My Three Year Old World

Posted September 15, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Faith, Freedom, Humor, Jesus, love, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        September 15, 2014

                                     

I’ve noticed something a little strange! A growing percentage of my life is being spent with three year olds. As I’ve mentioned in recent writings, I’m coaching a soccer team of three year olds. And now…this past Sunday I began co-teaching a Sunday School class mostly of three year olds.

About twenty-five years ago Robert Fulghum wrote a book entitled All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. I’m thinking of a revision, without Fulghum’s permission, entitled “Most Of What I Know Now Was Learned From Three Year Olds.” I may have to shorten the title, but the thought resonates with me.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve discovered from three year olds.

What you say…they take literally! My granddaughter was playing goalie in our soccer game on Saturday for one of the quarters. Coach Tony who helps us told her that when the ball came towards her she was to jump on it.

She did exactly what he said! When the ball came towards her she jumped on it…with her feet. Jumping to her means jumping up in the air and landing back on your feet again. So…she tried to land on top of the ball with her feet, but her timing was off…so, in essence, she jumped up just in time for the ball to pass under her and into the goal.

Three year olds take things literally. It’s also why you can talk about polka-dotted ponies and whispering caterpillars with them and they believe. Perhaps that’s why Jesus talked to his followers about having a child-like faith. Faith requires that you take God at his word! Thirty-three year olds aren’t as good at that. Neither are sixty-three year olds. Too much skepticism has been spoken into our lives at those points.

Here’s something else I’ve learned from three year olds! What is important isn’t really what’s important! I had a schedule for Sunday School class this past Sunday. I had a lesson plan. I had times attached to each part of the lesson. Half of the plan got accomplished. None of the students got upset at missing out on “Activity #4”. What was important to them was Goldfish crackers, singing “Jesus Loves Me” accompanied by a classroom full of percussionists, and coloring a picture of a school bus to take home with them. Likewise, three year old soccer players don’t keep score. They giggle, look at airplanes flying overhead, and play with the assurance that their will be a snack time after the final whistle. What is important to them is having a coach that will give them a high five, pick them up when they fall down, and help them tie their shoes. Simple things. Uncomplicated things like Jesus loves them this they know…for the Bible tells them so!

One more thing they’ve taught me…so far! Play is just as important as work! The soccer field we run around on is right next to a playground with swings, a slide, and monkey bars. Several times so far I’ve had players take a soccer break and meander over to the slide. Their soccer “responsibilities” can wait, even though their coach is sensing “they aren’t taking this seriously!” Their lives will be filled with work soon enough, and at that point they will wonder why their playtime had to decrease and, for some, disappear.

Teaching a three year old Sunday School class requires being able to still play some. It requires getting down on the carpet even though you’re not sure how quickly you’ll be able to get back up again.

As I tell the high school basketball players I coach, the game is played closer to the floor than in the air. Three year olds prove that…especially the playing part!

 

9/11

Posted September 11, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Freedom, Nation, Story, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                               September 11, 2014

                                             

Today marks 13 years since the attacks of September 11, 2001. For Americans September 11 will always be remembered with the title “9/11”. Just as the Fourth of July is representative of our freedom as a nation, “9/11” will always be thought of as a day of tragedy, terrorism, but also new national resolve.

For many of us “9/11” is one of those events that stands out in time. We can remember what we were doing that day. I was playing in a golf fundraising event for a local organization that cares for homeless families. I remember going into the clubhouse whenever we were close to it in order to check the latest. As the day progressed the magnitude of the disaster increased. It went from a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center to another plane crash, and then the Pentagon being hit.

Our golf outing ended with awards and a luncheon, but none of us had any taste left for food.

When I look back over my life there seems to be only one other national or world event where time stands still in my mind. that was the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I remember coming home from school and throwing myself on my bed and crying my eyes out. I wasn’t sure why, but I was extremely upset.

“9/11” still grieves my heart…and it always will.

Coaching Three Year Old Spiders

Posted September 6, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: children, Community, Humor, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Youth

Tags: , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    September 6, 2014

                                 

This morning at way too early…with wet grass glistening…nine three year olds arrived at the soccer field, accompanied by parents holding cups of Starbucks coffee, for our second practice and first game.

