Archive for the ‘Community’ category

Being An Idiot Requires Idiocy

July 17, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      July 18, 2018

                             

I’ve done a few things in my life that required me to be a citizen of the land of Stupid! They were words uttered “dumbly!” Or actions that were void of all intelligence! 

I remember telling one young lady, who I was enjoying a first date with, that she was nice…that she was small in certain areas of her body and nicely shaped in others. She took it that I meant she was small breasted and then okay in other body proportion. It was our last date together! I still slap myself as I think of how my words of flattery floated like a lead balloon!

We all have memories of our journeys to Stupid! Most of the time no one gets harmed in the episode, but sometimes stupidity leaves its mark on us. Like a few years ago when John Smoltz, who was pitching for the Atlanta Braves at the time, tried to iron his team jersey…while he was still wearing it! Can you hear the sizzle? 

Or the young girl who thought Nair was a kind of hair shampoo! Oops! Can you say “Nice shine”?

There are some people in this world, however, who seem to enjoy living in Stupid. One gets the impression that they stay up late at night pondering how they can look like idiots the next day. 

Every time you think LaVar Ball has moved to a room without a Stupid view he reemerges with something to confirm he’s still a resident. Last week he said that he could have beat LeBron James one-on-one back in his hey day. He said LeBron was too weak! Ball played one season of college basketball back in 1987-88 at Washington State, where he averaged just over two points a game. 

LaVar Ball, however, has a way of convincing people to join his trek to idiocy. His Big Baller Brand sneakers were priced at $495. The Better Business Bureau, however, has given him an “F” rating on how he has handled the selling of those shoes. His Junior Basketball League for young men who seem to have been convinced to bypass college has been an expedition based on ambitious dumb ideas. 

LaVar runs for re-election to be Mayor of Stupid about once a month!

What’s funny about idiots is that they often try to convince people that everyone else is an idiot except them! A friend of mine recently was offered temporary lodging by a family. He needed a place to stay, and a free place was even better, but the people who gave him a bed were “flat earth people!” They were staunch believers in the idea that the world is flat. All evidence to the contrary, including astronauts circling the globe, was seen simply as a government conspiracy to cover up the truth. My friend weighed the options: finding a place and pay rent or being provided a free bed tagged with the obligation to listen to the flat earth people. He could stand listening to it for a month and then he had to get out of there to save his sanity.

Idiots have their own version of what is true and what is reality. Don’t bother them with the facts and film footage!

There’s a difference between a dumb idea and a dumb belief. Years ago I had a carton of Coca-Cola stolen out of the backseat of my car. I hadn’t locked the car, so it was stupid of me to forget to do so. A former neighbor of ours, on the other hand, never locked his car or rolled up the windows. His reasoning? If someone was going to steal it he didn’t want them to break the glass and get it all over the inside of the vehicle! I stood there with my mouth wide open as I heard the reasoning!

I’m sure I’ll visit “Never Never Intelligent Land” a few more times before people stare at me in my casket, but I try to have my visits remain brief. Kind of like the Cedar Point Amusement Park ride, Top Thrill Dragster! Always reconsider getting on an amusement park ride that has bleachers alongside it for people to be able to sit and watch. It was stupid to ride it, but at least it was only 13 seconds long!

Church Camp Journal

July 15, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           July 15, 2018

                              

SATURDAY

Dear Journal,

I arrived at church camp safely this afternoon. Things looked normal. 

SUNDAY

Dear Journal,

Normalcy disappeared about 2:00. Kids of different sizes and ages arrived, most with their parents. Some parents were tearing up at the idea of missing Little Missy and Mini-Mike for a week. Others teared up at the temporary freedom they would be experiencing. One set of parents were taking a week’s vacation since the kids were gone. They would go back to work once the kids returned to the roost!

Young campers stared into the uncertainty of a whole week of following the instructions and schedule of adults who were strangers to them. What bizarre things would they be forced to do…eat roasted bugs, eat all of their vegetables, take a shower and brush their teeth every day?

Anxiety seemed to spread over the registration area like peanut butter on sliced bread! 

MONDAY

Dear Journal

It’s amazing how easily it is to figure out which of the middle school boy campers has reached puberty and which haven’t! A couple of the boys have been following a group of girls around like flies on honey. Other boys are more interested in figuring out mathematical equations and different Rubik’s Cubes.

