Monday, October 29, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 2

 

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:1-5

 

And so, Jude begins his letter to Christians gathered in the portion of the world that today we call Turkey, but in those days was known as Asia Minor. Most evangelical scholars believe that Jude, a brother of James, was also a half-brother of the Lord Jesus Christ—namely, a natural child of the union of Mary and Joseph. Scholars note a similarity between the content of the Book of Jude and 2 Peter 2.

Based on his own admission in Jude 1:3, the Apostle originally intended to write a scholarly treatise on the doctrine of salvation. However, word had reached him of errant individuals who had infiltrated the fledgling church and who were causing chaos and division.

This prompted the Apostle to write a letter of warning and instruction. He intended for his letter to circulate throughout the churches in various parts of the then known world, but most certainly in the place with the heaviest concentration of believers—Asia Minor (Turkey).

Notice his strong admonition in Jude 1:3:

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

The use of the words “to contend for” has significant meaning. In New Testament Greek the word “epagonizesthai” derives from the root word “epagonizomai” and indicates a determined forward push that strongly nudges aside anything that gets in the way.

In certain extra-biblical literature of the first century, the word described the movement Roman soldiers used to disperse a rebellious crowd. The soldiers would gather in a wedge formation and slowly and carefully step into the crowd, nudging the members of the crowd aside. This action pushed the unwanted crowd back, narrowed the amount of space they could occupy and, eventually, forced them to move elsewhere.

Jude indicates that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is worth earnestly contending for. Those who wish to come in and crowd out the truth of the Gospel need dedicated soldiers of Christ to gently, yet firmly, push back until those who would crowd out the truth are themselves crowded out.

Such a concept will offend many. Especially those who wish to open wide their arms to embrace anyone who might come in to the church. In truth, as followers of Christ we have to remain open to those God may lead into our midst to explore the faith. But, at the same time, we have to stay alert—that is, on our guard or on the lookout—for those who may try to take over leadership roles and dilute, or disparage, or fundamentally bend the truth of God’s Word.

Becoming a contending soldier represents an enormous challenge for most of us. We will either become so zealous that our zeal will overcome the leading of the Holy Spirit to remain gentle and loving. Or, we will become gun-shy about actually going toe-to-toe with those who intend to pollute the truth of the Gospel.

In my first blog post on this topic I wrote the following:

...As distasteful as the message the Apostle Jude intends to communicate to the fledgling church, it remains a powerful and timely warning for us today.

We often talk about corrupt politics, corrupt government, corrupt businesses, and sometimes even a corrupt church. The etymology of the word “corrupt” greatly informs the use of the word in our society today. The word “corrupt” comes from the idea that the “core” of someone or something has become “ruptured” or “burst apart from within.”

So, you see, contending earnestly for the faith intends to repel corruption in the church. As we examine the other parts of this powerfully packed epistle in future blog posts, you will likely come to see that our role as soldiers of Christ remains quite complex. On the one hand, we must strive to push back against those who desire to rupture the core of the church. On the other hand, we must do so with hearts full of God’s love, with an awareness of our own inherent sinfulness, and with total reliance on the leading of the Holy Spirit. And that, my dear one, represents quite a challenge.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

As we continue to examine this powerful epistle, we also continue to feel gratitude for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. We want to explore these words of warning and examine our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today.

Thank You, Precious Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Timely Word of Warning - Part 1

 

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,

To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

8 In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.

12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

14 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15 to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

—The words of the Apostle Jude from Jude 1:1-25

 

The relatively short, one-chapter Book of Jude rests as the penultimate book in the Bible. As such, it often becomes lost between the Books of 1, 2, and 3 John and the Book of Revelation. If you regularly attend church, you will seldom—if ever—hear a sermon based on this book. Some pastors even avoid the Book of Jude in the same way that Superman avoids Kryptonite.

