Posted tagged ‘helping one another’

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)

Believing A Small Church Is Worth the Effort

October 15, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                            October 15, 2017

 

Yesterday twenty five people descended on an aging church building in a town of five hundred people to be a help. Bill Hale, nine days my junior but years ahead of me in wisdom and craftsmanship, developed the idea along with our area denominational staff person, Mike Oldham.

The idea was to invite a few churches and individuals to come to Simla, a small town on Highway 24 that you would have no reason to go to if you weren’t heading someplace past it, and provide some labor for a few hours that would allow the church to get a few needed projects completed.

The First Baptist Church of Simla is a congregation of about twenty dear people. Bill Hale, Ed Stucky, and myself have been sharing pulpit responsibilities there for the last year and a half or so. They do not have a pastor, although they do have a parsonage right next door to the church.

The group of servers came from Pueblo, Greeley, Colorado Springs, San Antonio, Texas, and, of course, Simla! They ranged in age from four to seventy-four. One man, who owns a company in Colorado Springs, brought his “bucket truck” that allowed limbs and branches from the trees in front of the church that are about as old as sarcasm to be cut back. The carpet in the sanctuary was shampooed, the church sign was touched up with paint. There was painting done to the outside of the building after a power washing was done, and the wood frames of the stained glass windows got a needed fixing up. Sidewalks got edged, weeds got pulled, and the lawn got mowed and trimmed. Massive efforts that meant so much to the people of the church.

What I’ve learned from Simla is that small churches are worth the effort. For me Simla has become my home church. Most Sundays when I’m not speaking there I still travel the forty-five minutes east of Colorado Springs to worship with the “salt of Simla.” Small churches have a purpose. It may not revolve around budgets, staff, and packing the sanctuary, but they have a purpose. The Simla Saints have started doing community ministry efforts with the United Methodist Church a block down the street. They’ve even had discussions about how the three churches in town might have occasional worship services together, interchanging the pastors as the speakers. This past summer they made a good-sized contribution for the beginning expenses of a missionary family who had already been commissioned  by the American Baptist Churches to go to Chiapas, Mexico, but were trying to raise the last few thousand dollars that were needed as seed money. The Simla Saints gave the contribution and also started supporting the missionary family on a monthly basis.

They will never be a mega-church. They wouldn’t know how to handle that. The town of Simla has shrunk by two-thirds in the last twenty years. Mega-churches rarely happen in villages of diminishing size located between here and nowhere. Every week, however, fifteen to twenty people gather in the sanctuary of this church. They don’t whine about their size. Size does not effect the purpose or change the mission. Their purpose is to be Light in a community that struggles to keep on going.

Too many churches are trying to be great! Churches already have the greatest story to share. Sometimes it seems a congregation is trying to be greater than the story!

Simla is a love story of hope that tells of God’s love story. Call me simple, but when I retired from the ministry that’s what I was looking for…and it causes me to keep on keeping on!

Seeing the Good In the Bad

September 10, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                          September 10, 2017

 

Natural disasters seem to be frequent headliners these days. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis…they seem to be as common as a Bronco’s blitz! Carol and I have many friends who have gotten chummy with Hurricane Irma in the past couple of days. We’ve been watching Facebook to make sure each of them is okay. I’ll call a couple of  my friends today to check on them.

Some people see situations such as Irma and the earthquake in Mexico and see only the downside of it. I’m sure there will be several people this week who will equate the rash of recent disasters as evidence of the second coming of Jesus.

I take a different view entirely! Perhaps the ravished areas of the world are an opportunity for people to experience the sharing of their resources, love, and compassion.

I called my friend, David Volitis about a week ago to wish him a happy 60th birthday! We were able to talk for a few minutes, but he told me he was in Corpus Christi helping with the recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey. He had celebrated his 60th birthday by working a fourteen hour day clearing debris. It is an example of the good of people emerging in bad situations.

One of my favorite books is John Ortberg’s Who Is This Man? It tells of the unpredictable impact of Jesus upon the world. Ortberg tells of an epidemic of smallpox that broke out in Rome in AD 165. Between a third and a fourth of the population perished from the disease, including Marcus Aurelius, the emperor. People responded in panic. At the first sign of illness a person was pushed away from their family, throwing them into the street before they were dead. But a community in that city who followed a man who would touch untouchables cared for the sick and dying. They were even willing to be infected by others with the disease in order to be caregivers for the Caregiver. And as a result of their sacrificial giving the Jesus movement spread.

