Archive for September 2015

What Sports Would Jesus Have Had Kids Play?

September 28, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 28, 2015


     Yesterday I officiated some 6th Grade Boy’s Basketball games. I don’t referee many youth games that are outside my church gym. I save myself for the high school and junior college seasons.

But our assignor needed help…and I was looking to shake some of the rust off so I put the whistle around my neck, donned “the stripes”, and laced up my shiny black officiating shoes.

It’s amazing how many parents get “demon-possessed” as they watch their sons play hoop. Accountant-types get crazy hair…psychiatrists display mental illnesses…pacifists reconsider their commitment to peace.

It made me consider what Jesus would have done? Better yet, what sports would Jesus have played? Even better, since Jesus is concerned about all children, what sports would he point the little ones towards…and which ones would he guard them against?

I’m tempted to answer that with two lists…the yes list and the no list…but I’m fight the temptation.

First of all, I think Jesus would have promoted team sports since the gospel is relational and his emphasis was on relationships. He emphasized to his disciples that they were to be on the same page…with him and with one another.

I think Jesus would have pointed people to the rowing team…synchronized, demanding, depending on one another. Jesus would have cheered the rowers.

Many sporting events in Jesus’ time were brutal…kind of like present-day ultimate fighting. The present-day of seeing someone get beat to a pulp is just gladiator flighting done in an arena with beer sales and public restrooms.

I would say that curling would be a point that Jesus would point kids to, but in the gospels there is that time he said, “…let him who is without sin throw the first stone.”

Instead I think “disc golf”, otherwise known as “frisbee golf” would be a favorite for him. The emphasis on staying on the narrow path would be emphasized.

Just as Jesus cleared the temple area of merchants and money-changers I think he would clear gyms of parents trying to relive their childhoods through their children who just want to have fun. Perhaps most sporting activities would be outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air instead of fortress gyms where people have to pay for the privilege of watching.

Don’t get me wrong! I think sports has great benefits and great teaching applications for life. That’s why I coach basketball! Kids can learn how to work together, how to play together, what is important and what is not nearly as important as some people say it is.

I think Jesus would encourage sports participation, but not selling out a child’s youth years to it.

The Coming of Gray

September 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 23, 2015


There is a young man on my middle school football team that jokes around with me everyday…and I mean everyday…at practice. We jab one another with teases and witty words. He really is a nice young man, and his main focus of kidding with me is my age. He comes at me from a “can you hear me” angle, from a “can you still run” poke, and, in recent days, my hair.

He’s right! In recent times my hair is getting more and more populated by gray. My scalp is starting to resemble a lawn trying to fight off the dandelions and crabgrass! The mirror that I stand in front of early in the morning has a deceptive light to it. I can’t really see the gray! Someone should market a mirror like that. It could be sold right next to the wrinkle cream!

Just as autumn is beginning to change the colors, the gray is coming to my highest personal point.

“How do I feel about that?” you ask.

I’m okay with it. It makes me realize that I haven’t taken a roadside rest from the journey of life. A friend of mine recently got his driver’s license renewed and they changed his hair color from brown to gray on the license. I’ve still got four years before that happens…since I just renewed about six months ago when the brown was still the dominant citizen of my head. (Although my license picture looks like I’m being booked for the county jail!)

Gray is okay! And I’m not going to try to avoid it. I’ve been fortunate. A few times I’ve had to show my license (Yes, the one where I look dazed and confused!) in order to get the senior citizen rate for a meal! It’s the other end of being “carded”, the one where you smile as you flip out the ID!

The more important question for me is how do I feel internally? How old do I feel in my spirit? How am I caring for my soul? What troubles me in the world, and in the church, is the amount of attention that gets paid to the outer shell and minimal reflection on my inner journey. When my spirit experiences the gray then I must step back and evaluate.

I’m recognizing periods of crankiness in my life. I’m usually not that way…ask my wife! When that “grump” appears it causes me to ponder what is going on. It’s a sign that I’m unsettled and usually means I need to get alone with God and have a little “Come to Jesus” session with him!

