Archive for January 2011

Lip Service

January 25, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. January 25, 2011

This winter I’ve purchased more lip balm than I have in the first 55 years of my life combined. I lather it on like a spring break college co-ed and Coppertone. Dry lips are irritating! So I give them a lot more attention than I ever did before. I guess you could call it “lip service.”
Interestingly enough, lip service is big business these days. Perhaps some of you can remember the days when you went to the store to buy “Chapstick”…not lip balm. No one said “I need to pick up some lip balm next time I’m at the store.” No, it was Chapstick. Yes, Chapstick was lip balm, but it more like lip balm was Chapstick.
Go to the store now and look for Chapstick and you’ll find it sharing space with umpteen other lip service products. We’ve become culturally-obsessed about our lips. We want them to look good, or at least feel good.
Scripture has multiple stories of people, who identified themselves as being believers in God, giving Him lip service, but having their actions tell a different story. If you read 2 Kings you’ll encounter it over and over again. A king would say something, but their actions would go against it.
I recently read a quote that Yoko Ono had put on a full-page ad in The New York Times on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death. She wrote “One day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves, and by healing ourselves, we healed the world.”
In a fallen world we will never have the ability to heal ourselves. There will be discoveries of how to prevent diseases or heal people of their physical sicknesses. There will be incredible solutions that will appear, but we will never be able to heal ourselves. The mark of our fallen nature will always have us coming up short of our destination. Jesus is the healer of nations. He’s the ointment for our dryness and heart aches.
Just as numerous Biblical characters gave him lip service, however, there is the subtle hints in the lives of many believers today that the Lamb of God is often given lip service while our lives communication faith in being self-healed. “A walk with God” becomes just one way of navigating ourselves through the journey of life. “Talking with God” becomes just one way of finding wisdom, or perhaps even just one way to vent.
A heart for God is at a different place than lip service for Jesus. Philippians 2:11 tells about lip service, but it also puts in another key element of commitment and recognition.
“…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” (Philippians 2:10-11)
Calloused knees are the compliment to chapped lips. They signal surrender when our rhetoric has been exhausted.


January 11, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. January 11, 2011

Today has a lot of ones in it! It’s similar to January 1, except it has expanded to another one spot: 1-11-11. Days like this are perplexing. Some people put special emphasis on them. Others don’t, but at the same time are wondering if something strange is going to happen.
On October 10, 2010 (10-10) there were several special events and initiatives that took place. One organization ( asked the questions “Where will you be on the tenth minute of the tenth hour of the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year?” The group then took those questions to point people to an emphasis on global climate issues and energy saving initiatives. Another group used 10-10-10 as a launch day to emphasis a cross-denominational initiative about starting healthy new churches.
I remember seeing a news story about thousands of couples getting married by Sun Yung Moon on 10-10-10.
So what might January 11 of 2011 at 11:11 hold?
The Bible does emphasize certain numbers. “7” is the number of completeness. If you read the book of Revelation you’ll see it mentioned a “number” of times. “12” indicated the number of tribes of Israel, plus the number of Jesus’ disciples. “40” has significance, “40 years in the desert”, 40 days in the wilderness”, etc.
But sometimes we like to make a certain date and time seem extra-significant because of it’s number scheme on the calendar. Using it as a launching for an environmental initiative is one thing, but using it to chart my future is another.
It reminds me of William Miller, who in 1833, first shared publicly his belief in the second coming of Christ. From his study of the scriptures, especially the book of Daniel, Miller became convinced that Jesus would return in 1843. From 1840 onward, “Millerism” ** was transformed from an obscure, regional scripture return to their towns and cities and promote the ideas of Millerism in their locales.
Based on his interpretation of Daniel 8:14 (“He said to me, ‘It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.’”), Miller determined that Jesus would return sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. When the time frame has passed the majority of the followers maintained their faith because of “the softness” of the time frame. Another man, Samuel Snow brought another interpretation to the setting and a new date of October 22, 1844 was established. Families sold their possessions and expected to be raptured into heaven.
But it didn’t happen!
Sometimes we, without malice, try to make something into something it isn’t. There is an increasing danger in an increasingly Biblical-illiterate world to believe that scripture says something that it doesn’t; or says something to support a position that has already been determined.
Signs are often seen where there are no signs. And, on the other hand, signs are missed when they are so evident. We look for some supernatural event at 11:11 on 1-11-11, but what God desires us to be about is helping the elderly woman who is struggling to carry her sacks of groceries out of the store.
We might be looking for a glow on the mountaintop, where as God might want us to lower our vision to a friend who is walking through a valley.
So, my friend, don’t squint too hard looking today. And if you don’t agree with that never fear. The ones will be expanded by one in exactly ten months: 11-11-11-11:11.

**- For a more extensive article on “Millerism”, use