Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What to do When Your Resources Are Low

Who knew?

I was minding my own business this morning, working on a sermon series, looking at PowerPoint, listening to music, and fielding and answering email when a little window popped up on my computer.

Your resources are dangerously low!
You should close open windows not in use.
Windows will adjust your virtual memory.

Okay, so I had 8 windows open. Shouldn't I be able to do whatever I want to do?

Your PC, like your life, can be adversely affected when you try to do too many things at a time. What generally happens when you are overloaded is that your stock of compassion, of optimism, of joy, and of hope wears away. You find yourself struggling to "be nice". You find it very difficult to listen as others share their struggles, all the while thinking "yeah, yeah, yeah...you just need to straighten up." The love of Christ that enables you to feel other's hurts and respond in love and kindness - your resource - is low.

What to do?

Well, if you cannot break away for a quick respite - say a breath prayer like "Lord, help me be like you right now."

Or take a five minute sabbatical from whatever it is you are doing. Yes, five minutes. No phone, no email, nada - five minutes alone with God. Just try it.

Let me ask you a question.

Are you busier than Jesus?

He had three years of ministry time, within which he healed the sick, raised the dead, gave sight to the blind, taught His disciples, sparred with the religious...

Yet despite Jesus' instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Luke 5:15-16 NLT

and separated Himself regularly from all that to be alone with His Father.

When your resources run low, spend time with the Source.


David Wilson

Friday, September 16, 2005

What To Give God (Who Has Everything)

It's been an interesting week.

Back and forth to Macon, GA to be with my father as he awaited a doctor's report. Then directly into preparing and carrying out the funeral of a church member. And now this weekend, Sunday to be exact, is my father's 86th birthday.

Over the years I've given him some pretty interesting presents. He's not really into "stuff", though, and sometimes months later I'd find the present I thought was "just the right thing" still sitting in its box somewhere in the house. So I'm trying to think of just what I can give him, but not having much success.

I'll bet some of us have trouble trying to figure out what God wants from us too. I love the way Paul's instructions to the Roman Christians are phrased here.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12: 1-2, The Message








Is what God wants you to give to Him. Learning to see Him at work all around you, and then not losing focus on Him will help each one who does it become more like His Son Jesus Christ. Listening for His promptings and doing what He's asked you to do will help you develop a heart like His.

And that's what God wants.



Thursday, September 08, 2005

It's Not About You

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2 (New International Version)

Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him. "Peter," he says, "kindly remember rule number 6," whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws.

The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by a hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying.

Again the intruder is greeted with the words: "Marie, please remember rule number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology.

When the scene is repeated a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: "My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of rule number 6?"

"Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so seriously.'"

"Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?"

"There aren't any."

The hardest thing to do every day as a Christian is to die to your self. We all think we can do it, are willing to do it, but we're always looking for that real big thing God is going to ask us to do. We base our self-confidence in our belief that if that "Big Request" should roll into our heart from God, that we would be able and willing to do that "Great Thing".

So each and every day, we pass people who just need a word of encouragement, or a others who have a need we could fill, and go to bed that night confident that we are pleasing God, and will bless Him real good when our "Big Request" comes in.

Go back and re-read the Scripture above. The One who formed the universe, who placed the stars, who created daffodils and butterflies with merely a word...

humbled Himself and took the form of a slave.

It's not about you. (or me)

It's about Jesus, and returning His love.


David Wilson

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tear Down the Walls

"For you ignore God's specific laws and substitute your own traditions." Mark 7:8

One of the most vivid memories I have of Ronald Reagan's presidency is his bold request while standing in front of the barrier that then divided East and West Berlin.

Facing a crowd of Berliners, the president forcefully stated his request -

"Mr.. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

The pressure of world opinion, coupled with unrest and turmoil within, eventually led to that very wall being dismantled, and we were all treated to pictures of families united and the newly liberated dancing with glee on top of the very barrier that had separated them for so long. The whole world watched and applauded when that wall came down.

Not too many years before, another wall came down, and I never heard about it until today.

In an article within the Palm Beach Post, writer Steve Gushee tells of the legacy of brother Roger, founder of the Taize' community in France. Brother Roger had a dream, that Christians of all denominations - Protestant and Catholic alike - come come together to worship God in Spirit and in truth. He founded the community on authenticity, humility, sacrifice, and service to Christ. And in the late 50's and 60's, thousands flocked to the little chapel Roger and his friends had built with their own hands to house two hundred. The people would sit outside in hopes of hearing a word now and then, or a measure or two of music.

