Archive for July 2016

Kids At Church Camp

July 19, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              July 18, 2016

                                      

A number of years ago Art Linkletter hosted a TV show entitled Kids Say The Darnedest Things. The host would ask an assortment of questions to four or five children sitting on the stage. Their answers were often unexpected and hilarious. That’s what made the daytime show such a hit for a number of years.

This week I’m one of the supervisors at a church camp. In that capacity I have the opportunity to observe what kids are doing and saying. It has been awesome!

Whereas middle and high school campers are concerned about things like fashion, who is in their room or cabin, make-up, hair styles, and not looking stupid…elementary age kids are in a totally different frame of mind.

On the first night the camp director had to make it a point to tell the kids to not lick the camp bell. Evidently a few had already ventured into that taste sensation! It makes you wonder how they ever even thought of doing it? What kind of conversation brought a few boys to the point of seeing what the bell tasted like?

Today there was a debate going on between three campers. My friend Rich told me about it. It went something like this:

“Yes you can drink Cheetos!”

“No, you can’t!”

“Yes, you can!”

“How?”

“You put some Cheetos into a blender, add water, mix it all up, and then drink it!”

Drinking Cheetos…not one of those cocktail party topics that comes up, but with young kids you never know!

And think of it! Was one of them at home one day this summer, both parents away at work, and the child got bored so he decided to mix up some Cheetos with water? What was the seed for such an idea?

I walked around during the elementary “Canteen” time. Canteen takes place at the camp’s snack shack, and is a chance for the campers to buy a can of pop or ice cream or candy. I watched one young girl with a smile as wide as Kansas as she held a can of Pepsi in one hand and an ice cream bar in the other. Sometimes kids get to make decisions at camp that would probably fall outside of the permissible at home.

But tonight these same kids who talk about Avenger super heroes, Kona Ice, and the fast-paced game called Oct-a-ball, were invited to wash one another’s feet, and most of them willingly did it. There was a powerful spiritual lesson in the act…kind of a church camp version of learning by doing…and they grasped the meaning in the doing.

Many of them are missing their moms and dads, but are also experiencing that they can still be safe and okay in a strange new place surrounded by people who will walk alongside them…as they hike to the top of Soldier’s Peak; sit beside them… at a nighttime campfire; and laugh with them…as the next darnedest thing is said!

The “Uh” Moments

July 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          July 18, 2016

                                         

My life has been littered with moments of extreme stupidity. Like when I tried to compliment one young lady I was attending college with. Never make comments about a young lady’s figure on the first date…or second date for that matter. I said something that gave her the impression that she was flat-chested and big in the hips. My intent was to tell her that she was slim in the waist-line and nicely-proportioned in the bust-line!

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

It was one of those moments when the incensed look on her face made me go “Uh!” The date ended quickly after that. In case you’re wondering…and are really slow in perceiving things…there was not a second date!

“Uh moments” are those times when we realize how error-prone, insensitive, or clueless we really are.

I’ve had a lot of those “Uh moments” with God. Times when I doubted his majesty, occasions where I’ve missed his hand in the midst of events, trials when I’ve wandered on my own.

I was thinking about that the other day as I was reading some scripture stories. Scripture is populated with “Uh moments.” For example, Moses stood before God with his excuses about not being qualified to go and speak to Pharaoh. Although “Uh…” is not a word that the stammering Moses uses, it can be easily lip-synched into his mental verbiage at the end of the discussion.

Martha had an “Uh moment” with Jesus when she moaned and groaned to Jesus about her brother.

“Master!” she said, “If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died!”

Knowing Martha’s opinionated personality, I don’t think those words were said to Jesus with a soft understanding voice. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life, and that the one who believes in him will live even though he dies.” Martha gives kind of a half-hearted “okay…” to him. They proceed to the tomb of her brother and Jesus tells those around it to remove the stone.

