Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Colts Rock!!! 11-0 Baby!

Going to Mass

I went to mass today. The mother-in-law of one of your church elders passed away. She was Catholic, so I attended the mass held in her honor. As a non-catholic, I've only been to a handful of masses in my day. To be honest, I sort of grew up with an unspoken suspicion about the church of Rome. They worshiped Mary. They had idols in their church building. They venerated the saints and called their preacher "Father." These were the biases with which I grew up.

Interesting that I saw none of that today. Sure, there were statues in the building. There was one of Mary and one of Joseph holding a carpenter's square. There was one of Jesus with a red heart on his chest, and one of Him on the cross. My favorite was the one of St. Michael. He was standing above the altar in Roman military dress.

But these weren't the center of the service. I was surprised at how much scripture I heard. I was always taught that Catholics were not "people of the book." I was startled at how often I heard Christ's name praised. I was taught that Jesus was subordinate to Mary in the Catholic church. I was pleasantly pleased by the very scriptural and encouraging homily that Father Dave preached.

I'm not going to convert anytime soon. Yes, I still hold some differences with the Catholic church. I plan to stay right where I am at, preaching in an Independent Christian Church. But after today, I'll think of my Catholic friends more as brothers and sisters. Siblings with whom I disagree on some important matters of faith, but siblings nonetheless rather than the wayward cousins I've always thought them to be.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Absent Infant

Our home is coming alive with holiday charm. In an eight hour decorating frenzy, my family and I took down the “regular” decorations and replaced them with festive snowmen, wreaths, garland and twinkle lights. Our tree is up. All that is missing are the gifts beneath it.

My favorite spot is “the nativity room.” That is what we’re calling our dining room where there are an assortment of crèches on display. There is one we bought many years ago. It didn’t cost a lot, but it was more than we could afford at the time. It is traditional with moss on the roof and ceramic statuettes. My sister loaned us a beautiful set. A missionary living in Africa, she was afraid to ship it overseas. It is elegant, a pearly white. Our newest addition was a stunning “Willow Tree” version, a gift from my mother-in-law.

In the course of setting out our nativity sets, I noticed that the oldest of them sustained some damage. Sometime after last Christmas several of the animals broke. The camel lost his hump. The donkey is missing one ear. One of the Wisemen was decapitated. A childhood Vacation Bible School project, I’ve owned these statues since I was a boy. So, in spite of the broken pieces, I decided to display what was left.

But when I set them all out I noticed that baby Jesus was missing. He was nowhere to be found among the shards of ceramic in the bottom of the bag. The infant was absent. I contemplated discarding the battered set, but then stopped. The fact is the baby is missing from many people’s Christmas. Lost in the hectic hubbub of the holiday is the reality that God’s Son came to earth to redeem mankind. Christ is at the center of Christmas!

So my incomplete nativity set remains in a place of honor as a reminder that whenever Jesus is missing, there is something that is just not right about Christmas. Hopefully all is well with you this yuletide season. If not, maybe you’ll discover the solution when you find the missing Jesus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A Frankly Speaking Christmas Carol

(Sung to the tune of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music)

Christmas cards, stockings and trees that catch fire,
Shopping mall craziness raises my ire.
Visiting in-laws the wife to appease.
These are the "joys" of life’s holiday squeeze.

Snowdrifts in my yard and ice in my gutters.
Shoveling sidewalks with children who mutter.
Iced over windows and dead batteries.
These are the "joys" of life’s holiday squeeze.

School’s out early,
Kids are surly,
Mom and dad are cranks
I try to remember my holiday cheer,
But its hard this time of year.

Maybe this year I can focus on Jesus.
God’s Son sent earthward from our sin to free us.
He is the reason for holiday cheer,
He brings real joy in this time of the year.

The seasons adornments are all quite inspiring.
But if they’re our focus they only cause tiring.
They’re not the reason for holiday cheer,
He brings real joy in this time of the year.

