Monday, September 29, 2014

Changing Our Ways


[Graphic of a sign]

“If you really change your ways and your actions…”
—Jeremiah 7:5a

I am very resistant to change. As one who has a Concrete-Sequential Mind Style™, I prefer life to move forward in a very steady, logical progression.

Of course, I pay a price for my desire for a “sameness” to my life. I am called “boring,” a “stick-in-the-mud,” someone who’s “no fun.” As true as those accusations may be, I do realize that sometimes in life we actually have to not only accept change, but wholeheartedly embrace it.

Sometimes our bad, even sinful, behavior requires us to “press the reset button” and make genuine changes in our lives.

God talks about needed changes through His Prophet Jeremiah, as recorded in Jeremiah 7:5-7:

If you really change your ways and your actions and deal with each other justly, if you do not oppress the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow and do not shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not follow other gods to your own harm, then I will let you live in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors for ever and ever.

A change can set our lives on a new and much better pathway. That’s a change worth making.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Setting Our Agenda


[Graphic of a sign]

“But you, man or woman of God, flee from all this…”
—1 Timothy 6:11a

What’s on your agenda this coming weekend? Do you have many household jobs that you must do to catch up? Perhaps you have a fun time planned with family or friends?

Whatever you have planned, I hope that you will join me throughout the rest of this week and into the weekend as we intentionally pursue spiritual formation through Bible reading, prayer, and cheerfully perform some act of kindness done in the name of Jesus. All these will help us overcome any temptation that will surely come our way.

Let’s be guided by these words from 1 Timothy 6:11:

But you, man or woman of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

We must flee from all evil and pursue the good that God has laid out before us. Even as we pursue our weekend agendas, we must make time to also pursue godliness. The Holy Spirit will surely help us. By God’s grace and by our bending of our will to His will, we can overcome the tug to do evil.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Having the Same Mindset


[Graphic of a sign]

“In your relationships with one another,
have the same mindset as Christ Jesus…”
—Philippians 2:5a

Attitude seems to play an ever-increasing role in the way others come to accept and respect what we have to say. In living the “Christ Life” before a needy world, our attitude can make or break our effectiveness when we tell our story of God’s grace at work in our lives.

Developing a genuine humility and a tender spirit by relying on the guidance the Holy Spirit freely gives us will materially aid us in sharing the love of God with others.

The best attitude is the one our Savior had. The Apostle Paul talks about this attitude in Philippians 2:5-11:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

My attitude often needs adjustment. I’ll bet your attitude does, too. Let’s embrace the submissively humble attitude of our Savior and approach others with our “arms of God’s love” wide open.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 22, 2014

The Secret of Contentment


[Graphic of a bicyclist on a steep hill with words superimposed]

“I have learned the secret of being content”
—Philippians 4:12-13

When changes that knock us for a loop hit our lives, we must remember that God uses those changes to set us on a new path.

Just moments ago, after spending 30 minutes writing my thoughts about God setting us on a new path in our lives through the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of our savings, the loss of our health, or the loss of our relationships with a trusted friend, suddenly everything that I had crafted so carefully disappeared in the “poof” of a computer glitch.

I was beside myself. Then, I had to laugh at what had happened. If I believe God uses such events to set us on a new path and to bless us as we obediently yield to His will, then the disappearance of my prose must prompt me to say, “Aha! A new path has opened. Instead of shouting at the computer and lamenting the loss of my written words, I must just start again and follow this new path.”

In Philippians 4:12-13, the Apostle Paul writes these words:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

As unpleasant and heartbreaking as loss can be in our lives, God uses loss to set us on new pathways. The King James Version of the last sentence in the passage above reads:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

Yes, Jesus gives us strength. His strength becomes a part of who we are. His strength becomes our being. As beings, we become strong through Jesus.

As a result, our being then allows us to begin our doing. Not only does God supply us with strength through His Son so that strength becomes part of our being, but in our willful obedience—in our doing—the strength we have received becomes purposeful. Our being enables our doing.

As you accept whatever change has come into your life and move along a new pathway, receive strength this day from your Savior. And, in your obedience to the new path He has opened, use your strength to do His work in this world. This will bring you true contentment.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 19, 2014

The Repenting Heart


[Photo of a little dog with his head bowed and words superimposed]

“Should God then reward you on your terms…”
—Job 34:33a

It truly seems that sometimes animals have a keener sense of right and wrong than we humans have. The little dog in this photo recognizes that his master is not pleased with the doggie's behavior.

But chewing on a shoe—a “sinful behavior” directed at a replaceable object of a finite value—does not begin to rise to the level of seriousness of some of our sinful behavior that we purposefully direct at our fellow humans.

The Bible teaches a clear pathway that we must follow when we sin against another person. It begins when we confess our sin. Then we must repent of our sin;—that is we must turn our back on our sin.

Next, we must make restitution for our sin. Finally, we must humbly pursue reconciliation with the one against whom we have sinned.

We find this admonition in Job 34:33:

Should God then reward you on your terms, when you refuse to repent?

God rewards those who receive His Son as their Savior and diligently rely on the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to help them obediently follow God's will.

