Friday, September 21, 2018

Our Citizenship

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Our citizenship is in heaven. And
we eagerly await a Savior from
there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
—Philippians 3:20

I grew up in the decade immediately following the end of World War II. Our nation made so many sacrifices to respond with might and power to a two-front war and to come to the aid of our allies. Young people today simply do not have any concept of the enormous stress this War placed on almost every single person who was alive during this time period. These same young people would do well to spend an hour or two reading about this time in the life of our country and trying to imagine what it would have been like to be living during such an event.

My childhood was a time of great patriotism and also great fear. We were extraordinarily proud to be citizens of the United States of America. We were proud of those who had served and were still serving in our armed forces. We were proud of our flag. We were proud of our Pledge of Allegiance. We were proud of the fact that America was a great melting pot of people from many nations who had come here to start a new life, to retain the best memories of their homeland, but to first and foremost become Americans. The many becoming one was celebrated. Diversity was not shunned. Rather, it was accepted with reverence. But, what was revered even more was how these diverse people had all grasped hands and eagerly embraced a new identity.

The fear of my childhood came from concern that we would all die from a nuclear attack initiated by the Soviet Union. We had seen the result of the relatively small atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We knew that even greater bombs now existed, including the hydrogen bomb. We practiced in our classrooms how to seek shelter, never realizing that the meager shelter provided would hardly protect us from a nuclear assault.

When the Memorial Day and Fourth of July parades took place, we stood at attention as the military personnel marched by carrying the flag of our nation. We cheered the stern looks on the faces of these young men and women. We longed for the day when we could join their ranks.

We felt similar awe for those who served on the police force and fire department. We were proud, so very proud of what our nation, state, county, city or town represented. We were proud of our way of life. And, we were keenly aware of the sacrifices that had been made to secure and preserve that way of life.

So much has changed in my lifetime. When I stop to think about how profoundly everything has changed, it takes my breath away. But, in the midst of all the change, one thing remains constant. The Apostle Paul expressed that “constant” in a most elegant way when he wrote these words recorded in Philippians 3:20:

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am still one who celebrates what our nation once was. And, I am one who laments with great sorrow what our nation has become over the course of my lifetime. But, at the same time, I am filled with hope in the reality that I am really a citizen of a far greater kingdom, the Kingdom of God.

The words written nearly 150 years ago by Edward Mote come to mind:

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.

Let me urge us this day to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). And, let us draw strength from the reality that we are, indeed, citizens of the great Kingdom of God.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Priceless Gift

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“If you then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how
much more will your Father in heaven give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him.”
—Luke 11:13

God has given His children many truly wonderful gifts. Not the least of these spectacular gifts is the gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus.

But, God also realizes that, though He has redeemed us, we continue to live in a sin-scarred world. We are surrounded by all manner of evil. Satan still prowls around looking for whom he might destroy (1 Peter 5:8).

So, God has given us yet another priceless gift: the gift of the Holy Spirit. Dr. Luke quotes the words of Jesus Himself, as found in Luke 11:13:

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him.

“A good and perfect gift from God” (James 1:17)—that certainly describes the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is our Comforter, our Guide, our Defender, our Teacher, our Friend. He is the One who enables our spiritual formation and rewards our obedience.

As we launch out into another day, let’s thank God for this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit. And, let’s tune our spiritual ears to listen for the Spirit’s voice, as He directs us on the pathway that He has laid out before us.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Learning from the Heavens

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.”
—Psalm 19:1-2

How often do you look up into the sky?

Okay, I know as a kid you might have laid on your back in some field, or on a rooftop, and stared upward. On a sunny day, you could watch the birds fly and you might even have seen the contrails of a jet aircraft as it made its way to some far off destination.

Similarly, at night you might have observed the moon, the stars, or even some distant planet—at just the right time of the year. But, whenever you looked upward, you had a sense of wonder and amazement. You knew that the universe was some place bigger than where you lived. You sensed that some all-powerful Creator had put it all into place. For moment, you even thought that He did that just for you.

We sometimes forget how wonderful those childhood experiences were. How open we were to the thoughts that flooded our minds and imagination. How glorious it was to have limitless possibilities set before us.

I’m an old man now. But, I can still remember those days. They were so filled with promise, and hope, and even a bit of longing for a peek at what was to come. Now, I have experienced many things that have robbed me a bit of that openness and free-floating thinking that seemed so easy as a child.

But, God has not changed. We can still see the glory of who He is by looking upward to the skies above. That’s what King David was writing about when he declared in Psalm 19:1-2:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.

We can still learn from the heavens. We can still look upward and see the handiwork of God. We can glory in what God has created. We can honor and magnify and worship Him for who He is. We can declare His glory. We can speak words of exaltation. We can show His heart of love.

This new day, let’s make an effort to look upward and learn from the heavens. Let’s point the way to others that they may see who God is and have the same joy in their hearts that we have in our own hearts. That will be a fitting testimony to this wonderful God who loves us so very much.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

God says...

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


He says, “Be still, and know that I am
God; I will be exalted among the
nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
—Psalm 46:10

One of the things that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ learn, sooner or later, is to listen to what God says. In the vast majority of cases, that means “listening” to what God says through His written Word, the Bible.

Fortunately, the more a Christian reads God’s Word, the more a Christian comes to appreciate the beauty and elegance of God’s “voice.” That’s why spending time reading the Bible is such an important discipline in the life of one who follows Jesus.

The Psalmists have captured many wonderful truths from God. This makes the Psalms an important, even cherished, part of most believers’ favorite readings. Psalm 46:10 is no exception. Here, the Sons or Korah, have penned an important truth, reporting what God says:

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

How often we need to be reminded to just stop whatever we are doing, get ourselves to some place where we can wait in quiet, and allow the “knowing” of the Holy Spirit to wash over us. If you haven’t had that experience lately, I commend it to you wholeheartedly.

