Tuesday, June 30, 2015

“I Know What Love Is…”


[Photo of man in prayer with words superimposed]

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways”
—Isaiah 55:8a

One of the more famous lines from the movie “Forrest Gump” occurs when Forrest speaks rather directly to his love interest:

“I may not be a smart man, Jennie. But I know what love is.”

I sometimes wonder if we really do know what love is. As believers in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are constantly receiving an outpouring of God’s love. His love heals our sin-stained souls and gives us a new reason for living our lives in obedience to His will and to His Word.

But, do we fully comprehend His love? I think not. Just like many aspects of our heavenly Father, His love and His ways are beyond our comprehension. We cannot begin to apprehend the many facets of this God who spoke a word and all creation came into being.

In fact, God talks about Himself through the Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:8:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Just the other day, I posted some of my feeble thoughts about two dear friends who are struggling with the loss of their jobs. I received some startling private feedback on that post. At least five different individuals thought I was writing about them. In fact, the two ladies about whom I was thinking when I wrote that post are not even my Facebook friends, and so are likely unaware of that post. However, on at least two occasions, I had previously shared with them the substance of what I wrote in the post.

In that post, I suggested that God might put us in a position where everything we thought we knew about our own gifts and our own calling might no longer represent the pathway we should now take. In His infinite wisdom and inexplicable grace, God may want us to separate ourselves from our attachment to our past successes, so we could approach the new task He had for us with an openness and innocence that we might not otherwise be able to possess.

One friend took serious exception to what I wrote. I respect this friend though I increasingly do not agree with his point of view. As a result of my respect for him, I want to share with you my interpretive paraphrase of part of what that friend wrote to me.

You have described a God who is not a gracious and loving God, One who deals ever so gently with His sheep and leads them faithfully, even though they may not always stay on the path He has given them. Rather, you have imagined a God who treats these sheep in a shabby way by holding back His very best for them until they somehow are able to discern this new path that He wants them to follow.

He does this without giving them any indication why the path they had previously followed for years is no longer acceptable. His change of course seems abrupt and without reason. He will hold back His blessings and provision until they somehow grasp that He wants them to take a new road.

This is in contrast to the God I have long faithfully served and to Whom I have devoted my life to following. The God I know and love desires me to use the very gifts He has given me for His glory. He has shown me this by validating my ministry in His Name over and over throughout my life. He will not keep me penniless and dangling in the wind for no reason other than He wants me to follow some new path that I am supposed to somehow discover for myself.

I’m sure you can read the frustration in my friend’s words. Imagine how chagrined I was, particularly when I was not even thinking of my friend and my friend’s particular situation when I wrote my blog post. I actually wept over the way my words had offended this one so dear to me.

Having read my friend’s actual words many times over the past few days—and I assure you this friend was far more eloquent than my poor paraphrase above—I have concluded that my friend may have actually served to reinforced the certainty of my original assertion. Let me explain.

There is no question that God loves us with an everlasting love. He always wants the very best for us. He takes care of us to meet our needs for today and asks us to take no thought for tomorrow.

But, from my own experience, I can give testimony that in order to move forward in my own life, I had to break my dependent ties with my past achievements and launch out into uncharted waters, hoping against hope that God would again prove faithful in leading me along a new pathway.

Without intending any immodesty, I had a very successful professional career. It was cut short due to sudden illness that effectively sidelined me for the rest of my life. For a while, I was in shock. I tried to figure out how I could retain my professional standing and do the work for which I was uniquely equipped and gifted. But that was not God’s plan.

Once I let go of my past, God steered me in a new direction. But, it was not until I let go. (I cannot emphasize that more strongly.) It was not until I let go, that God led me into a new pathway of service to Him.

I am not suggesting that God always works in the same way He chose to work in my life. That’s the very point I’m trying to make. Namely, we cannot fully ever understand God, nor His ways, nor every detail of His will. We can only obediently follow whatever pathway He opens before us—a pathway that He step-by-step reveals to us in His unique way.

If He chooses to open a pathway to some new task by ending our long standing job, so be it. And, I do not say that lightly. I spent many, many sleepless nights trying to process what was happening to me. It took a long time before I simply closed the door on my past and yielded to whatever God had for me, even death.

I would not be writing this post today if I were still employed in my former profession. I have another dear friend who just wrote the most marvelous Christian novel I have ever read. I doubt if he would have ever written that spectacular book if God had not closed one door and, after quite a long period of waiting, opened another.

