Posted tagged ‘convictions’

What Would You Sell Your Convictions For?

August 29, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            August 29, 2016

                         

I was born in eastern Kentucky…Winchester, to be exact…so the story that came out last week about vote-selling in several eastern Kentucky counties isn’t that surprising to me. There’s a certain desperation in the lives of impoverished people that makes the exercising of our right to vote a lower priority than surviving another week.

In case you missed it, there have been several convictions of people who have bought votes in various Kentucky elections for $25 to $50 a vote. But Kentucky isn’t the only state that has had to deal with vote-selling. In West Virginia a county sheriff would show up at people’s homes and tell them who to vote for. Evidently, having the gun-toting sheriff show up at your home was motivation enough for people. In Tennessee one candidate would buy a vote for a pint of whiskey.

As our American history gets further away from the stories of those who sacrificed everything for freedom it could be that what was once important will not be viewed as valuable. After all, stealing elections is not that hard in counties where only twenty to thirty percent of registered voters vote. The indifference towards casting a voter’s ballot is a troubling trend.

There are some threads of connection between vote-selling and faith-selling. Just as the freedom to vote is at the core of our democracy the Lordship of Christ is at the core of who we are as Christians. It is the “why” of our faith! As people become less knowledgeable about the Bible it is also the “why” that gets glazed over.

“What I get out of it” becomes a more important question than “why do I believe this?” Self-interests trumps sacrifice. Having convictions is never because of convenience. Convictions, faith convictions that is, are because of our belief in a cause that we know is necessary to fall in line behind. The cause becomes our defining point. It’s the first domino and everything falls in line behind it.

How important is it to me? Just as their are American citizens who sell their vote for a pint of whiskey there are church-going Christians who stay true to their convictions until a better offer comes their way. At that point what they really value is no longer hidden behind their backs…and they don’t feel bad about it!

 

Whose Next?: The Responsibility of Supporting The Next Called Ones”

October 30, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                                  October 29, 2015

Our money preaches our priorities. It clearly conveys what we feel is important and what is an add-on. It conveys our dedication to comfortableness and reluctance to commitment.

As I approach retirement from being a pastor…a paid pastor that is…I’ve been doing more and more thinking about money. Carol and I are looking at what we can expect, and not expect, once my position at our church ends.

But I’ve also been thinking about my responsibility to support the next generation of “God’s called.” I’ve been blessed to see several people I’ve known as their pastor or their coach enter into some form of full-time ministry. I believe I have a responsibility to affirm and encourage their calling through words of blessing, prayerful support, and financial backing. It’s the punctuation mark to their blessing, to be affirmed in these ways instead of comments like “Hope it works out for you!”

     That conviction I have was affirmed today as Carol and I met a young man named Tony LaMouria, his charming wife Elisabeth, and their four boys…nine years old down to seven months.

Carol and I have known Tony since he appeared one cold, sleet/rain Sunday morning at our church in Mason, Michigan, riding a bicycle. That ride into our midst began a new chapter in his faith journey that was marked by disappointment, confusion, acceptance, and unconditional love.

There’s so much to “the Tony Story” that I won’t mention, but one thing that I will mention is how one family in the church, the Andersons , took Tony into their home, gradually brought him to the point where he became the new little brother to their two older daughters, and modeled for him a love that is blended with wisdom, firmness, and encouragement. The Andersons felt a deep responsibility to support this high school kid with a charming smile and a confusing past. They were entering the period in their lives called “the empty nest”, and now they believed God had called them to parent another who wasn’t even theirs.

That family that supported him was part of a new foundation in Tony’s life. The other was our church that took him in, came alongside his new family in the “congregational parenting” of him, and applauded him in his accomplishments.

Today as Carol and I talked with him and Elisabeth he told us of their calling to be a part of a mission organization that sends pastors to churches, mostly rural or small towns, who don’t have the financial resources to support a pastor. There are thousands of churches like that around our country. In our conversation Tony shared how important our church in Mason was to him at that time in is life when he was trying to figure out if he had purpose and value. As he said to us today, if he had gone to a large church he would have gotten lost in the crowd, but our church loved him and embraced him. Now, years later, he sees the value in small churches, and is looking to serve in one of them.

That means I have a responsibility to continue the blessing, to come alongside him, to help him to keep the pursuit.

What blessing! What a responsibility! What a privilege!

Deacon Emeritus Laurence Wolfe

April 13, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      April 13, 2015

                                           

I sat beside my dad in worship yesterday at Beulah Baptist Church in Proctorville, Ohio. It’s the church he’s been a part of for the past several years after moving up-river from Ironton, Ohio. The pastor of Beulah asked Dad to give the closing prayer for the service, and he referred to him as Deacon Emeritus.

I was surprised because Dad had never said anything about it. In fact, my first thought was that Pastor Rob was recognizing Dad’s age, but wasn’t really serious about the title…kind of like calling our Regional Executive Minister the Baptist Pope. A fitting title, but not one he is going to put on his business card.

Later on that day I asked my dad about it just to make sure I heard the pastor correctly. Yes, he said, he had been given that distinction a few months before that. I wanted to say, “And you never said anything to me about it?”, but it occurred to me that my dad never would.

You see, titles and awards have never been what his life is about. He has never put much stock in things you can hang on the wall behind your desk. Humbleness doesn’t dwell on accomplishments. It doesn’t go with “bragadocious!”

Sometimes, as sons and daughters, we fail to observe our parents long enough to be able to identify their qualities and characteristics. We’re absorbed in our own lives and what we’re doing too much to take a look. Perhaps we still see our parents as those supervisory figures who don’t really have lives of their own. They’ve just always been Mom and Dad!

And then a pastor refers to your Pops as “Deacon Emeritus” and you go “Huh?”

There is not a plaque on his wall to let visitors to his apartment know. The church didn’t give him a name tag for visitors to know that he is highly-valued. He is still content to be who he has been and who he is and who he will always be until Glory calls.

A person of wisdom who thinks before he speaks.

A storyteller of family history…and just as the Israelites tell the Passover story over and over again, my dad retells the family stories that I never get tired of hearing.

A person of convictions. He still believes that certain things aren’t right, no matter what public opinion says, but he has never forced his beliefs on someone else.

An organizer…chaos does not set well with him. My oldest daughter inherited this from my dad…he folds his clothes a certain way and everything is to be in place. I did not receive that gene in my list of passed on traits!

A person of the Word. His Bible is a bit tattered…but it’s organized tattering!

A person who is personal. I’ve noticed this week at his new senior apartment complex that people come to him to talk just as he initiates conversation with anyone who might be sitting in a front porch rocking chair. One night I noticed there were two people sitting in rocking chairs when I dropped him off at his building. I watched as I slowly drove away. He stopped to talk to them. I proceeded to the end of the parking lot and made the turn to come back towards the exit. He was still engaged in conversation and the two rockers seemed to be enjoying the moments just as much as him.

A person of integrity, which means he lives life with consistency and truth, but recognizes and admits the errors of his humanness.

A great-grandfather who my granddaughter gravitated to, even though she has spent less than two weeks with him in her first four years of life. A grandfather that my three kids love dearly even though they all live five states away.

A great dad!

So, even though he would never say so, and never say it is so, there is not a more qualified person to be designated “Deacon Emeritus”, and, without a doubt, will never bring up the subject again!