Little baby,
In the manger,
Sent from God above.
A Savior from Heaven the world to redeem,
To manifest God’s great love!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Laptop Update

As you regular readers of Frankly Speaking know, we're raising funds to buy a laptop for Airman Trevor Thompson. Trevor is in the United States Air Force, serving in Great Britain. He would like a bare-bones laptop so he can email his family, his girlfriend, and even his ol' pal Pastor Frank, once in a while.

We received word from the Sons of the American Legion today that they are donating $250 toward this effort! Thanks! This means we're halfway toward the purchase price of the computer. We need an additional $250 as well as some money for shipping. Wouldn't it be great if we could get this done and to Trevor in time for Christmas!

If you would like to contribute, please send your check to:

Butler Church of Christ
ATTN: Frank Weller
PO Box 344
Butler, IN 46721

Make the check payable to the church and write, "Trevor's Laptop" in the subject line.


Friday, November 18, 2005


The Drudge Report is reporting that two senators tried to have language inserted into a Senate bill that would have federal buildings named after them. Can you believe the arrogance? Fortunately the wisdom of those with lesser egos prevailed and these two will now have to be content with seeing their names on the cover of the books they will have ghost-written for them if they ever run for President. Come to think of it, I am the President of our local library board. Maybe I can name something after me? "The Frank E. Weller Utility and Storage Shed." Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Rick, Jr.??

I'm a big Rick Warren fan. My wife thinks I look like Rick. Or maybe that Rick looks like me. I would agree - sixty pounds ago. I've lost eighty-five pounds since March. Looks like maybe Rick found it. I wonder if he might be looking for a double to go to bookstores for book signings? Hmmmm.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Discarded Trophies

In a frenzy of cleaning last night, I asked my sons to take their baseball trophies up to their rooms. Prominently displayed on the kitchen hutch, it was time to move the trophies out to get ready for the Christmas decorations that are to follow shortly.

Funny thing about trophies today. Kids get them for everything. Once reserved only for those who won the league championship, kids get trophies for merely participating. There are trophies for best defensive player, best offensive player, best dressed . . . okay I may be exagerating a bit, but just a bit.

I grew up in a 4-H family. My dad won only one trophy during his 4-H years. My sister and I, thanks in large part to our dad, won considerably more. Where are they now? In the attic and the basement, largely discarded. Yesterday's trophies aren't nearly as significant as I thought they would be when I hoisted them in triumph twenty years ago.

The fact is, we're all going to discard our trophies. The hymn writer George Bennard wrote:

So I'll cherish the old rugged cross,
'Til my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it one day for a crown.

Sensing his death was imminent, the Apostle Paul wrote ". . . there is in store for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Trading my dusty trophies for a resplendant crown? Sounds like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Royalty Relinquished

Associated Press reported today that Sayako Michiko, the daughter of Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, gave up her royal status as princess by marrying Yoshiki Kuroda, a Tokyo city employee, earlier today.

While she was given a generous 1.5 million dollar dowry, Kuroda is a princess no more. What would cause her to relinquish her title and all the benefits of royalty? Love. She fell in love with a "commoner." Love made her trade the palace for an apartment, her carriage for a car.

This isn't the first time such a thing has happened. Jesus left His royal throne to become a commoner, too. And He did it without any dowry to sustain Him. Charles Wesley wrote,

He left his Father's throne above,
So free, so infinite his grace!
Emptied himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam's helpless race.

What would cause Christ to exchange sovereignty for humanity? Love, of course.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Buy A Service Man a Laptop

Airman Trevor Thompson needs a laptop so he can communicate with his family. Trevor is an nineteen-year-old young man who attends Butler Church of Christ when he's home on leave. Trevor was recently posted to Great Britain. Eventually, he expects to go to Iraq. He would like to be able to email his mom, his friends, and his girl back home. Can you help? The Sons of the American Legion here in our home town is considering contribuing half the cost of this computer. It is a basic laptop that will cost about $500. We need another $250 to go the rest of the way. If you can help Trevor, please go to the Butler Church of Christ website and contact me there. Or, send your donation to Butler Church of Christ, PO Box 344, Butler, IN, 46721. Please include a note detailing what your gift is for. Thanks!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Voices From Beyond

Bob Hose was a great guy. A father, grand-father and a good friend, Bob passed away a few weeks back. I presided at his funeral. Imagine my surprise when I phoned his wife Nora and heard Bob's voice on the answering machine. For a moment, it seemed as though he had never gone. Bob would have loved that. He always had a great sense of humor, clowning around with his grandchildren or teasing Nora.

