Monday, May 30, 2005

Omnia mihi lingua graeca sunt

Omnia mihi lingua graeca sunt

Yesterday was a milestone in the life of one man, and a millstone around the neck of another - me. As a church, we ordained a man into the ministry last night, concluding the service with the very moving laying on of hands.

That morning, he had delivered a sermon to our church on "walking worthy". It was well contructed, well rehearsed, well delivered, and well supported. He skillfully used media, both powerpoint and video. Though it was long, no one could say it wasn't effective in transmitting what was in the text. So in a seminary sense, it delivered.

But I never sensed what all effective sermons have - that lifting past skill, through delivery, and across the distance into people's hearts that characterizes all great sermons. I'm sitting here tonight trying to figure out why, because I love the man, and I'm in a role of a mentor to him as he sets out into ordained ministry.

It's bothered me ever since the sermon was over, but I attributed it to my critical bent, or perhaps my passion for incarnational preaching. My wife even asked me if I was a little insecure about it. I answered no.

Then last night, the charge to the candidate was given by a seminary professor I respect as a man of God and as a teacher. That same feeling came rising up. I found myself asking "Is this what preaching is or should be?"

When I followed him in giving the charge to the church, it was with one of the few episodes of nervousness I have ever had in the pulpit. It quickly passed as I got into the sermon, but it was there, and it bothered me that it was. So I've been reflecting on both sermons all day.

More than anything, when I preach, I want to connect the Word to the world - that is to people's lives. I want to be the guy that delivers biblical truth in a way that people feel the truth - that God is present, that He hears and sees how we live, and that He through His Word, can give direction, can give comfort, can deliver a peace that is beyond imagination, and that He does it out of His love.

I felt very alone in that yesterday.

Each preacher was very logical, point by point in his approach. A person with any Bible knowledge at all could have outlined where they were heading after the first point.

Each trotted out their language tools and pointed out that even though our English Bibles said that the word was "____" , in the GK it was the word _____ which could also mean ____. That always bothers me, because I used to be the guy in the pew who loved God and read his Bible, but felt inferior when the preacher would trot out the original language. I now have those tools, but very, very rarely use them for that reason and one more. By doing that, I have the feeling that people who aren't very far along in their walk or are just investigating the faith have one more reason to doubt the words they see before them on their translation's page.

But I used to be those guys, before I fell in love with my people.

Now instead of preaching to them, I try to preach with them, or from among them, giving them "hooks" to tie onto, anchors to hold onto, and "canvas" that through the Spirit's force can move them farther along. It's Truth, expressed in a way that speaks into their context, that feels less like a principal's lecture and more like a Father's instruction.

My millstone is that what I do isn't what will get me acclaim, or a better placement, or a position that would allow me to influence others to look at preaching in this way. And for the life of me, I cannot do anything else.

I just don't get it. Just as you, unless you read Latin, don't get the title of this blog entry, which is "It's all Greek To Me." But I'm committing myself to become even better at this "foolishness called preaching" and make sure every sermon has everything I can do to bridge the gap into it.

Pray for me.



Sunday, May 29, 2005

Got Grace?

My beloved bride watches a lot of different TV shows than I do. I'm not even sure she's looking forward to Monday's Steven Segall Marathon.

One of the types of shows she likes to watch takes a person who is "fashion challenged" and helps them present themselves in a much better light. Many times the person's whole attitude changes just because they feel as though they look better. But sometimes I get the feeling that deep inside, though their clothes have changed, they still are the same inside.

I was reading today about a guy who was totally sold out to one way of thinking. He had gone to school to learn more about that way, and graduated magna cum fanatic. Not content to let people decide what to do with their lives, he went around telling them how to live and throwing them in jail if they wouldn't do things his way. He had power and wasn't afraid to use it.

Funny thing though, he didn't impress anyone with his speech, and as far as his looks went, he was a candidate for an extreme makeover. One writer wrote about him and said " he was small in stature, bald-headed, bow-legged, and barrel chested with meeting eyebrows and a slightly hooked nose." Can anyone say "unibrow"? Yet he was having a ball kicking people around until he met Jesus.

That meeting changed everything. The guy even changed his name. Now Paul, who was driving people away from Jesus with the power of the law behind him, began calling them back to him with a word he had never used before.


His letters would begin with grace, and end with grace. Paul never got over what God had done for him, and when he thought about it the first word that came to his mind was...


