Tuesday, August 31, 2004

To Give Voice To Our Hearts

I've been cranky.

There, I've said it to a few hundred of my closest friends. :)

It happens.

Mostly when something is really bothering me.

When all my time honored ways of dealing with discontent aren't working.

Don't you have those? We used to call them "work-arounds", or "patches" in the computer business.

They were handy when you couldn't fix the problem right then. When you were too busy, too overwhelmed, or just too tired to look into it. So you'd work around it.

You can get to the isle of discontent from a lot of places. Worry can send you there. Hurt will buy you a ticket. And you can work around it by feeding your face (there was a time when a half gallon of Bryers..), or feeding your ego (wouldn't I look good in that...), or just retreating into a shell.

But you knew eventually you'd have to face up to what ailed you, and deal with it. And at times, it's hard to put "it" into words. It's hard to give voice to our hearts.

Today I was listening to a worship song, in the stillness of my study, and every barrier fell. Every wall I had put around my heart came down, and the love of Christ flooded in. As the music played, "Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy on me." He did.

Later, I came across this verse and it said exactly what I felt.

Romans 8:26 (Msg)

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.

Our loving God gives voice to our hearts, to our very souls. When words fail us, His love never does, for He needs no words to communicate with us. We are in Him, and He is in us. It doesn't matter if we cannot say one word. When our hearts turn toward Him...

He hears.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Feeling a bit sheepish?

As I was passing through the book of John today, I came across some familiar verses of Scripture. In the tenth chapter, Jesus is trying to help the religious teachers understand God's love. This isn't the first time He's tried, and so this time he tries again using a metaphor they are familiar with - shepherds and sheep.

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,

15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice; and there will be one flock with one shepherd.

John 10:14-16 (NLT)

Personally, it's been a long time since I've seen a sheep in person. But one of my pastor friends grew up on a farm where they raised sheep. His comments about them have forever shattered the image of them I had held. Here's some of his comments:

- if you put a bag over a lamb's head and lead it to another part of the barn, then take the bag off its head, it's lost and will either lay down and not move or will only go where you go.

- you can often corral them with just a broad painted line on the road or floor. If they do cross it, they will jump over it like it's 3-feet high.

- if one lamb jumps out of a second story window, so will any others near it.

It doesn't sound as if being called sheep would be a very good thing. They sound fearful, anxious, easily led astray.

But this story really helps you understand what Jesus was saying.

"One time, grandpa let me out of the truck and told me to take the sheep into the barn. I started into my sheep-dog routine of pushing the sheep to the barn. I chased these things all over a four acre field and couldn't get them to go anywhere near the barn. Exasperated, grandpa got of the truck, opened the barn door, walked out to the sheep, turned around and just walked into the barn. The sheep followed him. As he closed the barn door, he said to me under his breath, "You drive hogs. You lead sheep."

27 My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them away from me,

29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. So no one can take them from me.

30 The Father and I are one." John 10:27-30 (NLT)

Friends, Jesus will never lead you astray. Listen for the voice of the Shepherd of souls. There are a lot of voices calling out for your attention, some even for your allegiance.

Just remember - the Good Shepherd laid down His life for the sheep. There is no greater love.



Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Who Are You Listening To?

Ouch! It was one of those moments that you wished you had missed.

As I entered the post office this morning, a young woman, holding a baby on one hip and dragging a little boy by his arm was trying to exit. The little boy was trying his best to push the door open, but he just wasn't able to.

So I sped up and pulled it open for them, smiling at the boy's efforts on behalf of his mom. He grinned back at me.

She didn't. She wasn't smiling at all. In fact she walked by me all the while telling her son that she had told him to move out of the way, that he knew he couldn't open that door, and probably more as she rounded the corner headed to her car, and away from me.

I said a prayer for the little ones, and for the one God had blessed with them.

What will a person think about themselves if they grow up with a diet of "you can't", "you won't", or "you never will"?

That's why I love our God. In Him we have One who will never treat us as less than a prized possession. We just have to accept that love. I'll give you an example from Scripture of one person who did: Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

When she was presented with God's plan, the Son of God made flesh by the Holy Spirit within her, she could have resisted for a lot of reasons. She didn't. Why?

She was listening to God.

Luke 1:38 (Msg)

And Mary said,

"Yes, I see it all now:

I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve.

Let it be with me

just as you say."

She didn't have all the answers, but with that last sentence, she lets God's messenger know that she has heard what God said. I hope that little boy rises to overcome his mother's words. But I know that all we have to do to know our significance is to hear God and agree that what He says, goes.

Friend, don't let anyone tell you that you are less than God's best. Listen to your Father God. He knows best.

May it be with you today, just as God says.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Hello friends,

Today marks the three year anniversary of "A Glimpse of New Hope!"

I do hope that you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have appreciated you letting me share from my heart about what I glimpse of God and His world.

I've picked a few of the devotionals that I've received the most feedback on, and put within that a couple that really helped me out of all those I wrote this past year. Maybe one day I'll have them all in a book for you, but for now, here's last years favorites.

Thank you again for allowing me to share,



Just the right place to be wrong (6/15/04)

On a morning that dawned, or rather clouded and rained, I spent some time waiting for a friend to undergo a procedure. As I watched the people come and go, it dawned on me that there were way too many people with problems in that place. It seemed like every person that came to the sign in desk had something wrong with them and needed help.

