Being Mistaken For God

Posted October 31, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Faith, Humor, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            October 30, 2014

                                    

This year I’m teaching the three and four year old’s Sunday School class. It’s not often that the pastor teaches a class like that, but I’m enjoying it. Some would say that I’ve finally found some people that I can relate to! Each Sunday a mixture of excited and apprehensive kids enter the classroom. One of them, a little boy, who just turned three, named Ben, usually has his cowboy boots on as he arrives at “Sonshne Club.”

Ben has not reached that age where his speech is clear, as is also the case for a couple of the other kids in the class…but he’s not afraid to speak!

Last night he came bopping into the church gym with his mom and little sister and said a few words to me that I couldn’t make out. It was at that point that his mom told me that he was saying hello, but he refers to me as “God!”

He thinks I’m God! I’ve been called a few other names in my lifetime, but I think this is the first time I’ve been mistakenly named God. It’s a big responsibility to carry! I’ve known some people who act like they are God, but not too many who get named God. I’ve always been “Billy” or “Billy Dean.” Back in high school I was nicknamed “Beowulf”, which got shortened to “Beo.” Bill Wolfe sounds remarkably like Beowulf, especially if your sophomore English class is reading the story at the time.

But back to God…in one three year old cowboy-booted boy’s eyes I’m God. I’m sure that won’t last for long, and someday soon I’ll be renamed Pastor Bill, but for now I’m the Man with a Plan, the Head Honcho, the Almighty and Up-righty!

On the positive side, when someone thinks your God it makes you step back a bit and think about what you’re doing and what you’re saying. If Ben continues to seek God he will remember whether or not I was a godly reflection.

After all, each follower of Jesus is a reflection of Christ. Sometimes the reflection is tainted and confusing, and sometimes it’s a Christ-honoring picture.

This Sunday when Ben comes strolling into class looking like a Pony Express rider and calling me God I’ll tell him he’s blessed and that God loves him. He will probably respond with a few words that I may not be able to decipher, so I’ll smile, give him a high-five,  and tell him it’s good to have him in God’s class!

Amen!

 

Taking A Three Year Old to the Magic Kingdom

Posted October 23, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Community, love, marriage, Parenting, Story, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       October 23, 2014

                     

Our family recently spent five days at Disney World. Seven of us trudged to the airport at 4:30 in the morning to catch a flight towards Goofy and his friends. For five days we side-stepped strollers and motorized wheelchairs to make our way through the Magic Kingdom and its side-kicks…Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. It was a family trip to remember!

The last time we had been to Disney World was twenty years ago when our oldest daughter, Kecia, was turning 13. It was evident that she was as excited to return again this time as she had been in 1994. Her excitement this time, however, was not due to her own anticipation of riding on the “It’s A Small World” attraction once again, but rather to watch the reactions of her kids to the Disney mystique.

They were enthralled by the experience. Riding on Dumbo…having lunch at the Sci-Fi restaurant…meeting Donald Duck at the over-priced character breakfast…taking the mono-rail…wearing Mickey Mouse ears…and seeing the wild animals on their safari ride.

Massive amounts of energy! Wide-eyed wonder!

For me, the best part of the trip was simply being with the family and watching them experience things. Sometimes I enjoyed watching Kecia as she watched her kids!

The magical moments for me weren’t the Disney attractions, but rather things that don’t cost money…like our granddaughter Reagan making up songs in the van on the drive back to the hotel at night…or our grandson Jesse’s open mouth as he went through the Buzz Lightyear ride…or riding “Rockin’ Roller Coaster” with my son…twice! Or eating funnel cakes with Kecia…or seeing the delight on Carol’s face as she saw the enjoyment her family was having.

Although the Magic Kingdom does a magic trick on your bank account…it makes it disappear just like that…our family will always remember the time we had together on this trip.

Interestingly enough, my Aunt Irene paid for our 1994 Disney trip. She was battling cancer. Having no children of her own she gave a sum of money to each of our twelve nieces and nephews while she was still living. Her request was that we use it on something that we would enjoy…while she was still alive to see it! Six months after we went to Disney World she passed away, but she was thrilled that we had taken the family vacation to Florida.

When we look back on our lives most of us will realize that there were those rare opportunities of family memories that we took advantage of…that we didn’t let them slip away. They don’t necessarily have to be trips to magic kingdoms or foreign countries, but they do need to be experiences where, as family, we are together…laughing, singing, telling stories and creating new stories.

Spending time with a three year old is magic in motion!

Shooting The Wounded

Posted October 22, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                  October 21, 2014

                                     

 

We are all fallen!

The problem is that Christians, ironic as it is, have a nasty habit of trampling on fallen people…even though scripturally we believe “…that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!” (Romans 3:23)

Recently, Mark Driscoll, founding pastor and lead pastor of Mars Hill Church, whose main campus is in Seattle, resigned amidst allegations of bullying, plagiarism, and an oversized ego. Mars Hill Church, founded by Driscoll in 1996, is attended by more than 15,000 people.

