Sunday, April 30, 2006

Some Days

I wish I had a Nu-Way hot dog - actually I wish I had three.

This morning was an experience that can only be handled by prayer or mass consumption of America's favorite addiction - food.

The premise of the sermon was good, I think. I used some cool "American Idols" backgrounds I found on the web to try to tie today to yesterday in the case of the "rich young ruler". The scholarship was too, especially considering the passage. Revealing the station in life he was at, and the meaning behind what he wanted was helpful, as was the emphasis on how Jesus laid the trap for him. I was prayed up, and desperate to speak God's Word into people's lives. But it fell flat.

I have it on tape, and I'll listen to it tomorrow, but I expect I'm going to find that I turned it into more of a lecture than a sermon by using way, way, way too much ppt. When I use ppt, I try to use it as an aid to what I do, but this morning it felt like that I was there simply to show the ppt.

That's not preaching. Don't get me wrong - I love using the media, and I know that in our visual society it is a great help to presenting Truth. But just as Rick Warren asked how many collections of the "Greatest Hits of Organ Music" there were, I'd have to ask how many people showed up on Sunday hoping for great powerpoint.


So folks, take a minute to see the sermon from the POV of the pew. If it has even a sniff of a lecture - do whatever it takes to get it right.

Now, will anyone leaving Macon GA for the beach bring me some Nu-Way wieners?

Saturday, April 29, 2006

With OT Eyes

Let us suggest to you this fundamental hermeneutical principle: Always read the New Testament with Old Testament eyes—or to shift the metaphor, always hear the New Testament with Old Testament ears.

Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat, “Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire, 2004 p 44

If there has been one thing that has invigorated my study, given depth to my preaching more than anything else in the last year, it would studyufy of the context of the Old Testament. Going to the accounts of people alive at the time, searching the cultural context, and exploring the commentaries of the Jews has so impacted me I cannot begin to tell you.

I'd credit Rob Bell with helping me discover how much it could matter, and Ray Vander Laan with everyday help. I can remember when I first heard Rob talk about a rabbi's "yoke". My first thought was "why didn't I know that?" followed by my second thought, which involved traveling to New Orleans and asking a certain seminary for my money back.

Folks, reading the NT without the OT contextual work is like playing the stereo with one speaker unplugged. You never know what you are missing until you hear both. Dig, dig, dig. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I used to be a traveling salesman.

What other people use to manage their time wouldn't fit me. After years of being a salesman, and a pretty tame time/schedule continuum which I was pretty much totally in charge of, now I have days when nothing I planned can be accomplished. The ebb and flow of ministry just makes it difficult to keep a tight schedule.

Using the Palm Pilot and keeping an up to date calendar on the laptop helps. And really, just having the laptop and shuttling it from home to church and back makes a big difference, because everything I work on is in one place.

But the biggest help I've found lately is something I'm not doing.

For several years, I was deeply involved in an online forum for pastors. The wealth of insight I found there, combined with the camaraderie of people involved in the same avocation I am, made it a place I felt at home - like I was part of a big family.

Well, like in some real families, things happen to change the relationship. And to make a long story short, I decided that I would severely limit my interaction there from now on.

Friends, I have time.

Time to research sermons and Bible studies. Time to call on members. Time to strategize, to think, to pray, to plan. I had no idea how much time I was wasting on there.

Take a look at what you're spending your time on. It might not be worth it.


The Cross

Last night while we were looking at the first three of the Ten Commandments in our Wednesday night Bible study, we had a great time getting pummeled, even though we weren't the original intended. One of the areas we walked through together was the third commandment, which many would recognize as the "no graven images" prohibition. Here's the verse in the New Living Translation.

4 "Do not make idols of any kind, whether in the shape of birds or animals or fish. 5 You must never worship or bow down to them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not share your affection with any other god!

Ex 20:4-5 (NLT)

We explored that for a little while, spurred on by an excellent question about crucifixes.

