Archive for May 2009

May 29, 2009

WORDS FROM W.W. May 27, 2009
“Blessed Apathy”

I find that it is increasing rather than decreasing. The root causes are as numerous as the dandelions in my front yard. It seems that when I spray one dandelion three others pop up their heads a few feet away.
Apathy is alive and “weedy” in our society.
But, there are exceptions!
Go to a professional football game.
Watch the body language of a parent whose son’s is sitting on the team bench during crunch time.
Be outside Walmart at 5 a.m., on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving. (Last year an employee got trampled to death when the doors opened!)
Have your connecting flight cancelled. (There are no apathetic passengers on Southwest Airlines, especially at any gate of Southwest Airlines!)
Apathy diminishes as personal inconvenience increases. It’s a “social new math equation.”
Second social new math equation: Apathy increases as a person’s understanding of being blessed by God decreases. In other words, the more a person believes the world revolves around himself or herself the more apathetic that person becomes about the blessing of God in his or her life.
Apathy moves in when passion moves out. Apathy is the curse of a church that has lost its passion. It is also the by-product of a group that has lost its voice, or perhaps more accurately, has been given no voice.
There are many reasons why a new wave of churches are being raised that are comprised mainly of young adults, but one of them is that the apathy of the church towards what they are saying has created an apathy in the “twenty-somethings” towards what the “mother church” is doing.
There’s a lot of finger pointing and hypothesizing, and yet none of that recognizes the fact that we have been blessed in so many ways.
The comment may now be stated by many readers: “Well, you don’t understand….”
I agree. I don’t understand. How can we be so apathetic about being blessed?

The Rush To Vacate

May 22, 2009

Memorial Day weekend is a great weekend…to stay home!

The highways and byways will be packed with vans, trucks, trucks pulling boats or campers or ATV’s. It will be chaos and bedlam on asphalt. It’s a tradition, one that for many families is as customary as gathering around a tree on Christmas Day.

If you’ve been thinking about going to Sam’s Club…wait until Tuesday. If the thought suddenly occurs to you that “this weekend is pretty empty, why not go camping?,” spray yourself with bug repellant, start a fire in the fireplace, roast some indigestion-inducing hot dogs over it, and then enjoy the peace and quiet of your own living room.

I know that I sound anti-camping. I’m really not, but I admit that I do prefer sleeping in my own house rather than a tent with no heating or air conditioning system. Call me a wimp!

I’ve noticed that people spend a lot of time rushing to vacate. They leave town exhausted from the effort to leave. Camping isn’t the villain. It’s a mindset twitch that has infected our lifestyle. When I’m “here” I’m in a rush to get “there.”

But when I’m “there” I can’t enjoy it because I’m thinking of things that will happen next week when I’m back “here.”

We’re a culture addicted to rushing. Even at this moment I’m forcing myself to slow down and think through my words because I need to go visit someone. The sooner I can crank out the words the faster I can get to the next thing on the list.

By our actions and itineraries, “quantity of living” is more important than “quality of living,” but we press to get the quality with the quantity. In other words “we want everything and it better be good!”

I believe there is an intimate connection between “quality of living” and a slower pace. It’s tragic that most of the time when we hear the term “quality of life” it’s associated with someone in their last days who doesn’t have much life left to live.

It’s not coincidental that there was a quality to the psalms that David wrote, and he didn’t have deadlines. What he had was time to reflect, to be renewed, to see and hear with not only his eyes and ears, but also his heart. He was not in a rush.

Think about it this weekend whether you’re in an RV or your own bedroom. Think about your pace and ask yourself, are you conveying to your kids, friends, and neighbors that it’s a race or a walk?

Pastor Bill

The Pursuit Worth Pursuing

May 15, 2009

Many years ago I knew a lady who was passionate about collecting buttons. Not buttons that you sew on to your coat, but rather buttons that you pin on to your coat.

Political campaign buttons. Buttons with pictures. Buttons with smiley faces. Buttons with slogans. Buttons with American symbols, and buttons with British symbols. Buttons from states, and buttons shaped like different states.

Her home was populated with buttons, thousands and thousands of buttons! But she used buttons to facilitate “that one thing” in her life that she pursued with passion and purpose. Her buttons were used to initiate conversations, but “that one thing” in her life was Jesus. Buttons opened the door to conversations about Christ.

I would say that a vast majority of people can’t point to “that one thing” they desire to pursue. It’s that one thing that is like an emerging flame within their spirit. That one thing is not a hobby, or even an activity. It’s “the pursuit worth pursuing.”

