Friday, May 29, 2015

Promoting Peace Among
Our Brothers and Sisters


[Graphic of people in a circle with words superimposed]

“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God, and the fellowship
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
—2 Corinthians 13:14

The Apostle Paul was very gifted in saying good-bye at the end of his letters. Please note these words that close 2 Corinthians 13:11-14:

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!

Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Part of a worthy walk of obedience as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, is to live in such peace with one another that we move quickly to restore any breech in our relationships with one another. It is critically important that we be “of one mind.”

As we gather for worship this coming Sunday, let’s make certain we are at peace with our brothers and sisters in Christ. If relationships need restoring, let’s do everything in our power to bring about restoration.

That will certainly please God and also bring His blessing into our lives.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Knowing Our “Place”


[Drawing of Jesus overlooking earth]

“I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will
sing praise to my God as long as I live.”
—Psalm 104

After observing a particularly arrogant man trying to lie his way out of a problem of his own creation, my dad observed to me, “Now there’s a man who does not know his place.”

Knowing our “place” seems like a very good thing. Our place, as believers in the life-transforming power of God’s salvation through the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, is that of sinners saved by grace through faith. We are needy and God lovingly provides for our needs.

God is always the Creator. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. He is the one who set all creation into motion. He is the one who keeps all creation moving in balance for He is not only the Creator, He is also the Sustainer.

God is worthy of all glory and praise, simply because of who He is. Therefore, we worship Him because of who He is. And, we praise Him for what He has done. We magnify His name because His name is above every name.

The Psalmist gives us an excellent example to follow when he declares the glory of God the Creator-Sustainer in the words of Psalm 104

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.

He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the watery depths as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth.

He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts. The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the junipers. The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the hyrax.

He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.
How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord. But may sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul. Praise the Lord.

Let us follow in the steps of the Psalmist and remember to praise the God who loves us with His everlasting love.

God is certainly worth of our praise.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Do We Take God For Granted?


[Photo of hands holding wheat]

“Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God…”
—Joel 2:23a

God is always faithful. To understand that reality, we only need to look at Israel. Time and again, in spite of their unfaithfulness and disobedience, God poured out abundant blessing.

Many times, the blessing had to follow a period of discipline during which God’s chosen people had to come to an understanding of where their sinfulness had led them. But, with their confession and repentance, came the forgiveness and blessing of a loving and merciful God.

Please read what the Prophet Joel wrote in Joel 2:23-24:

Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.

He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.

I wonder if we recognize the faithfulness of the God who loves us? Do we take our bounty for granted?

Let us spend the next few moments in prayer at the beginning of this day, thanking God for His sustaining grace in our lives.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Choosing Not To Sin


[Photo of a child’s hand in his father’s hand with words superimposed]

“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…”
—Psalm 103:13a

Most of the time, we somewhat unconsciously sin. I’m not suggesting that we aren’t responsible for our sin. Quite to the contrary. I’m just quite certain that most of the time we sin rather casually and without much concern for what we are doing.

In contrast, at least in my own life, I find that not sinning takes a good deal of effort on my part. Yes, the Holy Spirit is right beside us to guide us away from sin and toward righteousness. He speaks to us through our conscience and nudges us in the right direction. But because our natural tendency is to sin, it takes decided effort to listen to the Holy Spirit and, more so, to obey His leading in our lives.

The Psalmist recognized the importance of consciously acknowledging God’s desire for us to strike out toward the righteous pathway. Please notice what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 103:13-18:

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

Because we “fear” God—that is because we have undiminished respect for Him—we receive His mercy, grace, and love. Our response should, therefore, be to redouble our efforts to listen carefully to the Holy Spirit and follow His leading when He tries to move us away from sin and toward righteousness.

It’s not that we want to become a “goodie-two-shoes.” No! We want to express our love for God because He first loved us and sent His Son, Jesus, to die in our place and pay the penalty for our sin.

We express our love through obedience to His will and to His Word. In so doing, we press forward along the path of righteousness that the Holy Spirit lays out before us.

We consciously choose to become more like Jesus and less like our own sinful selves. And that is most pleasing to our God.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 25, 2015

No Greater Love


[Photo of a small boy kneeling in a military cemetery]

“Greater love has no one than this; to lay
down one’s life for one’s friends.”
—John 15:13

On this Memorial Day, we recognize those men and women who have given what Abraham Lincoln described in the Gettysburg Address as “the last full measure of devotion.” These brave members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine have sacrificed their lives in order to preserve our freedoms.

