Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Listen to God’s Son


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“In the past God spoke to our ancestors
through the prophets at many times and
in various ways, but in these last days
he has spoken to us by his Son, whom
he appointed heir of all things, and
through whom also he made the universe.”
—Hebrews 1:1-2

When people want the most reliable information possible, it’s important that they seek the most reliable source. That’s why people may choose to listen to, or watch, or read the product that comes from a particular media outlet.

Some people prefer the more traditional journalism of the daily newspaper. Others depend on a particular radio or television station. Still others rely on information from a particular broadcast or cable news organization. And, still others have come to depend on the information supplied to them by social media. No matter which source they may choose, people want truly dependable information.

Throughout history, God has spoken to His chosen people through various sources. In the Old Testament times, He spoke to them through the patriarchs, the prophets, the poets, the storytellers—each one inspired by His Holy Spirit. In New Testament times, God spoke to His newly chosen people through the Apostles and through storytellers—again inspired by the Holy Spirit.

To those who follow diligently the teachings of God’s Word—the Bible—the integrity of these sources of information is unquestioned. Many have tried to apply so-called “higher critical analysis” to the biblical texts in order to discredit them. For true believers, the Scriptures have stood up to such scrutiny unassailed.

But, the ultimate source of information is God’s Son, Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews has penned these statements of authenticity, as recorded in Hebrews 1:1-2:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.

During this season of Advent, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and also His anticipated second coming. He is the voice of truth. He is the one and only truly reliable source of information about God and His plan for His chosen people.

Throughout this new day, let us seek the most reliable source for our spiritual formation. Yes, we should read books, listen to sermons, study devotional guides, and strive to gain information from every possible source. But, in the final analysis, we should always seek to know what Jesus has to say about whatever concerns us. He is the one on whose integrity we can always depend.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Becoming Flesh


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”
—John 1:14a

We simply cannot imagine what it would be like for the Son of God to leave His throne in heaven and become a growing fetus in His mother’s womb. That’s why so many individuals, even some who otherwise embrace certain tenets of the Christian faith, absolutely refuse to accept the idea that Jesus was born of a virgin. They cannot seem to believe that the power of the Holy Spirit overwhelmed the Virgin Mary in such a way that she became pregnant and nine months later gave birth to the Savior of the world.

Part of the great mystery of Christianity is the critical importance of the Incarnation. Without the “Spirit becoming flesh,” the whole idea that one sinless man could die in our place and pay the penalty for our sins just doesn’t work—a mere human could never be sinless, nor could a mere human satisfy the sin-price demanded by a holy and righteous God.

My heart aches for those who cannot accept the Incarnation. It is so very central to the Christian faith that without it, everything else a person might believe becomes a twisted false religion. In order for Jesus to have performed the duty God placed on Him, as His dearly loved and precious Son, Jesus had to be God, human, and sinless.

The writer of Hebrews explains in Hebrews 11:1:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

It is by faith that we accept the reality of the Incarnation. It is by faith that we receive the gift of salvation. It is by faith that we recognize God’s mercy, grace, and love—poured out on those of us that He chose to belong to Himself before the foundation of the earth.

It is by faith that the Apostle John’s words from John 1:1-5, 14 can come alive in our hearts this Advent season, as we read them, meditate upon them, and let them wash over us as a great soothing balm:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This new day, dear ones, let the power of the Incarnation grip your hearts and minds. Allow the great mystery of the Incarnation flow through you and out into the needy world around you. That is the great blessing of this Advent season.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 28, 2016

And, So It Begins…


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”
—2 Peter 3:10a

Yesterday marked the beginning of when the Christian church—the Body of Christ—celebrates a time of longing and anticipation at the beginning of every new church year. We call this period of time “Advent.”

This dual celebration recognizes the anticipation that the Jewish people felt, as they longed for relief from their tormentors that would come when Messiah arrived. Advent also recognizes the anticipation that “Christ’s-ones” feel in the earnest hope that Jesus will return again very soon. This longing is a natural and important part of being a Christian.

Did you know that the word “Christ” is simply the Greek word for “Messiah”? So, when we use the phrase “the Lord Jesus Christ” we could also just as easily use the phrase “the Lord Jesus Messiah.”

The promised Messiah would free His chosen people from their oppressors. As Christians, we long for the promised return of the Messiah to free us from the oppression of sin.