My advice that I tried to give to the two ladies who had lost their jobs was to at least consider letting go of the past—completely. And, in a state of total surrender to God, see if He did not have some new pathway He would open up once they let go of everything that had previously been exactly what He had wanted them to do for all the years of their life up to that point.

Just because God may want us to close a door on our past, does not in any way invalidate what He may have done in and through us during those previous years. It only means that He is God and we are not. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His purposes for us may, for a time, or maybe forever, remain a mystery to us.

I just don’t know because I cannot ever fully know or understand the God who loves me and whom I try to love back in my poor, feeble, and inadequate way. He only allows me to see His shadow as He passes by and protects me in the cleft of the rock. I cannot bear to look on His holiness.

But, God does reveal Himself in His Son, Jesus. In Jesus we see all of God we are intended to see. From Jesus we learn all about God we are intended to learn. And, God reveals Himself to us in His Word. The Bible gives us insight into the nature and character of God. But, I sincerely believe this is only a shadow of who He is. Because of that, we can only know Him to the extend He chooses to allow us to know Him. One day, when we cross into eternity, then we will know God more intimately than we can even imagine.

It could very well be that I am wrong and the God whom I love and serve would not act at all as I have described Him acting toward my two jobless friends. It could be that those paragraphs above from my dear friend, which describe a very different interpretation, are correct—especially when that friend takes exception to my description of what might be going on in the lives of those two ladies who have lost their jobs.

For all of us who believe on His Name, we can be sure of one truth: “Jesus loves us this we know for the Bible tells us so.”

For me, and I hope for you, that is enough.


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


Monday, June 29, 2015

The Only Thing That Counts


[Photo of a garden with words superimposed]

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
—Galatians 5:6b

Way back in 1964, when I was a junior in high school, Psychiatrist Eric Berne wrote a landmark book entitled Games People Play. In this book, Berne introduced the popular culture of that day to a tool of psychotherapy called “Transactional Analysis.” Throughout my private consulting practice with churches, non-profit Christian organizations, and commercial businesses during the 1970s and 1980s, I often used Transactional Analysis as a tool to help people understand what was happening in their day-to-day exchanges with their co-workers.

One of the “games” that most often disrupts a smoothly functioning workplace is called “Let’s You and Him (or Her) Fight!” In this transaction, a third party creates a situation that will divide two co-workers into separate emotionally charged camps. Then, the third party will initiate some critical event that will start an anger-filled conflict between the two innocent parties.

I am fairly well convinced that this is exactly what our arch-enemy, Satan, has done to the Church over the issue of the acceptance of homosexuality in all its permutations and, particularly, same-gender marriage.

You see, on the face of it, both sides of this issue have arguments that actually retain significant merit when viewed through their own lenses.

One side sees people who, for no fault of their own—sincerely believing they were born with a particular predetermined sexual orientation—are being denied full acceptance into society, and particularly the large number of benefits that accrue to the advantage of people united in a legal contact of marriage issued as a “license to marry” from the government.

The other side sees what appears to them very clear instruction in God’s Word—the Bible—that forbids all forms of sexual activity outside of the marriage between one man and one woman. These folks—and for purposes of full disclosure, I happen to be one of them—sincerely believe that to sanction as “normal” within the Church behaviors that they believe the Bible clearly indicates as sin will impair the ability of the Church to function as God intends it to function. These people make a very clear distinction between the temptations to engage in any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman and the performance of such sexual acts. It is important to note that these people do not single out homosexuality, but hold this strong belief toward all forms of sexual activity outside of that which takes place between a man and a woman within the bond of marriage.

Historically, there is no question that a broad range of non-marriage sexuality existed in almost an epidemic within the borders of the Roman Empire at the time of Christ. Earlier in history, certain people groups also had become obsessed with sexual activity that strayed outside the definition given by God to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—that is, within the marriage between one man and one woman. Even God’s own chosen people, the Jews, had succumbed to the sexual practices that had sprung up around them and taken multiple wives. Both Scriptural and secular accounts of Jewish history describe a pattern of the folly of this practice, describing how it introduced conflict into the nuclear family unit. Thus, in both Jewish and Christian culture, wisdom ultimately prevailed and polygamy disappeared from the mainstream of both cultures several hundreds of years ago.

It is also true, historically, that sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman has always occurred with great frequency. However, it is only within the last 50 years or so that secular society has lifted the very strong stigmas that have heretofore been imposed during modern times, at least outwardly and vocally, on such sexual activity. This has forced the Church to decide how it will handle the matter.

