Archive for the ‘Christianity’ category

What Would Jesus Do…Still?

June 30, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 30, 2015

                                 

Back a few years ago (the 1990’s!) multitudes of people wore bracelets with the four initials branded into them that said “WWJD.” It stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” It was a question that reminded many followers of Jesus that what the Christ would do in various life situations might very well be different from what the majority was doing?

It’s interesting in reading the Wikipedia definition of “What Would Jesus Do?” In their view the definition was “a personal motto of Evangelical Christianity” to help adherents make decisions about moral beliefs.

It seems that when the label “Evangelical Christianity” is used these days you can almost hear a sneer or chuckle. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive, but I’d prefer to hear the words “followers of Jesus.”

And so the question now for Christ’s followers is “What Would Jesus Do…Still?” The one who is quick to answer “The same things he would have done in 1990” might need to stop and consider.

Was our concern for the environment as heightened in 1990 as it is today? Would Jesus recycle radically? Would he ride a bike to speaking engagements?

Would Jesus be more health conscious in his decision making now than twenty years ago? Would he eat organic and abstain from red meat?

Was our concern for human trafficking even on the radar in the mid-nineties? What would Jesus response be to the recent revelation of fish showing up in our supermarkets that had been caught by enslaved fisherman in Indonesia?

Would Jesus have any opinion about the increasing number of millionaires in our country while the poop get poorer?

The thing is “WWJD” is more relevant now, and urgent, than it was twenty years ago. Perhaps we need new bracelets that say “WWJDS?”

As time goes on, the understanding of how to answer that question gets more foggy. People who are self-absorbed and perfectly content to develop their own personal theologies will answer that question in increasingly bizarre ways. But, on the other hand, those who walk closely with Jesus will also sometimes error.

What would Jesus do…still? I believe the answers to that question draw upon the question and answers from one of those prophets from long ago, Micah, who asked the question”What does the Lord require of you?” Perhaps he paused for a few moments before writing an answer: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

     Perhaps that is a beginning to the pondered question. Sometimes we’re prone to write the ending before we have the beginning.

Baptism Day

June 28, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   June 28, 2015

                                                 

Baptism in the Baptist church is a celebration that drenches the soul! It isn’t an invitation to a funeral, but rather an expression of the deep flowing grace of God, the life-giving story of the gospel visualized in a person standing in the midst of the waters.

This morning was an awesome experience in the sharing of people’s faith journeys. Four adults…some new to the faith, and others who have journeyed with Jesus for a while, entered our “church tub” and testified of their faith.

The event was punctuated by the fact that other people were involved in the baptisms. In our congregation when someone gets baptized I encourage them to ask someone who has been instrumental in their faith journey to be the one who dips them into the waters.

The first woman to be baptized was helped into the water tank by her husband. She had been serving faithfully for the past several years in our congregation. We just assumed that she had been baptized…but sometimes assumptions get the best of us! As her spouse asked her if she knew Jesus in a personal way I could hear a slight emotional crack in his voice. He looked into her eyes with love and compassion, and she back at him with the same loving gratitude. As he lowered her into the waters I was there to give physical assistance…since both of them are into their sixth decade. Wait a minute! So am I! After she came back up to her feet, husband and wife embraced…and more than a few tears were being shed by those watching!

The second woman was baptized by her in-laws…mother in-law and sister-in-law. They had walked with her through moments of loss and births of children. They didn’t turn their backs on her when she expressed doubts about faith. In the background, although not in the baptistry, was her grandmother-in-law who had been praying for this day to happen for the past several years. What a story of walking with someone in doubts and discoveries!

Finally a husband and wife came to be baptized. They asked me to be the one who took them back into that expression of the death and resurrection of Christ. The husband and I play basketball together. We trash talk each other on the court…in Christian love! But in this moment I fought back the tears of joy of seeing two lives wanting to serve the Lord. Parents of three young children they have been through some difficult times, times of searching and asking tough questions, and times of trying to figure out this thing called “walking in faith.”

