Today, while those behind morn, there is one new arrival who is rejoicing. Of course, we all rejoice, knowing that his suffering is over. But, we’re still on this side of the door while he’s gone on to the other side.
My Grandpa, the Rev. Ermal Wilson, took his last breath on this earth last night and took his breath of Heaven. He was a man who, even through his very last days prayed every day for his family. He spent his whole life serving Jesus. Starting to preach at a very young age, going to the mission field, pastoring churches, serving a the secretary for missions for the Wesleyan church and finishing his career as a traveling evangelist. There probably wasn’t a day that went by that Grandpa didn’t serve Jesus in some capacity.
I have many great memories of my Grandpa. One of my favorites being the time when He, myself and my cousin Roman tossed a football around the basement of my Uncle Paul’s church. We were all trying to trick each other to see who wouldn’t be able to anticipate the ball coming their direction. It was SO funny!
He left behind a great family who are loving Jesus, many of them serving in churches. His children followed his footsteps, and his children’s children as well. Was he perfect? By no means. He had his flaws, just as you and I. But, he was also confident the power of God and the ability of the work of the Spirit of Christ alive in Him to do miraculous things.
He was a great story teller and preacher. Gracious and grateful for all he had been privileged to do for the Kingdom, and humble enough to always give God the glory. He was happy, positive and encouraging.
He was one who decided early in his life, his household would serve the Lord:
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh 24:14-15)
He obeyed the teaching of the word and impressed that teaching on his children, their children and their grandchildren:
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.(Deut 6:4-8)
And now, there is never a more fitting verse for him:
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Tim. 4:6-8)
There is much more that can be said, as those of you who knew him could testify. And some day, if we continue to trust and believe in the same God that worked miracles through His life, you’ll get to meet him and let him tell you the stories for himself.
With the passing of each generation comes the renewed responsibility for those coming after them to decide whether they will take the reigns of what has been laid before them. We each have the choice every single day to decide if we will carry on the legacy left for us. My legacy is deep and rich. Carried on by my mother, the legacy of my grandma carried on by my father. And hopefully, I carry on the legacy to another generation. If only, some day I can look back on those who have come behind me and see with such assurance the mission being carried on, I will be a very blessed man. I am already extremely blessed for what I have been given. The question is, what will I do with it? The question is true for you. What will you do with what has been given to you? Even if you have received nothing, you will certainly leave something. What will you leave?
But for now, here’s a little tease of what you might here. This is a sermon he gave at Trinity Wesleyan Church at a Revival in 1998. You’ll hear some stories, you’ll hear some teaching and some preaching. And you’ll hear some other amazing things. But most of all, you’ll hear about Jesus because that’s who He wanted everyone to know about the most.
In the words of my grandpa, “The Lord Bless you real good.”
There are a thousand different hot-button topics in the world today. You name the issue and there is someone who is all worked up for it and against it. Whether it’s GMO, Government Healthcare, Global warming or climate change, Recycling, Abortion, Homosexuality or CHEMTRAILS (which for some reason is always in all caps…). There is no shortage of causes to take up, there is no shortage of defenses and arguments and there is no no shortage of guilt being dished out from each side to the other.
But, really, none of that matters.
It really doesn’t.
What matters is where we start.
What I mean by that is the beginning motivation that drives us to take a stance for or against something is what really matters. And if we fail to recognize that, we will never understand or be understood. (I’ll write more on this later.)
For now, I want to focus in on one simple idea. It’s my issue. For some reason, I feel compelled to take a stand on this issue. What’s that, you ask?
Selflessness as opposed to selfishness.
And I think this is the one reason there are so many issues with so many people making strong statements on so many different sides of so many arguments.
I think it’s our selfishness that is driving us to take a stand on these issues. And once we decide where we are going to take the stand, we go out in search of “data” to defend our stance. But, as long as we’re trying to defend something we’ve decided for ulterior motives, we never really land on the truth.