Martha’s housecleaning experience has her then say to Jesus, “By this time there’s a stench! He’s been dead four days!” Like an obnoxious adolescent wanting her parents to get a life, it’s like Martha is saying to Jesus “HHHeellllloooo!” And Jesus looked her in the eye and says, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

And Martha said, “Uhhh…”

Our “Uh moments” come when our doubts are completely doused by a shower of God’s power, like the 450 prophets of Baal being completely embarrassed by the prophet Elijah. Our “Uh moments” also come when we experience a tapestry of God’s artistic touch. This week I’m at a church camp outside of Woodland Park, Colorado. I’m overwhelmed by the view of Pike’s Peak and surrounding forests and peacefulness. I stand on the deck each day and literally say “Uhhh…”

“Uh moments” remind us of our humanity and mortality, and they also nudge us with the assurance of the love of God.

God loves me no matter what, no matter my capacity to doubt him and no matter whether I say the wrong words to the wrong person at the wrong time. He loves me despite myself!

And to that my lower jaw drops open and I resemble Jim Carey in the movie Dumb and Dumber with the one syllable grunt…”Uhhh…”

A False Sense of Reality

July 16, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                  July 16, 2016

                                     

I’ve been watching a lot of the NBA Summer League games on TV this past week. New draft choices playing alongside D-League players and undrafted free agents, it is an entertaining experience. Next summer I’m thinking about going to Las Vegas with my son and taking in a few of the games being played.

Last night I watched some rim-rocking slams, long-distance threes, and running left hooks.

And then, feeling the energy, I went out in our driveway with “the rock”, as we call the basketball, and started shooting from the corner. I shoot from the corner in our driveway because it slopes down. It’s like an automatic ball return!

As I dribbled the ball and got into my shooting motion reality hit me! Reality came in the form of my right knee whining as it bent…and screamed as it started to unbend! It was the meeting of my mind with my knee and my knee won. Sixty-two year old knees that have run a few marathons, run thousands of miles on asphalt pavements with some of the old running shoes we used to wear, and played years and years of basketball, are knees that now succeed in daily coups against the rest of my body. I say “Let’s play some hoop down at the Y!” and my knees say “I don’t think so!” They are like stubborn octogenarians who refuse to drink their Ensures!

My life seems to have increasing times of false senses of reality. What I envision happening gets a revised plan. It’d like a teenager about to get his first car. He searches the internet web sites, looking at Camaro’s, Jeeps, BMW’s, high-powered Mustangs, and man-sized trucks, and then his parents present him with a gift-wrapped Ford Escort with strips of duct tape on it in different places.

Dreams…expectations…assumptions…and then there comes the reality!

My dream is to slam dunk! My reality is that you can now barely fit one piece of typing paper under my feet when I elevate. The positive however is that it doesn’t take me nearly as long to return to the ground.

Our lives are filled with what we think and what is real.

Remember a time in your growing up years when you had a crush on a certain person and you believed the attraction was mutual. Perhaps you even envisioned in your mind those walks in the park when you would be holding hands, embracing in the shadows of the front porch where parents could not see…and then the reality coming in the form of information that there wasn’t a mutual attraction, and, in fact, you were to leave the other person alone. Stay away! Sometimes reality is like getting slapped in the face with the end of a wet towel that snaps you.

Those are moments in our lives that, plain and simple, just suck!

My knees are just one indication, one painful reminder, that things change. Life is a journey of adjustments. Those adjustments come through afflictions as well as learnings. They come as a result of years of doing something that has left us weary and disillusioned; and they come as we experience the cresting of a new hill that shows us something completely new that we might consider attempting.

Most of us have visited that false sense of reality at one time or another. It comes in a job performance evaluation, or a frank conversation with a trusted friend. It is often hard to hear.

Back to my knees! I shot a few shots, listened to a few internal knee screams, and then went back to the couch. My right knee especially said “This is where you belong!”

I sighed and then watched a 22 year old do a reverse slam dunk on TV!

