first chance to start and we traveled to McKeesport, Pennsylvania to take on Allegheny South.
I had just found my groove and had hit two consecutive shots when it happened. Someone took a shot from the outside and I watched my man to make sure he didn't crash the boards. I boxed him out and faced the basket. About that time, one of Allegheny's players leapt high into the air to rebound the missed shot. As he returned to earth (his shoelaces were about my eye level....that's one reason I realized I was waaayyy to short to play college basketball) he elbowed me....right in the mouth. I thought he had knocked my tooth back into my mouth when one of my teammates said, "Here, Jim. Here's your tooth." Those who witnessed the event said the tooth hit the floor and bounced up pretty high. I can take real pride in that. After oral surgery, ulcered mouth wounds. pain medication, and not being able to eat anything more solid than applesauce and milkshakes, I still didn't miss the next game. In fact, I took another elbow on my chin in that game.
I've since had a root canal on that front tooth, braces, had the tooth pulled, and now have a wonderful bridge that gives me a beautful (yeah, right) smile. Those memories come back to haunt me every year on December 2nd. Who says basketball is a non-contact sport? I think it was Celtic great Bill Russell who said basketball is a non-collision sport. But I survived. I can still eat. My life is none the worse for it. But every year I still feel the jarring hit of that elbow in my mouth. And I haven't even told you about the time I bit clear through my lip in a game. Have a wonderful day. JW

Monday, December 01, 2008

Thank You

Once again another Thanksgiving has come and gone. It leaves me with a twinge of sadness but overflowing with gratitude. Sadness, in that that's one less year I'll be around to enjoy the blessings with my family. Overflowing in the sense that I can't even begin to name my blessings. I wonder why God has been so good to me.

Thank you, oh, my Father, for giving us Your Son, and leaving Your Spirit 'til the work on earth is done.

All the words that could be written, all the gratitude that comes from my heart, even if I could write a song, I could not say it any better than just to say to my God, "Thank you...thank you...thank you so much."

I hope your day is a good one. JW

Monday, November 24, 2008

Great Day!

It was wonderful. I sat in our auditorium and noted two in wheelchairs, white families, black families, hispanic families, bi-racial families, international families, foster parent families, and we all worshiped the same God and praised His name. I kept thinking of a song from my childhood:

Red and yellow, black and white,
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

And He loves all of us old folks, too. Have a great day. JW

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I preached about repentance Sunday. Our definition for repentance has been flawed in my opinion. It's been the "turn or burn" mentality or the "I'm sorry" thoughts. But being sorry doesn't constitute repentance. And "turn or burn" has no love or grace involved. Sorrow can help to bring about repentance, but it's not repentance. "Godly sorrow brings forth repentance" the scripture says. But repentance is a combination of things. The Hebrew word is to sigh deeply. That indicates sorrow. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of heart. Which begs the next question. Is repentance an incident or event or is it a process? To repent is to see things through God's eyes. To see things differently than we have in the past. It's a change of heart. It's inward and it affects outward, not the other way around. When we decide to "change our minds" and to not see things in a worldy way, then we've repented. What do you think? Is repentance an incident or a process? Have a great day! JW

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Forgive Our Foolish Ways

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord
Let us, like them, without a word
Rise up and follow Thee.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

--John Greenleaf Whittier

Have a great day. JW

Monday, November 03, 2008


Yesterday as the collection plate was passed, an interesting thought came to my mind. Many of us wear or have worn these bracelets that have W.W.J.D. (What Would Jesus Do?). As the plate went by, I thought, "What Would Jesus Give?" Would he place a nail in the plate? Would it be His crown of thorns? Or would He place money in? You know He said to give to Caesar what is Caesar and to God what is God's. Maybe He'd just give Himself. That's what He did, didn't He. And when I thought of that, it made me realize how little I really give. It reminded me of a song we used to sing:

I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might'st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;

I gave, I gave my life for thee:
What hast thou giv'n for me?

His life, my few bucks. What a contrast. What a sacrifice He made. How little sacrifice I make.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sunday Morning

There's something about Sunday morning's. There's a rush of anticipation. There's a sense of relief. The Lord has risen. As the sun comes up, I place myself right there by the tomb over 2000 years ago and I can feel the joy that the tomb was empty.
Now, flash forward 2000 years and be with me standing in front of several hundred people who are sleep deprived, some sitting in their pews because that's where you are on Sunday mornings, and some are also excited. How do we get the excitment to spread? He is risen! It's what the day is all about. It's why we meet together on the first day of the week. It's why we take the Lord's supper. It's because we believe in Him. And we believe that He is coming again. Lord come quickly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


It wasn't much. Especially after what had just happened. Jesus had healed ten lepers. They were so excited and rightly so. I can just imagine their feelings as they checked out their new skin. Joyfully, they went on their merry way to show themselves to the priests. But one came back just to say "thank you." The Bible says he praised God in a loud voice. And Jesus commended him. It was something simple that anyone could do. The miracle was on Jesus' part. A simple "thank you" came from the healed man.
We've become involved in an elementary school not too far from our church building. So far we've provided school supplies and, of all things, laudry detergent. Yesterday we had some ladies bring some cookies and brownies to give to the teachers for the hard work. I wrote a simple letter thanking them for their hours of hard work, their ability to see the heart and not just look on the outward appearance of the children they see everyday. I thanked them for making a difference in the community and in the world.
What happened next surprised me. First of all, the paraprofessiol, my contact at the school said, "People just don't say 'thank you' anymore." Then she hugged me. I get way too much credit for things like this. All I did was ask people to make cookies and then I delivered them. It's not fair that I get to see what happens when something nice is done to people with no expectations of return, with no hidden agendas, and with no strings attached. I'm praying for opportunties. I'm sure they will come because God works in mysterious ways. But why do I feel so blessed? A simple "thank you" and I received a "thank you" back. Wow! What a concept. I keep learning more and more every day. Maybe, just maybe if we were gentle as the Scripture tells us to be instead of sharp and condemning, people might just listen more. You think? Lord, keep teaching me. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slow Miracles

Over thirty-two years ago, one of the first gifts my new wife and I received was a wonderful little contraption. We didn't have a microwave oven at the time. Either they weren't invented or they were just too expensive for us to have. So someone gave us this appliance called a Crock-Pot. It was neat because you put any conglomeration of stuff in it, and you plugged it in. All day long it would simmer and warm up every so slowly. If you came in at lunch, you couldn't eat it because it wasn't finished. It would take all day...up to 8 or 9 hours. Just slowly warming until all of the ingredients melded in such a way so that we could have a succulent meal that evening. The place would smell marvelous when we walked in the door. It was a true treat.
I've been thinking about what I call "slow miracles." Now that sounds like an oxymoron. If it's a miracle, it's instantaneous, right? I think we forget that time is not an object with God. "A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like a day," the Bible says. But let me explain what I mean by a slow miracle.
Think about your life for just a moment. Think of yourself many, many years ago and the acquaintances you had then. Journey down through the years and remember those who have entered and departed from your life. Some may have left this eartly walk, but think of their influence. Think of the way you sense their presence even though they are gone. Think of the phone call that comes out of the blue. Remember the time you received a letter or an e-mail just when you needed it. This tapestry of your life has been wonderfully crafted by the Master into an intricate design called "Your Life." Friends have been there when the situation was dire or when the time merited a celebration. But your life has taken, well, a lifetime to unfold. Yet the fact that where you are in life is indeed a miracle of sorts, albeit a slow one. Ahh, that's what I'm saying. Slow miracles. You know it happens. Just admit it. And relish in it. And praise God for it. And realize in this Crock-Pot of life, God's still cooking, still working, still molding, still shaping. Have a great day.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Re-Writing Scripture

We've been studying about the reliability of the Scriptures in our Sunday morning Bible class. Lee Strobel's book "The Case for the Real Jesus" has been a wonderful resource. I would recommend any of his books. In class we have studied about those who transcribed Scripture. Down through the years it has been monks in monasteries who wrote copies of copies of copies of copies. In the New Testament, they are called "scribes" or "teachers of the law." Jesus railed on them for being arrogant and narrow-minded in their thinking.
Recently, however, I got to thinking how serious a task this was. To write Scripture. Many of the so-called "variations" that are criticized in our canon come from minor errors such as misspellings or other similar things. The Scripture is remarkable in its accuracy and reliability! So I decided to do something. And I'm going to encourage you to do the same. I'm writing the Scripture. I've taken my pen and sat down and started to transcribe Scripture. Philippians is the first book and I'm finished with the first chapter. It's amazing the depth of insight that I've gotten and I've seen things I've never seen before. Plus, at one point it struck me that I was writing the words of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit. It's an awesome experience!
We'll see how far this goes. Who knows, I may get to the entire Bible. My goal right now is to finish Philippians and then on to the rest of the New Testament. I started to think, wouldn't it be really neat if my kids could have a copy of the Bible written by their Dad! There are all kinds of serendipities. Try it. I think you'll enjoy it.
By the way, I hope your day is a good one. JW