Yes, our sins are totally forgiven by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. But, we still carry with us the sin nature we inherited from Adam and the disobedience we have contributed to by our own sin.

That sin nature is a constant barrier to holiness. We must daily strive, often with great difficulty, to allow the Holy Spirit to overrule our selfish sinful wills in order for us to follow obediently the pathway of Jesus.

A glorious encouragement for us is the time of Advent. The Apostle Peter wrote these very words to boost the hope and longing in the hearts of the new Christians. We can gain encouragement, as well, from what Peter wrote. Read carefully these precious words found in 2 Peter 3:10-13:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.

But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Peter asks a crucial question: “What kind of people ought you to be?” So, I repeat Peter’s question as we begin this new day: “What kind of people ought we to be?” The answer: “You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

How do we do that? We do so by allowing the Holy Spirit to nurture within us the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s a tall order. Fortunately, we are not alone. The Spirit helps us in our weakness.

This day, let us remember that Christ is coming back. Let us hope and pray it will be soon. In the meantime, let’s determine to strive to live in holiness with a life-transforming love and grace.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, November 25, 2016

Sing with Gratitude


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all
wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the
Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
—Colossians 3:16

Each day offers us an opportunity for gratitude. Perhaps we remain thankful for our families, our relationships with friends, our job, our home, our church, and a host of other people and things. How we respond in thanksgiving says a lot about how much we value those people and things for which we are thankful.

The Apostle Paul recognized how important it was for new Christians to find an appropriate expression for the gratitude they naturally felt when they came to realize the truth about the great gift of love that God had given them in His precious Son, Jesus. So, Paul offers these words of instruction in Colossians 3:16:

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

As we begin another day of life, lets allow the reality of Christ’s Presence, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, to so fill us with gratitude that we burst out in song.

As we express our gratitude to God, surely He will be pleased to know how grateful we really are.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Reason for Thanksgiving


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that
cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so
worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…”
—Hebrews 12:28

On this Tanksgiving Day here in the United States, please allow me to ask you a question. Do you routinely make at least a mental list of all the things for which you feel thankful? If you concentrate, I’ll bet you can rather easily develop quite a long list. Most of your items likely relate to your current circumstances. And, that’s certainly understandable.

Let me very respectfully suggest that we expand our list by considering some of the wonders that lie ahead of us, both in this life, and perhaps more importantly, in the life to come. We too often become so rooted in our current lives that we fail to consider the thankfulness we should feel for the life that waits for us just over the horizon.

The writer to the Hebrew Christians understood this tendency. It certainly existed in the first century just as much as it does today. Notice what he wrote in Hebrews 12:28:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…

You see, absolutely nothing can shake the new kingdom. The fulfillment in all its glory of the Kingdom of Christ will stand, no matter what may happen.

That gives us a strong reason for thanksgiving—thanksgiving to God who has chosen us to reside for eternity in His Kingdom and thanksgiving to our brothers and sisters in Christ who will share with us in that eternal home.

As this Thanksgiving Day begins, let us raise our voices, giving thanks to God for all that He has so graciously given us in this life, and also for the wonderful life that awaits us in eternity.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanks That Endures
for Love That Endures


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.”
—Psalm 136:26

Have you ever had someone who spoke to you expressing thanks, but later seemed to turn against you? Most of us have probably encountered people that we had a good feeling about initially. Then, later on in the relationship, we began to see signs that the person to whom we had given our trust no longer seemed to value the relationship they had once had with us. That’s a rather painful, but all-too-common occurrence, as we walk the road of life.

We hope against hope that we have never treated someone else that way. If we have, we ought to ask for forgiveness. Living a life of consistency has great value, especially for those who follow Christ. The foundation of such consistency begins with our relationship to God.

The Psalmist takes note of this all throughout Psalm 136. In particular, please take note of these words from Psalm 136:26:

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

The consistency of God’s love for us should move us to give thanks. God has acted toward us long before we had any idea that He had done so. However, once we become aware of His love—once we experience how consistently He loves us—our natural response is thanksgiving.

As we begin this day, let us thank God for His love and care. Let us praise Him for the consistency of His attention to the relationship He has called us to become a part of with Him.

Surely, our thanksgiving will please this One who loves us so much.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Enter His Gates


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise…”
—Psalm 100:4a

When a person lives in a gated residence, one of the signs of welcome is that, knowing the people he or she has invited are on their way, the homeowner leaves the gate open for his visitors to enter. In the photo above, the gates remain closed. This always gives the impression that guests are only welcomed when they meet certain conditions.