Jesus Coffee: Part 5

July 15, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                       July 15, 2016

                                

I waited for an explanation. Jesus looked at me and then he said, “Everyone is wrong at one time or another. There is a difference between being wrong about a decision, or even an action, and being wrongly evil.”

“Explain a little bit more for me.”

“When you said those words to your wife that were insensitive and hurtful you knew that at the core of your being that you were wrong. If you lied to someone that is a wrong that can be righted through confession and repentance.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming.”

“However-“

“Okay, cross me up with a however!”

“However…there is an evil that needs to be identified for what it is. There is a wrong that needs to be called for what it is…pure evil.”

“Like?”

“Racism is pure evil.”
“So a racist is someone who is pure evil.”

“No…a racist who is COMPLETELY close-minded is pure evil. Someone who is a racist but can be brought to a point where he or she recognizes the wrong of their position is different.”

“And when you encounter that what do you do? Throw some holy water on the person, hold the cross in front of you and say “Be gone, Satan!”?

“You recognize evil for what it is, and the wrongness that it brings to the world. There are some people who have sold out to the Deceiver. I wish there was a nice way to put it, but there isn’t.”

“Here’s a hard question then. If I have a longing to be loved at the core of my being what’s to keep me from yielding to the wrongly evil in order to be loved?”

“Great question! You must remember who the Lover of your soul is. The Deceiver is the lust-er of your soul. Your Father God is the Lover of your soul. Intimacy with the Lover of your soul is the greatest protection against the lust-er of your soul. Distance from the Lover raises your vulnerability to being swayed by the lust-er.”

“That sounds like a delicate balance.”

“It can be if you allow it.”

Our time was ending. The temperature of my second cup of coffee had dropped to lukewarm.

“You need to go, Bill?” Jesus asked.

“Yes, it’s time to get on with the business of the day. There’s that word again…business…busyness.”

“Be safe. Let me know when you want to share a cup of Joe together again. You know I’m always available.”

“Yes, Lord!” I got up from my seat and said to him, “You know I love you, don’t you?”

“Yes! I know…and I will always love you even when…you forget!”

Jesus Coffee: Part 4

July 13, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         July 13, 2016

          (Parts 1-3 of this ongoing conversation can be viewed at “wordsfromww.com”)                                      

                                  

I brought the cup with a new rising of steam back to the table and sat back down in my chair. “You didn’t need anything?” I asked Jesus.

“No, I’m fine.”

“Where were we?”

“You were looking inside of yourself and making a discovery. You said you believe that at the core of your being is the longing to be loved.”

“Yes, I’m not sure that is my final answer, but I think that hits on it. I long to be loved.”

“So what do you think that means?”

“I think it means I have a need to be seen as a person of value, to be appreciated, and to belong.”

“And on the other side of things, perhaps you do not want to be considered worthless, cast aside, and hated.”

“I guess that is a fair summary.”

“And in saying you long to be loved…you have hit on what is at the core of most people.”

“Do I get a gold star or a tall trophy?”

“No, but you do get to come to that point of understanding that may help you as you journey forward.”

“A trophy would help me remember more.”

“Sorry!”

“But go back to what you said a few minutes ago. Authenticity is the convergence of who I am with who people say I am.”

“Right.”

“There are a few people that I know who don’t really care for me. How does that play out with who I am?” If I have a longing to be loved, why don’t I get along with everyone?”

“A simple answer…because of the fallen nature of the world. Perfection in our relationships went out the window with the arrival of sin.”

“And a more complicated answer?”

“You’re screwed up most of the time.”

“Thanks! That doesn’t sound complicated, that sounds harshly matter-of-fact!”

“Well, you see, Bill, that longing to be loved that is at the core of who you are, often gets pushed to the side by the longing to be right. Being right carries a spirit of superiority in its backpack.”

“But what if I am right and the other person is blatantly wrong? Am I to just ignore what is wrong?”

“No and yes!”

“Don’t give me that, Jesus. Didn’t you once say “Let your yes be yes and your no be no?”