As we begin another new day, let’s take time to be still and know that God is the great “ I Am.” He is worthy of our devotion. He is worthy of our time. He is worthy of our attention. He is worthy to recognize.

Know that God is exalted above all the nations. Know that God is exalted in the earth that He created and in us, His dearly loved children. Know that every beat of our hearts, every breath that we take, comes to us as a precious gift from this magnificent and wonderful-beyond-all-measure God.

Now, dear ones, that’s the way to start this day!

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Handling Grievances

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against
someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
—Colossians 3:13

Supposedly, Rodney King—who became famous when some Los Angeles police officers mercilessly beat him—once uttered: “Can’t we just all get along?” The answer, of course, is, “No, we can’t!”

We do seem to often rub each other the wrong way. Just this past weekend, in talking over lunch with some friends, I tried to express my frustration with a particular political figure. Speaking in hyperbole, I said something about reaching into the television screen and slapping this particular individual. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone sitting at the table that I greatly admire. Immediately, this person recoiled at my words. Instantly, I regretted saying them, even though I knew I was exaggerating for effect.

We are more prone to disagree and argue with each other than we are to simply find ways of allowing people to be who they are without succumbing to the urge to take exception to what they might say or what they might do.

The Apostle Paul warned the Christians at Colosse using these words found in Colossians 3:13:

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

God really does want us to get along with each other. At the same time, we are to hold each other accountable and help each other deal with our besetting sins.

At the start of this new day, and every new day, we should begin by determining to help our brothers and sisters in Christ by accepting them for who they are, recognizing that, just like us, they are not yet perfect in their spiritual formation, and doing what we can to bear with them and also quickly settle any grievance we may have with them.

If we do this, we will show the world how God’s love has transformed us. And, transformed we are, and transformed we will become, if only we trust in God’s mercy, grace, and abiding love.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Consequences of the Small Gate

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is
the gate and broad is the road that leads to
destruction, and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow the road
that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
—Matthew 7:13-14

In the Sermon on the Mount, as recorded in Matthew 5, 6, and 7, the Lord Jesus Christ teaches His disciples about several very important concepts necessary for proper spiritual formation. Among the topics that Jesus covers is His discussion of the way to eternal life.

Recognizing that Jesus Himself is the way, the truth, and the life and that no person comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), He did make some comments that should prepare all Christians for the kind of life they will find themselves living, if they choose to faithfully and obediently follow in the footsteps that He has left for us.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus shares these words:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

This instruction is not so much a teaching of the kind of action that a believer must take. Rather, it is sharing rather distinctly the kind of life that will naturally follow a believer who chooses obedience to God’s will and to His Word.

You see, the way of Jesus is not an easy way. Devotion to Christ will lead believers into very narrow passageways where they will find themselves hemmed in on all sides by those who want to minimize, and even destroy, the gospel.

Yes, the Holy Spirit will lead us along the right pathway. But, there is a definite price to pay for faithfulness. We cannot earn our way. But, by determining to follow the pathway God gives us, we will be subjected to many and interesting consequences—not all of which are pleasant ones.

As we start this new day, let’s keep our minds and hearts clear about the price we will pay for obedience. Not so much in our doing. But, more so in what will be done to us by a world that rejects the power of Christ’s love and sacrifice.

We do well to understand that following Jesus will subject us to the same kind of hatred that He experienced. Naturally, the Holy Spirit will comfort us and give us strength. But, we must not think for one moment that the natural world will easily accept our allegiance to the King of Kings.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

In the High Places

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he
makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.”
—Habakkuk 3:19

The British writer, Hannah Hurnard, in the middle of her life when she held to strongly orthodox beliefs, penned a great Christian classic in the fabulous little book, Hinds Feet on High Places. Written in 1955, and re-published many times since that date, the book traces the journey of a young woman named “Much Afraid,” as she traveled from her family, “Fearing” to the “High Places of the Shepherd.” This allegory packs so many wonderful truths into a relatively few paragraphs.

Hurnard drew the idea for this wonderful book from the writing of the Prophet Habakkuk, as recorded in Habakkuk 3:19:

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.

God is our Great Enabler. He gives us the ability to tread ever upward in our spiritual formation, in our dependence on Him, and in our quest to represent Him well to the people around us who need His love and His care. We can most certainly celebrate this imbued power of God, as we begin this new day.

Let’s be sure to thank Him that He enables us to tread on the heights. We can rely on His mercy, grace, and abiding love to empower us as His dearly loved children.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Before...

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Before the mountains were born or you
brought forth the whole world, from
everlasting to everlasting you are God.

“A thousand years in your sight are
like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.”
—Psalm 90:2, 4

There is a distinct advantage when one has the privilege of serving a particular cause for a long, long time. If one is present, awake, and has a good memory, “long-time-serving” can prove to be an adjective that indicates the person has much to offer in helping to understand how things came to past.

By God’s grace, and through absolutely no merit of my own, I had the deep honor of serving the fire protection community as a member of various National Fire Protection Association codes and standards committees since 1974. Though I have served on numerous NFPA Technical Committees, I have spent the greatest amount of time serving on the Technical Committees related to the development of what has now become NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code.®

One of the things that I have brought to the table over the years is that I was present during many discussions that led to changes in the Code and can explain to others, who have come along later, why the Code states the requirements that it presents.

Now, magnify my rather insignificant contributions by many times. Imagine what it would be like to have the ear of someone who was, in every case, present from the beginning of everything—someone who knows and understands why things are the way that they are.

