Thursday, May 31, 2018

Obedience Brings Completeness


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“But if anyone obeys his word, love for
God is truly made complete in them.”
—1 John 2:5

Have you ever worked in a situation where your instant and unquestioning response to a direct order spared your life? Some of those situations involve safety on a hazardous job site. We find others in the military, or various para-military organizations, like the fire service or law enforcement.

In 1967, the fire department where I served received a call just past midnight to respond to a fully involved barn fire about three miles from our fire house. Our department required the firefighters to first report to the fire house, don their protective equipment, mount the apparatus, and then respond to the location of the fire. This meant that once reaching the scene of the fire, our crews were always ready to go into immediate action with their full protective gear already in place.

On this particular night, we arrived at the farm and found that the barn was, indeed, fully involved in fire. The three-story tall structure had fire showing from every opening. As one of our engine company crews advanced a 2-1/2-inch line to begin an exterior fire attack, suddenly the chief radioed for the crew leader to stop the advance. Responding to his years of training, the crew leader immediately halted the forward movement of his crew.

Almost instantaneously, the main side wall of the barn came crashing to the ground, landing just a few feet in front of where the crew stood. Had the crew leader not immediately obeyed the order from the chief, several firefighters would have been seriously injured, or even killed.

Obedience brings completion—that’s the topic for today. Said in more detail: “Obedience to the instructions of our Savior, brings completeness to the life of a believer.”

When we read some instruction in God’s written Word, the Bible, in the context of the New Testament life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, it is important that we obey what God commands. Every single instruction is for our benefit. Failure to do what God instructs will place us in danger. We will not experience completeness until we first learn obedience.

Sadly, too many religious leaders of our day have followed a pattern of explaining away some of the clearest teachings of our God. They don’t like what they perceive to be the directness, even harshness, of certain commands. So, they attempt to teach that we really don’t understand what the Scripture means.

For example, some place an emphasis only on the loving and accepting nature of Jesus. In so doing, they seem to want to put aside, or deny, that God is holy.

It would be far better if those individuals who are uncomfortable with teachings they don’t like would simply accept the fact that God expects us to live lives that are in tension. Just as a tightrope walker depends on the tension of the tightrope, so we Christians must live in a healthy tension regarding the nature of God. Yes, God is loving, caring, merciful, and gracious. But, He is also a holy God and demands holiness from those who follow Him. Those two qualities, or attributes, of God are often in tension.

Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle John makes this claim, as found in 1 John 2:1-6:

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

During the course of this new day, let’s work toward living in the tension of obedience to all the teachings of our God. When He demands holiness, let’s obediently work toward holiness. When He demands love, acceptance, mercy, and grace, let’s obediently work toward all of those sterling qualities, as well.

If we do this, we will become complete in Him. And that, dear ones, is exactly the place where we should reside.


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


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

True Justice


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Administer true justice; show mercy
and compassion to one another. Do
not oppress the widow or the fatherless,
the alien or the poor. In your hearts
do not think evil of each other.”
—Zechariah 7:9-10

When two people commit the same crime and one gets away with it while the other is sent to prison, there is something fundamentally wrong with the administration of justice. How we mete out punishment for wrongdoing must be fair, uniform, and done without taking into account the differences in status, wealth, or power of the various perpetrators.

It seems every day we get a new “wake up call” regarding how corrupt politics has made our system of justice, not only in our own country, but around the world. Nevertheless, we expect more of our own nation than we do of other nations. The very foundation of our country rests on the concept of equal justice for all.

In the church, justice must also be delivered in a fair and impartial way. When I use the word “justice” in the context of the church, I’m talking about the fair treatment of all individuals who may gather in a particular church for worship and fellowship.

Church leaders dare not tolerate sinful behavior on the part of some people because of their status, wealth, or power, while swiftly administering discipline to other people who do not have the same status, wealth, or power. Yet almost every day, I hear of some action by a church board in some church that has treated people unfairly because the process of church discipline was not handled impartially.

I’ve written several times on this blog about Matthew 18:15-17. These words represent instruction from none other than Jesus Himself. In these few verses, our Lord explains how we are to handle sin in the church. This is the only—absolutely the only—acceptable way for a church board or any other group of believers to handle sin. And, it’s also the way that individual believers are to handle sin, as well.

The impartial administration of justice is a concept that goes as far back in the history of Judeo-Christian philosophy as possible. Please take note of these words of instruction from God, found in Zechariah 7:9-10:

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”

As we begin another day, and insofar as we have the opportunity to do so, let’s make certain that we handle sin in our midst properly. We must follow Matthew 18:15-17. And, we should pay attention to Zechariah 7:9-10, as well. If we do this, we will contribute to a major “sea change” in the life of the churches where we attend.