One boy, who has spent the first day salivating over the girls, wears tee shirts around that announce the fact that he’s a wrestler…a Samson in the midst of the group of Delilah’s, muscle mass more important than mental capacity.

I grabbed the attention of the middle school campers in my first talk to them by microwaving an egg that was still in the shell. A couple of other things done for shock value communicated to them that this was going to be a different week. I even got Salivating Samson to sit there with his mouth wide open out of disbelief.

TUESDAY

Dear Journal,

  A couple of the boys are starting to smell like…middle school boys! They have not familiarized themselves with the showers in their dorm. The buzzing of flies around them is a clue that they aren’t picking up on. Thankfully we have a swimming time this afternoon. We just need to make sure they get in the pool and go all the way under the water…for a while!

I used shock value again this morning by throwing a full glass of milk on one of the counselors as I began a talk on serving others. She knew it was coming, but didn’t realize how cold it was! Oh well!

WEDNESDAY

Dear Journal,

Today we go rock climbing. For several of the campers who have never rock climbed before they’re wondering if it is going to be like climbing the monkey bars at their old grade school playground. 

And then they saw the red rock formations at Garden of the Gods that they would be climbing up and there was a lot of gulping and eyes wide opened! Samson saw it as an opportunity to impress the Delilah’s who pretended to be interested. 

A good number of campers who didn’t think they could do it were completely pumped when they DID do it. 

THURSDAY

Dear Journal,

Today we climbed Soldier’s Peak…all of us! No one was left behind! One boy’s nickname is now “Crockpot” because that’s about how fast he gets things done. He would be the kid at the mall whose parent has one of those “kid leashes” attached to him so he doesn’t get lost. 

But even he made it and delighted in the view from the top. I talked to all of them about mountain and valleys, and the fact that if there weren’t valleys we wouldn’t appreciate the mountain top experiences, and that God is closely beside us as we travel through the valley experiences of our lives.

Crockpot made it back down in time for lunch!

FRIDAY

Dear Journal,

The week is coming towards the finish line. A moose wandered through camp this afternoon and cooled off for a few minutes in the pond smack dab in the middle of camp. 

At certain times during this week it seems like we’ve also wandered into a strange place, but then the cool waters of God’s grace have saturated our uncertainties. 

In our last evening together the tears begin again. This time, however, they are tears because of departure, tears of sweet sorrow. They’ve become a “group of kids on a journey together.” Now they’re being asked to say goodbye. 

Samson gets hugs from the Delilah’s he’s been hoping for all week. Crockpot gets bombarded with hugs so fast he can’t keep up. The Rubik’s Cube boys seek me out. They’ve always been seen as being weird and nerdy, but this week they were loved and valued. The middle school boys who had not frequented the showers smelled of Old Spice and Axe as they gave me high fives. 

SATURDAY

Dear Journal,

And then it was over! The dust trails of the vans and wagons marked the departure of the campers. It was a week of memories, of laughter and tears, of hopes and the squelching of fears. The hopes were that everyone would be back together a year from now. Amen!

A 64 Year Old Church Camper

July 7, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          July 7, 2018

                                  

This afternoon I leave for church camp, a 64 year old hanging out for a week with a bunch of kids bordering either side of the age of thirteen or smack dab on it. During this week, which will occur at an altitude of 8,500, I’ll probably be a target for shaving cream, dumped buckets of ice water, and the “ice cream” in the human sundae, complete with all the applicable toppings.

My role is to pastor this mass of hyperactivity, talk to them about Jesus, and listen for the hidden pain just as much as the easily heard laughter. 

The first day will be about breaking the ice…without getting hurt in the process! Having coached middle school sports since I was in my forties (WHAT!!) I know there will be the energetic campers, the quiet campers, campers who were there last year and looking forward to seeing kids they haven’t seen since last July, and campers who have never been to a camp and are terrified of their own shadows. 

And the old guy will attempt to lead them alongside Jesus! Camp can be an emotional experience, but emotions can sometimes can be their own god. They can be like the air that is blubbering out of a balloon that takes you in one direction and suddenly the other way.