In essence, the way Christians responded to the needs of a community that confounded people’s understanding of the limits of love and sacrifice ended up drawing others towards Jesus.

Any time there is a disaster such as Irma and Harvey people will be confused and devastated. We experienced that a few years ago with two major fires in the Colorado Springs area, Waldo Canyon and Black Forest, that burned down over 800 homes. From that an organization emerged- a coalition of faith-based and secular organizations- that developed a partnership for responding to tragedy. It took two consuming fires to make that happen. Good can come out of bad.

It’s like the story of Jesus’ life and death. Resurrection happened in the midst of the pain of death. It happened with the adulterous woman that Jesus encountered. Forgiveness and cleansing came out of guilt and shame. It came to a boatload of disciples being tossed to and fro in a fishing boat. Jesus woke up and calmed the waters. Peace and assurance came in the midst of a storm.

A number of people in Texas, Florida, and Mexico have lost everything they own…and there will be those who will come alongside them making sure that they will be okay.

Leaning Not On Your Own Understanding

July 21, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 20, 2016

                                

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.”   (Proverbs 3:5 from The Message)

Today I helped a group of middle school church campers rappel down a cliffside. For almost all of them this was a first time experience. Actually, it was my first experience also. For about four hours I held a rope and said things like “Awesome! Great job! You can do it! Keep going!”

I asked the question to some of them: What does Proverb 3:5 say?

Trust God…and don’t lean on your own understanding. I learned today that you must not lean forward in fear, but lean back and trust. In essence, we were telling the students to not do what seemed the understandable solution…leaning into the mountain, but rather to lean back and give up control.

A few of the students had a hard time getting past their fears and letting go. For some it took just a little bit of encouragement from the top to get them going…just a small dose of guidance from the top, and belief that they could do it. After the first fifty feet their camp friends down below took up the encouragement.

Another young man came to a point of hesitation, a place between the top and the bottom where he froze and became unmoving. Kent, our lead person, finally rappelled down to him and “unfroze” him. The young man had to be almost pulled along all the way to the bottom. His ego was a bit bruised, but he got to the bottom. Sometimes people need to be pulled along in their spiritual lives, and lives in general. They need a guide who pulls them…an AA sponsor who says the hard things, a coach who won’t let them settle for mediocre effort, a tutor who says “If I have to, I’m going to sit here all day until you get this!”, a pastor who pulls them away from the errors in judgment.

Some people need to be pushed, or in rappelling…pulled! Discomfort is not accepted easily, but sometimes taking people to an uncomfortable place is the needed ingredient for spiritual growth.

A couple of the campers rappelled alongside a friend who was struggling. One young guy, Jacob, knew his friend’s fears were real and inhibiting. Even though he had the ability to rappel down at a much quicker pace, Jacob slowed down to encourage his friend each step of the descent.

Sometimes we need a brother or sister to lean on as we take that next step. What each one of us needs is someone who slows their pace to stay with us. Sometimes we ARE the ones who slow down in order to be with. Last week I officiated at a funeral for a twenty-four year old. I didn’t know the deceased, but I know his dad. Next week I’m going to try to get together with him for a cup of coffee and continued conversation as he rappelled down the mountain of personal loss. He may have some moments in the coming weeks where he “freezes.” I know that I’m probably one of the people that God has placed in his life who needs to help him unfreeze…to continue in the heart wrenching journey of grief.

And it always seems to come back to “trusting and leaning.” Trusting in the Lord with our whole heart…leaning back and experiencing the loving arms of God.

The Need To Be Served

June 23, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        June 24, 2016

                                  

As I was driving along yesterday and listening to the radio an interesting statistic was shared by the radio host. He said that a recent study revealed that the typical American family now spends more money in restaurants than it does at the grocery store. In other words, we eat out a lot and spend more of our food budget on a bacon cheeseburger at Applebee’s than packages of ground beef and buns at Safeway.

It also indicates that we are accustomed to being served by others. My driving destination was the car wash to have the layers of Midwest bugs cleaned off my car. It occurred to me that I was served by the man who welcomed me and took the order of what I wanted done; I was then served by the hospitable lady at the register who took my payment and chatted me up for a moment, and then I was served by the man who did the finishing wipe down. In the simple task of getting my car washed three people had directly served me.

