Archive for May 2011

Does Being A Christian Make Me Smart?

May 30, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 30, 2011
There’s all kinds of studies and research available today on a variety of subjects. Mice are used to provide a number of findings to us about high cholesterol, the effects of too much of “whatever” in people, and on and on.
Here’s a couple of findings that I bet you didn’t know?
Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
Wolves are capable of traveling over 100 miles in a day, and to go days without food. They can also eat 20 pounds of meat in a single sitting.
Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
I’m amazed at all the research that educates me.
Here’s another research finding. Being a Christian does not make a person smarter.
Some in the thinking community believe that being a Christian actually shows how unintelligent a person is. I couldn’t disagree more, but I also know that being a follower of Jesus does nothing for my IQ either.
Spiritual wisdom is written in a different book than mental capabilities. Maturing spiritually is in a different zip code than understanding algebra.
In fact, the longer I’m a follower of Jesus I realize how little I do know. It’s not a God-guilt trip that has been inflicted on me, but perhaps a clearer picture of my intellectual limitations. My commitment to Christ will not get me closer to being a Jeopardy contestant. I know as little about 19th Century Art now as I did several years ago.
Most importantly, there is a difference between “Biblical knowledge” and “understanding how the Bible impacts my life and guides me on my daily path.”
My grandfather might say something like this: “Intelligence got nuthin to do with not being stupid.” As we walk with the Lord, let’s hope that our being led by Spirit will magnify our wisdom! That our spiritual maturity will be less about facts and figures, and more about faith and faithfulness.

How Are Resurrection People Hopeless?

May 27, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 28, 2011
It’s almost five weeks since Easter and Jesus is still risen!
I’m using the lectionary as the scriptural reading texts for the Sunday sermons this year. One of the elements of it that I’m appreciating is the flow of the readings, especially the Gospel readings, that allow me to travel a spiritual journey through the Lenten Season to Holy Week to the Cross and Resurrection, and now heading towards Pentecost Sunday. It’s discovering what I already knew, that there is a connectedness to the story.
Sometimes, especially in the Baptist church, as well as several others, there’s a loss of the continuing story. Easter Sunday becomes something we market, giving away chocolate bunnies or, as I remember happening many years ago, chocolate crosses. (There was something unsettling about eating the Cross!). And then after Easter, the incredible story of the open tomb seems to get lost, and we revert back to focusing on church budget deficits, the peeling paint on the window sills of the educational wing, and who is going to volunteer for VBS.
There’s just something deathly about how many believers act after Resurrection Sunday. That is meant to be a general statement, on an all-encompassing stroke of the truth-brush! There are a number of stories of life after death, like people seeking to help the ripped-apart community of Joplin, Missouri.
I can’t figure out, however, why all of the followers of Christ slide back into believing in hopelessness? It’s as if the resurrection never happened. That’s the rub! It’s because of the resurrection happening that we have hope for there to be restoration of broken lives and broken communities; and reconciliation of fractured relationships, and recovery for the disheartened.
I confess that my Monday is often a step back from my Sunday. I don’t quite understand myself, and by Carol’s frequent head nods she doesn’t quite understand me, also.
Perhaps allowing myself a little grace is a step in the right direction. Grace, there’s another subject the church is the expert on, but doesn’t practice very well.
For now as I head towards Pentecost I’m going to keep looking in my rear-view mirror to make sure I haven’t rolled the stone back in front of the tomb.

Post-May 21 Stress

May 23, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 22, 2011
This is going to be a stressful week! I wasn’t suppose to be here. May 21 was suppose to be it! Beam up! Blue jeans left behind! All of that!
I’d been saving up all of my new credit card offers that came in the mail, and then last week I went on a Best Buy, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sears, Jared Jewelers, Barnes & Noble buying binge. Since I was being “taken” I wouldn’t be around when the credit card bills came.
Might as well go out living like a king!
Might as well give in to my consumeristic temptations for the last couple of days of earthly existence! After all, I knew I was on the exit launch.
But then Harold Camping’s prophecy that he said was guaranteed didn’t happen! Was he simply off by a week? Will I still get the sudden flash experience BEFORE the credit card bills arrive? I’m in limbo here…no, better not use that term. I think a certain Christian church still teaches about it.
I’m in an in-between place. Am I coming or going? Am I freely exiting, or am I staying in the midst of newly-incurred debt?
Will Dick’s Sporting Goods take back my slightly used and abused monster-head driver? Does Best Buy mind is I opened and used all of the 30 new PS 3 games that I bought?
Like I said, I’ve got so much stress to deal with, now that I’m still in the here and present.