Scripture tells us that outer gray is a positive. Proverbs 16:31 says “Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of  righteousness.”

So…although I am cognizant of when I’m having spiritually gray periods, I’ll take some comfort in the fact that I’m weaving a crown on my head. My wife, Carol, might spoil the moment and say that I’ve already got a crown…it’s that bare spot on top of my scalp that I can’t see in the mirror!

The cruelty of truth!


The Pastor’s Nursery

September 20, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 19, 2015


When I walk into my office at the church I pastor I need to step around the rocking chair, and then side step the rocking horse. It’s an obstacle course to get to my desk. Avoid the squeaky rabbit and the weathered doll baby. Toddler toys are huddled together in a corner whispering about life…right behind the changing table.

Not a typical situation, but one that I’m adjusting to. Our roof leak over part of the usual nursery childcare area has caused multiple examples of improvising. For a couple of weeks the babies and toddlers are surrounded by Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, and Tozer. Perhaps the theology and examples of sacrifice will sink in!

Our nursery workers are scheming. I’ve heard them talking about switching my desk chair with the low-riding rocking horse. Nursery pranksters!

Adjusting. An essential part of being a community of faith is “adjusting.” Demanding preferences that are not rooted in God creates division and tension. Adjusting to the flow of the community enhances mission and ministry.

There are numerous opportunities for the fellowship of followers to practice a new spiritual discipline that I’ll call “yielding.” In the past it has been referred to in different ways…serving, fellowship, even worship. But kind of like the World History textbook we used to have in high school where you never quite got to the end of the book before summer vacation, “yielding” is that spiritual practice we never quite get to because of all the other things that we’re focusing on.

How do you yield? Put a rocking horse in your normal daily pathway and you’ll either kick it or take a side-step. We all need a few “rocking horses” in our lives, but especially in the tugging and pulling of a congregation.

Tomorrow morning when I open my office door and “Trigger” is hunched there ready to gallop it will make me think, and remember once again, that it’s not all about me!

When the roof leak situation has been remedied and the changing table goes back to the nursery down the hallway I may keep the horse for a while. It helps me keep perspective!

Being The Adult..Grandparent!

September 14, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                        September 14, 2015

                                        “Being The Adult…Grandparent!

Today is National Grandparent’s Day. I’m looking for discounts in different restaurants, but I’m not finding any. Obviously, grandparenting is seen as being a cake walk! Those in charge of making those determinations haven’t met my grandkids. The two older ones ask me questions that I can’t answer…and now run faster than I can! The youngest grandchild is still intellectually understandable.

She’s five months old!

Last Thursday, Reagan, my four year old granddaughter, had me come to “Grandparent’s Day” at her Pre-K class designed for four year olds. She showed me the ropes.

“Follow me, Granddad!” 

Like a lamb being led to slaughter…

She showed me her play areas, her creative stations, where she sits for large group time, and where she hangs her backpack. Whenever I would ask a dumb question she would roll her eyes at me…kind of like her mom used to do about two decades ago when she was a teenager.

Reagan is a four year old teenager!

She handed me her latest art creation, little pieces of paper fitted together into a heart shape with the words at the bottom “I Love You To Pieces!”

It’s now taped to the wall behind my desk at the office. There’s more than one place like the refrigerator to hang artwork from grandchildren!

Reagan escorted me to the outdoor play area and talked to me through a long tube…the modern version of two tin cans and string!

The teachers assembled the grandparents together and read a book to us as our grandkids stood guard. The book was insightful…How To Babysit Your Grandma. Reagan had committed it to memory. I’m looking forward to seeing her put the principles into practice next time she has Grammy flat on her back.

At the end of Grandparents morning, which, by the way, was only thirty minutes long, Reagan took me out to lunch. She offered to pay, but I told her to put her two little silver coins away and I’d take care of it.

It was a good time, a good connecting, and, in my granddaughter’s opinion, I behaved okay!