People outside the Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and Episcopal communities aren't often accepting of crucifixes. I've often heard comments like "My God isn't on that cross anymore." And that's true.

But He was there.

And the relevency of the third commandment to the display of crucifixes is nil unless the person begins worshipping the image rather than the God Who was there.

I'm not here today to go on about that though. What's amazing to me is how God can use times when I look at other people and whether they are doing right by Him to make me question my own practices. I was reading a devotional by Joe Boot who works with Ravi Zacharias in Canada and he included this story.

A friend of mine was doing some shopping in his local supermarket and while waiting in line at the checkout noticed the cashier was wearing a striking cross around her neck. As he was paying for his groceries, he asked the young cashier a question that startled her. "Are you a Christian?" he asked.

Taken aback she said, "What do you mean?"

"Are you a Christian?" repeated my friend.

"Oh no," was the reply.

"Then why are you wearing a cross?" he asked.

"What, this?" she said, looking at her necklace. "Well, it's nice."

"But it wasn't nice," he replied. "It was horrible."

Yes it was.

So let me ask you a question today.

Which of us is commiting an injustice - the person wearing the crucifix because they know the cost of their salvation's purchase and wish to be reminded...

Or the one who wears the cross and never, ever, considers the cost.

Something to think about.


David Wilson
Who? What? When?

I was reading an article about marriages the other day, and read one marriage counselor's own admission that his marriage wasn't what it could be. He described in great detail all the great moments he and his wife had during their years together, and then he was equally as open with the times he had failed to be all he should have been to her.

He described coming home from a conference and having a "spirited discussion (read - argument)" with her, then coming later and apologizing to her. She reminded him of several other times that he had basically done the exact same thing.

His plea was, "But I'm working on it."

She turned to him and said, "Honey, let's say you have a car. It's a great example of what a car should be - a muscle car. And you love it. You are constantly working on it though, and every time I get ready to go somewhere, you tell me 'sorry, maybe later'. Well, I understand that sometimes things break, sometimes things need fixing."

Then she said this, "But after a while, I just want to be able to get in and drive."

Frustration isn't just present tense, is it. We humans very seldom, even though we try, are able to make the past - past tense. Something about our nature hides even forgiven offenses deep within our psyche, and when we get hurt again - out they come.

That's one of the reasons I love God so much. He has what we lack.

33"This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them--write it on their hearts!-and be their God. And they will be my people.
34They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about GOD. They'll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I'll forget they ever sinned!"

Jeremiah 31 (The Message)

Friends, if you know you need a clean slate - a fresh start with God, and you want to change your life from what it has always been to what you know it could be with God, then here's what you do - ask Him to forgive your sins and give you a new heart.

When He does, He'll give you that clean slate, and He'll choose to forget all the wrongs you've done against Him. Even if you're like the guy in the illustration I began with, God's the place to start if you really want to change. He can give you what you need to really make a difference in all your other relationships.

And if you were to ask Him about something He's forgiven, instead of hearing about it in detail, it would be more like - Who? What? When?

Freedom from guilt. Hope for tomorrow. Truth for today.

How great is our God!


David Wilson

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who - Me?

This is the face of someone who came into their pastor's office one day, and asked him to close his eyes and hold his hands out, palms up.

So he did.

She then dropped a rubber snake into them.

Recently, she was hospitalized.

One of her visitors was her pastor.

He brought her a gift. :)
 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Ten Commandments

While going through Exodus, I came across this list of ten commandments. :)

The first commandment: You shall have no other God's before Me.

Think about it with me.

What do you love the most? What do you desire the most? What do you want the most? What is your aim, your goal?

That's your God.

God says I will have no rivals. You are dissatisfied with life? That's because you still see it as yours. Give it to me. I gave it to you anyway. You feel insecure? That's because you are depending on yourself for protection and security instead of trusting in me. You feel unappreciated and want someone to notice you? Lose yourself in Me and let your love for Me give you a reason for living.