I posted the entire 25 verses of this book at the beginning of this blog post so you would have the opportunity to read through it before I start to share with you a series of blog posts on the content of this book. As distasteful as the message the Apostle Jude intends to communicate to the fledgling church, it remains a powerful and timely warning for us today.

We often talk about corrupt politics, corrupt government, corrupt businesses, and sometimes even a corrupt church. The etymology of the word “corrupt” greatly informs the use of the word in our society today. The word “corrupt” comes from the idea that the “core” of someone or something has become “ruptured” or “burst apart from within.”

Thus, a corrupt church is one where the very core of that church has become burst apart from within. It has become corrupt. And that’s the message that the Apostle Jude brings so strongly to the New Testament church:

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

In my next blog post I will explore this corruption that has so negatively affected the early church. And, over the next several blog posts, I will help us examine whether or not this message may apply to us today. Or, at the very least, whether or not this message is one that we should heed, lest we find ourselves in the same spiritual mess that plagued the early church.

Okay?

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank You for the message You sent to the church through the pen of the Apostle Jude. We want to explore these words of warning and examine our own churches to see whether Jude’s warning applies to our situations today.

Thank You, Loving Father, that we can count on You to guard us and guide us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Let Your Eyes Lead You

 

8 But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign Lord;
        in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.

—The words of King David from Psalm 141:8

 

Handguns seem fearful to most people. They should. They’re very dangerous. They’re most dangerous when they’re in the hands of unskilled shooters.

In contrast, those who have become marksmen have learned the skill that can only come after shooting thousands of rounds of ammunition. Those marksmen have learned certain key pieces of knowledge. That knowledge informs their shooting skill. Their shooting skill makes them safer shooters. They have learned to respect how dangerous a handgun can become in the hand of an unskilled shooter.

As distasteful as this analogy may seem to some, Christians who desire to become truly proficient in their obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ can take some very valuable lessons from skilled marksmen. For example, a skilled marksman never takes his or her eyes off the target he or she desires to shoot.

In like fashion, a Christian who desires to grow more and more obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ must not take his or her eyes off God. That’s why King David declared in the Psalm at the beginning of this blog post:

But my eyes are fixed on you,
    O Soverign Lord...
Eye on Jesus

The writer of the Book of Hebrews echoes the sentiment of the words of King David in declaring in Hebrews 12:2:

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

As you make your way through this week, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Don’t let the distractions of the world and its culture lure your gaze to the right or to the left. And, what ever you do, don’t turn around and look behind you. Keep the past in the past. Just move forward in obedience with your eyes on the One who loved you and died for you and rose again for you.

Okay?

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We want to learn from skilled marksmen to keep our eyes fixed on our “target.” You, O God, are our target—the One we love; the One to whom we wish to give our total obedience.

Please help us by the indwelling power of Your Holy Spirit to have a steadfast gaze that never wavers from You. As we face the distractions of the world and its evil, steady our gaze. Help us to keep in mind the victory that You want to grant us. Help us bring honor, glory, majesty, and power to Your Name.

Thank You for Your overwhelming love for us. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What to Do When the Pain Remains

 

76 May your unfailing love be my comfort,
        according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
        for your law is my delight.

—The words from Psalm 119:76-77

 

The trials of life assail virtually everyone. I use the word “virtually” because only the most simple person can breeze through life without feeling emotional pain, sorrow, or disappointment at some time or another. In fact, for many individuals, incidents of emotional pain frame their lives. It’s as if the emotional pain divides their lives into well-defined segments. They go from emotionally painful incident to emotionally painful incident.

Others experience emotional pain at very sharply noted points in their lives. They strive to not allow the emotional pain to define them. But sometimes the emotional pain has such significance that it sharply pokes at them from time to time in a way that reestablishes the dominance some event seems to have over their lives.

For example, I can look back over my own 65 years of life and pick out certain key events that produced enormous emotional pain. For the most part, by God’s grace, I have overcome the trauma those events produced in me. But I still feel a sharp intrusion of those events on occasion that recreate in me all of the emotional pain that I experienced at the time of each incident.

