Monday, March 30, 2009

Tulsa Workshop--2009

I returned from the Tulsa Workshop Saturday evening. We drove through torrential downpours, slushy sleet, hard sleet, snow...combine this with a horrible, stiff 30-40 mph wind and the driving was horrible. Once we got about a half an hour past St. Joseph, MO, the roads were dry, the temperature started to rise, and the sun came out. I felt like an employee of the postal service. "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of the night shall keep these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds." Well, we didn't have heat, but everything else was there.
I always come back from Tulsa wanting to be more like Jesus. The messages I hear move me and I look forward to hearing them. But the biggest benefit I gain from the workshop is seeing so many friends from years past. My meals were taken up with just three examples. One a former youth minister I met many, many years ago when I was the director of admissions at Harding. He helped with Uplift and I quickly learned to like him and appreciate his many skills. He has sense received his doctorate and works with training youth ministers at one of our Christian universities. Another meal was take up with a family who lost their first child at the age of 4 months. She was a Downs syndrome baby and her heart was just not formed enough for her to survive. I preached their baby's funeral and it was an honor to do so. They are presently trying to raise funds to go on the mission field. Another was a lady who I've known since college. We've been together at camp as co-workers for many years. She and her husband have three sons of which the middle son was a close friend of my daughter's as they were going through the junior high angst years. She drove over to have lunch with Martha and me. I haven't even mentioned former co-worker preachers, former colleagues at Christian schools where I've worked, there was even a gentleman I went to camp with even more and more years ago than I care to think about. What good and precious times.
My one sadness is when I see the coliseum and observe the crowds. My mind goes back to the 70s and 80s when the place was full. You had to get there early to get a seat. There was an excitement and anticipation that God was moving. You still get that feeling when you see the crowd. But the coliseum isn't full anymore. Why is that? I don't know. Our culture seems to have gotten so busy. We have gotten so divisive. In some ways we have lost of desire to see the world hear His name. But we'll keep plugging. Maybe someday we'll get it even larger than before. I guess I would rather have fewer numbers of people who are truly excited and moved to serve God and a lot of numbers of people who are just there to be seen. God is alive and active. Good things are happening in His church! I thank God for Terry Rush, Shane Coffman, and others on the staff of Memorial Drive who take this thankless task on every year. They are good, godly men who want to see the workshop grow. And I intend to help them to that very thing. I hope your day is good. JW

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Does God Require of Us?

I'm sorry I haven't posted lately. Frankly, I have had nothing profound or glib to say. No experiences that have made me ponder, laugh, ruminate, or cogitate. Life has been pretty boring lately, and that's not necessarily bad. One mountain peak experience after another and you begin to become jaded to mountain tops. So when the mountain top does!
I was reading today in The Message (presently my daily Scripture reading Bible). I'm always struck with the simplicity of God's instructions. I'm also amused how we add to, yea multiply and expound and interpret what God meant in these instructions. Jesus told the young lawyer that the greatest commandment was to love God with everything you had. How simple is that? Simple to understand, difficult to carry out. But God knew there would be some dummy (me!) coming along reading and He had to keep it as simple as possible so he(me!)could understand it. Here's another one of those, "Let's just keep it simple" passages.
Moses is talking to the Israelites as they prepare to enter the Promised Land. He's giving them a history lesson, some instructions, some encouragement. He tells them what God expects of them. When I saw that, I perked up. Here's what he said.

So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I'm commanding you today--live a good life.

Pretty simple to understand. Pretty hard to carry out.
1. Live in God's presence knowing how holy He is.
2. Follow where He leads
3. Love Him
4. Serve Him with every fiber of your being
5. Obey Him
6. Live a good life

Wow! Let's try this...even if just for a day. Let me know how it works. I'm going to try it myself. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What A Difference Six Years Makes

I drove him up to the junior high school and let him out. It was a strange sensation. Really the last time I had done this he was a short, little adolescent whose voice hadn't really changed. His hair was kind of butch with a little bleach in it (that was the style, tipped kind of blond, remember?). He was carrying a back pack and his books for another day at school. No worries. No cares. Just school. That was six years ago.
Today when I dropped him off he was wearing a tie. He was observing a class for one of his classes at college. He wasn't the scrawny kid anymore. He was a man...a young man, but a man. What a difference six years makes. Instead of 13 years old, he's 19. Instead of worrying about lockers and bullies, he's interested in quarter notes and scales. Where has the last six years gone?
I begged out of a meeting last night because I know that I won't have many more of these opportunities. He's at the end of my job. Not really, but you know what I mean. He won't live under my roof much longer. Yes, I'll still have influence and some say so. But it diminishes every day. Have I done enough? Have I done my job? After all these 19 years, what do I want to say? I can sum it up in just a few words. "Follow God, my son. And follow His Son." I hope your day is a good one.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Spiritual Lint

Georg Steinhauser...get used to the name. He is an Austrian scientist who has made a wonderful discovery. It must have taken years for him to figure this out (acutally three). He has discovered that navel hair (which is more of a problem for men than women) comes from abdominal hair and fibers from cotton shirts. Can you believe this guy spent the time and effort to come up with something that we already knew? Unbelievable, isn't it?
Yet, don't we do the same thing. We get so bogged down on the minor things that we lose sight of the fact that there is a dying world out there that needs to hear Jesus. Don't we forget that while we argue spiritual minutiae, often opinion, the fact is we are not reaching out to help those who are in need.
In essence, we become spiritual lint-pickers. That doesn't sound very appealing or nice...and it shouldn't. But that is what we are so many times. I'm encouraging you to open your eyes and look out. See the people who are hurting. See those who need your message of hope. Frankly, they don't care about the fights we are having. They just want a place where they can lay their burdens down. We should be helping them find just that place. Join us, please. I hope your day is a good one. JW