Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Sign is Wrong

The bank sign said it was 74 degrees this morning. Now to my friends below the Mason-Dixon line, that's great. Only problem is, it's 54 degrees. I noticed this sign the other day when the temperature was really starting to change. I believe one morning it said 78 when it was really 58. I hadn't gotten used to the cool mornings yet and I marvelled at how warm it really was....after all, the bank sign said 78. What really tipped me off on the bank sign was when it read 90 degrees the other day. Now I know what 90 degrees feels like. So I was on to that sign now.
You're probably thinking at this point, "What is Jim trying to get at? I mean, he's talking about a bank sign for crying out loud!" This same phenomenon happens in our churches. Someone starts saying something that is untrue, shady, or an opinion that one has that may or may not be accurate. And we just take it at face value. For instance. "The singing just wasn't really that good this morning, was it?" (The bank sign says 90) Or, "That preacher isn't really doing what he should be doing, is he?" (It's really 58 degrees, not 78 degrees) Or, one I read about recently, "Things just aren't going well at church, are they?" Pretty soon we start believing the lie. And the church falls apart. Satan is good at what he does.
Recently, I was talking to a young preacher and he was talking to a chaplain from a hospital. He mentioned he worked at a Church of Christ and the response was typical. "You're the guys that don't use any instruments." I told him he should have said, "Yeah, and you should come hear it. It's beautiful!" I believe this can work the other way. Let's take the positive tack on this and start talking about our churches in a positive light. Let's invite! Let's encourage! Let's say how good it is! I'm not saying we should close our eyes to any problems. But my experience is we have a whole lot more to be excited and blessed about than we do problems. Let's focus on the positive and not the negative and let's turn this thing around. Didn't Paul said, "Do everything without complaining."? Let's try it. Have a great day! JW

P.S. And come visit us this Sunday! Great things are happening!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Satan's been after me lately. I don't know why. Perhaps he's sensed a weakness, a "more opportune time." But as I get older, the question keeps coming back to me, "What have I done of any importance?" "What have I accomplished that will last?" When I see that, I wonder if I've had an impact at all. Now, this is not the place where you say, "Oh, Jim, don't think like that. I love you and you've meant so much to me. etc., etc. etc. That's not the purpose of this blog. I'm just telling you some heart feelings.
Then I realize, I've asked the wrong questions. It's not, "What have you done?" It's, "How have I let Jesus rule in my life?" Then my life takes on a whole 'nother meaning. It's leaves the "it's all about me.." to "it's all about Him.." He can handle it. He can take care of it. And He can accomplish things that I wiil never see. Perhaps a kind word here that meant little to me may turn up years later as encouragement to someone who remembers that moment and praises God. Or perhaps it will show up in my children. Perhaps they will touch lives, some of whom haven't even been born yet. But it doesn't matter. This isn't about what I want to accomplish. It's about how He will use me. So I'll have to remember that I'm God's poem, just waiting to be read. God's creation. God's man. And I pray that He will be glorified in my life.

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Have a great day. JW

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Family Reunion

My wife and I just returned from a family reunion in Ohio. My first (he doesn't want me to say oldest) brother and his wife were also there so we made the visit to old churches, old homes, three cemeteries, and the like. We laughed and laughed with cousins and other relatives. We ate together at the Olde Dutch Restaurant in Logan, OH. It may not have quite been like the family reunions of old, but it was fun. We reminisced, looked at old pictures, met new members of the family, marvelled at how old some looked, and how young others looked.
As I pondered, I thought how this weekend was representative of my entire life. We visited the old Bearwallow Church of Christ on Bearwallow Ridge. We found the Lancaster Street Church of Christ that my dad helped to literally build...I mean bricks and mortar and everything. We saw where they used to meet there in Athens, just a little square brick house. And we attended church on Sunday at the Blackburn Road Church of Christ there in Athens. I took my brother to the Old Bedford church; at least to where it used to stand. A split from the old Bedford Chruch formed the Bearwallow Church. How appropriate that our entire lives were built around church. With my dad being a preacher and then later a college professor, we spent our time at church, always. If there was a meeting somewhere, we were there. Many times, it was dad preaching the meetings. When the doors opened, we were there. Our lives then and now center around church.
We visited with aunts and uncles, cousins and other in-laws. We laughed and laughed. I'm not talking just a chuckle. I'm talking about the kind of laughter that always occurred at family reunions. Gentle ribbing, old stories, pranks played, and sometimes we just laughed because we were together. My aunt left the room and she claimed it got quiet. She claimed that when I walked back in the room it got loud again. Once again, that has been my life. Utter joy around family. Even when the times weren't so good, we could still find a reason for some laughter. A good joke or just the sheer fun of being together made our time so precious.
And three cemeteries. Burlingham where my great-great grandfather and his wife are buried. He's the one who started it all there in Ohio. He left Virginia after the Civil War to begin a new life. He was long gone before I came along, but his influence continues on to this day. Cherry Ridge where many more relatives are buried including my great grandfather and family, my grandfather and his family. Hallowed ground. As the gentle breeze blew across the field I could see our family gather in difficult times weeping and mourning the loss of another family member who had gone on to their reward. Yet, there was always hope. Hope that we would all, I mean all, would see each other again. That's what we were taught, that's what we believe. The Old Bedford cemetery didn't have any relatives that I know of. But the church that stood there was the place where my great-great grandfather worshiped God.
Church, Joy, Death. All vital parts of my life. Some may say that those three are a strange combination. I think they are what life is all about. We find God in our relationships with God's people. And God's people are our relatives if they are physically related to us or spiritually related. The joy we share is priceless. And when we die, we know that it's just the beginning. I forget who said this, but I remember someone describing death as putting out the candle because the sun was coming up. What a great description.
What a great trip we had. It was a reminder to let me know just how fortunate I am to have the loving family that I have. Have a great day. JW