Posted tagged ‘the presence of God’

Having A God Limp

June 2, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                June 2, 2019


I ran three miles yesterday. Today my hips are feeling the effects! Someday I’ll probably have to have hip replacement surgery, but let’s don’t talk about that right now, okay?

This morning I sorta’ limped down the steps. You know, an “Ouch” noise whispered through my lips each step down. 

Running is not good for certain parts of the body, but great for the cardio! For that matter, life is not good for parts of us, but great in other ways. A few days ago I had a fried seafood platter. It was great for my taste buds, but my arteries are waving the white flag.

All of us have “life limps” of some sort. Recently I found a copy of my freshman transcripts from college. My ego limped through the next couple of hours as I was reminded of the “0.533” grade point average I accumulated in my first quarter of higher education. 


Then there are limps that tell ongoing stories. My friend, Jim Newsome, who passed away a few months ago had a slight limp for most of his life. The limp was the result of having polio when he was in the Navy back in the early 1950’s. He spent a month in an iron lung, unsure of whether he would live or die. Five other sailors who had the disease died. Jim lived. He believed that God spared him for a reason, a life reason, and he served his Heavenly Father for the next 65+ years…with a limp!

A God limp!

There are those who limp along with God and those who have a God Limp. That is, there are those who limp through life affected by its damage, slowed by bad decisions, and scarred by the bitterness…and God is with them, but not in an intimate way. He’s like an acquaintance, not a friend.

And then there are those who walk closely with God, depend on His leading, are encouraged by his companionship, and are touched by His hand. Like Jacob, their wrestling with Him over the problems and conflicts of life have produced a limp that has been the result of the close relationship. 

With Jim Newsome, his limp became a lead in to conversation about coming near to death, living a life of purpose, and trusting in the Lord. 

People with “God Limps” are special, grounded, and, unfortunately, rare! I’ve been fortunate to have a number of them in my life. They are faith followers who lean on the Lord.

This morning I’ll lead worship with the saints of Simla, Colorado. John and Sherry will talk about leaning on the Lord in regards to the Cowboy Camp their family has run for 64 years- a week in June where people gather for worship, fellowship, and evangeIistic services. Each year there are needs that they pray through, like for a cook this year to fix the three meals each day for the 100 or so people who camp there. When God stops providing they believe that Cowboy Camp will end. BUT each year He provides, so they keep going. It’s their God Limp, pronounced and blessed. 

This afternoon I’ll run another three miles and walk gingerly through the rest of the day, and I’ll ponder the closeness of God that I brace myself beside instead of limping along with Him!

Spiritually-Addicted Christians

December 14, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                         December 14, 2018


“It’s spiritually dead here!” explains the middle-aged woman to me.

“How so?”

“Nothing ever happens here!” she says, using her hands to exaggerate the point.

“Nothing of God ever happens here. Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes, Pastor! It’s dead!”

“I’d beg to differ with you.”

“You’re the pastor. I would expect you to disagree!”

“Like last Saturday morning when the men’s bible study group prayed for a problem that Bobby was dealing with, and then we gathered around him and hugged him, and gave him encouragement! Or last week when I was out changing the letters on the church sign, and I got into a conversation with an 84 year old lady who lives a block away from our church. A few of us are going to walk up to her house and trim her bushes and fix her screen door next Saturday! Or last Sunday when Patty brought out something from the scripture story we were studying that caused a light bulb to go on in the minds of a few of us. I’m not sure what criteria you’re using to determine whether God’s involved or not, but those were all signs to me.”

She looked at me and bit her lip.

“Say it!” I urged her.

“Those things just aren’t very exciting, pastor! I’m looking for miracles and people who love the Lord, and I’m just not seeing much of that here.”

“So…have you been to see Widow Samuels? Because, even though she is in a care center now, whenever I go to visit her I experience a spiritual blessing and marvel at her love for the Lord.”

“I don’t really like those kind of places.”

“And last week I was sitting beside Joe Skinner’s bed and talking about the end of his life, his looking forward to experiencing the glory of the Lord in heaven, and how God has walked with him through a multitude of life valleys.”