In an ever increasing number of instances, the Church has chosen to look away and pretend this was not really a problem—except in the matter of homosexual activity. That’s why it seems to many in the secular world that the Church’s attitude toward homosexuality has been so unfair. And, it is also why so many Christian denominations have, over time, softened in their viewpoint toward all non-marital sexual activity.

If the Church had held fast during these times of great stress to the boundaries and definitions of “sin” as expressed in Scripture and not slowly, but inexorably, compromised—not only in sexual matters but in a host of other types of sin that the Bible decries—secular people would not be as confused by those Christians who give voice to a strict biblical interpretation. But, alas, the Church has hoisted itself on its own petard, as it were. And, we now see the confusion we have caused in our inconsistency.

While the Bible does not differentiate between the seriousness of various sins—with the exception of the unpardonable sin of grieving the Holy Spirit—we Christians have long made quite specific value judgments about which sins are the really serious ones. For example, the Roman Catholic Church long ago faced this issue and ultimately created two kinds of sin: mortal and venial.

But, as a result of the Reformation, Protestants discarded these categories as part of the so-called “corruption of the Church” they hoped to rectify. And, of course, they only have ultimately exchanged one form of so-called “corruption” for another. It may well be that we Christians would have done much better over the ages if we had stayed together, instead of always splitting, again and again. But, I digress.

Believers should not—and, in fact, dare not—think that a secular society will accept their beliefs. So, push back from the secular society against biblical values is expected.

The real problem in all of this is the one that now exists for sincere believers who come down on the differing sides of this issue, in that their differing opinions places them in conflict with one another and divides the body of Christ, the Church, into angry and disagreeable camps of people. They waste energy fighting with each other and, thus, allow Satan to gleefully watch what he has created in the game “Let’s You and Him (or Her) Fight.”

It is my sincere and earnest prayer that eventually cooler heads on both sides will prevail and efforts will be made to conform to the Psalmist’s declaration in Psalm 133:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Or, all the more so, the instructions of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:1-6:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

As we begin this day, I humbly ask you, my fellow believers in the life-transforming power of the Lord Jesus Christ, to pray that the current “game” “Let’s You and Him (or Her) Fight,”which Satan has set into motion will not divide us. We certainly can learn to respect each other’s point of view without becoming rancorous and accusatory. We do not need to call names.

Instead of joining with those in the secular society who take delight in name-calling, let us determine to defend our brothers and sisters. Let us acknowledge that we can hold differing points of view on certain matters and still remain committed to the purpose for which the Lord Jesus, Himself, established His Church.

If we do this, Satan will be defeated once again and the love of Christ will break through the fog this matter has created. After all, the most important thing remains what the Apostle Paul declared in Galatians 5:6b:

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Indeed, nothing matters more than this. As fellow believers, let us lock our minds and hearts together and become absolutely filled with the love of our Savior and move forward with the purpose of introducing a needy and dying world to the life-giving reality of His everlasting mercy, grace, and unfailing love.


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


Friday, June 26, 2015

He Will Never Let Us Go


[Photo of open hands]

“…it is from the Lord that one gets justice.”
—Proverbs 29:26b

Society has changed much in my 67 years. I grew up in the safe bubble of a small town. I was insulated from violence and drugs. Most people were hard-working, driven by their memory of the Great Depression and World War II, and motivated to take advantage of every opportunity to improve their lot in life.

The vast majority of people attended a church or synagogue often enough to maintain a respectful appreciation for religion. I never heard the word “Islam” except in the context of a school history lesson.

I was taught to be proud of my country, trustful of authority, and grateful for our representative republic.

Yes, I was bullied in school, beginning in junior high school, but the positive things in my life tipped the balance in a favorable direction: loving parents, a deepening faith and personal relationship with a God who loved me, along with many extremely positive opportunities to work with role-model adults who made me feel valued.

I would not want to be a child starting out in our world today. Everything seems to have flipped upside down.

King Solomon, in spite of great wealth and a royal heritage, had tuned into many subtle truths, such as the ones found in Proverbs 29:25-27:

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.

Many seek an audience with a ruler, but it is from the Lord that one gets justice.

The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.

In a world turned 180 degrees, we can truly cling to the God who loves us with a deep and abiding love. He will never let us go and He will never turn His back on us.

Let’s face the world today knowing that He will keep us safe in the hollow of His mighty hand.