We can’t. Because we didn’t start with the truth. We started with ourselves. And I don’t know about you, but I know myself. And I know that I am not a reliable source of steadfast truth. I’m too unpredictable, and too fallible. I make too many mistakes and wrong decisions to be able to start with myself.
And yet, that’s the starting point for almost every issue.
All For Tupperware Sippy Cups.
Let’s make up an issue so I don’t offend you or the issue you’re attached to. Let’s say that I have a firm belief that every person on the planet should use the old school, tupperware kids cups instead of the new sippy cups. The reason I think this is because I have an emotional attachment to the cups from my own childhood.
Because of my strong personal feelings about these cups, I go in search of a defense for them. It’s not hard to come up with reasons, even for a fake issue like this. (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if this as a real issue for some people.) For starters, these cups are environmentally friendly, and were designed with kids in mind. They have a small enough size that kids can hold them without any trouble, instead of the fatter cups that are being made today. Also, they don’t have a fancy anti-drip device on the inside that only retains moisture and inevitably leads to mildew – and no child should have to drink mildew flavored apple juice.
Sure, those are good arguments and good reasons. And I could undoubtedly find some people to support my movement. But, the facts the movement will be built on aren’t the real genesis for the movement. The real beginning is because of my strong personal attachment to the cups. And I’m creating a movement to meet my own selfish agenda.
As long as we’re starting with self, we will always land on a foundation made of jello. Because we aren’t a big enough of a foundation to build our lives on. When we start with self, we make all of life’s decisions based on how it affects us and how we are going to get more out of this side of the argument or that. We aren’t deciding based on the merit of either side of the argument. We’re deciding based on our own selfish agenda and how whichever side of the argument is going to benefit us the most.
What is your motive for making decisions about work? Do you make the decision based on what’s best for the company or what’s best for you? Do you decided to quit in the middle of an email because the clock hit 5 and you’re not going to get paid to finish it or do you finish it because it’s best for the company that you do?
What is your motive for making decisions about your family? Do you think about what’s best for the family and then make your decision, or do you decide based on what’s going to better benefit you personally?
What is your motive for fighting for whatever issue you fight for? Is it because you want to stand up for what’s right, and you’ve stopped to actually come up with the facts about what’s right? Or is it for a selfish reason that you’re taking this stand? Were you offended by someone in the past who held this view, so now you hold the opposite view?
Second Tier Selfishness
Are you standing up for someone who was hurt because of their view on Tupperware cups? And your motive is to make it right for them? While this is a little bit better of a stance, it’s still not the best. It’s what I call second tier selfishness. Just because someone was hurt for their stance on Tupperware cups, doesn’t mean they held the right view on Tupperware cups (let alone whether or not anyone should even have a view on tupperware cups).
Is it good to stand up for people? Absolutely. It is good to blindly stand for an issue because you’re trying to defend someone? No.
What Do We Do?
Well, first we have to be aware of our selfish motives and be on the lookout for how we are making decisions based on our desire to make the universe revolve around us. This means we have to humble ourselves. We have to walk humbly.
We start by Loving God and Loving others. We let that be what guides how we make decisions. Not ourselves, not our own desires and agendas – but God and others.
Then, we make our decisions based fighting for the inherent dignity of others. That doesn’t mean we stand up for the issue or believe in it. What it means is we believe that every person is made in God’s image. And since they are made in that image, the bear within their very nature – dignity.
And we take stances for issues based on truth, not based on selfishness and ulterior motives. We take a stand because it actually is the right thing to stand for. We don’t take a stand because it benefits us or even because it benefits a friend. We take a stand on an issue because it’s right.
And I think we could even argue that the stands we take should be limited to the dignity of the people at risk. If we fight for the dignity of people, we never find ourselves walking the line of a fragile issue. We may not agree with what someone is doing, but we can agree that they should be treated with dignity because they are made in God’s image.
That’s why I say…
…the issue doesn’t matter. It’s the people that matter. The issue doesn’t matter, what matters is where we start. Are we starting with truth and dignity or with selfishness and ulterior motives.