The Elevation of Cheap Shots

September 7, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   September 7, 2015


This past weekend a high school football official was blind-sided by one player and then speared by another during a game in Texas. Video footage of the incident quickly hit social media. A few moments before that two other players on the same team had been ejected. An investigation has been started.

Accusations began flying about what the official had done to precipitate such an attack, as if it made the actions justified. From the video it is apparent that the backsode collision was not an “oops” moment. In fact, it looks like the two players planned the attack and carried it out to perfection.

A few years ago at a high school basketball game in our area a parent bit one of the officials as he was leaving the court. Recently a soccer official of a men’s recreation league game…let me say that again…a men’s recreation league game, was killed as a result of being attacked a over-the-hill soccer player.

Having refereed high school basketball for thirteen years I know that the people in stripes don’t do it for the money. In our area a varsity game official gets $52. That $52 has been preceded by meetings, referee camps, clinics, rules meetings, and area meetings. Put all that together and it comes to a little less than minimum wage.

Some people argue that where there is competition there inevitably will be high emotions and intense reactions. Once again we rack up the list of excuses for people to act like lunatics.

I play hoop still, at sixty-one…and a half…at the local YMCA at 6:00 in the morning. Almost all of us have to go to work afterwards, but there have been a few guys who think it is the difference between life and death.

There’s been a few guys who have been ushered out of the gym. Our sarcastic sides tell those who have lost their grip on reality that there is are calls for them in the lobby from the Nuggets front office.

But then there are those who play for the fun of it, for the recreation, and laughter. Most of us know that we are has-beens or never-was’s…and we are okay with that. We go home to families who live us despite our lack of having a left hand and being a step slow on defense.

People need to be more like Mayberry, pretend that Floyd has a basketball court behind his barber shop or football field across the street.

When two high school players plan a team attack against a man with a whistle looking the other way it’s time to step back and ask ourselves what is going on?

The Closeness of Loss

September 6, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  September 6, 2015


There are certain events in life that leave us gasping for breath. Not “take your breath away”, but rather struggling to take the next breath.

In recent weeks I’ve had several people that I’ve known for years experience loss or sorrow that is so overwhelming that it is beyond words, and numbing to emotions.

When loss comes close to us we walk the valley of the shadow of death that seems to have no end. There is darkness ahead and memories behind.

Three of my former classmates at Judson College experienced this yesterday. One of them was my first roommate at the college; his first wife a good friend of mine; and her second husband my cross-country teammate and guy that I would “hang out with.” Their daughter and step-daughter was killed in a head-on car collision this weekend. What can you say to someone that experiences the tentacles of loss wrapped so tightly around their lives that their souls gasp in agony? There is nothing you can say to tell them it will be okay…because it won’t be okay!

When loss comes close it is a pain that keeps stabbing. Each Christmas it pricks the memories of the mind, the remembering of days gone by, the tragedy of a future forfeited.

Followers of Jesus are the worst at walking with someone who is grieving…and also the best. We sometimes convey trite spiritually-sounding words like “She’s in a better place!” and “All things work for good!” But we also are prone to “be with’ the grieving…just to be…to mourn with the mourners and walk silently with those who are hearing the loud aches of loss.

When loss comes close we come to know in a very intimate personal way the reality of David’s words “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When i was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out untiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered you, O God, and I groaned; i mused, and my spirit grew faint.” (Psalm 77:1-3, NIV)

Interestingly enough, yesterday we had a call from Colorado Springs Police Department. My wife carol could not get to the phone before the call ended, and the CSPD did not leave a message. She immediately called me and I called the police department to see what the call was about. As soon as Carol ended her call to me she went to her knees in prayer. Her thoughts were about one of our children and grandchildren. Had something happened? As I called the police department my hands were shaking. When I finally got someone on the line she told me it was concerning an elderly person who had gone missing from an eldercare place close to us.

But our thoughts were of the closeness of loss!

My friends are experiencing the closeness of loss that will change their lives forever…and I weep with them!