Monday, February 25, 2008

It Was Fun

Life's not always fun, nor joyful, nor satisfying, nor....Our family has had it's rough spots lately. Nothing that's overwhelming or life-threatening. More of a nuisance than anything. Just enough to nag at the heart.
Yesterday after services, we were all gathered around a desk in the main office at church looking at the church calendar trying to decide when we would have my son's graduation party. It was my daughter (her husband was at work), my son (the senior in high school), my wife and me. We talked about a little bit of everything. We were laughing and enjoying each other's company. It didn't hit me until later that that's what life's all about. Those few minutes of joy were precious. For a few minutes we weren't worried about what was going on outside the walls of the office. We weren't concerned about world events. It was just us. I thought to myself, there aren't going to be many of these moments left. You see, my son is going away to school in August and my daughter and her husband--well, they have their own life. So we might as well enjoy the few moments that we can spend together...and laugh. Life's too serious to spend all of our time fretting and crying. Occasionally, we just have to laugh. And laugh we did. It was good. Oh, won't heaven be wonderful! Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bad Day?

It is -7 degrees in Omaha as I type these words. Not wind chill, but -7 degrees. To breathe in causes me to cough. My ears feels as if they are about to break off (I had on ear coverings/muffs) and the car wouldn't warm up despite getting out and starting it about 15 minutes before leaving. My internet connection was not working last night. I would be looking at something, then all of a sudden, everything started moving in slow motion. Eventually, it would kick me out. You can imagine my frustration. The line at Starbucks this morning was not moving particularly fast. One of their machines was down, so the barista was having to make the drinks for the people at the counter andat the drive-thru with only one machine. I hear what you're saying. Wow, Jim. You have been having a bad 24 hours.
No, let me tell you about someone who's had it bad. I did the funeral for a lady yesterday who died relatively quickly. We were all concerned about her husband, and then she took a turn for the worse and died. I watched her husband closely as he stood at the foot of her coffin just looking into her face. There was activity all around him and occassionally someone would come up and talk to him. But all in all, he was by himself, alone with his thoughts. Occassionally he would wipe a tear. After all they had been married nearly 66 years. I wondered what was going through his mind. Was he remembering times of laughter they shared? Was he thinking of a particular bump in the road when they didn't know what they were going to do and she stood by his side? Was he thinking of their separation while he was in Germany and she at Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio during World War II? Was he thinking of the lonely days ahead of him here on this earth without his beloved wife?
No, somebody cutting me off in traffic does not constitute a bad day. Sometimes, it's good to get things in perspective, isn't it? I hope your day is a good one...even if there are some minor bumps. Remember, God loves you so much. Nothing...nothing will ever change about that. JW

Monday, February 18, 2008


As I walked out of my local Starbucks this morning, the sign on the bank said it was 17 degrees. The low tonight is supposed to be zero. We've had snow on the ground since December 5th. Two weeks ago on Wednesday I started coming down with a chest cold. Just about the time I was over that, an intestinal bug hit me. (Please don't make me describe that.) It's a terrible way to lose weight. Today, I'm feeling pretty good. There's a bounce in my step. I feel as if I may be feeling better...finally.
I preached about this yesterday. I entitled it "Meandering." Our spiritual growth doesn't come from reading the Scripture or gathering with the saints, it comes from what happens when life happens to us. Don't misunderstand, the Scriptures are important to fall back on and to rely on when we're in those difficult times. They help us to see how the people of those times dealt with their problems. And my times with the saints encourage me and help me to get through those times. James said, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2, 3) Pure joy?
If I lived in Hawaii, I think I would tire of the warm weather. (Although, I think I would like to give it a shot for four or five years.) What makes you appreciate the warmth is when you don't have it. What makes us appreciate heaven is that we live here on earth. I can only imagine.
So if you're going through a particular trial or test, count it pure joy. I know that's hard to do, but there's sunshine on the other side. And if it doesn't happen here, it will happen there. Our lives were not intended to be linear, but we meander in this life trusting that God is in control. I can't wait.

This world is not my home,
I'm just a-passin' through.
My treasures are laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me
From heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home
In this world anymore.

Oh, Lord, you know I have no friend like you.
If heaven's not my home then, Lord, what will I do?
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door,
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore.