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


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Union, But Not Unity


[Photo of glass ball containing hands with words superimposed]

“How good and pleasant it is when
God’s people live together in unity!”
—Psalm 133:1

As I was completing high school back in 1965, forces were moving swiftly toward the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

I had grown up in the most conservative conference of the EUB. In fact, this conference was fundamentalist and still reeling in 1965 from the great Christian liberal/conservative conflict of the 1930s.

Not surprisingly, many of the Erie Conference EUB ministers were seriously opposed to merging with the generally much more liberal Methodist Church. Of course, the merger was destined to happen, forming the United Methodist Church.

I remember one pastor telling me, “You know, you can tie the tails of two cats together and throw them over a clothes line. You will have union, but you certainly won’t have unity.”

Frankly, I wish I had pointed this dear brother to Psalm 133:1-3:

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!

It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe.

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.

For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

Let’s live and act in true unity, forged by the Holy Spirit, bonded in God’s love—not like tail-tied cats.


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


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Their Horn Will Be Lifted High


[Photo of a little girl in a field with words superimposed]

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord,
who find great delight in his commands.”
—Psalm 112:1b

We who belong to God through His Son, Jesus, live best when we live as vessels of His mercy, grace, and love. Even as we begin a new day, our hearts are prepared to go out into a sin-darkened world and shine the light of His joy into every bleak corner.

We do this for no selfish reason. Rather, we cheerfully serve our God because of our gratitude for what He has done for us.

After all, the Scripture tells us that while we yet were sinners Christ died for us, Christ rose from the dead for us, and Christ now sits at the right hand of God making intercession for us.

The Psalmist captured the true spirit of the kind of blessed subjects of the Great King that we are in Psalm 112:1-9:

Praise the Lord.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.

Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.

Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures forever; their horn will be lifted high in honor.

This day let us rejoice in God our Savior. Let us purpose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Let us be prepared to reach out to others in Jesus’ name. And, let’s not be at all surprised when God pours His choice blessings into our lives.


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


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Blessed Life


[Graphic of a sign]

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked…”
—Psalm 1:1a

Every once in a while, it’s good to pause for a few moments and look back over one’s life. Unless your life is vastly different than mine, in our lives we’ve experienced some joys, but also some sorrows.

We’ve made some really good decisions. And, we’ve also made some terrible ones.

We’ve sometimes trusted people we should not have trusted. We’ve probably failed to trust some people that we should have trusted.

We’ve been especially kind to some people. And, we’ve selfishly withheld kindness from some people who really needed us to be kind.

No matter what conclusions we may come to when we pause to examine our lives, because God has chosen us to belong to Him, we are of all people truly blessed.

The Psalmist captured this reality in Psalm 1:1-6:

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.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Let’s make certain we express our gratitude to God who has showered us with His unfailing, undying love. We must praise Him, for our lives truly are blessed!


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


Monday, June 22, 2015

I’m so tired of waiting for an answer!


[Photo of a desert with words superimposed]

“I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.”
—Psalm 40:1a

I have two very dear and special friends who have now waited a number of years for God to answer their prayers for a new job.

Each of them have highly specialized training and skills along with world-class credentials. They are also each more than 60 years old and would be considered by many employers as a risk not worth taking.

Each also lost a perfectly good job through no fault of his or her own and because of horribly sinful actions on the part of others.

For a long time, even as I have prayed with them and for them, I have thought they need to surrender any idea of using their skills and training in a way they might normally expect and open themselves up to some totally new task that God might have for them.

I’ve even felt that God is waiting to bring that new task to light until they completely let go of any preconceived ideas and surrender into His perfect will.

Of course it’s easy to coach from the sidelines where the overwhelming intensity of their personal pain is dulled by distance. Yet, I can’t shake the idea that God is waiting for each of them to completely let go of their past successes and look to God for a new venture that will complete their working careers.

I’m sensing God wants to place a “new song” in their hearts—because that’s what He did for me when disability ended my career as a fire protection engineer. God gave me a totally new task to do for Him.

The Psalmist understood how excruciatingly painful it can be to wait for God to answer a prayer for help. Notice these words from Psalm 40:1-3:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.

In our own walk along the road of life, let us continue to wait for the Lord to respond to our prayers and also look forward to the new song He will put in our mouths.

I invite you to join me in praying for my dear friends that God will overwhelm them with something exciting and new, that their waiting will come to a glorious end, and that the Holy Spirit will reward them for each of the long days they have waited while God seemed to remain silent.

While we—you and I—wait day by day for His answer to our prayers, let’s remember that letting Him work in and through us, following His schedule not ours, is always the best.

Thank You, God, for a new song!