May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you his grace and peace.
2 Cor 1:2 (NLT)

Over and over you read that verse. Different churches, different times, but Paul had the same prayer for each of them - that God would give them grace.

Paul never ever got over grace. After getting blindsided by Jesus' grace he stopped worrying about his life, his work, even whether he lived or died. All he cared about, all he lived for, was to spread the good news that God's grace was available to everyone.

Even angry, bitter, power mad, short, bald-headed, bow-legged, barrel-chested uni-browed, hook-nosed men like him.

Everything changed when Paul met grace.

Oh, and afterwards, he was still short, still bald-headed, still bow-legged, still barrel chested, hook nosed and uni-browed. But I left off the last line that the ancient biographer wrote in his journal about Paul. Yes, he wrote all those unflattering adjectives, but then he wrote...

"full of grace."

That sort of change will do a body good. It's a makeover of the soul.

Got grace?


A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Praise 101

1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his heavenly dwelling; praise him in his mighty heaven!

2 Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!

3 Praise him with a blast of the trumpet; praise him with the lyre and harp!

4 Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with stringed instruments and flutes!

5 Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

6 Let everything that lives sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!

Psalms 150:1-6 (NLT)

In one of the most famous of the many anecdotes people told about the great football coach Vince Lombardi, my favorite is the one where he brings the world champion Green Bay Packers to the center of Lambeau Field after a particularly bad practice. He asks for silence, and when the players have all quieted down, he reaches into the equipment bag and pulls out a familiar shape. Holding it up so everyone can see it, he yells "gentlemen, we are going back to the basics. This is a football." You could have called that "Football 101."

Last night we had one of those opportunities you remember for a long time. A chance to see God at work in all His glory, in a way that left you thanking Him again and again. We got to see New Hope's own Emma dance in a production you could have called "Praise 101."

If you looked at Emma, you'd be hard pressed to see the soul of a dancer within her. She's pretty serious for a little girl going on eight. My impression is that she likes things done right - precise. People like that don't usually gravitate to the arts. But when they do... watch out!

There were a bunch of kids on the program Friday night, and they were in full possession of all those gifts God gives to help kids enjoy life, and that give those who are charged with getting them to do what's needed - indigestion.

We saw little boys who were supposed to be twirling streamers as a "peace" candle glowed - smack each other.

One little girl was so out of synch with the others at one point, I thought she'd be trampled.

One little boy, fresh from a "talking to" over the "peace" incident, stood and cried silently on stage, even as he waved his flag - though limply.

The idea was to teach kids to worship. By letting them express their joy and love toward God with dance, tambourines, and drums, they could learn how to give their all to the One Who made them the wonders they are. It's just that sometimes I wondered if the kids would come through it without being hurt by a flying flag, or whirling streamer, or in a collision of dancers occupying the same spot on the stage at the same moment.

That possibility kept you on the edge of your seat. Seeing all of the miss-steps and the kid happenings was something you could have spent the night doing. Watching for mistakes could have kept you busy all night.

I decided to watch Emma. Emma danced for God.

She concentrated on her steps. Her movements were graceful and precise. She took great pains to make sure she was at the right place, at the right time, doing the right movement. And through it all, she rejoiced. She's still little, but she knows how to praise God with her all. Her shy smile as she was brought down front to be recognized came from the knowledge that she had done all she could do for Jesus that night. They asked her how long she had been praising God and she said two years (her parents said 4). Time flies.

I think Emma's passed Praise 101.

To all you adults out there who haven't - come to worship God this Sunday with all your heart, soul, and intellect. Give it everything you've got - just like Emma did. Make God smile.



A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Thursday, May 19, 2005

School Days

11They won't go to school to learn about me,
or buy a book called God in Five Easy Lessons.

They'll all get to know me firsthand,

the little and the big, the small and the great.

Hebrews 8:11 (The Message)

There they were, at Valparaiso Elementary's graduation day - all those 5th graders we met 5 years ago when we first came to New Hope. As we walked into the cafeteria, their voices rang out "Miss Bunny", "Brother David", and we grinned and waved back. How they have grown! As the program began, each of the kids was called for one award or another, and it was hard to keep from cheering out of turn.

