Archive for February 2012

Leap of Faith

February 29, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    February 29, 2012

It’s February 29, that unusual day that hits us once every four years to set the universe time table back in order. You see, our year is actually 364 and ¼ days, so February 29 comes around to enable us to leap back to order.

Babies who are born on February 29 are called “leapers.” It’s a name of limited distinction. They can celebrate their birthday backwards (February 28) or forwards (March 1).

What about the exercising of our faith? What about a leap of faith? What might happen if the people of God took on a new nickname?


One extra letter away from “lepers”, but perhaps just as uncomfortable for our culture to understand and deal with.

A leaper would jump with a belief in a faith landing. A leaper would step into the unknown, because of the calling of God, and in obedience to that call.

Abraham was a leaper! I love that verse in Hebrews 11. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)

Abraham leaped with faith.

A leaper today is one who doesn’t wait for the statistical analysis to begin a new venture. A leaper, as with Abraham, receives “a call.”

What is the church’s calling? The leap of faith that is put before any church is unachievable without the calling, leading, blessing, and empowering of God. It is not up to us to make it happen. It is up to us to trust and obey.

When I was in college I had some hops. Five foot eight when I stretched, I touched the rim with my hand. I high-jumped my height in track. I could get up! Now I’m a “used to!” My leaping abaility has long since left me. The only time I touch the rim is when I’m on a ladder, or I’m playing with my grandson’s basketball and four-foot high hoop. I used to be able to leap!

The church is filled with people who used to be able to leap! Our faith hops have mostly left us.

What could a people who become known as leapers do in obedience to the calling of God?

Faith leapers have been called, and are called, to prevent thousands of people each day from starving to death.

Faith leapers have been called, and are called, to mentor and be advocates for hundreds of thousands of kids and youth at risk.

Faith leapers have been called, and are called, to pray for and over their communities and schools.

Faith leapers have been called, and are called, to work towards creating a community that is safe- safe from abusive behavior, demeaning images, degrading conduct, and parasitical elements of crime.

Faith leapers have been called, and are called to dream big, dream of what could happen if there is a leap…of faith!

Can you envision a conversation between two people who have met someone who believes that God does…really does make a difference? As they are reflecting back on the person of faith, one of the people says to the other, “Yes, he’s a leaper!”

When Your Baby is 24

February 22, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                February 22, 2012

Today is the 24th birthday of Elizabeth Anne-Faletti Wolfe. She was born in the evening twenty four years ago soon after Carol and I finished our second game of Scrabble in the Sparrow Hospital birthing room in Lansing, Michigan.

It’s a weird feeling to know that your youngest is 24. Family VHS tapes of her dancing behind her big sister take on more of a humorous look. The picture of her on the front steps of our house with a backpack and missing two front teeth, as she is about to leave for her first day of kindergarten, cause more of an emotional reaction.

When your baby reaches 24, and you know that there is no one coming along behind her to take the title of “youngest child, you realize that, as a parent, you’ve done what you can and taught what needed to be taught. Your roles as mom and dad have changed in many ways. You’ll still be “Mom”, and you’ll still be “Dad”, but in different sorts of ways.

When she can turn the stove burner on and off by herself you no longer need to warn her about “It’s hot! No, don’t touch!”

When she can fill the gas tank herself…just stay in the car!

When you get a new cell phone, take it to her for a tutorial lesson.

When she stays up late it’s okay to go ahead and go to bed.

When it’s Sunday morning she can make the decision whether or not she is going to attend worship. Laying guilt trips on her has the potential to keep her from experiencing God and her own journey with Jesus.

When she asks a question about a problem she is looking for just a little advice, a lot of listening, and zero lectures.

When she makes a decision that is different than what you would choose don’t keep analyzing it.

When your baby hits 24, which seems really old to her, but only a foggy memory to you, you realize that you are no longer the instructor, the enforcer, the discipline agent, or drill sergeant. Instead you are now the adviser, the mentor, and the encourager.

Life is hard at times. A word from Mom or Dad may be the lift-up moment that tells her she is a person of value loved by God, and most definitely by you!