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


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

In Spite of What We Once Were


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has
given me strength, that he considered
me faithful, appointing me to his service.”
—1 Timothy 1:12

In the course of your life, have you ever encountered someone who listened to what you had to say about the Lord Jesus Christ and what He means to you, but responded by saying, “I’ve done too many bad things in my life. I’ve made too many mistakes. God could never love me.”

Such a one misses the point entirely. God does not call to Himself people that He deems are perfect. To the contrary, God calls those to belong to Him who often need Him the most.

We are, after all, every one of us, sinners. We inherited the sin stain of Adam. We continued a pattern of sin from the earliest days of our lives.

Therefore, when the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to learn of the love God has shown us, we come to Him as sinners. And, we remain sinners as long as we live on this earth—sinners who have been saved by God’s mercy, grace, and love.

Even the Apostle Paul—or perhaps I should say, particularly the Apostle Paul—claimed that he was the worst of sinners. Notice how Paul explains this in his letter to Timothy, found in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

Whenever God prompts you to share what He has done for you, remember that the one to whom you are talking may feel that he or she is unworthy of God’s love. In that gentle, humble, and tender way, as God enables you by the Holy Spirit, be quick to remind that one that God saves sinners. And, sinners are the only ones who can come to God because they know how much they need Him.


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


Monday, May 28, 2018

In God We Trust


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and
am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
—Psalm 56:4

On this Memorial Day, a day that we remember those who died in military service in order to preserve our freedom, I will strive in this blog post to honor their supreme sacrifice by shining a spotlight on certain changes that have taken place in our society. May God bless those who died and may He bless their families.



We live in a very odd time. Over the course of my lifetime I have observed so many changes in people’s attitudes in the United States of America that I can hardly process them.

As a child in elementary school, we began each day by standing next to our desks, placing our right hands over our hearts, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I was in school at the point that two new words were added to the Pledge under President Dwight David Eisenhower’s administration. Those words were inserted between the words “nation” and “indivisible” so the Pledge would now read: “…one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I now read that some teachers—many teachers—and many school administrators, will no longer permit the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance. “It forces children to agree to something they may not actually agree.”

Whaaaaat? Are you kidding me? If you are a citizen of the United States of America, then this pledge is a sacred oath of allegiance to the country that protects and defends the freedom under which you live your life. How could you possibly want to be a citizen if you didn’t pledge your allegiance?

And, besides, notice how absolutely “terrible” the Pledge is:

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Now, don’t those words just strike terror in your heart? Ridiculous!

We also began each day with someone reading a portion of a Psalm from the Old Testament of the Bible. And, we even recited the Lord’s Prayer—the Roman Catholic children stopped short of the very end, as the Protestant children pushed on through the final words, “…for Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever. Amen.”

If we had a Jehovah’s Witness student in our class, that child simply did not participate. He or she stood silently while all the other children recited the opening exercises. No one picked on the J-W child.

Likewise, if you were Jewish, while you may have participated in the reading of the Psalm—after all the Psalms came from the Jewish Scriptures—you refrained from reciting the Lord’s Prayer. As far as I know, none of the Jewish children were harmed, their parents weren’t offended, and the other kids simply accepted with understanding that while most children believed that the Messiah had come, their Jewish classmates were still waiting for that glorious day to arrive.

In addition, we studied our currency, noted the words “In God We Trust” and talked about the symbolism of each element of the one dollar bill.

As I tell this story from 64 years ago, I feel I must append this disclaimer: “No children were harmed in the carrying out of these daily beginnings to the school day.”

I make this point to illustrate for those who may be much younger how far along a downward spiral we have come. Was it a perfect time back then? Of course not. Was it a much simpler time? Apparently so. Have the changes in our national demeanor been positive? In only one way that I can identify: racial diversity.

There were so few people of African descent in my hometown that race was never an issue. I never heard derogatory statements about people with different skin color. The only “black” man that I knew personally growing up was one of the most educated men in the entire community.

The Reverend Dr. Thomas James Sadler, Sr. was the pastor of the Copeland African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a gentle man, large in stature, powerful in the pulpit, and an absolute joy to meet with to pray. He and his church supported our Youth for Christ activities. I can still remember kneeling at the altar of one of the participating churches for prayer, asking God to intercede in the lives of the youth in our city and feeling the loving touch of Dr. Sadler’s strong arm around my shoulders.

I grew up neither fearing people whose skin color was different than mine, nor hating them. I grew up accepting the reality that some had a religion that was different than mine. I had classmates who did not attend any church and classmates who attended a wide range of churches and synagogues. But, I knew no one who did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

I was taught to revere the heroes of the faith from the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. I remember thinking about how wonderful it would be to one day meet King David in heaven. This man who the Scripture tells us was a man after God’s own heart. There was no question in what David believed.

