Friday, March 31, 2017

What Do You Seek?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the
Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you
say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice
in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty
will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”
—Amos 5:14-15

As a youngster, I loved to read stories about the early explorers who traveled westward to discover what awaited them in the farthest reaches of the newly formed United States of America. I waited excitedly to read of the perils of the wilderness and the adventures these hearty explorers would encounter.

I particularly enjoyed the stories of the great expedition undertaken by Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend, Second Lieutenant William Clark, at the commission of President Thomas Jefferson. Their great journey began in May of 1804 and concluded in September of 1806. During those 28 months they made many significant discoveries that would eventually chart the westward movement of thousands of settlers leaving the relatively peaceful eastern coast cities and striking out into the largely unknown territory to the west.

As any know who live in the western U.S., some of the most beautiful country in all the world lies just west of the mighty Mississippi River. To imagine what it was like to explore this territory for the first time is almost mind boggling.

On one occasion, a trapper the expedition came across in one very desolate location was bold enough to ask Captain Lewis, “What are you seeking?”

Clark reportedly responded, “The world and all that is in it.”

I wonder sometimes as I look around me at a large crowd gathered for some event, or at the mall, or some other place where large numbers of people gather, what are these people seeking? Everyone seems to be scurrying about looking for something.

The Prophet Amos offered some very wise words when he wrote the thoughts recorded in Amos 5:14-15:

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

If ever there was something worthwhile to seek it would seem as if the “good” might well define such a goal.

In an evil world, it is very difficult to consistently seek the “good.” That’s why we must rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit to direct us to the things that are good, to the people who are good, to the rewards that are good, to the tasks that are good, and so forth.

As this new day begins, let us seek what is good. If we do, God will give us a great and blessed outpouring of His mercy, grace, and abiding love. We will experience the truest sense of well-being that we can possibly experience. We will know that the Lord God Almighty is with us.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Love-Walk Way

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“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.”
—Ephesians 5:1-2

“If I watch you walk, I can determine your attitude.” The motivational speaker proclaimed his key sentence for this plenary session at the national conference of the American Society for Training and Development (now known as the Association for Talent Development). During my tenure as Director-Loss Prevention Training at Industrial Risk Insurers, and because of our experience in developing a full-fledged fire protection engineering certification program, I had the privilege of attending several of these conferences.

As I listened to this particular speaker, I wondered what elements of my own gait offered insight into my attitude. And, did this include my personal attitude as well as my professional attitude. Or, was this observation limited to a particular point in time. In other words, would the speaker’s analysis of my attitude be limited to the immediate present during which he observed my walk.

Further along in his speech, it became apparent that he was speaking far more metaphorically than I had first thought. I immediately called to mind the number of times the Bible talks about “our walk” in referring to the manner in which we develop our discipleship in following the pathway God lays out before us.

The Apostle Paul spoke of our walk when he offered this advice to the Christians in Ephesus, as recorded 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.

What kind of walk should we exhibit as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus? Why a walk in the way of love, of course. And, what kind of love should we display? We should show the very same kind of love that Jesus illustrated when He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. It’s a love that is marked by humility, self-sacrifice, and profound obedience.

As a new day begins and we step out into a needy world, will our walk give testimony to the self-sacrificing, humble, and obedient love as our Great King Jesus? I pray that we will—that you will and I will. I know that God will be very pleased if we do.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Set Your Hope

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Therefore, with minds that are alert and
fully sober, set your hope on the
grace to be brought to you when
Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”
—1 Peter 1:13

The concept of “mindset” swept an amazing wave of change through the personnel motivational scene beginning nearly 30 years ago. It’s more than a little amusing that these kind of trendy changes often become “in vogue” even though they are based on common sense that has existed for centuries.

After all, the Scripture states in the first part of Proverbs 23:7:

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”

Certainly, we all realize that the way we think about ourselves has a direct impact on the way we live.

If I think of myself as a lazy, fat man whom nobody really likes, I will tend to live out my life trying to prove that self-image. Even when someone shows amazing affection to me, grants me respect, or seems to not care about my weight at all, if I still retain that negative self-image, I will reject whatever good feelings someone may extend to me.

The same goes for our spiritual walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. While the word “holiness” is certainly not a word that most people, even Christians, would tend to embrace in our current culture, nevertheless that is exactly the pathway that all believers are on at this very moment. God calls us to become holy, even as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45). So, we are definitely on the pathway that leads to holiness, whether we particularly like that word “holy” or not.

What can we do to help keep ourselves in tune with the Holy Spirit, whose task it is to guide us along the pathway toward holiness? We can set our minds on holiness. Here’s the Apostle Peter giving instruction to the early churches, as recorded in 1 Peter 1:13:

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.

If we set our minds on the hopeful realization of the fullness of God’s grace that we will receive when Jesus returns to earth, that can serve as a beacon along our pathway toward holiness. We need to keep alert for the leading of the Holy Spirit and we need to keep ourselves sober—that is to say, “serious minded,” not caught up in frivolous living.

Of course that doesn’t mean we never laugh or have a good time. Many of the most “fun people” in my life are dedicated followers of Christ. They laugh and enjoy life in a way that few non-Christians can even imagine.

But, taking life seriously—including enjoying every moment of every day—helps keep us focused on the things that really matter; things that surpass time and reach out into eternity.

As we begin this new day, let’s take to heart the concept that our mindset has great importance in determining our success as followers of the Great King Jesus. And, let’s set our minds on the hopeful outpouring of God’s grace into our lives each day that will help us be good stewards of all that He has given us and good ambassadors for the cause of Christ and His Kingdom.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Learning to Do Right

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Wash and make yourselves clean. Take
your evil deeds out of my sight; stop
doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek
justice. Defend the oppressed. Take
up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.”
—Isaiah 1:16-17

Yesterday, I shared with you my thoughts regarding the significant differences between the so-called social justice movement and God’s instruction for His followers to help the poor and those in genuine need. Nevertheless, when I read a similar instruction from the Prophet Isaiah, as I read yesterday from the Prophet Micah, I have to take even more notice.

Please read what Isaiah tells us, as recorded in Isaiah 1:16-17:

Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.

Once again, in devotion to the God who loves us—and as an expression of His mercy, grace, and love to those less fortunate than ourselves—we must acknowledge that we clearly have a responsibility to act accordingly. At the same time, I would again assert that this is an act we should do through the Church—the Body of Christ—not under duress from the government.

Instead of having our money seized by the government for this purpose, through the church we should willingly give a portion of what God has so lovingly given to us to help the poor and genuine needy.

As we begin this day, let us look for ways to extend Christ’s love to those around us, particularly those who may be in genuine need. Let us become instruments of God’s mercy, grace, and unfailing love to those who are bound by the circumstances of their poverty. And, let us do so out of love for God and love for our fellow humans.