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


Friday, June 19, 2015

Come! Cross over!


[Graphic of a sign]

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and
believes him who sent me has eternal life and will
not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
—John 5:24

Recently, I received an email from one of my Facebook friends who asked me how we’re supposed to share what God has done for us.

I told this dear one that we first must spend time in God’s Word to listen to what He wants to say to us.

Next, in prayer we invite the Holy Spirit to nudge us when we’re supposed to share a brief word of testimony.

Then, we simply go about our day listening carefully to what people say to us. In the natural course of our daily lives, the Holy Spirit will prompt us to speak a word in Christ’s behalf.

At some point, normally after forming a personal relationship with an individual whom God has brought across the pathway of our lives, that one will ask about our faith. At that point we will have an opportunity to ask them to consider whether Jesus is inviting them—down in the depths of their heart—to “cross over.”

What do I mean by “cross over”? Please note these words from Jesus Himself found in John 5:24:

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

When someone that God has chosen to belong to His family is moved by the Holy Spirit to respond to our word of testimony and acknowledge the gift of eternal life that God has given that one through His Son, he or she crosses over into new life in Christ.

God has chosen to use us as instruments of His grace. He gives us the great privilege of partnering with the Holy Spirit to become salt and light in this sin-scarred world.

Let’s us accept this opportunity with humility and with great joy. What a wonderful blessing we have to serve our Father in this way.


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


Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Clear Testimony


[Photo of tree branches with words superimposed]

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world…”
—John 3:19

Several months ago, the area where I live was marked by an amazing event: “Rock the Lakes.” Sponsored by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and featuring a long list of contemporary Christian musicians, this event brought standing room only crowds to the Erie Insurance Arena, which seats 7,000, with an overflow crowd seated at the historic Warner Theater.

Franklin Graham, son of aging evangelist Billy Graham, offered a clear proclamation of the Gospel. Graham pulled no punches. He met our current culture head on, calling out sinful behavior and declaring what God has done by sending His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins.

Yet, Franklin Graham did not speak harshly. As he told the truth of God’s Word, he did so with great clarity but also with obvious godly love and concern for each person present.

Graham followed a pattern set by Jesus Himself as recorded by the Apostle John in John 3:16-21:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

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

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

As God brings people across the pathway of our lives today and prompts us to share what He has done in our lives, let us give a very clear testimony of His mercy, love, and grace.

Such a clear testimony will more likely be used by the Holy Spirit to irresistibly draw the person with whom we share into Christ’s Kingdom.


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


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Is Your Life Accessible?


[Photo of a rose with words superimposed]

“He commanded us to preach to the people
and to testify that he is the one whom God
appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”
—Acts 10:42

Most of you who read these posts have long ago realized that I am, first and foremost, writing to Christians, or as I prefer to call them “Christ’s-ones” for that’s what the word “Christian” means: “those who belong to Christ.” And, I’m not talking about any particular denomination or version of Christianity.

I would like to think that my brothers and sisters in Christ include all who worship Christ as King: Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and any of the many subsets in between.

God intends us, as Christians, to be salt and light in a troubled world. To do this we have to allow the Holy Spirit to so fill us with God’s love that His love will fairly burst out of us and flood those around us.

An important question we must ask ourselves, if we want to become effective in sharing what God has done for us with the people who cross our pathway: "Is Your Life Accessible?" Do we live in such a way that we allow people to see who we really are, namely, sinners saved by God’s grace.

Notice how the Apostle Peter shared in a very accessible way. And, as you read, please remember that Peter was a Jew who heretofore was forbidden by Jewish law to have anything to do with "unclean" people, especially non-Jews, or we would say, "Gentiles." Here’s Acts 10:34-48:

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.

“You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

“You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.

“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”

So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days.

Peter made his life accessible to these Gentiles. There’s a lesson in this for you and me.

The Gospel—the good news that, through Jesus, God has made provision for the penalty of our sins to be paid in full—becomes accessible when we allow our lives to become accessible to those who need our Savior.

Let’s determine to become accessible to those who cross our pathway this week. Let’s listen to what they say, but also to what they are really saying.

Then, let’s humbly and gently share the love of Christ from deep within our now-transformed beings.


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


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Discerning through the Mind of Christ


[Graphic of a sign]

“But we have the mind of Christ.”
—1 Corinthians 2:16b

We were born already stained by sin. Every action was controlled by the sin nature we inherited from Adam.

But then God reached out to us in love through the Holy Spirit and transformed our lives. Though still bent toward sin, we now were given supernatural power to choose God’s way.

