Paths

It is one of those seasons again. One of those seasons we refer to as change.
It is often intimidating and filled with question. Will it be positive, will it be scary or may it be peaceful and exciting. Win/Win is rarely the face of change. There was a man who confronted times like these often. Few believed Him. It was in times like these that His advice was to share a moment with His mentor.

“My Father which art in Heaven,
Hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom Come,
Thy will be done on Earth,
As it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who have trespassed against us.
Lead us not into tempataion
(But when we have been tempted)
Deliver us from evil.
For yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.”

Not a bad place to start to seek a friend and a mentor for yourself.
The journeys come with no guarantees but you needn’t make them alone.
There is one who will always have time to listen, and who will always find
time to pray just for you.
“Seek and you shall find,
Knock and it shall be opened”

Such a co-pilot is GOD’s greatest gift to all of us if we but choose to open the box….

The Way I Am

I have been very fortunate to have met many people in my life over these many years now. There is a whole set of these people that come to my mind as a group. They have come across my path in many different settings but their banner reads similar to this:

“That is just the way I am and if you don’t like it that is just too bad. I can’t help but saying what I say.”

Jesus said “You must move away from your parents to follow me.”

I struggled with that concept for years. Why would Jesus say such a thing about parents? My dad believed that dogs were the best way to handle civil rights marches in the day when they started.

“Love one another.” Not the same trip as my dad. The prejudices of those I held as peers were somewhat opposed to the simplicity of  “Love One Another”. Many “believers” are so far away from “Love One Another” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” I am constantly reminded of “Be aware of those who come in my name…..”.

“Just the way that I am” may be a poor excuse for behavior. Respect is often never easy.
“Walk in another man’s moccasins for his miles before making your opinion”. The cultures and their tidbits such as this are the place to discover. “Love one another” is so simple and so hard at the same time. What way are you going to be? Really.

Live Today

I have a page called tidbits. Little sayings to live by. I add this one.

The past is for memories
The future is for dreams
The present is for living………

I get asked every day, “How are you today.” For the most part I respond, “I’ve made it this far. I guess I am doing all right.”
I appreciate the memories, good, bad and sad. They created the pathway to today. Today is the foundation for the future, the dreams. But more important than the dreams, is the reality of another opportunity. The present brings with it the touches, smells, frustrations, wishes, and realities that are life. The present is for living, and what wonderful gift that is.

Have a wonderful day today.

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