Monday, October 06, 2008

I Hate Politics

I'm so tired of politics. It would be my wish to limit the campaign season to six weeks and get it on and get it over with. Unfortunately, the process is nearly a two year ordeal. One accuses the other. The other complains that one is questioning his character and acts as if he is utterly amazed and offended....while he questions the character of his opponent.
I agree with Terry Rush; it's no wonder the church is like it is. Rather than the culture taking it's lessons from the church, the church takes it's lessons from the culture. And we begin questioning motives, making unfounded statements, winning the argument, then losing a friend and brother, permanently severing ties that should bind. We end up with a fractured, limping church. No one is qualified to lead as a shepherd because we have the scoop on everyone. Nothing has been forgiven, only hidden under the rug.
The church is the body of Christ. It's time that we act like it. I have quoted this passage before, but I think Paul nails it on the head. A primer for us to live by. Words to think about everytime we think we might say something that may be harmful or cutting. Paul said: "...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think aobut such things." Amen. Thanks, Paul. Have a great day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Shall We Gather at the River

We sit around and sing songs. Occasionally, one will call another a pet name (i.e. "Trouble") and they'll all giggle. Some don't sing, they just listen. Others will comment on the song we just sang. I've got to tell you, in human terms the singing was awful. But the other night, it felt celestial as we sang "It Is Well With My Soul." My heart swelled, my eyes teared up as we sang, "My sin not in part, but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it not more. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!"
You've probably figured out, I'm not talking about church services. I'm talking about one Thursday night a month when several of us gather with several members of Skyline Manor, an assisted living home. Many of them can't hear very well. Some don't use a song book because they can't see it. But they're there when we show up.
The other night, we sang a song that I used to sing when I was a little boy. It was goofy to me then. I've even heard a joke about it. It goes something like this. A preacher was railing about drinking alcohol and he said we should take it all and throw it in the river. Right after that, the congregation stood and sang "Shall We Gather at the River."
There was something different about this song the other night. We sang it with a holy reverence. Listen to the words:

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing from the throne of God.

Yes, we'll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river.
Gather with the saints at the river,
That flows by the throne of God.

We had just finished singing those words when one sweet, gray-headed lady looked up with the look of an angel on her face. She said, "We'll get to see that river soon. Where is that verse that talks about that?" I turned to Revelation 22 and read them these words.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They wil not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

What an honor it was to read those words that night. I don't guess that passage will ever mean the same to me again. As I looked into the eyes of those wonderful aged people, their thoughts were on the One who sent His Son so they could have eternal life. The place where the river flows. "Thank you for reading that," she said. "Won't that be wonderful?" I could have sworn I heard a thousand angels shout, "Amen!" Have a great day. JW

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Could Face Certain Death

I love words. A good pun is like music to my ears. Wordsmithing is kind of fun (at least for a while). I guess being the son of an English professor has helped me to love how people put words together. Two incidents this week have made me laugh.
The first I saw on a sign at the German-American Center here in Omaha. It said, celebrate Oktoberfest here, September 19,20. Now, I thought the whole reason they called it "Oktoberfest" was because it was in October. They're going to celebrate and get the beer flowing a little early here. You know, any excuse for a good drunken spree. It doesn't have to be October. Perhaps they should reconsider and call it "Septemberfest."
The other was something on FOX News last night. In talking about the evacuation of Galveston and Houston for the onslot of Hurricane Ike, it quoted someone as saying, "Get out or you could face certain death." Does anybody else find that strange? "Certain death" means you will die. "Could" means you could survive. To put "could" and "certain death" in the same sentence seems like a contradiction. Could = perhaps, there's a chance, maybe. Certain = it will happen, there is no way out, it's a sure-fire thing. Oh, well. It's good to see everyone still has a sense of humor in these days of the political scene. I hope your day is a good one. JW

My Dad (remember, he was an English professor) used to say, "I only made one mistake in my life. And when I done it, I seen it." He also used to say, "English is my most fondest subject I am of."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's Been Seven Years

I like asking people where they were when something, like a special event, happened. As someone from the Greatest Generation where they were when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Or ask a boomer where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. It's now been seven years since the greatest terrorist attack on American soil was perpetrated. I listened this morning as several children of one of those father's who died in the attack on the World Trade Center gave their thoughts. My eyes welled up in tears as they recalled as best they could the father they will never really know. There wasn't anger, only sadness in not really knowing their father. There was hope in making the world a better place.
As I've mentioned in a previous blog, I had just had breakfast with our consultant. As Vice President of York College, I had a busy schedule, places to go, people to see. When all of a sudden, the world stopped. I'm sorry to see the rancor return. The threats are still there. Yet, it's good for us to learn that hate never cures anything. Paul said to hate what is evil and to cling to that which is good. But he never says to hate people.
Today, I chose to remember those who died who, as one of the daughters of one of those killed said, "I think of what could have been." I chose to remember the way we rallied to each other's side and knelt in prayer, Democrats and Republicans no more. Only Americans. Only Children of God. I chose to remember that one day, it will not have to be like it was then. I hope your day is good. JW

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Apartment Living

10440 C Ryker, Dallas, TX. I can't remember the zip code, but that's the address of our first apartment when we married over 32 years ago. It was a 2 bedroom flat that cost us $147 a month. The price went up soon after we moved in (what doesn't?). Since that time we have lived in a number of places, mostly houses. But now we've moved back into an apartment. Why? I can give you some why's and some "no, that's not it at all's."
One--I have no children at home anymore. My daughter lives here in town with her husband, and my son is away at college. Maybe if we stay in an apartment, he won't be tempted to come home and live with us after he graduates. He's not getting married. I have a signed napkin where he told us he wasn't going to marry.
Two--I don't like to mow the lawn. What's the use? It just grows back. It makes me sneeze. It wears me out. It costs money to keep a lawn mower going. It brings back a recurring nightmare of having to mow when I was a kid.
Three--It's not because we're moving back to Arkansas. That one is going around right now. I can tell you, we have no intention of moving back to Arkansas. There are no jobs there for us. Nobody has contacted us. And unless God intervenes, there won't be jobs in Arkansas.
Four--We have a time share. Usually, it's a two bedroom condo. On one of our trips, it was just the two of us. As we rested in the place, we looked at each other and said, "You know, we could get used to this." There is no maintenance. It's easier to maintain. Less stuff. We don't need the wide open spaces.
Five--It's time to downsize. We have 32 years of stuff in our possession. Most of it I haven't seen in years. It's been in boxes that we have moved from place to place. You wouldn't believe what we've thrown away in the last several weeks and we will continue to. But does anyone want to buy a bunkbed? How about a ping pong table? A cute day bed that would look nice in a little girl's room?
Now I know there are probably some out there who can't believe we're doing this. That's all right. We are. So get over it. When we get all of the "essentials" in, come and visit us. We'll share a nice quiet evening together.
There you have it. All the reasons why and some of the "not the reasons" why. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Good Intentions

I just heard a pretty cool commercial. Tiger Woods was talking about what his father taught him. He mentioned that failure was not an option, to listen to others and then make your decisions. He talked of listening to others, but not necessarily living off of their expectations. He talked of following through on your goals and dreams. The commercial? I think it was for a watch. Kind of disappointing after a good start.
I don't know, it seems as if we can talk a good game in church. We'll tell of what we're wanting to do. We'll mention that this year will be a good one because of our recommitment to God. We'll give all of our intentions. Then we'll do something that really doesn't matter. Kind of like the commercial.
Good intentions are nice, but they don't accomplish anything, other than make us feel good. We (I) need to be a people (person) of action. Perhaps we need to listen to what God, our Father, has taught us. Compassion moves us to action. Need moves us to meet the need and to share of our means. Satan's moves should be met with our stands. God marches on and so should we. "Onward Christian soldiers..." the old hymn goes. Let's go.
I hope your day is a good one. JW

P.S. Thanks for letting me vent about losing my son to college.
P.S.S. Pray for those who are displaced and who have lost valuable things because of Hurricane Gustav. I was there after Katrina and they can't take much more.