And as I watched the staff try to help them, I wondered just how much all this was costing someone - the person, or their insurance, or the taxpayers. The place was real nice. Did they have to spend all that on TV's for the waiting room? That coffee maker over there - it must have cost a bunch. All those machines in the back, those tests, the professionals - my head was swimming just thinking about it.

About that time a young woman came by in a wheelchair, surrounded by family. She was carrying in her arms a newborn baby. On a dark and rainy day, her smile and of all those around her, brightened us all.

Then followed an older woman, also being wheeled outside, whose husband walked beside her in pride and happiness, as if he were escorting a queen. From the looks they shared, he was.

It made me stop and consider just what that place was all about. Even though everyone entering had something that needed care, or something that was wrong with them, it was okay, because they were in just the right place to be wrong.

Reminded me of church.

Romans 3:12 (Msg)

They've all taken the wrong turn;

they've all wandered down blind alleys.

No one's living right;

I can't find a single one.

Everyone that comes through the doors of a church has one thing in common with everyone else. There's something wrong with them. Oh, the maladies may be wildly different, but in the end they are the same. The one who just got there to the one whose been there 50 years. The one who stands up front and preaches, to the one who sits on the back row and sleeps. Lots of time, energy and money are used to create and maintain a place for the sole use of people who cannot seem to ever be cured - they still do things wrong.

That's okay, because all of them are in just the right place to be wrong, if they want to get better. God has whispered a diagnosis, prescribed a treatment, and in order to really get cured, they need to get close enough, regularly enough to be exposed to His love, until it becomes theirs.

Hypocrites? Sure. But trying to get better. Will they take other wrong turns? Absolutely. But they've stopped by to get directions.

Church is just the right place to be wrong.


David Wilson

Letters that touch the heart (5/19/04)

Just a routine visit to the post office this morning really made me think.

As I parked my car, I pulled into the space beside a pickup. In it, there was a man whose white hair and wrinkled face told of many years of toil. Getting out and passing by him, I noticed that he held some notebook papers in his hands, and the folds that creased the pages were full of blue inked script. On the dashboard lay the envelope, with the familiar APO postmark telling of a trip from a person in military service somewhere.

He looked up, and though we never exchanged a word, I could tell that if I'd have offered him the riches of Midas for that letter, it wouldn't have been enough. I made my way to the PO Box and back, and when I got back in my car, that letter was still in his hands.

What did it say?

I don't know. But one thing it did say was obvious. I'm still alive, I still remember you, and you matter enough for me to take the time to write. It reminded me of a letter, written by an aged man to people he loved as his children, telling them about the One who first loved.

1 John 5:13-15 (Msg)

My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God's Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion. [14] And how bold and free we then become in his presence, freely asking according to his will, sure that he's listening. [15] And if we're confident that he's listening, we know that what we've asked for is as good as ours.

Please know this - if you are a believer, then the Spirit of the Living God is alive within you.

1 John 4:16-17 (Msg)

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. [17] This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we're free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ's.

God wants to lead you away from a life of fear and into a life of love's full freedom. You may not be there yet - don't give up! Keep learning about God - keep asking Him for more of His presence in your life. It will happen.

1 John 4:18 (Msg)

There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life fear of death, fear of judgment is one not yet fully formed in love.

Do this - commit yourself to writing a letter each day to God. Call it a journal, call it a diary, whatever you want, but in it, write God your heart's desires, fears, and tell Him where you are and what you want your relationship with Him to be.

When you are that real, that open and honest with God - you'll touch His heart. Picture Him in heaven, reading your letter. Can you see the look on His face?


David Wilson

Carrisa's World (5/5/04)

Psalm 89:15-16 (Msg)

Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise,

who shout on parade in the bright presence of God.

[16] Delighted, they dance all day long; they know

who you are, what you do they can't keep it quiet!

Carissa comes with friends to New Hope. A lot of times we'll see children come quite a bit before their parents will. Our job then is to love the kids and share Jesus with them. There are times when our folks working with them come out shell-shocked. Imagine getting a bunch of boys to calm down long enough to tell them a Bible story. Or just try getting a group of little girls to focus for an hour.. for 30 minutes... just try.

High energy? You betcha!

Harnessing all that energy and redirecting it into an understanding of God's love and an expression of it in worship is what the goal is. And there are times when it happens, and we catch a glimpse of God at work.

A couple of weeks ago, the girl's praise team combined with our choir to present a special song for worship. You should have seen it! The whole front row of the choir was filled with little girls, the whole back row with adults. Carissa took up her position on the far left-hand side.

It was a great song, that really moved people toward God - His character, His nature - His love. Most of the adults were concentrating on getting the notes just right, and had their heads in their songbooks, with occasional glances toward the director. The girls had memorized their parts, and were free to worship.

No one was more free that day than Carissa.

When they reached the chorus, her face broke into a dazzling smile, and she began to boogie! She just got carried away. I know by Who. For a few moments, Carissa stepped across into communion with the Spirit of God, and left this world behind.

You can go there too.

The password is "Thank You!". It's your entrance into the world of worship.

Psalm 100:4-5 (Msg)

Enter with the password: "Thank you!"

Make yourselves at home, talking praise.

Thank him. Worship him.

[5] For God is sheer beauty,

all-generous in love,

loyal always and ever.

Forget about yourself, and focus on the God Who wants to meet with you. See His beauty, His grace, His love for you. You'll quickly forget about everything except pleasing Him, and rejoicing in His arms.