This is exactly what Moses was declaring about God when Moses wrote these words in Psalm 90:2, 4:

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

God is the ultimate Technical Committee member, and so much more. He knows why He made things the way He chose to make them. He understands all the systems He put into place. He is the one who understands how climate works, along with every other conceivable system that makes up our universe.

He also understands the people He has created, His knows His divine purposes for them, their advantages, and their limitations. He knows and understands at the most basic level everything that anyone might wish to know about heaven and earth.

It makes sense for us, at the start of another new day, to recognize how fortunate we are to have access to God through His written word and through His Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him and through Him we have an inexhaustible resource to lead us and guide us in every aspect of our lives.

God is before all things, in all things, above all things, around all things, and through all things. Nothing escapes His attention. Nothing is beyond His caring.

And, to top that off, He loves us—loves us!—with His unfailing love. And, that is certainly worth celebrating.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dimensions of God's Love

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I pray that out of his glorious riches he
may strengthen you with power through
his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ
may dwell in your hearts through faith.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and
established in love, may have power,
together with all the Lord’s holy people,
to grasp how wide and long and high
and deep is the love of Christ, and to
know this love that surpasses knowledge—
that you may be filled to the
measure of all the fullness of God.”
—Ephesians 3:16-19

In any building project there are four qualities that determine the ultimate integrity of the project: dimensions, square, level, and plumb. If you measure the pieces of the project carefully to make certain they have the proper dimensions; if you erect the pieces of the project so that they have perfectly square corners of 90 degrees; if you make certain you maintain level—that is, square or 90 degrees off the vertical—and plumb—that is square, or 90 degrees off the horizontal—then the likelihood of your project being successful is nearly assured.

So it is with our relationship with God. We need to understand how uprightly we stand with regard to God’s calling. We need to understand the dimensions of His love and caring for us. And, we need to be able to receive the strength He will give us through the Holy Spirit to perform that to which He has called us.

The Apostle Paul wrote these words to encourage the Christians gathered in the church at Ephesus, as recorded in Ephesians 3:16-19:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The prayers of the Apostle surely helped the Ephesian Christians grow into a proper spiritual formation, so that they could serve as proper ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. We need this same kind of encouragement in our own spiritual lives.

As we begin yet another day, may we pray for each other this very prayer of the Apostle. May we ask God to give both us and our dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ the power of the Spirit that we may apprehend the depth, length, and breadth of the love of God for us through His Son. May our roots go deep into the soil of His precious written Word. May we live our lives in obedience to His will and to His Word.

And, may we experience that great joy that comes from knowing that we are fulfilling the calling to which He has called us. That, dear ones, will be wonderful, indeed.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Becoming a Barnabas

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Therefore encourage one another and build
each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:11

My wife and I have a very dear friend who spent most of her formative years studying music. She majored in music in college. She devoted herself to composition and refining her skills as a brass player in graduate school.

She obtained a Ph.D., in order to gain even more knowledge about music. And, she even took post-graduate studies in conducting, so that she could achieve an excellence in conducting and managing a symphony orchestra. She is talented in so very many ways: performer, composer, conductor, mentor, and teacher.

But, God seems to have had an entirely different path for her to travel. When He brought her into the lives of my wife and me, she was unable to secure a full-time position in music.

She very much wanted a post that would allow her to manage and conduct an orchestra. But, those doors—largely guarded by an “old-boys network”—seemed closed to her. She was, after all, a woman. She was very smart. And, she likely threatened, even intimidated, the normal job politics of most organizations that support an orchestra.

So, she took what was essentially a very low-paying data entry position in a company that provided support operations for the insurance industry. She often sat in our living room and shared the woes of corporate life.

Since I had worked in the corporate world for several decades, I was able to help her understand some of the typical corporate politics and to offer suggestions as to how to deal with those who would stand in her way of advancement.

By God’s grace, lots of hard work, and her own superior intellectual ability, she began to slowly climb the corporate ladder, made a few job changes to positions of ever-greater responsibility and compensation, and eventually found a very nice niche in understanding the rigors of corporate human resources management.

Now she has her own business helping people apply for jobs and navigate the ever-complex world of on-line job applications. She has truly become an expert.

Many now seek her help in locating the ideal position. She understands the technology behind the on-line application systems, how to tweak one’s input to match their algorithms, and her clients readily find new and better jobs in a climate that is largely unfavorable to those looking for employment.

She was wise enough to seek advice when she didn’t understand something. And, she was very willing to listen to the advice when she was given it.

More so, she worked very, very hard to put into practice every bit of knowledge she accrued. Perhaps, most importantly of all, she honored God at every step along the way.

She was, and is, a choice servant of the Great King Jesus. And, she was always willing to have Him lead her in a new direction. She sought her primary sustenance from Him and His Word.

I share this story with you because I believe it illustrates the role we all must play in each other’s lives. We must be encouragers—Barnabas, if you will, since that name means “Son of Encouragement.”

To whom have you been a Barnabas today? Is there someone to whom you have spoken an encouraging word?

Do you actively seek to say things that encourage others to think well of themselves and to celebrate their accomplishments for Christ and His Kingdom?

When one of your fellow brothers or sisters in Christ achieves something new, do you purposely and purposefully, cheer them on and celebrate with them, letting their joy become your joy?

The Apostle Paul urged those in the church at Thessalonica to do exactly this. Notice what Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11:

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

As a new day opens before us, it presents yet another opportunity to become an encourager—a Barnabas—to our fellow believers.