Crazy With the Mennonites

February 15, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W. February 15, 2012
Last Sunday was our neighborhood pastors pulpit exchange Sunday. Five churches in our neighborhood exchange pastors. You can call it “Pastor Swap” if you want to! We’ve done it for six years on a Sunday in either January or February. We’ve threatened to do it more often!
“If you all don’t shape up we’re going to call in the Baptist pastor, and you know how long his sermons are!”
This year was my second time to visit Beth-El Mennonite Church, and we had a great time! Correction! I had a great time. I can’t speak for them. My Mennonite seminary professor, Dr. David Augsburger, would have made sure I was not assuming something that might not be true.
Okay! Some of them told me they had a good time! Of course, what do you say to the visiting pastor of another church after the service? “Thank God, we won’t have to see you for another four years!”
The great thing about pulpit exchange Sunday is that you get reminded that there are other people who are invested in the Kingdom, not just your own congregation. You also see some things happening that can be done in your own congregation. You have people praying for you that desire for you to be used for the Kingdom of God.
You find out that there are people at Beth-El who watch the insides of their eyelids just like there are in your own congregation. You find that they sing the same kind of songs, and that they have people with the same kind of bad coffee breath at the end of the fellowship time as your own congregation does.
You learn that they have people with a wide assortment of clothing attire just like us- from blue jeans to out-of-date three-piece suits; from women’s slacks to prom dresses (Okay, maybe a step more rational than a prom dress).
You learn that they have someone who is a little slow on getting the next song slide up just like we do.
You learn that they have people who love Jesus just like our church does; and that they also have people who are wondering about Jesus just like we do.
It’s nice to know that the whole world hasn’t been put on the shoulders of one church, even though we sometimes live like we’re the only place of worship in town.
Looked my time there! In fact, some Sunday I’m just going to take off from preaching at Highland Park Baptist and I’m just going to go back to Beth-El to worship with the people. It’s something that pastors don’t do very often. We sometimes think that “no one can bring Jesus like we can.”
Jesus has been “brought” many times. Now it may be more about him being “sought.”

Ten Commandments for Basketball Parents

February 9, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    February 9, 2012

In our Buddy Basketball program for kids we stress the need for kids to have a positive and fun recreational experience. A vast majority of kids long for that. There are a number of other things in their lives that aren’t positive and aren’t fun. It’s amazing to see the pressure that young kids of elementary age are under.

And honestly, for many kids the pressure comes from their parents. Mom and Dad want them to succeed…but it’s often confined to Mom and Dad’s definition of what success is. I wonder what Jesus would define childhood success as being. It seems that the examples of children that we hear about in the Gospels revolved around a small boy’s offering to give up his lunch for everyone (sharing with others); and Jesus’ desire to spend time with the kids that the disciples thought he didn’t have time for. When Jesus scolded his disciples for trying to keep children away from him he emphasized that the adults around him needed to chill out a little bit, to be more childlike instead of childishly adult!

So for Buddy Basketball we have something called “Ten Commandments for Buddy Basketball Parents.” Here they are, not in order of importance, but hopefully to bring some order to parental attitudes.

  1. Thou shalt applaud each player’s efforts, regardless of whose team he/she is a member of.
  2. Thou shalt not yell at or criticize the unpaid volunteer referees.
  3. Thou shalt affirm the referees whenever possible.
  4. Thou shalt not keep statistics on your child’s performance.
  5. Thou shalt congratulate your son/daughter after each game for their effort and hustle.
  6. Thou shalt be quiet and observe the pre-game prayer.
  7. Thou shalt not bring infants and toddlers into the Highland Park Church gym during the games for their own safety.
  8. Thou shalt smile at your son/daughter.
  9. Thou shalt let the coach know if your child won’t be at a game.
  10. Thou shalt have a good time and allow yourself to laugh.

This year I’m considering an 11th! I know it goes against the idea of “The Ten”, but it’s become one that we ap”parent”ly didn’t think about:

    1. Thou shalt let the coach be the coach, and you be the cheering, clapping, positive, and mostly quiet parent!

I believe Jesus would give an “amen!”