As you lay your head on your pillow tonight, ask God to reveal any unconfessed sin. Then, follow the pathway through confession, repentance, restitution, and reconciliation. God will lovingly bring peace to your mind and heart.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

An Upside Down World


[Graphic of a sign]

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”
—Isaiah 5:20a

We seem to live in a world turned upside down. When I reflect on my 67 years of life, I recognize much has changed.

Yes, some things, many things, are better: medical advances, technology, transportation, to name just three. Other things have become much worse. Sin has become more open, more profound, more accepted.

People seem harsher, less caring, more focused on their own pleasure, less interested in God.

The comedian and radio talk show host, Dennis Miller, has recently released a new comedy special entitled “America 180.” He pokes an ironic finger at all the changes that have taken place in our culture and society in the last decade. It’s a very funny routine, but horribly sad, at the same time.

Scripture addresses this “turned upside down” theme in Isaiah 5:20-21:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we need to recognize that we can become all-too-easily caught up in this 180 degree shift. If we allow ourselves to be influenced by the wrong people, we can end up flipped and far away from the God who loves us.

Let us purpose to remain open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, even if it means we have to distance ourselves from people and influences that will cause us to flip upside down. We can still reach out to people in God’s love without letting them hold sway over our thoughts, words, and deeds.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 15, 2014

“Even so, come quickly!”


[Photo of a cloud that looks like an angel]

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him…”
—Revelation 1:7a

On stormy nights like this, I always remember a darkening, storm-threatening night back in 1959 at about 8:45 in the evening. I was playing a pick-up game of baseball. I stood in right field—they always put me there so I could do as little damage as possible.

Suddenly the dark clouds parted very quickly and a brilliant, very focused ray of sunshine struck the ground twenty feet away. I ran off the field, hopped on my bicycle, and rode home as fast as I could. I was certain Jesus was coming back.

The verse from Revelation 1:7 kept repeating itself in my mind as I pedaled home:

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.

Obviously, I was wrong. Fifty-five years later I still await Jesus’ return. All the more, in these troubled times, I echo the words of the Apostle John from Revelation 22:20b:

Even so, come quickly!


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 12, 2014

What “fills” your life?


[Graphic of a sign]

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace…”
—Romans 15:13a

What “fills” your life? Did you start this new day filled with worry? Did you start this new day filled with fear? Did you start this new day filled with disappointment? Did you start this new day filled with loneliness?

Maybe you started this new day with determination, with courage, with a new vision, with an urgency, with a bright outlook?

The Apostle Paul spoke a word of blessing to the new Christians gathered in house churches in Rome when he penned these lines recorded in Romans 15:13:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God desires to fill you with hope, joy, and peace this new day, through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. I implore you to please open your mind and heart to Him and allow Him to give you a dazzling outlook for this new day.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

You See, We Must Remember


[Photo of a cross in the rubble of the World Trade Center]

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”
—Psalm 23:4

The man on the television screen, with a woman by his side, spoke as tears filled their eyes. “We’ve been trying really hard to forget that terrible day. But, we just can’t seem to erase those images from our minds.”

That’s a common reaction from individuals who have had to face a significant tragedy in their lives. They truly want to blot the images of that event out of their minds. No matter how hard they try to do so, they can’t seem to erase the impressions of the horrific event. I’m not certain they are supposed to be able to turn off the lamp of the mental projector that keeps displaying the remembered images.

A number of significant psychological studies have been done over the years in developing treatment strategies for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These studies have shown that instead of erasing, replacing, or minimizing the images that remain from a traumatic event, it is far better to help an individual integrate those images into the person’s normal thought patterns. Sometimes healing cannot come until the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the disruptive memories are normalized within the catalog of all the memories that a person’s brain has stored away.

Throughout Scripture, there were many times when God urged His people to remember. In fact, some form of the word “remember” appears 231 times in the Old and New Testaments. God wants His people to remember because remembering fixes the scope and context of an event in one’s mind—neither minimizing nor amplifying the occurrence.

Each time we celebrate the Sacrament of the Eurcharist, or Holy Communion, we remember a most horrible event: the death of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cruel Roman cross of torture. We remember that Jesus died in our place. He carried our sins to the cross. In His death, He obtained forgiveness for all our sins and secured our place in heaven for eternity.

You see, we must remember. Remembering is not a bad thing. In fact, remembering is a very good thing when we integrate what we remember into the totality of our lives.

On this thirteenth anniversary of the radical Islamic terrorist attack on the people of the United States of America, we must remember. We must remember where we were when we heard the news. We must remember those we may have known who either perished on that terrible day, or who subsequently died as a direct or indirect result of the events of that day.

September 11, 2001, should remain etched on the minds and hearts of every citizen of this nation. But, not remembered in order to produce a hateful grudge and a desire to destroy those who tried to destroy us. Rather, we must remember in order to honor those who died, to recognize how terrible the forces of evil are in this world, and to be able to integrate into the broad spectrum of our memories the significance of that awful day.