I believe some events that produce emotional pain will always have a place of significance, such as the death of a loved one. The loss of the loved one’s presence in our lives looms so large that we can never truly “get over” the loss of them. I believe we should not expect to ever stop grieving for those we’ve lost. We may experience a lessening of the grief, but not it’s total cessation.

Over the years I’ve heard many sermons preached by many well-meaning pastors describing how one should handle emotional pain. For the most part I’ve found those sermons quite unhelpful. The basis for their strategy boils down to a “sweep it under the rug” philosophy that, frankly, does not allow the necessary time and space for the kind of deep healing that must come if one will ever rise above the hurt of the emotional pain.

So please let me make a few suggestions that have helped me and, I hope will help you:

  1. Make certain that you have a clear and detailed understanding of exactly what happened in the incident that has produced your emotional pain. Many times we may play certain aspects of an event over and over in our minds. But sometimes we don’t carefully analyze the things that led up to the event and the things that proceeded from the event. Creating a detailed timeline for the event that spans enough time before the event and enough time after the event can place the event in a context that makes certain we really understand what happened.

  2. Make certain that you have come to the place where you can unequivocally extend forgiveness to the person or persons who caused your emotional pain. Becoming ready, willing, and able to forgive fulfills your specific role before God. Forgiveness does not become activated until the person or persons who sinned against you come to you and ask for forgiveness. However, you must prepare for that possible eventuality. Even if you can’t imagine that it will ever happen, in order to purge your own self from sin, you must become ready, willing, and able to forgive.

  3. Talk only to God about your emotional pain and stop talking about your pain to others—even your closest friends. God truly understands your emotional pain because He knows every detail about the incident. He even knows details that you don’t know. He knows people’s true motives. He knows what prompted them to act as they did. He knows what besetting sins have bound them to the enemy and produced the evil action they have taken against you.

    If you find that you absolutely must talk with someone about what you’re feeling, talk to a trained Christian counselor. Because I do not personally believe that most pastors make good counselors, I would not advise you to talk with your pastor. You see a really good counselor is someone who knows you only within the boundaries of the counseling setting. Your pastor knows you in a broader setting that does not really make for a good counseling relationship. So, if you need to talk to someone other than God—or in addition to God—seek help from a trained, Christian, professional counselor.

    If you want a good reason why to stop talking to your friends about your emotional pain, read the Book of Job. Friends represent a wonderful gift from God in our lives. Once you share a need for prayer and support with your friends, this gives them the opportunity to bear your burden as required by Galatians 6:2:
    2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
    Talking with your friends frequently about your pain does neither you nor them any good. In fact, you may actually draw them into sin by constantly “dumping” on them, no matter how willing they may seem to be dumped upon. What do I mean by this? When a dear friend suffers emotional pain because of what some other person has done to him or her, I often find myself feeling angry, hateful thoughts toward the perpetrator. Why? Because I have a strong sense of justice and because I love my friend. When someone hurts my friend, they earn my anger and hatred. But, that anger and hatred can lead me to sin. So, when I must deal with emotional pain in my friends, I must guard myself very carefully so as to not sin.

    On the other hand, I do have a responsibility to treat those who harm my friends in a way that does not excuse the perpetrator’s sin. Throughout the Bible, the phrase “have nothing to do with” appears a number of times: Exodus 23:7, Psalm 101:4, Ephesians 5:11, 2 Timothy 3:5, and Titus 3:10. These passages give us direction on how to behave towards those who fail to repent of the sin they have perpetrated against ourselves and others. This behavior on our part comes as a result of their failure to repent. It does not excuse us from our need to remain willing, ready, and able to forgive them should they seek forgiveness.

