Posted tagged ‘Solomon’

The Fog of The Moment

October 31, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             October 31, 2017

                               

This morning our area was greeted with a dusting of snow, twenty-six degrees, and fog. It’s one of those mornings that a person is tempted to fall back into bed to the clarity of being covered with warm blankets.

Most of us, however, don’t have the option of doing that. There are places to go, appointments to keep, and work details to get accomplished. The fog is just one of those things we’ll have to brave this morning. The fog changes how we approach the beginning of our day. Those who refuse to believe that often end up off the side of the road, or crashed into the rear bumper of the car in front of them. And there are plenty of people who are like that…careless, and idiotic!

What about the fog of the moment in our life? What about when things aren’t clear as to where the road is leading, when the next step may lead to a person’s life spinning out of control? What about when a decision that needs to be made is as clear as Mud Creek?

The wise person is one who understands that life must sometimes move ahead slowly, cautiously, preceded with and followed by prayer. The fool is the one who rushes ahead regardless of the situation and circumstances. Solomon’s words to the wise in Proverbs 12:15 say, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice…” Our world is well-populated with people who think their way is right, regardless of the fog of the moment!

But the wise listen to advice, they listen to possible solutions to the uncertainty in front of them, and they proceed slowly. Yes, there is some fog in the midst of our journey of faith. Abram had faith even though he did not know where it was the Lord was leading him, but let’s be honest! For most of us the chaos of our lives results from our reckless rushing into the fog.

The fool trusts his own understanding, but the wise trusts in the leadings of the Lord.

There’s another learning from the fog of the moment that needs to be said. The effects of foolishness often crash up into the ways of the wise. It isn’t fair, but it’s the ripple effect of a fallen creation…that the stupidity of others causes pain in the lives of those who are going the right way. I fully expect that the news of our area this morning will include stories of multiple car crashes, and that the accident was ignited by the carelessness of one. Following Jesus and living wisely does not mean trials will pass you by. The trial may have just rammed you in the rear!

Pokemon Go-ne

August 5, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           August 5, 2016

                                  

I confess! I have not played Pokemon Go. In fact, the closest I’ve gotten to playing Pokemon Go was playing…

”Poke-r”…like twenty-five years ago!

I did play a lot of Space Invaders…back in the day!

Oops! I just dated myself…no, I just antiquated myself…like an eight track player!

What I do know, from personal experience and the stories of others, is that just about anything that we do…anything that we engage in, should be done in moderation.

There are exceptions to that rule of life, like loving your family- I don’t think you can love them enough-; or praying- I don’t think you can pray enough, although it seems like it is hard for many of us to pray at all. There are exceptions like those and a few others that, quite frankly, we are not in danger of approaching over usage!

Pokemon Go is the current craze. I’m not in the camp of people who willingly and fervently condemn it. There always seem to be naysayers who trumpet the doomsday message of a variety of things and events. Through the years I’ve heard of a long list of subtle devices of the Tempter to snatch us away from God. The list has included bowling, any kind of dancing where the hips rotate and swing too much (with the exception of square dancing or any version of dancing involving elderly people!), movies, skateboarding, video games, beach volleyball, push-up bras, tattoos, and mascara. Satan seems to have more products than amazon.Com.

Pokemon Go is an amusement. (We’ve come a long ways since “Pong!”) It isn’t a demon. It is taking the industry of gaming to a new place, and new places are scary for those of us who are in love with old places.

The tipping point with Pokemon Go, and with many other amusements, practices, and even disciplines, is when someone is obsessed by it to the point that it takes over their life. Like the guy who was focused so intently upon it that he crashed his car into a police cruiser! That’s probably a little over the edge. Or people who are incurring roaming charges and spending large amounts of money playing the game that started out as being free. Like the Japanese Olympic gymnast who recently racked up $5,000 in roaming charges playing the game.

Like I said earlier, just about anything can become an obsession. Through Scripture the principle is taught over and over again that excess is a main cause for sorrow and pain. Excessive rich food leads to a variety of health issues. Excessive work leads to relational distance and, in many cases, physical ailments. Excessive spending leads to financial ruin. Excessive material possessions leads to a lack of appreciation for the simple gifts of life.

Solomon’s excesses in riches, women, and thoroughbreds caused him confusion with God. The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes is kind of his trying to find his way again, a sounding out of a life that had lost its meaning.