The commandments really will preach. Posted by Picasa

So You're A Pastor

Are you his? Nope - I am. :)

One of the things I've tried hard to do since coming to New Hope almost 7 years ago is to be the pastor of everyone - regardless of what age they are. Romeo Blackman is all boy. He's very athletic and skilled at pretty much all sports. He comes with his sister Juliet, and on Sunday's his mom comes with their little sister Celeste. Kimberly is a great single mom who began to follow Christ at New Hope.

So tonight, I took a moment to check in and see how things are going. Turns out Romeo's having a good season, hit a grandslam the other day, on A/B honors - so he's doing well.

Guys, don't forget the kids. A pastor's relationship with a child might be a door opener for the beginnings of faith.


David Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Think about it with me.

You take 30 or so elementary school boys and girls. Then you gather them together in a place where they'll get lots of attention. Add to that many instruments that can make noise. What do you have? Either one of my all time favorite words - a cacophony, or another word I like, a symphony.

It was more like the latter Saturday here.

Each year the city sponsors "Saturday In the Park" near our house. And this year the "ORFF" from Valparaiso Elementary came to perform for the crowds. It was really interesting to watch them before they performed, as groups of kids gathered and "smacked their hands" in rhythm. I think you could miss each other as long as you clapped at the right times.

The director came out though, and the kids took their places. Once they began, it was obvious to everyone that they had practiced a lot, and been skillfully taught - they were great! At the end of the first song, we were told that they volunteered to come before school each week to learn and practice.

On the last song, they began with one student's drum. Then another added a portion. Another instrument then came on board the song. And again and again and again, each person's part came and went, blending together to make the music. Were they perfect? No, but they were glorious.

I couldn't help but think about our church (and churches everywhere). With a common score, a skilled director (in our case, The Director-God), and a desire to grow and make "music", great things will happen for the audience of One

Here's my prayer for all of us, as we learn how better to love God and each other.

May He keep us centered and devoted to Him, following the life path He has cleared, watching the signposts, walking at the pace and rhythms He laid down for our ancestors.
1 Kings 8:58 (The Message)


David Wilson

Sunday, April 23, 2006

It's IN There

Tonight, I got to handle one of the hot potatoes in our culture - divorce. One of the funny things you realize after you study the Scriptures for a while (and the societies the Scriptures came from) is that people haven't really invented new ways to sin. They just repeat the old ones.

I'm very sensitive to the effects of divorce, and to the heartache it causes.

And I'm committed to preaching the whole book.

So when I turned the page in the Bible from Mark 9 to enter 10, there it was.

It's funny, for most of my career I was a topical preacher, and would really search to see what God wanted me to preach on each week. I'd then try to present accurately what I found about that topic from the Scriptures. Now, I preach through books. What that means is that I'm able to do a great deal more of work on the background and context of each Scripture portion, so that when I do come to passages like tonight's, I can see much more clearly (I believe), what the Scriptures are saying both to the original recipients and to us.

The beginning of the change? When a man whose not even a member came to me and told me if I'd preach more Bible and less David, that he believed God would honor that. That might sound like he was taking a swing at me, but I've known him for almost 7 years now, and I know he meant it for my good, and had no other motive in saying it.

So I took his counsel, and prayed for guidance, and here's where I wound up.

Telling people divorce is wrong, that it's a sin, that God hates it.
Telling people that sex outside marriage is wrong, that marriage is one man and one woman forever.
Telling people that there is room at the cross for those who have sinned and fallen short.

This keeps up, I might be jumping over pews next. :)



Friday, April 21, 2006

It Adds Up

It's not one bad day that ruins a career, or one hasty word that kills a relationship. But it's the little things left undone, or the careless words and inattentiveness that, over time, can spell death to things you value, that you care deeply about. That affect people you love.

It's the little things. Lack of little things turn into bad big things.

And things break...

Think about your most important relationship - the one with God. How are you doing on the little things?