Some wealthy individuals go even further than a wall or fence with a secure gate. Some place broken glass embedded in the top of the wall or fence. Others string razor wire in a coil at the top level of the fence or wall. Still others have guard dogs roaming freely about the exterior of the property. All of these offer deterrents to those who might try to enter.

But God is not like that at all. In His Kingdom, while he maintains a set of gates to keep out the Enemy, He freely opens His gates to everyone He has called to become a part of His Kingdom. He welcomes those invited guests with an openness that cannot be duplicated.

This welcoming God has prompted the Psalmist to write these words, found in Psalm 100:4-5:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

We whom God has chosen to belong to Himself can freely enter into His Kingdom. His gates are open wide to us. He welcomes us with a loving embrace and with great joy.

As we begin this new day, let’s allow the same loving openness of God to permeate our being. As God brings people across the pathway of our lives, let’s extend His mercy, grace, and love to them and welcome them into our presence. Then, when God prompts us to share with them what He has done for us, let us do so in as kind and engaging a manner as possible.

After all, God welcomes us with gates opened wide. Let us do so to the one’s He brings across the pathway of our lives this day.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 21, 2016

Come, Let Us Sing!


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord…”
—Psalm 95:1a

Supposedly not everyone has musical ability. Yet every morning, or every evening, hundreds of thousands of people break into song as they stand beneath the cascading water from their showers. Even if you don’t feel comfortable singing in public, chances are you still occasionally sing in the shower.

(My dear wife taught music in the public schools for over 30 years. Trained in Music Education at an exceptionally fine college and energized a bit later in her career by learning the Kodály Method of teaching children music through singing, she maintains that anyone can learn to sing. So, if you think you can’t sing, just know that you can learn.)

Singing seems a very natural and enjoyable way of expressing our greatest joys. Is it no wonder, then, that the Psalmist wrote these words in Psalm 95:1-2:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

As we begin another day, let’s take time to tell God in song, or with a shout, how much we appreciate all that He has done for us. We actually can extol the Lord with music and song. Will you join me?


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, November 18, 2016

Through the Lens of Love


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“And this is my prayer: that your
love may abound more and more…”
—Philippians 1:9a

News reporters have frequently asked many celebrities this question: “How do you view the world?” It’s a question that can evoke a softball kind of answer, all bubble gum and kitty cats. Or, on rarer occasions, this question can elicit a deeper-than-usual response from people that often appear rather shallow to those of us who have to struggle our way through each day.

It is a question worth considering, especially for those of us who acknowledge that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Lord of our lives. How do we view the world?

The Apostle Paul urged the Christians gathered in the church at Philippi to view the world in a very Christ-like way when he wrote these words recorded in Philippians 1:9-10:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ…

A few months ago, a dear friend—a fellow believer for whom I have the highest possible amount of respect—posted a scientific article on the recent eclipse of the moon. It was an informative, interesting, and refreshing article.

My response to the article—and the response of at least two others who commented on Facebook—was to give glory to God for His amazing creativity. It was a truthful and even light-heartedly delivered response coming out of the great appreciation I felt for God, even though the author of the article had said nothing about God and dealt only with a scientific analysis of the eclipse. To me, the scientific evidence simply pointed to the One who had created all things.

Immediately, yet another commenter took the three of us God-honoring commenters to task for our ignorant and ill-informed belief in God. Instead of my more typical feelings of anger, I surprised myself by feeling sadness that this individual did not yet know the God who has created and sustained all things. Apparently, I was not alone.

One of the others who posted similarly to the way I had posted tried to engage this negative one in a bit of an on-line conversation. He did so in a very loving way. I was very proud of the way he tried to gently engage the negative person in the kind of dialogue that might open the negative one’s eyes to the glory of God.

Suddenly, I realized that this is what Paul meant in the passage above. This one, who so lovingly engaged someone who had written a rather harsh comment about him, was allowing the love of God to “abound more and more.”

I, for one, intend to remember this example as I make my way through this new day. You see, in order to make the best choices for our lives, we must exercise a good deal of God-given discernment. But, the lens through which we simply must see the world is a lens of God-breathed love.

As we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us more and more into the depth of God’s mercy, grace, and love, we begin to see the world through our Father’s eyes.

