Thursday, March 28, 2019

Praying for Character in our Children




Remember who you belong to!"

Ma-Ma often left me with this challenge when I was a teenager and left the house to go out with my friends.  As I walked out of the kitchen door, her exhortation followed me. 

Those few words summarized a whole lot.  I knew then and now that Ma-Ma was saying . . .

  • You belong to the Lord.  You are a representative of Jesus Christ to the world, so live like it.
  • You belong to our family.  You represent the Wilson and Hendrix families.   
  • Make decisions that honor the Lord and your parents.  Don't be a fool!
In essence, my mother wanted me to display good character.

Every good mom and dad wants their children to grow up to become adults with good character.  We want them to shine like stars, as we often say to our children today.

As a father of three children, I want their character to outlast me. 

As a young married couple, Bill and Gloria Gaither wanted to purchase some property in their hometown of Alexandria, Indiana.  Having been told that the man who owned the specific land they desired would not sell, Bill de

cided to go see him face-to-face.  After discussing the land, the owner realized that he once knew Bill's grandfather.  The man told Bill that he would sell him the land because of the character of Bill's deceased grandfather.  The man's character outlived him.  His character was his legacy.

I have a few short years to influence my children when we live together in the same house.  However, I can influence them for decades to come through my prayers. 

The Scriptures provide several lists of noble character traits.  Several years ago I took some of these lists and divided them up into specific prayers for each day of the month.  There are twenty-nine traits here, one to pray daily.  On months with thirty or thirty-one days, there is grace in case I miss a day or two.

Why not begin praying these simple traits for your family?  The legacy just may outlast you.

1.           Above reproach (a good reputation)
2.           Husband of one wife (maintains moral purity)
3.           Temperate (exemplifies balance in words and action)
4.           Prudent (being wise and humble)
5.           Respectable (serves as a good role model)
6.           Hospitable (demonstrates unselfishness and generosity)
7.           Able to teach (communicates sensitively)
8.           Not given to wine (not addicted to substances)
9.           Not self-willed (not self-centered)
10.        Not quick-tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
11.        Not abusive
12.        Not contentious (not argumentative nor divisive)
13.        Gentle (sensitive, loving, kind)
14.        Free from the love of money (not materialistic)
15.        One who manages his own house well (a good husband and father)
16.        A good reputation with those outside the church (a good testimony to unbelievers)
17.        Love what is good (pursues godly activities)
18.        Just (wise, discerning, not prejudiced)
19.        Devout (holy and righteous)
20.        Not a new convert (mature in the faith)
21.        Loving
22.        Joyful
23.        Peaceful
24.        Patient
25.        Kind
26.        Merciful
27.        Good
28.        Faithful
29.        Self-controlled



The first twenty qualities are taken from Paul’s descriptions of the character of an elder.  These character traits should mark the life of any godly, mature man or woman.  The last nine traits come from the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-10; Galations 5:22-23)


Pictures used by permission from Pexels

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

New Job Opportunity



Greetings family and friends.

One of the surest pieces of advice I’ve ever received is that you never really know exactly what you’ll be doing six months from now!

The last several years have included a number of re-directions and surprises for the Wilson family. Seven months ago we moved to Lancaster for Tracey to accept the job of Minister of Music and Worship at Covenant Baptist Church. We stepped out in faith, trusting God knew where He was leading, even though we could not see far ahead. But, we sensed God's guiding us away from the Upstate of SC and to the area near Charlotte. 

Mark Batterson says, "God loves showing up in unexpected ways at unexpected times." Very unexpectedly, in January a new opportunity presented itself. 

Two weeks ago I accepted the job offer of Senior Writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ve been surprised and pleased with this unexpected opportunity!

For the position, I’ll be assisting with direct mail newsletters, emails, and other correspondence as well as working with the Communications Department in developing written materials for Crusades and other functions. Their department developed the Decision America Tour Prayer Guide for Franklin’s Decision Tour in 2016.

I’ve respected the BGEA for many years, and their ministry impacted my own life in a variety of ways. Of course, I love how focused they are on evangelism – spreading the message of salvation of Christ and the cross – as well as their humanitarian work in the USA and around the world.

And I also greatly respect how Franklin makes opportunities to prophetically speak truth and God’s Word into our culture. He understands we are not only called to share the gospel but redeem and speak into the culture in a way that glorifies God.

In 1979, Jerry Falwell, Sr., saw the need to energize the conservative evangelical voting base. He got to work, founding the Moral Majority. Some historians attribute his effort to being a significant factor in getting Ronald Reagan elected. 

In 2016, Franklin Graham saw the need once again to mobilize the conservative evangelical voting base. He called Jerry Falwell, Jr., and asked for help. Franklin embarked on the Decision Tour, began using Decision magazine to speak to cultural-political issues from a biblical, conservative evangelical perspective, and became a significant voice in the culture wars. With over 1.5 million facebook followers, he’s making impact.