Friday, August 29, 2008

He's Doing Fine

We talked to him for quite awhile last night. He was in his dorm room early (10:15) and he sounded different. It was as if he'd grown up in just one week's time. Either that or he's tired and hasn't been able to shake his cold. But he's already having a great experience. He's already jumped into the fray of extra-curricular activities. He's learning new skills (playing the piano--a requirement for a music major), struggling with classes some (Dad, astronomy's a killer and I'm having a hard time understanding major and minor scales), and figuring out what a Christian school is about.
He said that prayed before Bible class and before chorus and before history. He said, "They did cardboard testimonies in chapel. I was embarrassed because I cried and cried." He's already been to one professor's home and will be at another's tonight. In contrast, he talked to a friend ofhis who's gone to a very secular school. "Have you talked to Ben?" we asked. "Yeah, he's spending most of his free time in his room. He's so lonely." We talked to Cameron who was in his room (not his roommate). Dylan was obvious in the background of the phone conversation. (also not his roommate). His roommate is running cross country and they seem to be getting along fine. He's meeting new people. The Spirit is moving in his life better than I could have prayed for.
Oh, I know. Satan's still lurking. But he couldn't be in a better place. And I couldn't be happier for him. Thank you, Lord. Have a great day!! JW

Monday, August 18, 2008

Empty Nest

He just went to bed. It's late...nearly 2:00 am and I won't have the opportunity to have him say "goodnight" too many more times. At least, not from my own house. We golfed today. We ate out tonight. It's almost as if we don't want to say anything even though we know the time is short.
Don't get me wrong. This is what we have prepared to do all his life. This is what's supposed to happen. Like the mother bird forces her babies from the nest. He's excited and I'm excited for him. It's just that our job is done. I know, I know, we are paying the bills and talking to him regularly and paying more bills. But to see him every day, well, that's done.
He's made mistakes. But who hasn't? And Lord knows, I've made my share and then some. He's had his accomplishments. Lots of them. I'm proud of him and I know he'll have more. Tonight, as my tears flow, I know everything changes now. The nest is empty. He's not our little boy anymore...and he hasn't been for awhile. But today, it seemed like it as I rubbed his head. When he returns, he'll be a man.
What's in store for him? I guess that's what's scary. Satan is a mean and evil force and would love to sift him like wheat. God (and me) want only good for him. Now I don't make the decisions. I haven't made that many for several years anyway. But now, really, I don't make hardly any. The apron strings are being cut and he'll have to decide for his life. Choose wisely, son. Pursue God, I mean, really pursue Him. The book of James says to resist Satan and he'll run away. But if you come close to God, He'll come close to you. So this old dad sits here tonight (early this morning!) with tears in his eyes and he thinks of those years since December 15, 1989 when he came into this world. As I used to wipe your eyes of your tears, I pray God will wipe away mine. God bless you, son.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


I've been getting reacquainted. It's been too long and I've allowed the relationship to slip. It certainly wasn't intentional, but nonetheless, it happened. By this time, you're probably wondering who I am talking about. Was it an old friend with whom I had a falling out? Was it a family member? Just who was it? The answer to the above questions is "yes."
You see, I've allowed the Holy Spirit to get away from me. I've quit listening. I've been remiss by not allowing Him to lead me. Of course, it is I who makes the decision to follow. He never forces. He just reminds, guides, prompts, and then I follow. Now you're saying, "Jim is certifiably crazy! He's lost it." That's all right. Listen to these verses.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. I Corinthians 2:13, 14

What blows me away about this passage is the way it ends. I have it circled in my Bible. It says:

But we have the mind of Christ.

Think about that for a minute. The mind of Christ. If we allow Him to work, we will be His hands. We will be His ears. We will speak His words. And oh, what a wonderful life it will be. Call me crazy. That's all right. But I'm going to choose to listen to His promptings. Have a great day. JW

Monday, August 04, 2008

It's Over

We're back. After a great time of spiritual uplift, my son, daughter, son-in-law, and I are back from camp. What a great time of beautiful singing, wonderful classes, and just terrific time of fellowship. It was truly an awesome week.
I knew I was home when I went to pick up glasses that had been ordered two weeks ago and they weren't in. Then I proceeded to the Alltel store because my phone had been doing some crazy things and they told me it was gone. With ten months on my contract, basically my option was to get a new phone. Grrr. But I was not going to let this get to me. The week at camp was far more satisfying than any stuff that had or had not come in or a phone that didn't work.
Satan is a sly old thing. He's not going to win this round. I'm sure I'll have to fight him again, but for now I'm still hearing "How Great is Our God" sung by nearly 200 campers filling the hills with that glorious anthem. I'm still basking in the encouragement of friends and campers, counselors and elders. How can you not be encouraged when you receive a note that says in part, "I love you and pray God will always bless you." Or how about, "Thank you for your time, love, and wisdom that you give so graciously every year." I don't tell you those things to brag on myself. I tell you those things to let you see the encouragement that comes from such weeks. God bless our Christian camps! May they always be there! May they always prosper. May they always proclaim how great is our God! Have a great day! JW
P.S. It's good to be home!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Time--Green Valley Bible Camp

I'm getting ready for my annual trek to Green Valley Bible Camp. Since 1991, I think I've only missed two years. Before that, I used to go there in 1977-1979. Although there have been some changes over the years, there are some things that never change...and that's good.
My prayers have started already for the week. I've prayed for my co-director (he's really the director, I just tag along and get the benefits), I've prayed for the counselors, I've prayed for the campers, I've prayed for the day campers. By the time after it's all said and done, we'll have close to 300 kids there during the week counting night and day campers. It'll be hot, humid, the bathhouses are okay, the food will be fine, I'll try to play basketball. Really I just stand in one place while everyone else runs past me. I get to put away my phone, my keys, my billfold, and just be there.
What will happen will be God being glorified. The singing will be heavenly. The lessons will challenge. We'll all grow closer to God. Satan sits at the gate and waits for them all to come out and then he attacks them. The week is too good for him not to worry a little bit. But he usually waits for them to leave. Divide and conquer. That's his strategy.
But for one week out of the year, we get to see what heaven will be like. We'll encourage. We'll love. And maybe, just maybe, these young hearts will be changed. And someday, if they do wander from the Lord, they'll remember what they had at Green Valley Bible Camp. There's something special there. Everyone I know who's been there remembers it fondly (with very few exceptions). Pray for the week. Pray that lives are changed. What an impact this week is on the kids....and me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

He's Watching

Everyday, I look to see if I can find his picture. Is he in the background there? There he is! Is he smiling or frowning? Is he having a good time? You see, my son has been counseling at camp now into his second week. Every morning, they post pictures of the previous day. Every day I look to see if his handsome mug is there. I'd do the same if my daughter were there, too. They're mine, you know. They belong to me. (Well, and to my wife.) But I think you get the picture. My son leaves for college in about a month. Then he'll be gone, well, for the rest of his life. I know, I know, he'll be back through. But not on the same basis that he has been for the last 18 years.
But here's my point, if I'm so interested in seeing how my son is doing, wanting to see him, wanting to know if he's happy, gleeful (yes, I said it. Gleeful) when he calls just so I can hear his voice, what does God do as He sees us in our everyday lives?

Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9, 10

He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you--the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm--he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121 3-8

He's watching. Not the "All-Seeing Eye Watching You" song where you're afraid to do anything because God will zap you. But the care of a concerned parent. Wanting to know how you're doing. Wanting to hear from you (prayer). Gleeful at the sound of your voice. Have you noticed the passages that talk about God's love? Overflowing, poured out, lavished. He doesn't just tell us, he demonstrates it as Paul said in Romans. And He's watching us right now. Wondering how we're doing. Anxious to hear from us.
My son called yesterday. I was elated. He asked me to pray for him. You bet I will. You bet I have. Contstantly since he called and asked....yesterday. If I understand that. What does that do for our concept of God caring for us? Have a great day. JW

Monday, July 14, 2008

Five Years

Five years ago today I moved into the office I occupy today. After preaching 200+ sermons, this congregation still tolerates my musings. What I appreciate about this bunch is they (and I've called them this in their presence) are a Berean church. They don't take what I say for granted, they search the Scriptures. There have been many times when someone has come up to me and questioned me about something I said. "I looked that up. But what about this?" I love that. That means they have gone home and thought about the lesson. What I really appreciate, though, is that the questioning hasn't been done in an ugly manner. It's been a seeker, "really want to know because it's important" way.
Many things have happened in the last five years. Many weddings including my own daughter's wedding three years ago. A number of funerals. In fact, we've buried two our our teens in the last three years. One was murdered, the other killed in the recent tornado that destroyed the scout camp in Iowa. We don't want to go through any of that again, but it has brought us closer. It has taught us how to grieve, but not as those who have no hope. I seen elders pray for hours. People who we love dearly have moved away because they have taken other jobs in other cities. Military personnel have moved in and moved out. There have been a boatload of kids who have graduated and moved on to college (including my son this year! Uh, oh, empty nest) We've ordained new elders. We've put into place new deacons. We have developed a vision statement.
To say we've survived is probably somewhat of an understatement. But I have to say it's been a good five years. God has been good to us. It's a joy to come in and see the smiling faces on Sunday morning. As I look around the auditorium, I see a lot of people who struggle with the problems of life, but still survive knowing that this world is not their home. We're just a bunch of misfits, pilgrims, aliens, strangers...and my family and I sit in the midst of them. Because I am too. We keep looking for new ways to serve, for more ways to worship, and for more lives to touch.
Perfect? You know we're not. Searching? You bet. Who knows what the next five years will hold? But we will serve the Lord. Thank you, Southwest family for allowing me to stand before you every Sunday to preach. You have blessed me in more ways that you know. I love you. JW

