Archive | November, 2015

The End of “Us”

30 Nov

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent.  “Prophet’s Sunday.”  We remember the prophets and the role they played in the Advent of Christ.  Their message?  HOPE.  God has not forgotten His people.  A Messiah will be born and will save God’s people from imminent ruin.  From the pain and guilt of sin.  From the dark forces of this world that seek to destroy God’s people.  It was quite a message, told to the Children of Israel for centuries.

Today, in 2015 A.D., the world is not so different.  And neither is the message.  And neither are the recipients of His message.

And, as Father Alfred Delp once wrote, in order for us to fully realize the impact of the Advent of Christ, we need to recognize the state in which we really find ourselves.  No, we do not have it all together (no matter how much we pretend).  Yes, we are in desperate need of a Savior.  We need to find that place where each of us ENDS and He begins!!!

Much like the Children of Israel, we find ourselves in a world where almost every man and woman seeks to do what is right in their own eyes, and they do not care for God’s input on the matter.  So many have not only put God on the back shelf, they have removed Him completely from their lives (or so they believe).

What can we do??  PRAY.  EXAMINE OURSELVES.  BE THE SALT AND LIGHT this world so desperately needs.  FOLLOW CHRIST.

Have faith.  God is still on His throne.  He still has a plan.  You are STILL a part of that plan.

Let’s try this again

23 Nov

The season is here.  Thanksgiving is three days away and Christmas around the corner.  And I am not sure I am ready for all of this.

This season has not been so good to the Wike clan in recent years.  In 2014, I had to head home on the Monday before Thanksgiving due to the death of my uncle, Bob Wike (Dad’s only brother).  Uncle Bob had become a great link to Dad’s life as a young man and I really appreciated the times we would sit and talk when he visited Dad.  He was a miracle in himself, one of the first kidney transplants at MUSC over 40 years ago.  I miss him.

Then, of course, there is last year.  Almost every day now I think about where we were this time last year, and what happened on that day.  It was surreal.  There are times when I still cannot believe it all unfolded the way it did.

Dad lost his father (and my grandfather) Clarence Wike in July of 1966.  I was almost a year old, so I never really knew him.  Dad told me years later that a day didn’t go by that he didn’t think about his dad and miss him.  I had no idea how true all of that is.  I still dream about them.  Occasionally I remember that I haven’t called them yet for the day.  Then it hits …

Now, here I am preparing for the Thanksgiving worship at Ebenezer (which I haven’t been able to attend since 2013)… All I can think about is how this will be the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without them.

So, I’m going to try this again.  Hoping I will be able to worship with my EBC family tomorrow evening, and again on Sunday.  And missing Mom and Dad.  And thankful they lived lives that were worth missing.

It’s hard to lead from the rear

17 Nov

Work ethic … What do those words mean to you??  I am thankful my dad taught me his work ethic.  Jump in the ditch and get it done … Whatever “it” might be.  It’s okay to get dirty doing hard work.  Something worth doing is worth doing the right way.  So many other things Don Wike taught me, his only son.  And I appreciate them.

Years later, I find myself in a place of leadership.  I constantly read leadership theories and input from other leaders, especially other pastors in whom I place trust.  There are men in my life who have walked the paths that I walk.  I KNOW they have faced some of the same obstacles I face.  They probably will never know the difference they make for me.

So many of them have taught me things that are consistent with those taught by my dad.  One of the most valuable, and one that I wish every young minister (and every young person) would take note of is this:  It is hard to lead from the rear.  You can do it, but not for long.

If you are trying to lead others, they see and they can tell if you are phoning it in.  They are much more likely to follow a leader who has feet on the ground than one who sits atop a horse behind them, barking orders for them to obey.  Sometimes you have to SHOW the way to those who lead.  When they have their feet beneath them, you can multiply effectiveness by sending them in one direction (especially if you are marching toward another direction).  This will only work once a leader has taught, trained, and prepared his/her followers to march on their own.

Work ethic.  If you have it, people around you will see it.  If you don’t, they will see that, too.  Jump into the ditch.  Get dirty when necessary.  Those who follow you will not only appreciate it, they won’t hesitate to jump in when its their time.

More than Worship

16 Nov

People are funny …  The smallest things drive us over the edge.  We place tremendous value on items that mean so little in God’s grand scheme.

I once heard a story about a very smart man.  He had heard all of his life (just as I have) the you cannot take your earthly riches with you to heaven.  Personally, I have never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul trailer.  But, anyway …  This man somehow figured it out.  Just before his final step into eternity, he developed a special bag and filled it with gold bars.  He passed away and his family buried him with the bag.  When he opened his eyes for the first time after death, his bag was by his side!!  HE WAS THRILLED!!

As he walked with St Peter through the pearly gates, he found the bag was too heavy to lift.  He was dragging the bag along while he talked to St Peter.  Peter said nothing of the bag at first, but finally had to know.  The man described how he had figured this whole thing out.  Peter said “You, sir, are a brilliant man.  And I cannot wait to see what you brought over from the other side!”  The man opened the bag and Peter gazed in ..

“PAVEMENT???  YOU BROUGHT PAVEMENT????”  The bars of gold the man held so dear on earth were nothing more than pavement for the streets of heaven …

We miss the boat in so many ways when we choose to see life from our perspective instead of from God’s perspective.  We judge churches based on our preferences and what makes us feel good, and have forgotten that worship is all about God.  It is actually OUR response to Him.  It is for Him, meant to be burned as a fragrant offering to please Him.

We forget that a church, a local group of believers, have gathered to pursue all five functions of a New Testament church.  Worship is certainly the most important, but every local church should be engaged in EVANGELISM.  If we are not telling the lost about Jesus Christ, we are NOT functioning as a New Testament church  Every local church should be engaged in DISCIPLESHIP, teaching each other everything we have learned from our collective relationships with God.  Every local church should be engaged in MINISTRY, serving not only the needs within our church, but also the needs of our community and our world in EVERY WAY God has called us.  Every local church should be engaged in FELLOWSHIP.  We care about each other.  We are family.  We will hold each other to be accountable.

There are five functions of a New Testament church.  It really is about more than worship, and even when it comes to worship, it is all about HIM.  Not US.

IF Christ is your Savior, I pray for you today that you will live to fulfill these five functions.  Because, guess what?  The CHURCH is not an address or a set of buildings … The CHURCH is YOU.