And, we can become encouragers to everyone who may cross our pathway, too. Certainly almost everyone can benefit from hearing words that will make them think better of themselves.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, September 7, 2018

Acknowledgment

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and
the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for
everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours,
Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”
—1 Chronicles 29:11

When you watch a movie, do you stay and watch all the credits roll by on the screen? I do. I find it fascinating to see all of the people it takes to make a movie. I also am fascinated by some of the job titles listed in those rolling credits.

It’s important to acknowledge those who contribute to any project. After all, they’ve worked diligently to bring that project to completion. They’ve invested their personal energy into making the project successful.

I wonder how often we stop to acknowledge what God has done in creating and sustaining our world and also in guiding us to become the people He wants us to be. We probably take God for granted far more often than we care to admit.

Fortunately, we have an excellent example of how to acknowledge God’s marvelous works in a prayer of King David, as recorded in 1 Chronicles 29:11. Here’s a part of that prayer:

Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.

As we begin another day, let’s remember to acknowledge what God has done in our world and also in us. We can justly praise Him for the magnificence of who He is, as well as for what He has done.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Answer Gently

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
—Proverbs 15:1

I am a profoundly impatient person. My impatience gets me into trouble all the time.

In my old age, I have mellowed somewhat. But, I still get really impatient, particularly when people misunderstand me.

In my impatience, I all too often give a harsher-than-appropriate answer to someone’s legitimate question. When I do this, I feel embarrassment and remorse. But, my behavior never seems to change. Shame on me!

Once in a while, when someone pushes back hard at something I’ve said, another modality within my being kicks into place. I believe that different modality comes from memories of being bullied as a child.

In those instances, I often respond with a quiet gentleness, rather than my usual bombast. And, do you know what? That soft, quiet, gentle speech often diffuses the anger coming at me from the other person.

One day, more than ten years ago, I had a conversation with a man who chaired a committee that I had joined. We were talking about the cultural norms of the organization that sponsored the committee. As I outlined my observations about those cultural norms, he became very agitated and finally in an angry outburst suggested that, if I didn’t like the way the other members acted, I should resign from the organization, .

The harshness of his words and the angry tone of his voice triggered that different modality I mentioned above. Instead of responding with my usual harshness, I began talking very quietly, almost at a whisper.

I heard myself saying soothing words about the positive things I had noted in the organization’s cultural norms. Soon, his anger seemed to dissipate. The conversation ended more pleasantly.

Now, truthfully, this man was justified in his response. After all, he had been a member of this organization for many years and had many close ties with other members. I was making observations that placed some of the cultural norms of the organization in a very negative light. No wonder he jumped to defend the organization about which he felt so fondly.

That my observations were correct didn’t really matter. But, what did matter was that unusual—for me—softness in my answer that helped repair the breech I had created.

I believe that this is what King Solomon meant when he penned the words found in Proverbs 15:1:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

At the beginning of another new day, we can all learn to speak more gently to one another. We can cause angry speech to dissipate when we choose gentle words of response.

Gentleness does not indicate a lack of strength. Rather, it illustrates that strength is under control. And, that is a very good thing.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

His Second Appearing

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“…so Christ was sacrificed once to take
away the sins of many; and he will appear
a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring
salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
—Hebrews 9:28

For the past few blog posts, I’ve written about the general theme of the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. To many folks, this seems like a flight of fantasy. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that Christianity repels many individuals.

You see, it takes faith, given as a gift from God, to make the reality of God’s plan come alive within the hearts and minds of the people He has chosen to belong to Himself. Without that gift of faith, Christianity appears ludicrous. We believers absolutely must understand this fact.

In contrast, we can receive great comfort from knowing that we await Christ’s return. This is the same theme that the writer to the early Hebrew Christians records in Hebrews 9:28:

…so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Christ is the bringer of salvation to all those who believe. As we begin a new day, we can rest with genuine confidence in the anticipated joy of Christ’s return.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

The New Jerusalem

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming
down out of heaven from God, prepared as a
bride beautifully dressed for her husband.”
—Revelation 21:2

When I was about eight years old, a visiting evangelist, who also happened to be a tenor soloist, came to our church for a week of special meetings. One night, he sang “The Holy City,” with music by Stephen Adams and words by Frederick E. Weatherly. This stirring song moved me deeply.

Four years later, our youth group leader, Mrs. Isabel Young, began a three-year-long study of the Book of Revelation during our Wednesday night prayer meeting. Imagine my surprise when I encountered these words from the Apostle John, as found in Revelation 21:2-4:

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

As believers in the life-transforming power of the living Lord Jesus Christ, one of our great hopes and expectant joys is the anticipation of seeing the New Jerusalem for the first time.

Even as we begin another new day, let us remember that we will spend eternity with God within the boundless walls of that great city. And, let us hasten to heed the nudging of the Holy Spirit to share the message of God’s love whenever He leads us to do so.

Please click here to watch a moving version of the song I wrote about in this blog post, sung by Stanford Olsen and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

 

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, September 3, 2018

One Great Day

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For the Lord himself will come down from
heaven, with a loud command, with the
voice of the archangel and with the trumpet
call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

“After that, we who are still alive and are
left will be caught up together with them
in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
—1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.jpg

Over the centuries, there have been many times when Christians became discouraged. They have been persecuted and dismissed, marginalized and killed, and every possible attempt has been made to destroy them and their faith.

In the midst of such trials—trials that, for the most part, we can hardly imagine—Christians have always held firm to their beliefs and found encouragement from the Apostle Paul’s words found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

Knowing that, on some great day, Jesus will return provides unimaginable comfort. Even as this new day begins, we can receive comfort from these words.