I have several Christian friends who decidedly oppose all war. Most of them retain a level of appreciation for the sacrifice that brave men and women have made in order to preserve the freedoms they enjoy each day. But, I also feel, when talking with them, that they would almost prefer to live under foreign domination than raise their hand in battle against such an intruder. I believe I understand that their strongly held beliefs come from their interpretation of Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:38-48. I do not share their conviction.

My father chose to serve in the United States Marine Corps in World War II. I say “chose” because when he entered military service in the winter of 1942 he was already 35 years old. Because of his age, the Marine Corps would not send him overseas. He spent his three-plus years in various assignments in the continental U.S. From him, I learned, at a very early age, to have utmost respect for the men and women who serve in the military.

My father was a man who rarely wept. But, on Memorial Day, when we stood on the curb in downtown Bradford, Pennsylvania, and watched the colors pass by in the annual Memorial Day Parade, my father would get a tear in his eye. You see, he remembered the men he trained with at Parris Island, South Carolina, who never returned from their service in Europe or the Pacific. As a military police officer, he escorted many metal caskets, as they returned from the field of battle. From him I learned that the sacrifice of those in the military comes at a very high price—but such is the price of freedom.

Unlike some of my fellow Christians, I am one who believes that God has truly shed His grace on the United States of America. I believe that the very Hand of Providence brought our nation into being. I believe that our nation was intended to bring peace and prosperity to a desperately needy world. I also believe that with the Judeo-Christian ethic woven into the warp and woof of the fabric of our nation, we were given a unique opportunity to spread the good news of God’s mercy, grace, and overwhelming love.

So, on this day when we memorialize those in our military who have given the ultimate sacrifice in this life, I remember the words of Jesus from John 15. In this passage, Jesus is talking to His disciples—that closely knit group of twelve men that He has gathered around Himself. He is giving them their marching orders. His instruction, that begins in John 14, concludes in John 17 with the passage of Scripture known as Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer. Please take note of these words from John 15:9-17:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

“This is my command: Love each other.”

“Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid down His life for us on the cross of Calvary. Hundreds of thousands of men and women in our military have laid down their lives to protect and preserve our freedom to worship the God who loves us.

On this Memorial Day, let us bow our heads in remembrance. Let us thank these men and women for their sacrifice. And, let us thank their families who sent them off to war only to see them return in a coffin—or to not return at all.

May God continue to withhold His judgment against our land and give our people the opportunity to return to Him in repentance.

And, yes! On this Memorial Day, 2015, I will write these words: May God bless the United States of America.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Dreaded Opponent


[Photo of a rainbow with words superimposed]

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?”
—Romans 6:1b

I’m not a big fan of professional boxing. But, it’s hard to live in our society and not be at least peripherally aware of this pugilistic sport.

Obviously, a most exciting moment occurs when one opponent knocks out the other. In one of my favorite all time television shows, “Sports Night,” the on-air team prepares for the lengthy coverage of a major boxing match. But all their efforts are spoiled when, eight seconds into the round, the challenger scores a knock-out punch. The match is over. Now the broadcast team must fill a couple of hours of air time by playing that same eight seconds over and over again.

In the boxing match of life, we face a dreaded opponent: sin. Our adversary, Satan, has many tricks to try to lure us to abandon what we know is the way of righteousness and pursue a pathway of sin.

Fortunately, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, has dealt sin a knock-out punch. The Apostle Paul covers this quite well in Romans 6:1-14:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

In the boxing match of life, God has counted sin “out” in our behalf. We are “dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Because that is the case, it seems wise if we decide to live as if sin was, indeed, dead.

Instead of seeking after sin, we should let the Holy Spirit lead us away from sin. When Satan comes to devour us, we should let the Holy Spirit protect us from that roaring lion.

By continually putting our trust in the God who loves us with His everlasting love, we let His life-giving stream of righteousness flow through us and touch the lives of those who cross our pathway.

Living in the reality that sin is dead gives us abundant, new, and exciting lives. And, that is certainly worthy of our praise.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Wake with Conscious Praise


[Photo of the ocean with words superimposed]

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my
inmost being, praise his holy name.”
—Psalm 103:1

You’ve likely heard the story of the woman who sat in a psychologist’s office for her individual marriage counseling session. The counselor began the session by asking, “In the morning, at the beginning of the day, do you wake up grumpy?”