I’m sure that Mark Driscoll made mistakes, perhaps even abusing his leadership powers to excess. All of us have sinned!

But some of the ways he has been tormented in recent weeks is harsh evidence that Christians are prone to shoot their wounded. Driscoll and his wife and five children have moved three times, people have been arrested at their home and he has also received death threats. One morning baseball-sized rocks were hurled through windows of their home.

Of course, Jesus didn’t prohibit the throwing of rocks. He just said to let the person who has not sinned, and not fallen short at some time…let him or her throw the first rock.

Why do followers of Jesus seem to be sometimes be cruel and hateful? What pleasure does that bring to the heart of God to see those that his son was crucified for be crucified over and over again?

It’s what saddens me the most about the church. We have a tendency to think the worst about people, instead of thinking with a grace-filled mindset.

Where there’s a wounded hurting spirit you’ve got to watch out for the smoking gun.

Momentum Church

Posted October 20, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Pastor, Prayer, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           October 20, 2014

                                        

Momentum is not a scriptural word…unless you go to The Message paraphrase, and then it appears once in Matthew 4:25. Other than that there is no momentum in the Bible.

And yet we talk about momentum quite a bit in the ministry of the church. Perhaps it’s an offshoot of our over-zealous sports world mindset. There’s hardly a game that can be viewed on TV without “The Big Mo” word used during it. Teams have the momentum, grab the momentum, make a play that changes the momentum, can sense the momentum shifting…and on and on.

And so we hold it up in the church as a key part of our success…or failure. There’s a couple of problems with momentum. One is we try to make it a spiritual concept. Or on the other hand, we translate a spiritual revival or awakening as a sign of building momentum. Increased attendance at worship is seen as meaning there is momentum. An increase in baptisms, or those wanting to become members of the church, or financial giving, or a building project…all of those are viewed as spiritual indications of momentum building. We crave it. We even idolize it.

But where as the Spirit is steady, momentum is fickle. It can come and go at a “moment’s” notice. The hardest Sunday of the year for a pastor is the Sunday after Easter. Easter is a spark of momentum. The Sunday after Easter things go back to the way they were. It’s almost like Jesus goes back into the tomb. So much for momentum!

There’s been a few years where the excited momentum of Easter was quickly followed by the depressed loss of life.

Which brings me to a final question that I don’t necessarily have an answer to, but I want to ask it! What is the difference between the moving of the Spirit and momentum? The early church experienced both. I love the Acts 2 and 4 passages where the believers met daily in the temple courts, praised and prayed, took care of one another. The difference between the moving of the Spirit and momentum is that transformed lives are the result of the Spirit’s moving. People who are changed are left in the trail of the Spirit’s wind. Ananias and Sapphira’s “special gift” mentioned in Acts 5 was an indication of being caught up in the momentum of the times. They weren’t moved by the Spirit, but rather by their greed and need for recognition.

So…any time there is a sense of momentum there will always be the anger of false acts of spiritual devotion. It’s the Christian version of “fifteen minutes of fame!”

How do we know what is of God and what is of our own creation? I don’t entirely know, but I am taken back by the story in the gospels where Jesus notices the gift of a poor widow that everyone else has discounted as meaningless.

Something to think about!

That Illusive Feeling of Peace

Posted October 10, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Prayer, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       October 13, 2014

                                    

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?…Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:25 and 27)

 

Let’s be honest! Peace is something we long for, but find it hard to grasp. Currently there are many areas of unrest in our lives. In case your list is short, here’s a few to add to it:  ISIS, ebola, mall shootings, school shootings, burn scars, cholesterol levels, cancer, gas prices, stocks falling, collapsed pension plans, processed food, college tuition, aching knees, overdrawn bank accounts, hacking Target and Home Depot, pit bulls, gun right advocates and opponents, Republicans and Democrats, Obamacare and lack of health care, meth addicts robbing homes…

As you know, I could go on and on and on, but I’m sure there were a few things on that list that resonated with you.

Worry is like water! After yesterday’s three inches of rain there’s plenty of it for everyone!

But what about peace! Is it on sabbatical? Have we ticked off God so much that he’s taken back his peace and gone home?

Aren’t followers of Jesus suppose to be peace-filled? Isn’t there suppose to be a sense of tranquility in our spiritual lives?

Let me answer that with a “That would be nice!” and “Sometimes yes!”

There’s an inner peace and and outer sense of peace. The inner peace is a promise of God. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

That inner peace develops as we take a breath of prayer…as we trust that He will never leave us nor forsake us. It’s believing more in the presence of God and the power of God than the destruction and depression of Life.

The outer sense of peace comes and goes like the winning streaks of the Colorado Rockies…most of the time, too few and far between! Life can be good and then the news comes on. We talk about peaceful moments, but they are suddenly plummeted by torrential rains.

The fickleness of our outer peace raises our worries like the yeast in baking bread. Sometimes our worries cause us to forget that we DO have the promise of inner peace.

