Posted tagged ‘blanket’

Keeping Jesus

July 14, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 14, 2017

                                    

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, ‘I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.’” (Luke 4:42-43)

I admit it! I have a personal blanket! I am a sixty three year old man with his own “blankie.” It is somewhat tattered now since I started using it shortly after Carol and I were married 38 years ago. It was hers before it gradually got pulled over to my side of the bed.

No one else uses my blanket. After seeing it you would understand why no one else would WANT to use it!  It is my mine!

There are certain things in each of our lives that we are a bit bizarrely possessive of. Some of them, like a coffee mug with our name on it, make sense. And then there’s others, like my blanket, that are a bit of a reach.

Sometimes churches try to keep Jesus! They allude to the idea that Jesus shows up at their house every weekend. Yes, he’s present at other churches, but he is REALLY PRESENT at their location. If you REALLY want to encounter the Savior you are urged to come by their campus. There is a tendency to equate the size of a church with the level of Jesus’ presence!

When Jesus went to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, he drove out some evil spirits, healed Simon Peter’s mother-in-law (who immediately got up and started cooking up some dinner for Jesus and the others), healed other people of a variety of sicknesses, and then the next morning went out to a solitary place. His plan was to head to another town, but the people of Capernaum tried to keep him there. When something of God has happened there is a tendency to try and corner the market.

If Jesus would have stayed at Capernaum he would have been a resident prophet, a wise man that people would come to, a scholar-in-residence! He would have gained job security and a regional following, but lost his calling. His path was to take him out of town. He doesn’t even call his disciples until a little while later…when Capernaum is in the distance of his rear view mirror.

It’s interesting that the theology of many churches ripples out from the Great Commission of Jesus that tells his followers to “go”, but the behavior of churches is to “keep.” Excuse the expression, but we want Jesus to be our personal “blankie” that keeps us safe and spiritual. He isn’t to be borrowed by someone else. If they want to snuggle up with our Jesus they need to come to us, because we’re keeping him.

And so we encounter congregations that tell us we can in turn encounter Jesus if we show up at their place. I have learned to avoid churches that seem smugly sure of their resident Savior, and I search for people of faith who humbly hope for his presence. Like Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, they are people who have been restored and reconciled and are now seeking to wait upon Jesus.

 

My Blankie

June 30, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          June 30, 2014

 

                                             

 

There are some things that stay with you even though they don’t make sense. Kind of like that old TV that is sitting in the family room. It’s been a part of the family. You don’t just take a part of the family to the dump!

My “blankie” falls even more securely into this category. My blankie is my blanket. It’s been my blanket since…about August of 1979. I say “about” because I married my wife on July 28, 1979. She brought the blanket into the marriage relationship. It was hers. You know that saying, “What’s hers is his!”  I actually don’t know if that is a saying or not, but it should be.

Soon after July 28 “the blankie” transferred partial ownership to me. That means, it crept to my side of the bed at night.

There’s gold, and then there are those few things that are more valuable than gold. My “blankie” is threaded gold.

When we go on driving vacations I take it with me. I don’t take it places if I’s flying. I don’t trust the airlines that much.

I took it on a mission trip to British Columbia…three days drive away! I took it to Park City, Utah last summer.

I took it to camp where I was being the camp pastor. I needed some form of comfort in the midst of a multitude of middle school students, many whom were discovering that there was an opposite sex that could offer them a different kind of comfort.

I took it to Arizona and South Dakota. For thirty-five years it has just felt…right!

Now it is beginning to look pitiful, like the family dog that just lays around and whimpers. My blanket has a few holes in it, frayed ends, faded patterns, and stuffing that is settling in the same spot, like a middle-aged man whose body has decided to most gather around the waist and stomach.