“No,” the woman replied. “I usually let him sleep.”

So it is with many people. They start their morning in a fog of annoyance.

One remedy is to wake with conscious praise on our lips. Whether or not you wake up grumpy, starting your day with the recall of all the many blessings God has given you will tend to brighten your mood considerably.

The Psalmist understood the value of praise when he wrote these words in Psalm 103:1-5:

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

As we move forward into each new day, let’s begin by praising God for who He is and also for all the many things He has done in our behalf.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Building Community


[Graphic of a construction site around the word TRUST]

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess”
—Hebrews 10:23a

What does it take to build a community? I’m not thinking about a city, town, or village. I’m thinking more about the community that is supposed to exist within the Body of Christ—the church.

Most of the time, our churches seem to be a gathering of disparate groups of people who just happen to come together once in a while for worship or, possibly, to receive the sacraments. While this type of church has become commonplace in our current culture, I’m not at all certain that is what God intends when His children gather in one place to share the substance of their lives.

The church should be a place where we can laugh with each other, cry with each other, pray for each other, help each other, and generally do those things that would extend the very hospitality of the Lord Jesus Christ to one another in His Name.

One of the key elements of building a community is creating an environment of trust. It’s a very hard thing to fashion a climate where people who come from a variety of different backgrounds, circumstances, races, and other distinguishes differences can build trusting relationships with each other.

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews seemed to understand the importance of building trust within a faith community when he wrote these words in Hebrews 10:23-25:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

In our churches, we need to consider how we can build trust with one another. Perhaps we need to start in small groups where relationships can form over the study of God’s Word and prayer. Then, as these groups begin to experience a sense of community, it is quite possible that idea of extending the hospitality of Jesus to one another can spread throughout the church.

For once community has spread throughout the church, the Holy Spirit may very well draw others from those outside the church to see the value of such a community of faith.

And, wouldn’t that just be grand.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Helpful Infection


[Graphic of a sign]

“Dear friends, since God so loved us,
we also ought to love one another.”
—1 John 4:11

To learn that we were carrying something horrible within us, such as the deadly Ebola virus, would be frightening news.

In contrast, to learn that we carry within us a helpful “infection” that could bring new life, hope, and salvation to a needy and dying world would be spectacularly good news.

Notice what the Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:11-17:

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.

If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love.

Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.

So, not only do we become carriers of the life-transforming “infection” of God’s love, we actually become like Jesus to a needy world because the Holy Spirit lives within us.

What better news could we receive as we go out into a new day?


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Sustained by God


[Photo of smiling older people]

“I am he who will sustain you.”
—Isaiah 46:4b

Sometimes I look at younger people with amazement. Their energy astounds me. Their freedom of movement and bursts of enthusiasm for life makes me smile.

From my perch in the catbird’s seat of old age and with the daily endurance of the aches of an arthritis-laden body, I remember fondly the days, now long ago, when I could bound up and down stairs with ease.

But God has not turned His back on us who are in our sunset years. Notice what God has said to His people, as recorded in Isaiah 46:4:

Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

Let us launch into this new day with renewed confidence that the God who loves us with His everlasting love will sustain us right up to the very moment that He welcomes us to our heavenly home.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 15, 2015

The Truth—the Whole Truth


[Photo of storm clouds over water]

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel…”
—Romans 1:16a

Many of you attended church during the past week. How many of your pastors only spoke about the kindness of a loving God?

I say “only” because it is no longer fashionable to talk about the wholeness of the God who not only abounds with mercy, love, and great grace, but also abhors evil, hates sin, and will mark for eternal damnation all those who turn away from Him and immerse themselves in evil.

Most pastors want to forget that God. It is no longer en vogue to recognize that the reason we praise God for sending His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sin on Calvary’s cruel cross is that, without this salvation He has provided for us, we would have to pay the penalty ourselves. And, since there is no way for us to do so, apart from God’s mercy and grace, we would spend eternity separated from Him—yes—in (gasp) hell!

You see, without the “bad news,” there is no reason for the “good news.”

Pastors, at least those concerned about alienating a post-postmodern, post-Christian culture, truly believe that if they preach the whole truth of God’s Word, people in the current culture will not listen.

Please hear me. Pastors, and ordinary believers like you and me, gain no advantage by sugar coating the truth. We need to be more like the Apostle Paul.

