Posted tagged ‘helping each other’

The Rage of The Ridiculous

October 20, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    October 20, 2018


Entitlement detoured leads to rage!

This week a 49 year old man was enraged by the fact that another car was traveling too slow in the left hand lane. He raced around the car, pulled in front, and stopped. The man got out of his car and approached the other vehicle. A man who had been seated in the front passenger seat got out and explained that his daughter, who had been driving, was learning to drive. The 49 year old was upset that she had been driving slow in the fast lane, to which the father replied that she had done nothing wrong.

The 49 year old began to physically assault the father. The daughter, who had taken a picture of the man’s license plate, was then assaulted by the man and his wife!

What put a guy over the edge? His sense of entitlement! He believed he was entitled to drive like a maniac in the left lane and someone else was keeping him from doing that! It probably meant that he would arrive third seconds later at his destination than he felt entitled to!

I discovered this statistic. In 2016 road rage was involved in 10% of the automobile fatalities in Colorado!

Entitlement is the new rage and the new form of snobbishness! It says that what a person wants is more important that what is reasonable and appropriate.

Entitlement is surfacing all over the place in our culture. It’s in the little things and the big situations. Yesterday I needed a bag of Winterizer for the lawn so I went to Lowe’s. There was a space fairly close to the store that I pulled into. When I came back out of the store a woman in her fifties, parked in the first space, was putting her purchases in the back of her vehicle. She had a cart full. After she emptied the cart she pushed it two feet, half onto the rocked area and half still on the parking space. All she needed to do was to push it another ten feet to the front of the store or thirty feet to the cart corral. I wanted to ask her if that was what her mom had taught her? I thought about taking the cart back for her, but that would have been just as insulting since she had already decided to leave it halfway on the curb. 

I know, I know! Such a little thing! But it points to the bigger issue. What helps keep rhythm in our community is not as valued as what a person wants regardless of its impact on others. That lady made it difficult for someone else to park in that spot until the cart was moved, but she didn’t care. It was someone else’s problem!

Entitlement has shoved the importance of “being community” to the side. Community requires mutual respect and concern.

In the book of Acts there’s a description of the early church, a group of Jesus followers who met in the Jerusalem temple courts. Acts 4:32 describes the group this way:

     All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 

An incident that is told in the very next chapter of Acts revealed that “community” can be a very fragile existence when personal gain enters the picture, but for a while the first church, despised and persecuted by many, depended upon its sense of community for its very existence.

Perhaps that sense of needing one another, no matter how we might differ, can be rediscovered before our rage over the ridiculous curses us.

The Good Samaritan Pusher

June 25, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      June 25, 2018                              

     “But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:33-34, NIV)

The Washington Post heard about it and had to do a story about the incident. They needed something that had a “feel good” effect to it, something that didn’t involve scandal or accusations being hurled back and forth.

And so two unlikely people- one trapped in the consequences of her disability and age, the other a 24 year old amateur boxer out preparing for a training run- became a story that gradually received national exposure. 

67 year old Belinda Walker was sitting in her motorized wheelchair by the side of the road. The battery had died and she was stuck! When the wheelchair suddenly came to a halt with a jerk she had fallen out of it to the ground. Someone passing by had helped her back into her chair, but then went on their way. Now 45 minutes later she was still sitting in the same spot, a good 30 minute walk away from her senior adult apartment complex. 

She prayed, “Dear God, dear God, please find somebody safe to help me out!” The next thing she knew Bilal Quintyne showed up. He asked if he could help and she asked if he could call someone to assist her getting back to her apartment. He replied, “I’ll do you one better. God blessed me with an able body. I’ll push you home.” 

It wasn’t easy. The wheels had seized up on the wheelchair so the going was difficult. Bilal’s trainer drove up, expecting to do a training session with his boxer. He saw what was happening and started filming “the push” on his cell phone. When Bilal reached Belinda’s apartment complex he was drenched in sweat. Belinda hugged him and he went on his way. That may have been the end of the story, but Bilal posted the video from his trainer on his Facebook page. It garnered three and a half million views!

Belinda’s pastor saw it on Facebook and took it upon himself to bring the rescuer and the rescued together. 

In the video Bilal looks at the camera as he’s pushing Belinda up a hill and says, “When God calls you to help, you help, PERIOD!”’

I hadn’t heard about that story until my friend, Ed Stucky, shared it with me yesterday. I then found it online, complete with the video, and it made my day. 

When Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 the most unlikely person is the hero, the rescuer, the one who in all likelihood has the least responsibility to lend a help. Bilal didn’t expect to be called upon to help that day. Being called upon to lend a hand if rarely based on how convenient it fits into our plans. He didn’t know that HE was the answer to HER prayer. As he said, “When God calls you to help, you help, PERIOD!”