I love middle school kids. You can laugh with them, discover their individual talents and how each kid is unique. You can use their gullibility and their boldness to forge lasting friendships. The painful memories and the hilarious happenings can both strengthen the sense of care and concern.

This week a life could be changed, redirected, or even saved. This week a kid who doesn’t believe in himself can have someone tell him he’s awesome, he’s loved, and his life will make a difference. 

And if that means I get smeared with shaving cream everyday, so be it! 

Hide and Slowly Seek!

July 5, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              July 5, 2018

               

                                          

“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith- and this is not from yourselves-it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8, NIV)

I played “hide and seek” with my granddaughter a couple of days ago. Corin, who turned three at the end of March, doesn’t quite get the strategy of the game yet, which made it even more fun and funny.

She went to hide as I counted. As soon as I tromped up the steps to the second floor of her family’s house I could hear the giggling. She was hiding underneath the covers of her parents’ bed. Three year olds have a very difficult time not making any movements. The bedspread kept moving like a fan was blowing on it. I slowly made my approach, talking the whole time, until I lifted the covers to a bundle of screams and laughter.

And then she hid again! I went downstairs to count to some random figure. 

“Ready or not here I come!”

Distant giggles.

My heavy feet thundered on each step to indicate my ascent up the stairs. “I wonder where she might be?” She was hiding…under the covers in her parents’ bed…again!

What does a granddad do when his granddaughter makes it so easy to find her? He pretends to not see her, to loudly announce that he’s looking in other rooms and places which causes her to giggle even more.

Slowly I narrow down my search to her special spot, and then I make mention of the lump underneath the bedspread (pause for more giggles) before throwing the covers back to reveal her again. 

Third time…same hiding place!

Fourth time…you guessed it!

Fifth time…yes! Each time I tried my hardest to be blind. I even became more creative in my ability to not see, checking inside toilets, taking a peek inside a lamp shade, and gazing behind a picture hanging on the wall. Each look was announced to the giggler, before discovering her for the fourth time…fifth time in the exact same spot, even the same side of the bed!

That. not occurred to me, is a picture of the  grace and forgiveness of God! He sees our hiding tendencies, our covering up of our secrets, and he still graces us with his forgiveness.

Never once did I say to Corin, “Again! You’re hiding in the same place again! This is getting monotonous!” I searched and found. When we hide our hearts God seeks.

Although God does not enjoy our hiding from him he will always seek us, always forgive us, and always respond to our staying away with grace-filled drawing close…even when we return to the same dark place again and again.

Slow Down Day

June 26, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 26, 2018

                                          

adult fashion footwear ground

Photo by Jens Mahnke on Pexels.com

Tomorrow, June 27, is Bike to Work Day in Colorado Springs. Since I’m retired, plus I don’t own a bicycle, I won’t be participating. I’m all for the idea, but I’m not sure a bike helmet will protect someone from the local Nascar drivers heading to work.

I’ve got another idea! How about a “Slow Down Day”? A day when people commit to driving the speed limit or UNDER IT!

I just shake my head at the number of drivers who seem to be in a hurry to get to the next stoplight before anyone else. They are over-populating the roadways more than the rabbits are taking over our neighborhood. 

About two months ago I was sideswiped by a man in a man-sized pickup truck who thought he would thunder over two lanes to the exit. He said he didn’t see my dark blue CRV with all the daylight around us! Thankfully no one was hurt…and I had a witness who pulled up beside my vehicle and said “I saw the whole thing!” I’m not bitter (Okay! Maybe a little bitter!), just agitated. His sense of hurry resulted in hours of my times in the next three weeks or so taking care of repair details, getting a rental car, talking to insurance company people.

Slow down!

One of our insightful neighborhood residents has posted signs at each of our subdivision’s entrances with the number “25” in large print, and also put these words above the number: “Drive like your own children live here!”

God had it right when he instructed his people to have a day of rest each week, a day of slowing down for reflection and renewal. It was law, but it was also therapeutic…kind of like someone in an art museum sitting and staring for a while at a sculpture!

So what if we had a Slow Down Day to the point that some bicycles whizzed by the cars and trucks? We’d know how the cyclists would feel all of the other days of the year. Instead of racing from work, what if people picked up the pace at work and took their time getting home?