Whereas we once were enslaved to evil, God has set us free and given us His Holy Spirit to lead us along a new pathway in our lives.

The Apostle Paul takes note of this in 1 Corinthians 2:12-16:

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

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

The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

As this new day begins, let us surrender to the Holy Spirit and allow the mind of Christ to guide our actions throughout this day.

As we greet the world with God’s love flowing out of us, He will touch the lives of others in a startling and amazing way. We will become vessels of His goodness and His righteousness. We will shine the Light of His love into a dark and needy world.


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


Monday, June 15, 2015

Not Judges, Fruit Inspectors


[Photo of bowl of fruit with words superimposed]

“By their fruit you will recognize them. ”
—Matthew 7:16

Our current culture loathes judgement and judgmental people. The culture desires absolute freedom to do whatever people want to do without anyone objecting to either their actions or the consequences of their actions.

When it comes to how we treat fellow Christ-ones, Jesus instructed His followers in Matthew 7:1-5:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Therefore, we must not judge our brothers and sisters in Christ with harsh and condemning words.

But, Jesus didn’t stop there. He continued His instruction in Matthew 7:15-20:

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

“By their fruit you will recognize them.

“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?

“Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

“Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”

So, as believers we are not to judge. But, we are to choose carefully those from whom we will receive instruction.

In other words, we are not to act as judges. But, we are to carefully inspect fruit. We should do so from a viewpoint of Christ-honoring love; never harshly, always with gentleness and humility.

We must remove our judicial robes, but don our inspection jackets. And, that’s exactly what we should do.


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


Friday, June 12, 2015

The Correct Path


[Photo of two dirt roads diverging in the deep woods]

“ There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
— Proverbs 14:12

Have you ever hiked into a dense woods, stopped in the center of it, turned around and thought, “How easy it would be to get lost.”

Not far from where I grew up on one of the main streets in the little city of Bradford, Pennsylvania, there was a patch of woods that occupied probably no more than half-an-acre. As an elementary school-age kid, I used to go there and pretend I was lost and no one could find me.

I would stand very still, taking slow shallow breaths. The sounds around me seemed to increase in volume the more quiet I became.

I could hear the skittering of small creatures as they moved through the underbrush. I could hear birds calling and answering. I could hear leaves rustling in the soft breeze.

Once, I heard voices as two older children took a shortcut through the woods. I stood very still. Even though they passed within a few feet of me, they never saw me. It was if I had blended into the forest shadows and become invisible.

There was an eerie and spooky feeling and also something “cool” about standing very still in even a very small patch of deep woods. I felt both invisible and invincible. I felt fully in command of my surroundings. I was the king of the forest.

Of course, I knew I was only a few yards from safety—no matter which direction I would walk. But, to this only child, there was something fascinating and very mysterious about the forest. Already used to living as a “loner,” I fairly soaked in the aloneness of that moment.

The milieu of our lives has deep-forest-like characteristics. If we stray too far off the right pathway, we can become seriously lost.

King Solomon might well have been thinking about a deep forest path when he wrote these words in Proverbs 14:12:

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

So the pathway that winds its way through our lives offers us a choice. Robert Frost enshrined this thought in his famous poem “The Road Not Taken” from the collection Mountain Interval, penned in 1920:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Believers who choose to obediently follow Jesus, will find they take “the road less traveled.”And, I firmly believe that choice will, indeed, make all the difference.


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


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Which Pathway?


[Graphic of a sign]

“…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
— Romans 5:3

The difficulty we find along the road of life is not in the pathway. The difficulty lies in our attitude as we walk along the way.

The Apostle Paul certainly understood that reality when he wrote these words in Romans 5:1-5:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Compared to Christian people in some parts of the world, our “sufferings” seem almost laughable. But, we do have real problems: life-threatening health issues, inability to obtain employment, broken relationships—the list is endless.

We need special grace from the Holy Spirit to actually “glory in our sufferings.”

So, let’s begin this day by thanking God for all He has done for us. Then, let’s ask Him for that special grace to make the words of the Apostle Paul our words.


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


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

When Prompted, Act Quickly


[Photo of footprints in the sand with words superimposed]

“Obey me, and I will be your God…”
—Jeremiah 7:23

Do you have a characteristic walk? Can people recognize you by watching your distinctive walk?

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to God’s commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.

These words come from the pen of the Apostle John, a man who knew much about obedience, as recorded in 2 John 1:6.

