The Lost Keys

Posted December 19, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Christianity, Christmas, Grace, Story, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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(A story of an insignificant boy doing the significant)

The king was rushing. His day was full of appointments and appearances and he always seemed to be about fifteen minutes behind schedule. His executive assistant, Rudy, had the schedule memorized and frequently pointed at his watch as he got the king’s attention.

They were leaving a brief visit at a hospital dedicated for military veterans…a part of the schedule that Rudy saw no point in…when the king accidentally dropped his keys our of his coat pocket. They were important keys. A key to the royal palace, a key for the royal vault which contained many important documents, a signet key that the king used to put his approval on treaties and proclamations, and a key to the royal chapel where the king often went to be alone.

They spilled out of his pocket and unto the street and laid there as the king’s car sped off.

A young boy named Tommy saw the keys falling and tried to get the attention of the king, but Rudy pushed him back.

“The king doesn’t have time for little boys. He has much more important places to go and people to see,” said Rudy. And then they were off. Tommy picked up the keys and stuffed them safely into his pocket.

The king proceeded with his day of important proceedings. When he arrived back at the royal palace just before dinner he stepped out of the vehicle and walked with Rudy to the massive front doors. He reached into his coat pocket to fish out his keys and his hand felt nothing but the bottom of his pocket.

“Where did my keys go, Rudy?”

“I don’t know, your majesty! They aren’t in the pocket you usually carry them in?”

“Not there!” The king searched his other pockets, but found nothing. “Blast it all!” he shouted, and then knocked on the door. His doorman, James, opened the door, looking bewildered at the fact that his king was standing outside.

That evening there was much discussion and frustration experienced by the king and his assistant as they tried to figure out where he had left his keys.

“Confound it, Rudy! It wouldn’t surprise me if that fox, Mr. Raines, picked them out of my pocket when I was speaking to the House of Lords. He lives to make my life miserable. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s using the royal vault key to steal important documents.”

“Your majesty, I’m sure that, despite your differences with him over the years, that Mr. Raines would not resort to such tactics.”

“Well, blast it, Rudy, where would they be then?”

At that moment there was a slight knocking that they heard. They heard the footsteps of James slowly walking across the great marble entryway to the front doors and thought nothing of it. Rudy offered a couple of other possible places where the king might have absent-mindedly put down his keys and left them, but the king was sure that neither of them was a plausible answer.

James came to the room entrance and said, “Excuse me, your majesty, but we have a strange visitor who must see you. It’s a matter that I believe you will be most agreeable in hearing about.”

“Well, bring the man in, James!”

“It isn’t a man, sire. It is a young boy.”

“James, the king has much more important things to deal with than an audience with a young boy,” protested Rudy.

“I believe you will want to make an exception this time, sir.”

The king motioned to James to bring the boy in. A moment later the young boy who had picked up the king’s dropped key chain slowly walked into the room and bowed to one knee.

“You again!” shouted Rudy. I thought I told you that the king didn’t have time for young children.

“Yes, sir! But I thought the king might like to have his keys back.” The boy brought the keys from his pocket and dangled them in front of him.

“Good heavens, Rudy! Our problem has been solved,” said the king with delight. “Where did you find them, lad?”

“You dropped them outside of the Veteran’s Hospital. I tried to get your attention, but you were in too much of a rush…going to see important people and give important speeches.”

The king looked at the boy, smiled, and said, “My boy, it sounds like the most important task that was accomplished today wasn’t done by any of us, but by you.”

“Thank you, your highness! I never would have thought that a young boy like me would be able to do anything for a royal person like you.”

 

 

 

Seeing Kansas

Posted December 16, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Christmas, Faith, Jesus, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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A few years ago I was on the top of Pike’s Peak on a clear, beautiful, sunny day. Someone said “You can see Kansas from here!”

My sarcastic nature made me think “Why would you want to see Kansas?” But my next thought was that I wasn’t quite know if we could see Kansas or not. I mean Kansas is a long ways off from Colorado Springs. And, secondly, how do you know where Kansas begins and Colorado ends. There isn’t a definitive line that marks it or a river that you have to cross to get to it…at least on the western side!

So I stood there wondering “Is that really Kansas or not?”

There are certain situations in life…certain sightings, if you will…that we are unsure how to classify. Is the birth of our fourth child…that we hadn’t planned on having…a blessing or an ill-timed additional obligation?

Is the lay-off notice I received the first step of a blessing that will lead me to another profession that I’m passionate about?

Are all the little kids in church an added responsibility and burden that diminishes our energies or the beginning part of a promised future for a congregation?

Was the raising of Jesus by Joseph and Mary seen as being a blessing? I’m sure that Mary could look back at her son and see how she was blessed, but was it seen as being a blessing as they were in the midst of it?

Seeing Kansas is hard from such a distance.

Most of us replay our lives and we ask “What if” questions. We ponder how we might have done things differently. Seldom do we think that maybe we did exactly what God called us to do, and to be exactly where God called us to be.

