Archive for June 2012

Adjusting to Speed Bumps

June 29, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 29, 2012

The fires here in Colorado Springs have been devastating to so many people, and the ripple effect of business impact will be felt soon also as businesses on the west side of the city in evacuated areas try to recoup their losses from days of being closed.

It has been amazing to see the reactions of community members, outpouring support and supplies. On the other side, it has been amazing to see that two arrests have been made of people looting an evacuated home. The thieves had “meth” on them as they were trying to steal some items to sell to get more “meth.”

Awesome citizens, those two!

It has also been interesting to view how different people have reacted in different ways. Some have been thankful for the sacrifice and willingness to be in harm’s way of the 1,000+ firefighters. Some have expressed thankfulness for human lives being saved, even in the midst of so many homes destroyed. Some have lashed out in anger at whoever might be a possible target. Some are experiencing guilt even in the midst of their discoveries of homes untouched. There’s the relief of residences still being there, but guilt because neighbors have lost everything that was in their homes.

People have questioned why God didn’t do more, or why God allowed something like this to happen? I mean, shouldn’t God have provided a hedge of protection around the neighborhoods impacted? There is a sense with some people that the Creator should provide “perfect nature”- sunny and 70 degrees, with rain only in the middle of the night when we’re sleeping so our activity schedule doesn’t get impacted, a slight breeze that feels good…and a white picket fence.

But perhaps we should see an event such as the fires as the time to rethink, refocus, reprioritize, and re-thank!

In our lives there are certain moments that stand out from the rest- the birth of our first child, our wedding, our first touchdown, the death of a grandparent, a car accident, a fire. Moments can be joy-filled or grief-stricken, but moments such as these have the potential to slow us down for a moment.

They are like speed bumps that need a different pace to them, a cautionary approach. Most of us want the smooth road, like Interstate 80 through Nebraska, where we can race along at top speeds…and yet we complain because Nebraska doesn’t have that much scenery along the highway to make us “ooo and ahh!”

The speed bumps in our lives cause us to ponder “why”, “what now”, and “where to?”

Here in our city there are also different kinds of speed bumps. There are speed bumps that are like road ripples, and then there are speed bumps that will damage your car is you try to stay at the usual driving speed. In other words, some require more consideration than others.

The fire is a huge bump that will require much consideration, and yet, since I believe in the Lord of the Impossible, I believe that something life-transforming in positive ways can come out of it.

Moving God

June 28, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                             June 28, 2012



This week Colorado has been on fire!

About a dozen fires in different parts of the state. For me, it became too real when my wife, youngest daughter, and I stood on a hillside a couple of blocks from our house and watched the fires that were raging on the other side of the city, less then ten miles away.

One naysayer used the fires to proclaim that God was raining down fire on godlessness. It seems that blanket statements like that are often uttered with conviction…and little forethought. If God was raining fire down on us, why just the west side of the city? Does that mean that there is a higher level of spirituality on the east side?

We frown on such prophetic indictments, because they seem to be voiced as if they are the very words of God.

And yet, most of us…all of us…at one time or another have scratched our heads over why God didn’t move like a mighty wind in answering our prayers.

The struggle of prayer, as well as the adventure of prayer, is trying to get in rhythm with the movement of God, instead of determining how God should move. Fires ravaging homes drive us to our knees in prayerfully moving God to action. Many times his answer is right in step with our request; or perhaps our request is right in step with what he is about.

Our motives for praying often overshadow our belief in what God is capable of doing. It’s hard to trust God enough to not give him advice. It’s difficult to not light the runway of where we want him to land.

Some might ask the question, therefore, “Why even pray?” The answer is tucked inside the question, but worded a little differently.

Why DO you pray? Is it to avoid problems and crises? Is it to seek what God would have you be about? Is it to instruct the Instructor?

Recently I passed a church that had a sign out front promoting a new series that was beginning. The sign said “How to pray and get results!” It sounded like a class on how to get rich quick. Think about it! The word “pray” could have been replaced by a number of other words and still had the same objective.

Switch it with “invest”. Put in “sell on eBay”. Or “how to parent your kids and get results.”

Regardless of what you insert for “pray” it still falls into the line of trying to get something that I don’t have, or be somebody that I’m not.

When we approach prayer like that God becomes like a customer to impress so we can finish a sell. Perhaps that’s where a lot of us are in our relationship with him, trying to finish a sell.

Karen Klein Grace

June 22, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        June 22, 2012



What would you do if you had been sitting on a school bus and been mercilessly teased by some classmates about your height, or your weight, or your stuttering problem, or some other personal difficulty that had a way of making you feel like half of a person? Some of us went through experiences like that…eighth graders tormenting the new sixth grader on the bus…obnoxious varsity athletes saying inappropriate things to an introverted young lady…bullies making fun of the math whiz…sometimes the school bus was the worst part of the school day.

Most of us, however, were infuriated at the completely different level by the viral video of a 68 year old, hard-of-hearing, grandmother of eight lady named Karen Klein. A school bus monitor in New York, she was tormented worse than the worst belittling of any political campaign commercial by four middle school male students. A fifth student videoed the torture on his cell phone, and then posted it.

The story hit the major news telecasts, and a fund was started to send Karen Klein on a vacation. The fund has raised over $450,000. Obviously the incident touched two nerves- one of outrage and the other of generosity.

