Archive for February 2010


February 23, 2010

WORDS FROM W.W. February 21, 2010

There was a movie called The Bucket List that was about two men who are in their last days. They make a list of things they want to do, places they want to see, conversations they want to have, before they “kick the bucket.”
It was one of those films that make you think about life, about your purpose in life, and, ultimately, your death. Sorry to be morbid or depressing, but too often we don’t think about the next life because we’re too focused on this world. I believe there is a better middle point, if you will, that considers all of life- this and the next. Instead of dividing it into a “this and that” or “before death and after demise”, perhaps we need to develop “a bucket list” that contains what our hopes are for now and eternity.
The thought occurred to me the past two days as I was experiencing a trip to Duke University with three friends of mine. Having an affection for basketball (People who know me knows that goes without saying.), being able to go to Cameron Indoor Stadium and see a Duke basketball game from the fourth row behind the Duke bench, as well as shooting free throws on the main floor the night before in an empty arena, was an incredible experience. Although being a Michigan State Spartan and a University of Kentucky Wildcat, I was “into” the Duke experience. (One Christian Laettner buzzer beater wasn’t going to spoil the whole trip for me.)
It made me think about what else would be on my list? What is my bucket list for this life and the next? Here’s the beginnings of one that will continue to be added to as I ponder it more:
• See the heart of a community and a church become enmeshed with one another.
• Write a book…and then another…and then…
• Officiate in the state high school basketball tournament.
• Sit on the bench as a coach for a high school team that is playing in a state high school basketball tournament (Obviously, not at the same time as the previous item on the list.)
• Know without a shadow of a doubt, (perhaps because the Holy Spirit has whispered to my heart) that someone’s eternal destination was re-routed because of a conversation the two of us had.
• To be able to understand scripture clearly…even Revelation!
• To be able to talk with God in a way that seems like, without minimizing His holiness, that he’s sitting across from me in a booth at a Starbucks.
• To be able, with my wife, to take our grandkids on a multitude of trips that will make them giggle with glee.
• To visit Italy again.
• To be able to understand why God allows certain things and not others to happen. In other words, to one day in eternity to see the whole panoramic view of time and connect the dots.
• To have stepped foot in every one of the fifty states.
• To read every book in my personal library…not just look at them.
• To know that I just encountered an angel.
• To be able to eat seafood every day for a month…freshly caught mind you! Not fish sticks!
• To go to an NCAA Final Four (Back to Basketball!)
• To sit with Carol in our family room with a fire going in the fireplace…and the TV off!
• To baptize my grandson…and any other grandkids that might come on the scene.
• To be able to study, reflect, and write for an extended period of time without having to work about the administrative details of a pastor’s weekly routine.
• To take a road trip with Dave Volitis.
• To go back to Zanesville, Ohio, and have a pizza from Adornetto’s Pizza, the best pizza I’ve ever had even though it’s been 41 years since I had the last one.
• To take my son on a road trip to major league baseball stadiums.
• To hike the Grand Canyon.
• To anonymously give some kind of gift that will change the course of a person’s life.
• To welcome the end of this life because I know God’s purpose is being fulfilled. (“Has been fulfilled” is a term that I believe only comes after the final breath. Until then, we are in the process heading towards fulfillment.)
• To see Jesus.
That’s a start! As soon as I sign off ten more things will occur to me, but I guess what I’m saying is that I’m thinking about life, what it looks like, what gives it substance and flavor. Too often we think about that when it’s too late to think any more.


February 11, 2010

WORDS FROM W.W. February 11, 2010

A friend of mine recently brought my attention to a couple of verses in the New Testament letter to the Philippians. The Apostle Paul wrote these words:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13)
When I did a Google word search the first listing that came up on the page was “Happiness Massage Lotion”. As I get older and my back gets more and more dysfunctional massages sound like great ideas, but I hesitant to equate contentment with a body lotion. I’ll go with relaxing, but contentment…
Advertising tries to sell us contentment. Watch a commercial about a new Ford, Golden Corral restaurant (“Graze to your heart’s content…or until it gives out!), or even lawn fertilizer and you will see expressions of contentment on the faces of those hired to look contented.
In essence, people are searching for contentment but find it for only temporary moments. A new vehicle is fine until the first car payment comes due. A green lawn is gratifying until it goes uncut for a couple of weeks…and those dandelions start popping up! I know of no one who is contented with Golden Corral about an hour after they exit. Can you say “Alka-Seltzer?”
The secret, as Paul writes, is being firmly rooted in the One who defines contentment. If I believe that Christ is the hope, the life-giver, the reservoir of strength, and the One who gives my life purpose, then I will be content in the good days and the bad, the hard times and the prosperous moments. Being rooted in Christ allows us to live with a sense of contentment instead of always having contentment be something that is still somewhere in our future, or when we reach a certain position, or have the mortgage paid off, or have grandkids, or don’t have to worry about what time we wake up in the morning. Contentment with Jesus is a present and future situation, not a “hoped for sometime” destination.
There is a tendency to allow the times or others to determine whether we’re contented or not. In the midst of demanding financial times a lot of people are pulling their hair out. Expenses exceed income. Trips to Goodwill outnumber trips to Target. Generic is the main label in the cupboard. There is much fretting and sleeplessness.
Without minimizing the pressures of the times on families and individuals it is important to figure out who is the source of contentment. Paul makes it clear that he is contented whether he’s going hungry or feasting. The external factors do not dictate his heart passion and sense of calling. You get the sense that Paul was content whether he was sleeping in jail cell or a Sealy Posture-pedic.
People are restless these days. There is a lot of searching happening…but not necessarily for what will leave us plenty contented.