  4. Above all else, rely on God’s love for comfort. Seek to know Him. Seek to see His hand on your everyday life. Seek to open yourself to His unfailing, undying love. As the Prophet Isaiah has so eloquently stated in Isaiah 55:6-7:
    6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
            call on him while he is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake his way
            and the evil man his thoughts.
       Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
            and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

As you reflect on the Scripture at the beginning of this blog post, I trust that in your continuing emotional pain you will draw strength from knowing that God loves you with His everlasting love. He will guard you and protect you. He will give you victory over the adverse effects of your emotional pain. He will bring health and restoration to you. He will repay you for every evil deed done against you. He is the God of Justice. He is the God of Victory. He is the God of Everlasting Love.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Thank You, Father, that You are the God who understands our emotional pain. You walk alongside us through the Presence of Your Holy Spirit. You apply the Balm of Gilead to our wounded souls.

As we process the emotional pain we feel, help us to become willing, ready, and able to forgive those who have sinned against us and caused such pain. Help us to “have nothing to do with them” until they repent of their sin. But, also, keep us from sinning while we deal with the pain we feel.

Thank You for continuing to bless our lives with Your Presence, with Your peace, and with Your purpose. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, October 15, 2012

World Missional

 

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

—The words of the Apostle Matthew from Matthew 28:16-20

 

“Missional” has become one of the primary buzzwords used by evangelicals in the churches of North America. Different writers offer various definitions. If you happen to belong to a particular church, or a denomination, that has begun to use the term “missional” as a key term in documents and in conversation, you should click here to read an extremely insightful, helpful, and detailed series of blog posts by Ed Stetzer. If you are not familiar with Dr. Stetzer and LifeWay Research, you should read about him by clicking here. Dr. Ed Stetzer plays a very key role in providing information that helps shape the thinking of tens of thousands of believers regarding the role of the church in our current society.

The Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post, often called “The Great Commission,” gives us marching orders directly for our Lord Jesus Christ. He has stated very clearly what His mission—and, thus, our mission—must accomplish.

In this blog post, I want to turn a spotlight on the global aspect of the missional church by sharing with you a quotation from pages 81 and 82 of K. P. Yohannan’s book, The Coming Revolution in World Missions:

Is missions an option—especially for super-wealthy countries like America? The biblical answer is clear. Every Christian in America has some minimal responsibility to get involved in helping the poor brethren in the church in other countries.

God has not given this super-abundance of blessings to American and Canadian Christians so that we only can sit back and enjoy the luxuries of this society—or even in spiritual terms, so that we can gorge ourselves on books, teaching cassettes and deeper-life conferences. He has left us on this earth to be stewards of these spiritual and material blessings. God wants us to become experts on how to share with others.

Believers have a date with destiny. They are to be servants to the expanding churches and movement of God around the world. We need to gain a sense of trusteeship, learning to administer our wealth to accomplish the purposes of God.

What then is the bottom line? God is calling us as Christians to alter our life-styles. We must find ways to give up the non-essentials of our lives so that we can better invest our wealth in the kingdom of God.

To start, I challenge believers to lay aside at least one dollar a day to support a native missionary in the Third World. This, of course, should be over and above our present commitments to the local church and other ministries.

I do not ask Christians to redirect their giving away from other ministries for native missions—but to expand their giving over arid above current levels. Most people can do this.

For many North American and Western European believers—millions of them—this can be accomplished easily simply by giving up cookies, cakes, sweets, coffee, and other beverages. Many of these junk foods harm our bodies anyway, and anyone can save enough in this way to sponsor one or even two missionaries a month.

Many are going beyond this and, without affecting health or happiness, are able to sponsor several missionaries every month.

Of course, there are many other ways to get involved. Some cannot give more financially, but they can invest time in prayer and serve as volunteer coordinators to help recruit more sponsors. And a few ware called to go overseas to become involved experientially.

The single most important hindrance to world evangelization right now is the lack of total involvement by the body of Christ. I am convinced there are enough, American and Canadian sponsors to support all the native missionaries needed to evangelize the Third World.