Oddly enough, John was the one disciple of the original twelve disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who lived the longest on this earth. He saw a great deal in those years. And, at the end of his life, God granted him a glimpse of what was to come, which he dutifully recorded in the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation.

Obedience remains a key component of a mature walk of faith. But is obedience all that easy? Is it easy to follow Christ’s example? Is it easy to respond to the nudging of the Holy Spirit? Said in a more contemporary way: “Is it hassle free to obediently follow our Lord and Savior.” The answer is decidedly, “No!” There is a price we must pay for obedience.

Over the years, I have learned that it is far better to respond as quickly as possible when the Holy Spirit nudges me to act in some way. It took me a while to learn this. But, eventually, I thought that I had this important truth pretty firmly in the center of my reality.

However, over the past year, the Holy Spirit has had to repeatedly nudged me to take care of something with which I was very reluctant to resolve.

Quite by accident, I did something that might well have offended someone whom I care about greatly. Instead of dealing with what happened immediately, I was too embarrassed to take the kind of action that I normally would have taken. Instead, I allowed what I had done to fester within me.

At first, I tried to put it out of my mind. I tried to pretend that surely the other person would realize that what I had done had happened by accident. Since I never received any indication from that person that even hinted at an awareness of what I had done, surely I could just let it roll off into the dark mist of history.

Apparently, the Holy Spirit didn’t agree. He kept reminding me of what I had done and, more so, my failure to apologize and to explain how what I had done occurred very much as a result of my clumsiness and the lack of balance brought on by my arthritis-riddled legs and back.

“Surely this is something that now lies very much in the past,” I would counter.

“You need to apologize and explain,” the Spirit would respond.

And so it went for months and months. The Holy Spirit would nudge. I would try to shake off the nudging and justify my inaction.

Finally, after months of arguing with the Holy Spirit—not at all a recommended pursuit—I did what I should have done many months previously. I yielded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and contacted the other person in the only way that I could. I wrote an email. I apologized and I explained.

Then, I waited to see what price I may have to pay. Had I lost a friend? Would this person think I’m crazy? Would this person find it easier to erase me from memory than to accept my apology? Or, will God prompt this person to respond with grace and forgiveness?

You see there is a price that we must pay if we determine to be obedient—even if we unnecessarily lengthen the amount of time before we take the action we knew all along we should have taken. In this case, because of my own foolishness, I paid a double price: the first one for delaying action and the second one if my action itself results in some negative result.

God revealed His intentions through the Prophet when Jeremiah recorded God’s words in Jeremiah 7:23:

Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.

I urge you to learn from my mistake. When God nudges you to take action, don’t hesitate. Do what He is leading you to do. Accept the fact that obedience extracts a price. But also recognize that the reward for obedience greatly outweighs whatever it might cost you.

By the way, this person graciously accepted my apology. Even though this person had never given any indication whatsoever that he or she had even perceived my mistake, the record is now fully clear. I have renewed my own trust in myself. If only I hadn’t waited so long to do what I knew was the right thing to do.


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


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Walk Toward Maturity


[Graphic of a sign]

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly
loved children and walk in the way of love…”
— Ephesians 5:1a

Have you ever noticed how differently people walk?

Some people walk at a rapid pace. I can still hear the sharp clicking sound made by the high-heeled shoes of my elementary school principal as she moved through the tiled-floor hallways at a brisk pace.

Others walk with an exaggerated grace, like fashion models on a New York City garment district runway.

Some people walk very deliberately. I have to do so, relying on my two canes to keep my balance because profound progressive osteoarthritis has made walking so difficult.

Still others walk with a bit of a swagger, like certain famous male actors who display their self-absorbed importance in their gate.

Each day we make a conscious choice as to how we will walk and what path we will follow. The Apostle Paul offers this advice 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.

When it comes to choosing a way to walk, walking in the way of love seems like the very best choice.

By following in the footsteps of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, we may walk in a way that draws peoples’ attention to His mercy, grace, and love.

And that seems like a really good thing to do.


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


Monday, June 8, 2015



[Photo of Christ on the cross with words superimposed]

“For it is better, if it is God’s will, to
suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
—1 Peter 3:17

We “Christ’s-ones” who live in the United States still have more than a reasonable amount of freedom to practice our faith in spite of recent concerted efforts by a secular progressive society to marginalize devoted Christians.

From time to time, we may feel just a pinch of suffering. When we do, we need to remember the words of instruction from the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:17-22:

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

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. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.

In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.