Whenever we do this, we bring honor to God and illustrate that He has made a significant difference in our lives.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Justice and Mercy with Humility

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”
—Micah 6:8

A movement has swept through our nation in the last few decades that has brought with it an amazing distortion of Scripture. No, I’m not talking about the so-called “prosperity gospel” preachers. Instead, I am talking about a far more insidious and even dangerous philosophy.

This philosophy is often referred to as “social justice.” On the surface, it seems to have a number of noble ideals. But, what it really desires is to turn society upside down and to redistribute wealth—not to people truly in need, but to an entirely different set of uber-liberal, socialist-leaning plutocrats.

Like all such distortions of Scripture, it appears worthy on the very surface. But, dig beneath the patina and look very carefully at the lives and philosophies of those who publicly espouse this theory so vocally, and drag large numbers of well-meaning followers into this battle cry, and you will find individuals just as corrupt and just as insincere and just as dangerous as they believe the current holders of power to be.

You see, God is, indeed, a God of mercy, love, and grace. His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, was the very embodiment of love. Every quality of God resides in Jesus because He is God. The social justice crowd picks and chooses quite carefully which qualities of God they want to latch onto and make their own. They even use phrases like, “If I’m going to make an error, I want to err on the side of love.”

It sounds nice, but it isn’t biblical. God is the creator of mercy, grace, and love. Jesus told us to show these qualities to people less fortunate than we are.

But, Jesus did not empower the government to force its citizens to take their hard earned wealth and turn it over to governmental agencies and not-for-profit organizations that would help the poor after making certain their CEOs receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual compensation.

I am not at all against helping the poor and the genuinely needy. In fact, I make certain very determined efforts to do so as a part of my own personal Christian stewardship. But, I do not believe that the government, nor uncontrolled NGOs, should be the instrument of this help.

Instead, I sincerely believe that it is the responsibility of the Church—the Body of Christ—to pool the resources of its people to help the poor, either directly or through church sanctioned parachurch organizations, like the various city missions. I believe that God’s people should give voluntarily and out of a sense of gratitude to God to help the poor. I do not believe that our resources should be seized by the government to do so. And, I especially do not believe that the government should help any non-profit in the private sector by taking money from its citizens and redistribute that money to those non-governmental organizations.

Rather, if non-church-related individuals want to give generously to those non-profits, that is well and good. But no one, no one, should be forced to help another. To do so takes away all the philosophical underpinnings of gratitude to God and the expression of His mercy, grace, and love that should be the foundation of our willingness to help those in need.

It is also very, very important to realize that God is not only a God of mercy, grace, and love. He is also a God of justice.

God rightly and righteously demands punishment for those who have disobeyed His divine will. That’s why He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sins.

Jesus’ death on the cross erased the just penalty levied against us. His resurrection assures our victory over death. His ascension to the throne at the right hand of God the Father gives us a advocate to the God who loves us. The Holy Spirit has come to provide us with the help we need to move toward holiness, through the process we call sanctification.

Part of our love gift back to God is our obedience to His command to help the poor and those in genuine need. We should be able to do this without being forced through some governmental system that provides a mediocre help for the poor—that often keeps them enslaved in poverty—and a great reward for a whole new group of elite overlords.

So, when we read this following admonition from the Prophet Micah, I urge us to do so with new light. Out of love, out of respect, out of gratitude for God we should obey this urging, as found in Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Yes! God has most certainly shown us what is good. Now, as we begin a new day, let us respond out of love—not obligation or at the force of the government spear—to help those in genuine need. If we would do this, we would all be much better off in this tempestuous world.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, March 24, 2017

How Shall We Live?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“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…”
—Titus 2:11-12

In 1971, as a relatively new District Supervising Engineer in the Buffalo (NY) Office of the Factory Insurance Association (later known as Industrial Risk Insurers), I was flown to the Hartford (CT) Home Office on six successive Mondays to take an American Management Association course entitled “Supervisory Management II.” The class consisted of a dozen or so other DSEs from the 13 offices of the Eastern Region of the company. Incidentally, we never found out why we started with “II.”

On the very first day of this course, we learned certain key principles that held specific significance for me. First and foremost, these principles fueled what has become a lifelong interest in management processes and techniques. I probably have nearly 50 books on the subject of management in my personal library.

Secondly, these principles I learned on that fall day gave me a sense that managing people could become a way of helping individuals grow and develop. It would become an important side benefit that, as these people grew into especially effective employees, their personal achievement would markedly help the company achieve its corporate goals. By putting the people first, the company would benefit enormously.

One of these key principles states: “Generally, employees want to do the right thing. So, it becomes important for a manager to explain to employees exactly what he or she wants the employees to do—what are they to accomplish; what resources are available to enable that accomplishment; what feedback does the manager expect; what benefit will the employee personally receive, apart from a paycheck.” In other words, we were told, employees want to know, “What do you want me to do?”

Over the intervening years, whenever I have been hired by some organization to help them deal with personnel motivational issues, I have always—always—discovered that at the heart of the problem is the fact that management has not clearly told the employees what they want the employees to do. It’s just that simple.

In our lives as Christians—followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—God has graciously given us His precious Word, the Bible, to tell us exactly what He wants us to do.

Contrary to what some may believe, God does not grant us salvation from our sins because we adhere to rules and regulations and because we devote ourselves to good works. No. God freely gave us our salvation through the shed blood of His one and only Son. There is absolutely nothing we could ever have done, and nothing we can do now, to earn our salvation—especially by being “good.” Salvation is a free gift of God’s mercy, grace, and love.

In fact, there is one and only one thing God asks of us—once we come to understand this free gift of salvation that He has given us. And, that one thing is “obedience.”

Obedience requires us to permit the Holy Spirit to bend our human selfish wills to God’s perfect will. That’s where our so-called “free will” comes into play in the equation. It’s not a matter of choosing or not choosing to believe. For if God has chosen us to belong to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit to reveal what He has done in our behalf, we will believe.

However, allowing our selfish wills to be bent away from our own desires and toward what God desires, that requires a volitional act of our free will to allow the Holy Spirit to shape and mold us. The Spirit speaks to us through our “conscience” and through the Bible. He nudges us in the right direction. He encourages us when the battle against sin seems overwhelming.

All of this process at work within us explains why the Apostle Paul, when writing to one of his key ministers, Titus—a man whom Paul had sent to a truly awful place, Crete—offers this advice, as recorded in Titus 2:11-12:

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…

Sanctification, or the process of becoming ever-more holy, is a lifelong adventure. Our relationship with the third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, makes this journey even possible. The Spirit comes alongside us and offers God’s love, protection, encouragement, companionship, and grace for each day.