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

July 8, 1993

Fifteen years ago. Wow, it just doesn't seem that long ago. I was in the middle of graduate school. Dad had been struggling somewhat with his cancer when I received a phone call that he was in the hospital. I sped down to Searcy from Springdale, AR to find him in traction. I said, "Did you fall?" Mom looked at me and said, "His hip is broken." The cancer had eaten right through the bone in his hip and it couldn't support his weight anymore.
The doctor decided that in order for his quality of life, he needed to have his hip fixed with a pin placed in his leg. The surgery took awhile and he was wheeled back into the room. I noticed that something didn't look right on his leg. Basically, the rod the doctor placed was not in the right position. He decided to take him back into surgery. His heart couldn't take it. It was beating around 160-180 beats per minute and Dad was in a coma. What we didn't realize was that the cancer was all through him. One of my doctor friends described his chest x-ray as "it looks like someone has shot him in the chest with a shotgun. His ribs are just pocked with holes where the cancer has eaten through.
Three of us four boys were there. We called Charles, the missionary in France and told him he'd better get here as soon as he could. We told Dad, even in the coma, "Hang in there, Big Guy, Charles is on his way." Charles had no longer arrived and seen Dad when within an hour or an hour and a half, he died. He was waiting on the last son. That was July 8, 1993.
I've missed him. There have been many times when I wanted to ask him about things in my life. There have been times when I just wanted to tell him something. I have to admit, that's the selfish part of me. These last 15 years have seemed like nothing to him. He's in the presence of God praising his name, greeting those coming in, probably telling his corny jokes, waiting for me. Waiting for the rest of us. I wouldn't take that from him for anything. In fact, that's what he ingrained into me. I guess so I would pass it on. So there you have it, Dad. I've passed it on on this day, July 8, 2008. Can't wait to meet up with you again. It'll happen.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Joy of the Holy Prompter

I'm preaching a series on the Holy Spirit. I know, brave, aren't I? Just in the first week, I've discovered that we are all over the page. Which says to me that it's probably a good idea to talk about this. As I got into my car this morning, I was humming a song.

The joy of the Lord will be my strength;
I will not falter, I will not faint.
He is my Shepherd, I am not afraid;
The joy of the Lord is my strength.

The joy of the Lord, the joy of the Lord,
The joy of hte Lord is my strength.
The joy of the Lord, the joy of hte Lord,
The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Why was I singing that song today? Most would say that the synapses in my brain just happened to line up in such a way that the iTune of my mind just put that at the top of my brain's playlist. To me the Greek word for that is "hogwash." I believe the Holy Spirit placed that song on my mind today. And by the way, I like to refer to him as the Holy Prompter. People come to my mind randomly. People that I haven't thought of in years. Songs come to mind. The list goes on and on. Now, I can chose what I do with them. I can respond by calling the people thought of, visiting them, or anything else I want to do. It's not God forcing Himself on me. Just a prompt, a hint, a nudge.
I can choose to sing the song on my heart, or I can move on with the everyday activities of my life. So right now, I've made my choice. and if you'll excuse me:

The joy of the Lord will be my strength;
I will not waiver walking by faith.
He will be strong to deliver me safe;
The joy of the Lord is my strength.

The joy of the Lord, the joy of the Lord,
the joy of the Lord is my strength........

Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


As you have probably heard, we had a massive storm hit Omaha last Friday evening. I was in my office and heard the tornado sirens go off, but when I looked outside there was nothing. It suddenly darkened in my office when I heard the second tornado siren go off. This time there was a massive white cloud moving as fast as I've ever seen a cloud move and it seemed to be only a block from me. I was scared. My mouth was dry and I went downstairs into the basement of our building. I saw limbs falling and the wind blowing so hard. Franklin, our youth minister, called me and asked if I was near a TV because he was in the basement of his house.
To make a long story short, there were straight line winds of over 100 mph. Massive tree damage. My yard was full of debris.
Everything is cleaned up. Life is back to normal. But what a display of power. And our God is bigger than it all. He is awesome!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Could Be Your Last

What if it were your last time? Your last time to give someone a hug. Your last time to preach a sermon. Your last time to say something you've intended to say. Would it make a difference? You bet it would.
Recently, I read a preacher's blog and he talked of preaching his last sermon at the church where he had been for six years. Even the comments made by his readers talked of the impression they had as he spoke concerning his last time. Things change. The situation is different. You look at things differently. There is a new perspective. When we know that something is the last time, it does change our outlook. Problem is we never really know when the last time is.
If you knew, wouldn't you act differently? Problem is, we don't know. Ask my friend Sam Thomsen, the 13 year old Boy Scout who died just two weeks ago in the tornado at Little Sioux Camp. Ask my friend Rebecca Adams who just had her first child and has been diagnosed with Stage 3 cancer. (She is optimistic concerning her fight against this horrible disease.) Ask my friend Craig Jones whose wife fought breast cancer for many years, only to die in just a few brief months from pancreatic cancer.
The point is, none of us has a guarantee on life. None of us knows what tomorrow (or today for that matter.) will bring. So shouldn't we act as if each moment could be our last? Wouldn't that change our attitudes? Wouldn't our words be better selected? Wouldn't our hugs be sweeter? Wouldn't life be sweeter? Well let's start now because we don't have the assurance tomorrow. And any day could be our last. I know that sounds so cliche, but it has been brought home to me once again. So make today a good one. I hope you have a good day today. JW

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What God Has Promised

It's raining again today. My first thought was to get depressed. Then I thought of this poem.

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.

God hat not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountian rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.

by Annie J. Flint, 1919

Wow! I feel better already. I read of an old Arab proverb that says, "All sunshine doth a desert make." Have a great day. JW

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mysterious and Wonderful

I don't understand everything that happens in life. I don't know why kids die in tornadoes. Why there's starvation in Africa. Why people get cancer. If I understood everything, I think there would be no wonder in this world; probably only bitterness and anger.
So I choose to stay in the wonder of it all. The mystery of God is tremendous. I can't figure Him out. All I know is I see all kinds of good things happen even when bad things occur. Sam Thomsen was a neat kid. There wasn't anything particularly exceptional about him. Please don't take that wrong because I don't mean it in an ugly way. I'm just saying he was a typical teenage kid. He had great aspirations. He made me laugh. But as a result of Sam's death, millions are reading about the God he served. About a week ago there were over 788,000 websites that talked about Sam and printed the sermon he wrote. Can you imagine if just two people read his words, that would be over 1.5 million who heard of God's call to us?
I have had numerous people come up to me and tell me what a loving congregation we have. They notice how much we love one another. Isn't that what we're supposed to be known for? Isn't that what it's all about?
E-mails have come from all over the country. Cards have flooded in from concerned people. Prayers have risen in the millions! All of this occurred because one little boy who had been taught by his parents to love God and he followed their lead to do just that. How did God do this? I don't know. But we'll never be able to measure the influence this one 13 almost 14 year old had on this crazy old world. How do you do it, Lord? You are truly great! Have a great day. JW

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sam Thomsen Thoughts

What an experience the last several days have been. That is the understatement of the century. And yet, when I contemplate my experiences, I cannot imagine what my friends, the Thomsens, are going through.
Last Wednesday night, their only son Sam was at a Boy Scout Camp in Iowa. The Little Sioux Camp was being used for young men who had been selected as leaders in Boy Scouts and they were there for training. The weather turned horribly bad and an EF-3 tornado came right down through the valley where the camp was. Sam was in one of the buildings that took a direct hit. Sam was near the chimney that collapsed. He died there at the camp.
Those are the bare facts. Last night, we had nearly 700 people in our building to honor the memory of 13-year-old Sam Thomsen. We laughed and laughed as one by one people came up to tell stories about Sam. He was a funny, enjoyable kid. We heard from home-school people, Scout leaders, Family Group members, basketball coaches, and many others. As I scanned the crowd it hit me what an impact this little boy (he was turning out to be a fine young man, too) had. Many of that age, and I imagine Sam would have thought this also, that they can't do much to affect people. Don't ever feel that way again. There were 700 in that auditorium last night and many more who, I'm sure, would have liked to come last night.
But there were others, too, who were affected. I visited with a young reporter from Good Morning America. She stood in my office as her camera man filmed by desk computer that was pulled up to Sam's Facebook account. I started reading some of the comments made by Sam's friends. "I love you buddy," "Just know I will never forget you," "I am so blessed to have known you," "Hey, kiddo. You're finally home." It became suddenly silent in the room as I continued to read the tributes. Finally, the reporter said to the camera man, "Did you get any of that?" She placed her hand over her heart and said, "That was so touching." The camera man backed away from his camera and wiped tears from his eyes. What an impact.
Everyone that I talked to wanted to know what kind of young man he was. I told them all of his love for his Lord. I talked to reporters from all the television stations here in Omaha, to the Omaha World Herald, the New York Times, NPR, Inside Edition, The Christian Chronicle, Nightline, and the Associated Press. I appeared on Good Morning America and the Larry King Show. As a result, Sam's faith, his love for God, his life are known to millions. People all over the world know about Sam Thomsen.
Incredible, isn't it? To have an impact on this world like that is something he never expected. But you know what? I think if Sam would have been able to see all of this attention, I think he would have thought it was cool. In fact, I can hear him say that. And you know what else? I bet he knows.
One of Sam's favorite quotes listed on his Facebook was a quote from his sister while they were at Sonic. She said, "My whole life is a happy hour." That's just like Sam. And that was his attitude about life. As a result, he impacted countless lives. I miss him already. Sam, this is for you. You've got to know how much I love you by this comment, especially coming from this huge Razorback fan. I wouldn't say this for anybody else but you. Go Huskers!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sam Thomsen