I watched them as they accepted the awards, and I looked carefully at the teachers as they presented them. Bunny and I don't really know who the best teachers are, not by any statistics at any rate. But as I looked at their eyes and saw the way they interacted with their kids, I formed some opinions. When we were talking afterwards with a parent, it turned out I was right. The teachers that I saw loving the kids and that the kids loved back by visibly trying to make sure they made their teacher proud were the ones every parent wanted their kids to have.

"Some families drive 30 miles just so they can have Mr. ____ as their child's teacher", one parent told me. That's a pretty amazing testimony of the influence one person can have with a child. Teaching really can be a place to serve God and society. What a difference they can make!

But now, fifth grade has ended, and that teacher is forever part of the child's past. Their influence may last a long time, but they will never be with "their kids" again. It was bittersweet realizing that one period was ending in the kid's lives, and they move into 6th grade next year - the great unknown - without the teachers and staff of Valparaiso Elementary that have known them most of their lives.

There is always some apprehension when changing schools, meeting new teachers, leaning new routines. We love these kids, and prayed that they'd go on and have a great time next year. Still, I was leaving with a little sadness. We'll just have to trust God, I told myself.

Then this verse in Hebrews popped into my mind, "They'll all get to know me firsthand, the little and the big, the small and the great."

Not only will this teacher never be left behind, but He'll also make sure every single "student" has His full attention. I thank God for that. For after the books and FCATs are long past, the relationship those kids have with Jesus will continue. They'll never be out of His care.

Nor will you!



A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Monday, May 16, 2005

I Saw Jesus At the Zoo

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" 3Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.
John 9:1-3 The Message

I saw a lot of God's work Saturday at the Zoo.

Yes, there were lions and tigers and bears a plenty, but oh my, I saw Jesus too. We had 30 New Hope folks out to see the wonders of God's creation at the Zoo at Gulf Breeze. Young and old, we had come to have a great time together. And we did. One of the things I love about New Hope is that we have fun! Sometimes it might be hard to tell we are Baptists. :)

Our friend Allan was with us. He's high maintenance to be sure, since though he has the body of a 23 year old man, he has the mind and heart of a child, with the energy to match. Allan can be very insistent, frequently interrupts, and has all the fears and insecurities of a child as well. He's a joy, and he's a handful. But he's ours - we love Allan. At first, I had responsibility for him. We rode out in the same car and began our adventure at the zoo together.

But not for long, because Diane Weech became Allan's fast friend Saturday. (note to self - check on sainthood for Baptists for Diane)

Diane made sure Allan had a great time, and I watched as she helped him explore the wonders of the zoo. He loved some parts and didn't like others - no bat cave for Allan, and he got scared even in the restroom. Yet I heard him laughing and chattering as he took it all in. But it was at the end of the train ride that I saw something amazing. The train held about 40 people, and was driven by a young man who also served as our guide to what we saw. It was a hot and humid day, and sitting behind an engine inside a metal enclosure can't be the best way to keep cool. But the young man did a great job the whole way. It was a great way to see hippos, gorillas, a rhino, and herds of other African animals.

We made the circuit, and all too soon the train returned to the station. We all began to disembark and started gathering to leave the park. Allan had gotten on the train hesitantly, but getting off, he was scared to step down. So the attendant got a set of stairs and helped Allan down. He was very kind, and turned to leave, thinking nothing of it. That was his job.

Allan stopped him, and after first trying to shake his hand and finding that they were both full, he put his hand on the man's arm, and told him thank you - three times. The young man seemed to really appreciate the gesture.

It is at times like that that I get a glimpse of what God sees in Allan and those like him. They practice the truth of "the greatest is love" every day. Sometimes we need to be reminded of just how God can use us to touch others with Jesus' love.

When Allan did that Saturday, he looked a lot like Jesus to me.



A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at
Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Friday, May 13, 2005

Cherish Is the Word

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. 23The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. 24So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting.

Ephesians 5:22-25 The Message

Years and years ago, in a galaxy far, far away a man sat down to write a song to try to express in words just what he felt for his love. As you know, most men have great difficulty in accomplishing this feat. Ask a man to fix the dishwasher or washing machine, and he turns into McGyver. Ask him to "do something about that back door sticking", and he turns into Bob Villa. But ask him to tell a woman how he feels, and he gets mush mouthed.

That's why we men appreciate the work of those rare examples of the gender who can communicate while in love. Many of these are poets and songwriters. Very frequently, a man, when faced with his limitations, will buy a book of poetry, or a special song, and hand it to his love and say "this is how I feel" because though the heart is eager, the ability is weak. One of those songs way back when was "Cherish" by a group called "The Association". Here's a snippet of the words.