Let’s rejoice in knowing that God will receive us as His dearly loved children on one great day.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, August 31, 2018

To Whom Does God's Love Belong?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“But from everlasting to everlasting the
Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s
children—with those who keep his
covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”
—Psalm 103:17-18

A recent email I received began with these words: “In this blog of yours, you constantly talk about God’s love. But, to whom does God’s love belong?”

As I pondered how to best answer this sincere question, I quickly recognized that none of us deserve God’s love. There is absolutely nothing within us that would enable us to lay claim to God’s love. We are all sinful, disobedient human creations of the Most High God. Based on our own merit, we have nothing to offer Him that has any value or that would commend us to worthily receive God’s love.

Next, I recognized that despite the truth of the above statement, God does love us with His everlasting love. In fact, He loves us so much that He was willing to send His one and only Son, Jesus, to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

King David does a good job of summarizing the reality of God’s love for us in these words found in Psalm 103:17-18:

But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

The biblical use of the word “fear” means “intense and unwavering respect.” God does not want us to be afraid of Him, as we might be afraid of a giant grizzly bear stalking us in our tiny canvas pup tent. No, He wants us to recognize Who He is and that He is the powerful creator of the universe. He wants us to acknowledge that He alone is God. He wants us to praise Him for the loving way He uses His mighty power for the good of those He loves.

So, while we do not deserve God’s love, the miracle of His mercy and grace is that He loves us with an intensity that we simply cannot comprehend.

If you think about someone you truly love, that dear one only knows what you have chosen to reveal about yourself. But, God knows everything about us. Nothing concerning us is hidden from Him. In spite of this intimate knowledge of who we are, God still loves us with a love that passes all understanding.

Let us rejoice this new day that God does, indeed, love us. And, let us allow His love to flow through us and touch the world around us in a life-transforming way.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Empathy

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Rejoice with those who rejoice;
mourn with those who mourn.”
—Romans 12:15

As we walk the road of life, people will cross our pathway with a wide variety of needs. Because we serve as Ambassadors of the Great King Jesus, we have a responsibility to share His love with these needy ones. But, how do we do that?

The Apostle Paul gives a very simple suggestion in Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Sometimes, people do not need a sermon. In fact, most times, people do not need a sermon. What they need is an empathetic response to their need. It may seem all too simple. Nevertheless, the advice Paul gives is sound.

When we encounter people who are filled with joy because of something that has happened in their lives, we should rejoice with them. When we encounter people who are filled with sorrow because of something that has happened in their lives, we should mourn with them.

Let’s determine today to put this simple watchword into practice. What better way to serve our King than to show the kind of empathy He would show.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Finishing the Race

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me;
my only aim is to finish the race and complete
the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task
of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
—Acts 20:24

One of the most humiliating experiences I ever had in my hated Physical Education class in high school was cross country. I abhorred cross country!

We would start out from the high school and run up a hill into a nearby neighborhood. Once there we would wind around the streets of that neighborhood and eventually run back to the school, around the track three times, and cross the finish line. I remember always coming in last—usually twenty or twenty-five minutes behind the previous person to cross the finish line.

“Well, at least you finished the race,” the teacher would say. “Although I don’t really know why you bothered.”

I bothered because somehow I had to finish the race. That’s the underlying sentiment the Apostle Paul shares in Acts 20:24:

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

In my mind, the spiritual race that Paul is talking about in this Scripture verse is far, far more important than any cross country race. Nevertheless, finishing the race is important.

Let’s purpose in our hearts today to finish the race God has given us and to finish as strong as He will enable us to do so. That’s a worthy goal.

And, when you watch the Olympic Games the next time they appear on television, remember this verse. Imagine the runners are ambassadors of Christ striving to complete the task He has given them. Notice how they finish as strong as they can.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Why Was Jesus Sent?

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“For God did not send his Son into
the world to condemn the world,
but to save the world through him.”
—John 3:17

“If God is truly a God of Love, why in the world would He send His one and only Son, Jesus, to die on a cruel Roman cross? That seems like the ultimate child abuse, to me!”

It’s not really as silly a question as it may seem. We have become rather hypersensitive to the issue of child abuse. And, rightly so.

Young parents today, a part of the Millennial Generation, can’t imagine the way things were when I was a young boy growing up in the 1950s. They would never permit their children to participate in the free-wheeling activities that marked nearly every day of my life. Parents of that day came into this world during the Great Depression and suffered through the deprivation of World War II. They lived under the threat of the atomic bomb. Their whole perspective on child rearing was vastly different than that of parents today. They permitted their children to roam freely and to participate in activities that would frighten today’s parents.

On the other hand, genuine, cruel, heart-rending child abuse is certainly a horrible thing. If we humans were to start sacrificing our children to save the lives of other people, we would most certainly be labeled as monsters and that labeling would be correct.

But, we also do not understand things from God’s perspective. He created humans for a distinct purpose, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states:

WSC Q. 1: What is the chief end of man?

A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

In order to have the kind of fellowship with a holy God that He intended us to have, we need to be obedient and sin-free. Yet, hardly had God created Adam and Eve than they disobeyed the one rule He had given them.

Knowing that sinful humans could never provide their own means of salvation, God made the choice to provide a sinless atoning sacrifice through His Son, Jesus.

In considering this amazing act of love toward us humans, we must always remember that God is One God who exists in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And, while this concept is beyond our ability to understand, we must recognize that, in a very real sense, when God sent Jesus to die in our place, He was sending Himself.

The Apostle John records Jesus’ own words in John 3:17. You may be more familiar with the preceding verse. Here, Jesus is talking with the Pharisee, Nicodemus. He has just explained that, to escape the penalty for their sins, humans must be born again in the Spirit.

Jesus punctuates this discussion with these words:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Christianity is not a religion of condemnation. Rather, it is a faith walk of love, God-breathed love.