Compared to many of our brothers and sisters around the world, we are called upon to suffer very little for our faith. When we do suffer the little bit that we may suffer, we need to remember Peter’s words.

More so, we need to greet this day with humility and pray for those who truly do suffer for their faith around the world.


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


Friday, June 5, 2015

Sowing Peace to Harvest Righteousness


[Photo of a young boy with his arm around a young girl with words superimposed]

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving…”
—James 3:17a

We’ve all heard the proverb from Galatians 6:7b:

A man reaps what he sows.

But, what do we believers sow? The Apostle James offers this commentary in James 3:13-18:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.

For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

I don’t know about you, but in this “mess” of a world in which we live, sowing peace that will result in a harvest of righteousness sounds like a really good thing to me.


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


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Taming the Tongue


[Photo of a tongue with a bridle]

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of
the body, but it makes great boasts.”
—James 3:5

In Shakespeare’s great comedic play, “The Taming of the Shrew,” we catch a glimpse into the foibles of humanity. Among the human objects that need taming is the tongue.

Petrucio uses words of contempt and disdain to break the spirit of his new wife, Katherina. For her part, Katherina has perhaps the sharpest tongue known to mankind—a tongue that certainly needs taming.

The Apostle James clearly understood the kind of damage an untamed tongue can do when he wrote these words in James 3:1-12:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to help us tame our tongues today that God may use our words to bless others and proclaim the truth of His unfailing love.


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


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Uniquely Equipped


[Graphic of a sign]

“…for everyone born of God overcomes the world.”
—1 John 5:4

We celebrate “overcomers”: people who overcome addictive behavior, people who overcome disadvantageous up-bringings, people who overcome early defeat, people who overcome opposition, people who overcome… well, you get the idea.

But, what if there was a group of people who had been uniquely equipped by none other than God to overcome... the sinful power of this world!

Please take note of what the Apostle John writes in 1 John 5:1-5:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well.

This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world.

This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

So, we who believe in Jesus have received the gift of His life-transforming power. This power enables us to overcome the world.

Now that’s really good news.


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


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Starting Our Days with Prayer


[Photo of man sitting on a dock in the early morning light]

“…I kneel before the Father, from whom every
family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
—Ephesians 3:14a

Do you begin your day in prayer?

I ask because the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer remain critical elements in a daily walk with our Savior. It is important that we both listen to God through His Word and talk with Him in prayer.

If you are starting your day with prayer, for whom are you praying?

Over the years my prayer list has grown quite long. It seems that God has impressed on me the need to pray for those whom God has chosen to warm my heart towards.

That last sentence may seem a bit strange to you. But, it’s true that God has attracted my attention toward certain people and motivated me to pray earnestly and fervently for them.

As a result, my list of people for whom I pray has grown quite long. It is quite likely, if you’re reading this on Facebook, that you are on that prayer list.

The Apostle Paul conveyed some of his prayers for those he loved in his letters. Here’s a particularly powerful prayer from Ephesians 3:14-19. In fact, some months back I heard Pastor Rick Crocker, the Executive Director of the Erie City Mission, preach a most excellent sermon on this text.

…I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 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.

Now that’s a very powerful prayer! And, if I may borrow from this prayer at the beginning of a new day, I will pray that prayer for you, dear one.

So, please read Paul’s prayer again and hear my voice pray that very same prayer for you.


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


Monday, June 1, 2015

The Source of Goodness


[Photo of a man with raised arms standing in the sunlight in a field]

“Who can proclaim the mighty acts of
the Lord or fully declare his praise?”
—Psalm 106:2

I spent most of my adult life working in the field of fire protection, first as a fire fighter and fire marshal, and later as a fire protection engineer. Whenever our investigative team would examine the scene of a fire, we would always strive to identify the source of ignition. What started the fire?

Whether we look at bad things or good things, there’s always a source. So, what is the source of goodness in our lives?

The Psalmist talks about this very subject in Psalm 106:1-5:

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?

Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.

It’s really quite clear. God is the source of all that is good. No good thing exists apart fro God’s mercy, grace, and love.

When we observe goodness, we can see the hand of God’s prevailing goodness. Even when certain things in our daily lives may not seem to be going exactly the way we want them to go, if we carefully examine the rest of our existence we will likely see plenty of evidence of God graciously at work in our behalf.

It is God’s favor that brings out the very best in those He lives. His kindness is so pervasive that it literally marks His children.

Are you a believer? Then look with awe at your life and see the goodness of God making you good.

Once you realize how fortunate you are, give God praise for who He is.


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