As you read Paul’s words, please remember that he is writing to people whom he has never met, living in a city he has not yet been able to visit. He pulls no punches in sharing the whole-truth basis of his theology.

Please read Paul’s words carefully, as recorded in Romans 1:16-32:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy.

Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Harsh words? Counter-cultural words? Uncomfortable words? Unvarnished truth? Indeed!

Of course, we need to lovingly share the truth. We need to do so kindly and carefully. But, we need to share the truth.

Without the “bad news,” there is no reason for the “good news.”

May God fill us full of His grace, so we can fearlessly explain why every sinner needs a Savior.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

What’s in a Wife?


[Photo of a couple holding hands in silhouette]

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
—Proverbs 31:30

More and more young people are resisting the bond of a committed marriage and planning to simply live together. They claim that they get to enjoy all of the benefits of a union, without all the hassles that a formal marriage can create. They see no value in making their relationship any more permanent than whatever bond develops between two people with common interests in the moment.

The purpose of this blog post is not to defend marriage or to criticize those who have chosen the pathway I’ve described above. I don’t agree with that decision. It’s difficult to find out statistically how such relationships work out over the long term. I suspect that some eventually marry. Others change partners every few years. A very rare few seem to operate with significant commitment without the blessing of God or the civil authority.

No, the purpose of this blog post is to examine the value that Scripture places on a wife. We find that information in Proverbs 31, categorized as the sayings of King Lemuel. Here’s Proverbs 31:10-31:

A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.

She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.

She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.

She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.

She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.

She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.

In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.

When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.

She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.

Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

I suspect that some women today might strongly resist this image of womanhood. It seems far too patriarchal. It seems as if the woman exists only to serve. Where is her opportunities for free expression? Where is the value that she brings to the larger picture of life?

Nevertheless, I find the description both interesting and thought provoking.

We celebrated Mother’s Day a few days ago. What was your mother like? Was she a Proverbs 31 mother? Mine was.

So, I guess in posting this I’m celebrating my mom and my wife—who claims she’s not a “mother” because we’ve never had children, yet who has “mothered” thousands of children during her 30+ years as an elementary school music teacher.

But, I’m also wondering if our families would have a lot more stability if they consisted of a husband and a wife working in partnership and in which the mom exhibited the underlying qualities that inform the behaviors described in this passage.

Perhaps it’s something to think about.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Proper Witnessing


[Photo of a stone relief cut of Jesus’ face with words superimposed]

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.”
—1 Peter 3:15

As a life-long Evangelical—well, okay, for the first 25 years of my life I was actually a strict Fundamentalist—I have sat through dozens of classes on how to witness for Christ. No doubt these classes did offer some good advice.

But nothing exceeds the value of Apostolic instruction on how to properly represent the peace, joy, and freedom that knowing Christ can bring to a life.

Case in point: please read these words from the Apostle Peter from 1 Peter 3:10-16:

For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.

“For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.

“Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Now, that’s really good instruction.

Let’s take Peter’s words to heart and share with great delight what Jesus means to us.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Loving Good-bye


[Graphic of a sign]

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded,
be sympathetic, love one another”
—1 Peter 3:8a

As is often the case, the title of an old country music love song virtually tells the story conveyed by the song: “It’s the Way You Say Good-bye That Makes Me Love You.”

This sentiment rings true when we read the New Testament letters that the various Apostles sent to the people whose faith they were actively nurturing.

A good example are these words of the Apostle Peter from 1 Peter 3:8-9:

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

These magnificent words must have struck chords of encouragement in the hearts of the believers when they were read aloud in the house church meetings nearly two centuries ago.

God intended these words for us, as well. That’s why He has preserved them for us down through the years.

Let us hold these words in our hearts today and be truly thankful that Peter’s love for the believers—believers like us—shines through.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Mind Food


[Photo of a placemat and silverware with words superimposed]

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
is pure…think about such things.”
—Philippians 4:8

In the ancient world, a gatekeeper performed a very important job for a community and also for the household of a wealthy person. This job was usually given to a steward who would only admit those ones who had proven trustworthy.

Today, we need a gatekeeper for our minds. Every day we are bombarded by all kinds of images and information that can drag us down.

The Apostle Paul recognized this problem when he wrote these words in Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

As hard as it sometimes may seem, the thoughts we allow into our minds have a profound effect on us.