As we begin a new day, let’s choose to remember that we are living expressions of God’s love for humankind. We are His ambassadors with the greatest news any human has ever heard.

Let’s not shrink back from sharing this wonderful news, whenever the Holy Spirit prompts us to share it.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Quick... Slow... Slow...

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of
this: Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry…”
—James 1:19

Have you ever played the game “Traffic Court” with your friends? It’s actually quite a simple game. One participant is designated as the “Judge” in Traffic Court. He or she very rapidly calls out directions to the other players, such as: “Five steps forward… Turn right… Four steps backwards… Turn left…”

Another participant is designated as the Traffic Cop. He or she watches how the others respond to the Judge’s instructions. If someone falters or doesn’t perform exactly as the Judge instructs, the Traffic Cop takes them out of the game for one minute. Three offenses and you’re out of the game entirely.

The game is a lot of fun. It helps us understand how following directions can sometimes be difficult, especially if we don’t have enough time to process what we’re being told to do.

In the matter of doing what we’re told, the Apostle James gave some very specific instructions in James 1:19. Here’s what he wrote:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…

I’ve summarized these worthy commands in the three words that title this blog post: “Quick… Slow… Slow…”

We must always listen very carefully to each other. We must also always be very restrained whenever we speak. Instead of jumping into the conversation, we should consider carefully what we’re going to say and even whether we should speak at all.

Then, and this is really important, we should be very, very slow to anger. Said another way: “Please! No thin skins among brothers and sisters in Christ!”

As we begin another day, it would be to our benefit to keep the Apostle James’ words in mind: quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. If we choose to live this way today, we will be so much better for having made that choice.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Friday, August 24, 2018

In My Imagination

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Be devoted to one another in love.
Honor one another above yourselves.”
—Romans 12:10

Recently, in my imagination, I had a conversation with a devoted saint of God.

(For those of you not familiar with my use of that term, I’m referring to a senior individual who has spent his entire life serving Christ and His Kingdom.)

This dear man began his devotion in his early teen years. To write a biography of the places he has served and the lives he has touched—all to the glory of God—would take pages and pages and pages.

I was particularly interested, during my imaginary interview, in asking him a certain question about his view of the Evangelical Christian churches in the United States of America today. In his 90’s, this man has seen many changes flood through the churches over the years of his life. I wondered, as I let my imagination free, how he might respond to various issues I observe as worth exploring.

I asked him, “What do you see as the major issue or problem facing Evangelical churches today in the United States?” He looked at me quizzically for a moment, but did not hesitate to voice his answer.

“I wish the Evangelical churches would keep their promises without exception,” he replied.

“What do you mean when you say ‘keep their promises’?” I asked.

“Very many Evangelical churches today,” he began his answer, “have created a very forthright, even strong, narrative of what they offer to the world. They make significant promises about many aspects of life. Based on their reading of Scripture, and particularly on the words of Jesus and the Apostles, they promise fellowship, freedom from a host of things that might trouble people. They promise peace, joy, a sense of belonging, a strong sense of warmth that comes from shared values, and an opportunity to grow in grace. They also promise rewards for service to the Kingdom, including efforts to help the poor, minister to the needy, and efforts to help raise those who have fallen.

“But then,” he continued, “when a person comes into the church, and begins to look for those promised qualities within the church, he or she often finds almost the exact opposite in play. Instead of a sense of oneness, a person finds the church divided over issues and broken into distinct cliques.

“Socialization may often take place, but rarely true biblical fellowship. Instead of delivering an atmosphere that fosters deeper spiritual formation, many Evangelical churches depend on a spiritual high created by an emotional rollercoaster not unlike the feelings one receives at some major public event.

“Instead of consistently creating a safe place where wounded people can find solace, the Evangelical church would rather hold occasional forays out into the secular world where they can make a targeted evangelistic “attack” through some “service project,” but without the kind of long-term commitment that it takes to really meet people’s needs.

“It becomes almost a ‘bait and switch.’ The Evangelical church makes lots of promises, in some cases even well-meaning promises. But, in the end, it all boils down to a slick advertising campaign with very little substance to back up the claims.

“I wish Evangelicals treated each other better. I wish they loved more deeply. I wish the major disciplines that directed their lives were Bible reading and prayer.

“I wish they would think deeply about spiritual things and show the same enthusiasm for what God is doing in the world that they show for their favorite sports team or televisions program.

“I wish Christian parents would be more interested in the spiritual lives of their children than they are in creating what the secular world describes as ‘well-rounded children who grow into well-rounded adults.

“I wish parents would purpose to create such strong church youth groups that those groups would easily outshine any programs offered by secular organizations. I wish the church activities would take precedent over school activities and sports activities.

“I wish that, when parents consider the education of their graduating high schoolers, they would investigate the numerous academically excellent Christian colleges and universities where the young adults will receive a Christ-centered education, rather than purposely steering their children to Ivy League schools, or secular institutions, where their heads will be filled with Christ-less knowledge.

“In short, I wish the Evangelical church would keep all the promises it makes without exception. If it would, if it did, if we did, we would build a United States filled with devoted servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The entire society would be better for it, if Christian people lived truly Christianly 100% of the time. If the claims of Christ were truly lived out by millions of people, Jesus would surely draw millions more to Himself. And, wouldn’t it be something, really something, to be a part of that?”

 


 

I will likely never actually have a real conversation with this man I admire so very much. But, after reading many of his books and listening to countless interviews, I’m not at all certain that my imagination falls short from what he might say in answer to my question.

Now to today’s Scripture passage that prompted my desire to interview this beloved saint.