Fast food restaurants could close their drive-thru lanes for the day. Jiffy Lube could keep their garage doors closed. Neighbors could schedule an evening walk together around the neighborhood. Baseball, the sport that has recently tried to speed up the game, could go back to its traditional ways of a nice and easy pace. Chess clubs could promote the game that takes thought and vision.

Slow Down Day! Churches could open their sanctuary doors for people to come and meditate! Doctors could slow down and talk to their patients. Families could sit at the dinner table and eat a meal that has been cooked slowly in the crock pot. 

Or…maybe a better idea is that people would just slow down a little bit each and every day so that everyone…everyone!…might feel a little more at ease with the flow of traffic and the flow of life!

Cheek Turning and Face Slapping

June 24, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 24, 2018

                                

Okay! I get it! People don’t agree with one another! I get that! Our country is polarized in about a thousand different ways. Having a difference of opinion is part of our history. Just go back and read about our founding fathers and the forming of the Constitution. I wouldn’t exactly characterize its writing as “synchronized wordsmithing.” By the grace of God they didn’t splinter into a dozen different directions and shout “Forget this!”

Good Lord! Baptists can’t agree on much! You know what they say about us Baptists (I’m an ordained American Baptist minister!)? Where there’s two Baptists there’s at least three denominations!

So…I get it! My own group of Christian journeyers are as different as each hair on my head. 

Jesus said something about turning the other cheek. His words were:

      “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”  (Matthew 5:39)

If someone does something unkind to you, or says something that is insulting, we refer to it as “a slap in the face.” Jesus answer was not to get even, not to seek revenge, but rather turn your cheek and let the insulter smack the other cheek. 

Not a widely practiced life principle!!!

Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, and her family were asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by the owner because the owner does not agree with the president’s policies and actions. 

I get that…the disagreement part, that is! Sanders left without incident. She took the slap in the face, BUT she had to go to Twitter and post about the incident, with a little jab at the owner in the midst of it. 

I don’t agree with either the owner’s initial slap or Sanders’ jab back. But both are representative of our cultural, political, and confused slants on life. We have become a retaliatory people, not just in our political venom, but in most areas of life. Jesus’ message focused on reconciliation. His keys words were grace, forgiveness, love, hope, peace, and justice. His message sought to heal brokenness, draw in the outcasts, give a voice to the powerless.

Respecting one another’s differences is a lost art. Instead of joining hands the overwhelming response is to punch the other person/side in the face.

I get it! Conservatives treat liberals with disdain, and liberals think conservatives are thugs. Others get pulled into the crossfire. 

There’s two enduring signs of hope in all of this. One is this! If the founding fathers could get it figured out so can we!

And second, if Jesus could turn the other cheek…the very God Incarnate!…I have hope that each one of us can too!

Cleaning Up The Migrant Kids Mess

June 22, 2018

JUNE 22, 2018

Messes happen. They are a part of our fallen (or spilled!) creation! I’ve spilled my coffee several times over the years. The worst thing, however, is to pretend that there is no mess! That the spilled coffee is just part of life and to either walk around it, step over it, or walk through it. (If you’ve ever been in a school cafeteria you’d be amazed at how many students will pretend spilled milk on the floor really didn’t happen!) What is the other option? Ahhh…clean it up! Get down on your hands and knees and take care of the mess! No parent tells their child who has just dumped his morning Cheerios to just pretend it’s not a problem.

No matter what your stance is about illegal aliens I’m going out on a limb here to say that most of us are at some degree of uncomfortableness with kids being separated from their parents. Even without factoring in the “media hype”, it’s disturbing. 

There’s always something troubling about intentionally separating children from their parents!

It’s a mess! A mess created by our yearning for a safe environment, our tendency to see our enemies as those who live outside our realm, and to push the powerless out of the way. The mess, in this case, has been swept to the side so not to be disruptive.

Like with my parents, however, when I made a mess I admitted it and took care of it. Perhaps the same thing needs to happen with the migrant children. We messed up. We admit it, and now we’re going to get down on our hands and knees and take care of the chaos we’ve brought into the lives of the people whose lives have been turned upside-down. 

The spills of our mistakes become permanent stains if they aren’t taken care of.