            “Lord, I pray for eyes to see the one you put in my path today! And when I see that person…draw me to him/her, not decide to take the wide route around! Amen!”

(Details of this story appeared in The Washington Post in a story written by Tara Bahrampour on June 19, 2018)

Helping Each Other Up The Hill

July 21, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                July 20, 2017


At Quaker Ridge Camp there is a peak high above the camp called Soldier’s Peak. Each year the kids at camp make the climb to the top where they encounter an incredible view of the wooded forest areas around it, and the other mountain peaks in the distance. Down below they can see the grounds of the camp and pick out the building they sleep in at night, the dining hall, the swimming pool, and other spots of activity.

But getting to the top is a struggle for many of them. They aren’t used to the hike, the elevation, and the physical exertion. Some begin the adventure with eager anticipation, but then realize it requires more than a video game controller and gradually lose their desire to reach the summit. Others begin to display the characteristic that usually rises to the surface when they meet a challenge that requires effort. They whine!

And then there are the Daniel Boone’s who blaze the trail, enjoying these moments in life to the fullest, ready to head across the valley to that next peak over that they can see after they reach the top.

And then there are the encouragers who want the whiners and the weak to accomplish what they know they will accomplish. They want all of their camp friends to make it up the hill, no matter how long it takes.

I was listening to our elementary camp pastor, Rev. John Mark Brown (Yes, he’s got half of the gospels in his name!) talk to his camp kids about the journey…kind of a debriefing session! He had been talking to them about what it means to serve in Jesus’ name…what might that look like? It was encouraging to me to hear a number of these young campers talk about helping each other up the mountain. That sometimes it’s not how fast YOU get up the hill that’s most important, but rather what each person does to make sure everyone gets to the top!

There’s a valuable lesson in there for all of us, not just eight, nine, and ten year olds. The church, when it is being the church, is a community of believers helping each other up the hill! And you know something! There are a lot of whiners who journey with us, and there are a few who are weak and aren’t sure they can go much further, and there are the trailblazers who look to run ahead and get to a location that will take the majority of the flock a long time to get to, and there are the encouragers who understand the celebration of having everyone standing on the peak…no matter how long it takes to get there!

It seems to me that the church needs to catch some of that understanding of the journey. It is a snapshot of what being in community with one another is all about!

The Red Kettle Bellringer

December 22, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                     December 22, 2016


The ringing could be heard all over the parking lot of the grocery store. The seventy year old man waving the bell back and forth smiled at everyone who passed by regardless of whether they put something in his kettle or not. Most didn’t, but he engaged them with a greeting anyway.

A young woman with her four year old daughter approached on his right hoping to sneak by unnoticed. The bellringer turned as she was right beside him and shouted a greeting. “Merry Christmas to you and yours!” The greeting made her step back startled for a moment. “Would your little girl like a candy cane?”

The four year old looked up with delight and a smile from ear to ear. “I’m sure she would,” replied the mom. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have anything to put into the donation bucket.”

“That’s quite all right, ma’am! Perhaps you’ll be able to pass on the glad tidings to someone in another way…a kind word to a neighbor, a visit to someone in the hospital, or even saying a prayer for someone else in need. There always seems to be something that we can do to help this world be a bit more decent to be a part of.”

“Thank you! I’ll keep those things in mind.”

“Mr. Bellringer,“ came the soft voice of the young child. “Do you get to keep the money that you collect?”

“Lord, no, darling!” he chuckled. “This money goes to help some folk who don’t have food to eat or a bed to lay their head in. I’m just the man who has the privilege to ring the bell and hand out candy canes.” He turned to the left to wish another customer entering the store a merry Christmas. Another woman exiting walked by the red kettle and tucked a folded five dollar bill into the slit on top of the kettle. “Thank you, ma’am!”

“So, Mr. Bellringer-“

“Call me Mr. Sam, darling!”

“Mr. Sam, what do you get for standing here and ringing the bell?”

“Well, my dear, I get…to do it!”

“Get to do it?”

“Yes, I get to do it. I get to see the looks of generosity that come upon the faces of people who make decisions to give up something of their own to help someone they will probably never see.”

The mom spoke up. “But don’t you get a bit miffed at all the folk who pretend not to see you as they pass by?”

“No, ma’am! That’s their choice, and you know something?”


“I used to be just like that. Kind of a hardened man who didn’t really care about anyone or anything else. I can’t really say how I got to that point but it happened.”

“So…something must have changed.”

“Yes, ma’am! It did, and it was about this time of the year…ten years ago, in fact!” He paused for a moment to greet a young boy and his parents and hand the child one of his candy canes. “My wife, Ellie, came down sick…and I mean really sick! So sick that I carried her out to the car and started to drive her to the hospital. She was in severe pain, moaning and groaning, and all of a sudden as we drove she just passed out.”

“Oh my!”