In sharing this quotation from the President of the missions organization Gospel for Asia, I hoped to stir your thinking. As a believer in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, how have you chosen to relate to The Great Commission? What efforts have you made toward spreading the Gospel in your immediate sphere of influence, in your city, state, nation, and throughout the world? Each of us has a responsibility to obediently follow the leading of our Lord. There is much more that needs to be done. There is much more we need to do.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We ask You to open our eyes to the fields ready for harvest. Help us enflesh what it means to be part of Your missional church. Guide us to examine our lifestyles to make certain we have used all the resources You have so graciously given us in the best possible way to further Your Kingdom.

Please make us sensitive to the needs of Your servants who represent us around the world. Lead us, by the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, to respond to the needs we see around us.

Thank You for the honor and privilege of serving You—for You are our Loving Father and our God. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

“It’s called conversation!”

 

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
        in the image of God he created him;
        male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

—The words of Moses from Genesis 1:26-31

 

“I just don’t understand where he’s coming from!”

“When I try to have a conversation with her, it often ends in a fight.”

People make statements like these countless times each day. It’s an expression of frustration. But it also harbors genuine truth: we really don’t understand most of the people we try to communicate with each day. Understanding what makes another person “tick” presents a real challenge.

On pages 142-143 of her book, You Just Don’t Understand 1, Deborah Tannen writes the following:

In an earlier book 2, I emphasized that women may get the impression men aren’t listening to them even when the men really are.

This happens because men have different habitual ways of showing they’re listening. As anthropologists Maltz and Borker explain, women are more inclined to ask questions. They also give more listening response—little words like “mhm,” “uh-uh,” and “yeah”—sprinkled throughout someone else’s talk, providing a running feedback loop. And they respond more positively and enthusiastically, for example by agreeing and laughing.

All this behavior is doing the work of listening. It also creates rapport-talk by emphasizing connection and encouraging more talk. The corresponding strategies of men—giving fewer listener responses, making statements rather than asking questions, and challenging rather than agreeing—can be understood as moves in a contest by incipient speakers rather than audience members.

Not only do women give more listening signals, according to Maltz and Borker, but the signals they give have different meanings for men and women, consistent with the speaker/audience alignment. Women use “yeah” to mean “I’m with you, I follow,” whereas men tend to say “yeah” only when they agree. The opportunity for misunderstanding is clear. When a man is confronted with a woman who has been saying “yeah,” “yeah,” “yeall,” and then turns out not to agree, he may conclude that she has been insincere, or that she was agreeing without really listening. When a woman is confronted with a man who does not say “yeah,”—or much of anything else—she may conclude that he hasn't been listening.

The men’s style is more literally focused on the message level of talk, while the women’s is focused on the relationship or metamessage level.

To a man who expects a listener to be quietly attentive, a woman giving a stream of feedback and support will seem to be talking too much for a listener. To a woman who expects a listener to be active and enthusiastic in showing interest, attention, and support, a man who listens silently will seem not to be listening at all, but rather to have checked out of the conversation, taken his listening marbles, and gone mentally home.

Because of these patterns, women may get the impression that men aren't listening when they really are. But I have come to understand, more recently, that it is also true that men listen to women less frequently than women listen to men, because the act of listening has different meanings for them. Some men really don’t want to listen at length because they feel it frames them as subordinate. Many women do want to listen, but they expect it to be reciprocal—I listen to you now; you listen to me later. They become frustrated when they do the listening now and now and now, and later never comes.

I don’t know about you, but reading this passage from Deborah Tannen’s book reminds me of how sensitive I need to be when I try to communicate effectively with others. Will you join me in making a more deliberate attempt to understand the special people God has placed into our lives?

Please pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We know You have made us unique individuals, both male and female. In addition to the special characteristics that mark our gender, You have also given us very definite traits that determine who we are. As we look at people around us, we realize how amazingly creative You have been in forming each of us in Your likeness: certainly unique, but with special expressions that are ours alone.