Let’s determine to be wise gatekeepers of our own minds.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Clinging to God


[Graphic of a sign]

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in
every situation, by prayer and petition, with
thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
—Philippians 4:6

Certain passages of Scripture often come to mind when we face a new day. For example, I have always been a bit of a “worrier.” My Concrete-Sequential Mind Style™ constantly resists change, analyzes what’s happening around me, and focuses laser-like on anything negative.

I’ve described myself in other blog posts as not only seeing the glass half full, but also noting that the glass is cracked and the water is dirty.

Because I am the way I am, I particularly need the admonition of the Apostle Paul, as recorded in Philippians 4:4-7, to stay in the forefront of my thinking:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Maybe you need these words today, too. Perhaps you’re facing something that’s unpleasant or worrisome. You may not be as neurotic about such matters as I am, but you still have some things in your life that worry you and produce anxiety.

All throughout this day, we have the privilege of knowing that the unfailing love of the God of True Peace will be our portion.

Let us cling to Him and release all our concerns into His care. And, by His grace, may our “gentleness be evident to all.”


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Overlooking and Forgiving


[Drawing of a key in a lock with words superimposed]

“A person’s wisdom yields patience”
—Proverbs 19:11a

It seems that more and more we live in a “get even” society. One offense leads to a counter-offense. The counter-offense leads to a counter-counter-offense. The battle rages back and forth and continues so long that we will run out of “counters” long before it ends.

Among fellow believers, such behavior is simply not in keeping with the appropriately loving attitude Christians should have toward each other.

Note the words King Solomon shares in Proverbs 19:11:

A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

I wonder if we can muster enough wisdom to begin overlooking and forgiving the offenses of our brothers and sisters in Christ. I wonder if I can.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Evangelical is NOT…


[Photo of an open Bible with words superimposed]

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
—Matthew 28:19a

Earlier this week I watched the ever-popular Sunday political analysis television programs. In response, I wish to strongly assert the following:

  1. “Evangelical” is NOT a political philosophy.

  2. “Evangelical” is NOT a wing, sub-group, division, or stepchild of the Republican political party.

  3. “Evangelical” is NOT a monolithic voting block.

  4. “Evangelical” is NOT an identifying label for those individuals who may hate any person or group of persons, including, but not limited to, the poor, people of color, individuals who identify themselves as members of the LGBTQ community, or members of any other expression of Christianity or any other religion.

  5. “Evangelical” is NOT a label to aptly describe people of low intellect or reduced powers of reasoning, nor those who cling to religious fantasies, or who are anti-science.

  6. “Evangelical” is NOT a term restricted to any particular denomination or “brand” of Christianity. I am privileged to know Evangelicals who worship in every type of Christian church: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Protestants of every denomination—and God knows there are countless denominations.

I am an Evangelical Christian. I so identify myself because I believe that God, in His mercy and grace, sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to occupy human form, live a sinless life in this world, die on a horrible Roman cross to pay the penalty for my sins, rise from the dead fully alive, and ascend to heaven where He sits at the right hand of God the Father ever making intercession for me. I believe the Holy Spirit lives within me to enable me to serve as one of God's ambassadors to this troubled world.

For my part, I inherited the sin stain from Adam through my parents. As soon as I could make choices, I chose to sin on my own. I am a sinner saved by God's grace, forgiven because of His love.

I am specifically an Evangelical because I believe in the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:16-20:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Politically, I am by nature a Conservative. But, I utterly reject the accusation that I am a hater or that I am anti-poor, anti-people-of-color, anti-LGBTQ, anti-liberal-Christian, or anti-any other religion.

My natural Conservative inclinations may be informed by my faith. But, my faith does not dictate my politics.

To the media I say, “Please stop identifying Evangelicals as a political group. We Evangelicals have a far greater interest in the Kingdom of God than we do in American politics.”

Yes, I do care about our nation. And, yes, I do have an interest in who I choose to lead our nation. But, I do not get together with other Evangelicals and caucus like the media seems to imagine. While many Evangelicals may have strongly held religious beliefs about the sanctity of life, the sanctity of marriage, the nature of human sexuality, and a host of other very important life issues, the vast majority of Evangelicals do not expect that our leaders will necessarily hold to our beliefs. We are not so naïve as to imagine that any leader is anything more than a horrible, awful, terrible sinner—just like we are.