After that I went to Sam’s Club to buy some items that I didn’t really need. I almost always use the “self-checkout” lane at Sam’s Club, but even in that lane an employee came up to me and asked if I had found everything I was looking for.

Earlier that morning I had been at Starbucks. No surprise to those who know me! The employees there served and engaged me in conversation. Once in a while I get an email from Starbucks asking me how my recent visit was. There is a short survey that pointedly focuses its questions on how the service was in my visit.

In other words, my morning was punctuated with various people in different locations whose mission was to serve me.

Yes, they were being compensated for their service, but the point is that “being served” is now a major part of the fabric of our lives. When we receive poor service we usually react in negative ways. During our recent cross-country road trip from Colorado to Ohio and back, Carol and I were on the receiving end of great service and really, really…I mean, really bad service. We stopped at several McDonald’s along the way. Most of them had adequate or good service, but one of them stood out with the lack of service. I don’t usually do customer reviews, except when Starbucks offers me a reward for feedback, but I felt compelled to evaluate the experience at this McDonald’s. It was an on-line evaluation, and at the end of it there was a question asking if it was okay if a McDonald’s management person called me on the phone. Surprisingly, a few days later a lady named Nancy called me and asked me about the poor service I had received. She was extremely apologetic and promised me that she would be addressing the issue.

When bad service is given people are concerned. Bad service is an indication that the customer isn’t that important, and customers expect to be served.

I think there’s a lesson for the church in all of that. Our roots are firmly planted in servanthood. Jesus is known as “the servant king.” The early church was about serving. The first restructuring of the first church was because certain people weren’t being served (Acts 6). Deacons came about because of the need for people to be served. The Christians in Rome around AD 250 took charge of people who were infected with smallpox. Families would turn their backs on the sick, but the Christ-followers cared for them in their last days, even to the point of laying down their own lives. Serving was part of their DNA.

We live in a time when many people come to church to be served, which is okay…but they’ve missed part of the message. As followers of Christ we serve and are served. The church is not a gathering of consumers. We’ve been consumed by the love of Christ. That realization changes us!

Carol and I are fixing dinner tonight for two of our children and one son-in-law. It would be easier to go out to a restaurant and be waited upon, but that “food budget stat” has stuck in my gut. I’ll grill, Carol will make a squash casserole and another side dish, and, I guess, we will serve!

I think it will be a good evening!

When Community Gets Stomped On

March 29, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                March 29, 2016

                      

What does it mean to “be community?” It is a term that gets used often these days, an ideal that gets raised as something people want, but what does it mean?

If you go to some of our more rural areas you’ll find that there are farms, or what used to be farms, often situated on each corner of a crossroads. It’s an interesting picture that describes a learning that farmers from decades ago discovered as an essential principle for living: They needed each other. Instead of building the farm house in the middle of their property, farmers built their homes close to their neighbors. Isolation was a threat to their existence. When they planted in the spring they helped each other. When they harvested they helped each other. If a new barn needed to be built they helped each other.

Community meant knowing that they needed each other! Life wasn’t about hoarding, and it wasn’t about looking out for a person’s own interests…and the heck with everyone else!

Such life wisdom was also weaved through scripture into God’s design of the church. There was to be the dependence on God and the interdependence on one another. In fact, the church was charged to look out for the needs of those who were without, especially the widows (Of which there were many!) and the orphans. Community meant sharing. There was not to be those who had and those who had not.

That idea of community often receives lip service, but, in a culture that is self-focused, it is seldom put into action.

Sadly enough, a free Easter Egg Hunt in Orange, Connecticut, demonstrated that the wants of the individual are more important than the welfare of the community. Outside of the Peez candy business pushy parents said to heck with it and rushed the fields that held over nine thousand Easter eggs. Children were pushed to the side as adults descended “like locusts”, as one Peez employee described it, on the fields.

You may be saying “What!!!!” at this point!

The event was scheduled to happen in three phases, starting with the youngest children at 10:30, but before 10:30 arrived mayhem moved in first! The result…crying children, angry parents, and a lot of questions.

Over plastic eggs filled with candy!

The principle of community got stomped on!

A couple of my favorite passages from the New Testament come in Acts 2 and Acts 4 where, talking about the first church in Jerusalem, the writer Luke says that no one was in need. If there was someone in need the others made sure they were taken care of.

That’s the kind of community I want to be a part of- the sweetness of agape love over the momentary taste of sweet candy!