Cherish is the word I use to describe
All the feeling that I have hiding here for you inside
You don't know how many times I've wished that I had told you
You don't know how many times I've wished that I could hold you
You don't know how many times I've wished that I could
Mold you into someone who could
Cherish me as much as I cherish you

We'll have to ignore the "mold you into" part for the purposes of this email, (he was doing so well, too) but I hope you can see that even the most gifted of our gender have real issues in communication. He did though, grab just the right word.

Cherish. To hold dear.

When you read the passage above in the Message paraphrase, what word jumps out at you?

If you're most people, conditioned by years of exposure to what the world has done with this passage, it would be "submit".

That's a shame, because that's not the crux of what is being communicated. When we flash on that word, we reduce our ability to understand what the passage says to the same level of men who cannot communicate their love to their wives.

The word to focus on is "cherish".

A man must first - cherish, hold dear, go all out, give his all - to his wife before he can ever hope to have her respect as an equal partner in their marriage. And as much as a woman needs to know she is cherished, a man needs that respect. Well, I've run out of words. Maybe the end of that passage will help make it clear that cherish is the word.

31And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." 32This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. 33And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband. Ephesians 3:31-33 The Message

I like that "I don't pretend to understand it all" part. I never have understood how someone as gifted, as grace-filled, as beautiful as my wife could have given me her heart.

But I cherish it, and her.

Yes, cherish is the word.



A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Tar-baby ain't sayin' nuthin', en brer Fox, he lay low.

"Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. Matthew 10:16 (The Message)

Joel Chandler Harris' Song of the South was part of the literature I grew up with. His amazing world of Brer. Rabbit, Brer. Fox, Uncle Remus and the gang was almost required reading for a boy growing up in Middle Georgia. Just up the road from where I lived was the museum that enshrined Harris' work. The Disney film came along, and put the words Harris wrote to music. "Zip-a-dee-do-dah, zip-a-dee-ya, my oh my what a wonderful day..." is now swirling around in your head and you'll have trouble the rest of the day shaking it. The quote above comes from a scene when Brer. Bear got mad, and everyone scattered rather than face his wrath.

But Harris' story was written in an earlier time, and today it doesn't get mentioned much in literature classes at all. His use of the dialect of the slaves on Georgia plantations in his work is seen as insensitive and out of step with today's culture. So rather than have to face the protests, most teachers simply bypass Harris' work. Too many landmines.

I stepped on one of those this weekend, when I answered the phone and got an earful of criticism and wrath.


Santa Claus.

Handed the phone by a member right before Sunday School started, I was treated to the most one-sided conversation I've had in a long time. It seems that sometime late last year, Santa Claus came up in one of our children's groups. Most church leaders will tell you that with children under 12, the whole "Is Santa real?" question is quite the hot potato. No one really wants to get into it, and most try to deflect or avoid with responses like "What does your family say?" or the ever popular "what do you think?" We're trying to help families come to know Jesus and so we try to stay focused on that. Sometimes though, you get pinned down. It's happened to me.

So apparently, the question was asked and the truth was given to a 9 year old. So his irate mother called to let me know she wanted an apology from everyone involved. Nothing I said helped - in fact whatever I said in apology or otherwise just made it worse. It ended when she told me she'd tell everyone about how horrible we were, called me some names, and hung up.

It's bothered me ever since.

Friends, at New Hope we love people. Our goal is to reach out in love to all people, no matter what. And somehow, unknowingly, we've had a door into the lives of an unchurched family slammed in our face. That breaks my heart. I've been praying off and on ever since Sunday that God would keep reaching into the lives of that family, if not through us, then through some other church.

It's not that what was said wasn't true - it was. And I'm on record as hoping to keep the church focused on the Incarnation around Christmas time. But the world hasn't caught onto how Santa Claus' gifts pale in comparison to the gift of a Savior yet. In fact the mom told me that "we had ruined a sacred holiday for her family." We might know that isn't a very high view of what's sacred. But we don't need to go tap-dancing through every minefield we see.

I want to encourage you today, to focus on living the Jesus-life among the wolves by concentrating your efforts on what really matters - building bridges for the unchurched to walk across to meet Jesus. Don't get distracted and lose an opportunity to share the way home. And pray that a mom and her child find Jesus someday to be far better than Santa ever dreamed of.

