Starbucks Wisdom

Posted February 7, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Community, Faith, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   February 7, 2016

                                     

I did my usual Sunday morning time at Starbucks today. I arrive early and spend about an hour pondering, writing, and, of course, drinking coffee. The young man at the register named Chase greeted me warmly and asked me an unexpected question.

“If someone came to you and asked for a few words of wisdom that they could take with them what would you say?”

Great question…even at 7:00 in the morning! I pondered for a moment and then replied, “Find your purpose!” We had a brief conversation about what that mean, and then a few other people in need of caffeine came through the door.

What would your words of wisdom be? If a young person came to you seeking just a bit of direction for the journey of his life, what would you say?

Would your words focus on working hard? Or would they deal with living life with gusto? Would you bring integrity into your reply? Would it be about your spiritual journey with God?

The words you offer will reveal your priorities. If I went further with my words with Chase and could have offered a few other words to consider I would probably say these things:

“Relationships are more valuable than gold.”

      “The love of God is never terminated.”

      “Don’t settle for happiness. Seek joy!”

      It’s interesting that as I climbed the age ladder “work” became less important to me than relationships, and eternal matters have become more important than the temporary possessions and occurrences. Seeking joy has often gotten replaced by the temptation of happiness.

Words of wisdom, words of experience, words of having lived it.

Yesterday a young man that I’ve known for over thirty years came to visit. He is now 46, married to a great woman, and blessed with two teenage sons. In our hours together he reminded me of conversations we had years ago, and the impact of some words of wisdom I said had upon his life. Honestly, I didn’t remember the conversations, but that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that he remembered them, and they helped him navigate the waters of his young adult years and into marriage.

The words we say have impact…even when we don’t realize it or remember what we said.

I’m getting a refill and I think I’ll expand my words to Chase as he fill my cup again: Find your purpose for living, not just an excuse for being here.

Have a wise day!

The Revelations of Snow

Posted February 5, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Christianity, Community, Humor, Parenting, Story, Teamwork, Uncategorized, Youth

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

WORDS FROM W.W.                                               February 5, 2016

                                

The eighteen inches of snow that we received this week was beautiful in many ways. Our back deck looks like a winter wonderland. Pike’s Peak is a living postcard!

The snow has also revealed many things..revelations, if you will, of some things we knew already, and some things that are fascinating.

Here’ one! A Jaguar gets just as stuck in eighteen inches of snow as a Ford Taurus. $600 a month car payments do not mean squat to a street with a foot and a half of snow on it. There is not a “premium lane” on our street. Snow is the great equalizer, unless you’re one of those big pick-up trucks.

Here’s another revelation! The first day when school is canceled there is great jubilation amongst students and teachers. Day Two is still greeted with cheering. Snow gear and apparel sits waiting by the door. But by Day Three of school cancellations parents are pulling their hair out, students are lounging on the couch in a semi-comatose state, and teachers are now thinking “We’ll be going to school in July!” When I left our high school gym last night after our basketball games and we were greeted by more snow falling the reaction of parents and students was “NO!”

The most revealing thing about our snow week, however, has been the diminishing value of the U.S. Postal Service. We received mail on Monday, but the mail carrier has not been by since…and today is Friday. What have we missed? The Wednesday advertising paper that has the supermarket weekly specials in it, probably a couple of envelopes from Chase Bank trying to get us to sign up for a new credit card, the weekly AARP ad, and perhaps the utility bill. I’m assuming that the mail might get delivered today, but the snowstorm has shown us that mail delivery is no longer a necessity six days a week. Maybe three!

I’m not moaning here. Our street hasn’t been plowed yet. Eighteen inches of snow have been mashed down to resemble the Iditarod. My nephew in Baltimore couldn’t get his dog to go outside to relieve himself when the East Coast got blasted a couple of weeks ago. I guess our mail carrier looked down our street with similar fear and trembling.

The best revelation from this week was seeing neighbors working together to clear sidewalks and snowplowing driveways. Our neighbor on the corner brought his snowblower all the way up the sidewalk to the house next for to us. Eric, the husband who lives there, is deployed right now. Our corner neighbor was looking out for his family. This morning two other men and I helped push a lady out of a slippery mesh at the corner. A couple of four-wheel drive trucks whizzed by us like we were the underprivileged, but the three of us helped her get out of an unfortunate situation. That’s the best thing about massive amounts of snow. In the midst of no mail delivery and snow cancellations we get the opportunity to experience community.

