Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Quote from William H. Wilmon

"Jesus doesn’t meet our needs, He rearranges them. He cares very little about most things that I assume are my needs and He gives me needs I never would have had if I hadn’t met Jesus. He reorders them.

I used to ask seminarians, “Why are you in seminary?” They’d say, “I like meeting people’s needs” and I’d say, “Whoa! Really? If you try that with people I know, they’ll eat you alive.”

Now, if you’re a pastor in Honduras, it might be ok to define your ministry as meeting needs because most people in Honduras have interesting Biblical needs—food, clothing, housing. But most people in the churches I know get these needs met without prayers so they’ve moved on to “needs” like orgasm, a satisfying career, an enjoyable love life, a positive outlook on life and stuff the Bible has absolutely no interest in."
by William H. Wilmon, Bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Those are strong words, and words we all need to hear.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


J. D. Wetterling was a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot in Viet Nam; he grew up on a farm in southwestern Illinois. He went to Viet Nam with three other pilots; J.D. was the only one to come home alive; the other three are on “The Wall” and their bones have become soil in mountains and hills of Viet Nam and Laos. J. D. wrote a book about Viet Nam entitled Son of Thunder, the story of his experiences, and those of his three buddies, as fighter pilots in Viet Nam. I heard it is a great book written by this Christian man.

I drove home last Friday night and J. D. Wetterling was on my mind. What kind of war book is it? Blood and glory, young stud bravado or is it the truth that war hurts and leaves many scars that will always be scars to remind us of our experiences.

It seems only fighter jocks, special forces, generals and colonels write books about wars Buck sergeants, electronics technicians and Air Force mechanics don’t write books and nobody could care less if they did. You see, we are the world behind the scenes, the out of the way ones, quiet and no one noticed what we did except the pilots.

Col. Robin Olds, a Viet Nam fighter pilot says for every pilot who flies, it takes a North Dakota farm boy to be his crew chief to keep the plane flying. I saw them work day and night; they slept on the tarmac using their toolbox for pillows when they were AWAP (AWAP means awaiting parts.) No one saw them cry when their pilot did not come back. It haunts every crew chief and his mechanics; “Did the bird not perform right, was that the reason he didn’t come home?” Those things linger. Scars, I guess. No one has written a book about this and no one ever will.

After so many years, why would I bring this up? I guess in any great endeavor many people contribute mightily and it seems no one notices or cares.

When I began my preaching, I preached at a campground in Cokato. I opened the sermon by giving a test of sorts to the campers. My question was “Who does the work for God?” It was a multiple choice test. The choices were: 1) a woman wiping the nose of a baby, 2) a man cleaning an apartment for a young family, 3) a missionary sharing Christ, 4) a woman cooking supper. I asked the question, not expecting an answer, but one came from a man named Jerry. He was tall and thin, always came late, wore a slouch hat and usually had the smell of alcohol on his breath. He raised his hand and yelled out, “They all are doing the work of God.” Yes, he is right. The sovereign God of the universe uses all people to work for “good of those who love the Lord.” They all are doing the work of God. I Corinthians 10:31 says: "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Are you one who has given every ounce of devotion in family, business or wherever and no one ever seems to notice? Be encouraged, God notices and He cares about it. Our job is to be obedient to God, aim to please Him in all that we do, and He will bless us in all our unrecognized work. May God get the glory for He alone deserves it!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Why the guys in the Bible study loved Stephen - Acts 7

He was like Jesus:
full of Spirit
full of grace
a bold preacher
loving, forgiving
gave his life for others
he was a common “waiter of tables” like us
a common man full of power

People say to be like Jesus seems impossible but we can be like Stephen.

Kierkegaard, the Danish Christian writer said, “Salvation must come by suffering not power…suffering and power are always linked."

A German priest by the name of Maximillian Kolbe took the place of a man with a family who was to be killed during World War II. He said, “And what use are victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves? Indifference towards the things of God is the deadliest enemy of any soul.”

I quote August Francke of Halle, Germany:
A life changed
A church revived
A nation reformed
A world evangelized

I’ll add: “And the Lord glorified.”

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Other Side of Sam

He is 83 years old; business owner; talkative; belligerent; with a sly smile behind his hardened bravado. We have butted heads over the years; he can be a real pain in the butt but he is honest, truthful and fair.

I knew he was a veteran of World War II; went in at 18, he was infantry in Italy, France, Germany. He wonders why God spared him. His best friend died right beside him; they had been foxhole buddies through most of the war. He was the first squad leader in Dachau concentration camp. His eyes became shiny as he told me that. He said, “Jerry, I saw things a man should never have to see.” As squad leader, he struggled to keep his soldiers from executing on the spot, the German officers who were in charge of the concentration camp. He stopped talking and just looked at the floor…

His head came up with a smile. He changed subjects. He said, “Jerry, do you know I was born in Poland? My parents, my brother and grandmother were escaping Russia when my mother began to have labor pains. They stopped at a farm in Poland. The only room was in the barn. The farmer’s wife went off to get the midwife but before she got back, I was born. January 16, 1923.” He said, “I was born in a barn, like someone else you know” (meaning Jesus). He knows I’m a Christian and Sam is a Jew.

We finished our business. I thanked him for his service to his adopted country. He smiled and said, “It’s a long way from a barn in Poland to Minneapolis.” I guess so.

How many people do we pass each day and yet we know very little if anything about their lives? Lord, slow me up to value each and every soul that comes into my life. If it be your will Lord, bless me with the gift of truly knowing your sons and daughters.

Yes, it is a long way from a barn in Poland to Minneapolis. Eighty three busy years…a long way but the time, yes the time, he said, has flown so fast.