Two weeks, I toured the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in Boone, NC. I’m looking forward to jumping in with the BGEA in helping get out their message.

I remember attending my first writers’ conference years ago at Ridgecrest, NC. I was interested in writing and felt direction from the Lord to begin developing those talents. 

I knelt in my hotel room that day and said, “Lord, I don’t know how to get established as a writer, but I will do everything I know to do to learn and develop as one. I trust You to open doors now and in the future.” Since then God has allowed lots of opportunities to get established as a freelance writer in the Christian market.

We’re looking forward to joining arms with the BGEA in the days ahead. We appreciate your prayers as we do. We hope to relocate this summer somewhere between Charlotte and Lancaster - maybe the Rock Hill area. 

I’m also putting out my name to be a supply or interim pastor in the greater Charlotte area. I miss preaching and teaching God’s Word and leading others toward discipleship, so I hope for some opportunities in that area.

Many blessings,

Rhett Wilson

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Faithful People


This article appeared in HomeLife magazine in January 2017 under the name "Fresh Faith." Della Thomason, whom I mention in the article, died this past week at age 102. It was a privilege and joy to speak at her home going service yesterday.


Few qualities are as significant as faithfulness. Merriam-Webster defines faithfulness as “steadfast in affection or allegiance” or “showing true and constant support or loyalty.”

Today, America and the church are deeply affected by a consumer-oriented mentality. We make decisions based on our happiness and preferences. We want to be served rather than make the sacrifices to serve others. We want to go to church and be fed rather than ask, “How can we feed others?”

It would be rare to hear a family say, “We’re choosing a church based on how we can best use our lives to glorify God, serve others, and benefit the kingdom.”

Jesus values faithfulness: “Whoever is faithful in very little is also faithful in much, and whoever is unrighteous in very little is also unrighteous in much” (Luke 16:10).

Our “very little” may be a Sunday School, discipleship, or missions class we teach. We spend several hours pre­paring and then only have four of five people come. Or, our “very little” may be delivering meals to a few shut-ins weekly. We may pray for God to use us at work but feel our reach is small. We may have a college degree, yet find ourselves staying home caring for two or three preschoolers.

Yet remember the promise of Jesus: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matthew 25:40).

One hundred people in our class are not necessary to gain His attention. He exhorts us to be faithful to the ones He gives us. And when we do, He sees and credits it to our account.

After the builder generation returned from World War II, they became models of faithfulness. They understood their greatness came from being faithful to causes bigger than their own happiness and fulfillment.

I remember several of those builders who influenced my life.

• Martha Fowler, a young senior adult, taught my fourth grade Sunday School class. I remember how seriously she took the Bible, revered God, and loved her students.

Della Thomason, who just turned 100, taught third grade Sunday School for 50+ years in one church I served. She finally “retired” from teaching children when she was about 90 years old. In her 90's, Della would ask while I was visiting in her home or call me at church with a Bible question. I knew a serious question was coming when she said, "Now Rhett . . . ."



My grandmother, Virginia Hendrix, taught the senior adult Bible class in her church into her eighties, until she was bedridden. Then they named the class after her!

And what a wonderful example Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-Fil-A, left. He faithfully taught Sunday School to elementary boys in his church for more than 40 years. Why? Because he believed it was better to build boys than mend men.

Certainly these and others didn’t serve because of convenience but because they knew Jesus wants us to serve.

We’re wise to remember models of faithfulness. We learn from their steadfast examples. Our setting may be one in the limelight, or it may be one of obscurity. Either way, Jesus is pleased as we practice faithfulness.

Here are four ways we can pass on faithfulness.

1.  Interact in family devotions over Bible passages of faithful heroes. Discuss qualities in the lives of Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Barnabas, and others.

2. Read stories together of Chris­tian statesmen whose faithful­ness was costly. Learn the lives of Brother Andrew, William Bradford, Corrie ten Boom, and Mary Slessor, to name a few.

3.  Model faithfulness. Do our children see us serving others? Do we show up on time? Do we come prepared? Do we use our time, money, and resources to serve others?

4.  Involve our children in serving. They can help us prepare for the church class, set up chairs for the youth meeting, and visit the elderly and sick.

As we enter the first month of the new year, let’s be faithful to Christ and His call on our lives.

We’re wise to remember models of faithfulness. We learn from their steadfast examples.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Putting on Dancing Shoes


The following post originally appeared on my previous blog, "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations," on July 9, 2006.


THROUGH IT ALL

When you are a child, you don't realize how deeply special it is to have a few people in your life who love you unconditionally. Years later in adulthood, you look back into the windows of your youth and realize what a magnanimous gift were those few people.

This afternoon I heard that a dear woman of God went into Jesus' presence yesterday afternoon. Gloria Taylor is one of the wonderful people God brought in my life. She and her husband Steve were early mentors in my life during my childhood and youth.