Unsubscribing

Posted February 4, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Freedom, Humor, Nation, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           February 4, 2016

                                           

A few years ago a retired Air Force colonel showed me the stack of mail on his dining room table. Colonel Keyte was a staunch conservative Republican who supported various organizations that trumpeted his beliefs. The stack of mail was pleas from foundations, freedom initiatives, gun rights groups, veteran’s causes, and people who sought to make the reader believe that our country was going to hell in a hand basket.

I remember the colonel looking at me and saying, “I’ve got to cut them off!” He had discovered that for every cause he had sent a financial contribution in support of two more heads seemed to appear. His stack was sixty deep.

“I’ve got to cut them off!”

I’ve discovered a similar truth every morning when I check my email. A while back I got on the mailing list of one conservative group, and it seems “that dog has had a litter of puppies.”

Every time I order something on Amazon I get a few follow-up emails suggesting I might now like this additional product. Those of you who know my addiction to books will recognize that disaster loomed.

This morning my “Delete” button eliminated emails for Christian t-shirts, helmet stickers for middle school football helmets, extended health care, affordable life insurance, LED TV’s on sale, lingerie, financial aide for college students, jeans, money management, mortgage relief, and, finally, that two people I know are looking for me!

I began unsubscribing this morning. It’s interesting how some email senders make it so easy to get off the list. Find the “unsubscribe” button, click it, and a message immediately comes up that says you’ve been freed…my interpretation!

Others, however, are like a whining child who won’t stop asking for a cookie. “Are you sure you want to unsubscribe? Do you want to unsubscribe just for a few days? Is there a reason you want to unsubscribe? Please consider not doing it!”

Good Lord! It reminded me when I was pastoring in Michigan and we found out there were two people who were still members of the church, but were dead! They had been dead for years, but were still members!

This morning I hit the right button multiple times! It was awesome! And just in time before the political season really heats up!

Just a thought! Perhaps Best Buy should reassign some of the people who keep sending me emails about sales going on to actually being IN THE STORE! What a concept to have someone in the store who can help you!

Colonel Keyte would be proud of me!

Being An Old Rookie

Posted February 3, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: children, Grandchildren, Humor, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       February 3, 2016

                                         

    I’m thirty-four days into my retirement after thirty-six and a half years in pastoral ministry. People have asked me several hundred times what I’m going to do? The answer to that is still being filled in, but I’m beginning some new endeavors.

Last week I was asked if I would be interested in being the interim pastor at a church a good drive away from where we live. My answer: “Not yet!”

What I have done so far in the first thirty-four days is spend a good deal of time with my ten month old granddaughter, learning how to change a diaper again, how to feed a baby, how to carry a baby in one of those baby carriers you wear, and finding out that going to the bathroom for someone who is watching a baby can only happen at certain times…so shake a leg quickly!

I’ve also officiated several basketball games for youth leagues. That experience has brought me into contact with some good coaches, and other coaches that I wouldn’t let my grandkids get close to. Last Sunday afternoon a minute and a half into one of the games I officiated I stopped the game and had a little “Come to Jesus” session with one of the coaches. He got the message that the fear of God was close at hand, and didn’t say another word to me for that game except to call time-out.

I’ve visited four different churches on Sundays and enjoyed the different experiences. More than that, I’ve had four Saturday nights where I’m not thinking about what I’m going to say in the Sunday sermon.

But perhaps my most adventurous new exploration is that I’m beginning a new career as a substitute teacher. What!!!!

Tomorrow I’ll go to observe in a classroom for the second time. The first time I observed in a couple of high school classes. Tomorrow I will observe in a couple of middle school math classes. One of them is Algebra. Maybe I’ll learn something, because it really didn’t stick the first time around when I took it…46 years ago!

In essence, I am a sixty one year old rookie. I face the unknown with excitement and hesitation. I remember how we treated substitute teachers back in the day. I’m sure we drove some of them to positions of employment with the elderly! We were insensitive brats trying to get anyway with anything we could. My fear is that I’ll encounter the great-great grandchildren of a couple of those teachers who know the criminal history of my high school days with their ancestors.

In my defense…I have no defense. It is just what we did.

My hope that the sins of my past school behavior will not come back to haunt be is rooted in the fact that I am already a coach at the two schools I will substitute at. But I also recognize that I am an old rookie who may be a bit gullible. When that first student says that “a + b= z”, I’ll say “Sounds good to me!” When that first spit wad zings past my head I’m not sure how I will react. When chalk dust is put on my chair and I sit down in it with my dark pants on I may become disoriented and bright red in the face.