“As you can tell, I was scared to death and I pulled over to the side of the road, put my flashers on, and tried to revive her. I was frantic! Thank the Good Lord that no more than thirty seconds later a pick-up truck pulled up behind me on the side of the road and a man and his wife got out to see what was going on. I jumped out of the car and screamed about my wife being unresponsive. The woman was a nurse who worked in the ER of the very hospital I was heading to, and she performed CPR on Ellie right there, got her breathing again, and jumped in the car with me as we drove to the hospital. She called ahead and they were waiting for us when we arrived five minutes later.”

The little girl looked up at Mr. Sam and with great concern asked, “Was she okay?”

“Darling, there was something wrong with her heart, but they were able to fix it and she ended up being okay. But you know something, if that couple hadn’t stopped to help it would have been a different story. That day changed me! I guess you could say that the Good Lord got my attention about how selfish I had been. If that had been someone else pulled off the side of the road and I was passing by I wouldn’t have thought twice about them, but just kept on going. But Ellie probably wouldn’t still be alive today if those two people hadn’t helped. Like I said, that day changed me!”

“And that’s why you ring the bell?” asked the mom. “That’s why you greet people with a merry Christmas and hand out candy canes.”

“It’s a simply way that doesn’t take any advanced education, if you know what I mean. The only requirements are being able to ring a bell and be friendly with people. And you know something, ma’am? I enjoy it!”

At that moment a woman was leaving the store and she came by the red kettle. “Here you go, Sam! Tell Ellie I said hello!” She dropped some money into the collection.

“You betcha’, Helen! You working today?”

“Heading there now! Will you stop by and say hello?”

“Absolutely! Maybe I’ll bring you a candy cane!”

“Save those for the kids, Sam!” She walked on across the parking lot.

“Is that one of your neighbors?”

“In  a way!”

The little girl spoke up again. “Mr. Sam, are you going home after you get done ringing your bell?”

“No, I’m heading to the hospital.”

“Is your wife there?”

“No, I go by the pediatric ward…that’s where the sick children stay…and I pass out candy canes and tell them stories to make their day a little brighter.”

“That’s really nice, Mr. Sam,” said the mom. “Is Helen one of the nurses there?”

“Yes, she’s a nurse in the pediatric ward now.”

“How did you meet? Did you meet her when you started volunteering there?”

“No, I knew her before that. She used to be a nurse in the ER.”

The young mom paused and then began, “Is that…is she…?”

“Yes! She’s the one who saved Ellie’s life.” And he gave a wink to the mom and her daughter. “I hope you have a very merry Christmas!” The little girl took two steps to Mr. Sam and hugged him with all her might.

“Merry Christmas, Mr. Sam!”

Lessley Ellis

July 9, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            July 9, 2016


Lessley Ellis is my friend. We have close to nothing in common, which makes our relationship even more special.

Lessley is African-American. He is as black as I am white, a darker shade of his color that contrasts greatly with my blindingly white legs. We are brothers in Christ who see both the beauty and ugliness of the world.

Lessley was born in Detroit, the place often referred to when talking about inner-city poverty and crime. I was born in Winchester, Kentucky, a stone’s throw away from where Adolph Rupp coached the all-white University of Kentucky Wildcats basketball team.

The first time I met Lessley was on a Saturday morning at our church. We had just concluded our Saturday morning men’s bible study group. There had been a major snow storm just a couple of days before and the sidewalks around the building needed to be cleared. Several of us got snow shovels and started making a path. Suddenly a red Honda Civic hatchback pulled into the parking lot. Lessley hopped out of the car, popped the back and got a snowblower out of it. And then he just started to clear the sidewalk! The smile on his face was warm and sincere, and we thanked him for his help. One of us, probably Ben Dickerson, invited him in for a cup of coffee and then invited him to join us the next Saturday for breakfast and our bible study. I didn’t expect to see him again, but he surprised me and came back.

Ben Dickerson took him under his wing. Lessley could barely read. His education had been limited. He had been judged to be a “special education” case. In his words, “they treated me like I was a dummy!” By the ninth grade he was out of school. Ben Dickerson, a reflection of Jesus, started teaching him how to read. Another man, Roger Mollenkamp, offered him support and advice. When Ben passed away as a result of complications of a heart attack, Lessley grieved deep and long. We leaned on one another during those days, I grieving the loss of my friend as well. Our tears mingled together to form a pool of brotherhood, swimming in the confusion of loss. Grieving together takes people to a new place.

A few years ago a new family showed up in worship one Sunday. They came back the next week and then the next and became part of our congregation. A little later on I found out another piece of the story. The husband was ready to give up on church. They had visited several places and were ready to have their own family worship at home, but they decided to try one more place of worship. They came to a double-door entrance to our building that looks like it might be the front way in and they found the doors locked. The husband was ready to walk away and walk away from the church for good, and then Lessley opened the door and said “Good morning!” He apologized for the doors being locked and invited them in, offered to get them cups of coffee, befriended them, and turned troubled souls into joyful seekers. They came back all because of a smiling greeter who made them feel welcome in the time of their greatest discontent.