When we look back we can see the trail that our life made. In our prayerful meditations we can received comfort and encouragement about those times when our path was in sync with the plan of God. We can also painfully recall where we took our own way away from his plan…the effect of it upon us and others, the grief it brought…and rejoice in the fact that God never stopped loving us.

Some of us are in the midst of situations that we are having a hard time seeing there being a blessing involved in it.

But be encouraged! Kansas is out there and the blessings of God will become clearer and clearer as you keep faithfully traveling on.

Nine Girl Scouts Dancing

Posted December 15, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Christianity, Christmas, Community, Humor, Jesus, love, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         December 15, 2014

                                             

There are many pictures of Christmas that cross our minds or are caught by our eyes. Holly and mistletoe…egg nog and fruitcake…the mall Santa and front-yard inflatables. We use a number of things to convey the messages of hope, peace, love, and joy. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the proper perspective of things. My daily email box is full of on-line offers for everything from doormats to designer jeans. I’ve never had so many emails from Omaha Steaks!

A few days ago I was driving by the grocery store and I saw a sight that brought joy to my soul. In front of the store was one of the red buckets for The Salvation Army. I could hear the bell being rung.

But then in front of the bucket were nine Girl Scouts dancing round and round in a circle, laughing…enjoying…experiencing a sense of delight as they manned the bucket for a couple of hours. It was a picture of Christmas being lived out. Dancing with joy because of the season’s reason, while performing acts of charity.

Joy in child-like giggles.

Collecting coins and dollar bills to help the impoverished gain a step in the uncertainness of daily living.

Joy-filled charity. A picture of the blessed being a blessing.

Christmas is many things. On the day the girl scouts danced a “grandparently” couple at church lit the advent candle and shared how this past year had included many challenges but many, many more blessings. A dear lady who loves God and people brought me gingerbread cookies shaped like moosely-looking reindeer. In receiving we sought to give, and invited an African-American gentleman from church to join us for lunch.

Joy and delight…giving and receiving…being blessed and being the blessing…all of those are descriptions of Christmas that convey images, actions, feelings, and pictures.

God only knows how much delight those nine girl scouts brought to the customers coming and going from the supermarket, but I know that sparked a flame within my soul that warmed my heart.

 

The Blessing of Pecan Pie

Posted December 10, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Christmas, Community, Humor, Jesus, love, Pastor, Prayer, Story

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                December 10, 2014

                                          

A wonderful lady in our church named Wilma, just a shy short of being eighty, blessed me in a delicious way last Sunday. Wilma had baked a pecan pie and decided that I should have it.

Now you need to understand that pecan pie is my favorite! Capped off with a scoop of Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream, it is a slice of pie heaven…if there is pie in heaven!

That night the “young guys” group that I lead were descending upon our house, so the food choice was settled. Pecan pie and ice cream for everyone!

I wasn’t expecting to receive a freshly baked pie that day, but some of the greatest blessings of God come at unexpected times. The even better news is that I still have two slices left after Sunday night, and Carol doesn’t care for pecan pie (What is wrong with her?), so I’m set for another couple of nights of lip smacking delight.

I don’t know if Wilma thought I was starting to look a little lean in the mid-section or what. I didn’t ask her for an explanation as to how I was the winner. Paul said that Jesus had once made the statement that “It was more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) I’m willing, however, to be the receiver to allow someone else to experience the gift of giving.

Wilma is a woman of God who has had a life of mountains and valleys, but God gave her the gift of baking. Her cinnamon rolls are craved. If she bakes anything to bring to a church fellowship function the baked goods are snatched up in a way that only hungry Baptists can achieve.

A simple pecan pie.

An unexpected blessing.

It makes me ponder how often I’ve been the giver of an unexpected blessing. My selfish nature says I’m always willing to have something surprise me, but how often do I look to give a surprise blessing?

Christmas has that underneath message of giving. It’s more than bartering for the best deal. It’s going a little further in helping someone else.

And…listen! It doesn’t have to be a pecan pie!

If you want to bake a cake or make some cookies, I’m open for them as well!

Just kidding…kinda!

Recognizing Angels

Posted December 8, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Christmas, Jesus, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                 December 8, 2014

                                               

Angels are well-liked. Many people see them as cuddly little bald-headed boys who fly around and sprinkle glitter. They’ve been portrayed by attractive Hollywood actresses who talk in sweet tones and sing with…okay, I’ll say it…angelic voices.

But in everyday life how do we know it’s an angel that we’re seeing or talking to. In the Bible there were very clear angelic conversations between the angel Gabriel and Zechariah (Luke 1) and also with Mary. Zechariah becomes speechless as a result of the encounter, and his faithless questions. After Jesus’ resurrection there is an angelic encounter at the tomb.