You may be saying, “Those things will never happen!” I hope you’re right, because those are things that I did to substitute teachers when I was in school. The sins of the past…

I just want to get past the first day. Last week at a basketball game I was coaching, my wife heard someone from the other team say “Their coach is chill!” I’m not sure what that means, but she said it was a compliment.

I hope I am chill in the classroom the day when I get the 5:45 A.M. call. I can hear it now, “You have a substitute position today in…middle school Latin.”

Oh great! I’m going to teach a subject I flunked!

Loving One Another…Because!

Posted February 1, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, Christianity, Community, Faith, Jesus, love, Pastor, Story, The Church, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          February 1, 2016

                                   

   “The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God IS love- so you can’t know him if you don’t love.” (1 John 4:8, The Message)

Yesterday I worshiped as a part if a congregation that is meeting in an elementary school. I’ve been the basketball coach of the pastor’s daughter for the past two years. The message was about loving one another. The pastor made the point that John was speaking to believers about loving one another.

A powerful element of the message was a video of several believers reading scathing emails that they had received from…OTHER BELIEVERS! The emails condemned the readers of various things from being Republicans, as well as Democrats, having tattoos, wearing skinny jeans as a worship leader, being homeless, being a single parent, and being gay. My heart sunk as I realized I was seeing the faces of the very people who got venomized.

My spirit is still wounded by emails that I’ve received over the years from other believers, from the very people I have been a pastor to. The interesting thing is that I can not remember such communications coming from anyone that I have NOT been the pastor to. The venom has always been from those who say they are Christians.

John connects the hard-to-hear dots: If you spout hate at your brother or sister in the Lord you’re missing a major piece of your Christian identity. In essence, you are half a believer, which makes you a non-believer.

Some may question how I can say such a thing. It’s not me! It’s what John is saying. If a follower of Jesus, who was wounded for out transgressions, seeks to purposely wound his Christian brother or sister…he has missed it! He has misunderstood the gospel, maybe skipped out on the weekly lesson that dealt with love.

Here’s a hard thing to hear! Not everyone who is a part of a church, even a part of ministering in a church, is a follower of Jesus. There are those who believe and practice righteousness, but have not love; there are those who practice a moral life and love, but don’t believe; and there are those who have faith and love, but are morally corrupt. A Christ-follower brings those three elements all together, but you know something? Lacking love is the main disqualifier!

I’m still disturbed by the faces of the wounded I saw yesterday. Disturbed because the disheartening comment is too often true, that Christians are the only people who shoot their wounded.

But Jacob Lied!

Posted January 31, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Uncategorized, Youth

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

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           January 31, 2016

                                       

Henry came through the front door with his brief case and the usual end-of-the-day exhaustion.

“Sara, I’m home!”

He heard some stirring in the kitchen, the banging of some pots and pans…which was never a good sign…and then the movement of feet heading his way. Sara entered the hallway with heavy feet and a frown from ear to ear.

“Henry, you’re going to have to have a heart-to-heart with your son. I can’t believe what he did today.”

“What did Tommy do?” asked Henry, his tiredness level suddenly reaching a new depth.

“He cheated on his math test at school today, and then blatantly lied about it to his teacher.”

“What? That’s not like Tommy! Math isn’t his strong suit, but he would never cheat and lie about it.”

“Well, he has started a new trend then! Mrs. Matthews noticed him looking at the paper of the girl he sits in the seat beside him, and his test paper was number for number the same as hers.”

Henry was still trying to comprehend his own flesh-and-blood doing such a thing. Tommy wasn’t the best student, but his fourth grade report card was a mixture of “A’s” and “B’s”. How could this be? There had to be some kind of misunderstanding going on here. He called for Tommy, who had been confined to quarters since he got home from school. A few seconds later the soft steps of socks on carpet came down the stairs, and a boy with a puppy dog face slinked into the room.

“Tommy, is it true what your mom just told me? Did you cheat on your math test today and then lie about it?”

“Yes, Dad,” he whispered.

“I’m in shock. What would ever give you the idea to do such a thing?” Henry was trying to keep it together, but his mind was racing ahead to what the punishment should be…grounding until Tommy turned eighteen…no TV for a year…send him away to military boarding school…the options were limitless.

“It was in the Bible.”

“What did you say?”

“I read it in the Bible.”

“Cheating on math tests is in the Bible?”

“Not math tests, but it’s in there. I was reading about Jacob last night, and how he cheated his brother out of his birthright, and then he lied to his father. It’s right there.”

“What?” Henry asked with a high level of disbelief.