Over the years, I’ve written a few songs for the love of my life. Today, she blessed me with a poem she wrote about our story. So I wanted to share our story through the songs I’ve written.
Our Wedding Day
This first song was one I wrote for our wedding day. I actually sang it for her in our wedding. I still feel that way too. And right now, I’m trying to keep doing what I said in that song: “More than words can ever say, I want to say “I Love You” with my life.”
Everything To Me
Another Valentine’s Day
Several years later, at a Valentine’s day dinner, I played “Everything to me” for her at a dinner our church was having. I also shared with her a new song I had just written her – and that’s the one below.
An Unsettled Valentine’s Day
A year after I had written that last song, we found ourselves in a very uncertain time of our lives. It was a time with a lot of questions that neither of us had the answers for. But, even during those times of uncertainty, we still knew the answer to one question:
All these years later (this is our 11th valentine’s day together – which I know is not that many compared to some), we’re still writing a new story with our lives. We’re traveling around the bends in the road of the game of life, adding little plastic people to the seats in the car. And while our people make more noise than the plastic people in the game, I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Happy Valentine’s Day Bekki, I love you!
Before you read this: this isn’t an article for parents. As you read it, you might think that’s the case. And while it definitely applies to parenting, it also applies to any loving relationship.
There is a huge delusion our culture has bought into, and it’s absolutely devastating. That delusion is if you love someone, you let them do whatever they want. You don’t say anything to them, even if you see them driving into a mine field – love doesn’t say anything.
This delusion plays into all of our relationships, for instance how we parent. If we really love our kids, we will let them do whatever they want and become whomever they want to be. It also plays into our “romantic” relationships. We see our spouse or the person we love the most doing something that is going to be harmful to them or to their coworkers, and because we love them, we don’t say anything.
“They’ll figure it out” we say, “just give them enough time, and they’ll finally understand.”
But, then they don’t. And this one wrong decision they make leads to another one. If they went right to this 2nd wrong decision the first time around, they would’ve said no. But because they made the first wrong decision, the second wrong decision was now within reason.
Add a couple dozen other bad choices on top of that, and they’ve created a whole lifestyle that’s paradoxical to who they could have been. And now who they become will be greatly affected by this new person they are.
Is this always devastating? No. In fact, I completely believe that God can use these stories for great thing in reaching people for His glory.
But is it best? I don’t think so.
Call me old fashioned. I don’t really care.
It’s easy as a parent to look at your child and see all the possibilities that wait for them. You can see all the potential they have. You can see the pitfalls too, but mostly what you see is potential. Does this mean what you see for them is the best option? Not necessarily. But, you have life experience to add to what you see in them, and you can help them steer away from their pitfalls and toward their possibility.
But you can’t do that if you just let them do whatever they want.
The same is true for other relationships. You can see all the potential that lies within people around you. You can see the pitfalls too, and if you can steer them toward their strengths, you can help them.
Lest you hear me wrong, I’m not advocating for manipulative and controlling relationships. I don’t think it’s our responsibility to control people around us and to manipulate them into doing what we think they should do.
But, I also don’t think we should sit silently and not offer the insight we have.
If we really love someone, wouldn’t we want the absolute best for them? Of course. Well, what if the absolute best for them will only come about if you speak truth into their life? Even if it’s hard and uncomfortable.
What if the most loving thing you can do for a person is confront them? And when did confrontation become such a bad thing?
It’s easy to say we would stop our loved ones from hitting the gas heading into a curve that could send them over a cliff. But, why don’t we do everything we can to stop them from starting down the path that can lead them to the point that they will end up in a car headed for the cliff without you in it to stop them?
“So, what are you saying Writing Man?”
I’m saying we need to love one another enough to sharpen one another. There are several passages in the bible that talk about the effects of teamwork and working together. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
To me, it feels like forcing people to walk alone. If we don’t help people walk this journey, we’re forcing them to walk by themselves. If we don’t love people enough to tell them the hard things, do we really love them?
What we have been taught is love, isn’t love at all. It’s a delusion. Fake love is careful not to hurt someone’s feelings. Fake love goes out of its way not to offend.