As another new day opens up before us, let us recognize that part of our worshipful response to God is to prayerfully, but determinedly, follow the pathway He has opened up for us. May we experience the joy of obedience every moment of this new day.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Be Aware of the Sands of Time

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Teach us to number our days…”
—Psalm 90:12a

Have you ever watched sand fall through the narrow throat of an hourglass? It is really quite amazing to see a large quantity of sand waiting to pass through that narrow opening and fall into the pile of sand below.

If I look really carefully, I notice that the grains nearest the throat do not all fall in an orderly way through the opening. Rather, they tumble about a bit before, one by one, they zip rather quickly through that throat and fall downward.

Once the sand falls onto the pile at the bottom of the hourglass, each grain bounces around a bit there, too. Some of them fall outward and downward to the very edge of the pile. Others stop rolling partway down the pile. Still others stay fairly near the top of the pile.

My nephew, who teaches Physics at my Alma Mater, Houghton College, and who has earned a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, could likely explain all the dynamic forces set up by the sand queuing up, passing through the throat of the hourglass, and falling to the bottom of the sand pile. There are obviously lots of intriguing actions caused by the Laws of Physics and initiated by the downward pull of the earth’s gravity.

In our lives, the passage of time acts in many the same ways as those grains of sand in the hourglass. Or, maybe an even better example would be the ever so slight, but persistent, movement of the shadow cast by the sun on a sundial. In some ways, time seems to pass slowly. In other ways, particularly when one becomes older, the passage of time seems to accelerate.

God has granted each of us a particular number of days on this earth. We do not know how many days have been allotted to us. But, we can do our best to make the very most of each moment God has given to us.

I thought a great deal about the passage of time during the past nearly two years when multiple myeloma claimed the life of my dearly loved sister-in-law. Charlene Willink Kidder was a beautiful, sweet, kind, and loving woman. She married a godly man. She raised three wonderful daughters. And, she was extraordinarily talented, a gifted artist—though I seriously doubt that Charlene ever considered herself talented for even one moment of her days. She was very humble and self-effacing.

In many ways it seem such a tragedy to me for someone so relatively young at age 67 to die from such a horrible disease. She could have lived well up into her eighties. Who knows what twenty more years of life would have meant to her young grandchildren, her children, and her beloved husband. Not to mention what that time would have meant to those of us in her extended family.

But, God had numbered her days before she was even born. He knew how much time He had allotted her. He knew what she would accomplish, the lives she would touch, the people He would use her to draw to Himself, the way in which she would employ her talents and abilities to bring honor to Him.

Moses, in a moment of quiet reflection—as he considered the great responsibility that God had given him to lead the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt and to the shores of the land God had promised to give to them forever—prayed a prayer recorded in Psalm 90. It is a beautiful, heartfelt, prayer. Among the words of wisdom found in this prayer are these words recorded in Psalm 90:12:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Here Moses is asking God to teach us to take stock of the fact that He has given us a certain number of days. We must make the best use of them we can. He placed us here on this earth as His ambassadors. He has given us the task of demonstrating His mercy, grace, and unfailing love to the people around us. He has blessed us with family and friends with whom and through whom we can bring honor and glory to Him.

May God help us at the beginning of this new day to learn this important lesson and make the very best use of the time He has given us. May we look with joy to the beginning of each new day. May we see His promises open up before us. May we continually praise Him with our lips and with our hearts, as we go about the task He has given us in the world.

And may we rest completely in Him, knowing that He always, always, has the very best plan for our lives.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It’s All New

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!”
—2 Corinthians 5:17

I just opened a new ream of paper for my inkjet printer. I can remember when reams of paper always came in a study paperboard box. Now the individual reams come in a heavy plastic wrap with a convenient pull tab to open one end of the wrapper—which I always somehow mess up so that instead of a nice clean opening, I create a ragged torn mess. There is something quite special about opening a new ream of paper.

I purposefully buy a 24 lb. paper instead of the usual 20 lb. paper. I like the look and feel of the slightly heavier stock.

(The poundage ratings for paper, by the way, come from a measure of the way the paper is sold to printing plants. For this type of paper, it is normally sold as 17 X 22-inch sheets. Five hundred of those sheets, or one ream, weighs in at 24 pounds.)

I particularly like the way 24 lb. paper can receive an impression on both sides without showing any bleed through from one side to the other. I also admire the thickness of the 500-sheet ream. Every edge is perfectly square, every sheet aligned, sort of like 500 soldiers all waiting to be set loose into the battle of words.

There are other “new” things that I particularly like. I like the factory smell of a new car. I like the particularly smooth, clean shave of a brand new blade—although in my dotage I’ve switched to an electric razor that never gives me that smooth-shaved result of a blade.

I like the large, unused capacity of a new computer storage drive. I like the crisp lines of a freshly ironed shirt. I enjoy the energizing aroma from a newly mowed lawn.

There is something very hopeful, encouraging, even thrilling, about the newness of things. This is all the more so true of new beginnings for people. That’s why the words of the Apostle Paul, captured in his second letter to the Christians gathered at Corinth, seems to hold such promise.

Paul is writing about the awakening that happens within a person when the Holy Spirit reveals to that one what God has done for him or her through the shed blood of His one and only Son, Jesus. What Titus 3:5-6 calls “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”

This new day, new world, new life experience fairly jumps off the page, as recorded in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

As we begin this new day, let’s remember that in Christ the old is gone the new has arrived. Jesus has cleansed us from our sin. He has washed us in His blood. He has made us thoroughly clean, within and without.

He presents us to His Father as a totally new person—one whom God has chosen to belong to Himself long before the world began. We can truly celebrate our newness in Christ. And, that’s a very, very good thing.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

What’s Your “Ting”?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“See, I am doing a new thing!”
—Isaiah 43:19a

My longtime friend, Donald L. Loeb, has been in heaven for several years now. Don was an amazingly interesting individual. I cannot express adequately how much I valued his friendship. One of the amusing things about Don was the rather ironic sense of humor he often displayed and his deadpan delivery of some very funny lines.

Don served as Fire Chief in Dunkirk, New York, on two occasions in the 1960s and 1970s. In between, he worked as an Inspector for the New York Fire Insurance Rating Organization, doing insurance surveys of automatic sprinkler-protected buildings. Don looked at the world in a very amusing way. For example, he called my attention to a particular small park, named to honor a Polish military engineer, Tadeusz Kościuszko. The park had been created by the intersection of three streets that formed a nearly perfect triangle. But, as Don delighted to point out, the name of the little park: “Kościuszko Square.”

Don taught many classes in fire protection for Chautauqua Country, for New York State, and other notable organizations. He also wrote hundreds of magazine articles on the various aspects of fire department operations. For many years, he was considered one of the principal authors for Fire Chief magazine.

Don always maintained that in life everyone needed to have, what Don called, a “Ting.” He also maintained that every successful organization, whether it was a fire department, a social club, or even a church, needed to have a “Ting.” What’s a “Ting”? It’s just Don’s amusing way of emphasizing the common word “Thing.”