Karen Klein’s sense of forgiveness and grace has risen to the surface in the midst of this. Whereas, many of us might be mentally constructing some gallows, she has voiced her hope that no criminal charges be issued. Perhaps the most appropriate discipline, she suggests, would be a one year ban on riding the school bus. The school district is weighing what the consequences should be for the students involved.

The situation has raised to the surface something that doesn’t get talked about very often, and that is, generational discomfort and disrespect. Too often there are inappropriate words and actions said or done b y adults towards the youngest generations. Hang around a mall long enough and you’ll hear some adult griping about sagging pants, ear-ringed guys, or inappropriately dressed young ladies. But, on the other side, watch a young adult who gets stuck behind a senior citizen driving five miles under the speed limit and the reaction is unbelievable impatience.

“Karen Klein grace” is an element that someone should write a book about. A grace that forgives, and encourages caring for one another even after mistreatment has occurred. A grace that is open to hearing what is going on in the other person’s life, even though I have a physical hearing problem. It’s a grace that has been through the flames (Her son committed suicide ten years ago.), and knows the depths a life might fall to, but the hope that a life can also rise back to.

It’s interesting that this story broke the week after I preached about the passage in James 3:1-12, about the power and potential of our words. It’s a reminder of the damage they can cause, or the joy they can help create.

I’m sure that as Karen Klein journeys with her grand-kids to Disney World on a vacation that has been given to her, there will be a degree of sadness. To realize that the Magic Kingdom experience is because of the troubling words of a few adolescents will not be forgotten by her.

I pray that her sense of being a grace-filled and gracious person will remain as clear within her heart and life.


Perfection In An Imperfect World

June 21, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 21, 2012



Sports analysts are amusing. They break down situations, and assess blame as quickly as it takes to order and receive a Beach Club sandwich at Jimmy John’s. If Lebron makes an incredible shot it gets lost in the occurrence of a missed free throw thirty seconds later. If Russell Westbrook scores 45 points, it gets forgotten in the scrutiny of an ill-advised foul with thirteen seconds left in the game. If an official misses a foul call, there is a rush to make instant replay a part of every moment and every movement of the game.

There is a thirst for perfection in a game that is determined by bad decisions. But more than that, there is a sense of being insulted by the allowance of faults.

TV sports analysis shows are created out of this sense of being offended. Listen to what the guys in suits say. If Jesus had played basketball they would have even been upset at his perfect shooting form and never missing a foul shot. I’m sure the conversation would drift to something like “His team needs him to step up in more ways than just never missing a shot.”

Perfection means coming to a point of satisfaction, and sports analysts are never satisfied. They are like a food critic in a restaurant. Perfect food can never happen, because there was a water spot on my fork!

We desire to live lives that are error-free, but there always seems to be a sense that we’re falling short of that…because we are! There is also that sense of seeing the faults in the beauty. Most of us are critical people who see a tear in one of the petals of a flower instead of the flower itself.

Churches that pursue perfect worship services may miss the presence of the One they are worshipping. The perfect sermon may be sanitized of any whisperings of the Lord. The perfect VBS might miss the fact that one little boy is struggling with a stuttering problem that has started as a result of other crises in his life.

The imperfections of our lives need love and grace, and often simply a listening ear.

In the mean time we will continue to hear hyper-critical commentators and fans gone ballistic because someone missed a running left-hand hook shot. It will be made to sound like the world has been thrown off of its axis, and the end is near.

When you hear that “blast” just take a deep breath…hold it…and think of the perfection that is a part of the next exhale.

Baptized With Hail

June 7, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  June 7, 2012

Our church got baptized last night…in several places…none of which involved the baptismal pool! A hail storm hit the area…and hit it again…and again! It was a non-stop hail experience for about an hour and a half. Storm drains couldn’t keep up. Cars got stranded and flooded. At our building there was a few places where the outpouring was evident. Our resistance to being baptized was broken. We succumbed to the waters! We broke under the pressure of the heavenly tears!

I stood helplessly as the Baptism Blob flowed into our fellowship hall entryway like it was an invited guest.

Lord, can’t you send the rain in a more regulated manner?”

I got a water pitcher to help stem the tide, but, guess what! A 32 ounce water pitcher doesn’t do much against a wave. It’s like trying to protect yourself from the windstorm by holding a maple tree leaf in front of you.

Lord, where’s the handle of the faucet? Righty tighty…lefty loosey! Right! Right! Right!”

If it is possible for the Baptist Church to get baptized, isn’t it also possible for the people who come in contact with the ministry partners of the Baptist Church to be baptized. Do we have a picture of people flooding to be baptized, because they’ve met, experienced, and accepted the Savior who is also Lord?

Can we pray for the day that the proclamation of the gospel will be so intense that like those who encountered Peter in Acts 2, we will have people saying “What shall we do?”

And Peter replied “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38)

Would we welcome such a spiritual awakening? Or would we tend to say, “Listen! Some of you are going to have to come back later! There’s too many of you who want to know who Jesus is!” Please pick a number!”

Our cynicism of such a scene ever happening smacks of our belief in a God who sprinkles, but never pours. Our doubts grow out of a religious experience that tends to be void of God-moments and seasoned with a drizzle of spirituality.

Like my helplessness over uncontrolled rain waters, may we surrender to the showers of the Spirit!