I will write more later, but please keep these people in your prayers. Sharon, Larry, Lindsay, and Sara Thomsen. Sam, Larry and Sharon's youngest, was one of the young Boy Scouts who was killed in the tornado in Iowa. They are members here at Southwest.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Dull Stuff

I have to admit, and I think most bloggers would say the same, that it is a goal of us diarists to say something that is deep and profound; and to do so on a regular basis. But in reality, it's hard to come up with something (at least for me on any topic on a daily basis. The truth is, my life is really pretty dull. It's composed of doing much the same, day in and day out.
There are, of course, events that crop up. For instance, this week pretty much every night is taken up. Monday was a shepherds/minister meeting, Tuesday was clear, Wednesday is a singing at church, Thursday there are two things--a cook-out for some friends visiting from California and a devotional at an assisted living home, Friday is a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for a wedding, and Saturday is the wedding. By the time the summer is over I'll have performed four weddings and attended at least one other. I don't tell you this to say how busy I am, because you could do the same, probably more. I do it to let you know as I have already stated how truly dull my life is.
But you know what? Life isn't one big exciting event after another. It's what we do with these events that makes life interesting. You visit the hospital, you bring a smile to someone's face. You say a few words at a wedding, and the couple will remember the kind things you say. You stop to admire a precious newborn, the mother remembers that you stopped to acknowledge this precioius little one. Then occasionally, camp comes along and there's a mountain top experience. You watch your son graduate from high school. You see your daughter mature into a wonderful young lady. You enjoy, as Ecclesiastes says, the time with your wife. Or, the catastrophes do come and the trials hit and the temptations linger around. Then you wish for your dull life to come back.
I'm convinced it's about the journey. I've blogged about that before. But it's what you do with the everyday. The dull. The mundane. So here's the schedule, the rut, the routine.

Monday--Staff Meeting, reading, sermon & class prep
Tuesday--More sermon and class prep
Wednesday--Contact Together Group, prepare for the evening
Thursday--Finish Power Point for Sermon, class prep, Scheduled afternoon Bible study with member
Friday, Saturday--Off
Sunday--The Lord's Day, teach class, preach, nap, teach class

In between, the Lord fills the time with some great experiences. Have a great day. And keep your eyes open. You never know what will happen in between the dull stuff. JW

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mom

I wrote about Mom one year ago today. Today would have been her 87th birthday and it doesn't seem possible that she has been gone for over three years. She grew up in a Christian home in difficult times. The Great Depression influenced her family as they did without so many things that we would consider essential today. Truly a coal miner's daughter, she was a loyal wife, faithful Christian, loving mother.
I have her Bible in my hand and I was looking at some of the notes she wrote. The Bible is underlined all over, much like Dad's was. I don't know if he influenced her or she him. I smile as I read some of the things she's written in the margins.

"Put your faith in Christ during the troubled waters (times) of your life."
"There is a Great Day coming."
"Christ loves children."
"Angels praise God."
"What kind of listener are you?"
"Be not afraid--39 times in the O.T., 10 times in the N.T."

There are many more. Great lessons from a great person. She even had one writing that said, "Repent or perish." I guess that was the mother's ire coming out in her. She mentioned that angels praise God. Well, I can tell you one thing, she's praising God as we speak. I feel her presence. I sense her love. I miss her. I wish her a happy birthday.
I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Wisely and Well

I reminded our congregation Sunday that Christmas is only a little more than six months away. My goodness! We just started having warm weather. It's actually still Spring in Nebraska. The flowers are still blooming and the trees are shedding, pollen counts are the highest in years. And I'm reminding everyone that Christmas is just a mere six months away?
But you know what? In that time frame my son will have finished his first semester of college. We will have more elders here at Southwest. School will have begun for all the students again. I'll have directed another session of camp. There will be three more weddings to perform and who knows how many funerals. We'll have celebrated Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving...just in six months time.
Time flies. That's just life. So let's make the most of today. Who knows, the Lord may come before the time next Christmas rolls around. So let's make today count. Moses said, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12 Here's how Peterson translate the same verse. "Oh, Teach us to live well! Teach to live wisely and well!" Wisely and well. Let's live today with those two words on our hearts. Have a great day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Little Girl in the Pink Dress

She was just a cute as could be. Her pink dressed was covered with a leopard print coat. Her white tights and her black shoes indicated to me that she was going somewhere special. But the kicker was she was wearing a paper, head band crown. Was it her birthday? Probably. Because what she had in front of her was three dozen chocolate cupcakes with loads and loads of frosting. The were packaged a dozen per plastic container, one on top of another, bundled with a pretty pink bow.
She pulled the stack over to her and pressed her face up against the cupcakes. Her eyes opened wide as she stared at the wonderful treaures. I imagine she was thinking about how many of these tremendous treats would soon be on her face and in her mouth. She was imagining just how good these cupcakes were going to taste.
It's no surprise that Jesus tells us we are to be like little children. The wonder that comes from looking forward to what's coming. Just like the little girl in the pink dress. The anticipation of our heavenly home, much like her looking forward to her treat, should make our eyes grow big in wonder. Paul said, "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations for ever and ever! Amen!" I can imagine a lot. Kind of like the little girl in the pink dress. I can hardly wait. I can only imagine. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bad Days

I received an e-mail from a friend of mine yesterday telling of some tragic things. He includes me on his list of prayer warriors and he asked several of us to pray about three particular things. He said things seemed to be going well lately, until these things. Their newly hired preacher has an 18-year old son who was killed in an accident on the interstate. Another friend had a 15-year old son who was killed in a jet ski accident. Another friend's daughter had a fractured skull and was in ICU. This morning I fire up my internet and read that Stephen Curtis Chapman's adopted daughter was killed in an accident.
Bad things happen to good people. Period. God gets blamed for a lot of things that aren't His fault. Where is God in all of these? Right by the sides of those who are grieving such losses. My question is, "Where is Satan in all of these?" All of these are events that are not-so-subtle reminders that Satan continues to work in this world. He's deceiving and casting doubts and laughing at all of this.
In Psalm 73, Asaph expresses his frustration. He sees the prosperity of the wicked and it frustrates him. He has served God with all his heart. And at the height of his "why do good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people" rant, here's what he says:

When I tried to understand all this it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

There it is. God wins in the end. We are so finite. We only undstand the here and now. God sees all eternity as if it were just a day. He knows and understands and controls the big picture. And that's where we stand. Please pray for all of these situations. And please remember that God is sovereign and still in control. JW

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

She's very pretty....a little haggard, but she has a determined look on her face. I see her several times a day. In fact, I make it a point to see her. She's sitting on her nest just a few feet from my front porch. This mother robin isn't as enamored with me as I am with her. She looks at me with a feaful look in her eyes. Her head raises a little and you can tell she's ready to leap at a moment's notice. I know because I've seen her do it.
I can't quite see into her nest but I'm sure there are some eggs in there. I haven't seen any little babies yet. But there is drama happening all around. Just yesterday I saw her chasing after a squirrel who had gotten a little too close. While she was doing that a couple of cardinals flew up. I don't know if cardinals steal nests or what, but they were hainging around an awful lot.
When I look at her and observe her actions, I sense a feeling of determination. She is going to protect her nest with everything her little body and wings can do. I have a feeling that if I got a little too close, she might even come after me.
This reminds me of a passage in Luke. Jesus is strangely warned by the Pharisees that Herod is after Him. Then He says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!"
I can see this picture. What a comfort it is to know that Jesus wants to take us, just like a mother hen, and gather us under His wing. A place of safety. A place of comfort. A place where the world stays away. That's how He feels about us. I think I understand now what Jesus meant. All because of a young robin who sits on her nest just feet from my front porch. Have a great day. JW