Moderation helps us keep balance and clarity in our life. Moderation keeps us from chasing after whims and obsessions. It seems like there are people on The Dr. Phil Show everyday who have lost any sense of balance in their lives, and so they make the decision to go on national television and let everyone else see how screwed up they are. I’ve never seen anyone on that program who is having a hard conversation with the host because their life is in balance.

Balanced lives do not make for good reality TV!

I’m going to try to download the Pokemon Go app today and experience it a little bit. I want to try it out some…not too much! I will not allow it to take me away from the 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle currently covering our dining room table that I am obsessed…I mean, that I am putting together…gradually and in moderation!

Being Wise and Doing Dumb

July 6, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 6, 2016

                                           

Dumb and Dumber was a dumb movie, which is what made it hilarious. Sometimes dumb is funny! Sometimes dumb is just plain dumb! One of my favorite baseball players of all time is John Smoltz. “Smoltzy” had a good head on his shoulders. He was well-grounded. But even Smoltz had a dumb moment. It happened one season when he decided to iron his shirt. The problem was that he was wearing the shirt when he tried to iron it. Not a bright moment in his career, but one that people will remind him of for a long, long time.

Speaking of dumb, the news has featured several examples of dumb things people do with fireworks. Dumb works overtime around the Fourth of July. The fifteen year old in Texas who was using two hundred sparklers will have to live with his “What was I thinking!!!” moment for the rest of his life. I saw a guy who decided to light an explosive that was halfway between a firecracker and a stick of dynamite…and put it in his Speedo! What??? Of course, someone was filming it, and I cringed when the little flame flared out of his front side! What was he thinking?

Wisdom and dumbness seem to be in two different camps, but they are camps whose residents have dual citizenship. I was reading about Solomon the other day, you know…the guy known for his wisdom! People would come from far and wide to be amazed by his wisdom and judgments. 1 Kings 3 tells the story of the two women who had infant sons, but one of the mothers rolled on top of her baby and smothered him in the middle of the night. She then took the baby from the other lady and put her deceased son beside her. The two women come before Solomon with their dispute. The mother of the child who was still living claimed that the baby was hers. The other mom said he wasn’t. Solomon decided to take the living child and slice him in half and give half to each mother. The real mother screamed not to do that, to let the other mother have her child. That sign of motherly love made it clear to Solomon who the real mother was. People were taken back by how he could figure out things.

We have a book of proverbs for further proof of his profoundness. He gives advice on parenting, wealth, work ethic, relationships, and old age. Dr. Phil can’t hold a stick compared to the wisdom of Solomon.

But Solomon decided to do a summer home in “Dumb!” For a guy who could solve problems he also created his own chaos, his own disaster! He was obsessed with women. I mean, it’s okay to be attracted to women, but when women were around Solomon he did stupid! Notice I didn’t say that he was stupid. Stupidity is a decision, and he decided to do stupid! God had told him, in essence, “Be smart!” Here’s what 1 Kings 11 says about it:

   “God had clearly warned Israel, “You must not marry them; they’ll seduce you into infatuations with their gods.” Solomon fell in love with them (women) anyway, refusing to give them up. He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines—a thousand women in all! And they did seduce him away from God. As Solomon grew older, his wives beguiled him with their alien gods and he became unfaithful—he didn’t stay true to his God as his father David had done.” 

The wisest guy on the planet and he couldn’t figure out the fact that living with a thousand women was not a good situation. I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, but I think I could have given Solomon some simple wise counsel about that one!

In a weird way Solomon’s dumbness gives me some hope. It is a bit reassuring. My residence is probably more in the subdivision of Dumbness rather than the rural-ness of wisdom. Dumbness is not a gated community. It is accepting of all. There is not a membership fee to get into it. Some people arrive there on a moment’s notice, while others plan for it. I remember my friend Steve Wamberg and I taking a few high school kids from the church we were youth ministers at to a concert one night. Two of the students were the daughters of the senior pastor. After the concert we decided to go out for pizza to a place in our Chicago suburb called Connie’s. We didn’t get the pastor’s daughters home until 1:30 A.M.

Dumb, dumb, dumb!

“Yes, I’d like a medium pizza with cluelessness, denseness, and ignorance on top.”

Each one of us can recall our visits to Dumbness. We’ve all been there. We can just hope that wisdom is where we spend most of our time.

Here’s the thing! Social media trumpets the happenings of Dumb! Wisdom doesn’t film well. Deciding to have a few beers and then leap from a roof on a skateboard films well on iPhones. Think about it! There was a hit TV show for years entitled Jackass. The people on the show made millions off their stupidity! Wisdom does not make good Youtube videos.