“Glad to see you’re familiar with my sayings. What I’m saying is that when there is a wrong the righting of the disagreement should be the healing of the relationship, not one person being superiorly right and the other being humiliatingly wrong. Ever had a disagreement with your wife?”

“Sure, many times over!”

“Do you remember the resolving of the disagreement and what happened?”

“Yes, I usually gave into her.”

“I doubt that. Do you remember a time when the two of you were in different corners of an issue and you came together to a common understanding, compromise, or even a place of forgiveness?”

“Yes, I remember a time when I said something to her that was totally insensitive and she lashed out at me.”

“And what happened?”

“I apologized.”

“But there was something else that happened in the midst of that. You sensed that you had wounded her deeply. She has a need to be loved just as you do, and you knew that you had bruised her at the core of her being.”

“You’re right! I was ashamed of what I had said, and I longed to turn back time for a few minutes and have the scene played out in a completely different way.”

“You longed to make the relationship whole again, didn’t you?”

“Absolutely! And after I apologized about what I had done to her I just wanted to hold her.”

“You longed to be loved by your lover again.”

“And that’s why that moment stands out in my mind so clearly. I remember that coming back together, that reconnecting after the forgiveness and healing…the grace she showed me that was not deserved.”

“But what if the other person is blatantly wrong. You said not to ignore it.”

“I did.” He looked at me with a hint of sadness and paused.

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Jesus Coffee: Part 3

July 12, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            July 12, 2016

                                        

(This week “Words from WW” is a continuing coffee conversation between W.W. and Jesus. To read Parts 1 and 2 go to “wordsfromww.com”)

“Pharisees for Jesus…you’re right! It doesn’t flow out of your mouth like Jews for Jesus.” I took a sip of my coffee that had lost its steam.

“Kind of like ‘Criminals for Christ’! The only attention it draws is not positive attention.”

“Bigots for Baptists!”

“Turn or Burn Peace Advocates!”

“Pentecostal Prostitutes! I guess there are a lot of titles for groups that it’s just as well that they don’t exist.”

“Exactly! Let me ask you a personal question.”

I hesitated even as I was saying okay.

“What name or title would people give to describe who you are, or, better yet, to describe what you’re about?”

“Wow! That’s a little deep, isn’t it?”

“You must have some idea.”

“I guess I haven’t really thought about it too much. It’s not one of those things that occupies my mental pondering.”

“Maybe not, but it’s a question that you have based most of your life on.”

“How so? If I don’t think about it how do I base my life on it?” I recognized that I asked the question with a bit of indignation in my tone.

“What I’m saying is that most of what you do and what you say arises out of the unspoken question you hold inside of you. That is, how do I want people to see me? If I want to be seen as a jerk the things I say and do spill out of that. If I want to be seen as a saint I consider my words and actions accordingly.”

“Wait a minute, Jesus! If what you’re saying is true where is there true authenticity? What is my true self if who I am is based on how I want others to see me?”

“In other words, what is at the core of your being?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“And is your core being described with the same words that people describe you? That’s how you know whether you are living authentically or not.”

“Yes, I think that would be correct.”

“So if you don’t know who you really are it’s impossible to live authentically?”

“Well, impossible is not a word that is usually associated with you, but I’d give a qualified yes to that.” I had a sense of fear about where this conversation was going, about what I might HAVE to discover about myself.”

“So who are you when no one is looking? What do you think, what do you say to yourself, what do you hope for? Here’s another defining question! What is the longing of your soul?

“Good Lord, Jesus! You keep asking me even more questions that are hard to answer.”

“Knowing who you are happens to be a journey powered by reflection.”

“I’m…I’m a person who longs to be loved.”

“Is it hard to say those words?”

“They sound so simple, so uncomplicated, and yet…yes, it’s hard to say them.”

“Would you like to get a refill before we go any further?”

“Absolutely! I need another cup to help me move ahead.”

(TO BE CONTINUED)