If that ever happens to me again, I'm going to make like Brer. Fox. "...he lay low."


David Wilson

A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Mothers and the Boys Who Love Them

1Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there. 2Jesus and his disciples were guests also. 3When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus' mother told him, "They're just about out of wine."
4Jesus said, "Is that any of our business, Mother--yours or mine? This isn't my time. Don't push me."

5She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, "Whatever he tells you, do it."

6Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. 7Jesus ordered the servants, "Fill the pots with water." And they filled them to the brim.

8"Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host," Jesus said, and they did.

9When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn't know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, 10"Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you've saved the best till now!"

11This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.
John 2:1-11 (The Message)

It's been many years now since my Mother went home to be with Her Lord. But it hasn't gone away.

There are days when it's easier, when you remember silly little things, like the way she used to fix the boys instant cheese grits with torn up bits of sliced processed cheese, and they treated it like manna. "No one else could make grits the way Grandmother did," they'll say. Bunny and I would shake our head and laugh. Some days are laughing days.

Certain songs bring her memory closer. Old show tunes, big band numbers, and any song where someone yodeled. Yes, her first brush with fame was singing with "Uncle Ned" on the radio, and yodeling. A strong voice would come in handy later on when two boys competed for how far away from where they ought to be they could get. Oh and anytime the Star Spangled Banner is sung, I think I hear her too. Some days her memory is like a picture in my wallet.

Certain seasons too. No one ever was a bigger kid, or got more of a thrill out of Christmas than my Mother. Every year, no matter how old we got, under the tree we'd always find a couple of gifts from "Santa" or if she was pressed for time "SC." I'll probably never know how far in debt she went some years to get my brother and me what we wanted for Christmas, or for our birthdays. Of course as soon as our two boys were born, our benefits were cut in favor of the grandsons.

Seemed reasonable.

After a somewhat rocky start, ("You're going to what?") my Mother and my wife got along pretty well. The fact that they both had two boys, and both loved them fiercely, helped a lot I'm sure. There's something about the way a mother loves a boy. Girls most often grow up with mothers, boys grow away toward their fathers. But that love from their mother never leaves.

So when I read the passage above, particularly in the emotionally charged paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, I see a real mother and son relationship and out of that, the Son is recognized for what He really is - Messiah.

No one but Mary could have "pushed" Jesus and assumed He'd agree to be moved to action. No one except His mother. Mothers know their sons for who they really are, and mothers see what they can become. As they raise them to maturity, they fade into the background, but they never leave.

Women are unique in all of God's creation inherently. But a Mother takes that unique gifting and gives it away - willingly, gladly, joyfully. As one who continues to benefit from that gift, and who is grateful to be married to someone who continues to give, my prayer is that God will bless each Mother who reads this with a glimpse of just what you've given and it's lasting effect on your children. Lincoln was right - no one is poor who has a godly Mother.


David Wilson

A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Past "Glimpses" are archived at Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Pass It On

If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.8 If your gift is to encourage others, do it! Romans 12:7-8 (NLT)

How many people have you met in your lifetime? You probably can't count that high. Okay, how many can you say made a real difference? Chances are, out of a list of the top ten, there will be a teacher in there somewhere. Think back - who would you choose?

You'd probably not choose someone who laughed at you while scrawling an "F" on your essay. But that's exactly why I'd put Dr. Catherine Futral high on my list of women who've affected my life.

After a long time away, I had returned to Mercer University in Macon, GA to finish my undergraduate degree. I was majoring in business, because that's what my company would pay for, and was checking off the squares of required courses when I ran head on into Dr. Futral. A fixture for years at Tift College in Forsyth, she was teaching in the evening college after Mercer had absorbed her beloved campus. My goal was to get all my English courses out of the way as quickly and as easily as possible. Her goal seemed to be the destruction of the ecosystem by flooding the world with red ink.

To give you a mental picture of her wouldn't be hard. Think English teacher. That was harsh. Okay, think English teacher with a great smile and eyes that twinkled as she explained just how miserable she would be making our lives for the next 12 weeks.

She was a woman of grace, peppering her lectures with humor, and her comments on our work with wit. A committed Christian, and member of First Baptist Church of Forsyth, she'd often bring her faith experiences into her lectures. She'd quote Shakespeare, Faulkner, and the Psalms all in the same example of how to write a compelling paragraph. But when she evaluated your work - well, you'd better be ready to hear the truth.

