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

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Woman on the Toilet

All right. Did you read this? There is a news story splashed all over the radio, television, and internet about a woman who had been sitting on her toilet for two years. There are some interesting things about it. First, the sheriff's name is Bryan Whipple. Is he Mr. Whipple's son? Remember? "Please don't squeeze the Charmin."? Is this some kind of stunt to get us to use Charmin toilet tissue?
Second. On February 27th, the boyfriend called police to say that something was wrong. It took him two years to figure that out???!!!??? I would think that her first night of sleep on the toilet would have been a pretty big tip off. My wife checks on me if I've been in for over 10 minutes. "Are you feeling OK?"
Third. Now here's a direct quote from the story. "She said that she didn't need any help, that she was OK and did not want to leave." Hey, I understand that. You spray that exotic Hawaiian Sea Breeze air freshener and you think you're right there on the beach at Maui. I wouldn't want to leave either. Some of my best times of my life have been in the bathroom. We're thinking of having a family reunion in there soon.
Now this is the clincher. Again, I'll quote from the news story. "Authorities said they did not know if she was mentally or physically disabled." Are you kidding me? The woman has been on the pot so long that her skin has grown to the seat. They have to use a pry bar to get her off. She's been on the pot for TWO YEARS and you don't know if she's mentally or physically disabled? What are they teaching in sheriff school these days?
Oh, well. Life is interesting. I hope your day is a good one. And don't stay on the pot too long. JW

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Cure for Depression (Yes, You Read It Right)

Have you seen these focus groups/surveys that have a graph on the screen while a politician is talking, perhaps during a debate? The graph goes up or down depending on what the person thinks of what the particular politician is saying at the time. It's like an instant approval rating system.
Today, as I thought of what happened in the world the day before, as I thought of nagging little problems in my own life, as I listened to the radio hearing what everyone's take was on the primary election last night, I found myself feeling a little down. I moved the radio to a Christian station and heard Natalie Grant sing "You're in Better Hands Now." Even the cheerfulness of the disc jockeys brightened my spirit. I came in and read my Bible and read the stories of Joseph and how he was reunited with his brothers and father. My graph reading kept climbing.
It was then I realized that my temperature is based on what I feed into my small little brain. If I listen to depressing stuff, guess what? When I fix my mind on what matters, it's amazing how much better my attitude is. I know I've quoted this passage before, but if it's true....!

Finally, brothers, 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 about such things.--Philippians 4:8

I didn't see a single negative thing in there. And of all these positive, praiseworthy things, he says to think about them. If I spent more of my time thinking of the positives and much, much less (or let's just let God deal with the negatives) on the negatives, my life would be much simpler and much happier and my graph would go through the roof. Try it. I think you'll see some positive (pardon the pun!) results. I already have. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

It's Not My Fault

Okay, so this lawyer lady goes to a casino and wastes her money. She stays up for 2 or 3 days not eating or sleeping. She's gambling like crazy. She's being treated as a high roller. After spending about $1 million (and losing it), she decides it wasn't her fault. So now she's suing the casino for $10 million saying they should have stopped her knowing that she was spending too much.
Sound familiar? It's not my fault that this marriage ended. Yeah, I drank all that booze, but he took me down to the bar. I wouldn't have stolen that if they hadn't put it out in plain sight. I wouldn't fill in the blanks for any type of wrong you want and there's a reason why it's not your fault.
I know we're told to bear one another's burdens. But have you read that passage all the way through? If not, here you go:

Galatians 6:1-5 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

See that? "...each one should carry his own load." In other words, we need to take responsibility for our own faults. We need to own up to our mistakes. Here's what we forget. God is so willing to forgive. He's so willing to overlook. He just is looking for pure hearts who hurt when there is sin. Like David who wept. Like Paul who said he was chief sinner #1. I think that's the difference. So buck up. Don't blame anybody else. If you feel as if you need to blame somone, blame Satan. He's the father of lies and the source of all evil. But by all means, own up to your mistakes and allow God to work His wonderful love. Have a great day. JW

