Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Ordinary Time

Wow! Did we just celebrate Christmas? Time flies!

Here at New Hope, we had warm, Spirit filled worship, and great fellowship as we tried to get our hearts around the fact that because our God is so full of love for us, He sent His Son to live with us. Advent, the season of anticipation of our Savior's birth is over.

Now we begin what the church calls "Ordinary Time".

But is there such a thing?

This week will be one when people look back over the year past, reflecting on the events that occurred. I'm spending the week in prayer, asking God to help me learn the lessons He placed before me this year, and asking Him to prepare me to learn more of Him.

This morning in my devotionals, I came across this poem by Hugh Prather.

If I had only...
forgotten future greatness
and looked at the green things and the buildings
and reached out to those around me
and smelled the air
and ignored the forms and self-styled obligations
and heard the rain on the roof
and put my arms around my wife
.... and it's not too late.

Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day." Luke 9:62 MSG

It's not too late friends. God is so close. Love means action. Do whatever it takes to live an extraordinary life in Jesus.


(headed home in a little while to put his arms around his wife)

Monday, December 26, 2005

I Wonder As I Wander

Today's the day after Christmas. The tree has come down, the decorations have been boxed, and if you came to our house today you'd have a hard time believeing we celebrated the birth of our Savior yesterday. We've moved on.

All except our hearts.

My wife was visibly moved yesterday during my sermon, and as I try to stay in eye contact with the crowd, I noticed her, seemingly in dismay. Then I forced myself to move on. While speaking the words to the congregation I had researched and prepared for all week, my mind was also going through a checklist of - was it something I just said? Did she suddenly confront a memory? When we talked later, she said that she just hasn't been able to get past the reason for the season - that we sinners needed a sacrifice paid for our sins, and it came within the package of a baby boy.

My heart is unsettled, as I'm wrestling with what to do, what to initiate - how to lead - deep and lasting change in the lives of the people God has given me to shepherd. In recent days, it's been made very apparent that the depth of commitment through lifestyle actions is shallower than I thought among our people. So what to do, I wonder?

One approach is to go "back to the Bible". Never realized we left it behind. Then too, I've met too many mean and hateful people who could quote chapter and verse. It never hit their heart - never changed their lives.

Another is the more terrifying. Get closer.

Closer to the people I serve, though intentional discipleship. Closer through small groups where intimacy and accountability coexist. That's foreign to our programmed SBC culture.

I've been wandering around bookstores, reading online, searching for a sign to guide me. Wondering as I wander is a good way to put it.

But I know this - I'm not going to intentionally fail at helping people know Christ and live in the Spirit.

So pray for me.



Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"How Much More"

I've scoured toy stores, searched discount store's back rooms, used every connection I had - just to get the right toys for my boys. You see I had this idea that if I made sure their Christmas gifts were up to their expectations, that what would result would be happiness on a level never before matched among humans.

Just so you'll know, it didn't work.

Some years, the very toys we fought to get them broke within 15 minutes on Christmas day. Other years, the toy they wanted - had to have - couldn't live without on December 14th, was old news on the 25th.

I'm not here today to tell you not to want to show your love to your kids, your spouse or your family through presents. Nope.

What I am here to do is to let you know someone else does it better.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Matthew 7:11 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

That's one of my favorite verses.

"How much more?"

We are loving but flawed, giving to get.

Oh but our loving Father..

sets no limits on His love for His children. You are loved. Wholly and dearly loved by God.


David Wilson

Friday, December 02, 2005

To Know Him

One of the great privileges of being a pastor is watching people as they grow and mature. I've been here long enough now that some of the little kids are becoming the young adults.

Today I was listening to one who used to be "little Katie Shermer" as she practiced a song with Bunny. She was singing one of my favorite hymns, "What Wondrous Love Is This". I was awestruck by how this young woman was expressing her love for Jesus through the song.

What a joy!

I walked back into my study, and my mind immediately thought of these verses.

1From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in--we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. 2The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we're telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.

3We saw it, we heard it, and now we're telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. 4Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!
1 John 1:1-4 The Message

That's why Bunny, Sean and I left home to come here. We had a need to share with others what Jesus means to us. All we want for Katie and every other person we meet is for them to love Him too. When it happens - and when on those occasions like today we can see (or hear) it expressed, that's the best present ever.

May you know Him more.


David Wilson


God's Timing

Christian churches around the world began the season of Advent this past Sunday. For those who came in late :), Advent is the 40 day period prior to the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It's usually celebrated with Advent wreaths and with readings each day of the prophecies and events leading up to Jesus' birth.

We celebrate in abundance.

But the event we celebrate was set among the poorest and most marginalized of people.

We open our Bibles knowing the full revelation of the Messiah's life and work both on earth and among us through the Holy Spirit.

But they only had the promises of ancient prophets and their hope.