Wisdom is proactive. It steers people away from doing dumb. Wisdom is the coach, the one who understands the situation before trouble arrives.

Solomon was wise, but his dumbness affected his family and kingdom for generations to come. How often have I, and I’m sure also you, said “I wish I would have thought about it more before I did it?”

Thanks-Living

November 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   November 26, 2014

                                                      

It is the day before Thanksgiving. Hump Day in out-of-sorts week.

What do we make out of this week? A grand jury verdict that split the nation, protest marches in numerous cities across the land, looting and accusations. It’s been a week!!! And it’s only Wednesday!

Tomorrow we gather around dinner tables to…give thanks! It will seem weird, like a mystery movie suddenly becoming a chick flick, or Rambo turning into Bambi. Many of us will look at what has transpired the past few days and ponder what it was we were to give thanks for.

I do not have any Solomonic sayings to impress you with about justice and injustice, right and wrong. There is nothing I can write that will suddenly bring the world back into balance, but I do believe that the way we live needs to be a reflection of hearts that have been changed.

Thanks-living takes thanksgiving to a deeper incision. Thanks-living is not grasped by nearly as many people as those who demonstrate thankless living.

Thanks-living is pastoring a church that is echoed with baby cries and laughter. Thankless living is counting down the minutes of the worship service so you can get to lunch.

Thanks-living is knowing that this day, and then the next day, are beautiful creations of our God who loves his art. Thankless living is a sense of entitlement to have every day be warm and sunny.

Thanks-living is firmly believing that I have been blessed in so many ways. Thankless living is always asking the question “why isn’t me life better?”

Thanks-living is a grateful heart that we live in a country that believes in freedom. Thankless living complains that everything isn’t free.

Thanks-living is appreciative of the platter of mashed potatoes. Thankless living complains about the price of potatoes.

In essence thanks-living is about having an attitude of gratitude. A lot of people these days need attitude adjustments.

In a week where things have seemed out of control, and each of us is trying to figure out answers while still confused about what all the questions are, perhaps a step towards solution, towards a better place and a better world…is to live each day with a commitment to being thankful.

Thanks-living!

The Far Side of Church

June 8, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     June 8, 2013

 

The Far Side of Church”

 

I love laughter, and I love “The Far Side” comic strip. It was a sad day when Gary Larson stopped doing “The Far Side.” Thankfully, my brother had given me “The Far Side Calendar” every year for Christmas for five or six years. When I get depressed or frustrated I take a look at a few of the calendar pages.

I wish I could blame my warped sense of humor on “The Far Side”, but that would be a lie. It was in my genes long before I started looking at funny-faced kids and adults wearing spectacles. And, as a result of that, I think of situations that might occur in church that I think would be funny. Others might not think they are even worth a giggle, but I’m ready to explode.

Like the Sunday several years ago when I asked a dear elderly lady named Pauline Jones to light the advent candle and I gave her a book of matches that had no matches in it. To further the humor I then gave her a second book of matches…that was also matchless!

I think of church pranks, like when I spoke at Ascension Lutheran Church down the street from us on pulpit exchange Sunday and they gave me a bulletin that had the pages mixed up. Page three ended with us singing “Crown Him With Many Crowns”, and then page four…in my bulletin had the second verse of “Spirit of the Living God.”

I can imagine a Far Side entitled “Deacon Pranks” with a picture of a deacon putting Super Glue on the bottom lip of a communion plate, or substituting prune juice for grape juice.

I can picture a wolf dressed up in a suit, wearing a wig and glasses, sitting in church,with the caption underneath “Being a life-long independent Baptist wolf, Peter felt justified in stealing sheep from other flocks.”

I can imagine a baptistry with sharks swimming around a circle within it, and the pastor saying to the fearful-looking teenager “As Paul tells us in Romans …all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death.”

In other words, church needs to encourage finding the lighter side of things.

Ricky, the sound booth humorist, was known to turn off the pastor’s mic in the middle of the sermon and start playing a Richard Pryor tape.”

There’s a time to be serious. There’s a time to share hope and peace. And there’s a time to laugh.

Ted didn’t see the humor in it. The one Sunday he fell alseep in church, the congregation had exited quietly and placed empty clothing on the pews with a sign, ‘Raptured! Sorry you couldn’t come.’”

Solomon wrote that there was “…a time to weep and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:4a).

Look for the humor in church. I believe that it is one step along the journey to experiencing joy.