The Visitors

Do you have visitors?
Not the people that come to your home, or office, or events. I mean spiritual visitors.

I remember when my mother passed away I was speaking at her funeral. (To the effect of): “It is sad for all of us but Mom is now in a position that she had never been in before. She can keep track of all of us any time she wished. She could extend a hand in a dream, or in a passing remembrance.She had the ability through her spirit to follow our careers and our lives and contact us in ways we simply can not understand.”

That was 30 years ago. I am now older than she was when she passed away. Now I am that stage of life where I hear of old friends who also are passing away. They too are available in a different sphere. There are different triggers for each of them. Remembrances of events, numbers, favorite plants, things they liked and appreciated that made them unique. Then, once in a while you notice the plant, the number, the event, the hobby and a conversation develops. In a space beyond our grasping, you spend some time with the visitor. The conversation may calm a fear, encourage an activity, or put one at rest on a hectic day.

DO you have visitors? Someday I may be able to visit also.

Break Down The Walls

Break Down The Walls

Click the left start arrow to begin the song.

Here, in this song written many years ago, is the essence of ‘History Repeats Itself’. It was 2002, right after 9-11. I was creating a special concert event to have just before the Winter Olympics were to be held in Salt Lake City. The tension due to the Middle Eastern origin of 911 was strong. My Christian friends who had migrated from Pakistan to have religious freedom were fearful of reprisal and the politics of the event were high. I was preparing music for a “bring our cultures together” kind of event to reach out beyond the event of 911 to those who were also victims due to the part of the world that they had migrated from. Not too much different than we are experiencing today. Today I no longer live in Salt Lake, I live in El Paso, Texas. No longer is it a theological wall we build, but a physical wall. The song is as appropriate today, if not more so, in light of today’s rhetoric.

This music classification is Christian. My primary website is called Unorthodox Christianity. Christian signifies a belief in the teachings of Jesus, believed by many to be the chosen “Christus” of GOD. One that a great many Americans profess to follow, and politicians cling to for votes and pound their chests over. The song calls into question their true conviction to what they profess to believe in and challenges them to put their beliefs into action.  They also can be convicted by it. One should not use the Christian bumper sticker if they are not willing to live by the teachings. One does not condemn the parent for the acts of a wayward child. We can not punish a culture for the acts of a few of their members, or their Leaders.

Take in the song and choose your side of the argument.

Lyrics and more can be found at: www.denniscwheelermusic.com

 

Familiar Faces

Who did you see in the crowd today? Did you see a familiar looking face? Someone you know, or someone you knew years ago? I saw a familiar face in the crowd the other day. Someone I knew very well. It’s not that I hadn’t seen him the crowd in many days or years. It wasn’t that I remembered him from past employment or from school or college.

It was the frown. It was that tired look. It was the “off to work again” look.  I turned a bit and saw my own face reflected in a store window. It was the same face. Where did the energy go? I look harder now for the happy face. The, “I’m in love with today face.”  I guess it has to start with me.

Be the familiar face that causes people to smile and not frown. Lighting up your little corner of the world lights up other’s corners. And then, when you see your reflection in the mirror, you smile too. Make today a place of familiar faces, happy and blessed ones.

Which Child?

Which Child: from 5-24-98  by dennis wheeler from my Sermon Series.
A variation from which a preceding post took direction. Be patient.

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
It sounds so simple, come to me as a child, become like little children.

“Daddy, could you open this jar of jelly for me?”
“Mommy, could you reach that box for me?”
“Daddy, could you help me build a boat out of these 2×4’s.?”
“Mommy, could you help me learn to ride my bike?”
“Daddy, could you help me with my homework?”

Is this the little child we are to take to God?

I remember the first time I heard this child, perhaps you remember this child also:
“I CAN DO IT MYSELF!!”
Is this the child we take to God, the child who now knows so much that we can afford to sell the encyclopedias, give up the internet and needn’t seek out answers from anyplace else?

“Dad, is it ok if I moved back into my old room for awhile?”
“Mom, can I borrow your car, mine has run out of gas.”
Is this the child we take to God, the child who has confronted an issue too complicated to fix in the current time frame allotted and is now willing to seek parental help?

“MY GOD, MY GOD , FORGIVE ME, I AM A SINNER!!”
Is this the child we take to God? At the bottom of a deep well where the light is just a pinhole in a darkened sky?

It seems that as we get older, we learn to rely less on God’s help, and more on our own ability to accomplish tasks. The child who knows it all still sometimes needs their parent to open a pickle jar or get the bike down from the rack in the garage. They may still need you to help them by steadying the bike as they are learning to ride, but all too soon it is “….see you later.”