If you are a manufacturer of products for a particular industry, in order to be successful, you must have a “Ting.” If you provide a service to a segment of the public, in order to be successful, you must have a “Ting.” If you lead a troop for the Boy Scouts of America, your troop must have a “Ting.” If your church intends to be as successful in fulfilling its mission on behalf of Christ and His Kingdom, your church must have a “Ting.”

A “Ting” is not a goal. It’s what you do to capitalize on your resources in a way that will either attract your customers, clients, the people you want to reach, or present something entirely unique to the public. Your “Ting” will help you earn the opportunity to present yourself, your product, or your mission in an effective way.

For example, I once was the part of a church that had a long tradition stretching back more than 75 years. All throughout the history of that church, it had provided an extremely excellent music program to its members, friends, and the community at large. Clearly, that music program had become the church’s “Ting.”

Sadly, because the “Ting” always garners a great deal of public attention, not everyone in that church appreciated the importance of maintaining the “Ting.” Some pastors even became very jealous of the “Ting.”

I remember one pastor who foolishly said, “In regard to our music program, I sometimes feel that the tail is wagging the dog.” The proper response to that pastor would be to point out that in a very real and very critically important way, the music program was the dog! That’s because for the success of that church, it needed to always remember that the music program was its “Ting.” Its music program was the one thing that differentiated it from all the other churches in the community. The music program made this church stand out. The excellence and professionalism of the music program made a definite impact. And, most importantly of all, the music program attracted such a large number of church people to participate in its many offerings that it became the major force driving discipleship in that church.

Sadly, the naysayers eventually pushed the key leader of the music program out of the church. As a result, with the loss of leadership who understood the importance of maintaining the “Ting,” the church has virtually collapsed—a shadow of its former self with waning relevance and influence in its community. Attendance has dropped dramatically. Oh, the naysayers are happy now, but they are the only ones. Attempts to create a new “Ting” have all failed miserably.

If you have any influence in your life at work, in your life at your social organization, in your life at your church, make certain—absolutely certain—that those places have carefully and clearly identified their “Ting” and do whatever is necessary to maintain that “Ting.” I guarantee that your success depends on it.

In your personal life, you very well also may have a “Ting” that defines you. For many years my “Ting” was the repository of information I possessed regarding how varies rules and regulations in the fire codes and standards came into being—what losses prompted a particular regulation; what failure produced this requirement; why the code section was worded the way it was.

Since my retirement forced by disability in 2003, I continue to help those who ask for help. But naturally, since I am no longer able to attend national meetings, those questions come less frequently with each passing year.

Now, God has given me a new “Ting” that draws on similar talents and abilities. Still in a support role, I can use my gifts as a writer and website maintainer to help my current organization and my church.

You see, that does happen from time to time in our personal lives. God will give us a new “Ting” if our old “Ting” is taken away from us. But, I must quickly add that this “New Ting” idea does not often work very well within businesses, organizations, or churches who abandon or fail to maintain their original “Ting.”

In fact, in Isaiah 43:16, 18-19, God promises to “re-Ting” His people when He moves them to a new place:

This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters…“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

And, this new “Ting” that God was so graciously providing was an even better “Ting” than His people had ever experienced before. Remember that Isaiah was living at a time when the people of Israel had divided into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah. Both kingdoms had experienced godless kings—though Judah had remained somewhat more faithful to God overall. Both had aligned themselves with idol-worshipping neighbors. War was constantly in the air. Neighboring nations wanted to utterly destroy God’s chosen people.

But, God promised a pathway through the wilderness and streams of refreshing water in the desert lands. That’s a promise that we can rightly claim, as we begin a new day.

We can ask God to give us a new “Ting”—a new vision, a new understanding, a new caring, and a new love for the people around us. We can ask God “for health and strength, for love and care, for a sense of His Presence everywhere.”

And, if we ask, God’s answer is “Yes!”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Peace in Him

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I have told you these things, so
that in me you may have peace.”
—John 16:33

I answered the telephone and her voice was barely above a whisper.

“Where are you calling from?” I asked, thinking that maybe someone was trying to harm her and she was talking softly to avoid detection.

“I’m in the closet in the back of the guest room. Nobody ever comes in here,” she replied quietly.

“Are you hiding from someone? Is someone trying to hurt you?”

“Yes, I’m hiding. And, no, no one is trying to harm me,” she replied with a bit of an edge of emotion in her whispered voice.

“Well, then, who are you hiding from?” I asked.

“My family,” she replied. “They always drive me nuts when they’re home during vacation or holidays. So, I sneak away to this closet to get some peace and quiet. While I was here, I thought I would call you. I needed to hear a friendly voice.”

Peace and quiet—sometimes everyone just longs for a time of peace and quiet. You may not be at all bothered by your family during vacation or holiday times. But, maybe you’re one who feels that the pressure builds up at work—phones ringing, constant interruptions, fellow workers joking around, odd smells, noise…noise…NOISE!

Whatever your situation, you are in a very small minority if you don’t sometimes long for peace and quiet. It seems as if we all need to find a quiet place to pull ourselves together from time to time.

Jesus understood that those who follow Him would often get more than a little tired of the constant battle against evil. Satan is continually trying to destroy us. Any doubt of that, just read the oft quoted passage in 1 Peter 5:8-9 about Satan being a prowling lion looking for whom he might destroy.

Because our Savior understands all our needs, He certainly understands our need for peace. That’s why, after explaining to His disciples what would happen to Him, and to them, in the days ahead, He assured them by sharing these words found in John 16:33:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus is our overcomer. He has vanquished evil’s last effort to reach its goal. We still must deal with that battle until Christ returns again. But, the victory is already won.

We can find our perfect peace and rest in the loving arms of our Savior. Jesus loves us and cares for us as a loving brother would care for his siblings. We can put our trust in Him. And, best of all, we can find true peace.

So, no hiding in the guest room closet, as you begin this day! Instead, just cling to the Savior. He will supply you with all the peace you need.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Proclaiming through Praise

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name…”
—1 Chronicles 16:8a

One of the reasons that explains why we spend time praising the Lord when we gather for worship is that it helps us develop a mindset of expressing how good the Lord has been to us. Once we begin to recognize that every breath that we take and every beat of our hearts is a precious gift from God, we can go forward with every motivation to share with others the many ways God’s love and care touches our lives.

We who follow in the footsteps of Jesus have been called to be His ambassadors. We do this in every aspect of our personal lives. Whether we are at work, in our homes, out in the highways and byways of life—no matter where we are—we are ambassadors of God’s mercy, grace, and love. You will note that this fact is a recurrent theme in these blog posts. There is a reason for that.

You see, I am not always convinced that I am as consciously aware of the fact that at all times and in all places I am God’s ambassador. If I feel this way, I am pretty certain that others do, as well.