We Evangelicals may wish that we could find a leader who has bowed his or her knee in fealty to Christ. But, increasingly we do not reasonably expect that to ever be the case—at least in the foreseeable future. We Evangelicals also recognize that politics tends to corrupt individuals because of the enormous power invested in those who hold public office. Most of us do hope, however, that the leaders we elect will control the temptation to abuse their power. And, we also hope that these leaders we elect will behave with civility toward one another and to us.

As an individual, I get very angry when I think that a government organization, such as the IRS, that is supposed to fairly adjudicate the collection of taxes might become a political weapon against those who hold a differing political view than those in power. In my opinion, that is not the behavior of a democratic republic. Rather, it smacks of the kind of behavior found in nation states ruled by dictators.

Above all else, we Evangelicals expect our leaders to obey the law. And, if their role is to enforce the law as written, we expect them to do so.

Even in making these statements, I reacognize that I cannot really speak for all Evangelicals. For within the whole congregation of believers who wish to respond in obedience to Christ and share the good news of His salvation, there will be those who do not agree with every point that I have mentioned above.

So, again, one final time, to the media I say, “Please stop identifying Evangelicals as a political group. We Evangelicals have a far greater interest in the Kingdom of God than we do in American politics.”


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Encourage and Rebuke


[Photo of a sunbeam falling on an open Bible]

“For the grace of God has appeared
that offers salvation to all people.”
—Titus 2:11

Each week on Wednesday, many ministers will begin to think about the content of their sermon or homily for the Lord’s Day. Now, as someone who works for a ministry that helps ministers learn how to preach more effective sermons——I may think that starting one’s sermon on Wednesday is too late in the week.

Nevertheless, I would suggest that ministers, pastors, and priests carefully read the Apostle Paul’s words to his colleague, Titus, whom Paul has sent to lead the Christians on the Isle of Crete.

Here’s Titus 2:11-15 and 3:1-8:

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

These words not only apply to ministers. They can, and should, apply to all believers as well.

Paul makes it so very clear. Abounding in the matchless love Jesus that flows freely from deep within us out to touch the lives around us.

When we are asked what fuels the hope within us, we can give unequivocal testimony to the mercy and grace that God has given us through His Son.

And, we must always remember the words from Titus 3:5-6:

…he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit…

We are not saved because of good things we do. Rather, we do good things because God has saved us through His Son, Jesus.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Teaching Sound Doctrine


[Photo of an open Bible]

“You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.”
—Titus 2:1

The role of pastors as teachers of God’s truth remains critical to healthy churches. When a pastor serves a church with humility and kindness, yet fearlessly teaches the Bible, the people are truly blessed.

The Apostle Paul had sent his young colleague, Titus, to the island of Crete in order to “amend what is defective.”

Notice these words of instruction from Paul to Titus in Titus 2:1-8:

You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine.

Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good.

In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

If every pastor would follow these words of guidance, the impact of the believers who sit under this kind of teaching would vastly increase.

May this become a reality!


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Spiritual Leaders


[Photo of a rock with the Greek word doulos superimposed]

“Do not deceive yourselves.”
—1 Corinthians 3:18a

All too often controversy swirls around spiritual leaders. Occasionally, the charges are proven false. Most of the time, a close examination validates the charges and even discloses even greater sinfulness.

How can believers avoid following unworthy spiritual leaders? One way involves using the measuring stick of the Apostle Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23; 4:1-2:

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants (bond-slaves) of Christ and as (stewards) those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.

Over the years, I have written several times about this passage and pointed my readers to Deuteronomy 15:12-18 for the explanation of the word “bond-slave,” or in New Testament Greek, “doulos.”

If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free.

And when you release them, do not send them away empty-handed. Supply them liberally from your flock, your threshing floor and your winepress. Give to them as the Lord your God has blessed you.

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.

But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.

(That is, a “bond-slave”—one who binds himself or herself to his or her master.)

Do the same for your female servant.

Do not consider it a hardship to set your servant free, because their service to you these six years has been worth twice as much as that of a hired hand. And the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.

So, instead of self-glorification, genuine spiritual leaders must view themselves as “bond-slaves of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

A steward is, by definition, “a slave elevated to a position of responsibility in his or her master's household.” Still a slave, a steward thinks only of the interests of the master. A steward never thinks of his or her own self and never has a personal agenda. Please allow me to repeat: a steward NEVER has a personal agenda!

What better description could ever exist of genuine spiritual leaders than that they humble themselves utterly and completely to become “bond-slaves of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

And, equally important: “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

May it be so and more so, also.


Copyright © 2015 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.