The other side of the situation, however, is Hebrews 13:2- “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Angels could be bald-headed or have a full head of red hair. They could be thought to be Pakistani or Irish, young or old, dressed well or shabby in appearance. The disturbing thing about the verse in Hebrews is that we may have shown hospitality to dozens of angels and not be aware of it until some time in the future or next life…or we may have refused angels and not thought a thing about it.

Perhaps the point of that verse in Hebrews 13 is to say that our attitude towards people, and behavior towards people, should have a consistency to it. The recent situations across our nation have shown that we have certain biases towards those who are not like us. Years ago a church growth consultant advocated for churches to be homogenous. In other words attract more people that are cookie-cutter images of the people who are already there. Diversity was discouraged. I wonder how many angelic visitations were met with cold shoulders and closed lips?

Angelic appointments are not like my annual physical with my doctor that I can schedule a couple of months ahead of time. When I make that appointment it usually includes a couple of “No, that time doesn’t work” answers before finding a suitable time that works. Angelic visits are according to God’s planning, and, hard as it is for me to believe, God doesn’t compare calendars with me before sending one of his messengers.

So how do we recognize angels? With great difficulty! Oddly enough, that may be the point, for God does not want us to treat anyone less than we would treat Gabriel. What a concept to live life by! To see each person we meet and relate to as quite possibly being one of the angelic beings!

Humbled and Blessed

Posted December 8, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Christmas, Jesus, love, Parenting, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)

It seems that so many of the people that we encounter in the Bible that are blessed by God in some significant way are men and women of humble circumstances. Think about it! Peter was crucified upside down because he didn’t consider himself worthy enough to be nailed to the cross the same way Jesus had been crucified.

Ruth was spotted by Boaz as she was gleaning in the field. Gleaning was a way that people who was poor- people trying to survive- could gather grain to feed themselves.

Paul was supported by the generosity of the first churches. He was the one who wrote Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing our of self ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider other better than yourselves.” And then in describing Jesus he wrote, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death- even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8) Paul had been humbled by the appearance of Jesus on the road to Damascus, an event that blinded him for a while.

Humbleness is not a quality that gets much print these days. Recently a college football player was thinking too much about his celebration antics for scoring a touchdown and dropped the football prematurely before he crossed the goal line. The defending team picked up the football that was bouncing around on the one yard line and returned it 99 yards for a jaw-dropping score. If the player who had been intent on being in the spotlight had put his selfish ambition to the side and simply crossed the goal line his team would have been ahead 14-0. Instead it was suddenly 7-7 and the momentum changed for the rest of the game.

Mary was called by the angel Gabriel to be the mother of the Christ-child. Her spirit of humility showed in her response to the angel in Luke 1:38.

“I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Two millennia later we celebrate the humble woman who was blessed by God. In terms of the blessings of God, he often goes against the grain and chooses the insignificant, the poor, the stutterer, the elderly, the common folk to carry out his greatest plans and purposes.

Christmas Music

Posted December 5, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Christmas, Community, Faith, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Story, The Church

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Christmas, more than any other season of the year, is defined by its music. As I write this I have my earbuds in listening to The Piano Guys playing “Angels We Have Heard On High.” It gets my fingers moving almost gracefully across the keys of my laptop. I feel like I’m almost playing the piano as I type.

Think about it! If you did an Amazon search of Christmas music you would find an incredible listing of possibilities. Lady Antebellum, Kelly Clarkson, Elvis Presley, James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Blake Shelton, LeAnn Rimes….the list goes on and on and on. Christmas music seems to be “in”, even with those folks that we don’t connect the Christian faith with otherwise.

Growing up in a one TV house we knew that if the Andy Williams’ Christmas Special was on at the same time as “Gunsmoke” or “The Beverly Hillbillies”, as kids we were out of luck. Christmas songs sung by guys named Andy or Perry pre-empted everything else.

Our church always had a Christmas Cantata that brought in a crowd. Even though a couple of the older gentlemen had hard times finding the notes that were being sung, people enjoyed the festiveness and serenity of the occasion.

I’m partial to the song that The Piano Guys are playing, plus “Silent Night”, and “O, Come All Ye Faithful.” If we didn’t sing Christmas carols during Advent there would be a riot in the church. Many of the songs tell the Christmas story. In fact, we assume a number of things about the events of Christmas because of the words of Christmas carols…such as there were three wise men (“We Three Kings”), and Jesus was born at night (“Silent Night”).

But that’s okay! There is mostly truth in the midst of the melodies.

Christmas music prepares us for the reason for the season. It points our hearts and souls towards the divine-human interaction, the event that would change the world.

People who have minimal interest in God have an abundance of interest in Christmas. Someone who doesn’t know Jesus in a personal way can probably still sing the words to “Silent Night” without a song sheet.

There’s just something special about Christmas music. We often talk roughly in our day-to-day living, but it’s near impossible to sing “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and keep a high level of spite in your attitude.

So sing, my friends! Sing! Exercise those vocal chords and proclaim “Joy To The World! the Lord has come!”


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