One of the ways we can develop a proper orientation to this calling God has given us is to create ways of reminding ourselves of the nature of our calling.

Even in setting forth the history of the people of Israel, the writer makes it clear the purpose of those people. Notice these words from 1 Chronicles 16:8:

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Ambassadorship is quite a unique and important responsibility—one that we do well to take seriously. Yet, that role does not need to express itself in drudgery or sternness or any other negative demeanor. Quite to the contrary, we should rejoice at the task God has given us. We should praise Him that He has entrusted this ambassadorship to us.

So, as we begin another day, let us indeed give praise to God. Let us proclaim His Name. And, let us tell the nations what He has done in our very own lives.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Never Off Duty

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving
thanks to God the Father through him.”
—Colossians 3:17

“Wherever you go and whatever you do, you will always—always—represent this organization. You are never off duty. You are always on call to help our customers in need. We expect you to have the mindset that you work for us 24 hours each day, 365 or 366 days each year. Most of the time, we will give you weekends off. But, if the need arises, we expect you to respond.”

That’s a little speech that I heard from the lips of Scott K. Goodwin during my four weeks of FIA Fire Safety Laboratory training way back in February of 1970. Scott was very serious about the role that fire protection engineers would play to meet the needs of the customers of the insurance company (Factory Insurance Association, later known as Industrial Risk Insurers) where I ultimately worked for 30 years.

Under normal circumstances, ours was a fairly routine job. But, when a fire occurred or a piece of fire protection equipment became impaired, we were expected to respond—no matter what time of the day or night.

Interestingly, when I became Director of Loss Prevention Training in 1989, I began using this same speech to all newly hired engineers. Truthfully, some young men and women did not want a job that placed such demands on their time. They didn’t last long in our ranks.

It would be very interesting today, with the mindset of most Millennials whom I observe, to see if they would even take a job that expected so much of them at the beginning of their careers.

In our lives as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we may not realize it as consciously as we should, but wherever we go and whatever we do, we represent the Lord Jesus. I am quite certain that the Apostle Paul recognized how important it was for the new Christians in Colosse to grasp this important truth. Notice what he writes to them in Colossians 3:17:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

There are no exceptions. “Whatever you do” means exactly that. Yet, how many of us keep in the forefront of our mind the fact that day after day, month after month, year after year, in every situation we represent Christ?

The way we speak, the way we act, the things we read, the things we watch, the food we eat and drink, every aspect of our lives point to Jesus. Frankly, that’s a very uncomfortable truth.

But, think about it for a moment. Jesus sacrificed all of Himself on the cross to purchase our pardon from the sins we inherited from Adam and the sins we committed on our own. Having paid such a price for us, don’t we, in return, owe Jesus everything? I think we do.

So, as we begin another day, let’s remember that we represent the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. May the Holy Spirit continually nudge us so that every part of us will properly represent Christ—not in some straightjacket type of existence—but in the most cheerful and delightful way. Jesus paid it all. Let’s given Him our “all” in return.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rooted and Built Up in Jesus

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus
as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,
rooted and built up in him, strengthened
in the faith as you were taught,
and overflowing with thankfulness.”
—Colossians 2:6-7

No doubt you’ve heard some schoolteacher explain that whenever those on board a ship see an iceberg, they may not always realize that only a relatively small portion of the iceberg is showing above the water line. An enormous bulk of the iceberg lies beneath the surface. The invisible mass supports the visible mass.

When architects design very tall buildings, they have to consider the foundation of the building. Will the designed foundation support the mass of the building? Will it keep the building plumb and level?

When engineers design a tall tower for a radio or television station, they must consider whether the foundation and other components of the support system—such as guy wires—that provide stability for that tower will bear the weight of the tower and also sustain the tower upright when subjected to the forces of the wind.

In building a foundation, an engineer has to consider a number of factors. What load must the foundation support? Upon what kind of soil will the foundation rest? Will an earthquake affect the foundation? What about a flood?

In our spiritual lives, it becomes very important to consider into what kind of foundation we will place the roots of our faith. And, not only our “faith roots,” but what nourishment will cause our faith to grow—to be built up?

In writing to those “Christ’s-ones” who had gathered in the church at Colosse, the Apostle Paul gave them some very wise advice when he wrote these words recorded in Colossians 2:6-7:

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Once the Holy Spirit makes us aware of the great love that God has poured out upon us and the provision He has made for our salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus, we can glory in this new-found understanding and joyfully acknowledge what God has done for us. Yet, we need not stay at this point of beginning. We can put our spiritual roots down into the rich soil of God’s Word—both in the Bible and in Jesus Himself.

Not only can we allow our roots to grow deeply into this fertile ground, we can become nourished through God’s Word and begin to grow stronger and more secure in our faith. As we grow, we will find ourselves overflowing with God’s mercy, grace, and love. This will produce a profound thankfulness within us.

That blessed thankfulness will so spill out of our lives that it will begin to touch the lives of people God draws into our sphere of influence. Our thankfulness will become a useful tool for the Holy Spirit to reveal the supreme goodness of God to others whom He has chosen to belong to Himself.

May God grant us, at the beginning of this new day, a keen awareness of how amazingly He is at work in our own lives. May we do our part to feast on His Word. And, may our overwhelming thankfulness become a beacon of hope to the people around us.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ruling Peace

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…”
—Colossians 3:15a

Each person has a unique expression of his or her temperament. Some people approach life seemingly in a bubble of deliberate calmness. Others seem to display an almost frantic demeanor. Still others fall somewhere in between.

Whenever I catch a competitive quiz show on television, I am always chagrined by those who scream loudly when they win. I feel they are acting like little children. I can’t imagine getting that excited about something. But, there’s no doubt that they’re very excited they have won.

In our spiritual lives, God makes a very special provision for us. That provision enables us to process and handle whatever life may throw our way.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this God-given provision in Colossians 3:15:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.And be thankful.

God gives us His peace that we may respond to the call He gives us to become peacemakers in a frantic world.

As we begin this new day, let us allow the Holy Spirit to make the peace of Christ rule in our hearts and mind.

And, from my personal, selfish perspective, “No screamies!”

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Enriched in Every Way

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For in him you have been enriched in every way…”
—1 Corinthians 1:5

I can still remember the delightful aroma of freshly baked bread coming out of the oven when I was a small child. There is no comparable mouth-watering scent quite that like of freshly baked bread. I can also remember my mother talking about how flour had changed in her lifetime.

Born in 1904, for a very short time she had grown up with a mother, and later, for the rest of her formative years, a step-mother when her mother died in childbirth. She once told me, as she kneaded the dough for a loaf of bread, how the flour used to require multiple siftings in order to achieve the right texture for baking bread. She explained what a “miracle” it was when so-called “enriched flour” made it onto the shelves.

