Posted tagged ‘wisdom’

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!

Scolding Pops

June 21, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                      June 21, 2017

                                          

I was sitting next to Dad in the waiting room of the eye specialist he was scheduled to see. The day before he had experienced some blurred vision in his right eye and I had taken him to see an ophthalmologist. He couldn’t see anything such as a cataract, thus the referral to the specialist.

Before the ophthalmologist appointment I had taken him to the hospital for a CT scan of his lower abdomen area. He had been experiencing some discomfort there, and had dealt with a bout of bladder cancer a couple of years earlier.

My cell phone buzzed in my pocket. It was my sister calling. When I answered she asked me the question: “Did Dad tell you that he was suppose to go to the Emergency Room?”

I glanced at the 89 year old gentlemen sitting on my left side. “No, he didn’t say anything about that!”

“The hospital called yesterday afternoon and told him that he needed to go to the ER because he has a bowel obstruction.”

“He didn’t say anything about that to me.” I stared at him like he had stared at me when I was 12, and he had received a phone call about my misdeeds. “We’ll finish this appointment and head to the hospital.”

I said goodbye and turned to the offending senior, who had a sheepish look on his face. “So…you were suppose to go to the ER yesterday?”

He looked at me . “Yes!”

I thought of possible responses, such as the ones he had said to me when I had violated family behavior guidelines. This would have been when he said to me, “You’re grounded!” Or, “No TV for a week!” But those punishments seemed a little excessive for an 89 year old! So I took the easy out, yielding to my belief in his wisdom and common sense.

“So why didn’t you tell us?”

“Because I wanted to wait until after lunch today!” Dad had turned 89 on Father’s Day and we had ordered a cake that would be enjoyed by him and the other thirty residents of Wyngate, the senior complex he lives in, at lunch. “But it backfired on me!”

“How so?”

“I was going to tell both you and your sister after lunch, but since the sign in the office here says to mute or turn off your cell phone they must have called your sister when I didn’t answer.” He was unrepentant, and yet a rule follower, a contradiction in human form!

“I wanted to enjoy our dinner last night and then lunch at Wyngate today, and then I was going to tell you.”

I did not have my “I can’t believe you would do that” speech rehearsed. He seemed a little old for the tirade that begins with the words, “When are you going to learn?” or “When are you going to get some common sense?”

I couldn’t fault him. He was actually thinking of others. He knew that my wife Carol was fixing dinner the night before, and he knew the Wyngate residents would be disappointed if the birthday cake was delayed. In fact, my brother-in-law delivered the cake and the residents took care of most of it. By the time they stopped eating it the wording on the top of it simply read “89th Dad!”

That’s my dad! Putting a higher importance on the taste buds of senior folk than his physician’s urgent plea to get to the Emergency Room. I faked a look of disappointment and then we finished our eye exam.

I helped him to the car, and as we drove towards the hospital he said, “Bill, let’s stop and get a sandwich on the way!”

That didn’t seem like a good idea to me. After all, he had a bowel obstruction. Logic told me that I should say no and proceed to the medical center, so I looked at him and responded, “McDonald’s, Arby’s, or Wendy’s?”

 

Sharing My Opinion

September 22, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                September 22, 2016

                                  

I received an email from Time magazine yesterday. They want my opinion on different things! They must have received a rumor that I’m opinionated and have opinions to offer on anything and everything…from the election to the price of avocados to the end of “Mike and Molly.” It’s nice to know that someone values what I’m thinking.

Sharing opinions is a risky business these days. Facebook opinions have become the Jerry Springer Show of social media. People seem to get off sharing their distorted anger, while others get even more satisfaction at telling them what pathetic losers they are…and then back to you…and then I’ll reach for an even lower comment…and then…

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus had his challengers ready to pounce. Of course, the difference is that Jesus didn’t have opinions, he had the truth. The truth got lampooned, demonized, and criticized. Jesus would have been caricatured on the editorial page every day in some cartoon drawing.

Most of us have a hard time differentiating between the truth and what is simply our opinion. In my annual eye exam my optometrist does one test where two lines gradually come together. That’s how most of us see truth and our opinion. They have become two lines of thought and understanding that we’ve brought together.

And so sharing any opinion seems to be like lighting a fuse on a conversation ready to explode. Some of us like explosions. They seem to ignite us! Others of us shake our heads in disgust and dismay.

Just think about recent opinions that divide us like New England Patriot fans versus…well, everybody else! There’s been the election, National Anthem protests prompted by recent shootings, immigration, health insurance, the cost of Epi-pens, Ryan Lochte, concussion issues in sports, and the legalization of marijuana. Wow! Time could do a couple of issues just on the issues.

And here’s the thing! In our hyper-opinionated culture the thinking seems to be that I must totally agree or totally dis-agree…that I can’t disagree 60% and agree 40%, or admit that there is some truth in the opinion that i don’t agree with. We seem to think that people have to be all in or all out!