He was a “thrower” on the back of a garbage truck for years. That means, he’d empty the cans of people’s trash, hundreds each day! It destroyed his back, and he now receives a limited disability sum each month. His struggle is that he wants to help people, but his disability doesn’t allow him to do some of the work tasks that he always did. Many times the two of us have talked through his depression and discouragement that have pummeled his sense of self-worth.

Lessley has the heart of Jesus. He’d give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it. We had lunch together yesterday, along with our friend, Joe Smith. Towards the end of a week where black men were getting killed by white policemen, and white policemen were killed by a black sniper we talked about our screwed up world, and we talked about the hope we have in Christ.

He asked me what we could do, and we brought it down to where we live, what we say, and how each one of us treats others. The interesting thing that occurred to me was that although we sat there in a Mexican restaurant talking about racial tension we didn’t see any difference between the two of us. We didn’t see each other as being from a different race. To me he is Lessley, my friend, and to him I’m Bill, his friend and former pastor.

The three of us ended our lunch with warm embraces of each other. Perhaps the world is screwed up, but that didn’t mean that our friendships needed to be screwed up as well.

Some of the greatest blessings in life are relationships with people that we least expect to be our friends, salt of the earth folk who we’ve come to know in the most unlikely ways.

It’s funny! I’ve been blessed in so many ways by this almost sixty year old six foot three African-American man, all because of the crossing of our paths on a wintery Saturday morning after a snow storm and a bible study.

Like I said at the beginning, Lessley Ellis is my friend.

Hitting Safely, Falling Hard

May 8, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      May 8, 2013


I was playing my first softball game in a decade. It had been so long since I’d played that I had to dig to the bottom of the “odds and ends” barrel in our garage to find my mitt. Unfortunately, I could not find my old pair of rubber cleats that I used to wear. They probably made their way to Goodwill a few years ago, and have since gone on to “Glove Glory.” So I fished out an old pair of tennis shoes that were missing a few years of thread and headed for the ball park.

I had told our manager, Kimberly, that I was content to “ride the pine” (except it was aluminum), but she said “No, everybody is playing.”

I didn’t even have to share my career stats with her. This might be a similar story to the movie “The Natural”, starring Robert Redford, about a former player, Roy Hobbs, coming back to play after disappearing for a few years.

It might be…but it isn’t! If there was a sequel entitled “The Elderly” I could have played the lead.

After a less than memorable first two times at bat, but a nice backhand glove pick-up at third of a screaming grounder, I came to bat for the third time in the fourth inning ready to hit opposite field. The pitch was begging me to hit it, so I pounced on it and hit an almost-line drive that actually landed just inside the first-base line just out of the infield.

“Run, Forest, run!”

I made the turn at first base to head for second as the ball continued to bounce away from the first baseman and right fielder.

The capacity crowd of four woke up and cheered (I think).

Then it happened. I had a tennis shoe blow-out fifteen feet past first base. I hit black ice disguised as dirt…and I fell hard…I mean the ground shook…almost!

My left knee hit the ground first and then my right leg took an unnatural twist…better known as “An AARP side effect”…and I felt the muscle pop. It’s quite a mental shift to hit safely and then fall hard. Come to think of it, first base has been my injury nemesis in the past as well. About 20 years ago I hit a ground ball to the short-stop whose throw to first base was a little up-line. It connected with my jaw and broke it in two places. I was safe at first that time, also, and then slumped to the ground.

Some have reminded me that I hit 59 last Sunday, so there must be some correlation between 59 and falling hard. Perhaps my old cleats being at Goodwill had something to do with it just as much! I’m going with the cleats story.

It reminds me of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 where he defeats the 450 prophets of Baal. He is in the groove, on a tear! But then Jezebel makes death threats, and Elijah falls hard. He goes down. His stumble takes the form of a flee for his life and then a hiding in a cave.

Sometimes our stumbles happen as quickly as trying to turn a single into a double. Sometimes our stumbles happen gradually as we allow pride, power, and position to blind us to the cliff we are hovering on.

Following my stumble something else happened that is significant. After I hobbled back to first base  and got a sub to take my place, my teammates came to my rescue with concern (and maybe a little chuckling) and encouragement. Thelma, a lady I deeply admire and respect, asked me about a dozen times during the rest of the game if I was okay. Others gave me pats on the back. No one said “That should be a lesson to you about whether you should be playing this game or not.”

When someone in the faith community stumbles there needs to be someone to pick him back up again. Being the church is not a spectator sport.

After my Roy Hobbs hit and titanic crash…we all went out for ice cream! There’s just something extremely right about that!