One Easter morning, the crowd swelled so much that Roger and his leaders wept to see how many were still outside.

So without a word being spoken, Roger went to the back wall of the chapel he and his friends had built and began removing the stones they had placed there themselves, one by one, until finally the whole back wall was open to the fields the people were sitting in.

Now everyone was within the walls.

I wonder sometimes how willing we are to consider that those outside our communities of faith are there in some ways because of walls we've built ourselves. Our walls might be a tradition of worship style, or of dress. They might be a judgmental spirit or prideful hearts.

They could be unknown to us - those of us who have been inside for so long we've forgotten what a "wall" looks like.

Whatever they are, those things that we have built to keep others out, I believe Christ is calling out to us right now saying, "tear down those walls."


David Wilson
"Till My Trophies At Last I Lay Down"

Henley the big black dog and I were walking this morning, and it being Tuesday in Valparaiso, the curbs were cluttered here and there with trash and treasures. It happens every week here, because our incredibly efficient trash guys will pick up basically anything that's not moving or hazardous. So frequently people will leave things to throw away that someone else would take to Goodwill, or even keep.

This morning, as I walked by a stack of boxes, a glint of sunshine off gold caught my eye. I stopped and looked into the box and noticed it was full of trophies. There must have been a dozen trophies and plaques all thrown together in that box. There were other objects there too but since I'm under watch care by my wife as a recovering packrat, I walked on. But it got me to thinking.

At one time, everything that person had discarded mattered - maybe a great deal. Those trophies might have occupied a prominent place in his house. Those plaques might have been the center of attention, prominently displayed on a wall. They'd make sure each visitor say them. They'd use them to launch into stories of days gone by. But now they were trash.

Friends, I've spent some time lately with men who are looking past this life into the next. They've both been diagnosed with illnesses that mean their time on this earth is drawing to a close. For one that might mean weeks, for another the prognosis isn't sure yet. Both are receiving all the help modern medicine can provide. But death comes for us all, and for them sooner rather than later. When talking with them last week, one told me frankly "I haven't done everything I wanted to do. But I'm ready to go if it's God's will. " The other phrased it this way - "I've had a full life, now I'll just have to trust God through this."

You know, in the hours of conversations I've had with them lately, I never heard a word about "stuff" or trophies of any kind. All I heard was about people - about friends and loved ones, and about their God.

Jesus asked the question, "What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your soul?"

Well, from where I sit, these two men haven't lost anything. Instead, by holding onto their faith in Christ as their Savior, they've found peace in circumstances that might overwhelm any person. They might have to "lay their trophies down" soon, but they'll soon be wearing a crown.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!


David Wilson

Sunday, September 04, 2005

As To Dying Men

"I preached as never sure to preach again, and as a dying man to dying men."

I've spent a lot of time lately around dying men.

One lies in a hospital nearby, having already lost his arms, and soon to lose his life. I know him, but not well.

The other is my father, who at 85 is carrying esophageal cancer in his body.

Nothing like hanging with the dying to focus your preaching on what matters. Today I tried to do just that. In a series on the "Marks of a Christian" I focused on "Groups" or "Community" and laid out before the crowd the "one another" passages in the NT.

I was desperate to make them understand - to embrace and be embraced by God's plan for His people - redeemed and restored to rescue their neighbors.

I pray I got just enough out the way for that to happen.



Saturday, September 03, 2005

For thee

No person is an island entire of itself.
Every person is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were.
Any person's death diminishes me, because I am involved in humankind.
Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls.
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

Sitting here today finishing tomorrow's message on Biblical community with this week's images fresh in my mind and weighing heavy on my heart. The coast of Mississippi lies devastated, as does that of Louisiana, its crown jewel flooded as its citizens become "every man for himself." It's raw, this descent into lawlessness. We recoil in horror and rightly so.

But what about when we cut another with our words? What about when we flood their soul with grief, when we imply that God doesn't care for them? What about when we look on each other and see anything other than God's precious creation - clothed with mortal flesh, but destined for immortality.

What then?

I pray I'm ready to point us toward grace tomorrow even as I rouse us from complacentcy into a deeper community.

Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.