Friday, January 27, 2006

In Him

In between trying to come to grips with what Sunday's Scripture is saying to people today, I took a moment to look around my study. What I saw were a couple of thousand books, assorted decorations, and labels.

It seems everything in here is labeled.

Whether it's the publisher's name on the spine of the book, the "Intel Inside" on the PC, IBM on the laptop, even "Pilot" on the pen, everything around me is labeled so those examining them might be able to see who the manufacturer was.

For a while today, I lost my label.

I let the pressures, stress, and just my own old selfish and self-centered personality out. Nothing earthshattering or illegal, but nothing that would have caused anyone who witnessed it to label me as a Christ follower either. I've been forgiven, but the reality of how easy it was for me to lose it lingered, even in here.

How to get it back? I opened my Bible to this passage.

17And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. 18And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. 19May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:17-19

and I listened to this song.

You dance over me
While I am unaware
You sing all around
But I never hear the sound

Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
Lord I’m amazed by You
How You love me

How wide
How deep
How great
Is Your love for me

Music and lyrics by Jared Anderson
© 2004 Vertical Worship Songs
CCLI# 4221021

It took some time, but I got there. I'm so very thankful for God's mercy and His grace, and I continue to be amazed He'd want His label on me. But with Jesus, all things are possible. In Him.

For you too, beloved.


David Wilson

Sunday, January 22, 2006

You Have To Play the Lottery To Win It

If there's one area that has been a thorn in my side almost all the years I have been in ministry, it's church finances. Specifically the lack of them, and the tendency of those who administer them to completely lose faith in God's provision. I think the reason Jesus often left the disciples and went into the wilderness was because someone was reading the financial report line by line.

Should God see fit to make me a millionaire, I'd set up a blind trust for the church with a requirement that no one with the "gift of administration" every came near it.

Forgive me, but I'm tired of hearing "we need to wait on God to supply what we need before we step out in ministry." Whatever happened to faith? In almost seven years at my present church, we have had times where we were hardpressed, but we were never abandoned by God. I could give story after story of how God provided in sometimes miraculous ways just at the right time. Somehow those always get forgotten though, when the lean times come.

For anyone reading this who works in the financial area of their church, here me now and believe me later - You have to use faith in order to see God at work, just as you have to play the lottery to win it.

Gotta run - the jackpot is up to 40 million and if I win it, I get to keep my subscription to Outreach magazine.



Friday, January 20, 2006


Sometimes I'm such a poor listener. My awesome wife was telling me today that she wasn't feeling well. She said "I don't feel very well today." I commented "You might be coming down with something. I kind of feel like I am."

She gently reminded me, "but we weren't talking about you."

Point to Bunny. I had rushed right past on my way to the "World of Me"

A case in point toward an understanding of just how poorly we listen might be Moses. Did you remember what it took to get his attention?

1One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he went deep into the wilderness near Sinai, the mountain of God. 2Suddenly, the angel of the LORD appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush. Moses was amazed because the bush was engulfed in flames, but it didn't burn up. 3"Amazing!" Moses said to himself. "Why isn't that bush burning up? I must go over to see this."

(Now be sure and note the next verse) - David

4When the LORD saw that he had caught Moses' attention, God called to him from the bush, "Moses! Moses!"

Even the Lord had trouble catching the attention of a man with nothing to look at every day but wilderness and sheep.

Our attention is so often distracted by the events of the day, or of pressing needs we feel only we can solve, that many times we get caught up in the "World of Me", where if we can't make it happen, it won't. The "World of Me" doesn't really leave room for God to act like He did with Moses. No, our world and our success in it, depends on us.

I have a word translated painstakingly from the original languages for that sort of thinking.


God can do more. He can do exceedingly more. God can do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine. The world renowned theologian Shel Silverstein wrote this:
Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me -
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.
[from Where the Sidewalk Ends]

Friends, just because you're caught up right now in a "World of Me" where you can't hear God, doesn't mean He's not speaking. Stop your struggling. Cease your schemes.

Listen! God can do! And He's thrilled to bless His children.


David Wilson

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Caught and Taught

This past week, I didn't have anything going on, so I decided to go to our decon's meeting... okay, I always go - but nothing usually happens. But this time, we were finished talking about our assigned families and their needs, when our chairman, a much beloved man of 80 years, asked if we were through.

Now in churches past, I'd have shivered in anticipation of some bombshell being dropped, like "pastor, a lot of people have told me..."