Initially they need you to get the bottle ready, they need a touch and a hug… And then there is that magical day – “I CAN DO IT MYSELF’.
At some point, many points in our lives, we are more than willing to let God take over…..the lowest parts of our lives, when all else has failed…..”God, you there?” and then, as we get back on our feet again…..        “I CAN DO IT MYSELF!”

You must come to me as the little child, make yourself like the child, dependent on God’s help. Somewhere in life we go from being a child of faith to being a skeptical adult. When exactly do we lose faith that God is available to help us?

  • I remember golfing with my Dad. He was as consistent a golfer as I have ever met. He would take innumerable perfect practice swings, a swing honed by hours of hitting little wiffle golf balls in the back yard. He would play a few super golf holes and make some tremendous shots. Then I would begin to hear, “How did I do that..” He began to analyze his success. And rather than just swinging away naturally, he would try to duplicate “the secret”. His game went to heck in a hand basket. He had lost faith in that natural swing and thought that science could make it “perfect’, never realizing that the swing he had was perfect for him already.

“Yet, I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”
The church that John was writing to in Ephesus was a reflection of these same people that Jesus was talking to. Probably a lot like us. They had drifted away from the faith in the word that had motivated their beginnings. They had attained a great height as a powerful church, but were slipping. John was saying “get back to your roots, be that child of faith again, rely on God again and not yourselves alone.”

“I CAN DO IT MYSELF”, it is often not the young church that is struggling, it is the older, wiser church that stumbles. I have attended many a board meeting, in many churches and religious organizations and the debate goes like this:
“We don’t have enough money in the bank.” (When did my daughter ever concern herself with money. “Dad, isn’t that a nice blouse. shoes, slacks, etc”. Nothing outlandish, but always items she felt I’d provide.)

“We don’t have enough members.”( I remember moving to Kansas City as a teenager, it took forever to find friends. When I moved to Billings from Minnesota I told my daughter  “you’ll find friends.” When we moved to Salt Lake my daughter, in turn, said to us, “You’ll find friends.”)

“God didn’t answer that prayer of ours way back when.” (Garth Brooks says, “Thank God for unanswered prayer.”)

“We’ll never make that mistake again”. That is often the closest to becoming like a child again many churches get, or ourselves.

The only failure is the failure to try. You must change, you must become as one of these children to enter the kingdom of God. The youthful, “help us God”, church of Ephesus, (or you) had become the older and wiser, mature, thoughtful, thinking, pondering, debating cautious conservative church of Ephesus.

“You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen.” At what point do we grow out of faith? At what point do we construct our “I can do it myself” religion or personal faith.

When I change, and go to Jesus as a child, what am I taking with me? Fear, guilt, hate, anger, the boogieman in the closet or under the bed, depression. Maybe success. Maybe I am spending too much time figuring out why good things are happening and have gotten complacent with my God. Success has bank accounts, balance sheets, logic…faith has prayer, and a belief that when Daddy tosses me up in the air, Daddy will catch me on the way down. Faith may be being able to do it yourself, but is also wise enough to ask for, count on, and expect God’s interaction with us. As humans, we constantly struggle with the idea of doing it ourselves. Independence is a goal, freedom is our motto, nobody tells us what to do. Don’t trust anyone over 30? They never said I’d be over 60. Unfortunately, in the midst of doing it ourselves comes ….life….up the side of the head, in the heart, in our minds, against our dreams.
This is the child that goes back to God, this is the church that goes back to God. The Living Bible translates the passage: “you don’t love me as at first. Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before.”
I CANNOT DO IT MYSELF.
BUT YOU DO NOT NEED TO.

I NEED YOUR HELP: a favorite writing goes: “My precious child, I have always been with you, during those times of your life which were the toughest, where there was only one set of footprints in the sand, that is when I carried you.” God carries people, families, churches, organizations…children. Come back to God as a child, with the faith that says, “I can’t do it, but you can, and I am here that I might be of help to you.”

“I will dry every tear that you cry…..Because you are a child of mine”   Amen.

Whomever your GOD is, I pray for you that your God is as helpful to you, as mine has been to me…  dw

Leave The Victory to Him

I have just been adding an old song to my music site. Remember, the title of this web blog is Unorthodox Christianity, and this song and its meaning and story embody what it is to be an Unorthodox Christian. The context meaning of this song is below.  The words to the song are below the story. Click on the left control button to play the song.

 

9-11-2001 was an emotional day for all of us, and it set off an emotional roller coaster we have been on ever since.  Many of the events surrounding that time come to mind. Where you were, what you were doing when you heard, the TV images, the angst, the reactions.