If any of us - you, me - anybody - sinned only ten times a day from our tenth birthday to our sixtieth--and keep in mind we're not just talking about rape, pillage, and murder, but the full range - lying, cheating, stealing, and we are including our heart attitudes and motives—what would our rap sheet look like with only 10 sins a day for 50 years?

We'd have piled up 182,500 infractions of the law.

Now let's say that many of us have broken the law and gotten off with a warning. Maybe it was speeding, and the officer checked you out and decided that it was just an isolated failure of judgement, and let you off with a written, or even a verbal warning.

That still leaves 182, 499 times you blew it. So you are going to court.

What judge in his right mind would turn you loose with a record like that?

That's why it is so important to examine yourself and see if you are living what you say you believe. It's not about believing in God - even satan does. It's about loving God so much that you want to do not just the big things, but the little ones too. So every now and then you have to step away from the vehicle and get the big picture. Here's how David, king of Israel did it.

1Generous in love--God, give grace! Huge in mercy--wipe out my bad record.

2Scrub away my guilt,

soak out my sins in your laundry.

3I know how bad I've been;

my sins are staring me down.

4You're the One I've violated, and you've seen

it all, seen the full extent of my evil.

You have all the facts before you;

whatever you decide about me is fair.

5I've been out of step with you for a long time,

in the wrong since before I was born.

6What you're after is truth from the inside out.

Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

7Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,

scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.

8Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,

set these once-broken bones to dancing.

9Don't look too close for blemishes,

give me a clean bill of health.

10God, make a fresh start in me,

shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Psalm 51 - The Message

A fresh start... Lord. Hear our prayers. Be Who You are. Our rock, our fortress, our deliverer. Wash us clean and give us freedom not to repeat the past.

A Genesis week - yes!


Chariot Sticker Faith

An astronomer and a theologian were flying next to each other on an airplane. The astronomer smugly turned to his seatmate and said: "You know, there is no need for all those millionsA of volumes of religious literature. The whole essence of religion can be summed up in one simple phrase: 'Love thy neighbor, as thyself,'" whereupon the theologian retorted, "And the whole science of astronomy can be summed up in the simple phrase, 'Twinkle, twinkle, little star.'"

One of the habits that hasn't changed in the history of mankind is our tendency to try to reduce the complex into a simple saying that will fit on a bumper sticker. We are studying the Ten Commandments on Wednesday night just now, and I learned today that some Jews tried to use them as a "bumper sticker".

In the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the Ten Commandments was always proclaimed before the Shema. Strangely enough, however, outside the Temple, however, the practice was banned. The rabbis felt that though the Ten Commandments helped give people a rough outline, the real picture of God came from reading the whole Torah - memorizing it and applying it.

What about us? Are we guilty?

Most people, when asked about the good news of Jesus will quote John 3:16.

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life

John 3:16 (NLT)

As great as that verse is, it only begins to describe our riches in Christ Jesus. There is so, so, so much more.

Take 10 minutes tomorrow and read the story of God's love. You can even begin in John. :)


David Wilson

PESS - Post Easter Stress Syndrome

Just wondering today how many pastors have this ailment after Easter.

Easter is huge, just about everywhere. You gear up everything at your church for it, get your folks to invite their friends. The music ramps up a notch, the preacher tries doubly hard to reach those who only come on days like this.


The week after races along, and it may be Friday, but Sunday's coming... again.

Some of my friends begin sermon series' deliberately on Easter Sunday so as to pull people along for the ride. The other benefit I can see from that is that it also gives the preacher a clear trail to follow.

I'm really trying to preach Jesus these days, and though I did skip ahead to the resurrection last week, I'll be rolling back into Mark in Chapter 9 Sunday morning.

There's so much more to what Jesus gave us than just freedom from the fear of death. Learning how to LIVE like Jesus is the really tough part, and I'm hoping that by exposing Jesus as He lived the life people will catch what He was teaching. (If I can get out of the way.)

So what's haunting me about Sunday's passage is that Jesus used a little child to explain to the disciples what real faith was like. I wonder what that child remembered.

Hmmm... I see a devotional coming later today.