Four faith journeys coming together for a few moments of mass celebration. I don’t know if anyone will remember a word I said that morning in the sermon, but there were four messages of transformation visualized that no one will forget!

The Ability to Listen…Online!

June 27, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 27, 2015

                                     

Social media is awesome in so many ways! We can reconnect with people who we haven’t seen or heard from in years. We can see pictures of folk we’ve grown up with…and be able to see how old they look compared to us…compare the amount of gray, if you will, and the size of our waistlines!

And what can be awesome can also be awful! I’ve been amazed at the things that are said online that people wouldn’t dream of saying in person. There’s like an openness to be condescending since Herbie isn’t in the room with me!

People are much more bold online. Or maybe bold isn’t the right word! Maybe it’s more like “boldly insensitive!”

I find that the ability to listen online is an unrecognized but gracious gift. The patience to hold off on giving my two cents worth is invaluable! Some may say that if I hold off then the insensitively bold will dictate the pace of the race.

It seems like Proverbs has a few nuggets of listening gold that need to sink in a little bit.

“The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.” (Proverbs 10:14)

“Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.” (Proverbs 29:11) 

People are quick to speak online and slow to listen. In the Letter of James in the New Testament he emphasizes the reverse of those two…being quick to listen and slow to speak. He adds a third…”being slow to become angry.”

So before you send that comment that dehumanizes the person you differ with…take your fingers off the keyboard for a few moments and watch a Youtube video of babies laughing or cats playing with dogs. It may be the wise thing to do in a world that is often immensely unwise and unkind.

  

Facebook Grandparenting

June 26, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 26, 2015

                                      

My good friend, Steve Wamberg, and I were sharing over coffee this morning about our grandkids. Steve has a four month old and my quiver is almost full with three. Grandparenting is exciting, and an excellent source for new sermon material.

Steve made the revealing statement that Facebook has become an excellent way of checking in to see how the grandkids are doing. Everyday…multiple times…my daughter and his son post pictures, videos, updated news, Christmas gift lists, and if all the grandkids are healthy that day on their Facebook pages. It’s like we can watch our grandkids grow up without being helicopter grandparents.

This morning I watched my newest grandchild, Corin Grace Hodges, talking to a stuffed animal that was dangling in front of her face. Last Sunday when she was dedicated in our morning worship service a posted picture on Facebook showed the displeasure of Corin’s big sister, Reagan, as I was saying the dedication prayer. Reagan likes to pray, and she was borderline pouting that I was leading it instead of her.

I’ve watched my grandson Jesse’s mugging of another boy in the midst of a Buddy Basketball game from last season. Jesse might tell you that he got all ball, which he did! The problem is he also got both arms and a couple of ribs with it!

Steve and I see Facebook grandparenting as being almost like a monitor camera in our grandkids’ lives that we can look in on. “What’s Jesse up to, I wonder?” Click…oh he’s reading Charlotte’s Web! Awesome!”

Understand  that Facebook grandparenting will never replace face-to-face and sitting-on-lap grandparenting, but it does keep us in the loop without being a pest.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be baptizing Jesse on a Sunday morning. I’m sure it will hit Facebook within ninety minutes of the event…and I’ll watch it and watch it. But even more awesome is the fact that our families in Illinois, Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, and Kentucky will be able to view it. call it Facebook “Uncle-ing” and “Aunt-ing” and other family relative terms.

And just so you know…Reagan said the prayer before lunch last Sunday. She was quick on the draw and left me in the dust. She’s a sly one! I have Facebook videos to attest to it!

The Perseverance of Allison Perrine

June 25, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                                June 25, 2015

                                   

Somewhere in eastern Kansas (Lawrence) a young lady with very short blonde hair has her feet up in the air right now. Allison Perrine is bicycling, along with about 30 other college-aged young adults, four thousand miles across the country, from Baltimore to San Francisco, in seventy days.

I’ve been following her journey as it has progressed. Carol and I supported it financially a few months ago when she was in the midst of trying to raise $4,000. Today I noticed she was $83 away from having raised $22,000. The funds aren’t being used for late-night runs to Sonic or daily living expenses. Allison is raising funds for young adult cancer awareness, patient navigation, and support groups.