Monday, May 12, 2008

Sumo Wrestling

We had my son's graduation party this last Saturday. There was food, friends, family, fellowship, fun, and, well, you get the pictures. My job was to be the muscle to carry things in (and out), and to be in charge of the Sumo Wrestling Game. Yes, you can rent Sumo outfits that are huge padded body things you literally wear. There are helmets that are shaped like the hair of sumo wrestlers. It's really quite funny. You see these little (tranlated young and skinny) girls put on these huge outfits. The helmets were so big they slid down on their heads and they couldn't see. Then they run at each other and try to shove each other out of a circle on a mat.
Anyway, it was interesting because these meek and mild kids (as a general rule) would put these suits on and they would assume the personality of a Sumo wrestler. They would growl at each other. They'd snarl their lips and glare at their opponent. I think many of them really thought they were Sumo wrestlers.
Don't we do that in church? We dress up nicely. We wear our suits and nice ties and pretty dresses. We walk into the church building for Sunday services "looking" like nice people. In reality, we were out the night before getting bombed, or the week before we cheated on a deal because "that's just business," or we were rude to the person in the check out just because they were too slow. We assume the personality of a Christian because we have the clothing and we're in the building. It happens all the time.
I heard Rick Atchley speak recently and he said that people ask him all the time where his church is. He said that he knew what they were asking. They were asking the location of the building, the facility. What he said he wanted to say was, "...the church is in the schools, it's at the work place, it's all over the community." Now when we get that view of what Christianity is like, there will be no more facades. We won't hide behind the clothes or the sumo outfits. We won't be, as Jesus said, people who honor him with their lips but having hearts far from him. That's what I want. That's what we need. People who are honest, kind, humble, and loving. No fake stuff. No fluff. Just real, honest people who love God. I like that. Hope you do too. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, May 08, 2008

May 8, 1967; 2004

May 8 is one of those days. It causes me to pause and reflect because on this day I lost two great influences in my life. On May 8, 1967, my Grandfather Arles Garloch died. A World War I veteran, I sat at his feet as he told the stories of the long hikes that ended up causing him to have flat feet. I heard the story of how he stood in Woodrow Wilson's ear on Thanksgiving Day. (Thousands of soldiers from Camp Sherman were arranged to form a likeness of the president. The picture of it was rated as one of Life Magazine's 100 Top photos of the century. My letter to the editor was printed in a subsequent edition. My {less than} fifteen minutes of fame.) He survived the Great Depression, but he couldn't survive the lung cancer and black lung disease (he was a coal miner) that he contracted. I loved his laugh. I loved his attitude towards life. I loved his wife.
On May 8, 2004 my father-in-law, Allwyn Hart, passed from this life. He was one of the most generous men I have ever known. He certainly wasn't rich in material things. But he showed me the wealth that comes from friendship, the riches of a job well done, and the sheer enjoyment of being friendly. It was sad to see him in his last days because the stroke he had caused his personality to change. When faced with his death, I asked my wife how she would handle his ultimate demise. She responded, "My Daddy died several years ago." It's true. He just wasn't the same. The spring in his step, the twinkle in his eye, his boistrous voice, it just wasn't there anymore.
I've been very fortunate in my life to rub shoulders with people who are much greater than I. I'm grateful for the oppporunity to have such people not only in my family, but in my life. I celebrate this day because their future was secure and they are enjoying their rewards as we speak. They're waiting for me right now. And I'll try not to disappoint them. Have a great day. Thank you, Granddad! Thank you, Allwyn! JW

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Most Important Thing

If you know me or if you read my blog, you know that yesterday was my birthday. Once again, I don't tell you that because I haven't gotten my card or gift from you. But you have to know that to set this next story up.
I was in the foyer (vestibule, etc.) in our church building yesterday when I encountered several ladies from our congregation. They were putting up a bulletin board to advertise our Vacation Bible School. One of the ladies had her two little girls with her. These are the sweetest, smartest little girls. They'll carry on a conversation with you, hug you, make you laugh...well, you get the picture. Oh, and if you're not careful, they'll teach you a lesson. The youngest, who is probably 5 or 6 years old, found out it was my birthday. So I was greeted by her with a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday!" Then she asked me, "Did you get any gifts or a cake?" Now, my daughter was one of the ladies (she's 25 and married, so, yes, she's one of the "ladies."). I told the little girl, "Yes, I did get some presents, but I didn't get a birthday cake. Why don't you tell my little girl (pointing to my daughter) to get me a cake." To which she shook her head and said to me (you'd better listen up because this is profound), "The most important thing is to have fun." You know, she's right. The gifts, the cake, the celebration...don't come to expect it. Just enjoy life. Solomon said:

Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Ecclesiastes 9:7

As Tommy Nelson says about this verse in his book A Life Well Lived, "We should go out with some buddies, have a good meal, and wash it down with a little Columbian coffee and a couple of dips of Rocky Road."
Thank you, Ellen, for such a good lesson. It was a great birthday gift, too. Maybe that's why Jesus told us that the kingdom of heaven belongs to these little ones. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Today is my 54th birthday. I don't tell you that to elicit cries of "Happy Birthday" or any other birthday greeting. I tell you that because it's humbling. This was birthday season in the White household of old. It started with Dad's being April 20, mine May 6, Charles' May 12, Wayne's May 17, Mom's June 4, and Don's June 15. So we got them into a three month (Really two month) time frame. It blows me away that my brothers will be 65, 63, and 60 this year. On the way to work this morning, my son said to me, "Hey Dad, next year you'll be halfway to 60!" Thanks for the reminder, Son.
I wish I had something profound to say. According to life expectancies, I have about 20 more years to live. But I feel so good right now. I rode my bike for nearly an hour yesterday. Aside from aching when I mow the lawn or rake leaves, I feel really good. Things happen over the next 20 years. And if the first 54 years are any indication, 20 years will seem like a week. But there is one thing that lingers in the back of my mind. I getting more and more friends who have gone to their reward...and they're waiting to greet me. I can't wait. Yet there are still many things to do. I think I finally get what Paul was saying when he said:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do now know! I am torn between the two; I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.

Now I have no dreams that I am anywhere close to being as effective as the apostle Paul. But I do understand his angst to be with the Lord. Perhaps thats part of me that may be maturing. Maybe. But don't bet on it. Let's go for a bike ride. Not too fast. Nice and slow. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

God's Will

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12, 13

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. Rolmanhs 12:2

Henry Blackaby, in his book Experiencing God says that we often say, "I want to find out what God's will is for my life." He says that's the wrong approach. We should find out what God's will is and then do what He wants. Now the $25,000 question is, "What is God's will?" There is a lady in my congregation that asks that of me all the time. "How do we know what God's will is?"
I've been trying to figure that out. How do I know that I'm doing God's will and that He is working in my life? Here's my thinking. You may agree or disagree. You may even add something because I don't have it figured out. Still learning. Still trying to know God's will.

1. I know the Spirit is working and I know God's will when I see Him in everything in my life. When a song comes up on the radio that encourages me. When somebody says something to me that seems so random, yet just hits me in the right spot at the right time. One of our problems is we are too busy and it's too noisy. But when we see Him and hear Him (yes, I said, "Hear Him"), then we can know that God is active and working. When someone's name comes to my mind and I know I should call and encourage, the Holy Spirit (I call Him the Holy Prompter) is working. Some people call it coincidence. I call it providence. And what's even more exciting, and it's what the verses above say, I can be part of God's working in the lives of others!

2. Some will say that I'm doing God's will when everything seems to be going well in my life. I'm sorry, I don't buy that. I know I'm doing God's will when in the midst of the biggest storms in my life, I sense a peace that God is there and He is working on me. To know that He holds me when I weep, that He rejoices in my triumphs, that He encourages when I'm down, that He holds me in the palm of His hand, that's when I know I'm in the center of His love and His will. When things seem utterly terrible and I can praise His name, I know I am in the center of His will. It doesn't mean I never question Him, I never doubt Him, or I never wonder where He is. It does mean I trust Him enough and have faith enough to believe that He is present and He's in control.