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

After Easter - Growth Is NOT An Option

After Easter, thousands of pastors all over either bask in the glow of what God did on Easter Sunday, or pray to find what happened. I'd be in the latter group. One thing is very clear though, for the people we have been given to care for, growth in Christ is not an option.

A deeper church requires deeper members. Those members have to be equipped and empowered to live the life and to spread the contagion that is the Way. We have some tools to do that with, and today and this week will be prayer and planning the next wave of small groups.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Reports of Easter being the preacher's favorite day are greatly overrated - at least from an effectiveness point of view. No doubt the resurrection is the awesome power of God being released for us, and at the very core of our faith.

But for effectiveness at reaching the lost, it stinks.

The best way I can relate it to you is that the lost prep for Easter like my Mother prepped me for a trip to Atlanta in the 3rd grade. By the time we got onboard that train, I was confident that Atlanta held nothing but kidnappers and pickpockets, so I was to stick to the teacher like glue and keep my hand over my wallet at all times. I was so busy doing that, I think I might have missed something.

I think those who come on Easter that are lost or missing have the same mindset. They are there for people they care about, and just trying to make it through with their lack of faith intact. Not exactly "seekers" more like "avoiders" or "deflectors". They've had years to perfect their craft. Not impossible to reach, but toughened.

Every Easter, I take the "hill" like a bullpen closer who has been brought in with no one out, the bases loaded, and Murderer's Row up to bat. Do you craft a message out of where you are in the Scriptures at the moment and ignore the day, or do you tackle the issues around the resurrection head on. Every year I say I'm not preaching on the resurrection and every year I do. What's that definition of insanity again?

This year I tried to wrap the facts into people's lives. Tried to present enough head-candy to shock the smug, and enough heart to do what I do. Who knows what happened. It wasn't a Billy Graham moment, that's for sure.

Thing is, it comes off as forced - everything does - the music, the greeters, the preaching - everything - because everyone knows - "It's Easter." So forgive me, but I'm glad Easter is over and I can go back to focus on making disciples.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Seek the truth."

So I'm reading about the next grave threat to the foundations of the church - "The Da Vinci Code". Just watched the trailer in fact. Great scenery, wonderful casting - should be a great summer movie. Given the amazing claims the book makes without any hard evidence though, I laughed out loud when, as the trailer ended, a quote appeared on a black screen "Seek the truth."

Oh, if people would.

All we can do as pastors and teachers is to help people find the truth. We cannot create the desire for truth, nor can we cause people to apply what truth they know.

All these "faith-shaking" new gospels and fictional histories do is make me more and more determined to preach Jesus.

That's the Truth.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Work that Rolodex

Christians might sometimes act all "ho-hum" about Easter, but the folks at GetReligion have correctly shown that satan hasn't.

Work that Rolodex
"Well, the Judas Gospel story, the one that was supposed to shake the foundations of Christianity, seems to have passed away rather quickly. Christianity was similarly unfazed by the week’s reports that Jesus walked on an ice floe — not water, that he wasn’t crucified in the manner in which people think, and that Jesus’ father was a Roman soldier named Pantera, not Joseph. Let’s see if Christianity implodes under the allegation that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so much as pass out after being doped up."

Mapping Religions

Very interesting map of the concentrations of different religions within the United States. I expected a lot of it, I mean I knew there were a lot of Baptists in TX and Lutherans in MN, but the Muslim and Jewish ones were a surprise.

Take a look here. Maps

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

To Blog, Or Not To Blog

That's a picture of my wife Bunny and our big friend Henley, the Great Dane. They are standing on Bayshore Drive, which coincidently happens to run along the bay shore. I also have a son here named Sean, an older son names Adam who lives in Byron GA, and we have another dog - a mini schnauzer named Ellie.

Back home in Macon, my father, who's 86, has just finished his last round of chemo and is waiting anxiously on a scan May 8th to tell him how much longer he'll live. My father in law suffered a stroke a few years ago, and walks around with a defibrillator in his chest. It's been going off lately way too often.