My mother was 42 years old when she and my 40-year-old father adopted me. They had been married for nearly 16 years when I came along. Prior to my adoption, both parents had worked. My mother was a bookkeeping clerk in an office. My dad was a carpenter and later a salesman. Plus, my dad had served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II.

When I reached the age of twelve, entered junior high school, and no longer came home from school for lunch each day, my mom went back to work for the same company she had left twelve years before. Bread baking stopped in our house. It was far easier to purchase bread at the grocery store. But, I still remember the magnificent results of that enriched flour being turned into delicious bread.

In his first letter to the new Christians gathered in the church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul writes to them about the enriching power of the Lord Jesus Christ. Please take note of Paul’s words, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:4-5:

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge…

He tells these newborn babes in Christ—all of whom were struggling mightily to shake off the shackles of intense sin because of the decadence of the culture in which they lived—that the very grace of God given to them in Christ has enriched them in every way. Two marks of that enrichment were the change in their manner of speaking and in the knowledge they had acquired about the spiritual direction of their lives.

We live in an ever-increasingly coarse culture. We seldom can go anywhere without hearing foul language used in common conversation. People think nothing of using the most base words to describe simple happenings in their lives.

Just for curiosity sake, I once sat in a large shopping mall and observed over a 30-minute period the number of times I heard the Lord’s name taken in vain, the use of foul and coarse language, and the gender of those using such words. To my shock, at least in that setting—which likely had more women present than men—the women far outnumbered the men in their use of curse words and coarse language. Some of the foulest words ever spoken were dropped without a second thought in a setting filled with other people and, especially, with children. I was appalled, but not surprised.

But, we have no quarter on bad language. Cultural historians writing about the city of Corinth in the days of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry and the next few decades that followed, tell of a city so foul in its language that even the hardened Roman soldiers were amazed.

One centurion writing to his wife in Rome told of how shocked he was at the foul words he heard in the market place. He told his wife that he would have to place “cloth in your ears” if she were to walk with him through the streets in the center of Corinth. So, it is amazing that one of the great benefits that Paul notes about the new Christians in Corinth is that they had a change in language.

He also notes their increase in knowledge about God, about the spiritual pathway of their lives, about the great sacrifice that Christ made to cover their sins, and about the new life He had given them through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but I long for an even greater enrichment in my own life. I have walked with God since I was nine years old. Over the course of the intervening 60 years I have often failed to faithfully follow in Christ’s footsteps. But, more and more I am longing for an increase in closeness to Him and to His Word. I eagerly consider myself as a recipient of Paul’s letter and hope against hope that I might become worthy to receive such a letter. Yes, imagine the joy to read the words in the verses above.

As we begin a new day, may we read Paul’s words and long for such a declaration in our own lives. May we desire God to so enrich our lives that someone who loves us will be moved to thank God for us. And, may we strive to allow the Holy Spirit to keep making us more and more like Jesus—that we might come into the fullness of His glorious Presence with hearts and minds focused on the pathway He has laid out before us.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, March 10, 2017

In Step with God

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step
with the wicked or stand in the way that
sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.”
—Psalm 1:1-2

Radio broadcasting has held a fascination for me since I was ten years old. Just by accident, while visiting the Carnegie Public Library in my hometown of Bradford, Pennsylvania, I discovered a magical place. The Dewey Decimal System of library classification called that special place “621.384.” It was the depository of books about radio broadcasting.

The very first book I took down off the shelf was a textbook created for a course in radio broadcasting by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It featured many photographs of WUOM, the college radio station. I was immediately hooked on radio.

I subsequently read and re-read and re-re-read every book the public library had on the subject of radio broadcasting. I devoured those books. I studied the photographs. I tried to absorb the science and engineering behind the transmission of radio signals. I looked at photos of announcers and engineers, of turntables and tape decks and control boards, and longed to become a part of what they did.

Just two years later, a high school history teacher was visiting my seventh grade history class to talk about the influence of Greek culture on the ancient world. He saw my name on the seating chart and asked if he could speak with me after class.

“Are you the ‘Dean Wilson’ who has repeatedly taken books out of the public library on radio broadcasting?” I told him that I was. “Have you ever visited the radio station?” I told him that I had not. “Would you like to do so?” I fairly jumped for joy. You see, this teacher worked an evening shift as an announcer at the local radio station, WESB.

That teacher, Daniel W. Smith, will likely never know the important role he played in my life. He invited me to visit him at the radio station many times and soon introduced me to other members of the staff. The gentleman who acted as Program Director/News Director/Chief Engineer, William M. Winn, took me under his wing. I became a student intern at the station and, at age 12, had my first on-air experience hosting a weekly 30-minute program called “Your Lucky Seven.” (I still have a 1/4-inch reel-to-reel recording of one of those programs. My high squeaky voice is, frankly, hilarious.)

Dan Smith, Bill Winn, Floyd Henderson, and Gene Williams, invited me to follow in their footsteps. They treated me with unbelievable kindness. They answered my questions, encouraged my interest in radio broadcasting, allowed me to hone my interest, and made me feel welcomed. To most people in my world in those days, I was a very odd kid. But, at the radio station, I was part of the gang. That experience helped make me the person that I became—all because I could follow in their footsteps.

I find it fascinating that in constructing the canon of Scripture, following the tradition of the Hebrew Scriptures, the very first Psalm that the great divines used to open this important book of prayers, laments, and praises begins with these words, found in Psalm 1:1-2:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

If you read these two verses carefully, you will see that they pretty well sum up the pathway that the Holy Spirit has laid out for those who have received God’s mercy, grace, and love through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. We are to watch what He does and do the same.

We must not become sidetracked by the way of the wicked, nor take our stand with sinners, nor sit comfortably with those who mock God’s power and might. Rather, we are to take our greatest delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on that law every moment of every day.

Instead of aligning ourselves with the sin-darkened world around us, we are to forswear the evil of our day and immerse ourselves in the Word of God. As the Law of the Old Testament paves the way to the Law of Christ’s redemption in the New Testament, we are to delight ourselves in all that God reveals of Himself.

As another new day opens up before us, let us determine to truly be “in the world, but not of the world” (John 17:14). Yet, we will not live in a cocoon, or a protected bubble, nor isolate ourselves from the culture around us. Rather, we will bring the salt and light of the gospel into every situation. With humility, grace, and God-breathed love, we will gently share the reality of Christ’s Presence in our lives with all whom God nudges us to engage.

We will walk not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, nor sit with the mockers, but we will delight ourselves in the Law of Life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sanctified By the Truth

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Sanctify them to live in accordance
with the truth; your word is truth.”
—John 17:17

One of the most stunning passages in all of Scripture is the prayer Jesus prayed shortly before His arrest and crucifixion. Recorded in John 17, this prayer gives us amazing insight into the mind of our Savior, as He prays first for His current disciples and then for those of us whom He would welcome into His Kingdom over the passage of time. I strongly, strongly encourage you to take the time to read this startling passage of New Testament Scripture.