I remember the Sunday following Sept 11, 2001.

As they entered the sanctuary to pray, I could see the stress on the faces of my Pakistani Christian friends. The brush we were painting with as a nation was obviously very broad. I walked up and extended a hug. The hug and thank you I received were so warm, unlike any before or since. The tragedy had struck all of us irregardless of race, religion, location. It was an attack on the world, not just America. The victims came from around the world, all walks of life, and crossed cultural and religious lines. The darker skin of the Pauls was the skin that Jesus would have been wearing on that day. I am sure the pressure that He (Jesus) would have felt would have been just as intense.

A month later, as the United States response was taking shape, I found myself performing music at a Christian men’s retreat in central Idaho. The talk of the event was still very fresh, and vehement. As the weekend progressed the air was tainted by the anger. As often happens, I chose to express my opinion through the music GOD gave me. You are listening to that song as you read this. The message of JESUS, whom we professed to believe in and follow, was being sacrificed to our own survival of the fittest animal instinct.

I don’t believe that our response as a nation would have been reflected in the response of our teacher. Rather than contain the loss of life to those who weren’t waylayed for one reason or another, to those from every nation who were in the building or on a plane or fought the fires, the loss has been magnified to the families of troops from all over America and the world that have found themselves engaged in a war that is more politics than it has been protective. It has resulted in more terrorism, not less. If the terrorist intent was to kill as many as possible in one radical attack, we have certainly accommodated their desires quite well over the ensuing years.

Jesus was radical because His response to life’s events was so against our instinct. The challenge to follow the charge of Love One Another is as difficult today, and as remote to our leaders, as it was to the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus own world. I can only pray that the outcome to our nation today is not reflective of the outcome that came to the Pharisees within theirs who also chose to ignore the message.

‘Leave The Victory To Him’ is for those who may still feel that GOD isn’t big enough to fight GODS own battles GODS way. I don’t believe our future will be secure as long as we feel that we need to beat people into loving. Love One Another is the charge, and Leave the Victory to Him.

Thank you.

Leave The Victory to Him
W/m dennis wheeler© 2001

There is a gospel of the Christian that we must hold as true,

 It is a teaching of their master

That they are bound by nails to.

 It’s not a complicated concept.

It isn’t hard to understand.

Simply Love One Another,

and offer helping hands .

 Leave the Victory to Him   

 Leave the victory to Him    

   Simply Love one another  

   And Leave the Victory to Him..   

We often focus on conversion

and not the message of the cross.

For if you Love One another,

then the sacrifice is not lost.

For God can speak to every nation,

the only victory to win,

is to love one another,

 And leave the victory to him.

     Chorus

        Repeat 1st verse.

 

Nostagia

Sitting at today’s open house I took a trip down memory lane. I stumbled across Gunsmoke and Bonanza for a break from the mundane on the tv at the open house. I grew up with Gunsmoke and Bonanza,The Lone Ranger and Mighty Mouse. I was impressed and amazed by these old favorites. I remembered the lessons. The good guys won. The bad guys lost. No one swore and people spoke with respect. It was not R Rated or preceded by a warning.
Today, at my age, I still say Sir and Ma’am. I try to respect the opinions of others and I expect the same. I felt that stirring of hope as I did as a young man looking forward, not necessarily the same feeling today’s news brings. How did I ever make it this far?
Probably because I learned from Matt Dillon and Ben Cartwright. I watched Bonanza with the Grove’s who had the first color tv in the neighborhood. We talked across a living room table and the phone didn’t interrupt Sunday night and I didn’t spend quality time texting. Dick Grove retired to his basement after the show to write thank you notes to the customers he had met the week before as a traveling salesman.
Please and thank you were ingrained in my spirit.
It is hard to keep those days alive today. It can only be done in your own corner of the universe. Share your memories of your growing up. Before Vietnam, before Desert Storm.
The majority of us turned out well because of what we watched when television was entertainment and it’s education undefined. Watch a few episodes of Andy Griffith.
Thank you.

 

The Slow Tide

lowtide

Have you ever found progress to be an exacerbating program. One step forward and 2 steps back? The rewards that one dreams will come this afternoon haven’t arrived yet years later? Are we expecting too much, too soon? Or, have we not been entirely lost.
When I look back at the years gone by I see different answers to the original questions. Answers I never could have conceived of in my wildest dreams. Yet, over the years, I have made progress. As I look back I see the wealth of the journey thus far. Not the financial boon as experienced by some, but a journey that that has been filled with memories that I would never trade and of mentors who will be with me throughout the rest of my journey. I truly have been blessed. Yes, moving forward can be a slow process, but it sure beats moving backwards.

dw