I'll never forget one paper I wrote which received this comment: "Until the very last line of this paper, I felt that it was one of the best I had read. However, your thoughtless comma splice in the last phrase ruined it for me - and you." Beside that snippet she inscribed a large red "F".

Can I call that the gift of encouragement?

It was for me. My mission from that point on was to make Dr. Futral see the error of her ways. She kept trying to change my style, wanting me to use less punctuation - create shorter sentences - eliminate the passive voice. At one point, I ran a paper through a grammar checker program (new technology at the time) and handed it in. Her comment? "This isn't your work." "Oh yes it is," I replied, "and it's perfect." "It may very well be perfect as far as grammar is concerned," she shot back," but it is perfectly awful prose." You've never seen a smile leave anyone's face as fast as mine did. "You can do better," she said now smiling as she handed it back to me, "write it like David this time - from the heart."

Maybe she was from another time, when teaching was less a career and more a calling. All I know is that she gave her best and expected ours. I think of her often and thank God for her. In a sense I'm still writing partly for Dr. Futral. She believed in me. Every time I write I remember, "from the heart."

Do you remember someone who encouraged you along the way? Someone who helped you become the person you wanted to be?

Let them know it. They gave you their gift - pass it on.


David Wilson
A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Thanks and God bless, David Wilson

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Mama Tried
(This week I'm writing about women who have made a difference in my life)

41Sitting across from the offering box, he was observing how the crowd tossed money in for the collection. Many of the rich were making large contributions. 42One poor widow came up and put in two small coins--a measly two cents. 43Jesus called his disciples over and said, "The truth is that this poor widow gave more to the collection than all the others put together. 44All the others gave what they'll never miss; she gave extravagantly what she couldn't afford--she gave her all." Mark 12:41-44 (The Message)

When I think of my grandmother, I see her hands. Small, wrinkled and scarred from years of work - first picking cotton in the fields of Southwest Georgia, then in "Mr. Willingham's Mill" where she worked from age 7 to age 72. She had lost portions of some fingers in the twine rolls there, but continued to work 6 days a week to feed her family. Her hands were seldom idle, even in the last few years of her life. But when they were, she'd rub them together over and over, as if she could wring the last bit of pain from her life. Often, I'd see her bowed over her Bible, her hands clasped in silent prayer.

She buried her husband early, after he was struck by a car, walked home, then died the next day. Then came her daughter, set ablaze while lighting the stove and in her fright, racing away and preventing anyone from helping. Soon the car in which her oldest son was riding in was struck by a train within earshot of his home. She gathered the remaining children together and loved them even more.

The depression came, but I'm not sure she noticed much. They were bitterly poor, but rich in what matters - so rich that when two other children needed a home, she took them in. Took me decades to figure out that Aunt Barbara and Aunt Peggy weren't really related at all. Others came and went - folks used to say that Bertie was a "soft touch", but in those years when people were often wanting, Mama did all she could do.

She raised her family, made sure they got an education, and lined them up every Sunday and marched them across the railroad tracks to Rebecca Baptist church. There they would hear about someone who loved them no matter what. His name was Jesus. They learned that He gave His life for them. Mama made sure her kids knew Jesus.

My mother was one of those who was baptized in that little church, and after coming home from WW2, settled into a home next door to raise her family. I don't remember Rebecca Baptist, but I was told that on more than one occasion my Mother took me to the front porch to lay on hands.

When Mama died, there wasn't much for the family to divide. My Aunt Geneva got her sometimes sharp tongue. My Mother kept her giving heart. All I got was a memory of a woman who spent her life giving to her family everything she had - one day at a time. Maybe she couldn't make her kids lives better than hers, but mama tried. Her legacy was a family who loved God and each other.

Fiercely loyal, surprisingly warm, always faithful. When her life was over, it was clear she had put into her family all she had. They might not have been perfect, but Mama tried.

I thank God for women like that. What a difference they make!

May God bless all those women who give their lives away to their God and to their families.



(Friends, as we look forward to honoring Mothers this weekend, don't forget to thank all the women who have made a difference in your life. They may have never had children of their own, but that doesn't mean they haven't made a difference. Let them know.)

A Glimpse of New Hope is my attempt to share the hope I have found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Should you no longer wish to receive it, or find that you have received it in error, please write me at and I will immediately remove you. Thanks and God bless, David Wilson