The other thing that makes this unique…and weird, is that my grandmother made incredible quilts. Sixty years after the fact they are in almost-mint condition. They are warm and comfortable, memories for me of my Mamaw Helton who had “settler skills.” That means that she could have survived on the frontier is she wanted. Quilt-making was just one of her gifts. She could kill a chicken, clean it, and fry it up for dinner almost as fast as my Papaw could drive to the grocery and buy a chicken from the butcher. She kept the eastern Kentucky farm going that she and my Papaw owned.

I slept with those quilts as I was growing up. Somewhere along the line after July 28, 1979 I switched over to the “blankie.”

My wife sometimes thinks I love my blanket more than her. That’s not true! Although my blankie doesn’t kick me at night when I snore. She reminds me that the blanket was hers first, but I remind her that possession is nine-tenths of the law.

When I die I hope my blankie is still around. If so I want to it to be buried with me. I don’t want to have to worry about wearing a suit as I’m all laid out in the casket. When do I ever wear a suit while I’m laying down in this lifetime? My mom would never permit such a thing. I can hear her say, “It’s going to get all wrinkled!”

So just cover me with my blankie. Throw a tee shirt on me just in case chest hair is upsetting to some, but drape my tired perishing physique in my tired perishing blanket and let me rest in comfortable.

I know I’ll be walking the streets of gold in heaven, but if I get to nap in paradise I hope I can have my threadbare gold wrapped around me. It only makes sense. It fits…comfortably!…in my picture of perfection!

Getting Too Cozy With God

June 4, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 4, 2013

Working on the staff of Young Life when I was in seminary, and then also being the Youth Minister at a couple of churches, I was trained to “earn the right to be heard’ by the students I worked with. Youth ministry was, and still is, very relational. A young guy struggling with questions about faith needs to know that there is someone he can meet at Starbucks for a chai latte and conversational counseling.

I confess! In those days there was a need to look cool and be cool. It was a part of earning the right to converse about God. Now in my final year of the fifties “cool” is a term I only use to indicate the last of heat in the house. We have more blankets folded and ready on our couch than Bed, bath, and Beyond has in the entire store. “Overheated” for our household now refers to laying on top of the electric blanket.

It seems that the emphasis with most evangelicals, myself included, is on having a personal relationship with our heavenly father who has his son be crucified on the cross out of love for us.

There is nothing incorrect about that. It’s scripturally right on. John 3:16 makes that intimately clear. The struggle is that we so often make the mystery of the holy absent from our faith. We like to snuggle up with God, like a comforter blanket. God-cozy is more to our liking than divine mystery.

One of my friends recently said that the only place we see veils anymore is on Arab women to hide their faces, and on surgeons to protect them from our germs. Veils hide, and we are people who are used to the Freedom of Information Act. We are accustomed to full disclosure.

Scripture includes a number of verses that tell us about the mystery being revealed…and the mystery that is. Paul talked about “the mystery made known to me by revelation” (Ephesians 3:3) and “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.” (Colossians 1:26)

But he also talked about the mystery of Christ (Ephesians 3:4, Colossians 4:3)!

The contrast of the gospel is that we can now approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16), but the will not ever in this lifetime understand the ways of God. Revelation is partnered with mystery. The veil was torn away from the Holy of Holies, and yet are eyes do not fully see the moving of God.

And we shouldn’t! Mystery is what keeps drama in the story. If life was void of mystery our little ones would no longer ask the question “why?” Why questions lead them along the path of discovery.

Why do we have two ears and one nose?

I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with Mr. Potato Head. He would look weird with two noses and only one ear.

Why are some people scared of spiders?

Because they are…including me.

Why do women put make-up on, but men just put on deodorant?

Because men are in a hurry in the morning, and women…never mind, don’t tell Mommy I said anything about that!

Why does bacon taste so good?

Ahhhh….

The longer I walk with God the more comfortable I am with the Mystery. I also have a sense of peace knowing that I am always able to cry out to him, and he will embrace me. Perhaps that’s “cozy’, but I see it as evidence of the God who comes near.