Our last day in this house is July 31, and we're busy hunting for somewhere to move to. We'd like to stay here in Valparaiso, but homes are scarce unless you want a dump or a mansion, and tell them you have dogs, and people freak out. Folks say "buy a house, why are you renting?" We can afford, according to Ginnie Mae, $150,000 worth of home, in a market where the average home is $225,000. Oh and because the church has taken just a wee bit longer to get going than we thought, we've had to use credit to stay afloat. And now that we are getting some of that back, the new rent will most likely stop that.

Oh, and our worship leader is almost certainly leaving as well as one of our associate pastors. Replacing either will be a God thing.

So if I don't blog everyday, let me point to the above and say that I have a few other things going on. :)

And I am going to love watching God sort all this out for us. :)



Holy Week

I'm preparing today for our Good Friday service of shadows. For me, it is the most moving service of the year - no other comes close. Reading the prophecies and passages wherein Messiah was brutalized for our sins just gets to me every time I read them - even in preparation.

The service we do is an adaptation of a centuries old service called Tenebrae. We begin with communion, to establish ourselves in community. The lights are on, though reduced, the candles are lit along the sides of the sanctuary. Then once communion is over, we extinguish the lights and the rest of the worship is with the candles only.

As the passages of prediction are read, one by one the candles are extinguished, until only one remains - the Christ candle. With the reading of Psalm 22, that one too is snuffed out, and the service abruptly closes and people depart in darkness.

The music, on the years when we use it, is mournful, or expressive of His sacrifice in our stead. Some years we don't use any. Last year, we used a video of "The Last Painting", where an artist paints a picture of Jesus on the cross, but because you only see parts of it during the playing of the video, you don't realize what it is until the end. Set to music from the Passion of the Christ, it is a violent shock to the senses as the artist paints with only his hands.

I have some other video I can use, and am still working on which ones. I'm also thinking about shaking things up by having the readers within the congregation, equipped with small flashlights to be able to see to read - and maybe have the singers sing from the lobby instead of the front.

We want this to be emotional.
We want to help people feel the sheer weight of their sins.
We want them to realize the full price that was paid for those sins.

So that when Sunday comes, they understand.



Monday, April 10, 2006


I'm a member of a few online communities. They are basically organized around activities or affinities for certain things. Guitars, cars, ecology, birds, and church work are just a few that I am a part of. I also moderate a group on Yahoo that helps people keep things out of landfills by offering them to one another.

Out of all those, which ones do you think would have the most trouble among members?

The two that are about helping people. Why is that?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Deeper I Go, the Deeper It Is

For the last year or so, I've been digging. After a lifetime of studying the New Testament, I'm finding out more about it by studying the Old. It began when I heard a Rob Bell video, and it's accelerated ever since. I'm even thinking about going back and studying Hebrew.

Putting the New Testament in context. That's basically why it is fascinating me.

So much of Jesus' sayings and doin's, as Clarence Jordan would have put it, rest in the culture of the time in which He lived. Subjects like divorce and Torah were talked about in rabbinical schools and marketplaces like immigration and Iraq are today at the coffee house. We come into the gospels, see Jesus teaching apart from that context, and we only hear one side of the conversation. The Truth side to be sure, but why did He say that? What was going on in society? Learning about the OT really opens it up.

Some of the places that I regularly go for help in this on the internet are:

Follow the Rabbi
Ray VaderLaan's site opens the Bible with great OT insight.

Jesus Through Jewish Eyes


Ancient Hebrew Research Center

There's more, but that will give you a start.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Mars Hill After Action Report

Many pastors find that keeping their family spiritually healthy is a real challenge. Yes, I've heard all the deacon and pastor's kids jokes, but remember, behind the laughter are the tears.

This week, my 27 year old son, our oldest, came down to spend a few days before he begins a new job. First, let me tell you that there is no way to explain to you how much my wife and I love him. He was a pure joy to have as a child. The biggest problem we ever had with him growing up was his taking chemistry as a senior in HS because he liked the teacher, and then because it wasn't at all interesting - flunking it. For 18 years of life, that's it.