I probably should have made the house payment also…for the past few months.
And then there’s the car. Lucky I didn’t pay that Firestone bill for the four new tires yet, since I won’t be having the car much longer anyway.
I probably could have gotten by without the facial plastic surgery, but, hey, I wasn’t sure if I’d be jetted up in this body, or some other physical outfit, so I had a few nip and tucks just so I’d be looking good when I got welcomed into glory.
So, as you can see, Harold has caused me a lot of grief. Someone needs to take the blame for my irresponsibility and self-serving actions!
I can’t be!

The Basis For My Assessment

May 17, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 17, 2011

Last weekend I went camping with six young adult guys I’ve been meeting with since October. When I invited each one of them to be in the group I was leading one of the stated requirements was to go on an overnight retreat a few months after we had started meeting. Unfortunately, I wasn’t clear enough on where the overnight retreat would be! I was thinking “conference centers” or camps with indoor plumbing or, at the worst, a mountain cabin. I was thinking the place might not have wireless. They were thinking “wires-less”, as in no wires…phone lines, electricity outlets, cable.
So we went camping. No, not KOA camping. Off-road camping! Like in, no one even knows this place exists!
It was good! We enjoyed being together, talking, laughing, sharing. Most of them actually said it was the best camping experience they’ve ever had. I was surprised, since we were eating scrambled eggs out of red plastic Dixie cups, and couldn’t make a early morning Starbucks run.
But you see, I have no basis for an assessment on what is great camping versus Neanderthal Remembrance Day. The last time I went tent camping was in 1985, and that was with 12 Junior High age boys on a week-long bike camp. Camping with a dozen 12 year olds for a week is not really camping. It’s like a seven day episode of “Fear Factor.”
So, was this camping excursion good or bad? I have to believe in the camping veterans that gave it “A’s”. All had all experienced a lot of camping. I’m not sure how to even light a Coleman lantern. Some of them had cool looking little lights that they hung around their head. I had my iPad, which is cool, except when you’re shivering by a campfire. They had sleeping bags that could protect you up to thirty degrees below. I had a borrowed sleeping bag that I couldn’t figure out how to zip up.
I came away believing it was good. I just had nothing to compare it to.
There is a hint of a correlation between that and being a new follower of Jesus or a seasoned disciple of the faith. When someone enters into a relationship with Jesus there is no basis for assessing how good this new journey is except for an inner sense of hope. That inner sense, dependent on the person, might seem peaceful, or joy-filled, or exciting. Whatever simple analysis you might give you it, there is a sense that one is in a different place.
The tendency is for someone who is new to the faith to look at other Christians and assess his faith experience on the basis of theirs. Whereas spiritual mentors are invaluable in helping us navigate the journey, nevertheless each person’s faith shape is different. One of the critical discoveries we can take from the Scriptures is the diversity of transformational experiences that people had. How Levi came to Jesus is different than how the woman at the well came to Jesus. The way Levi came to Jesus is even different than how Zacchaeus did, even though they were both tax collectors!
Coming to Jesus is “gospel”, good news. It’s just that how that good news is heard and understood is different.
The interesting thing is that I now have a picture of what camping is, and it is good…except for numb feet and “bear paranoia.”
I’ve also had 44 years of a picture of being a follower of Jesus…and it is good…no exceptions!

“MAY 21, 2011”