Of all Scripture that might come to mind as I reflect of September 11, 2001, Psalm 23 always seems most appropriate:

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord

I pray, on this day of remembrance, that the God of All Comfort will continue to wipe the tears from the eyes of those who lost loved ones on that terrible day. I pray that He who gave up His own dear Son that we might have eternal life will grant to all who mourn the peace of knowing that He remains fully in control and will protect us in His sheltering arms of love.

I also share with you, as I have shared in the past, the following audio clip that more than any I’ve heard gives me a sense of what God might have to say about that terrible day:

[Graphic of a play music arrow]

Let us take time to remember that day and what transpired thirteen years ago. And, let us thank God that no matter what happens we can rest assured that He—who chose us to belong to Him before the foundation of the earth—will never leave us. His love will prevail all the days we live and someday we will kneel at His feet in heaven.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

His Welcoming Arms


[Photo of Jesus giving a hug]

“Come to me, all you who are weary and
burdened, and I will give you rest.”
—Matthew 11:28

“I have no idea where I’m supposed to go.”

Such an expression of woe falls often these days from the lips of discouraged people, whether young, old, or middle-aged. Inability to find meaningful work, tragedy in a person’s life, a sense of aimlessness or despair, feelings of loneliness, concern that one has no real value, rejection, heartache—all lead people to believe no one wants them and they have no one to whom they may turn.

But, God waits to welcome all those who will turn to Him. Hear these words from the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 11:28-30:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

No matter how weighted down with care someone may feel, Jesus waits to embrace that one, give them rest, and lighten their burden.

Maybe this day you need to abandon yourself into the arms of God. If so, I pray you will hasten to do so.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 8, 2014

No “Do Overs”


[Graphic of a sign]

“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”
—Revelation 21:5

“Any chance I can get a ‘do over?’”

Most of us have made mistakes in our lives that we wish we could go back and “do over” so we could make a different choice than we made. It'’s natural to wish to have made different choices.

But there aren’t any “do overs” in this life. What’s done is done.

For the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, however, there is the new beginning that He provides. Christ has the power to wipe the slate clean and give us a fresh start.

Just as the sun rises each new day, so God’s mercies allow us to start again each time our sin and selfishness grinds us to a halt.

Notice what the Apostle John records Jesus saying in Revelation 21:5-6:

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.”

Jesus makes everything new. He frees us from the penalty of the past. He transforms us from slaves to our sin nature and grants us a fresh start.

That alone is reason to praise Him at the start of each new day.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Friday, September 5, 2014

That Which Endures


[Photo of flowers with words superimposed]

“…the word of our God endures forever”
—Isaiah 40:8b

“Oh, well,” my uncle said as he watched the junk dealer haul away the Buick he had nursed through 27 winters. “Nothing lasts forever.”

More and more that’s how we look at life. We live in a throw-away culture. Nothing lasts forever.

But in God’s economy things are quite different. As the Prophet Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:6-8:

A voice says, “Cry out.”

And I said, “What shall I cry?”

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them.

“Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

We need to place our trust in that which endures.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Gift of Compassion


[Photo of a park bench with words superimposed]

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious…”
—Psalm 103:8a

One of the greatest gifts we can give others is the gift of compassion.

Compassion is neither sympathy: feeling sorry for someone—nor empathy: identifying within one’s self how another person must feel. No, on the contrary, compassion is an outpouring of love toward another person that motivates us to want to do whatever we can to make that person’s life better.

The Lord Jesus Christ looks on you and me with compassion. He loves us with unbridled love. He sees our sinfulness and still He wants to cleanse us by the shedding of His own blood.

While it is true that Jesus was obedient to His Father’s will when He allowed the Roman government to take Him to Calvary’s cruel cross, it was His compassion for us that gave Him joy in His suffering and death.

Do we emulate that kind of compassion in our own lives? Do we have such a God-breathed love when we look at others that we hasten to do whatever it takes to help them and make their lives better.

At the beginning of this new day, let us compare our attitude and our actions to the God who loves us, as recorded in Psalm 103:8-12:

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As God enables us through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, this day let us look on those around us with compassion and respond in God-breathed love to their needs.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.


Monday, September 1, 2014

The Dads Who Listened


[Photo of a woman standing on a dock with words superimposed]

“The father of a righteous child has great joy…”
—Proverbs 23:24a

Back in June we set aside a day devoted to remembering our fathers. Many of us have fond memories of godly fathers who lovingly set us on a straight path.

These dads listened to us patiently and, when we asked, offered us wisdom from their experience. Most of all, they loved us with an unconditional love.

Sadly not everyone had a positive experience with their dads. For some either their dads left them or they never had dads to begin with.

Some suffered abuse from their dads—even horrible abuse. Still others had a dad who largely ignored them, offering no discernible love.

I feel great heartache for those who did not have a positive influence from a godly dad. I pray that each of these dear ones will experience the ultimate parenting from our heavenly Father who loves them overwhelmingly with His unfailing and undying love.

If you're a dad, then I urge you to be a godly dad to your children. Heed these words from King Solomon found in Proverbs 23:24:

The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.


Copyright © 2014 by Dean K. Wilson. All Rights Reserved.