Thirty minutes of practice followed by thirty minutes of a “game.” To call it a game would be similar to calling the school custodian a maintenance bio-engineer- there is some element of truth hidden deep within the title.

Coach Carol- also known as Mrs. Carol Wolfe- bought a balloon to take to the game with Spiderman on it. We tied it to one of the goals to help our confused three’s know which was our goal. It also helped us figure out our team name: Spiders! One young guy who had worn a Spiderman jacket the first week was totally excited about that being our name. Plus, I wasn’t really too enamored by the suggestions from last week: Butterflies, Butterfingers, Pink Toes, and Pizza Hut!

In our short practice we worked on kicking the ball hard. Some are still not comfortable with such violence. I assured them that they could not “bully” their soccer ball. They looked unconvinced!

We welcomed four new kids who missed the first week. One of them ran around most of the time pretending to be an airplane.  Another was so scared she never left her mom’s side. “Playing time” is not a big concern of hers right now, unless you’re talking about the swing set.

Right as we had herded the spiders to the correct side of the field to start our game two of our players needed a drink of water. The “airplane” player was coming in for a landing…on the next field over!

The game started and we kicked the ball…not necessarily in the right direction, but we kicked it. One of our girls runs like a horse- not a thoroughbred, mind you! A prancing play pony on two legs. One little girl fell and ran to Mommy. One little boy kept asking when snack-time was going to be. Another little boy was contesting the soccer ball one time with a boy from the other team. “Winning the ball” had not been clearly defined to him. He did a two-hand shove of the opposing three-year old and took the ball away. An opposing player picked up the ball one time and started heading towards the parking lot.

And then it was over! All survived and all got the much-anticipated snacks of the morning. I asked the Spiders what they had learned that day: Kick the ball at Spider-Man, kick the ball hard, and stop being so cute (Just kidding)!

Kids left with smiles on their faces, parents checked iPhone photos taken, and Coach Carol and Coach Bill started thinking about nap-time!

 

Coaching Players 57 Years Younger Than Me!”

Posted September 2, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: children, Community, Humor, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      September 1, 2014

                       

I entered a new phase of my coaching career this past Saturday. I had the first soccer practice with a new team of three year olds!

Three year olds! A three year old has been alive five percent of my life!

Why three year olds? My granddaughter is on the team…her first team experience ever…so Granddad and Grammy are the coaches.

The practice did not involve soccer ball juggling or players getting to open space, as we say. There was no instruction on defending or setting off-sides traps. No…the practice included asking each player what their favorite lunch food items were.

“Macaroni and cheese!”

“Pepperoni pizza!”

“Peanut butter and jelly!”

Notice I put exclamation marks after each favorite lunch. That’s because each was said with enthusiasm…especially my granddaughter’s pepperoni pizza.

We transitioned to stretching.

“Okay! See if you can touch your toes without bending your knees (I can’t!).”  One three year old boy fell over and concluded that stretching was not his strong point. He looked with a pained facial expression at his mom and dad. A couple of the girls thought stretching was fun.

“Okay! Let’s take our soccer balls and put them between our feet.” Two kids with limited coordination fell down just taking steps. Two others put the soccer ball between their feet and sat on them. It’s about at this time that I decided it would be good to get a water break. We had been hard at it for almost five minutes.

I crossed off the slide tackling drill we were going to do!

“Okay! Let’s learn how to dribble. Everybody look down at your soccer ball and say “Hi!”

They all thought that was cool…talking to soccer balls was now on the same level of excitement as favorite lunch choices.

“Now, let’s use the inside of our foot and kick the ball all the way to the white line.”

Ever seen one of those crawling baby races where the babies are released and they head in a dozen different directions? Our first attempt at dribbling a soccer ball was like that. It brought back memories of my old electric football game when I was growing up that no one ever figured out. How was a tackle ever made in electric football? It wasn’t!

Water break!

“Okay! Say hello to your soccer ball again, and let’s go take shots on the goal!”

One thing I learned about three year olds is that they are scared that they will hurt their precious soccer ball. One of the girls had Barbie or some pink character on hers, and now I’m telling them to kick it hard!