Here at the start of another new day, it is my prayer for us that we will open our hearts and minds more and more to the love that God desires to give us. As we abound more and more in that love, we will see the world around us as God sees it.

We will see people in need. We will see people mired in sin. We will see the way in which we, as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ, can bring God’s love into every interaction we have with people in the world who may not yet know Him.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Come into the Light


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“…whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…”
—John 3:21a

In the small town where I grew up, and in the ultra-clean home where my mother scrubbed things spotless every week with major house cleanings twice a year, I never saw a roach until I began to travel for the insurance company where I worked for 30 years. Then, I saw roaches in every brand of hotel from the five-star hotels to the lowliest of dumps. Fortunately, while I didn’t often stay in the five-star hotels, neither did I often stay in the dumps.

I did see plenty of roaches—well, actually, except on one or two occasions, I only saw a single roach. The roach had probably gotten lost and was simply trying to find his way home.

However, on those very few occasions where I stepped into the bathroom and turned on the light only to encounter dozens of roaches, no doubt gathered for some kind of roach music concert, I quickly learned that roaches do not like the light. Snap on the light and the roaches scatter quickly.

I hate roaches. Oh, I realize they are part of God’s creation—though I can’t for the life of me imagine why He would create such a ghastly creature. I hate them. To me the only good roach is a dead roach. So, it’s easy for me to think of roaches as suitable representatives of evil.

Evil does not like the light.

One of my fondest possessions, left over from my days as a fire protection engineer, is a Streamlight. This is a very powerful flashlight designed to penetrate smoke. When you see a firefighter carrying a lantern or flashlight it is probably a Streamlight. Today, Streamlights use LEDs and a very focused lens to create their powerful, penetrating beam. I like Streamlights so much that I bought one for a very good friend as a Christmas present and was pleased by how much he liked it.

Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, is a spiritual Streamlight. He shines the powerful Light of His holy Presence into the darkness of sin and the sin scatters. That’s what Jesus told his followers, as recorded in John 3:20-21:

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”

As we head out into another day, surrounded by a sin-darkened world, let’s remember that the Light of Christ’s Presence dwells within us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Everywhere we go, we bring the Light of Christ with us.

Let’s boldly shine His Light and allow the Holy Spirit to use us as Light-bearers all through this day.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Our Spirit Guide


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

A number of religions from around the world, including those of certain Native American tribes, teach the value of listening carefully to a “spirit guide.” In Colonial America, one of the more foolish mistakes the European settlers made was to disregard the wisdom that the Native Americans had to offer. Of course, there were notable exceptions. But, there was also a certain arrogance borne out of a distaste for anyone who seemed different and also borne out of fear.

When I was in college a lifetime ago, a dear friend, Bob Gilmore, and his parents had a ministry to nearby Native Americans. In fact, Bob had grown up among Native Americans at the Brainerd Indian School in South Dakota. I had the privilege of attending Sunday worship at a small gathering of Native Americans in Cattaraugus County, New York. During one of these services, a dear brother shared how, in a life transforming moment, he came to know of the Savior, Jesus, as revealed to Him by the True Spirit Guide, the Holy Spirit.

We followers of Jesus may not think of the Holy Spirit as our “Spirit Guide.” But, that’s the very reason God gave His dearly loved children the indwelling Holy Spirit—to guide them along the pathway toward ever-greater spiritual formation.

Please notice these words shared by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:14:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

There is a great sense of mystery to Christianity. Only through the Holy Spirit does that mystery become revealed. So, we should not be surprised that before we accepted God’s gift of salvation, much of the Christian faith seemed strange, even off-putting. But, once we acknowledged the salvation that God has provided for us, we began to understand the beauty and glory of the Christian faith.

As we begin a new day, let us hold fast, and with great joy, to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Let’s be humbly thankful that God has given us a Guide to keep us on a steady path.

And, let us share our faith as God opens opportunity for us to do so. In gentle and respectful ways, let’s illustrate the wonder of God revealed in His precious Son through the power of our Spirit Guide.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Seeking Instructions


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…”
—Matthew 6:33a

Have you ever started on a road trip without knowing exactly where you were going? Some people honestly feel they have such an innate sense of direction that they don’t need a map, or a GPS navigation system, or even written directions.

Whenever I encounter such people I always remember the story about the Maine farmer who was standing by his mailbox near a fork in the road when a car with Connecticut license plates came along. A man in the car rolled down his window and pointed at the road signs ahead.