Each godly Jew prayed daily for the coming of Messiah, hoping against hope that this would be the year. Yet years came and went, entire generations passing away. Reading the Old Testament, you'll come across people crying out to God, "How long, O Lord? How long?"

The apostle Paul must have been thrilled to put quill to parchment and write this:

But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. (NLT)

"When the right time came..."

No one on earth could see what God saw - a common language among most of the people (koine Greek); a road system better than ever before (Roman Roads); and a people who turned back toward God - not religion, but God (Israel in Jesus' day).

The time for their release from bondage had come.

Friend, maybe you've been crying out to God about a hurt or a need in your life. Don't give up! God hears your hurts and even now is "working all things together for your good."

That's God's timing. And when He delivers His promises - they are awesome indeed.


David Wilson



Last Christmas, we decided as a family that the time had come for us to purchase a digital camera. We had one given as a free promotion (read that cheap), and really wanted to be able to take pictures we could instantly view, save, and email. So after a grueling study of all the available choices in our price range, we made our decision. On December 21st 2004, we made our choice.

A week or so ago, the camera started malfunctioning. After a search, we found the manufacturer's guarantee, and after reading through the mind-numbing fine print we read - the guarantee was one year. So now I have to box it up and send it to them for repair. We're hopeful of receiving our camera back in good shape, but we still don't know. It could be lost in postage, it could be misplaced once it arrives at the service center, there's a lot of possibilities that could keep us from receiving what was promised.

Today I was reading a familiar Advent Scripture.

6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor,* Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!

Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997 (Is 9:5-7).

Usually, we focus on the beautiful promises contained within this passage. They've always warmed my heart, to know the love behind those promises.

But did you ever notice the last sentence?

"The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!"

Promises it is said, are made to be broken. That's the way we've learned down through the years.

Ah, but in this case, we have a guarantee! And not one designed to make it difficult to see whether the promise is good. This guarantee is shouted to us with very blessing we receive, within every instance when we realize we are God's chosen.

God's passionate commitment, beloved, is to you and me.

What wondrous love is this, Oh my soul, Oh my soul. Every promise comes with love.


David Wilson



It's that time of year again - when children and adults are making their lists and checking them twice. It begins early, this idea of sitting down and deciding what you want from Christmas. In our family, the boys used to grab the Sears "Christmas Wish Book" and circle what they'd like to have for Christmas. I can remember looking at the results of that with Bunny and laughingly saying "Is there anything on these pages that they haven't circled?"

A couple thousand years ago, it was the adults that were making lists. If God really loved them, He'd send:

A mighty warrior to throw off Roman oppression.

A king to rule them with law.

A provider, always willing to give them what they want.

And God sent a... baby.

14 All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel—‘God is with us.’

Holy Bible : New Living Translation. 1997 (Is 7:13-14).

In the passage this was lifted from, the prophet delivers the message that Israel doesn't really understand what God's will is. What they are asking for, expecting to receive, isn't what God had for them. So finally, Isaiah was told to tell them to revise their expectations. "The Lord Himself will choose the sign."

Can I ask you something? As you make lists, and pursue that which you want, can you really sense the peace of God? There are times I wonder if we've swapped the Prince of Peace for the Prince of Stress.

Take a moment today and see if your expectations might need corrections.


David Wilson


Can You Spare A Few Minutes?

16We know what real love is because Christ gave up his life for us. And so we also ought to give up our lives for our Christian brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16 (New Living Translation)

Maybe it's just me, but when I read passages like this a realization comes to me of just how far short of Christ's pattern of behavior most of us live. The apostle John is saying that since we know that Christ gave His life for us, we should give ours freely to our fellow Christ-followers.


What's your reaction when someone asks you if you can spare a few minutes?

Or for those who worship at New Hope, what do you think when you see Allan's number show up on your phone's caller ID? :)

You see dear readers, our friend Allan is a young man of 23 who is developmentally challenged. He loves New Hope, and New Hope loves him. However communicating with Allan, even about things he loves, like NASCAR, the Braves, or the Niceville Eagles, is difficult. Not only does Allan suffer from hearing loss, but he's not able to process the information well at times.

So conversations with Allan tend to go according to a pattern that He sets, and within that conversation, you may repeat the same pattern several times. He loves to talk, and can tell when you drift off or are distracted. So when you talk to Allan, you have to drop everything else and listen and respond.

We're used to that face to face interaction here, but since Allan took home a church directory - well, things haven't really been the same. He'll call the church, he'll call your home, he'll call your cell phone - sometimes talking for a half hour.

We love Allan. He knows that. Still, he needs to talk to people he loves and hear their voices. But those on the other end of the line have lives too. At times, it can be very inconvenient when he calls.

So when the caller ID reads his number, what do you do?

I was talking with Bunny about this just the other day, and she said "You know, you just have to decide to give Allan that time."

Love is a decision, isn't it?

Can you spare a few minutes?


David Wilson