Please teach us to be very sensitive to each one with whom we communicate. Help us to become more and more willing to set aside our own selfish desires and seek the best for those around us. Let us become glorious expressions of Your love and grace. Help us to touch each person who comes into our lives in the most positive way possible.

Thank You for loving and caring for us with Your inexhaustible supply of mercy. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 If you enjoyed reading this quotation, I would urge you to click on this link to purchase the book from Amazon.com.

2 Talking from 9 to 5: Women and Men at Work

 

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, October 8, 2012

God has Appointed a Time

 

3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
        it speaks of the end
        and will not prove false.
   Though it linger, wait for it;
        it will certainly come and will not delay.

—The words of God from Habakkuk 2:3

 

Today is Day 11 in the “40 Days of Prayer.“ I’ve been praying and I hope you’ve been praying, too. Believers from all denominations, from all backgrounds, from all places across the United States need to join together in prayer.


40 Days of Prayer is a non-partisan call to fervent prayer for our elections.
We are in desperate days as a nation as the spiritual, moral and
financial fabric of our nation is disintegrating around us.
Believers need to pray as never before.

America’s National Prayer Committee and its member
organizations are putting out a call to pray 40 days prior
to the elections (September 28th through November 6th).


Please click on the photo for more information.


You may be among the countless tens of thousands of Christians in the United States who have earnestly and fervently prayed for a great sweeping revival for many years. In joining in prayer, perhaps you took your cue from Dr. Bill Bright.

Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, has touched the lives of many men and women of our generation through his belief that the Lord will yet visit this nation in great revival power. Dr. Bright wrote about his own experience with prayer and fasting for spiritual awakening in his book The Coming Revival:1

The longer I fasted, the more I sensed the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshed my soul and spirit as never before. Biblical truths leaped at me from the pages of God’s Word. My faith soared as I cried out to and rejoiced in His presence.

Early one morning after three weeks of fasting, I received the assurance from God that He would visit America in transforming, revival power. I found myself overcome with tears of gratitude...

As I knelt before the Lord at my favorite chair in our living room, I was sobered by the conditions that the Holy Spirit had placed on His promise to send revival.

These conditions seemed to match the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and will heal their land.

With this Scripture strongly in my mind, I sensed the Holy Spirit was telling me that millions of believers must seek God with all of their hearts in fasting and prayer before He will intervene to save America. I was impressed by the Spirit to pray that two million believers will humble themselves by seeking God in forty-day fasts. (pp. 35, 37)

“Okay,” you may say to me. “I’ve got a bit of a problem. I’ve prayed for revival for some time and I don’t see any evidence that God intends to answer my prayers.”

I’ve prayed for revival a long time, too. In fact, revival has been in the forefront of my prayers since the autumn of 1978—for 34 years. I haven’t given up and neither should you.

The Scripture passage at the beginning of this blog post indicates that for every revelation of His might and power, God has an appointed time. So, when we pray for revival, we pray in expectation and anticipation that God will answer our prayers in His appointed time.

We also need to call America to a humble seeking of God, to a turning from our wicked ways, and to a repentance for the long list of our corporate and personal sins. If we do that, we fulfill the instructions in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

Yes, I know that God gave that promise to Israel. But, remember, we who believe in Jesus, and have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus, have become grafted into Israel. As the Apostle Paul wrote about us Gentiles in Romans 11:17:

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root...

God’s promise to Israel certainly applies to us today. This gives us all the more reason to pray—in fact, to fast and pray—in anticipation of the appointed time that God has reserved for a great, sweeping revival: a coming to life again.

Please join me in praying and please keep praying!

In fact, will you pray with me right now?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We lay claim to the promise You have given those You love in 2 Chronicles 7:14. We long to call our nation to humbly seek You, to confess our sins, and to turn from our wicked ways. We believe that You will hear from heaven and heal our land.

