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