I’ve been reading a book entitled Washington’s Circle by David and Jeanne Heidler. What  I’ve been amazed at is the opinionated founding fathers. In today’s terms we would say that they were not all on the same page. They had their opinions about issues, as well as about each other…and they seemed to be able to talk about their differences and, in most cases, come to a consensus of agreement. Perhaps a slower way of communicating helped. In many ways the speed of our interactions these days is a positive, but it has also become a liability. People don’t think before they speak or comment or send a social media post…and then let the fire begin!

A wise person longs for truth and considers the value of their words.

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?”

Eighty-Eight!

June 18, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    June 18, 2016

                                           

My dad is celebrating his eighty-eighth birthday today! Unreal!

He is the last of the generation immediately above Carol and me on the age pyramid, a gentle gentleman who never seems to be rushed in the sharing of wisdom. Wisdom and advice needs to be dished out and savored like smooth Kentucky bourbon whiskey…slowly and with great contemplation. I wouldn’t know, but my older brother, a tour guide at the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Distillery outside of Frankfort, has told me so.

It is remarkable that my dad, Laurence Hubert Wolfe, has made it this far. He has overcome a boatload of challenges through his nine decades…if you round it off to the nearest whole number. Named after two Baptist ministers, Laurence and Hubert, who helped his dad get out of the bottom of the drinking problem barrel, Dad brought us up Baptist. My brother, sister, and I frequented services and events at church three times a week…Wednesday night, Sunday morning and evening. I equated the trusted firmness of Dad’s arm with the unwavering love of God, as I leaned up against him about the time Pastor Zachary launched into his sermon. I will never know how heavy my head felt to him by the time the sermon was rounding thirty minutes and heading for an hour, I just knew that my “lean-to” never wilted.

That memory, that picture, is a telling illustration of who my father has been and still is. Consistent, solid, dependable, tender, strongly compassionate.

Dependability seems to be in short supply these days, as fathers do their own thing and seek to romance whatever or whoever pleasures them. Dads who stay the course, who keep their promises, are a rare breed.

Dad has been that rare breed. Interestingly enough, my siblings and I didn’t know that was unusual. We thought our dad was like all the other dads. We thought all dads embraced their wives in the midst of the kitchen, like my dad did, and then obediently would give my mom a kiss after she had said to him “Kiss me slobber lips, I can swim!” We thought that was normal! We thought we were normal! We thought all dads were patient, and all dads were home on Sunday nights after church eating popcorn and watching Ed Sullivan on TV. We thought all dads listened to their wives vent about what Myrtle had said to Thelma about Betty’s potato salad that had been brought to the Penney’s employees’ potluck that day. In those days there were no baseball games on TV to divide a husband’s attention, so Mom had both of Dad’s ears…and she used them with no consideration of moderation. Like Dad’s arm in the Central Baptist Church sanctuary pew, he was my mom’s “lean-to” for listening. He stayed with her in the midst of her rational and irrational moments.

Moving ahead a few decades he also stayed with her as she dealt with ill health, and then became bedridden, and then as her illnesses took away her ability to verbalize her thoughts and feelings. In their sixty-five years of marriage he had heard her say enough to know what she was thinking even when she could no longer say it. Even in the midst of Mom’s confusion towards the end of her life when she thought that Rachel Ray was Dad’s new girlfriend because her picture was on the front of a magazine laying by her bed, Dad stayed the course.

Now that he has his own apartment in a senior adult living complex that is heavily populated by widows, and lean on widowers, he gets to listen to a swarm of women every day. And they love him! He’s now the lean-to for a bunch. Valerie, Bonnie, and Bernice bring him his morning newspaper. Bernice is 93! She looks at his dinner plate as he passes by to see if he is eating healthy, even though she isn’t! Bonnie’s door is right across the hall from Dad’s staring at it, in his son’s opinion, too uncomfortably close! Robin, the building’s manager, is wonderful as she converses with him, always seeming to cause a chuckle to rise to the surface.

A lovely ninety-six year old was talking to Dad this week about the women all buying bikinis, and she was considering going topless! Dad listened and laughed. I blushed!

Tomorrow Carol and I begin our road journey home. We will worship together with my sister, brother-in-law, and Dad, and then say our tearful goodbyes. It will be hard to release the embrace, but we have our own family…that is, two generations below us on the age pyramid…to go home and hug. Three children, two son-in-laws, and three grandchildren to be the “lean-to” for. Tomorrow I’ll sit in church with Dad, just like I did fifty-five years ago. His physical strength has waned since then, but I know that his strength of character is abundant.

In new kinds of ways he’s still my “lean-to!”

Starbucks Wisdom

February 7, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   February 7, 2016

                                     

I did my usual Sunday morning time at Starbucks today. I arrive early and spend about an hour pondering, writing, and, of course, drinking coffee. The young man at the register named Chase greeted me warmly and asked me an unexpected question.

“If someone came to you and asked for a few words of wisdom that they could take with them what would you say?”

Great question…even at 7:00 in the morning! I pondered for a moment and then replied, “Find your purpose!” We had a brief conversation about what that mean, and then a few other people in need of caffeine came through the door.