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Son Will Be Up Soon

I woke up early this morning. On a day when it's supposed to be later, I wake up early. It's dark and quiet around the house. It's the Lord's day!
As I sit in the dark and contemplate my lessons for the day, I'm wondering who will hear. Who will be affected by the words? They're not my words. At least that's what I pray to God before speaking. Who will wander in today? What will they be expecting?
I don't know why in God's wisdom He chose humans to get His message across. Couldn't He just speak directly? No, that didn't work with Adam and Eve. How about with miracles? Nah, the Bible is filled with miracles, undeniable miracles, and all people wanted was more miracles. They didn't want more of God's presence.
So I pray for soft and open hearts...beginning with mine. Then I pray that ulterior motives are taken away...again starting with mine. And I pray that the love and grace of God is heard today. The peace that passes all understanding. The love that is so big that God pours it out on us, not leaving any behind. I pray for grace and mercy for me and for everyone else. And I hope I'm not so judgmental in all of this.
It's going to be a great day. I know it is. JW

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Discouraged? Just Wait

What's the saying? "It's always darkest before the dawn." Have you ever felt abandoned? Forgotten? Alone? What's worse is you feel it's God who has abandoned and forgotten you. If you're in one of those periods, my friend, take heart. It can change suddenly, it can gradually change. But it will change, I promise, it will change. And the thing is, if it doesn't change now, it will change when you enter your final home.
How can I say that? Well, I was reading about Joseph. His brothers hated him; sold him to some Midianites who sold him in Egypt. His first job ended in false accusations and jail time. He was put in charge of the prisoners. (Nice job, huh?) He interpreted two dreams which both came true. His only request? Just remember me when you get back to Pharoah. Two years later Pharoah had a dream. "Oh, I forgot. There's a guy in prison who specializes in dream interpretation. One moment Joseph is dirty, unshaven, all prisony (is that a word?) and he's called to Pharoah's presence. And within a few minutes he's clean-shaven and is number two in the land only to Pharoah. He's given a wife and his two kids he names "Forget" and "Double Prosperity."
So take heart. Your deliverance may be today. It could be close. It could not occur (Sounds like a politician, doesn't it?). But God is good. Period. God is good in fabulous times. God is good in horrible times. And He never leaves us and He never will. Hang in there. We win in the end. Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Good Day!

You may not know that I tend to fret. However, I internalize so the only people who really know are my family. So the last few days have not been good ones for me. Sometime Friday, I lost my Blackberry; although I didn't discover that I had lost it until Saturday morning. Yesterday, our CRV had a flat tire. And it got cold again (snow, freezing rain, ice, wind, etc.) after being 64 on Saturday.
So I don't show it much, but there was a gnawing inside of me to take care of all of these issues. Maybe that's my problem. I think I have to solve everything. Let's just attribute that to me getting older. I hit dead ends on my phone search. Finally, last night I told my wife I was going to turn the house upside down (again) and see if I could find the phone. I looked under the cushion of the love seat and THERE IT WAS!! I never sit on that love seat. How did it get there? I was able to pump up the tire on the car and it held the air pretty well. This morning I drove to Wal-Mart and NOBODY WAS THERE IN FRONT OF ME! I drove right in and I was able to buy new tires at a reasonable price and they put them on all in less than 45 minutes! Now, it's still cold. But two out of three ain't bad.
Solomon said, "A man can do nothing better than eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" Paul said, "I have learned to be content in any and every situation." I know in the scheme of things my problems don't match up to the problems of others. But there are good days and bad days. This is a good one for me. I hope it is for you, too! JW

Monday, March 03, 2008

A New Song

If you have read my blog much, you'll know that my son sings in show choir. We were at another seemingless countless competition on Saturday (by the way, they were Grand Champions, and my son won best best male vocalist/performer) when a kid from another show choir walked by. I could see which group he was from because of his t-shirt. As he walked by, he was singing the opening number from our show.
Now you have to realize, since I hear our show so many times during the year, I am singing their songs all the time. Rarely do I sing a song from someone else. It got me thinking.
In one of our church songs we sing, "Sing the song of Moses and the Lamb by and by..." And, "They sing in heav'n a new song of Moses and the Lamb." The book of Revelation talks of the saints singing a new song. My thought is, why isn't that me? What is on my lips? Shouldn't it be the song of Jesus? Shouldn't He be what cheers my heart? "You are the words and the music, you are the song that I sing. You are the harmony, you are the melody, praise to my King I will sing." The Song of the Lamb. That's what makes my day. "There's within my heart a melody," we sing. Indeed, He is the reason for my joy each day. And so I proudly sing His song. I want His song to be on my lips.
What a beautiful song He brings to me. It's a life-changing song with a glorious message for our hearts. I hope you're singing it today. Have a great day. JW