Dainty and gentle would be better descriptions of our foot to ball contact at the first practice.

Water break!

A couple of the boys were reaching the end of their attention span. They spotted the swings and slide in the back of the park. I lost them!

In all, I think we had a good thirty-five minutes of practice. Take away the favorite lunch conversation, water breaks, and getting to know their soccer ball on a casual conservation basis…okay, maybe twenty minutes, but it was a hard twenty!

And I was exhausted!

 

     

Playing Football at Sixty

Posted August 28, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Community, Humor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           August 28, 2014

                                       

It seemed like a good idea! Lace up the cleats…dust off the jersey…”stick-em” spray on the hands…let’s go!

Last Sunday night I played football with the “young guys” from church. “Young” seems to get older in it’s definition each year, but for this group it is boundaried by years number 25 to 32.

Last May I turned 60! That’s twice them! Two times as long, twice as many Christmases, double their hair loss…and more than two times at risk for injury. The menu for injuries for me now includes things like broken hips, strokes and heart attacks.

But I ran on to the turf like a Johnny Unitas in low-cuts! I could feel a growl in my soul!

The eight of us warmed up for at least three minutes before figuring who was on which team. Let’s get it on!

We received and marched down the field before stalling at the twenty yard line…our own twenty, that is! Our friends in blue jerseys scored in one play. Lucky!

I quarterbacked the next series and threw a perfect go route pass to my son-in-law. We were clicking!

From there the clicking stopped! The guys on the other team started intentionally kicking off aiming at me! They hadn’t seen my career stats! And then I stretched to make a two-hand touch on a young buck named Austin and my left hamstring didn’t accept it…the stretch that is! It refused to be extended. It’s amazing how one muscle can redirect the entire body! The rest of me got in line behind my rebelling ancient inflexible hamstring and joined the coup.

When Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 about “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”, I don’t think he had a hamstring in mind, but my strained hamstring now gives me a different interpretation of the scripture!

A little disgusted I had to become the rusher on defense…on one leg!

I actually had a great time that night, and the young guys applauded my effort, even as they snickered at my slowness. The next day every…and I mean every…muscle in my body hurt! I popped Advil as I prayed for healing!

Several have asked me why I subjected my body to such torture? Because althoiugh my body is sixty my mind is still thirty. When my mind feels as old as my body I’ll take a padded cushion to the field with me and watch from a distance.

But for now I think I still have Johnny Unitas-potential!

Someone just shared some cruel news with me. Johnny Unitas passed away twelve years ago!

What?????

Baptist Bucket Challenge

Posted August 22, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Freedom, Humor, Jesus, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        August 21, 2014

                                       

I’m trying to be creative!

If the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge can raise 15.6 million dollars (to date) in the seeking for a cure to Lou Gehrig’s disease by challenging people to dump a bucket of ice and water over their heads, there’s got to be something that I can challenge the people of our American Baptist church to do to take care of a budget deficit.

People don’t misunderstand me. I’m not minimizing the ALS cause. I did the ice bucket challenge on Tuesday, and challenged a couple of other people to then do it. I also remember leading a funeral service several years ago for a man who had gradually deteriorated from ALS. IN the last couple of years of his life he and his wife had attended the church I pastored. I saw how the disease slowly decimated his body and his hope.

So, I understand the effects of the disease, and I am delighted that people have dumped enough ice water over their heads to fill Lake Erie.

Now, if I could think of something to loosen the purse strings of a bunch of Baptists!

What would be creative, but also not destructive, life-threatening, or end up on one of those TV shows that airs video clips that display people’s stupidity?

What could loosen people’s grips on their cash that wouldn‘t necessitate me having to wear a diaper, kiss a pig, or wallow in manure?

What could people of my church challenge one another to do?

Since we’re a Baptist church maybe it should be something that involves baptism! Not necessarily baptism by immersion. People get baptized in other ways, you know…like baptized by fire!

Not sure we’d get many volunteers for fire baptism, however!

Baptized in the Spirit might be a possibility. There are always a few people that I’d love to be smacked up the side of the head by the Holy Spirit. I’d even pay for it!

Back pedal! It seems that Simon the Sorcerer tried to do something like that in Acts 8, and it didn’t go over very well!