When David was pursued by the Philistines, he wrote these words found in Psalm 56:4:

In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Yes, our national culture has changed dramatically over the years of my life. But, we who belong to God have every reason to hold fast to King David’s words. Without shame we can say, “In God we trust! We are not afraid! What can mere mortals do to us?”


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


Friday, May 25, 2018

A Reliable Friend


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“One who has unreliable friends soon
comes to ruin, but there is a friend
who sticks closer than a brother.”
—Proverbs 18:24

Have you ever had someone in your life that you thought was your friend, but then you discovered that he or she was not really at all reliable? Most of us have had this experience.

King Solomon had a bit of advice to give regarding friendship. That advice is found in Proverbs 18:24:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ have found such a close-sticking friend in Him. He will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 13:6).

This is such an important concept that numerous authors have penned most excellent prose regarding it. Among those authors is Oswald Chambers, a great leader in the Christian faith at the turn of the 20th century. Since his death in 1917 from complications due to an appendectomy, Chambers’ writings have become classics among devoted Christians.

In what is perhaps his most famous book, My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers writes about this concept of friendship with Christ in a devotional entitled “The Never-Forsaking God”.

As we begin a new day, we should recognize that God has provided a friend that sticks closer than a brother in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He also promotes this kind of enduring friendship among believers. We should strive to be that kind of friend to those God has brought into our circle of fellow believers. If we do so, we will reap a very significant reward. For such friendship is priceless.


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


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Getting in Shape


[Photo of a Scripture verse]

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but
be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what
God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
—Romans 12:2

Does society shape us? Or, do we shape society? Those two questions offer a clear distinction. Either we are molded into the image created by our society. Or, we persist in attempting to influence the molding of our society into an image of holiness because of what Christ has done for us and because the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

Some Christians believe they should do their best to live their lives without ever trying to have an influence on society as a whole. Yet Christ told us in Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

This means that, as followers of Jesus, our very presence in this world is intended to have a definite and profound effect on our society. To deny this responsibility doesn’t make it go away. Rather, to deny the responsibility that Jesus has given us takes us to a place of disobedience.

We cannot “go along to get along” in this world. The Presence of Christ within us, by the indwelling Holy Spirit, makes us different than those around us who have not yet come to understand the gift of mercy, love, and grace that God has given to those He has called to Himself.

The Apostle Paul offered these words of instruction, as recorded in Romans 12:2:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

As we begin a new day, we do well if we keep in mind that what we wear, where we go, what we say, where we spend our time, the way we act, the way we think, the way we live should not be influenced by the societal norms around us. Rather, we should be the ones setting the trends. That’s right. For the sake of the gospel, we are trendsetters. Or, at the very least, we should be.

It’s really hard not to try to fit into this world. If we want to disappear into the fabric of society around us, we have to be like the people who populate that society. But, if we want to truly influence the world for God, we will necessarily be different, if for no other reason that we do not fit into the pattern of the world.

It’s a sobering reality. But, it is also the reality of having our sights set on pleasing the One who loves us with His everlasting love. We can either be loved by the world or loved by God. But, we will never fit into the fabric of both this world and the world to come. We have to choose to which one we belong.


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


Friday, May 18, 2018

Update on Friday, May 18, 2018


[Photo of Dean taking his first steps][Photo space][Photo of Dean taking more steps]

“Those who walk uprightly enter into peace…”
—Isaiah 57:2a

Thank you for your kind thoughts and especially for your continued prayers. Under the diligent guidance of my excellent Physical Therapist, Deb Smith, I am slowly—very slowly—learning how to walk again.



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


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Update on Wednesday, May 2, 2018


[Photo of Dean at the second fitting of the temporary prosthesis]

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved
children and walk in the way of love, just as
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
—Ephesians 5:1-2

I continue to feel deep gratitude for all of the well-wishes and especially for all of the prayers that you have sent heavenward in my behalf. God certainly has been at work during this long recovery process. Your support, your friendship, and your caring mean a very great deal to me.

Today, as you can see in the photo above, I had the second fitting of my temporary prosthesis. I learned how to don the device and how to take it off. I stood and even took a few steps. My most excellent Prosthetist, Joseph H. Carter, Jr. of Union Orthotics and Prosthetics Co., has many years of experience. He is a true professional and knows exactly what to tell someone like me. I still have much to learn and many, many weeks of physical therapy ahead, as I learn how to walk again.

Again, thank you for your continued prayers.

(By the way, I do actually own more than one sport shirt. I find it quite humorous that every time I have had my photo taken during this recovery process, I just happen to have on the same shirt. Oh well… Someone once told me I was a really excellent dresser. But, that individual opined that I had only one problem: my “middle drawer” stuck out too far.)



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