Just be careful... in Carissa's world, you can't help but dance.

It's good practice for heaven.


David Wilson

William's World (5/04/04)

My friend William Hobbs walked into my office Sunday. At just past two, he is incredibly huggable, but he didn't come for one of those, he came to tell me something. So sermon preparation came to a halt, my chair swiveled around, and I gave over my attention to William's world.

And what a world it is!

For William, every event is a cause for celebration, even what he wanted to share with me Sunday. His little brow furrowed, and when he saw that I was paying attention, his pudgy little hand grabbed the fabric on his chest and he said "shirt", and grinned.

I had to grin back.

Was it a new shirt? Don't know. Was it his favorite shirt? Don't know. Does he just like shirts in general and wanted to see if he could make a convert to his revolutionary way of looking at life? Don't know.

But whatever reason he had behind his statement - it was followed by a grin - so it must be good.

Somehow I think it's always good in William's world.

What happened to the rest of us?

Romans 8:28 (GW)

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom He has called according to His plan.

Now folks, is that true or not?

Romans 8:31 (GW)

What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

And that one - are you saying that there's a someone, something, somehow type of problem in your life that's just too big for God to handle?

Romans 8:37 (GW)

The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties.

You see friends, it is true that a child's view of the world is limited. William doesn't know about war, and HIV, and poverty, or death. But he knows he's loved, and he knows he's cared for - and that's enough for him.

How about you?

I know your world is much bigger than William's, you've got a lot on your mind. But when you strip away everything except that which matters, you'll know this.

You are loved.

By God.

Now go tell.


David Wilson

Absence and the Heart (4/25/04)

Psalm 34:18 (Msg)

If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there;

if you're kicked in the gut, He'll help you catch your breath.

It's been two years today.

And right now my mind is flooded with might have beens. So many things are obvious blessings in my life - my wife, my boys, what God has called me to do, that I can get busy, and some of the hurt goes away. But today it's two years, and all I can think of is what we've missed - of what is absent that we had hoped would be here.

She would have had her father's eyes.

There were times when he was a little boy that we'd go off alone - to the store, to the Krystal, to Grandmother's, that I could look over in the seat next to me and see him looking at me. He'd ask questions, I'd try to answer, and the openness - the trust - the love in those eyes just melted me.

Yep. She would have had her father's eyes.

Her smile would have lit up a room, just like her mother's does. There are a lot of ways to measure people. My own personal preference is to look at their impact on others. Some people enter a room and suck all the joy out of it. When they smile it just doesn't look right, like cow horns on a Mercedes. They put it on to try to give the right response, but it isn't who

they are.

Her mother is tiny. But when she smiles - she's huge.

I can see tiny feet beating the earth, little white tennis shoes slapping it as they come, bearing a smile so brilliant it warms this cold earth. She grins from ear to ear, and all you feel is joy.

She'd have her mother's smile.

By now, we'd have covered all the important things. Who loves you best, why Granddaddy's hair is gray, the funniest cartoons, how to eat Krystals and Nuways, and how come Grandmother hugs so hard. We'd have begun noticing new words, and she'd almost be reading. She'd have impacted my wallet and stolen my heart. Again.

Heart. She'd have had her grandmother's.

I have known literally thousands of people over 50 years. Some were self-contained, others - self-absorbed. A few seemed to enjoy this life, and others endured it. Many were bright, even brilliant. Others caught the eye, or in some other way made it through the clutter of a life's experiences to

my heart.

But none have loved me like Bunny has. For no one I've ever known loves that deeply.

Two years ago, as we rolled up calendars toward April 29th, the expected day of joy, our home was filled with baby clothing, baby toys, baby... stuff. People around us shared in that and we added our own items. I remember visiting Target with Bunny and hearing her say a dozen times, "won't that look so pretty on Ana?" The only girl in a string of boys, the only girl in her own home full of men - young and older - the possibility to hold, to love, to care, to dress!!! a baby girl was excitement personified.

And when the days stopped for Ana, her Grandmother didn't stop loving. She found a way to love beyond the pain in helping her daughter-in-love deliver her baby. As I watched Bunny hold that small and delicate baby in her arms, weeping and talking to her as if she could hear... it was the greatest expression of love I've ever seen - through the deepest heartache.

She'd have had her Grandmother's heart.

For me, I don't know what I could have given her. It certainly wouldn't be material things, and her mom and dad would certainly taught her the A, B, C's and enlightened her on them 'Dawgs and Georgia politics.

So I guess she'd have had my prayers each day from infancy to adulthood, my lap to sit in, my knees to ride, and later my shoulder to cry on and my ears to hear.

It's been two years today. Two long years. Her absence hurts our hearts. But one day...

We will see her.

And that thrills my heart.

Grace, mercy, and peace,

David Wilson

The Journey (4/13/04)

We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov 16:9 (NLT)

A young boy headed out to tryouts for his school play. It was the first time he'd ever stretched his fragile self-confidence so far, and his Mother was a little worried about how he'd handle it if he didn't get the part he wanted. When he came home all smiles, she was surprised to hear that the tryout didn't reward him with his dream part, yet he wasn't upset at all, just the opposite.

"What happened, son? I thought you'd be upset that you didn't get the part you wanted."

"I was for a minute Mom. But then they told me I was chosen to clap and cheer."

Grabbing a coke off the counter, he ran outside to play.