Now, is this easy? Heaven's no. But it helps me to know that it's not about me and that if He can be glorified by using my small, insignificant effort, then so be it. I just want my light to shine. Hide it under a bushel? No! I'm gonna let it shine. Do I have this down pat? No way. But I'm learning every day. I'm His student. I want to learn until I leave this earth, then on to learn more about His glory in eternity. I can't wait. I hope you can't either. Have a great day. JW

Monday, April 28, 2008


So, I'm at a trendy little restaurant with my wife and son the other day and ordering my meal. I'm not crazy about this place, but it was the lesser of two least in my sight. I'm getting the one of two things I pseudo-like on the menu when the girl taking my order asks me, "Would you like protein on that?" Now in my mind, they have a cauldron of protein slop in the back and they take a big dip of this stuff and plop it on the pasta I've ordered. I graciously declined, then noticed what the "protein" was. It was chicken or beef strips or tofu. Why didn't she say that? It sounds a whole lot better than "protein."
This incident got me thinking. We do the same in church. For years we didn't call the gyms we built "gyms." We called them "family life centers" or "fellowship halls" or one of many other names. I have laughingly called them "sanctuasiums." I remember one time being with the Time of Day, a singing group from Harding, when we were in one of these "family life centers." One of the guys looked around during the performance and he was thanking the people for coming out to the show. He said, "We're glad to be at the ______________________ church Family Life Center. You know, where I came from, we call this a gym."
Maybe it's time to call things what they really are. Let's call sin "sin," and grace "grace." Let's not sugar coat things. Let's call a spade a spade. Let's not put protein on it. Have a great day. JW

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tag--I'm "It"

My friend, Jackie Chesnutt, has tagged me so I'm supposed to list seven random facts about me. Then I'm supposed to contact five of you to ask you to read my blog and then to do likewise. Okay. Here goes.
1. My middle name is Leslie.
2. My first job after getting married was for a company called National Rejectors.
3. When I was in high school and college, I worked for an ice cream company putting fudgesicles, dreamsicles, popsicles, and ice cream sandwiches in boxes. The company's name was Yarnell's ice cream in Searcy, AR.
4. My undergraduate degree is in zoology.
5. I played basketball my freshman year on a scholarship (Yes, it was a basketball scholarship, Jackie!).
6. The first car I ever really owned was a Gremlin.
7. I have been to 46 states in the United States. I haven't been to North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

Let's see--Franklin, Brent, Karen, there's three I know who read my blog and I know they have one. So you three are tagged. I'll have to think of two others. Have a great day.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Need Your Love

All right. Do this. Remember your earliest memory of any kind of church song. Now sing it with me, slowly, with feeling like you used to:

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.

I don't know why but the song often brings tears to my eyes. A children's song loaded with the message of God's love. How many times do you read stories in the Bible about Jesus having compassion on someone? In the Old Testament, you read of a God who agonizes over His people who leave Him over and over and over again. He lets them return many times over. Jesus tells of the Prodigal Son who returns and of a loving Father who runs to meet him. Paul tells of how God demonstrated (not just told us) His love for us by sending His son.
The passion that He has for us is overwhelming. The love He bears is unbelievable. And we break His heart with our sins, with our rebellion, with our obstinance.
I don't want to do that to Him. So today I want to pledge my heart to Him. I want to allow Him to come inside and break my heart and make me into what He wants. Please...join me in this.

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

I hope your day is a good one. JW

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday, Dad. You would have been 88 years old today. It's been almost 15 years since you went to your reward. That just doesn't seem possible. Fifteen years in my life, just the beginning of eternity for you. In that time, Mom has come to be with you. I know you've met some of my friends who have gone on in the last few years. I'm sure you were there to greet them when they arrived.
I have missed your laugh. I have missed being able to call you and tell you the latest joke I have heard. I miss having the opportunity to call and talk about anything. I wish you could see your grandkids. I have missed your wisdom and encouragement. But life goes on.
I have so much to thank you for. But it'll have to wait until I come to be with you. I don't know how or if they celebrate birthdays in heaven. But if they do, I hope you have a good one. Take care. Jim

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Pope's Visit

I have been somewhat bemused by the visit of the pope to the United States. I don't even think that's probably the right word. Perhaps I can use a number of others to better describe my thoughts. Amazed. Amused. Glad. Confused. I could probably come up with a few more, but right now I'm at a loss.
The pomp and circumstance that has happened. Limousines, helicopters, the popemobile; Holy Father, Reverend, Supreme Shepherd; Elaborate robes, miters, kissing of the hand, and on and on. I just heard a cardinal express their extreme loyalty to this man. I haven't heard the name Jesus very much. Mother Mary, yes. Our Savior. Some. But I really haven't heard Jesus' name. When you read Paul's epistles, over and over he invokes the name of Jesus. You get the impression he really does mean it when he expresses his devotion to Jesus.
I don't know. I don't see Jesus coming to this earth in the midst of this publicity. I see Him walking down the streets of New York City, not in the elaborate cathedrals of the city. I see Him talking to the poor and downtrodden, not to world leaders and those in positions of power. Perhaps I'm wrong. But I don't think so. I see Him speaking from the heart, not from a book held in front of Him. I see Him among the common people, not those wearing the fancy robes. Where do I get this? How many times die He heal and tell the recipient not to tell anyone? His popularity wavered, not declined.
There is an upside to this, though. How many are at least getting a glimpse, albeit a small one, of Christianity? How many are being called to repent? Only God knows the sincerity and the value of this. I'm just praying that the world will see Jesus as He is, not the pomp that is being placed before it. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Predictions Come True

According to the Science Daily, there is a 99% chance of an earthquake of greater than 6.7 magnitude going to happen in California in the next 30 years. All right. I'm going to go out on a limb here. I want to make a prediction. In the next year, it will rain and snow here in Nebraska. I'm sorry, when I heard the news media predicting the earthquake as if it were something huge and phenomenal that anyone would make a prediction so bold, I just had to laugh.
Yet, in Scripture there were predictions so bold and so improbable, that it would be hard for anyone to believe. A Messiah would come. He would be from the root of Jesse. He would be born of a virgin. He would be born in Bethlehem. Hundreds of years earlier these prophecies were made and they came true. A reading of Isaiah 53 makes you feel as if you are standing right there observing the described man and the scene. Yet Isaiah was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. None of this Nostradamus stuff where a prediction is made and then assign some event as the fulfillment. It's like Jean Dixon making predictions about world events. "This year, someone will be assassinated." Wow, there's a stretch!
So make your own predictions, but realize that God has always had a plan for you. He told you about it. He made it happen. His Son proved His love. Have a great day. JW

Monday, April 14, 2008

Only In Times of Trouble?

Here is a quote from one of the presidential candidates about religion. "...religion is a bulwark, a foundation when other things aren't going well. That's true in my own life, through trials and tribulations." It doesn't matter who said that. I'm not endorsing any particular candidate. But I think it's an indication of what we believe about faith in America.
First of all, the statement seems a little, I don't know, preacheresque. It sounds like stained-glass preaching. Who uses the word "bulwark" anymore? Who even knows what it is? According to the dictionary, it's a strong support or protection. This candidate probably got this from Martin Luther's song, A Mighty Fortress. The opening line goes:

A mighty fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing...

Good speechwriters. That didn't bother me as much as the other part of this statement. "...(it is) a foundation when other things aren't going well." No! It's a foundation when things are going well. It's a foundation when they aren't going well. It's a foundation when things are mundane. It's a foundation regardless! It's as Jesus told in the Sermon on the Mount, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock." Paul said, "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ." No one builds a foundation for a house and uses it only during a storm. A wise man once said, "Sometimes the only time a person will look up to God is when he is lying flat on his back."
I'm afraid that "I'll trust God only when it's raining" mentality is what causes us to be fair-weather Christians. When David said, "God is my Rock, my Fortress," I can't help thinking he meant all the time.
I'm sorry for blathering on this, but it just hit me wrong. It scared me. But then again, it shouldn't. My Rock, My Fortress is the Lord. I trust in Him. There us no candidiate or any other elected official on which I should rely. Only in Him will I trust. Have a good day. JW

Saturday, April 12, 2008

God's Sense of Humor

God has a sense of humor. I know He does because today, April 12, here in Nebraska it's been snowing. April showers bring May flowers. At least that was the maxim I remember. What do April snows bring? Don't give me something like, "April snows bring May's rose." I guess I can't complain because out west they had 10-12 inches of the white stuff. It's not even sticking here.
Who would have thought this Ohio boy, transplanted to Arkansas would end up preaching in Nebraska? Had you asked me when I was in college where I would be and what I would be doing, I would have told you that I would be teaching science and coaching basketball. I ended up a youth minister. Then I went to Christian education. And had you asked me while I was in graduate school what I would be doing, I would have told you that I would be working at a university somewhere. Which I did. But the circumstances changed and God led me back into preaching. And here I am watching it snow in Nebraska in April.
What am I saying here? I guess, don't be surprise what God will do with you or where He will take you. You may tan easily, love the warm weather, and He might put you in a cold place where you are to warm people's hearts. I don't know. I wish I could tell you exactly what God will do with you. But I guess that's part of the fun. That's what makes life exciting. So, sit back, relax, and allow God to work His wonders....and watch out for His sense of humor. I hear Him chuckling right now. Have a great day. JW

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lessons from Hurting Children