We also believe that, in response to our earnest and fervent prayers, You have reserved an appointed time for a great revival in our land. We long for that time to come sooner rather than later. We humbly ask You to send Your Holy Spirit to bring our nation alive once again. We pray for this that we may love You with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.

Thank You. Loving Father, for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 I invite you to click on this link to purchase a copy of this book from Amazon.com.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

When We Realize “We are the
Church!” What Must We Do?

 


36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


—The words of the Apostle Peter from Acts 2:36-47

 

Few will argue that in North America we live in a post-Christian culture. It seems that very little separates the Body of Christ—the church—from the rest of society. Many evangelical leaders struggle with calling the church to a “missional” mindset that synchronizes with the mindset of the early New Testament church.

Believers across the then-known-world of the first century existed in a hostile milieu. More and more today, the evangelical church lives in a hostile milieu. Yet, we evangelicals have not persisted with the same mindset that propelled the early church.

About A.D. 125 the Christian philosopher Aristides wrote,

They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them. They love one another. They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. Whoever has distributes liberally to whoever has not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother: for they call themselves brothers, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God. When one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them see him, then he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food.

Does this apt description of the first century church even come close to describing the evangelical church in the United States today? I fear it does not. The question we all have to struggle to answer: “What do we do about it?”

I will offer some suggestions in a future blog post.

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We acknowledge, gracious Father, that we find ourselves in a situation where we have become enamored of our culture. We have allowed the very philosophy that has moved our nation away from You to draw us into a place of confusion and inactivity.

We implore You to help us return to the place where we can live “in the world, but not of the world.” By the power of Your indwelling Holy Spirit, purify us in our thoughts, words, and deeds. Help us wake up and come to know that we are the church. Help us to delight in serving You and in serving others.

Enable us to consciously and purposefully devote ourselves to becoming Your disciples. Grant us the ability to lay aside every sin that so easily besets us. Help us run with assurance the race You have laid out before us.

Thank You for the promise of Your abiding and strengthening presence in our lives. And, thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Will You Answer “Yes!” to His Call?

 

13b ...for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

—The words of Jesus from Matthew 9:13b KJV

 

Jesus knocking at the door

From before the foundation of the earth, God has called the men, women, boys, and girls that He created to come to His loving arms and receive His gift of salvation from sin and the assurance of eternal life once we pass on from this life to the next.

God desires our fellowship. He wants to invite us to turn from the sin that so easily besets us and return to His loving arms. God’s call is a clarion call. He greatly desires to send the Holy Spirit to bring us new life—to revive us. He longs for us to ask Him to fully restore us to an intimate relationship with Him.

Even as God calls us as individuals, He also calls our nation to return to Him. The founding principles of the United States rest on the acknowledgement of certain unalienable rights given to us, not by government, but by God. In the same way that God longs for our individual obedience, He also longs for our corporate obedience—corporate obedience in our families, in our churches, and in our nation.

Looking forward to the celebration of the bicentennial of the independence of our nation two years later, in 1974 John W. Peterson and Don Wyrtzen wrote a deeply meaningful cantata entitled “I Love America.” Literally thousands of choirs have performed this work over the years. One of the songs from this cantata speaks very eloquently to the call God extends to our nation to return to Him. I hope you find this song as meaninful as I do.

 

 

Will you pray with me?

Thank You, God, for loving us. Thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior. Thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

We acknowledge that we hear You knocking at the door of our hearts. More than anything we want to hasten to open the door of our hearts and invite You to come in and dwell within us.

We also realize that, as a nation, You call us to return to You. You long to send a great sweeping revival to bring new life to our deeply troubled land. Please hasten to do just that. We thank you for Your willingness to keep seeking men, women, boys, and girls to come to You.

Please continue to pour out Your mercy and grace in abundance. We thank You for Your great patience with us and for Your great love. And, we thank You for hearing our prayer in and through the precious Name of Your Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Copyright © 2012 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.