May 12, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 11, 2011

If I’m still here on May 22 it means that Harold Camping was wrong, or I’m in a heap of hurt!
That’s because Camping has guaranteed that May 21 will be Judgment Day. True believers will be taken to heaven, while the rest of the world’s population will begin to endure a series of devastating earthquakes. Wait a minute! There were a couple of devastating quakes in Japan a few weeks ago, and there was on in Spain today! Maybe Camping was off by 10 days himself.
What if he’s right, but he was left behind as well? That would be a hard pill to swallow!
Just for conversation, however, let’s assume that he will be wrong. After all, he predicted the same thing would happen in 1994. I don’t know if he had giant billboards back then, but he does this time. Using a passage from Ezekiel, he believes this is it! The billboards even boast that “The Bible guarantees it!”
The Bible also talks about the day of the Lord coming again like “…a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). In other words, no one really knows when it’s going to happen except the Lord.
But there’s something that draws certain people to predict what the Scriptures they is unpredictable. Many of us what to know when, how, and what is going to happen. You could call it “spiritual insider trading.” If I can get some foreknowledge I’ll be better prepared.
History has been littered with predictions of doom and gloom by various preachers and screechers. Perhaps May 21 will be the end of them, and the end of the world. Perhaps only God knows!
Unfortunately, the world sees a lot of hatred coming out of parts of the Christian church and it has become skeptical of anything that comes with a scriptural guarantee, or is announced with a church label.
Westboro Baptist.
The pastor who put on his church’s marquee “Bombs Made Next Door” with an arrow pointed at the mosque next to it.
Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who burned the Koran.
The love of Jesus has gotten tainted by the words and actions of a few. I have to admit I’m sometimes embarrassed by some of the things that the media broadcasts. Anything, it seems, is just a “tweet” away from hitting the news.
The May 21 proclamation has me at a loss of words. It brings back memories of Oral Roberts raising money for his university’s medical school. He gave a date and a figure and told his audience that if the money wasn’t raised the Lord was going to take him home. The owner of a greyhound racing track in Florida came forward with the last few million he needed. That was too bad! Not because I disliked Oral, but because if it came true and the Lord did take him home on that date it would have ignited some real repentance from a lot of people.
So now I wait for 6pm on May 21! I realize the chaos in Creation, and the cruelty of people, but I also see a desire in many to love God by serving others.
Incidentally, I don’t know which time zone the 6pm is. Maybe it will be like New Year’s Eve- one time zone at a time. If that’s the case, by the time it gets to the West Coast there could be a lot of people knee-bound!

What The Church Can Learn From The NFL

May 3, 2011

WORDS FROM W.W. May 3, 2011

If you are the typical American you get sick of it!
If you are the typical American you also watch it!
I’m not talking about the number that appears when you step on a scale. I’m talking about professional football, most notably, the NFL.
And if you are a typical American you know that I’m talking about the impasse’…the locked horns…the greed of the owners and the players that just seems to go on and on and on. It was perplexing to have the annual NFL college draft this past week with the “elephant in the room” that there might not be a season, or a team, for these newly-chosen players to even put shoulder pads on for.
People get tired of hearing about it, so why am I writing about it? Because the church can learn a few things about the NFL’s situation.
Not that any church is going to come to a budget approval time where we’ll be hearing things like “We’re close to an agreement, but we’re still about 100 million apart.”
What the church can learn is that although the NFL is made up of a lot of good people, the two sides of the battle are talking as insiders. It’s all about revenue for the owners, and the player’s association getting their fair share of the profits. It’s about enormous amounts of money that none of us can even imagine. Prophetic Utterance: None of the NFL owners or players are going to showing up at Walmart at 4am the day after Thanksgiving in order to buy a cheap TV, or a new toaster oven! The box has become more important than what it holds.
The church can learn that rarely does something good come out of a situation where both sides are trying to get their own way. It’s a battle that becomes increasingly about “who is more entrenched and unmoveable?”
But perhaps the second, and more important, teachable point is that insiders forget that they mostly exist and function for the benefit of outsiders. Think about it! How many people come to a Denver Broncos game wearing a Broncos’ jersey? It’s not that they are putting shoulder pads on underneath the “#15 Tebow”, it’s that they want to be a part of the game, the experience, even though they can’t physically make the grade. The NFL has to admit that it often forgets about the fan base. If that weren’t true 400 people would have arrived at this year’s Super Bowl with tickets that actually had real seats. Instead they got apologies, vouchers, and pointed in the direction of places that had TV’s.
People want to be a part. People want to believe! How many people skip church on Sunday morning if the Broncos are playing an Eastern time zone team? More than I care to admit! How many pastors wish they could be there with them? Not many…since we now have DVR’s!
What goes on in the stadium is significantly linked to those outside the stadium?
The church could learn something from this. What are we exhausting ourselves over that has no direct or relevant significance to those we are seeking to reach and serve?
Are we sometimes seen as being out-of-touch with reality because we just don’t have the eyes to see any more?
A further extension of this second point is that there are also a number of people who are both inside and outside. With the NFL there are those people who are fans who also make part of their living by being concession workers, parking lot attendants, ushers, and on and on. A prolonged lockout will affect them greatly. These are the layer of people who will be at Walmart at 4am on Black Friday.
As a church we have people who are insiders and outsiders. They want to be a part, but sometimes they are sensing a lack of purpose in all the motion.
Perhaps the church can learn how long it takes to recover from selfishness and the tendency to believe that “It’s all about me!”