Mom just smiled.

Imagine growing up with a dream - a passionate desire that occupies almost every moment of free time. It could be a sport, like baseball, basketball, or soccer. Or it could be an activity like flying or acting. Then think about what you'd do (or what you did) when that dream died.

Growing up, I had two great passions - baseball, and airplanes. When I wasn't outside playing baseball, I was inside reading about airplanes, putting together models, and dreaming about flying.

As I grew, and the years went by, reality interfered with my dreams. By the spring of my 10th grade of high school, my name on a list left tacked to a cork bulletin board after practice meant I'd never be a major leaguer. And by the end of the 11th grade, my eyesight, and a letter from the Air Force Academy, told me I'd never become a fighter pilot.

But life is lived forward, isn't it. My plans didn't work out quite the way I thought they would. So many other joys, so many other dreams that have been fulfilled make it hard to even feel sad about the earlier ones that were ended. And God has His ways of making it up.

Now I'm a pastor of a church.

Every day, I see not just airplanes but fighters. Just two weeks ago, I got to see the Thunderbirds perform four times in one week, since our church is right under the flight path. And I get to know pilots. One of my friends flew F-16's, another I know flew F-4's. I see an average of 30-40 planes a day, and rarely does a day go by when I don't give one a thumbs up.

From where I sit, I'm across from a Little League field. So I see a lot of baseball. Even wander over to give the 9-10 year old kids support every now and then.

So I guess I was chosen to clap and cheer.

Friend maybe where you are, you're feeling a little depressed about what you haven't been able to accomplish that you thought you would. But take a minute and think about all those blessings that have been yours, some of which would have never happened if you'd had your way.

I don't know about you, but I'm going to thank God today for where He's led me, and look forward to where we are headed tomorrow. Another day on the Journey.


David Wilson

Hand-me Downs (3/16/04)

1 I will praise you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

2 I will bless you every day, and I will praise you forever.

3 Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! His greatness is beyond


4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts.

Psalms 145:1-4 (NLT)

When I was growing up, we lived out on 40 acres of land in a 10ft x 55ft trailer, as my father and mother possessed their promise. Mortgages and car notes, doctor bills and braces meant we frequently would give and receive our cousin's clothes, toys and the like. I can remember the first time someone pointed out to me that those were hand-me downs. Up to that point I was just enjoying a bigger bike. Hand-me downs can be just what you need sometimes.

In our front yard here in Valparaiso, there's a purple Iris blooming right now. It hasn't always been there. It was given to my wife by her mother who lives in Lizella, GA. She was doing some work in their yard and decided she had plenty of certain kinds of plants, and not enough of others. So Bunny brought it down here.

But when her Mother gave it to her, she pointed out that the Iris had been given to her years before by my Mother, who went to be with the Lord in 1991. It's pretty neat to see it blooming now, because I have a history with that plant.

As a 12 year old boy, my Mother convinced me (as only Mothers can) to be part of her consuming passion - planting as many azaleas and flowering bulbs as possible on 40 acres of land outside Macon, GA. She introduced me to many things, did my Mother, but none I have enjoyed less than the tool called post-hole diggers. But in the spring of 1963 I helped her plant by digging literally hundreds of holes for her plants.

When I look at that Iris, I know we've met before.

And when I look at azaleas, daffodils, Iris, and the like in bloom, I remember my Mother's smile as she planted, all the while telling her little boy about how God made all these flowers just so people would notice how much He loves us.

You could say that was a hand-me down. But it sure lifted me up.

May God bring you an awareness of just how far He'll go to get you to notice His love.



David Wilson

Taking It Personally (2/11/04)

1 Thes. 5:11 (Msg)

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you'll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you're already doing this; just keep on doing it.

One day a young boy came home from school with a note. It suggested that his parents take him out of school. Partially deaf, the boy was having problems keeping up with the other students. But rather than help him, they sent him away. The note said that the boy was "too stupid to learn."

When the boy's mother read the note, she said, "My son Tom isn't 'too stupid to learn.' I'll teach him myself." When Tom, then known as Thomas, oh and Edison was his last name - died many years later, the people of our nation paid tribute to him by turning off the nation's lights. which he had invented, for one full minute. Thomas Edison invented not only the light bulb we read by, but also motion pictures and the rec­ord player. He has over one thousand patents to his credit. You might very well have known all that.

But you wouldn't have if Thomas Edison's mother, Nancy, hadn't taken that offense personally and set out to prove the school system wrong. Edison himself later said of her, "My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me, and I felt I had some one to live for, some one I must not disappoint."

Everyone needs someone like that. And many of you are that "someone" to others around you. You are making a difference, most of the time going unnoticed and unappreciated. That's why I'm writing this.

I'm writing today to thank all of you who have heard society tell you that teenagers won't amount to anything - then set out personally to prove the critics wrong by investing your lives into those of countless boys and girls.

I'm writing today to thank all of you who hear all the time about how churches don't make a difference any more - and have dedicated your lives to proving them wrong by serving your communities in countless ways, sometimes at great cost.

I'm writing today to thank all of you who have been told that your church was dying - and took it personally - telling the devil and all his henchmen - "Not on my watch" - and are doing the hard work of loving people and inviting them to come and meet God in worship. Heart by heart, you are building God's church.

And I'm writing today to all of you who see the wrongs and try to right them, who see the hurts and try to heal them, and who never hear one word of praise. That aggravates me. You could say I take it personally.