“Those aren’t the things I’m talking about, Pastor. I’m talking about spiritual highs!”

“So you’re an addict?”

“Excuse me!”

“You’re a spiritual addict, whose addiction can only be satisfied by an experience that is high energy and high emotion.”

“I knew you’d blame me!”

“I’m not blaming you for anything. I’m just stating what the situation is. You don’t seem to see God working in our midst unless something awesome happens. What is awesome, however, has to be defined by your standards. Am I right?”

“No, you aren’t right!”

“Then we will just agree to disagree. The spiritual life I’m seeing is different than what you’re looking for. I mean no disrespect in saying this but there are some people who go to an amusement park and define its impact by how many roller coasters it has and how thrilling they are. When I go to an amusement park I evaluate it on being able to ride the merry-go-round with my grandkids. Different perspectives, neither which is wrong.”

“I’m not addicted, though!”

“And I’m not spiritually bored! So, I guess we’re both where we need to be!”

She smirks, starts to say something, but then turns and walks away. She has moved on to the next church down the road. 

Five years after the conversation she has moved on three other times. Sometimes, it seems, we minimize the power of God by not allowing him to be involved in our rhythms of life. There is a hunger- an addiction, if you will- to wanting to see smoke on the mountaintop while missing the nearness of His presence.

Form Dependent

October 31, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                     October 31, 2012


I’ve coached a few basketball players over the years who have terrible shooting form, so I spend a lot of time trying to correct it!

Balance. Feet shoulder width apart and knees bent


Elbows in.

Follow through.

I’ve had a few players, however, who have been decent shooters with flawed form, and when I have corrected them they have become poor shooters with great form. In essence, they become more concerned about their form than making the shot.

They start asking questions like “How did that look? Were my feet okay? How was my follow through?”

Questions that seem to miss the point that their shot created a crack in the backboard. They threw up a brick, but they had perfect form.

Sometimes I think we’re like that in the worshiping community of the church. We’re hypnotized by the form and miss the Presence.

Did we say enough prayers, sing enough hymns, raise our hands enough in praise, have a long enough sermon (or maybe a short enough sermon!)? Was the service orderly and controlled? Did the pastor may the right words at the distribution of the communion elements? Was he well-dressed and eloquent?

Most of us would probably say that our worship services aren’t about the form, but about worshiping in the presence of our Lord. That may very well be! The test is to have a worship gathering where everything doesn’t go according to the plan.

A crying baby is kept in the service and sometimes to bawl.

An elderly man falls over in the pew and has to be resuscitated.

Someone forgets to put bread on the communion plates.

The sound system goes dead.

A little girl keeps flashing the congregation during the children’s story.

The offering plate gets dumped in the midst of the main aisle.

A soloist loses her voice.

You can tell if a congregation worships the form or the presence when something unplanned trumps the plan; when a dose of grace is required to go on because a young man has just stood up as the pastor has ended his prayer, and openly admitted that he is an alcoholic.

Moments of uncomfortable truth when we have to put the form on the shelf and trust in the leading of the Spirit are revealing of a church’s heart.

Don’t misunderstand me. We worship “form” in various aspects of ministry. Try replacing Sunday morning donut time with healthy bran muffins. The possibility of a riot will go up exponentially if you try it more than one Sunday in a row. In the Baptist tradition changing a light bulb unexpectedly might cause a letter-writing campaign. In some churches using a different version of the Bible than the congregation culture is used to could cause facial spasms to begin.

So form takes different forms. Form is a route to a destination, but, as I’ve found out in flying back to southern Ohio to see my parents, there’s more than one way to reach it. Sometimes my route takes me from Colorado Springs to Houston to Charlotte to Huntington, West Virginia. Sometimes I go by car to Denver, and then fly to Columbus, where I pick up my rental car and head south. And sometimes…well, hopefully just one time…I get stuck where I am (Hurricane Sandy ripple effects) and never am able to leave my point of origin.

There’s been a few worship gatherings like that. No matter the form, no matter the liturgy, mo matter the planning…the plane just never seems to get off the ground…and we know it.

I still teach my players the fundamentals of shooting, the perfect form, but realize that prayers get answered not necessarily because the knees were properly bent.