The first few years of his life were pretty good. I had a good job, we had money, and we spent a lot on him. His brother came along, and we still had a nice life. But when he was 12, I was called into the ministry.

During the next few years, we went from naive to schooled on just what really happens in church. He saw it all. Then when we moved here, because he had friends there and a job, we left him. Broke our hearts, but we were following a call.

Now he's 27, bright, articulate, and completely lost to anything of the faith he embraced and was raised in. So while he was here, Bunny and I tried to get some God into his life. It was maddeningly difficult.

When he left, Bunny cried. Because he left? Yes, but mainly because he is missing.

When I hear one of the churched folks complain about "why don't we sing the old hymns", or "why can't we do things like we used to", I always think of Adam and people like him. One of my goals in the ministry is to help create a church that pastor's kids would be proud to be a part of. So much of the meanness that we pastors let go of seems to stick with our family.

He's home now. I'm here. God please help me help him. God please send others there to help him find his way back to you.

Wonder if Paul felt this way after Mars Hill?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why In the World?

Would anyone want to work in a church?

Quote by Ray Pritchard about the church and work in it.

"Why would anyone want to go into the ministry when you see how churches treat people?"

My answer was simple. You go into the ministry because God called you, and you stay there because the joy of seeing lives changed by the power of God outweighs the trouble you will inevitably face. It's a matter of relative values. I am not "down" on the local church in any way, shape or form. The church of Jesus Christ is still the best hope of the world. Though filled with fallible men and women who make many mistakes (leaders included), the church is the body of Christ on earth, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the pillar and ground of the truth, and the guardian of the Good News of Jesus. The church (not the building or the organization, but the people as the redeemed children of God) is the place where sinners are saved, broken people are made whole, and the life of Jesus is made visible to the watching world.

If you focus on the problems of the local church, you'll probably stop going and you'll certainly resign from the ministry. But if you look at what God is doing, you'll smile and say, "This is the best place in the world."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Laying It Down

We've been here going on 7 years. In that time, we've seen a lot of the people God has given us to care for. I've been with them as loved ones passed away, and as new children and grandchildren were born. We've laughed at weddings together and cried at funerals. I've visited some in jail, and seen their workplaces.

The longer I'm here, the harder it is in one critical way.

You grow to love them.

You have to understand, I'm a private person. My family wasn't a huggy kissy group. I never wanted anyone, except Bunny and the kids, to get close. But these people have.

They drive you crazy with the way some of the same sins they were caught in 6 years ago trap them again and again. You agonize when you give them good counsel from Scripture and they ignore it. You want the best for them, and when you see them fall it hurts.

It has got to be easier just to change churches every couple of years.

I find myself agreeing with Jesus when He says "How much longer...; or are you still so dull."

And yet, when I pray, I see their faces. And I realize they need more of Jesus. Then I pray for Him to help me, help them.
Look Again

This past Sunday morning, I talked in the message about an incident Jesus had with a blind man.

They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. 23Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man's eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, "Do you see anything?"

24He looked up. "I see men. They look like walking trees." 25So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus. 26Jesus sent him straight home, telling him, "Don't enter the village."

Mark 8 - The Message

What's unique about this passage is that Jesus, who had healed many with one touch, even some merely by His words - even at some distance - Jesus took two touches to heal this blind man.

Or did he?

Jesus was in the middle of a long series of instructional encounters for His disciples. He was trying to help them understand Who He was, why He was here, what the Kingdom of God was all about. But they just weren't getting it. Even after twice feeding thousands of people miraculously, Jesus was frustrated because the first thing the disciples did when they were hungry was gripe.

So I believe Jesus was using the blind man to teach the disciples something.

But what? Where's the clue?

The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus.

Look again. When the man did, he realized just what he had received from Jesus.