Thank you for what you do. It matters. May God bless your efforts. Keep on doing it.


David Wilson

The Risk Is Worth It (2/10/04)

Luke 19:26 (Msg)

"He (Jesus) said, 'That's what I mean: Risk your life and get more than

you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag."

There seem to be two dominant schools of thought on why anyone would become a pastor. One group clearly defines a pastor as someone who has been called by God to shepherd His people.

The other group thinks a person has to be crazy.

Maybe the truth is big enough to contain both. :)

To love people is to risk - bigtime.

To love people while bringing God's truth to them, while praying daily for them to grow deeper, while encouraging, prodding, reminding, and scariest of all - trying to model yourself as a growing believer in front of them - that risk is off the scale.

But it's worth the risk.

Oh, there will be stumbles. There will be heartaches. There will be times your heart is broken. But there will be glimpses of joy that are oh so breathtakingly beautiful that your heart can scarce contain them.

I stumbled Sunday morning.

Having preached now for over a decade, and having been confirmed in that calling, and in the way God has shaped me to deliver His Word, I still have a deep desire to constantly grow better in it. So I study other's methods, explore different paths, examine other ways. And Sunday, I tried one out. Here irony doesn't begin to describe what occurred. During a sermon on being authentic as a key to deeper relationships, I wasn't being really me.

I did however discover another method of communication - talking to people in their sleep.

It's Tuesday now, so I can laugh. But it sure hurts when I think about it, so I'll try not to think about it.

And I'll try to remember the rest of Sunday.

Which included ----

Having a teenage girl coming down the aisle in tears after the sermon mercifully ended.

Baptizing her father and sister minutes later.

Having a celebration instead of a sermon that evening where people brought desserts, and having our friend Allan ride home on his bike, and bring back half a box of cookies. Allan's intellectual development might not be that of people his age, but his heart is full grown. It reminded me of another offering in which Jesus commented "she gave all that she had."

Allan wouldn't fit everywhere.

He's insistent on communicating. He's persistent in what he wants to convey. And he has no sense of what's truly important. He'll interrupt a discussion on theology to get people together to sing "Oh How He Loves You and Me", complete with his interpretation in American Sign Language.

And when it happens, it warms me to the depths of my soul.

It's risky to want to get better at what God has called you to be. Whether that is a pastor, a father, a mother, whatever your calling is. It's risky to love people who aren't like you. To put aside your prejudices and love as Jesus did.

It's risky to try to create a place for people who want to love and be loved. To try to develop into a church where the missing can be found.

A place where everyone is welcome just as they are.

A place where we drop our masks and admit we all stumble.

A place where we celebrate every step we take along the Way.

A place worthy of the name - New Hope

But you know what?

The risk is worth it. Faith-life is the only way to get more than you've ever dreamed for.

What have you risked for Jesus lately?


David Wilson

Bzzzzzzttt! Someone's praying for you right now (2/4/04)

Little Joe William Sheffield, a 9 yr-old church member of Tifton GA's First Baptist Church is battling lymphoma. That's a big disease for such a little boy, but He's got a big God and God's people helping him every second of every day. Joe William knows that, but his friends at First Baptist wanted to find a way to remind him and his family that they are praying for him.

They came up with a plan. One church member owns a paging company that provides beepers for professionals in the South Georgia area. A beeper was provided to Joe William, set to vibrate. He thought just having that was neat. He's a big boy now, that people need to contact. It made him feel a little better.

But the pastor and the rest of his friends didn't stop there. They organized prayer teams both within the church and throughout the community, and distributed the number of the beeper and instructed the people to call the number when they prayed for Joe William.

Last Tuesday morning, he was on his way to Atlanta for chemotherapy, and feeling a little down. The medicine helps, but it makes those who take it pretty sick for a time, and Joe William wasn't excited about that - neither was his Mom.

And then there was the beeper. It was vibrating continuously - just wouldn't stop. So they stopped to buy more batteries, thinking something was wrong with it. There wasn't. They just had about 35 people praying for them during that half-hour. What a testimony to the love of those people for that little boy, and their belief in a God who loves him too.

That's Who I pray to every day before I send out this devotional. For you.

Friend, I can't send you a beeper, but right now there are people praying for you. I can guarantee you one, but knowing my God, there are far more than we can imagine. Reminds me of one of my most favorite verses.

James 5:16 (Msg)

Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

Prayer IS something powerful to be reckoned with. So make it your practice to pray for those around you - your family, your neighbors, your friends, your church, and your pastors. Untold numbers of Christians are already doing this - so get on board!

Joe William isn't the only one being prayed for right now - YOU ARE - Bzzzzzzzzztttttttttt!

God loves you.


David Wilson

Run Forrest - Run! (1/28/04)

Perhaps it was one of those random neuron moments, but as I was preparing to write the daily devotional today, after finishing my own devotions, I got a picture straight out of a movie. Forrest Gump to be exact. In the movie, Forrest has braces on his legs that make it hard for him to get around, and an object of ridicule and abuse from some other kids. But one day as they chase him, he gets to going so fast that his braces fall off, and in an amazing burst of speed, Forrest is gone!

Something like that happened to me today.

One thing I've found over the years is that if I don't get my heart right, nothing else will be right. So I have certain disciplines that I have to do in order to be ready to receive God's Word. Just as a baseball player will step into the batter's box and swing the bat three times and be ready - not two, nor four - but three, there are rituals I have to perform to be ready to hear.