“I notice those signs each point toward Oxbow. Does it matter which road I take to Oxbow?”

“Not to me it don’t,” the farmer replied as he turned back toward his house and walked away.

It really does help to have some clear directions when we’re on a journey. Even a spiritual journey requires proper directions. That’s why Jesus’ words have such importance, as recorded in Matthew 6:33:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

As we begin a new day, let’s make a conscious decision to follow the words of Jesus. Let’s first seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. If we do that, we surely will not get lost along the way.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 14, 2016

A Dreadful Thing


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay”
—Hebrews 10:30a

Revenge is a horrible word. It embodies an enslavement of mind and heart to the lust for getting even with someone who has harmed us. It sets aside all common decency and presses to see another person destroyed.

Sadly, on a number of occasions during my life within the Church, I have observed the great peril that a lust for revenge has brought into the life of the one desiring to see another destroyed in order to get even with some real, or in some cases imagined, insult. The one seeking revenge has not only harmed the target of the vengeance, but has often destroyed those around the vengeful one and even the vengeful one himself or herself.

Not long ago, I observed a woman who had been asked a very reasonable question by a particular church leader. In response, feeling that her personal vanities and perks had been damaged, this woman began to harbor a very hateful attitude toward that church leader. The wounded one plotted and planned and schemed to destroy the reputation and livelihood of the church leader. It took nine years, but finally, after enlisting the help of family members and other angry individuals, the woman achieved her goal. She engineered the dismissal of the church leader.

In so doing, she brought about the near destruction of the particular church. She totally disrupted the effectiveness of the ministry of that church. She threatened the financial stability of the church. She harmed countless numbers of families who could no longer enjoy the blessing of the ministry of that church leader.

In the wake of this action, the church lay in ruin, the lives of families were irreparably harmed, reputations were destroyed, people’s hearts were broken, while others suffered physical and emotional distress, and on and on and on. Yes, the woman finally got her long-sought revenge. She satisfied her lust for vengeance. But, was it worth it?

In writing to the newly formed Church, the writer of the Book of Hebrews offered these powerful and poignant words, as recorded in Hebrews 10:30-31:

For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We will all experience hurts in the course of our lives. Many times the hurts will be unintentional. They may even result from our own insecurities and unwillingness to humbly extend our love and care to others, placing their interests before our own. If we are wise, we absorb these hurts and discard them as meaningless.

But, occasionally, we may feel that we have been unjustly harmed by another. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us Jesus’ instruction for handling such matters:

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

That, dear ones, and that alone, is the only acceptable way for us to handle ourselves when someone sins against us. We have two choices: to overlook the hurt—and even examine ourselves to determine whether or not we may have contributed to the circumstances that brought about the supposed hurt—or proceed to follow the very clearly listed steps of Matthew 18:15-17.

Under no circumstances does Scripture permit us to seek revenge. Vengeance belongs only to God.

As we begin a new day, let’s thicken our “skin” to guard against being too easily hurt. And, let us determine to grant humble love to those who would harm us. If we feel we must act, let’s remember that vengeance belongs to God alone.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, November 11, 2016

It’s Better Not To


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“My dear children, I write this to
you so that you will not sin.”
—1 John 2:1a

Here’s a conversation from many years ago:

“I think I’m going to buy a Betamax video recorder.”

“Why not a VHS?”

“Betamax by Sony has a higher resolution and a more rugged transport.”

“Yes, but it costs nearly twice as much as a VHS.”

“I know. But, you get what you pay for!”

“Well, you can do what you want. My advice is that it’s better not to.”

My very dated reference might be lost on many readers. When consumer-grade color video recorders and players were introduced in 1975, the Sony Betamax was followed in a few weeks by the VHS format units. The video format wars began. Eventually, VHS won out because it was an open format that did not require manufacturers to pay the high licensing fee that Sony required.

You must understand that the Betamax was a far superior product. But, the lower cost of VHS won out in the end. Those who purchased Betamax units soon found that little content was made for that format.

From a purely technical standpoint, Betamax should have come out on top. But, quality lost to price. My friend warned me. When I announced my decision, he told me that “…it’s better not to.”

The Apostle John wrote to new Christians in the same spirit as my dear friend. You can find John’s advice in 1 John 2:1:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Here John gives top flight advice. It’s better to avoid sinning. Now because we’re all stained by Adam’s sin and will retain that sin nature until we die and pass into eternal life, we literally cannot totally and absolutely avoid sinning. In fact, everyone sins every day.

