Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Gideon's Get It

Here is a prayer that I received from the Gideons this week.

God most high, who controls all things--from the revolving planets to the unseen things that keep our world alive. We glorify Your omnipotent poewr in providing for our daily needs and, by Your grace, unveling a course to everlasting life with You. We pray for the High School Seniors that attend the Southwest Church of Christ who will taking the big step of graduating next month. Direct them in the course that You want them to follow for both their spirutal and professional lives. Be with those church members involved with the April 25th & 26th Prayer Vigil, that the planning, organizing, leading, and actual prayers will be guided by Your hand and that everything will go smoothly. We also ask that, during the church's emphasis on prayer, that more members will become more comfortable with praying and that they will expand their prayer time and prayer topics. May the special mailings on prayer that will be sent out trigger additional prayer requests and more ideas for ongoing meditation and devotionals. The church also requests that we continue to pray for those members that are being hurt by the present economic situation. Grant the affected families understanding, compassion, peace, hope, and Your over-riding compassion. We ask that You continue to bless them with Your promise that You will never leave or forsake them. Lastly, we pray for the health, stamina, teaching, and leading of Pastor Jim. Continue to guide him and the church into Your everlasting presence. We pray in the name of Your Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen! The Gideon's get it. After this, they said in my letter, "...(we) considered it a great prvilege to pray for you this morning, and we will pray for you this coming week and thereafter." Thank you, those who belong to the Gideon's. Thank you more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Seeing What Is Right In Front of My Eyes

I appreciate my wife for many things. One of the things I love about her is she sees things that I don't. She sees good in people when I don't. She has an intuition about situations that is uncanny. At Christmas, she likes to turn off all the lights in the room except for the lights on the Christmas tree and then she looks at the celing. There the lights flicker on and off in a myriad of patterns and colors that you wouldn't have seen with the lights on.
This weekend I enjoyed one of the things she taught me. You can only see this phenomenon one time of the year and it has to be in the South. We were returning from Searcy, AR and were traveling through NW Arkansas. This is the time of the year when the dogwoods and redbuds are blooming. But it's still too early for the leaves to be on the trees. So as we drove up through the Ozark Mountains towards Fayetteville, AR and through the Ozark National Forest, there is something you can see. Look into the trees and you will see all of the dogwoods blooming. There are thousands of tree trunks, but if you look closely, you can see the beautiful white and pink blossoms on the dogwoods and redbuds. Truly a treat. I would have never seen that had it not been for my wife's perception.
We get so busy in our lives that we often overlook the profound. Someone described it as the tyranny of the urgent. But if we slow down and look beyond the trees, often we'll see something beautiful, something downright spiritual. Perhaps that's what Jesus had in mind when He said we must become like little children. My encouragement to you today is to look beyond what you can see. Maybe you'll see something you've never seen before. And it will change you attitude. Maybe. Have a great day! JW

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Keep Going

Someone said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that football is a sport where 80,000 people in need of exercise are screaming for 22 people who need a break. I find that's usually true in the church. My tendency to listen to those who criticize is directly proportional to how involved they are in the Lord's work. I've noticed this recently while working out at the gym. There are those who are working so hard on their machines...elipticals or stair steps. And while they are working out so hard, invariably someone comes up and starts talking to them. They stand there and visit while the exercisee is panting, sweating, and getting the old heart rate up. I'll tell you right now, about the only response you would get from me would be a nod of the head or a shrug of the shoulders. I might flip some sweat on them. But frankly, I'm too busy working out to have time to worry about other things.
Isn't that true in the church? Have you noticed the ones complaining are usually the ones with a lot of time on their hands? They are really doing anything? They feel their gift is the gift of criticism? Can I give you (and me) some advice? Keep peddling. Keep walking. Keep doing what you are doing. Paul told the Galatians "We can't allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way." The NIV translated that, "Let us not become weary in doing good." I remember Dr. Paul Faulker once told the story of the Mississippi River. He said, you can go out into the Gulf of Mexico several hundred miles and there is still fresh water. Why? Because the river continues to press on in spite of the pollution that's dumped in it, in spite of everything that lies in her path, she continues on. So much so, that she makes an impact into something as vast as the Gulf of Mexico. So it should be with us. Don't worry about those who are standing there talking to you trying to distract you from your appointed task. Keep going. Keep going. Keep going. I hope your day is a good one. JW

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Kimball Matkins

President Wayne Baker and I traveled to Des Moines, IA in 2001 because we were needing a new admissions counselor at York College. We wanted someone a little more mature, a little older than those we had traditionally hired. Generally, we would hire someone right out of college, send them on the road and burn them out. We didn't have to pay them much and we could get a few good years out of them before they moved on. But this was different. There was a gentleman who lived in Des Moines, a two-year graduate of York College who had just tragically lost his wife to cancer. He had two children--one who had already gotten his degree from York and had married. Another, a daughter, was just beginning to start her freshman year at York. There was something special about Kimball. He had a wonderful attitude. Even though he had lost the most precious thing on earth to him, his lovely wife, he didn't blame God. He didn't consider himself a victim. He had a positive view on life. We offered him a job as an admissions counselor and he took it.
Kimball hit the road with a passion. He traveled extensively to Montana and all points in between. He would be gone for several weeks at a time, making an impact, encouraging kids to come to York. It was a good fit for him and us. We got the maturity we wanted. He was able to distract himself from his loss and totally immerse himself in his new job.
On one of his trips, he met a young lady who had three little boys. They began to communicate on line and soon he came to my office to tell me he was getting married again. I remember him having those little boys in his office and having to punish them. I smirked because he was starting all over again. He would come and ask me if he could apply for other jobs on campus because he wanted to stay home more often. I gave him my blessing, but I didn't want to lose him because he was so good at what he did.
I left York College in 2003 and Kimball finished his B.A. in Business. He took on another job as financial aid director. Life seemed good. Kimball would tell you that even if it wasn't. "God is good...all the time." he used to say often. My wife was at a Leadership Training for Christ meeting in Kansas City and she mentioned that she had seen Kimball. "What is wrong?" she asked. He was really hobbling. I visited with him briefly and he told me that he just felt weak. I told my wife I hope he didn't have multiple sclerosis. He didn't. He had Lou Gehrig's disease. The last time I talked to Kimball was at his father's funeral. He was in a wheel chair and he was having a difficult time speaking. I came home and told my wife that he would not be around next year at the same time.
Now I know I'm not a prophet, but I was right. Kimball left this life in the early hours on March 26th. I don't mourn for him. I mourn for his wife, his three step sons, his two kids from his first wife, and his grandchildren. I wish they could have known their grandfather. He was a good man. But he's no longer in pain. He no longer has to shuffle. He now has the strength that he had lost...and then some. As the following words were read yesterday, tears flowed from my eyes as I thought of Kimball.

He gives strength to weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint. The screen said, "I'm soaring." Indeed you are, my friend. Indeed you are.