Posted tagged ‘truth’

Verily, Verily!

November 25, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        November 25, 2017

                                              

“Not in my house! Not in my house!” bellowed the basketball player to the camera after blocking the shot of an opponent.

“That’s how you do it! That’s how you do it!” screams the wide receiver who has just made a touchdown catch.

“Go back to Michigan! Go back to Michigan!” trash talks the Ohio State defensive tackle after he has sacked the quarterback.

I’ve noticed a growing trend in college and professional sports. Players have to repeat themselves as they trash an opponent, or immediately after making a good play. Saying a statement once isn’t enough. Saying it twice let’s the audience know that the player thinks he is all that! Saying it three times in a row means he believes he should be on ESPN Sportscenter that night.

In each situation, however, the focus of the repetitive language is the player. It is an indication of the arrogance of athleticism. In the old days before trash talking became “a thing” we used to get psyched for a game, pumped up, and motivated to win. There was no strutting for the cameras…maybe because there usually weren’t any cameras! Nowadays making a great play isn’t enough. There is the verbiage and performance that follows the play that seeks to convince the viewer that the player is the next football messiah.

Jesus was a bit different. In the Gospel of John he often began a statement with the words “Verily, verily…” (King James Version) or “Truly, truly…” (RSV). It was an indication that what he was about to say was the truth. Saying verily twice indicated that what was about to be said was important for the listener to hear. In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”

In the Upper Room Jesus said, “When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (John 13:21) And then when Peter felt that he had to profess his devotion, Jesus said “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.” (John 13:38)

When Jesus repeated himself it was to state a spiritual truth, or to foretell what was to come. It wasn’t to boast, but rather to guide.

Today and tomorrow as athletes bluster in front of the cameras I think I will speak back to them and say “So? So?” In fact, their performance is just “so-so” when compared to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. After all, scripture tells us that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow and tongue confess.

That is something to proclaim loudly and often!

But Jacob Lied!

January 31, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           January 31, 2016

                                       

Henry came through the front door with his brief case and the usual end-of-the-day exhaustion.

“Sara, I’m home!”

He heard some stirring in the kitchen, the banging of some pots and pans…which was never a good sign…and then the movement of feet heading his way. Sara entered the hallway with heavy feet and a frown from ear to ear.

“Henry, you’re going to have to have a heart-to-heart with your son. I can’t believe what he did today.”

“What did Tommy do?” asked Henry, his tiredness level suddenly reaching a new depth.

“He cheated on his math test at school today, and then blatantly lied about it to his teacher.”

“What? That’s not like Tommy! Math isn’t his strong suit, but he would never cheat and lie about it.”

“Well, he has started a new trend then! Mrs. Matthews noticed him looking at the paper of the girl he sits in the seat beside him, and his test paper was number for number the same as hers.”

Henry was still trying to comprehend his own flesh-and-blood doing such a thing. Tommy wasn’t the best student, but his fourth grade report card was a mixture of “A’s” and “B’s”. How could this be? There had to be some kind of misunderstanding going on here. He called for Tommy, who had been confined to quarters since he got home from school. A few seconds later the soft steps of socks on carpet came down the stairs, and a boy with a puppy dog face slinked into the room.

“Tommy, is it true what your mom just told me? Did you cheat on your math test today and then lie about it?”

“Yes, Dad,” he whispered.

“I’m in shock. What would ever give you the idea to do such a thing?” Henry was trying to keep it together, but his mind was racing ahead to what the punishment should be…grounding until Tommy turned eighteen…no TV for a year…send him away to military boarding school…the options were limitless.

“It was in the Bible.”

“What did you say?”

“I read it in the Bible.”

“Cheating on math tests is in the Bible?”

“Not math tests, but it’s in there. I was reading about Jacob last night, and how he cheated his brother out of his birthright, and then he lied to his father. It’s right there.”

“What?” Henry asked with a high level of disbelief.

“Don’t you remember? His mom had him put some hairy stuff on his arms and his dad touched them, asked him if he was really Jacob, and he said yes. And then he got his father’s blessing!”

Henry could feel the words rising up within him. He tried to hold back, but he couldn’t stop them from emerging from his lips. “That’s different!”

A moment of uncomfortable silence ensued. Tommy looked confused and his dad suddenly was feeling uncomfortable about this conversation.

“I don’t understand. How was what Jacob did different from what I did?”

“It was a different time and place…and…ahhh…people didn’t know any better…and his brother deserved it…and…ahhh…it’s just how it was and things are different now.”

Henry recognized that there was an “No Outlet” sign on this path he had taken. Quite honestly, he didn’t understand the “Jacob Blessing” story either, and he knew he had cornered by his son’s confusion. It was time to own up to it!

“Tommy, here’s the truth! I don’t fully understand that story in the Bible. I can’t say it was right for Jacob to cheat and lie back then, and it’s wrong for you to cheat and lie today. All I know is that it’s not the right thing for you to do, and I think deep down you probably know that as well.”

Tommy looked at the carpet for a few moments and said, “Yes…I kind of knew it wasn’t the right thing to do.”

“That’s good to hear, because I’m pretty sure, most of the time, you can figure out what the right thing to do is.”

“You’re right, Dad!”

“And even though Jacob cheated and lied and received his father’s blessing, his actions had some consequences later on.”

They looked at one another for a moment and Henry then took a step towards his son and placed his hand on his shoulder. “I doubt that Mrs. Matthews is going to give you a pass on this one just because you know the story of Jacob, but I’m going to show you some grace. In regards to Mrs. Matthews I want you to go to her tomorrow morning and apologize for what you did. Tell her you know it wasn’t right and you want to make things right from now on.”

“Okay!” He put his arms around his dad’s mid-section and hugged him and said, “Thanks, Dad!”

“I love you, son!”

“Love you too, Dad!”

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!