Have a great day! JW

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Book

I just sat watching a video of my son singing in show choir and a twinge of sadness came over me. You see, he's been doing this since he was in eighth grade; this particular group, varsity show choir, he's been singing in since he was a sophomore. It's a wonderful group with a national reputation and very few get to spend one year in it let alone three as my son has. But in May, he'll sing in it for the very last time. An end to a chapter.
My words to my daughter and her husband to be on their wedding day were the same. The close of a chapter...the chapter of living in my house to the chapters of their lives to follow.
We all are writing in this book. Snippets, stories of what happens day by day. And although on the surface the daily life looks pretty mundane, once the chapters are pieced together there is a book, a story that makes up our lives. I've been thinking, what does my life look like? Frankly, it really doesn't matter to me what others think of the book I've been writing. What matters to me is what God thinks. Have I been serving Him? Are the chapters laced with giving cold water, speaking words of encouragment, and being salt for Him? Or have they been stories of greed and lust and envy and pride?
Fortunately, for Christians, God has His holy eraser, editing out those scenes of sin and leaving in the ones of love and service. And in truth, He makes me look a lot better than I really am. Why? I really don't know...except....He loves me. Remember these words sung as a child:
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.

Why is it, such simple words mark such a profound thought? How's your book coming along? Have a great day. JW

Monday, February 11, 2008

Someone to Fall Back On

Lives are devastated everyday. The broken relationships that occur break our hearts and cause our lives to be empty. Often, we are left with a sense of no self worth and sadness.
My son's show choir sings a song by Jason Robert Brown. Listen to these words and let me know what you think:

I'll never be a knight in armor with a sword in hand,
Or a kamikaze fighter
Don't count on me to storm the barricades and take a stand
Or hold my ground.

You'll never see any scars or wounds,
I don't walk on coals, I don't walk on water.

I am no prince, I am no saint,
I am not anyone's wildest dream.
But I can stand behind,
And be someone to fall back on.

Some comedies,
You're bruised and beaten down,
And I'm the one
Who's looking for a favor.
Still honestly,
You don't believe me,
But the things I have are the things you need.
You look at me like I don't make sense,
Like a waste of time,
Like it serves no purpose.

I am no prince, I am no saint,
And if that's what you believe you need,
You're wrong, you don't need much,
You need someone to fall back on.

And I'll be back,
I'll take your side,
If I'm the only one,
I'm used to that.
I've been alone,
I'd rather be, the half of us, the least of you, the best of me...

And I'll be your prince,
I'll be your saint.
I will go crashing through fences
In your name.
I will, I swear, I'll be someone to fall back on.

I'l be the one who waits,
And for as long as you let me,
I'll be the one you need.
I'll be someone to fall back on.

Your prince, your saint,
The one you believe you need.
I'll be, I'll be someone to fall back on.

Wow! Now that's a relationship. Have a great day. JW

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I just watched a show on HGTV (please don't tell anyone) and was amazed by the show. Most of the shows are alike. Someone usually comes and and completely redoes a room, house, etc. Then they bring the person(s) in and they respond to the renovation.
Today, when the people saw the changes, they (I kid you not) cried. They were going up and opening the drawers, opening cabinet doors, touching the things to (in the words of the host) to make sure they were real.
Now, I don't know about you, but to get so excited about something that is completely and totally temporary is really sad. On the other hand, I've seen people weep when they became a disciple of Jesus and cry tears of joy when witnessing others becoming a disciple. Now that's something to weep tears of joy over.
Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. Temporary/Eternal. Not much of a choice really. Have a great day. JW

P.S. You probably really don't care, but I'm sorry I haven't blogged more recently. This cursed chest cold has really gotten me down. Feeling better, then worse, better, then worse. I hate the roller coaster. Mucinex is my friend.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Inside Out

One of the books I treasure in my library is a book I got from my Dad. It's the complete works of Josephus and the book is getting old and torn. I decided it was a good time to get another copy. So I found a copy from Crossings Book Club (if you would like to join, just let me know. It's a good book club.) at a good price and I purchased it.
My box came yesterday and I was so proud to receive this new copy. It's got a beautiful picture on the front cover of the Coliseum in Rome. I was so excited. When I opened the book, it was upside down and backwards. You can imagine my surprise. A beautiful book with a beautiful hard cover with a beautiful looked so good on the outside. Inside, it wasn't right.
Guess where I'm going with this? Jesus told the Pharisees and the scribes, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautfiul on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean."
Jesus' message in the Sermon on the Mount was, as Mike Cope coined, righteousness inside out. What good does it do to look good on the outside when inside we are full of jealousy, greed, adultery, hatred, and all kinds of evil? Instead, we should allow God to "create a pure heart" in us. Then will we look good on the outside.
How do you look on the outside? Is it because of the clean inside or is it just a facade? I hope your day is good. JW