Monday, June 29, 2009


I was working out on the treadmill the other day at the gym when a little lady came shuffling by. She was carrying her portable oxygen tank with the clear, plastic tube running from the tank, around her head, and under her nose bringing the oxygen that she so much needed just to breathe. She climbed up into the treadmill a couple of machines down and started exercising. Now, I'm going at such a pace that I'm sweating (I'm sorry, perspiring) profusely. I'm smug in my attitude thinking that this lady just cannot keep up with the athlete that I am. She began her exercising and they had to put up a post next to her just to see if she was really moving. I mean, I've seen calendars move faster than she was.
After a few minutes, she was huffing and puffing and she had to climb down out of the treadmill. I, on the other hand, continued my vigorous pace and easily outdistanced her not only in speed, but in time. After finishing a grueling work-out on the treadmill, I went over to the stationary bikes. And what to my surpise and excitement, Miss Oxygen Tank 2009 was on one of the bikes near me. She was reading while (barely) pedaling her bike. Now I have a theorem here. If you can read a book or work a crossword puzzle while exercising on your bike, you're not getting any exercise. I felt she was getting more exercise by carrying around her oxygen tank. Once again, I pedalled hard as I ate away those calories.
Now my natural instinct was to get off my bike and jump in front of this lady and say something like, "In your face woman! I am an athlete. I am awesome! I have worked out for 50 minutes and you are only at a snail's pace. Take that! If you had done what I'm doing when you were my age, perhaps you wouldn't have needed that oxygen tank now!"
That's what I wanted to say. Until I saw him. I don't know his name, but when I'm talking to my wife I say, "Did you see "him?" I think his name is Adonis. He has broad shoulders, a narrow waist, his thighs are as big as tree trunks. And when he works out on the eliptical, he goes on and on and on and on. He hardly breaks a sweat and he doesn't even breathe hard. It takes him 30 minutes just to stretch all those muscles. He deservedly could get into my face and say, "In your face. I am an athlete. I am awesome! I have worked out for 2 hours and you are only at a snail's pace. Take that!" In his presence, I feel like the woman with the oxygen tank.
There is a passage of Scripture that speaks to this. We tend to spend our lives comparing ourselves to others. "I'm not that bad. Why, just look at...." You can always find someone worse than you. And vice versa, you can always find someone better than you. Paul said, "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 burden." Really we can't get into the comparison game because whatever we do, we will all find ourselves comparing ourselves to Jesus. There is not one who can even hold a candle to Him. When we realize that He is the one who created our bodies from nothing. He spoke and the universe came into existence and I sit here saying, "I can walk on the treadmill longer that you!" Then it really becomes silly, doesn't it?
Let's not waste our time comparing ourselves with others. Instead, let's strive to become more like Him. Not, not Adonis. Him. Adonai. The Lord Jesus Christ. I hope your day is a good one.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Sunday!

I like being up early on Sunday mornings. It's at this time I contemplate what is about to happen. The sermon has been finished since Thursday although preparation has been going on for a long time. The anticipation builds because something good is about to happen.
There is someone today who needs this sermon. That's the beauty of it. I don't know who it is and may never know. And I really don't care who it is. When God is totally in control, the seed falls on the hearts and I don't have to worry about anything.
I'll preach and try to stay completely out of the way. That's hard to do for some preachers (and I have to admit, it's hard for me). See, we want the credit. I want someone to come along and give me some credit. Yeah, it's God's message and God's words. But I want someone to come up and say, "That was the best sermon..." "Preacher, how do you do it week in and week out?" "That was awesome!" Instead, I have to pray each week that God take my feeble words and make them into what He wants said. I have to ask to take me completely out of the picture. And I often pray that I get no response complimenting me...just make sure that God is honored and glorified and praised. At the end of each sermon, as I walk to the back, I apologize that my little effort hasn't matched up to the greatness of God's majesty. But he took a little stone and killed a giant, he can take little words and do great things for His glory.
Sound strange coming from a preacher? I imagine that goes through the mind of many, many preachers each week. It's time to go now. Great things are about to happen. God's people are getting ready to meet. God is in their midst. Have a great day! JW

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sam Thomsen--One Year Past

June 11, 2009, exactly one year ago I learned of the death of a young 13, almost 14 year old Boy Scout. Not just any Boy Scout. But a vibrant, active, funny, friend of mine who attended my church. He was killed at the Little Sioux Boy Scout Ranch when the tornado hit last year. These things only happen out there. They don't happen in Omaha, NE. Oh, yes, we have tornadoes, but they pass by, do a little damage, and if someone is hurt, it's no one I know. This one was different. Everyone wanted to know about him. Larry King, Good Morning American, The New York Times, NPR, and all the local news stations.
Sam Thomsen began life having to fight. He was premature. He was adopted by one of our families. He had to work at everything. And just about the time it seemed that he was overcoming everything and doing so well, a tornado killed him. That's not fair. It's not fair to him. It's not fair to his family who loved him and miss him dearly. It's not fair to his friends. And we still are struggling with his death. In the grand scheme of things, I still want to ask "Why?". I haven't answered that one. Nor do I think I ever will. Yes, I'll see good things, and have seen good things that have come from this. But will I understand it? Nope, probably not.
I will, however, worship Him in the storm. I wasn't there when He layed the foundations of the earth. I don't know where He keeps the storehouses of hail and snow. I do know that He is God and He will make all things right. This fallen world confuses, destroys, and batters. But I refuse to despair. "The steadfast of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is they faithfulness. The Lord is my portion says my soul. Therefore I will hope in him." So says Jeremiah in the ruins of Jerusalem. So say I. Please keep Larry, Sharon, Lindsey, and Sarah Thomsen in your all times...especially today.