But real love, seeks a way to share the truth in a loving way.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” – Eph. 4:15
“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and
try again in a different way.” – Dale Carnegie
“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work…
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
I have discovered a danger that I want to share with you.
Who’s going to fix it?
When you always blame someone else, you put yourself in a helpless position. If someone else is always the wrong one, how are you ever going to get out of what ales you?
This is a concerning trend. It exists in every level of society. From the Political leaders (from all sides) & CEO’s to teenagers and the homeless, there is a trend to push the blame off to someone else. Common phrases for this are things like “I wasn’t aware of that” or “there’s nothing I can do to change it.”
But, what I’ve noticed is that for those who always push to blame for their position to an external source, there is never any growth or personal progress. As long as there is someone else to blame, no one ever owns their own junk. So, since they never own up to their own mistakes, they never grow as a result.
Another effect of pushing blame is this: when you’re blaming others instead of taking responsibility, you have no authority. The perfect example of this is as a parent or in a relationship. It’s easier to blame someone else than to deal with someone you care about being mad at you.
Let’s say you have to go into work on your day off. The truth is that the boss asked if anyone would volunteer to take the time and a half pay and you volunteered. But, when you get home to tell your spouse about it, all of a sudden it’s the boss’s fault. “The boss is making me come in to work tomorrow,” you tell your spouse. So now your spouse is mad at your boss for something that was your decision. Not only is this dishonest, it takes all the authority between you and your boss and puts it all on your boss.
Or, as a parent, let’s say that the kids are really wanting to go to the park, but you don’t want to go. So you call your spouse and get them to take the responsibility. They say, “You can just tell them that I said no.” So your kids get mad at your spouse because they’re not letting them go, and you don’t have to go to the park. Everything’s peachy right? Not really, because you pushed the authority of the decision off to your spouse, now you longer have authority to make that decision in the eyes of your children.
Why does this matter?
Because it is through making mistakes that we often learn lessons that we will remember for a life time. It is through the emotional and mental anguish we go through when we’ve screwed up that we find the power to change and do it better the next time.
When we’ve lost that, what’s left? How to we grow and change?
To be honest, I think the rate at which we make personal change goes way down without taking responsibility. I think we end up with a lot of people who are convinced they are the best version of themselves they will ever be, that they can never get any better and that all the turmoil they face in life is because of someone else.
So, where are you? Do you take the blame for your own mistakes or are you always blaming someone else? It may seem easier in the moment to push the blame off to someone else, but you are doing yourself more damage than you can possibly imagine.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty,
but vexation by a fool is more burdensome than the two of them.
Vexation is a word we don’t use much any more. In fact, the use of the word has greatly decreased over the past couple hundred of years. While the word is making a bit of a comeback, it’s still not an extremely popular one. That very fact alone could be an outworking of this proverb.
What I mean is, that it doesn’t seem like we’re getting smarter and wiser as a society. Sure, we have more information now than we’ve ever had in the history of the world (as far as we know). But, it doesn’t seem like having all this information is making us wiser. In fact, it seems to me that we are continually slipping in the ways of wisdom. It seems to me that wisdom has become a lost art form. It probably won’t be too long that wisdom will go the way of the encyclopedia. It will be something we look up on wisdipedia when we need it, but we won’t be in the habit of learning the ways of wisdom. Wisdom won’t become a way of life. Living the proverbious lifestyle will be a joke, something of days gone by. We’ll remember it as we do yesteryear.
Perhaps that’s why it’s so easy to be annoyed nowadays. If you have any wisdom at all, you recognize that there is a great lack of it in many parts of the world. In fact, we seem to be being encouraged away from being wise and just relying on the wisdom and knowledge of others to tell us what we should do. And we are just supposed to be followers. We are just supposed to be good little sheep who do what we’re told – without using our own wisdom to make such decisions on our own.
Don’t contribute to the downfall of wisdom. Live Proverbiously. (Yes, I just made my made up word an adverb. Is that wise?)