Unfortunately sometimes I get sidetracked - shackled - by stuff. Today, it was a copier salesman, an AARP tax preparer, a T Shirt vendor, three other phone calls - and my own tendency to wander.

All of that plays against a backdrop of making sure you have the Wednesday night Bible Study prepared, and your Sunday sermon preparation well underway. It's easy to look past God to God's work.

The only problem?

You can't do God's work... without God.

So once the flurry of activity was over, I locked the door, put the phone on hold, turned my cell phone off, closed every window on my PC, put my watch in the drawer, and turned on some praise music.

I asked God to meet with me.

When I felt Him drawing our time to a close, an hour had passed. But within that hour, He gave me more than I could have found in a day. It was as if I had been drinking from a teaspoon, and suddenly a fire hose opened up. So much inspiration and encouragement I filled several sheets on my pad.

Why was it that I had beat my head against the wall all morning and suddenly I was able to race past it?

Jeremiah 29:13-14 (Msg)

"When you come looking for me, you'll find me.

"Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else,

I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

Friends, I had dropped all my efforts to "get a sermon", or find a "teachable moment". I had stopped trying to change the world. All I wanted was for God to be with me. All I wanted, more than anything else, was to be with God - to be in His presence.

I'm going back there tomorrow. :)

See you there.


David Wilson

Words (11/6/03)

I am at a loss for words today.

We've recently had prayers answered by the installation of a beautiful new church sign. It is awesome. Our new logo conveys the idea of "New Hope", and the colors reinforce the theme. Along with it though, are three lines for text messages to our community. Usually, churches display times of service, the pastor's name, and occasionally sermon titles or pithy bits of verse or verses. I'm just not sure about what to put there.

On a trip over to our sister city Niceville recently and back, I got to read several church signs. Almost all seemed to be telling people that God would be judging them, or rejecting them, or some similar statement.

"God will not be mocked."

"The wages of sin are death."

"Not all who call me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven."

All true, although in the second they did leave out the part that says "but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

Why would they leave that out?

Maybe it is just me, but I get the feeling that some folks lie awake at night with the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy. That may pass for religion, but it is most certainly not the faith of the Apostles.

I must have missed something. When we sang that gospel song years back about rescuing people drifting away, were we throwing out a lifeline - or a noose?

Paul, when dealing with people who were unfaithful, squabbling, antagonistic and immature kept calling them "saints." Why?

Because he was so full of the Holy Spirit, and so aware of how black his own sin had been, that he had gained the ability to look at people not as they were, but as they potentially could be. So in the middle of a chapter on how to live the Christian life, he made sure he instructed these immature "saints" on how to choose their words.

Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Eph 4:29 (NLT)

Focus on "everything."

How would your speech change if "everything" that came out of your mouth was "good and helpful"?

We already know what the result would be - Paul tells us - encouragement. Friends, we need a whole lot more of that.

So I'm going to keep looking for the words to put on our church sign that will encourage people in their struggles each day, and point them to the One who can make their lives complete.

Go out and prove your faith with your face, and your words. Make our faith so attractive to the unbelievers, that they have to know how to have it too. Then tell them.

And choose encouraging words.


David Wilson

Friday, August 20, 2004

Arms Wide Open

How could anyone resist it?

We had walked the mall together, my son and I, toward the store in which my wife worked. He'd had a hard day at his Grandmother and Granddaddy's, exploring, playing and he was just worn out. But he put on a burst of speed and swung in front of me.

He stood there in my way, a curly-haired little boy, with his arms stretched outward and upward toward me, looking at me expectantly and saying "carry me Daddy, carry me."

Could you resist that? Could any Father?

I know I couldn't, and that's why one of my sons didn't walk at the mall very often. He knew that if he got tired all he had to do was turn to his Father and say, "carry me."

That's been a long time ago now, but his trusting and expectant smile still warms my heart today. Sometimes now it's his Daddy that gets tired. Coupled with the joy of ministry is the responsibility. And there are days when it's as if my heart gets as heavy as that little boy's legs.

And I know that I can do just as my son did.

Jude 1:20-21 (Msg)

But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, [21] staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

The act of praying to God out of the center of His will, expecting Him to refresh you with His grace is how relief, how rest... really comes.

Jesus Christ comes, in His love, in His mercy, and meets me right at the point of my need. Every single time I call. That's the real Christian life - living with your arms wide open, ready to receive God's love and mercy.

He'll meet you too - right now. Reach out to him with the faith of a child.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Seeing Jesus

John 1:15-18 (Msg)

John pointed him out and called, "This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word."

[16] We all live off his generous bounty,

gift after gift after gift.

[17] We got the basics from Moses,

and then this exuberant giving and receiving,

This endless knowing and understanding—

all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.

[18] No one has ever seen God,

not so much as a glimpse.

This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,

who exists at the very heart of the Father,

has made him plain as day.

It was Jesus Who showed us what God is like. Even now, His Holy Spirit guides the believer through the maze of life's choices. The Bible says above that Jesus made God "as plain as day."

So let me ask you a question.

What about your life? If people watch you live it (and they do) can they see what a Christian marriage is like, what Christian parents are like, what Christian employees are like?

For the Christian, we have our example in Jesus.

For those still seeking, there is only you and me.