But, we can determine to examine our lives and do our best to keep from sinning in those areas where we have made the effort to gain control of our selfish wills and surrendered them to the control of the Holy Spirit. That’s part of developing a healthy spiritual formation.

The really good news is the latter part of this verse. We have a Savior. He has paid the penalty for our sin. Out of love for Him and devotion to the Father we should do our best to stop our besetting sins.

As we begin a new day, let us heed the Apostle John’s advice. Let’s both do our best to stop sinning and also celebrate the fact that we have a Savior. Both of those activities are worthy of dearly loved children who belong to God through Christ.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

No Throw Aways


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“So do not throw away your confidence;
it will be richly rewarded.”
—Hebrews 10:35

We live in a throw-away society. Everywhere, objects that once had more permanence are being replaced with similar objects that can be used for a limited time and discarded.

Almost no one has consumer-grade electronic equipment repaired anymore. People simply buy a new one when the old one stops working.

When I started my career in fire protection, hospitals were considered low fire risks. But that changed with the introduction of plastics replacing solid metal and glass.

Today, some storage areas within hospitals are considered a high risk due to the presence of plastics, which burn with the same heat release rate as gasoline. From a medical perspective, the use of disposable plastics means greater patient protection against infection and greater ease of use for the staff. But, the higher fire risk requires the installation of automatic fire sprinklers and a number of other mitigating protective features.

Some things simply shouldn’t be thrown away. Please note these words from Hebrews 10:35-36:

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.

As we begin a new day, let’s determine to “keep on keeping on.” Such perseverance will ultimately bring us the reward of hearing our loving Father say, “Well done, my good and faithful steward.”


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Glory in Our Sufferings


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“…but we also glory in our sufferings…”
—Romans 5:3

What a revolutionary idea: to glory in our sufferings. Normally, that’s a concept that seems quite abstract to most people. Why? Because most people only have some minor annoyances in their lives, but fortunately they seldom experience something that rises to the level of genuine suffering. At least that’s what I used to think.

In my dotage, I have come to understand that far more people than I ever thought possible have something, or many things, in their lives that produces suffering. In a recent Podcast, my boss, Dr. David R. Mains, made the statement to pastors that every person a minister sees sitting in the congregation likely has some quite serious issue with which that person is currently dealing. I was taken aback by David’s statement until I started to think about my fellow churchgoers. David is right.

How we handle our suffering becomes a serious issue of spiritual formation. It’s one of those questions that creates quite a challenge. Fortunately, the Apostle Paul offered some very wise advice, as recorded in Romans 5:3-4:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

From a spiritual perspective, there is always a purpose to suffering. We can allow the Holy Spirit to use our suffering to produce, in the depth of our beings, qualities that will serve us quite well as ambassadors for Christ and His Kingdom.

As we begin this new day, let’s allow God to transform our suffering into elements of our spiritual formation that will benefit His Kingdom. It may be hard for us to do this. But, the reward is magnificent.

And, if we don’t presently have suffering of our own with which we must deal, let’s especially open our hearts to those who do.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Acceptance That Leads To Love


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ
accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”
—Romans 15:7

I felt a little nudge of irony when I begin to write this particular blog post. Because I depend on an on-line service to choose the Scripture passage for me each day, I sometimes fall victim to a subject that might be a bit harder for me to write about than others. I’m sure, in those rare cases, God smiles at me because He knows He has given me a harder task to do.

Acceptance is a subject that rubs a sore spot for me. In the broadest possible context, throughout the span of my life, I have not been “accepted.”

I confess I’m a truly odd person. I have diverse interests that are very different from most people. I am significantly obese, which has often made it harder for people to accept me. I have a host of other idiosyncrasies that, as a child, made me the last person chosen for games and, as an adult, have made me the last person anyone wants to talk with at a social gathering.

In reaction, I have become seriously hesitant to accept other people. I find it far easier to turn away from other people than I do to turn toward them. I find it easier to develop of a mental list of why I shouldn’t accept someone than to actively seek reasons why I should.

I know—shame on me.

And so, the irony comes when I am confronted by the words of the Apostle Paul, as recorded in Romans 15:7:

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

In fairness, you might think that Paul is writing to the Christians gathered in the church at Rome. If so, he is urging Christians to accept other Christians. But that might not be the case. Take note of the preceding verses, Romans 15:1-6:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The next verse in sequence is the one chosen for today. Now some might still assert that these words of the Apostle are largely meant for Christians relating to Christians. But, the reference to “neighbors” seems to open this passage up to a broader application.