Today would have been the 48th birthday for Allison’s mom, Becky. Becky passed away from cancer in October of 2011. Becky was my secretary for the last few years of my pastorate at First Baptist Church in Mason, Michigan. Allison was a quiet little blonde-haired girl who always looked terrified by me. Perhaps since my last name was Wolfe she thought I was big and bad. These days Allison is not quiet any more, but she is also anything but timid. Her mom has been the inspiration behind her journey, and she has persevered through a lot of obstacles.

In eight days (July 3) Carol and I get to meet up with Allison in Fort Morgan, Colorado. We are excited to see the girl who has grown up into being an exceptional young lady. I’m sure I’ll have tears banging on my eyes to get out as I see the image of her mom shining through her.

Before she started on this journey, Allison got her beautiful long hair shaved off to help in another way. I’ve noticed from the pictures on her daily blog post that it’s grown back to being just a little longer than stubble.

Many of us are traumatized by the tragedies that jolt our lives. We give up, looked stunned, and choose isolation. Allison chose to keep on keeping on. She chose to persevere. On her mom’s birthday she wrote the address of her mom’s favorite bible verse on her leg…Joshua 1:9, which says “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

If you would like to follow Allison’s blog you can go to:

Www.4kforcancer.org/profiles/Allison-Perrine/

What Do You Say To High School Students Who May Have Heard It All?

June 24, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                             June 24, 2015

       

In about ten days I’ll head to camp…church camp, that is! Church camp for about six and a half days with high school students. High school students, many of whom have heard it all…or believe they have!

So what do I say to them that won’t cause a rolling of eyes or the closing of eyelids? What do I say to them that is truth without the hint of parental guilt? What do I say to them that will encourage them to the futures and purposes that God has for their lives?

I’ve been pondering and praying these questions for a while, but even more since a young lady I had coached passed away about three weeks ago. Just two years out of high school she lost some of her sense of purpose. Her death has caused me to ponder a tremendous amount each day.

So I’ve tried to come up with things that need to be said to a young man or woman who has sixty to seventy years of life ahead of them. Here’s what I’ve got so far…and I would love to get your ideas and suggestions!

    1) Know that the world is broken…and so are you! We live in the midst of fallenness. Remember that when people, systems, and mindsets try to convince you of their perfection. Part of maturing is coming to grips with the fact that you will never have it all together. Don’t use that as an excuse, but rather as a clarifier of your environment and your life. Wholeness can come only after there is an admission that a person has some cracks in their life.

2) Accept forgiveness and be forgiving! Know that everyone makes mistakes…and you will too! Be willing to let it go- your mistakes and the errors of others that affect you- and move on!

3) Embrace your purpose! Discover it and pursue it with passion because it is this purpose that God will use to bring glory to him and some form of healing to the world. Your purpose doesn’t have to be something that is headline-grabbing, although it may be noticed when you least expect it!

4) Identify who it is who will “go to the wall” for you! “Go to the wall” means they would be willing to lay down their life for you. Know that your list will be very short, but also take note of who you wouldn’t put on that list. Who are the people who would jump on a plane and fly across the country at a moment’s notice because you need them? Would you be on their list?

5) Seek joy more than the pursuit of happiness! Joy doesn’t leave; happiness is a temporary feeling. Put another way…happiness is a seasonal visitor, but joy is a resident. Incorporate practices in your life that keep you in the stream of joy.

6) Know without a shadow of a doubt that God loves you unconditionally! Most of what happens in our lives is conditional, but nothing you do or don’t do will negate the love that God has for you. The doubts you experience in regards to that are simply deceiver-driven or self-imposed.

7) Embrace a Community of Faith! A church or gathering of Christ-followers needs to be intimately connected to your life. They need you and you need them! Don’t try to go on a spiritual journey by yourself. You’ll fall and there will be no one to pick you back up! Going to church camp one week a year is not a fulfillment of your spiritual nutrition and need!