“Don’t you remember? His mom had him put some hairy stuff on his arms and his dad touched them, asked him if he was really Jacob, and he said yes. And then he got his father’s blessing!”

Henry could feel the words rising up within him. He tried to hold back, but he couldn’t stop them from emerging from his lips. “That’s different!”

A moment of uncomfortable silence ensued. Tommy looked confused and his dad suddenly was feeling uncomfortable about this conversation.

“I don’t understand. How was what Jacob did different from what I did?”

“It was a different time and place…and…ahhh…people didn’t know any better…and his brother deserved it…and…ahhh…it’s just how it was and things are different now.”

Henry recognized that there was an “No Outlet” sign on this path he had taken. Quite honestly, he didn’t understand the “Jacob Blessing” story either, and he knew he had cornered by his son’s confusion. It was time to own up to it!

“Tommy, here’s the truth! I don’t fully understand that story in the Bible. I can’t say it was right for Jacob to cheat and lie back then, and it’s wrong for you to cheat and lie today. All I know is that it’s not the right thing for you to do, and I think deep down you probably know that as well.”

Tommy looked at the carpet for a few moments and said, “Yes…I kind of knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

“That’s good to hear, because I’m pretty sure, most of the time, you can figure out what the right thing to do is.”

“You’re right, Dad!”

“And even though Jacob cheated and lied and received his father’s blessing, his actions had some consequences later on.”

They looked at one another for a moment and Henry then took a step towards his son and placed his hand on his shoulder. “I doubt that Mrs. Matthews is going to give you a pass on this one just because you know the story of Jacob, but I’m going to show you some grace. In regards to Mrs. Matthews I want you to go to her tomorrow morning and apologize for what you did. Tell her you know it wasn’t right and you want to make things right from now on.”

“Okay!” He put his arms around his dad’s mid-section and hugged him and said, “Thanks, Dad!”

“I love you, son!”

“Love you too, Dad!”

Encouraging Encouragement

Posted January 28, 2016 by wordsfromww
Categories: Bible, children, Christianity, Death, Jesus, Parenting, Pastor, Story, Teamwork, The Church, Uncategorized, Youth

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

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         January 28, 2016

                            

A  parent of one of our basketball players paid our coaching staff a great compliment last night. He didn’t say it trying to get more game time minutes for his daughter, or because there was a lull in the conversation. He simply walked up to us as our practice was about to start and told us how much he appreciated the three of us as coaches.

Then he went on to say that his level of respect for us had risen even more as he has watched the actions and antics of some of the other coaches we’ve encountered this season. In other words, in his eyes we look even better as he has watched coaches of other teams relate to their players.

We thanked him for his words of encouragement. Although my Junior Varsity girls’ team has been successful in the final outcome of our games most of the time this season, it has been a challenging season in other ways. For example, having fifteen players on the team means the cutting up of the playing time in ways that communicate that each of them is valued. That’s a challenge because it breaks down to less than eleven minutes of playing time for each player, if they all play equally.

His words were timely and uplifting.

Each of us as coaches look forward to coming to practice each day, and spending time with our players. We seek to teach, explain, evaluate, analyze, improve player skills and game understanding…and encourage. This season our high school has been dealing with the death of a student known by everyone. In the midst of practice our varsity coach several times has gone to the side with a couple of girls who are struggling with the loss…dealing with the grief. It’s encouraging to have someone listen willingly to your sorrow.

This dad, whose daughter was impacted by the death, understood the extra role that we have coaches have taken on this season. Not counselors, but rather listeners of pain and confusion…and his words, once again encouraged us.

All of us desire encouragement, but encouraging encouragement is a concept that seldom occurs to us. It comes out in the New Testament. Paul wrote to the Christ-followers in Thessalonica and instructed them with the words “Therefore encourage each and build each other up…”, and then he finishes the sentence with the clarifier “…just as in fact you are doing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Encouragement gets noticed and remembered.

I would like to have met a man named Barnabas, who appears in the Book of Acts. Acts 4:36 tells us that his real name was Joseph, and that he was a Levite from Cyprus, but the apostles referred to him as Barnabas. It was his nickname, kind of like Smiley or Buck. His nickname meant “son of encouragement.”  When the apostles, and others, were with him they saw that being encouraging was what defined him. Add he traveled around with the Apostle Paul I’m sure his encouraging words were often the difference between Paul throwing in the towel or persevering.

Encouraging encouragement. The words of a parent made me ponder how I might build some young people up today with just a few brief conversations on what they are doing well.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 961 other followers