Yesterday was kid's day in my life. Oh, I certainly didn't plan it that way, but one of our couples at church had their daughter (less than 6 months?) in for some surgery. Seems she had a cluster of blood vessels on the outside of her skull just above the right ear. When the mom described what the doctor said about it ("It's really nothing serious.") I chuckled and said, "It's not his kid, is it?" I understand that. I've been through it with my own daughter. Don't tell me what is and what isn't serious. As I visited with the mom and dad, I told them, "Doesn't this make you realize God's love for you? What has that baby done for you? She's messed in her diaper, peed all over you, cried when she was hungry. To which the mom said, "She's given us so much joy." Isn't that what God feels, too? And can you imagine His thoughts when we really live to please Him?
Then it was off to see another one. This one was to welcome him into the world. He was sleeping when I saw him (and so was his dad. Mom was tired from the delivery, but know how it is. I love that mother's smile.) Fun for both couples.
I did get an interesting earful as I waited in the waiting room (aptly named). One mother's son was in surgery. He had pneumonia and was struggling to breathe. That happens when you suck six kernels of corn down into your lungs. She wept as the doctor told her he was putting her precious into ICU. She hugged a lady sitting next to her and said, "You're such a good mother-in-law." I don't hear that often. Another doctor bounced into a mother and father and said, "He's fine. His appendix was really swollen. I had to make the incision just a little larger just to get it out. Here are some pictures." To which the mother took them and said, "These can go into his scrapbook." Can you imagine that one? Here's Johnny walking for the first time. Here he is on his new trike. First day of school." Then you turn the page. "AHHHHHHHHHH! What is that!" "Oh, it's just his appendix." Another young mother wept while she told of her son's anesthesia. She was relating the ordeal to her father when two others came in to cheer her up. Another I didn't even understand because they spoke another tongue. But they fretted and wept in the same language as me.
Wow. What a incite into God's love. I wouldn't trade it for anything. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." That's how much. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Secrets of the Universe

A headline in today's USA Today: Physicist: Secrets of Universe Soon to Be Unlocked. That's it? Seriously, you're just now saying that the secrets of the universe will be revealed? I've known that for years. The secrets of the universe can be defined with one word.....God. The Bible starts with it: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Or how about Psalm 148:1-6: "Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away."
That sounds so glib for me to say that. But even in the days of Paul, people thought they were so smart. They knew everything. Paul said, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."
I'm not saying for us to check our intelligence at the door. I'm not even saying that we shouldn't study the universe and it's complexities. I'm saying we should never leave God out of the picture. After all, He made it. He knows all the ins and outs of every aspect from the tiniest atom to the largese of the universe. As the psalmist says, "We are his people, the sheep of his pasture." We should never get too smart for our "britches." Instead: "Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens. He has raised up for his people a horn, the praise of all his saints, of Israel, the people close to his heart. Praise the Lord." Have a great day. JW

Thursday, April 03, 2008


I marvel at how much I continue to be like my grandparents. It seems the most important thing is the weather. It does happen to be raining here today. But in Nebraska, at least it's not snow. (We did have a little snow on the windshield on Monday, April 1--and that's not an April Fool's joke!) But it's warmer. Tomorrow, the forecast is even warmer. I saw a cardinal the other day. The trees are starting to get the most minute buds on them.
Summer's coming. We have a spring here in Nebraska. Quite unlike Arkansas where we go from a quasi-winter immediately to summer. I started thinking about the anticipation I feel for the warmer weather. I have to admit, the anticipation is slightly similar to my anticipation for heaven. When friends and church family die, it makes me sad. Yet, as the Scripture says, "we do not grieve as those who have no hope." Hope. What a wonderful word. It's not "wish." Wish is kind of like, "I wish I had that even though I know I'll never get it." But hope. Hope is the confident, eager expectation of what will happen. Hope is where I hang my hat. In talking to the Christians in Colosse, Paul tells them that the mystery that has been revealed to all is that everyone, even the Gentiles, now have "the hope in glory." To Titus, Paul says that we are heirs having the hope of eternal life. It's all over the place. And it's in my heart--more and more. It's the anticipation. It's the reality that something better is coming. What a great promise! What a hope! Have a great day! JW

Monday, March 31, 2008

Tulsa Workshop

I've just returned from the Tulsa Workshop. I didn't get to stay as long as I liked, but it was long enough to get some spiritual rest and healing. It was good to spend time being fed. I was able to hear Rubel Shelley and Rick Atchley and Jeff Walling and Randy Harris. I was able to hear some new ones such as Mark Moore and Patrick Mead (although I've known Patrick for over 30 years) and others. I'd like to make a few observations.

1. I forget how many friends I see at the workshop. I was able to hug the necks of Jackie and Mackie, Troy and Carolyn, David and Kay, Steve, Randall, Jared, Shane, and a several from my congregation and many others too numerous to name. It's a slice of heaven. My wife says that might just be her favorite part of the whole trip. You know, I might just have to agree with her.

2. The world has changed since my first Workshop. I think how different the singing is, I think how different the messages are, I think how different the whole atmosphere is. Yet, as I looked out at the crowd, I noticed how many "grey beards" and "blue hairs" were there. Now, not that I don't have any (okay, a lot!) of gray, I was wondering about the next generation and I wonder if we are meeting their needs.

3. I also remember when the Pavilion was full and overflowing in the evenings. On Friday evening, the floor was only about 80% full and the upper portion was not full either. It gives me renewed zeal to recruit more to attend next year. Gas prices are high. I know that there are many more similar events such as the Tulsa Workshop than ever before. Of course, not on the size or scale of Tulsa, but similar events.

4. The workshop is just as important now as it was over 30 years ago when it started. In fact, it's more important. I would encourage anyone who reads this to attend next year. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

God bless you. I hope your day is good. JW

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I've never really seen myself as an emotional person. Occasionally I'll cry at a movie (it's gotta be a sports movie or a war movie. Saving Private Ryan kills me. Pardon the pun). But I think emotional issues hit different people in different ways.
This last month has been one of those kinds of months. Our family has made three trips in three weekends. Actually, only two in two weekends, but we're leaving today for our third. We've seen our son participate in his last show choir competition. We gone to Searcy, AR for his music scholarship audition. I think those two events have helped us to realize that his senior year is slowing down and we'll be empty nesters next year. Add to that just the physical exhaustion of driving to Chicago and to Searcy. Now, today we're going to Tulsa. Then one of our dear shepherds died a week ago and his funeral was yesterday. Add to that the fact that the work keeps going. People to see in the hospital. Sermons to preach and classes to teach. (I have only missed one Sunday in this run.) Situations to deal with. I'm tired, physically and emotionally. Don't misunderstand, I'm not complaining. This is what I do. This is my mission. This is life. I know that many of you are in the same boat and much worse. But those of you who read this blog and your preacher is not me, encourage him. Tell him you appreciate him. Inform him that you know of his struggles and that he is in your prayers. I have found that it's the prayers that help the most. However, don't just pray for him, tell him you are praying for him.
We're off to Tulsa soon. Maybe I can rest some. I know I'll be filled spiritually. Have a great day. JW

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen!

It must ave been a morning much like this one. The women went to the tomb while it was still dark. It had to been a little creepy. You know how it is. You don't like to like to go to the cemetery in the dark. But these women went anyway. They were sad, they were heartbroken, they were loyal. At first, they thought that someone had stolen the body. Weeping, one saw what she thought was the gardner. In one short moment, sadness went to elation.
Over 2000 years later, we have lost the excitement. Imagine one of your relatives who has died--a mother, father, child, grandparent. See them in the casket. Then see them again, walking around. Look into their eyes again. See their smile again. Hold them in your arms again. That was the feeling. That was those in the first century experienced.
And look what's happened over the years. His influenced is felt all over the world. Many hate to admit it, but He has changed the world. Those who are wise still claim Him as their Savior, as their Lord. Yes, He is risen. Yes, He lives again. And Yes, He's coming back. Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus. Show your face one again. Show us your glory again. Walk our streets again. Have a wonderful Easter. JW

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Burrel Beck

There was a twinkle in his eye when he talked to you. He had the wisdom of Solomon. He was generous and kind. And he is now enjoying his reward. One of my shepherds, Burrel Beck died tonight around 9:30. Please keep his family--Audrey, Linda, Kay, and Ron--in your prayers. He will be missed.

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Do You Do When It's Over?

What do you do when it's over? That activity, that event that you gave your life to. That relationship that was destined to go no where, yet one where you invested so much of your life. In my son's case it was the end of the long road of show choir...and when it was over he wept. I understand that. I've done the same thing. At the end of my basketball playing days after the last game, I wept. At the end of a work where your spent so much of your valuable, valuable time. Why do you weep? Part of it is your are phyically and emotionally exhausted.
Jesus was a man of sorrows. At the end of His friend Lazarus' life we find the most succinct, emotion-filled two word, shortest verse in the Bible event. "Jesus wept." He wept over Jerusalem. He wept as He contemplated His last moments in human form here on earth.
The key is not continuing to weep. Weeping cleanses and refines. It makes us appreciate the good times. It helps us to reminisce. But at some point, we must move on.
When you see your loved one in the casket that only contains his or her temporary shell, you weep. When others go on to their reward, there are tears. But it's only in antipation of our wonderful Father who will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
No tears in heaven, no sorrows given,
All will be glory in that land
There'll be no sadness, all will be gladness,
When we shall join that happy band.
No tears, no tears, no tears up there,
Sorry and pain will all have flown;
No tears, no tears, no tears up there,
No tears in heaven will be known.

No tears? Yes! I hope your day is good...and wipe away those tears, the Son is coming up. JW