One of the qualities of Jesus so very evident in this prayer is the great love He has for those whom God has chosen to belong to His Son. As we read through this prayer, our bodies fairly bristle with electricity as we see how everything Jesus desires for us stems from His enormous love and care for us.

Among the desires of His heart that Jesus expresses in this “High Priestly Prayer” is this short sentence found in John 17:17:

Sanctify them to live in accordance with the truth; your word is truth.

Speaking of those who belong to Himself, Jesus asks God to sanctify—make holy—those who live in accordance with the truth. And, what is that source of truth? Why the very Word of God, of course. Jesus says of His Father, “…your word is truth.”

So, the Word of God, passed down to us in the written Word—the Bible—and empowered in our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit as the Living Word of God—the Lord Jesus Himself—has the ability to make us holy. If we live “in accordance with the truth” we will become more and more like Jesus; we will become holy, even as God is holy.

Of course, this process of sanctification will not be completed during our current life on earth. We still occupy our bodies tainted by the sin we have inherited from Adam and the sins we have committed ourselves. But, the process begins in the here and now.

Just as the Kingdom of God exists in the present, as well as in eternity yet to come, so our ever-increasing holiness begins now and continues to completion in heaven.

The question for us seems quite obvious: Are we on the pathway to holiness? Said another way: “Are we living in accordance with the Word of God?

A new day begins. In this new day we would do well to stop for a moment and take stock.

Are we putting into practice the things we are learning from Scripture? Are we loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength? Are we loving our neighbors as we love ourselves? Are we looking at the pathway of Jesus and following in His footsteps? Do we allow God to take our selfish wills and bend our wills to His perfect will? Do we live in a joyful way? Does the fruit of the Holy Spirit clearly exist in us: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?

Yes, it’s a very tall order. But, it is one that the Holy Spirit will gladly help us along our way. I say we go for it. Are you with me?

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Reliable Illumination

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Your word is a lamp for
my feet, a light on my path.”
—Psalm 119:105

When someone needs a source of light to find his or her way through a dark place, that source of light needs to remain powerful and steady. Right? Of course, right!

How many times have you read a mystery novel when at an important moment the flashlight carried by the protagonist goes out? Usually this takes place right before some critical incident occurs in the storyline of the novel.

Ted crawled through the dark space underneath the cabin. Above he could hear the voices growing louder with each moment. They were arguing. Ted could hear a deep, angry voice and a shrill, frightened voice. He thought he recognized the shrill voice. It sounded like Mary.

With a thud, dust from the rafters settled on his face. Someone had tipped over a chair. The shrill voice screamed. Ted wiggled further along the damp earth of the crawl space. He inched closer to the electric disconnect. If only he could turn off the power. Maybe James and Ed could storm the cabin and rescue Mary.

He was just a few feet away when—darkness. His flashlight gave out. It was so dark under the floorboards above that he couldn’t see the handle on the power switch. What was he going to do?

Well, you get the idea. Why in the world didn’t Ted put fresh batteries in the flashlight? I don’t know why, but the protagonist always seems to forget some critical detail that puts him and the object of his love in peril.

“When searching for a source of light to illuminate the pathway of their lives, wise believers seek a source of light that will remain steady and dependable.” That’s my key sentence for this blog post. Want to read it again? Okay. “When searching for a source of light to illuminate the pathway of their lives, wise believers seek a source of light that will remain steady and dependable.”

So, where do we find such a dependable source of light? We find it in the same place that the Psalmist found it when he wrote these words in Psalm 119:105:

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

God’s Word—given to us in the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the written Word, the Bible—provides a constant, dependable, and powerful source of illumination. We can always find our way if we seek to stay on the pathway that God lays out before us. When “darkness” surrounds us, switch on that reliable source of light.

One of the reasons that devoted disciples of the Lord Jesus need to read His written Word each day is to become so familiar with what God wants us to know about Himself and His way that we will instantly draw on the knowledge when we encounter a dark place along the pathway of our lives. That means we need to purposefully take advantage of God’s provision. We need to begin this new day, and every new day, by spending time reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer.

Those two seem like such simple disciplines. Yet the vast majority of Christians continue to ignore the great power available to them by exercising those simple activities. Let’s not be one of the majority. Okay?

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Law Leads Us to Jesus

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“ Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law.”
—Psalm 119:18

What could possibly be good about rules and regulations?

During my 52 years of work in fire protection, I have often had someone ask that question. It was usually directed at me because I had the enormous and humbling privilege of spending almost three-quarters of my career working on the development and maintenance of various codes and standards of the National Fire Protection Association.

One of the few values that I still bring to the fire protection table is that I was present during many of the more controversial discussions regarding particular requirements in the codes’ and standards’ Technical Committees on which I served.

These national codes and standards help keep people and property in the United States safe from fire and other hazards. You can see why I might think that rules and regulations have great importance.

But, by themselves, the rules have no redeeming purpose. Rules and regulations must always lead toward some greater, overarching goal. The rules and regulations become enabling objectives for achieving whatever goal possess the utmost importance.

So it is with God’s Law.

Many people criticize what Bible scholars call the Mosaic Law described in great detail in the early books of the Old Testament. The rules seem difficult, even suppressive and highly restrictive. Truthfully, each rule had a very good and useful purpose.

But, even more importantly, the Law had, and has, an even greater goal. You see, the Law leads us to Jesus. That’s right. The Law leads us to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Law convicts us of our sinfulness—for no person could ever possibly conform to the rules of the Law. The Law convinces us that we need a Savior. In so doing, the Law very naturally and carefully and thoughtfully leads us to the Son of God, our Savior.

It is for this reason that the Psalmist writes these words in Psalm 119:18:

Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

The most wonderful thing of all that the people of God can see in the Law is their need for Jesus to reign as the King in their lives. That’s the true definition of the Kingdom of God: wherever Jesus is King and His will is obeyed.

We live in God’s Kingdom right here and right now. Someday, we will live in the eternal Kingdom of God. But, don’t be misled, we are living in the Kingdom of God right now. From the moment we bend our knee in fealty to Christ, we enter His Kingdom.

So, here at the beginning of another new day, we have much to celebrate. We can join the Psalmist in this prayer for God to open our eyes to the wonderful things that the Law contains.

We can do this because we know that the Law points us to our Savior and Lord. And, anything that points us to Jesus has a goodness that simply cannot be measured.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Delight in the Face of Trouble

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Trouble and distress have come upon
me, but your commands give me delight.”
—Psalm 119:143

How do you react when trouble comes your way?

I ask because I seem to more and more, at my advanced age, to react to trouble and distress with frustration and anger. I am quite ashamed that I no longer seem to be able to take even the most minor occurrences with the kind of patience and grace that I know God expects of me.