Let's pray and ask God for more of His loving guidance, and encourage each other onto greater love for Him through our everyday lives. If we do that, people observing should see Jesus at the center of everything we do, as plain as day.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Suspended Animation

In the older science fiction movies, it seemed someone was always stuffed into a tube sleeping. They were voyaging across the stars and were in a state of suspended animation - asleep to what was happening all around them.

I'm wondering today if there aren't people who feel that way about God - that He's there, but asleep or indifferent as we journey along in our life's voyage. While reading the Psalms today, I came across this picture of what happens when we awake to God.

Psalm 40:1-8 (Msg)

A David psalm

I waited and waited and waited for God.

At last he looked; finally he listened.

[2] He lifted me out of the ditch,

pulled me from deep mud.

He stood me up on a solid rock

to make sure I wouldn't slip.

[3] He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,

a praise-song to our God.

More and more people are seeing this:

they enter the mystery,

abandoning themselves to God.

[4] Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God,

turn your backs on the world's "sure thing,"

ignore what the world worships;

[5] The world's a huge stockpile

of God-wonders and God-thoughts.

Nothing and no one

comes close to you!

I start talking about you, telling what I know,

and quickly run out of words.

Neither numbers nor words

account for you.

[6] Doing something for you, bringing something to you—

that's not what you're after.

Being religious, acting pious—

that's not what you're asking for.

You've opened my ears

so I can listen.

[7] So I answered, "I'm coming.

I read in your letter what you wrote about me,

[8] And I'm coming to the party

you're throwing for me."

That's when God's Word entered my life,

became part of my very being.

Don't you love that last part? "I'm coming. I read in your letter what you wrote about me. And I'm coming to the party you're throwing for me."

Consider this your invitation to that party.

Listen! Hear God call out your name. Then wake up and turn your back on the world's "sure thing" for treasure no moths, no rust, and no thieves can ever touch.

This world is filled with a God with love enough for all who will make His way theirs.

Sleepers - awake!



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Changing Directions

It was really a neat sight to see all the schoolchildren lined up several deep along the fence at Valparaiso Elementary, all the cars lining the parking lot across the street, and people up and down Hwy 190 awaiting the visit of President Bush.

Today's paper carried the route in it's entirety, and so we were sure we'd get at least a glimpse.

But the presidential motorcade changed direction at the last minute, and we missed out. That's a shame.

Later this week, another big name may be headed our way - Hurricane Bonnie (with Charley not far behind). If she changed directions, no one here would mind at all.

Now in the first case, I could have moved to the route the motorcade took. There's only so many ways into Niceville. In the second case, I could vacate the area in advance of the hurricane's visit. I've got choices.

Just as my choices only matter prior to the president's or the hurricane's arrival, it's the choices you and I make today and tomorrow that will matter before Christ returns. We don't know the day or the hour he's coming either.

So how do we prepare?

Hebrews 10:23-25 (Msg)

Let's keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. [24] Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, [25] not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

We hold onto His promises and find new ways to reach people with the love of God that is so special to us. And we are to spur each other on to greater service for God than ever before.

Why would anyone do that? Out of love for God and love for people.

We don't want anyone who's willing to make a choice to change directions from missing Christ's arrival in their lives.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

The Weight of the World

Coming to the church today I was treated to the sight of all the kids and their families headed to the elementary school for their first day. Almost without fail, the kids I saw had smiles on their faces. Also almost uniformly, their parents did not.

Why is that?

Some of it could be worry about how the child will do scholastically this year. Then too, there's the social aspect.

For some though, I think the weight of the world began at 7 lbs. 7 ounces.

When a child comes into your life, most people with any clue at all can grasp the enormous responsibility it brings. Tie that to your own "sack of rocks" experiences and boy, you're gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time. (Random boomer Beatle reference) :)

So you project forward all the possible dire scenarios even as the gap closes between the outside world and the schoolhouse door.

Someone would like a word with you.

Mark 11:24 (Msg)

That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything.

Just as tightly as you gripped that little one before letting them head off into the classroom, God wants to hold onto you. But He wants to hear your fears, your worries - everything. And as you do that, walk forward in faith. You'll wind up in God's arms.

So pray. Pray over, around and through every action. Pray silently - out loud. Pray when you are alone - with others.

And each morning, gather in a circle, hold your child's hands, and pray that God would give Him everything he or she needs for a great day. You'll be intimately connected to our Father God.

Once you are there, the weight of the world won't be any problem at all.

Oh and grown-ups - it works for jobs too. :)



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

When One Person Cares

All the pieces for a disastrous fourth grade experience were there for me.

My appearance - only a Mother could love (since she pretty much decided how I'd look) that geeky boy with glasses, wierd wavy hair and hand me down clothes.

My point of origin - we were new in the community, just having moved out from the city into a rural area.

My timing - it's better to be new when everyone else is too. We didn't move until a month into the 4th grade. So everyone had picked their friends and the new had worn off everyone - except me.

My personality - didn't have one. I did though have horrible allergies that would cause me to break out into hives that made my skin look like a 3-D map of the world, swell my lip up until it turned inside out, and cause my eyes to close.

So if you were looking for someone to pick on, I was your huckleberry.

All those factors were crushed by one person's care. My home room teacher, Mrs. Pyles cared about me.

Somehow, without ever raising her voice, or making me a teacher's pet, she helped me find a place there, helped me when my allergies took hold, just helped me. She was only one person. But she was more than enough.