In any case, as we begin a new day, let’s at least consider the possibility that we should become more acceptant of others.

It’s important to note that we can accept someone without affirming his or her behavior.

Once we understand that, we can reach out in acceptance and, if God so desires—and most of the time He certainly does—allow that acceptance to grow into God-breathed love.

That’s going to be very hard for me. But, I’m willing to give it a try. How about you?


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, November 7, 2016

A Proper Good-bye


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“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

Do you remember the Mad Hatter from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland?

“I’m late! I’m late... for a very important date. No time to say, ‘Hello! Good-bye!’ I’m late! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”

I wonder how often we greet people in such a hurried and cursory manner that we don’t realize the feelings of having been dismissed we evoke in those people? Even more so, I wonder if we fail to properly say our good-byes, as well?

The Apostle Paul set an excellent example for us in closing his letter recorded in 2 Corinthians 13:14:

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

It may well be that we should reserve such a spiritual good-bye for our fellow Christians. But, we can certainly still greet people and say good-bye to them in a respectful and love-filled manner.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, November 4, 2016

Rejoice in the Lord your God


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Be glad…rejoice in the Lord your God…”
—Joel 2:23

There are always lots of reasons to complain. My personal “complaint plate” is overflowing with some genuine issues and a whole raft full of minor annoyances, which I instinctively blow up until they reach “drama queen” proportions.

It rained last night. Of course we need the rain, but I can still find a reason to complain about it. The temperature dropped from near 70 to the mid-40s. It is, after all, mid-autumn. We expect a temperature drop in the fall here along the shore of Lake Erie. Nevertheless, complain we will.

We would do well to shelve our complaining and turn to the wise words of the Prophet Joel, as found in Joel 2:23:

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.

Let’s try something different today. Let’s put aside our complaining and, instead, take time today to rejoice in the Lord. How about it? Are you on board?


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Clean Mouth


[Photo of an angry man]

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…”
—Ephesians 4:29a

No, I’m not talking about well-brushed teeth and the frequent use of an alcohol-based mouthwash. A clean mouth is something that is harder and harder to maintain in our profane society today. Why? Because we are surrounded by vile words.

Most of you reading this probably never had your mouths washed out with soap. I’m embarrassed to admit that as a small boy, probably 7 or 8 years old, my mom took a bar of Ivory soap and applied it liberally to my tongue. I had used a four-letter word beginning with the letter “s” to describe the excrement of a neighborhood dog.

Today, such punishment, or even concern for the use of such language, seems ludicrous. But, I’m not at all certain that’s an improvement in our culture. In those long ago days, I never, ever, heard a woman use foul language. Today, everywhere I go, I hear women using the vilest language in normal conversation. They do this irrespective of who may be standing near them.

Every bit as common is the use of offensive words to describe people with whom we do not agree. The political discourse in our land has long ago passed any limit of civility. In fact, as I write this blog post, the leading candidate of one of the political parties uses the most offensive words to describe his opponents and the leading candidate in the opposition party has a long history of using coarse language in dealing with her staff and her supposed enemies.

We all fall prey to the fact that what we hear, we repeat. I spent 30 years working at an insurance company where vile language was the norm. Sadly, that vile language began to seep into my own thought life and, eventually, spill out of my mouth.

We need to push a reset button. We need to take seriously the words of the Apostle Paul, as recorded in Ephesians 4:29:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

If we focused on only saying helpful words, we could change the whole complexion of our society. We don’t have to agree with people’s opinions that are the opposite of our own. Nor do we need to speak ill of them with such vile ferocity as we commonly do.

Let’s determine this day to push a reset button on our words and speak civilly and circumspectly to everyone we meet. Let’s change what we say to conform to the image of our Savior. Surely the Lord Jesus Christ would be pleased if we reverted to speaking kindly and cleanly.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Selfless Humility


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.”
—Philippians 2:3

Have you ever watched children line up to receive a treat? Most of the time there is a lot of pushing and shoving and jockeying for position to be the first to receive the treat. That kind of approach to life sometimes moves past childhood and into adulthood.

It is no longer fashionable to hold a door for a lady or older person. Our current culture has told us that such acts of courtesy demean women and relegate them to second-class status. To that assertion I say, “Balderdash!”

