Monday, March 28, 2011

Liberal or Conservative

I received a call last week asking about our Wednesday evening services. We have no services on Wednesday evening, only small groups that meet. The gentleman asked about Sunday services and after giving him the information, we hung up. Several minutes later the same person called again and asked several interesting questions.
First, he asked what my position was with the church. Then he asked, "Are you liberal or conservative?" I chuckled and told him I couldn't answer that. To some we are liberal and to others we are conservative. He said he understood, then he asked the two questions that I assume were acid tests to him. (I'm not making this up.) He asked, "Do you use instrumental music?" I told him we didn't, but we did use videos that had instrumental music in them. "In classes?" he retorted. No, we use them in worship. Then came the next question. "Does your church have potlucks?" "All the time," I replied. He then hung up.
I may be wrong, but my assumption is this gentleman thinks we are liberal. Heaven forbid we have potlucks, especially in the building. This reminded me of an e-mail I received several years ago asking about divorce/remarriage, eating in the building, and a number of other things. I'm always amused at the way we determine whether a church is liberal or conservative. I hope I'm liberal with God's love. I hope I'm conservative with my criticism. It's my prayer that I'm liberal with God's grace and mercy and conservative with my judgments and speck finding.
This gentleman may have come to our services Sunday. Maybe he found what he was looking for. I'm more concerned that Jesus finds what He's looking for in us. Have a great day! JW

Monday, March 21, 2011

Letter to Landry

Dear Landry,
Since you are my first grandchild, I was just getting used to being your Papa. I had had a lot of practice with your mother and your Uncle Nate, but this was different. I could hand you back when you were crying. If you messed your diaper, I could have someone else change it (even Granna would do it....she is such a softie). I looked forward to our (nearly) every day conversations. I loved to feel your soft skin and smell your smell and see your smile.
It was really hard to leave you in Wichita the other day with your Momma and Daddy, but that's a good place for you. And although I won't get to see you every day, I need you to help your Mom and Dad. I want you to help them by being a good boy, by growing up and becoming a good young man, then becoming a great man. I want you to remember the times that I held you close to me as I sang "Jesus Loves Me" to you. By the way, it won't be the last time you hear me sing it. With Skype and visits, I'll have plenty more opportunities to do that.
But I want you to know that you wrapped yourself around my heart just like your little hand wrapped around my finger. Granna didn't see my tears while we were driving home in the dark. I could see your Momma's tears again as we drove off. But I need you to grow up and be a big boy. Know that your Granna and Papa love you as do your other grandparents, your Mom and Dad, and a host of other people. You are so fortunate to have them as your parents.
Most importantly, I want you to grow up and love God. I want you to give your life to Him. I want you to know that if Papa loves you, God loves you even more....although I can't imagine how much that is.
Grow up to be a big boy, we'll be down to visit as much as we can, and I know you'll come see us. Save some "Patty-cake" games for me. We'll see you soon. I love you....Papa.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Our Father

I went and heard James Taylor and his son, Ben Taylor, sing the other night. Now I cut my teeth (not really) on James Taylor's music. In college, it was the goal of all of the young men who could play guitar to play it like James and to imitate his voice. His songs had a soothing, yet soulful and haunting, nature to them. Mellow would be the way I would describe his music. And I was raised in the era of "the louder, the better" era of music with heavy metal, and crank it up volume. But James Taylor would come along and just soothe my soul.
His son looks a lot like him. He isn't as good a singer and he can't play the guitar as well as his dad. Yet there was JT promoting his son and singing with him and enjoying the concert as much as I did.
I couldn't help thinking about our relationship with our Father. He is awesome at everything He does. He creates, He is glorified, He is loving. And I try to imitate Him in my own meager sort of way. I'm not as good. I'm not as loving. Yet He sings with me and promotes me to be like Him. Kind of like JT and Ben.
At the end of the concert, JT hugged his son, smiled and took a bow. Just like God does with us. Am I taking this too far? I don't think so. That's how much God loves us. I hope your day is good. JW

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Story

I'm teaching the high school class on Sunday mornings. Wow, it's been a long time so it will be a challenge. Yesterday we talked about what makes a good story. There were a variety of answers from complications to tragedies to resolution of those tragedies. But one young teen called out the word "love." As they say on Family Feud, "Good answer, good answer!"
As we turned the discussion to the story of the Bible, we were able to see how all of Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is one single line of love. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son...." It's the story all throughout the Bible. As Adam and Eve fall, the march begins on a purposeful, resolute journey to the cross of Jesus. He loves us (you) so much! And He wants us to love Him too.
It's really very simple. We have studied it, analyzed it, argued about it, but it really comes down to the simple song that I sing to my new grandson. As I hold him and he cries, I simply sing softly in his ears the words of "the Story."

Jesus loves me this I know;
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so!

I hope you have a wonderful day! JW