What would your words of wisdom be? If a young person came to you seeking just a bit of direction for the journey of his life, what would you say?

Would your words focus on working hard? Or would they deal with living life with gusto? Would you bring integrity into your reply? Would it be about your spiritual journey with God?

The words you offer will reveal your priorities. If I went further with my words with Chase and could have offered a few other words to consider I would probably say these things:

“Relationships are more valuable than gold.”

      “The love of God is never terminated.”

      “Don’t settle for happiness. Seek joy!”

      It’s interesting that as I climbed the age ladder “work” became less important to me than relationships, and eternal matters have become more important than the temporary possessions and occurrences. Seeking joy has often gotten replaced by the temptation of happiness.

Words of wisdom, words of experience, words of having lived it.

Yesterday a young man that I’ve known for over thirty years came to visit. He is now 46, married to a great woman, and blessed with two teenage sons. In our hours together he reminded me of conversations we had years ago, and the impact of some words of wisdom I said had upon his life. Honestly, I didn’t remember the conversations, but that isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that he remembered them, and they helped him navigate the waters of his young adult years and into marriage.

The words we say have impact…even when we don’t realize it or remember what we said.

I’m getting a refill and I think I’ll expand my words to Chase as he fill my cup again: Find your purpose for living, not just an excuse for being here.

Have a wise day!

Enjoying Senior Moments

November 30, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                   November 30, 2015

                                          

I’m having more senior moments…like when I was looking for my keys and two minutes later I discovered I was holding them in my left hand…senior moments like that.

But I also enjoy senior moments. Or, put another way, moments shared with seniors. My congregation has some incredible senior folk who are a part of it. They are the most caring, unconditional love-based, surprising group that I’ve had the privilege to pastor. They genuinely support one another, offer to help with rides, call on the phone to someone who doesn’t show up at their group gatherings.

Four of them are now in their nineties, and, although the effects of age are slowing them down, they are people of incredible faith and depth. Yesterday, a cold and snowy Sunday, none of them were able to be at worship and there was something missing. Worship isn’t a choice for them. It’s a commitment, and when they can’t come it is almost always because they are sick, are afraid of falling on ice or the snow, in the hospital, or out of town.

Another of the senior couples delight me with their humor and giving spirit. I am always blessed to be in the same room with them. The wife’s laugh is contagious and joy-filled. the husband’s stories are filled with wit that result in chuckles.

A retired military man and his wife grace me with their friendship. Even though we are not necessarily on the same page politically they are two people who give to others in sacrificial ways. The wife has a heart of gold that causes her to become emotional as she talks about the ordeals that others are going through. The husband serves every Sunday in some way, whether it be transporting one of the seniors or ushering and greeting people.

There’s an African-American lady who is like my “Black Mom!” in fact, I call her “Mom” from time to time. She gives me “instruction”, just like my mom did, prays for me, gives me “the look” just like my mom did. Wisdom and exhortation from her guide me in my journey.

There’s a lady who was a baker. She kneaded the doe for bread and cinnamon rolls. Her love went into each of her baked goods. Now she “kneads” the pains and heartaches of others each day in her prayers. Like working the doe, she works the words of her prayer for the sorrows of others. Her foundations are prayer and scripture.

There’s another lady who is the group guardian. She sometimes senses the indecision of the group and says “Here’s what we’re going to do!” She senses when someone doesn’t want to impose on anyone else, and tells the the person that things will be taken care of. She’s the Joshua in a group of Jack and Jills.

Another lady, who is on the younger end of the seniors, has a gentle spirit, an attitude of grace, and the heart of a servant. A widow, she has encountered her share of sorrow, and knows the journey that many of our senior folk are on.

There’s another woman who moved here a few years ago from another state. She volunteers whenever there is a need…at the local school, for Wednesday night dinners, giving out food to those in need, making quilts and clothing. The last few months have been hard for her as her health has taken some hits. She does not have a high opinion of doctors, but has a very high opinion and love for the woman just mentioned before her.

A widower who has started coming to our group recently is my razor…and also someone I razz. We feel very comfortable giving soft jabs to one another. I had his wife’s funeral a few years ago. She was killed by a drunk driver. Pain and sorrow have punctuated his world, and this group of seniors keeps him anchored and cared for.

Another woman who is fairly new to the group makes the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. In her mid-eighties she has a smile that would like up a cereal box and a warmth that is accepting of others.

Another couple are like Aquila and Priscilla, serving in ways that do not make headlines, but needed. The man has become the best friend of another guy who has endured a life of disappointment and heartache. These two are people who are gifts from God, people who “come alongside” someone in need.

And then there is a transplanted Buckeye who is in the midst of jubilation this week for his college team’s victory over Michigan. He imparts his wisdom to me, and encouragement for decisions made and sermons preached. His emails are always in capital letters. In fact, if they were capitalized I would instantly know someone had pretended to be him.

So many blessings! So much enjoyment that has come into my life from folk who have traveled the journey of life.

As I enter my last month as their pastor I know…i know…I know that I have been greatly blessed!