Posted tagged ‘Balaam’

Talking To An Ass

March 10, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        March 10, 2016


This morning I read the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24. Let’s be honest! It’s a weird story!  Balaam had a reputation. Those he blessed were blessed, and those he cursed were cursed. As this story goes, Balak, king of Moab, wants Balaam to come and curse the Israelites.

Balaam inquires of the Lord, who tells him “No go!”

But then Balak sends a more distinguished group of emissaries to ask Balaam once again to come and curse the Israelites. This time God says “Okay!”

Balaam saddles up his donkey to head on the journey to where Balak is, but God gets angry (Numbers 22:21) and his angel appears in the road with a sword ready to kill Balaam. The donkey veers to the side, and, in so doing, saves Balaam’s life.

This happens three times, and each time Balaam beat his ass! What he can’t see, his donkey sees clearly.

After the third time, and the third beating, the scripture says that God gave speech to the donkey (Numbers 22:28).

And then Balaam starts talking to the ass!

Over the years I’ve talked on a daily basis to the cats we’ve had as pets. I’m also prone to talk to the drivers of cars that cut in front of me even though my windows are closed. In each of those situations, however, I don’t expect dialogue with the one I’m talking to.

With Balaam the story never hints that he is surprised that his trusted means of transportation is having a heated conversation with him. It’s a story with two asses, one by nature, and the other as a result of actions and bone-headed decisions.

It’s Mr. Ed before his time!

And then God opens Balaam’s eyes to see what his trusted donkey had been seeing, and Balaam realizes, pardon the phrase, that his ass had saved his ass!

Like I said, it’s a weird story, but there are a lot of things that each one of us do that also don’t make sense!

Old Voices With New Sound

May 9, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   May 9, 2012


One of my closest friends in ministry is Tom Bayes. He, Chuck Moore, and I (Wolfe) met together for lunch every other Thursday for several years when we were all pastoring churches in the Lansing, Michigan area. We referred to ourselves as “The BMW Lunch Group” (Bayes, Moore, Wolfe).

Tom has a little southern twang to his voice that is distinctive. He and I were roommates on the first trip to Israel that both of us were on. He harassed me in humorous ways about the fact that I was only bringing back a pack of caramel candies to my wife from the Holy Land.

Tom and I talked on the phone about three weeks ago for a solid hour. He sounded like…Tom!

Last week I got a call on him that I couldn’t answer at the time, so I called him back a while later. The voice on the other end wasn’t Tom. It sounded like an 80 year old cowboy sitting around a campfire eating beans and chewing tobacco. It wasn’t his voice.

He asked me how I was doing.

“Fine…do you know who you are talking to?”

“Sure…Bill Wolfe.”

“And this is Tom Bayes?”


“Tom Bayes in Illinois.”

Chuckle. “Yes.”

“Man, it just doesn’t sound like you.”

Our conversation went on. He was telling me a couple things about his wife, Diane. But it felt uncomfortable, because I know Tom’s voice and this didn’t sound like him. Finally, after just a few minutes I made some excuse about needing to be some place, and we ended the conversation.

The thing is, it was Tom. The problem, or the change agent if you will, was Verizon or AT&T. The connection made him sound different. I was used to him just sounding one way. (Of course, I never thought about the possibility that he sounded the same. It was my hearing that had changed.)

As people of God our hearing is often tuned in to a spiritual monotone voice. We can only hear one thing, one note, one voice, one way. One is a number that is used in Scripture quite often to talk about unity, focus, purpose, and wholeness, but we often play it out by thinking that the voice of God gets heard in only one way. When the voice is different than what we’ve been accustomed to it becomes just a little bit too weird.

In Scripture, Abraham heard from three visitors, Moses from a bush that was blazing, Balaam from his mode of transportation, Mary from an angel, Joseph from an angel in a dream, Elijah from a gentle whisper. The way God communicates his message is always truth, but in a multitude of forms.

Can we hear in new ways?

I’ll admit that it was tough to hear my old friend Tom with a new voice. Spiritually speaking, however, I believe you can teach and old church how to hear in new ways.