8) Identify a mentor and walk with him/her! Joshua had Moses, Timothy had Paul. Who is it in your life that already has the wisdom and experience with the potholes of the journey? Who can steer you in the right direction, but will also be there to encourage you after you’ve screwed up?

9) Just because everybody is doing it doesn’t make it right! As my grandfather used to say, “If everybody else jumps off a cliff, are you going to jump off, also?” Sometimes my answer was yes…and I fell hard! Don’t buy into everything that our culture says is the way or the truth, or where life is! If you do you’ll end up either disillusioned or dysfunctional!

I’ll stop at 9! Perhaps I’ll add to the list later…maybe you’ll help me! But make it fast! Camp starts in ten days!

Oh…I’ll add this one for the parents! 10) Clean your room!

What Would Jesus Say To A Little Leaguer’s Parents?

June 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                              June 23, 2015

                        

Dear Jack and Jill,

I happened to be watching your son Benny’s Little League game the other night. Yes, I know…that’s probably a little surprising to you. You probably think I spend all my time in prayer meetings or talking to people from the top of a mountain, walking on water and turning water into wine…you know, “the work of a messiah!” But, actually, I kind of enjoy baseball. My favorite team is…you think I’m going to say the Angels, don’t you? Actually, it’s the Cubs! They need all the help they can get! As the Word says, “nothing is impossible with God.” But, of course, those words were written before the Cubs came into existence! Just kidding!

Benny seems like a sweet young lad. I couldn’t help noticing that he laughs and seems the happiest when he is with his teammates in the dugout.

I couldn’t help noticing your body language when he came up to bat. You tensed up like the physician was about to put a hypodermic needle in your backside. When Benny stood watching a third strike sail by him his teammates still offered encouragement to him when he came back to the dugout. I then looked at you and noticed that both of you had your head in your hands in obvious disappointment.

After the game Benny was smiling when he left his teammates, but Dad, as soon as he came to you the words of advice and correction started.

So take these words with a grain of salt or chew on them and be the salt!

Let Benny be a kid! Even when the local newspaper starts putting stats in the daily sports section, let him be a kid! I don’t know if you realize this or not, but I love kids. I mean…I love everybody, but I especially love kids who are just kids. That might sound like a strange way of putting it, but actually, some kids are made to grow up too fast, and…hold on!…turn into their parents too quick!

Benny wants to know you love him for who he is, not his batting average! God wants him to enjoy being a kid for a while before he learns how to hit a curveball!

Let me suggest that you focus more on building a child with character than one who can play six positions on the field. There are a lot of adult baseball players who hit for power, but have no character. Let Benny’s baseball skills develop alongside his character. The world is changed by people who want to help others much, much more than fastball pitchers.

Don’t sell out to the game! Keep a balance in your family life. Benny may love baseball, but don’t allow him to be obsessed with baseball. Obsessions pave the road to imbalanced. Passionate is different than obsessed. Passionate echoes his love for it, his enjoyment in it. It’s okay to be passionate.

Give him some space and grant him grace. Don’t try to live your frustrated sports life through him. I’ve noticed that too many parents buy into the idea of investing their kids’ lives into extended practices, a multitude of games, long weekends in strange places, and buying the best equipment with the hope that their child will end up on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. I worded that exactly the way I meant it also…”investing their kids’ lives!” They too often mortgage their children’s childhood for a future that the child may end up despising.

Here’s one last thing! What I noticed about Benny is that he has a caring heart. A couple of times he got a cup of water for a teammate who had just before that had made a defensive error. When he was sitting on the bench for a couple of innings he was encouraging his teammates. He helped the catcher get his equipment on, and one time put his hand on the shoulder of a kid who was smaller than him who had just gotten thrown out trying to steal second base. Benny is a great kid! And guess what? He will probably never be able to be a kid again. If you let him giggle in these years it will open up a laughter in his spirit and joy in his heart. Perhaps that’s where I’ll end it! Focus more on developing his heart instead of his muscle mass and throwing arm.

Have fun with these days! I’ll be watching and smiling, but for now…the Cubs need some divine intervention. They’ve got a series coming up with the Cardinals!

Holy Cow!

Jesus


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 839 other followers