Posted tagged ‘Black Forest fire’

Being The New Old Kid On the Block

June 15, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 15, 2013


Last night I helped coach the girls’ basketball team of the new high school I’m be coaching at this coming year. Since I’ve coached at Liberty High School the last five years it was a little strange having a team that does not wear red. In fact, being color-blind, I’m still not sure what the colors are of my new school, The Classical Academy (TCA).

The other strange thing is that I had never met any…nada…zippo…of the girls before the first game. With the Black Forest fire this week both of our open gyms had to be canceled. It’s a little weird to walk up to a young player and say “Hi! I’m Coach Wolfe. I’ll be helping to coach you this year. What’s your name and what grade will you be in? Oh, and by the way, what position do you play?”

I guess you could say I was the new “old kid”. They all knew each other. I not only was the new old kid, I was also the only male on the bench. I stood out! My hair was short and my stomach sagging.

For a new coach, however, the players accepted my instruction and wisdom without complaining or questioning. One of the girls kept responding with “Yes, sir!”

New situations are tough for old dogs. They say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I’m also not going to roll over. At my age someone needs to give me a little push just to help me roll over.

Basketball is basketball though. Certain principles are universally applicable. The ball is round. The players all wear sneakers. Boxing out for rebounds is the same today as it was when Wes Unseld was playing for the Baltimore (and Washington) Bullets.

I take that truth into ministry and the church. The church is the church. We might emphasize different things, but the church is the living presence of Christ. Some meet in buildings. Others in homes, and still others in parking lots and parks. Some stress outreach. Others stress inreach. Some pray in tongues, while others pray in silence. Some give cups of cold water, while others give hit meals. Some have big budgets. Others have big hearts. No matter whether you are a new person in an old church or an old person in a new church…the church is the church.

Obviously, different churches hold to different beliefs, but there are still core beliefs that are shared by 90-95% of the churches across this country. Yesterday I sent an email to the pastors of our neighborhood churches asking if there were any families in their congregations affected by the Black Forest fire. My feeling is that the six churches in our neighborhood should work together to help those families if they have needs…no matter whether the family is Methodist or staunch Presbyterian.

The church is the church.

Who Are The Real Heroes?

June 13, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 13, 2013


Heroes was the name of a TV series that ran for four seasons from 2006 to 1010. It was based on the lives of ordinary people who discover superhuman abilities, and how the abilities effected their everyday lives.

My daughters watched Heroes faithfully. I usually had a meeting or something on the nights it aired, so I never really got into it. We weren’t “DVRing” yet!

The past two days I have been watching different kind of heroes- real-life heroes. These heroes are men and women who are fighting the Black Forest fire on the north side of our city. Most of them are experiencing something similar to superhuman abilities. Not jumping tall buildings in a single bound, or being able to pass through solid walls, but rather reaching inside themselves and taking their efforts to a deeper level…being able to do some things that they would not normally do. I remember talking to Steve Oswald this past year about his experience with the Waldo Canyon fire. He was one of the command post chiefs, working 36 straight hours, getting about four hours of week, and then going another 24 hours. When lives are at stake heroes kick it to a different level.

Heroes lay themselves on the line. Some pray without ceasing. They cry out to God with a sense of urgency that consumes them.

Some people are heroes because of sacrificial efforts. The front doors of their homes are open wide. People in need are welcomed and cared for. Heroes sometimes are made from extreme acts of hospitality.

Heroes are made through elevated abilities to listen. The anguish of a young boy who has lost the only home he has ever known is acutely perceived by a stranger he has never met. Time stands still for the hero who knows someone needs to just talk.

Heroes are those people whose first thought was what could they do to help the first responders? They didn’t think about the smell of smoke in the air, they thought about those who are battling the blazes in the midst of the smoke. Heroes are those people who grabbed a case of Gatorade and a box of granola bars and took them to the local aid station.

Heroes are those who persevere, who are not blown and tossed by the winds of unpredictability, but stay the course.

A hero can be a young boy with a sling shot facing a giant as an army of terrified men shrink back in fear. A hero can be a young girl who speaks truth to a bully when everyone else keeps their lips shut.

Heroes are the men and women who stand ready to do battle…of blazes…on battlefields…in areas away from where they themselves live, as well as close to home.

A hero is an athlete who makes a game-winning shot, but then visits children stricken with severe illnesses in a hospital ward.

Heroes emerge, not of their own doing, but out of necessity because of a cause.

Heroes inspire without saying a word. Heroes react out of attitudes of humbleness.

Heroes don’t look for parades. Parades evolve because of the gratitude of those they’ve served.

This is a day of heroes who are simply doing what they know they have to do.

What Is Meaningless and Meaningful?

June 12, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 12, 2013

About twenty-four hours ago a fire started in the area northeast of our city called Black Forest. My wife Carol took pictures from our neighborhood as the afternoon progressed. We can see from the photos how the blaze rapidly spread. Black Forest is heavily wooded, but most of the problem has resulted from dry, hot and windy conditions. Shifting winds has caused concern about where the fire might head next.

If there is one thing our local firefighting units learned what Waldo Canyon it’s the ability to know what needs to be done, and also, what is out of our control.

I was amazed last night as the tension increased in direct correlation to the increasing mushroom cloud of smoke in the air by the fact that the local ABC TV station was getting a number of phone calls from people who were concerned about whether the Miami Heat-San Antonio Spurs NBA game was going to be shown. One minute there was the image on the TV screen of a home with a fire consuming it, and the next minute the screen shifted to LeBron James shooting a jump shot.

Meaningful and a life-changing event to…forgive me for saying it…a meaningless event whose greatest impact is putting more money into the pockets of a few people who already have too much money.

Our lives are a constant sifting of clutter and vital, superficial and sacred. Not that I’m advocating a life that is always focused on the essential, because we need times of laughter, even meaningless laughter.

We just need better balance, a improved ability to keep things in perspective. LeBron’s stats pale in comparison to a hundred homes burning to the ground. Fires, such as our area has experienced, has a way of burning away the things that don’t really have lasting value, and firming up within our hearts what we can’t place a value on.

The thought is now within my mind: what might we take with us if we get evacuated?     Lawnmower? No!

Big screen television? No.

Twenty year old coffee mug that I got at the Promise Keepers Conference at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan? That’s hard…but no!

Pictures of the kids? Yes! Folders of things the kids brought home from school or made in church when they were growing up? Yes.

Suits? No. It would give me another excuse for not having to wear one.

Wedding album?

Yes. Awesome looking tux and beautiful bride!

In other words I’d be carrying a lot of pictures and memories, but even if I didn’t have those I’d be content just knowing that my wife was safe.

Some may blame my perspective on my age, but one scene from yesterday’s fire rings true with me. It was a group of young teens faced with the very real possibility that their homes were gone, but their emotional turmoil was focused on the franticness of trying to find their parents.

X Boxes are nice. Dad’s are irreplaceable.

Mountain bikes are cool! Moms are beyond cool.