I’d be willing to be baptized by already-cooked shrimp, but I’m not sure anyone would give a donation for that. I’d enjoy it, though!

I’d be willing to be baptized in ice cream, but I’m a little hesitant to have people standing around me with spoons and chocolate sauce.

Perhaps a Coffee Cup Challenge. I’d be willing to drink Folger’s Coffee for donations. There’s a hefty price for pain and suffering…even involving your taste buds.

Or how about a Prune Juice Gulp Challenge. Fifty bucks for each ounce of prune juice I down. The downside of that is that I’m sure there is a limit…personally speaking.

I dressed up as Queen Elsa this summer for $200 collected by kids. There’s got to be someone that adults would want tome to dress up as and throw money at.

Friends of mine have done the duct tape challenge where they got duct taped to a wall. That wouldn’t be too bad unless people stuck me up there and left!

Sleep deprivation could be an option. There’s a group of young guys at church who would pay to see me stay awake after 10:00.

There’s got to be some creative ways for a group of mostly teatotalers to way funds that are legal and won’t get us on the evening news in the crime section. Maybe the
Ice Bucket Baptism! Total immersion (A Big Bucket), not sprinkling!

Boom…got it!

The Courage To Stay In The Middle

Posted August 19, 2014 by William Wolfe
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Faith, Freedom, Grace, Jesus, love, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           August 18, 2014

                                  

The worst person and place to be in a two-teamed shaving cream fight is the judge in the middle. After a few moments of each team “creaming” each other the judge, invariably, gets pounced on by both teams. The judge comes out wearing more shaving cream than anybody else.

The middle of something is becoming an awkward place to be. People on both sides of you want to pull you in their direction. When you’re committed to staying middle you become the easiest target.

In shaving cream battles it’s fun and humorous, but in the growing chasm of opinion that our culture is experiencing staying in the middle takes courage.

I’m sure some- dare I say most- will disagree with me. I have Facebook friends who are conservatives and Facebook friends who are liberals…Republican and Democrat…Tea Partiers and Starbuckers. I have FB friends who are pro-life and others who are pro-choice…those who attend church every Sunday and those who consider going about once a decade. In other words, I relate to people on both sides of the tug-of-war, looking for common ground with all.

Some of my richest times in ministry- spiritually speaking, not financially (GIve me a break!)- were the years I pastored in the Lansing, Michigan area and lunched every other Wednesday with two other pastors, Chuck and Tom. Even though we’ve gone our different ways because of ministry changes I still consider them to be my two best friends in ministry. One was fairly conservative ( not “Bob Jones conservative, but still leaning a little to the right) and one was fairly liberal. We toss out those labels quite often in Christian circles, but Chuck, Tom, and I never worried about our differences nearly as much as we valued our similarities. I was “the middle man” of the three, the moderate.

That experience, lunching with two guys at Finley’s Restaurant every other Wednesday for seven years, tells me that the middle doesn’t have to be a conflicted place…if there is an unquestionable commitment to respect and value one another, and be willing to clearly listen more than the compelled to speak.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying! I’m not minimizing the importance of people having strong opinions, just the tendency to think that their belief, stance, or opinion is the only valid one.

Jesus had strong beliefs, but he refused to be in anyone’s camp except his father’s. That put him at odds with someone in just about every teaching he gave. If there was one group that Jesus was the most consistently identified with it was the poor, widowed, and diminished. He reacted against excluding people because of their afflictions, mistakes, gender, and ethnic group.

I’m a “middler”, and I find it increasingly uncomfortable and inconvenient to be there, but I would be uncomfortable being labeled a conservative or a liberal. If you are in the middle you may be seen by one group as being a liberal, and another group as a conservative. People’s view of who you are must not change who you REALLY are.

I can watch Fox News or CNN equally without feeling guilty. I can sit in conversational fellowship with my neighborhood pastor friends from different denominations and be enriched by the diversity. I can partner with the Mormon principal of the elementary school down the street to help make our community better with a sense of confidence that we are on the same page.

As our culture becomes more polarized I believe the gospel has opportunities to draw people together. It may take time and effort, but it is….still is…our source of hope.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 98 other followers