It’s Adoniram and Ann Judson pursuing a new calling to be missionaries to Burma as a result of being convicted that baptism by immersion was what the Bible talked about. The conviction they felt, listen to this, was during the voyage they were on to India, where they were to being sent by the Congregational Church to be missionaries. All of a sudden the pursuit worth pursuing…that one thing…changed their plans. They went from being commissioned, financially-supported missionaries to un-commissioned, non-supported, un-employed missionaries. Luther Rice, who was another commissioned missionary, whose views on baptism had also been changed, sailed back to America and went from Baptist church to Baptist church raising support for the first American Baptist missionaries overseas. If Luther hadn’t come to understand that this was the pursuit worth pursuing the Judson’s wouldn’t have been able to spend the rest of their lives sowing the seeds of the gospel in Burma.

This was not meant to be an article about American Baptist missionaries. It’s just to illustrate the point that I’m not sure how many of us come to that point of knowing what in our life is “the pursuit worth pursuing.” We might re-word it for our situation, but its realizing the “heart” of Paul’s passion. He wrote “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12, 13b-14)

We focus on trivial pursuits that “flame out.” “Temporary flings” is the phrase that best sums up what consumes the bulk of our energy.

Why is it that our attention is so easily diverted? It could be because the pursuit worth pursuing is also a little intimidating. Like the dust clouds rising behind a speeding car on a dirt road, there are accompanying doubts that trail closely behind the pursuit worth pursuing. When the drive forward is halted the dust settles in around us making the way unclear. The “what if’s” surround us.

What if I go full speed forward and I fail?

What if I pursue and I fall flat on my face?

What if the flame flickers out while I’m pursuing?

What if I’m just meant to be mediocre?

The pursuit worth pursuing is not a problem for most people, because they never get started.

I’m more afraid of another “what if.” What if “that one thing” that God has planted in my heart…that pursuit worth pursuing that He is entrusting me to be about…what if that one thing is the pursuit I never pursue?

That would be a tragedy!

Non-Traditionally Traditional or Traditionally Non-Traditional

May 8, 2009

We throw around the terms.



They carry extensive resume’s attached to them. When we say traditional visions of straight-lacedness dance…I mean…don’t dance in our heads. We think of orderliness and finishing on-time and the traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Conversely, when we say non-traditional we think of radical natures, “out-of-the-box,” differing processes.

Okay, I admit! I think that!

It occurs to me, however, that each one of us—every one of us—is a mixture of traditional and non-traditional. Both camps of people are ready to throw something at me at this moment, so hear me out.

I love to drink a good cup of coffee in the morning. Diana says that she could stand a straw up in the midst of a cup of the coffee I brew because it’s so strong. Wimp! (Smaller font so she doesn’t see it.) When it comes to coffee I’m a traditionalist. Recently I was at Pike’s Perk Coffeehouse to get my mug filled. There was light roast, medium roast, dark roast, de-caffeinated (“What’s the point?”), and French Vanilla flavored. I usually get medium roast. Flavored coffees just don’t appeal to me. That could be because I started drinking coffee back in my seminary days when “flavored” meant that you had dipped your donut in the cup. I learned to drink coffee a certain way, and French Vanilla, or Snickerdoodle, or Swiss Chocolate, or, Amaretto is just too outside of my tradition.

On the other side of my preferences, however, is my preference to drive a hybrid car. “This is not my dad’s Buick…or Ford…or Chrysler!” My parents have always driven cars that have traditionally been thought of as having been made in America. Call me a radical, but our family owns three Hondas and I’ve gone to the hybrid car. For right now it’s still seen as being non-traditional, although the day is coming….

Henry Ford was seen as being non-traditional at one point!

We bring those labels of “traditional” and “non-traditional” into our spiritual lives, and especially into our congregational lives. Depending on where you place yourself, it’s easy to see someone who is in a different place then you as being messed-up.

“Alex hates praise music. He’s very…traditional!”

It’s said like the person has an illness.

“Alex hates Pepsi. He’s…diabetic!”

Or “Alex does not care for our 10:30 worship service. He’s very…non-traditional.”

I’m a hybrid. I’m a mixture. We’re all hybrids. Just when I think I’m a non-traditionalist I make a batch of popcorn on Sunday night, because when I was growing up my family always made popcorn on Sunday nights and watched the Ed Sullivan show together on TV. Just when I think I’m a traditionalist I find myself reading a book by Leonard Sweet like The Gospel According to Starbucks or Thomas Friedman’s book The World Is Flat.

Just when I start thinking “normal,” I look at some of my “Far Side” cartoons.

We’re all messed-up, but we’re also all “mixed-together.” Christians more often than not use labels to create separation than a unique kind of unity. We allow our preferences to irritate us about someone who has a different preference.

After all, if everyone was like me there would be a lot less arguments!

And if you thought I was serious in that last sentence, you obviously haven’t realized that I am a non-traditional humorist!