But what he said was, "Men, we need to wear our name badges each Sunday, so visitors will feel more comfortable in a place where they don't know anyone. We need to make every effort to know them, and have them know us as their newest friends."

I was blown away.

Yes, I wear my badge on a lanyard every single time we gather. Yes, I had suggested/asked the staff to do the same, but not a one has done it consistently. Yet here was this deacon - a man who wears a suit to church when his pastor wears hawaiian shirts and khakis, who sings praise songs (sort of), but reserves his loudest voice for the hymns that only occasionally come - catching what I had been trying to say for a year.

He connected, and used his influence to bring others along.

One the hardest things for me is to wait for others to come along. Everything I do is bathed in prayer and out of a genuine belief that it is exactly what God wants us to do. Doesn't mean I'm infallible - LOL - but it means I'm trying desparately to follow God and be an example of a man sold out to Him. And when I don't see others follow, I get tired of waiting. But I'm learning. Learning that sometimes the ones you want to follow simply need to see your heart in their context.

And when it happens - WOW!



Thursday, January 12, 2006

From New Hope, With Love

10Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

It's sometimes hard to describe what God has done here at New Hope. The goal was to see God create a place where people came together to share life's struggles and multiply life's joys, while learning and growing in our love for God and for our neighbors.

We've welcomed all sorts of people into our family here, and seen some move away. The one we sent out last night may very well be the best illustration of the Scripture above as any we'll ever send.

And he's a dog.

Bobbie the Labrador Retriever has been part of the New Hope family ever since Doug and Ellen Fannon brought him here. Their mission was to help him learn about becoming a "guide dog" and part of that training is his learning how to handle crowds.

So Bobbie became our "church dog". He went to all the usual Baptist events. He came to Sunday School, Wednesday night Bible study, but I can tell you as his pastor, what I most enjoyed was his attitude.

It never changed. You'd greet Bobbie, and he always had time for you. He never stopped to answer his cell phone, or began a conversation with someone else. So I was willing to overlook his one flaw - he slept through every one of my sermons. But he didn't snore too loud.

Last night he left us for the last time, and we threw him a party, complete with a special cake just for him. We recognized him for his cold nose, his soft snores, and his willingness to serve. We'll all miss him here, but we know God will use him to bless many others.

Each one of us has the same opportunity. Let's each of us be the "living letters" and sign our lives, "from New Hope, with love."



Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hi, my name is David, and I'm a John Denver fan.

Wow! I feel so much better now that's out in the open. And yes, there are a lot of other artists I enjoy, from Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King, to U2 and REM, all the way to Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks. But John Denver has always been one of my favorites. I bought his music back when it used to come on these round vinyl disks, and also in a black plastic box you shoved into an 8 track player in your car. I used to watch his TV shows and all the PBS specials.

I even spent $70 once to go to a concert to hear him in person.

For weeks I was filled with excitement, knowing that finally I'd get to see and hear someone I had always wanted to experience. The evening came, Bunny and I sat down. John Denver came out, and everyone around us stood. After a moment or two, we realized that they weren't going to sit back down, so we stood too. Then he began to sing, and for a brief moment, it was glorious.

Then everyone else around us began to sing too.

I didn't pay $70 to hear their voices. And they weren't very good, in fact some were pretty awful. This continued all the way through, until at last, the concert was over and we went home. I've never felt so cheated in my life.

Today I was praying for those around us here, and for people outside the faith community everywhere, when it hit me.

What if the reason people aren't in a church fellowship is not because they don't love Jesus, but because they can't see or hear Him for all the "pretenders" who are in the way?

That's an area that Jesus was frustrated often by. God the Father was desperate to tell the world of His love and plans to help them live life with grace in truth. The religious people did everything they could to keep that message from being heard.

" `These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings.' " Mark 7:7

Friends, you need to hear God's song to you expressed through the love of Jesus Christ. Not what you hear on TV, or through others pretending to sing along with Him but never on key with grace. As a pastor, I don't come to church to tell people how to live, I come to hear God's voice and share what I've learned in my own struggles to love Him with my whole life.

I believe with every fiber of my being that once you know Jesus and love Him completely, you'll always want to hear Him. Make a way. Find a place free of interference from the world and its din of noise and meditate on God's Word. Take a moment to appreciate the wonder of God's creation. Find something in your life you can give Him thanks for, and spend a moment in prayer doing just that. Then come to worship with your fellow strugglers and enjoy the wonder of praise.

Don't allow yourself to be cheated out of a relationship with God.


David Wilson