You likely know that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome without ever having the privilege of visiting them until much later in his life. In this Book of Romans, as Paul’s letter is called, he outlines the theology of Christianity with amazing clarity. He conveys so many important lessons that hundreds of books have been written about what Paul wrote in these sixteen chapters.

Paul reminds the new believers of the foundation for their growing faith that came from the Jewish heritage. And, in chapters 9, 10, and 11, he writes directly to his fellow Jews.

In those same chapters, he reminds the Christians that they have been grafted into the line of David and become joint inheritors with Israel of the promises that God first give to His chosen people.

I confess that the Book of Romans is probably my favorite epistle. Along with the motion picture we know as the Gospel of Luke and the X-ray vision given us by the Gospel of John, the Book of Romans connects Christianity to its Jewish roots in an extraordinarily important way.

But, Paul also writes very practically in this book. Notice these simple sentences found in Romans 12:10:

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

These sentences offer a message to the Church. Just imagine, if you can, what our Evangelical churches would be like if every person connected to a particular church was lovingly devoted to every other person connected to that church.

Now, imagine if the people in every church in every branch of Christianity, from Roman Catholicism, to Greek Orthodox, to mainline Protestant, to Evangelical, to Pentecostal, to—well every particular flavor of Christianity in between—were lovingly devoted to each other and to all of the other Christians all over the world. Why, we simply cannot even begin to imagine what that would be like.

At the beginning of this new day, let’s remember that as far as we may have come, we have much further to go in our walk with God. He waits patiently for us to understand more and more about who He wants us to be.

Let’s continue to encourage one another. Let’s love one another. Let’s look with His eyes of love on the needy world around us. And, let’s be devoted to one another in love.

Then, the world that would become our world would truly exist—and not only in my imagination.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Neighbors

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“Each of us should please our neighbors
for their good, to build them up.”
—Romans 15:2

I have always maintained a rather high-handed and very inappropriate attitude toward neighbors. I do my best to have absolutely nothing to do with them. This decision came about from the very first “house” we owned after I was fortunate enough to marry my beautiful wife.

Our first home, purchased when we married in 1968, was a 46 feet long, 8 feet wide mobile home in a mobile home park behind the then firehouse in Houghton, New York. It was an ideal location for two newlyweds starting out. We paid $1,700 for this rather nicely appointed tin can. Our mortgage payment was $47 each month—an amount we could just afford on my wife’s second-year new teacher’s salary and my salary as a staff member in the Print Shop at Houghton College, the college from which we had both graduated.

Our “neighbors” were a newlywed couple just six feet away. It was far too close. There was virtually little privacy. They expressed their love for each other with an intense passion. They also argued frequently and loudly. In a rage following one of their arguments, the husband even discharged a shotgun between our two mobile homes that messed up the side of their mobile home.

In order to retain some sense of separation, I decided to have nothing to do with my neighbors.

After one year in the mobile home, we moved to the Buffalo, New York, area and four years later to Hartford, Connecticut. From then on for the next 24 years we lived in various apartments.

In each case, it was far easier and much better—at least from my standpoint—to have nothing whatsoever to do with my neighbors. That policy seemed to suit them and it certainly suited me.

After 25 years of marriage, we bought our first home. It was a free-standing house in a Planned Unit Development In Windsor, Connecticut, where we only owned the land immediately beneath the house. Once again, I determined to have nothing to do with my neighbors.

In addition, we had two incidents early in our time in that community that branded us as “oddly intimidating.” The first occurred right after we moved into the new home.

I had dragged an enormous pile of broken down cardboard boxes to the foot of my driveway. The neighbor right across the street rushed out to tell me that Town trash collectors would not pick up the unruly pile of boxes. Yet, in the morning, the pile was completely gone. Apparently my friend, a former student of mine who happened to now be the Fire Marshal for the Town, had told his friends in the public works department that I was moving in and asked them to extend me every courtesy. The next week the neighbor put out an unruly pile of her own, which the trash pickup conspicuously left at the end of her driveway. And, just like that we were marked.

The second incident occurred a few weeks later when another neighbor had driven home under the influence and left his car running in the garage. Several hours later, enough carbon monoxide seeped into the house to set off the carbon monoxide detector. Upon hearing the alarm, the neighbor’s wife called the fire department. When the dispatcher announced the address, not only did the fire department respond, but the Fire Marshal—who had not yet memorized my specific address—arrived on the scene with two Town police officers. The Fire Marshal later told me that he had requested extra help in case it was my house where the incident had occurred. Again, we were marked because another neighbor heard the Fire Marshal tell the police officers, “Oh! Good! It’s not my friend Dean Wilson’s house!”

From September of 2001 to the end of August in 2016, we lived in a fairly large home in a suburb of Erie, Pennsylvania. It was located on a cul-de-sac in a truly lovely neighborhood filled with really nice people. We didn’t have a bad person in the whole lot of them. Soon after moving in, one of the neighbors did a great kindness for us while we were away. We realized that having at least a somewhat friendly relationship with one’s neighbors is not a bad thing.

So, for 15 years, we knew our neighbors names, spoke to them when we saw them, stopped and talked with them on occasion, exchanged Christmas cards, and felt appropriate gratitude that they were such nice people. I thought, “In the future, when I move to some new location, I will probably still always default to my original position of having nothing to do with my neighbors wherever I live. But, at least now I recognize that my position is not without its silliness and even its selfishness.” And, of course, that is exactly what has happened.

In September of 2016, we moved to a retirement community on the other side of Erie from where we had previously lived. After nearly two years, I still don't know the names of my neighbors. You would have thought I would have learned my lesson. I guess I’m just too stubborn and set in my ways.