Friends, I preached the message Sunday and wasn't happy with it. I really felt like I hadn't explained what Jesus was trying to do very well. Even as I laid down for a nap that afternoon, I was still disturbed. So I'm writing this to you today out of the Spirit's compulsion. Before I could go to sleep, I had to write a note to pen this devotional. I got clear direction from God.

It wasn't audible - don't freak out on me. And no 400 foot tall Jesus appeared on the side of the bed.

But as sure as I am that I'm typing this, the Holy Spirit told me "Tell them to look again."

Look again - at how incredibly blessed we are to have a Savior in Jesus who loves us so much he Himself would pay the price for our sins.

Look again - at the fact that even after His sacrifice, His concern was that we be able to stay close to Him, so He sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside us - leading us, guiding us, and yes, comforting us in our fears.

Look again - at just how much God has done for you and me.

It's not that Jesus' power is unable to make a difference in our lives.

It is that we are unwilling to focus exclusively on Him and His will for our lives. When we look at men - at the world - our vision will always be blurred.

But when we focus our heart's attention on Jesus... there is Hope. There is peace. There is JOY!!!!!!!!

Look again.


David Wilson

Monday, April 03, 2006

The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars.
Johnny Cash

We went and watched "Walk the Line" a few weeks ago. Johnny Cash was one of those things that you take for granted growing up, assuming that they will always be there. Now he's not. Just when the world realized what a treasure we had. His video of "Hurt" filmed in the months before he died was the most raw video I have ever seen.

He was a man who had horrendous flaws in his character. And he didn't excuse them away. His understanding led him to turn away from his strength - that frail and fragile strength - to search for something more than fame and success. He turned to faith in Jesus.

Funny thing was, he once had been a regular attender. It was easy. "You went every week, put in your time, and went home. But nothing changed. You still lived the same way during the week."

It wasn't until Johnny had almost lost it all, had contemplated taking his own life - that He and God "got back together."

How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.
Johnny Cash

Thank God that Johnny was able to have the time he needed to come home - to get off the fence and leave that chasm behind forever. There must be millions though still stuck there.

They saw a man dressed in black. And yet, inside him, was the Light.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us.
2 Corinthians 4:7 - The Message

Friends, it's never too late to let God take over. Incomparable power is there if you'll just let go, seek forgiveness, and turn toward God.


David Wilson

Wear and Tare

One of the toughest things about trying to transition a church from death to life is staying positive. So many things are operating on a razor's edge of competency in a small church anyway, but a small church trying to change just amps that up off the scale.

And when you think you can finally relax in an area, it always seems that God sends another challenge. Right now, we're in a holding pattern because of our worship leader's flirtation with moving to another church. I'm 100% for following God wherever He leads, but it's been a week since he went and led music there and we still don't know if he's leaving or not. Great guy, not his fault, but that's one of the things that wears on me as I look forward - is the music going to improve, or fall back.

Then there's the tare.

If I had a $20 bill for every time one of the older members mentions hymns, I could take everyone who will ever read this out to eat. Lady comes up today and hands me an article titled "Some Contemporary Churches Embrace Old Hymns". Now remember, we are a church that does hymns - did four today. But we don't do ALL hymns. I thanked her for the article, mentioned our blend...

Then she proceeded to tell me about her son's church where they had two services- one traditional and one contemporary. "See the pastor wore a suit and tie in the first and he took off the coat and tie in the contemporary." Hmm... what should the pastor who doesn't wear a suit respond to that?

It just wears on you.

I'm convinced that people like her, who cannot see our efforts to reach out to her as well as those not in church, who will accept nothing except a rollback to 1970 - are tares. They don't love Jesus - cause they don't love His church. They want THEIR CHURCH. And the war is never, ever over, even if the church has doubled in size, people are being discipled, and the pastor and wife are laying their lives on the line everyday to make God proud.


Another vote for church planting.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I am the crab man

Yeah Baby!

It's the crustatecean nation.

Can't tell I'm finished with the sermon ppt. :)