The Smell of Eternity

Posted September 23, 2014 by William Wolfe
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 William Wolfe
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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?????


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