But, I am not content to leave the situation where it is. In fact, I have been praying a great deal of late that God would bring a peaceful calmness into my life.

Every time I think that I have reached a place of stillness, some new “tragedy” occurs. I put that word “tragedy” in quotation marks because the kinds of things that happen to me are so minor that I am even more embarrassed to admit they cause me such angst.

For example, recently, when my wife started the van, a rat-tat-tat-tat sound emanated from the dashboard. It sounded like a baseball card clipped to the spoked wheel of a bicycle. I immediately recognized that something was wrong with the fan for the heating and air conditioning system.

A trip to the dealer informed me that the $60.00 part would take $700.00 in labor to replace because the dashboard had to be removed. The repair would take a day and a half.

A few hours after we had the van back in our possession, a trip to a restaurant resulted in us becoming stuck in the driveway of the establishment with the shift lever apparently disconnected from the transmission and the van stuck in “Park.” I promptly called both the dealer and AAA. Within the hour, a tow truck hauled the van back to the dealer.

In the morning, the dealer called saying they had the car, but no key. The night before, the tow truck operator had said he would lock the car and put the key in the night repair slot at the dealer. The dealer informed me the car was unlocked and they could not find a key. To my chagrin, I realized that my van had sat unlocked in the dealer’s parking lot overnight with my $20,000 powered wheel chair unprotected in the back of the van.

Eventually, the dealer found the key in a slide out drink holder. But, not before my wife had to drive to the dealer with another key.

Then, once the dealer made the repairs—for which they admitted was their fault when reassembling the dashboard two days before—I had to take off my right shoe that has a leg brace attached, put on a brace-less shoe, ride in my wife’s car to the dealer, and drive the van back home.

Now all this seems pretty minor and perhaps even a quite common set of circumstances. I wish I could report that I handled all this with aplomb and a smile.

No—unfortunately I became very frustrated and angry several times during this event. Fortunately, I did not target any person with my anger. The only harm I did was to my own blood pressure and to my own peace of mind.

Yet, I am so very ashamed that I, once again, failed to respond with the kind of peaceful calmness that Jesus would expect of me.

How I wish that, over the 69 years of my life, I had learned how to handle these situations more calmly, so that I could follow the words of the Psalmist, as recorded in Psalm 119:143:

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands give me delight.

I have to chuckle at this verse because trouble and distress never produce delight in me. But, maybe, just maybe, they could.

So, I will once again resubmit myself to God and seek that place of peace in my life that will allow me to act in a more Christ-like way in the future. In my geezer-hood, I am trusting that I will find a place of quiet rest with the attendant ability to handle whatever comes my way without any frustration or anger.

As we begin a new day, it is likely you have a whole different issue that troubles you, an issue with which you struggle, and for which you seek a touch from God.

Let me be so bold to suggest that together we launch out into this day with confidence that God knows what we need to resolve the issues in our lives that concern us. If we put our trust fully in Him, He will surely supply everything we require to truly become His faithful and obedient children.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, March 3, 2017

The Work of Jesus

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the
righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”
—1 Peter 3:18a

Saving the world was no picnic. Did you ever think about that?

Starting out as the Son of God—one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity—coming to earth as a human being; growing up in meager circumstances; taking on the mantle of salvation; gathering a bunch of erstwhile fisherman, and other individuals, to become His disciples; being crucified on a cruel Roman cross of torture; being buried in a borrowed tomb; rising from the dead on the third day; ascending up to heaven; and finally, finally sitting down at the right hand of His Father. Imagine how unbelievably stressful it was. Truly saving the world was no picnic.

And yet, Jesus willingly went through all this out of obedience to His Father and out of His immeasurable love for you and for me. The Apostle Peter states the whole span of this marvelous gift of God’s love in two sentences, as recorded in 1 Peter 3:18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.

Jesus who never sinned, or, as the Scripture puts it, “He who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), died in our place. He rose again to conquer death once and for all. We who have come to understand this amazing gift of God’s mercy, grace, and love have much to celebrate.

As we begin this day, let’s not lose sight of what Jesus has done for us. With hearts full of gratitude, let’s lovingly and carefully share what Jesus means to us whenever someone crosses our pathway with whom God prompts us to share the joy we have in Jesus.

Oswald J. Smith penned a lovely gospel song that I can remember singing as a youngster during Wednesday evening prayer meetings:

There is joy in serving Jesus,
As I journey on my way.
Joy that fills my heart with praises
Every hour and every day

There is joy, joy,
Joy in serving Jesus.
Joy that throbs within my heart.
Every moment, every hour,
As I draw upon His power,
There is joy, joy,
Joy that never shall depart.

There is joy in serving Jesus,
Joy that triumphs over pain;
Fills my heart with heaven’s music,
’Til I join the glad refrain.

There is joy, joy,
Joy in serving Jesus.
Joy that throbs within my heart.
Every moment, every hour,
As I draw upon His power,
There is joy, joy,
Joy that never shall depart.

There is joy in serving Jesus,
As I walk alone with God.
’Tis the joy of Christ my Saviour,
Who the path of suffering trod.

There is joy, joy,
Joy in serving Jesus.
Joy that throbs within my heart.
Every moment, every hour,
As I draw upon His power,
There is joy, joy,
Joy that never shall depart.

There is joy in serving Jesus,
Joy amid the darkest night.
For I’ve learned the wondrous secret
And I’m walking in the light

There is joy, joy,
Joy in serving Jesus.
Joy that throbs within my heart.
Every moment, every hour,
As I draw upon His power,
There is joy, joy,
Joy that never shall depart.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Acts of Kindness

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For it is God’s will that by doing
good you should silence the
ignorant talk of foolish people.”
—1 Peter 2:15

Why do people act in a kind way toward one another? If you replied, “Because people are inherently good,” you are wrong. The Bible tells us that every one of us is stained by sin—first from the inherited sin of Adam and then by our own wrong doing. So, why do people sometimes, or most times, act with kindness toward one another?

One answer is that though we have fallen into sin, we are also still made in the image of God. What theologians call the “Imago Dei.” Because God is loving and good, we bear His stamp and have the capacity to be loving and good, too.

When we receive the gift of salvation from our sins, through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have all the more reason to follow in His footsteps and reach out in love and goodness to those around us.

The Apostle Peter explained why this behavior is so important in 1 Peter 2:15-16:

For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.

We silence those who oppose Christ by showing His goodness and love in the way we treat others.

Look at the young men in the photo at the beginning of this blog post. See how they have chosen to reach out to a homeless man. They are giving him a lunch. Why? Because these young men are part of a youth organization that follows the teachings of Jesus.

They realize that because God loves them so much, they need to love others in His name. That’s a good lesson for us, as we begin another day.

Christ’s goodness shows through us by the way we treat others. And that, dear ones, is something to celebrate and to emulate.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.