To completely put some biblical icing on my silly, separatist cake, I find the Apostle Paul offering these words of instruction, as found in Romans 15:2:

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.

I realize that, if I choose to have nothing to do with my neighbors, I can hardly have the opportunity to build them up. So, this is one blog post—perhaps one of many—where you, dear reader, must learn from my lifetime-long mistake.

As we begin a new day, let’s continue to learn from each other and walk the road God has laid out before us to the glory and praise of His Great Name.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Use Your Freedom Rightly

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be
free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the
flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
—Galatians 5:13

As one who believes in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, do you realize that you are marked as “Free”? Yes, you were, in fact, called to freedom.

When we think of freedom, we usually imagine the opportunity to do whatever we might want to do. But, freedom in Christ is not at all that kind of freedom.

Notice what the Apostle Paul wrote, as recorded in Galatians 5:13:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

In response to this verse, if I was writing a sermon on the text, my Key Biblical Truth statement would read: “When given freedom, believers choose to serve one another humbly in love.” I would then share some “How-Tos” to help those listening to my sermon know how to put that key statement into actual practice.

If I were to ask you to name some ways that you could serve your brothers and sisters humbly in love, what would you suggest?

As we begin another day, why not take a couple of moments to consider how you might answer. Then, why not write some of those items on a piece of paper and go out into this day prepared to do exactly what you’ve suggested.

I have a Facebook friend, a fellow Christian and someone I respect greatly, who lately has been using his expertise to consult with a number of Christian Broadcasters. He has helped them make some very strategic moves during a rather critical time in their history. While he has been paid for his work, the very fact that he has entertained helping these Christian Broadcasters has a significance even beyond what he may completely understand.

Perhaps without fully realizing it, he has modeled the kind of spirit we believers should have toward one another. And, that, dear ones, is exactly what true freedom is all about.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A Rule for Leaders

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree with one another
in what you say and that there be no
divisions among you, but that you be
perfectly united in mind and thought.”
—1 Corinthians 1:10

The Church at Corinth was in trouble, serious trouble. In fact, the Church at Corinth was in so much trouble that the Apostle Paul was moved to write one of his most direct and declarative letters.

Why? The people at Corinth could not seem to get along with one another. They had divided into factions. Instead of coalescing around a common purpose, they had divided and set off in a dozen different directions.

They identified with different leaders, even leaders who weren’t present. And, they began arguing with each other about which leader’s direction was best—even when the leader’s in question had not issued any Corinth-specific instructions.

They also allowed serious sin to come into the core of the church and chose to pretend that nothing was wrong. By tolerating this sin in their midst, they opened themselves up to even more sin.

Through his first letter to the Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul was determined to begin a process of setting things right. He certainly had the spiritual authority to do so, backed fully by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul began with Lesson No. 1 for the church leaders and church members in Corinth. It’s important to note that this also happens to be Lesson No. 1 for church leaders and church members today.

Notice what Paul wrote, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 1:10:

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Paul’s message is a simple one: no divisions allowed. Furthermore, brothers and sisters in Christ should be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Now, no group of humans can do this alone. It takes full submission to the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about such a faithful commitment, and such unity. Nevertheless, this is a goal that absolutely must be achieved.

As we begin a new day, let’s remember that we believers are one in Christ. We must learn how to bring that oneness into fruition in all the aspects of our daily lives. Nothing must divide us. Unity must prevail.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.

 

Monday, August 20, 2018

One Mind, One Voice

 

[Photo of a Scripture verse]


“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.”
—Romans 15:5-6

Have you ever sung in a really good choir?

I am grateful that Myra Parkhurst, the choir director at my home church, allowed me to join the adult choir when I was still only in eighth grade. I learned so much from those rehearsals and from singing in worship on Sunday morning and Sunday evening. And yes, in those days we had worship services both in the morning and evening on Sundays.

I also am grateful to F. Hamer Campbell, Sr., who taught public school music in seventh and eighth grade. He introduced his classes to opera. In fact, we studied Bizet’s Carmen. I still greatly enjoy the storytelling of the great operas. And, that introduction also led me to study the plays of Shakespeare—another experience for which I remain very grateful.

I owe yet another debt of gratitude to William Brocklebank, who directed the high school chorus at Bradford Area High School. I only was able to fit chorus into my schedule during my senior year. But, again, I learned so much from Mr. Brocklebank. He graciously selected me to attend the District Chorus and later the Pennsylvania Regional Chorus. It was there that I experienced the great joy of singing with a large number of musicians, far more musically talented than I am.

In my three 12-month years as a student at Houghton College, I only had the opportunity to sing in an ensemble—The Oratorio Society—for one year. I did have the distinct privilege of sitting next to applied music major C Thomas Brooks, Jr., who became a very dear life-long friend, best man at my wedding, and later served for many years as the chair of the Music Department at Gordon College in Massachusetts. Again, I was far out-classed as a musician, but greatly enjoyed being a part of an ensemble with well over 100 members.

As an adult, I have sung in many church choirs, including one directed by my wife, Shirley, another directed by Tom Brooks, and yet another one directed by Steven Skinner.

My point in recalling this walk through my vocal musical history is that the sound of blended voices, singing as if they had but one voice, is a very powerful force.

The Apostle Paul obviously knew this fact, even though we don’t know very much about his own musical ability. Notice what he wrote as a very hopeful and prayerful Benediction, as recorded in Romans 15:5-6:

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.

God intends His children to have one mind and one voice in praising Him. We need to remember that, as we start another day.

We must put aside our petty differences and lay our grudges against each other at the feet of our Lord. Only when we can allow the Holy Spirit to make us of one mind and one voice will we be able to secure our destiny as ambassadors of the Great King, Jesus.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.