Later, much later, I was stuck in a dead end job, having thrown away my chance to get a college degree. I had bills, a young family, and a crushing need to do better. But it had been so long since I was in high school, I knew there was no way I could pass Math.

That was before I met Hazel Struby. She was a math teacher who would not allow me to fail. Shoot - she wouldn't allow me to make a B.

On the eve of back to school frenzy across the street at Valparaiso Elementary tomorrow, I think about those teachers God placed in my life at just the right time and just the right place to do for me what no one else could have done.

Friend, you'll never convince me God doesn't care.

Thing is, He works best through people.

You might be the one He's chosen for someone.

Or someone you know might have been placed within your circle of people just for you.

I'll never be able to repay everyone who has helped me.

But I know Who to thank. When I look back, I feel like this:

2 Samuel 22:24 (Msg)

I feel put back together,

and I'm watching my step.

God rewrote the text of my life

when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

Do this for me today - open the book of your heart to God's eyes. Maybe there's a secret hurt, an unfulfilled longing that you've suffered for too long. If you give it to your loving Father, He'll take the fragments of your life story and rewrite it into His masterpiece.

When one person cares, it makes a difference. When that person is God, He makes all the difference - forever.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

It Matters, Because You Matter

It was a cold December afternoon many years ago, when a group of parents stood in the lobby of a nursery school waiting to pick up their children after the last pre-Christmas session. As the kids ran from their lockers, each one carried in his hands a surprise wrapped in bright Christmas paper - a gift for their parents each child in the class had spent weeks crafting with their own hands .

One small boy was so excited he could hardly slow down. He opened the locker, reached in and then was trying to run, put on his coat, and wave to his parents all at the same time. So he lost his balance, slipped and fell. The surprise flew from his grasp and before anyone could move, landed on the tile floor with an obvious ceramic crash.

The little boy just stared in shock. He raced over to the package and shook it, and could hear the pieces clash against each other. Tears began to flow, then a whimper, and finally he cried out loud in big sobs, each followed by a gasp for air.

His father, not really knowing what to do, but thinking he could lessen the hurt, patted his son's head and murmured "It's okay. It really doesn't matter, son. It doesn't matter at all."

But the child's mother rushed over, dropped to her knees on the floor, swept the boy into her arms and said "I know it was beautiful. I am so sorry." And she wept with her son.

Mom was a lot more in tune with the way God works.

You may think no one cares.

Someone may have told you that what you are going through shouldn't bother you so much. After all, it happens to people all the time.

Friend, it matters to God. Because you matter. The writer of Proverbs lets us know God is aware.

Psalm 56:8 (Msg)

You've kept track of my every toss and turn

through the sleepless nights,

Each tear entered in your ledger,

each ache written in your book.

Not only is He aware, but He's taking the things that hurt, that wound, and not just patting us on the head and telling us that "Life's tough, you'll get over it", but He's entering into our pain, and working it all together for good. He won't waste one experience, or forget one tear.

Wherever you are today and whatever faces you - call on God. Because you matter.



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Any Way You Can

It's a quiet Sunday afternoon in Valparaiso. Many are taking advantage of the afternoon to practice what one preacher called "the third Baptist ordinance" - the Sunday afternoon nap. This morning I think I helped spread that practice into the morning service.

Not every sermon hits a home run. When a pastor leaves his study, doing everything he knows to do - praying for guidance, seeking God's wisdom, using their training and their skill - he hopes that God will take what will be delivered and make it an event in heaven.

An event? Well really, a party.

Luke 15:10 (Msg)

Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God."

That's why we preach.

But you never really know what will happen, and many times you don't actually know what happened once you finish. Except for the snores.

It's been almost three years ago now, that I was involved in a revival at Orianna Baptist in Middle Georgia. The pastor there and I went visiting people during the afternoons before the evening services. He had a real way with those people, as honest and as sincere a desire to see them saved as I have ever seen. I wondered after the first stop, "What in the world does he need with me?"

We pulled up near a modest home, walked around back and onto a deck. Welcomed into that home, I was introduced to an elderly man named Calvin Logan. The pastor had spent a lot of time with him over the last year, but Calvin had never decided to become a disciple of Jesus. His family was worried because Calvin had a lot of health problems, and they were afraid his time might come before he knew God. So we talked for a while, and I tried to help him across the bridge from unbelief to grace. Though he was receptive to a point, we started out the door after a few minutes a little down, a little discouraged. I think both of us felt we had missed a chance.

Before we had cleared the corner of the house a voice called out to the pastor, "Brother Rigdill, he wants to talk to you and the preacher again." We flew up the steps.

In a moment, Calvin was a child of God. He came to the revival that night and made his decision public. For the rest of his life he followed through on the commitment he made that day.

Calvin Logan went home this past week.

Friends, anytime you have a chance to tell someone about the love of Jesus - do it. Any way you can make people understand just how free a gift it is - do it.

There will be times when you'll get to see God at work, and times when you won't. But don't despair - just share His love any way you can, for as long as you can.

On a lazy afternoon, knowing you were used by God makes a big difference.

Any other time too. :)



This devotional is written by David Wilson, pastor of New Hope Baptist church in Valparaiso, FL. If you find you have received this via a forward and would like to receive it regularly, or find you no longer wish to receive it, drop me an email at dwilsonfl@earthlink.net and I'll make the change to the list. If you'd like to know more about New Hope, visit our website at www.newhopevalp.org . May God bless you.