At his funeral, his grandsons spoke of Bob's love of sports. He was a skilled baseball player in his youth, nearly receiving a minor league contract from the Cleveland Indians. He loved to watch his grandsons play basketball. He was devoted to IU hoops. Both his granddaughters and his grandson Ben sang. I was touched when Beth sang about home being where Jesus is (and Bob) and how she had "never been more homesick than now."

I hope Nora doesn't change her answering machine for a while. Bob's voice is a great reminder that I will see him again - that this life isn't the end. For now, it is just his voice I hear; soon enough, I'll see him, too.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

November 15th!

Gun season is almost here! My boys and I are getting ready to head to the woods in search of the elusive Whitetail Deer. Of course, if history is any indicator, Mrs. Weller will get a bigger buck than me once again. The problem is, while I use a 12-guage, she generally fills her tag with "fender-guage." Maxton's Body Shop loves the Wellers almost as much as they love deer season.

The Other Side of the Hospital Bed

I recently underwent major surgery. This was a first for me. (I did have my tonsils removed when I was seven. I think everyone my age did – a whole generation of tonsil-less people. I stayed overnight and my parents gave me a stuffed dolphin, which I still have.) This was the real deal - a surgery followed by a three day stay and a multiple week recovery period. Fact is I shouldn’t be writing this now. If my wife finds out I’ve sneaked in to the office to pen this article, she will be most displeased.

For nearly twenty years, I’ve been on the other side of the hospital bed. Two decades ago I was an orderly at E.W. Sparrow Hospital near the college I was attending. I worked all over the hospital - mostly caring for cancer patients. After graduation, I became a pastor. I still found myself at the hospital quite often, having exchanged the bedpan for a Bible.

But never have I been the one wearing the hospital gown. I had never been the one who sat waiting for the surgeon to come by just before they took me away to the operating room. I’ve never been the one poked and probed and perturbed. May I share with you some first-hand insights?

First, surgery is scary business. The weeks that it take for the pre-operative testing lured me into a sense that I’d be "eased into it" come the day of surgery. Not so. From the moment I put on the hospital gown and white stockings, life shifted into road gear. No wheelchair or gurney, I walked to the operating room. Once there, I crawled up onto the altar – I mean, table. The table looked like something right out of a lethal injection chamber with extensions on which I laid my arms jutting out from the sides. I felt like Isaac looking at Abraham looming overhead with upraised knife. It was a frightening few moments waiting to go to sleep. I never knew that surgery could cause that much anxiety. From now on, I’ll better understand why folks want to pray with someone before they "go under the knife." I’ll take that prayer more seriously.

I also learned that it takes a while to recover. I still don’t have all my energy back. Although the pain is gone, I am learning that, at least for now, I need to rely on others more than usual. The next time I talk with someone expecting surgery, I need to make specific offers of help. I’ve often made general offers like "let me know if there is anything you need." Politeness has kept me from asking - as I suspect it does most people. Next time I’m talking with one convalescing from surgery I’ll be more specific: "Can I mow your lawn?" "Can I run your kids?" "Can I clean your house?" That sort of thing.

I’m also learning that God is good. He watched over me through my operation. I was unconscious, but He was not. I was at the mercy of my physicians and nurses, but Christ was in the O.R. watching over me. He remains my companion in my recovery. God is good.
I’m doing well now, thank you. My procedure appears to be (so far at least) a success. But it has been helpful in more ways than just delivering the desired outcome. It taught me a thing or two, and that makes it doubly worth it.