Jesus asks, “Why worry?” And we respond, “Because it’s one thing we’re really good at!”

We will even worry if there suddenly isn’t anything to worry about!

We are followers of the one who was known as “The Prince of Peace.” If we could just follow him as closely as my shadow seems to follow me!

The Smell of Eternity

Posted September 23, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Humor, love, marriage, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    September 23, 2014

                                        

One of my unanswered questions got answered today. I had been wondering what eternity smells like…like in heaven, that is! In today’s mail I got the answer. Of all places, it came in the middle of the Kohl’s ad. To my surprise a sniff sample with the title “ETERNITY” was included in the ad.

I slowly raised one of the flaps on the sample to experience eternity. Would it be close to the tantalizing smell rising from a bucket of fried chicken, or the aroma one’s nose breathes in when the fresh bag of ground coffee is opened?

What does eternity smell like?

I was a little taken back by the fact that the scent sample of Eternity was coming from Calvin Klein, and to further confuse my theology a beachfront picture of a woman laying on top of a man, who is kissing her forehead, splashed across the cover of the scent experience.

Calvin Klein had evidently done a lot of study and research on Eternity, because one lift up flap presented a masculine eternal smell, but the flap on the other side of the sample was the feminine version of what Eternity smells like. Neither, in my opinion, smelled as spiritual and persevering as my grandfather’s Old Spice did many years ago, but I’m biased.

I’m going to sneak out and go to Kohl’s tonight, but some Eternity, and see if Carol says, “Wow! You smell heavenly!”

If she wrinkles up her nose and says with a grimace, “What’s that smell?”, I’m going to talk to her about her eternal destination. Not recognizing the smell of Eternity is reason to question where she is in her ability to smell what is of God.

Of course, our sanctuary right now has a musty smell to it. Carol has noticed that. Perhaps if I canvas the neighbors I can collect some additional Eternity scent samples and string them up like fly strips around the worship area. Is it possible that people would start thinking about Eternity more if they smelled it every Sunday?

Obviously, Calvin Klein has some funds invested in this project. They even carefully worded the description of the product. It is “ETERNITY: timeless, intimate, romantic. The perfect scents for him and her inspired by the ideal of lasting love and intimacy.”

    There you know! I’m still a little skeptical, so for right now I’m going to just put the smell of eternity in my car. Perhaps it will help it last forever!

Missing A Sixty Gathering

Posted September 22, 2014 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Community, Freedom, Humor, love, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Youth

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WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 22, 2014

                                              

I graduated from Ironton High School in 1972. For those who are math-challenged that means I received my diploma 42 years ago. It also means that most of the people in my high school class hit the “6-0” sometime during this year.

This past weekend people from my “Class of ’72” had a 60th Birthday Bash in Ironton.

I couldn’t go! I had a team of three year olds I needed to coach in soccer…otherwise known as “herd ball.”

But I did see pictures from the birthday bash that several of my Facebook friends posted. Here’s the hard part! When you don’t see people for decades you tend to ask the same question over and over again: Who is that?

Sixty looks different than eighteen! My frame of reference with Ironton High School is still with an eighteen lens. But things happen! Hair turns grey…or white…or disappears! Waistlines expand, people get shorter, more bent over. Wisdom has its price tag…support bras, support leg stockings, back support wraps. Aging is not easy.

I miss a lot of my high school classmates…Dave Hughes…Margaret Whaley…Mike Fairchild…Tommy “TD” Douglas…Jim Payne…Susan Heald…Greg Harding. The memories come back of Carl Pyle singing “Climb Every Mountain” at graduation, Sunday night youth gatherings at First Baptist, Junior Prom with Mary Cronacher, setting the school record for the mile run (which lasted for one..maybe two years) in a race in Charleston…and only finishing fifth! Getting ribbed for not getting my driver’s license until I graduated (Jeff Waddell kept asking me how the stereo system was on my bicycle!), Smitty’s for unhealthy lunches, the protest of some of the African-American students, during which they got on the school P.A. system.

Good times!

I’m assuming that most of us in my class have grown out of high school. We’ve matured, gone on to raise families, become overbearing parents just like ours were, and now grandparents who carry around thousands of pictures of our grandkids…and maybe one each of our originals! We’ve gone our different ways and now we look back on what was and miss the Friday nights, the possible teen romances, and the laughter of crazy adolescence.

Sixty is a new phase of life that came along whether we were ready for it or not.

I have to admit something. In some ways it’s hard for me to go back to my old high school. For one thing, they tore down my school and built a new building on the spot, with the exception of the nostalgic front entrance columns that they kept standing. But it’s also hard for me to go back because I’ve moved away and moved on. Life is better in many ways, harder in others, but most of all, completely different. I’ve been a pastor for thirty-five years, married the same number and only once, father of three, grandfather of two and a half (3 next March). Most of my life these days is focused on a completely different set of priorities than I had at IHS.

I miss my old classmates, and I’m okay with that.


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