No one has a deeper respect for women than the man who steps aside to allow a lady to enter a building before him. This is a sign of respect that we should foster in our children and practice in our adulthood.

Likewise, the same applies to the use of the words “sir” and “mam.” I cannot tell you the number of times a younger woman has reacted in anger when I call her “mam.” Using the words “sir” and “mam” does not indicate that I think someone is old and over-the-hill. Rather, it is a term of sincere respect. It tells the person with whom I’m talking that I defer to them and offer my genuine respect. This is particularly true when I do not know the person well.

We need to foster the same kind of attitude that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Value others above ourselves in all humility—that’s a message we very much need in our troubled world today. Instead of slinging divisive and nasty words at each other, we should step aside and let those who despise us queue up first to receive the “treat.” In so doing we show respect and emulate the kind of self-sacrificing love that our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, poured out on us.

There is so much more we can do than that which we normally do. Showing a loving respect for others is a good beginning to change that culturally dictated pattern of disrespect.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

What Example Do We Follow?


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children…”
—Ephesians 5:1a

We are generally inclined to follow the example of someone we hold in high esteem. At least that’s what I have tended to do, especially growing up.

The man who first took me under his wing when he noticed that I had read every book in the public library and school library related to radio broadcasting was a history teacher named Daniel W. Smith. Dan Smith worked part-time at the local radio station in my hometown, WESB. He was on the air in the evenings and also did “color” for the live broadcasts of high school sporting events.

Once I became familiar with other announcers at the station—and also became friends with the man who served as Chief Engineer, Program Director, News Director, and held several other positions at the station, William M. Winn—I noticed that Dan Smith operated the control board significantly differently than the other staff members. Dan had a very unique way of opening the potentiometer (pot) that controlled the microphone. He made this move with such a flare that I immediately was impressed with his agility in handling multiple inputs in a very smooth and seamless manner.

So, when I began to operate the control board myself, I adopted Dan’s technique. It was quite awkward for me, at first. One day, Bill Winn asked me why I didn’t simply push the button that he had built into the board to turn on the mic. Then, before I could even answer, with a somewhat silly grin on his face, Bill said, “Because that’s the way Dan does it.”

Bill Winn knew that I had emulated my mentor. I had followed the example of someone I held in very high esteem. And, that’s what we all tend to do. When faced with an experience where we have observed how someone we trust handled that situation, we do what our mentor did.

As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have the perfect mentor. But, unless we have risen to a very high level of spiritual formation, we probably find it difficult at times to follow in Christ’s footsteps.

For example, in this time of such strident political discourse, I find it hard to curb my tongue when faced with what I consider to be outrageous behavior on the part of some politicians. I also recognize that some of my predispositions toward politics and government come from my fear of economic loss—particularly if our country doesn’t turn back to some of the roots I hold dear.

But, in all honesty, I’m not at all certain that Jesus would view things the way I often do. I can give intellectual assent to the fact that we should care for the poor. But, in actual practice, I find that supporting our system of government assistance to the poor grates against what I am too quick to call “common sense.” I do firmly believe that the Church should be the agent to care for the poor, not the government. But, the Church has largely failed to do so; at least to the extent that the maximum number of people who need help can be cared for efficiently and expediently.

So, I find myself caught in a dilemma. Do I truly want to follow the pathway of Jesus? Or, do I want to cling to my fearful ways and support policies that seem to disavow the kind of care that Jesus would extend to those truly in need? I’ve yet to find an answer that I can integrate into my mind and heart with regard to this matter.

The Apostle Paul no doubt struggled with somewhat similar issues when he tried to find his way through the political mess of his times. He was, after all, one of the rare Jews who had obtained Roman citizenship. He had sworn an allegiance to Rome. But now, he belonged to Jesus. He had a new King. And, the new King required an obedience very different from Paul’s previous degree of submission to spiritual authority.

Notice what Paul writes in Ephesians 5:1-2:

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Follow God’s example! This is not a simple recommendation. This is so difficult that we can only hope to achieve this goal by totally relying on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

As we begin a new day, let’s ask God to help us learn to distinguish from the beliefs we hold dear that are rooted in our own fear or predispositions that might be in conflict with His perfect will. And, let’s determine to take the first baby steps to actually follow the example of our Lord and King. I have the strong sense that if we do, we will become very different people—at least I will.


Copyright © 2016 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.