Mom and Dad became friends with them in the 1960's at Edwards Road Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina. They maintained their friendship when my parents moved to North Carolina in the 1970's. When we returned to Greenville in 1980, my first memory of Wednesday nights there was eating supper with Steve and "Glo." That tradition continued for much of the next fifteen years. We shared life together over Wednesday night church suppers from 1980-1995. When the Taylors moved to Franklin, Tennessee, to be with their children and grandchildren, I remember my mother grieving a little. She told me once, "Except for vacations, I have eaten supper with Gloria every week for fifteen years!"

Steve and Gloria's impact on my life was phenomenal. As a youngster, I was deeply impressed by their love for the Lord, worship, their family, church, and the lost. Steve, a musical evangelist, beautifully played the trumpet. He traveled for years primarily with Angel Martinez, a famous SBC preacher-evangelist. One SBC preacher told me years ago that Steve Taylor probably visited more SBC churches doing revival meetings than any man alive next to Martinez. Steve received a beautiful white eagle award from the SBC's Evangelists Conference years ago for a lifetime of evangelistic service. 

I fondly remember him playing and singing the songs "Through it All" and "He Touched Me," both popular in churches in the 1960's and 1970's. Steve's marvelous heart always shone through as he sang and played. I asked him to play for my ordination in 1998. He was so choked up he could hardly play that night.

The Taylors overflowed with love. I always felt welcomed and wanted in their presence. That says a lot for a man's recollection of his boyhood.

Many Sundays I remember hearing Steve's bellowing "Amen." Thank God for that. More than anything, they taught me to worship God. They loved the songs, praises, and singers of the Lord.


JESUS NEVER FAILS

Gloria loved the Christian music group TRUTH - popular from the '70's through the '90's. I remember sitting with Steve and Gloria twenty years ago at TRUTH Christmas Spectacular Concerts at the Hyatt Regency. Those were some of TRUTH's greatest days (when the 4Him quartet and other fabulous singers were a part of the ensemble), and they sang those unforgettable songs like Majesty, There is a Hope, A New Heart, and my favorite, Jesus Never Fails.

Gloria once heard one of her daughter-in-laws was in labor in Tennessee. She got in her car to drive to Nashville, and TRUTH's Gentle Hands came over the WLFJ radio station. Gloria said, "I knew everything was going to be ok!"


Steve and Gloria with Roger Breland, the Director of TRUTH

One lasting memory I have of attending concerts with them was at First Baptist Spartanburg, SC, when their choir performed Integrity Music's God with Us musical. When the music came out it was ground breaker, introducing the use of praise and worship banners, praise teams, and more praise choruses to many Southern Baptist churches. The praise team for that particular evening was none other than TRUTH. I remember Steve raising his hand and shouting, "Glory!" at a high and holy moment and watching Gloria jam to the music.

She was a model mother, raising four children with her husband on the road many weeks. Her grandchildren and many friends loved her. For many years during my childhood, my mom and I would visit the Taylors on Christmas Eve. When I was in high school and college, I used to love to stop by and visit the Taylors in their town home.


PASS ME NOT


Recently, one Wednesday afternoon, I suddenly felt prompted to write Gloria a long letter, thanking her for her influence in my life. It was one of those moments when I thought about delaying, and it was as if the Spirit of God said, "NO! Do this now or you will not have another opportunity."

I sat down immediately, poured out my memories in a letter and mailed it the next day. I was later told that one of her children read it to her when she was in her declining state. She would nod her head to many of the things I wrote.

This past Sunday morning I had not yet heard of her homegoing. In our first service I sang as a solo the hymn Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior. When I began singing, I thought, "This one is for you, Gloria."

On Saturday, as Gloria was near death, her son brought in a record player with a stack of Steve's old records. She spent her last day listening to her husband sing the praises of God. And then the angels of heaven came and transported her soul into the bosom of Jesus, the One she loved and worshiped. 

As my mom said this weekend, Gloria is about to put on her dancing shoes in the presence of Jesus.



"Aunt" Janice
Note: After Gloria's death, a good, mutual friend in our circle, Janice Clark, wanted to do something to help us memorialize Gloria. Both Glo and Janice loved Christmas, so Janice found a beautiful star ornament  and bought many of them to give to people who were loved by Glo. The star has a special quality in that when light hits it, a rainbow of colors reflects off of its angles. Now, some thirteen years (2019) since Gloria's death, I still have that star on my tree each December and enjoy remembering and celebrating both of those special ladies - Gloria and Janice.








Friday, March 15, 2019

Franklin Graham: We Must Not Remain Silent



"As the progressive, secular left movement continues its toxic spread across our nation, there is little doubt that its primary objective is not only to suppress Christians and the Biblical worldview, but to harshly punish and completely silence our moral voice and values. 

That was never more evident than with the treatment of Karen Pence, wife of Vice President Mike Pence, as she was savagely attacked by the media—even international pundits—for her part-time role as an art teacher at a Christian school in suburban Virginia. 

Mrs. Pence had taught for 12 years at the school, which like most evangelical Christian schools in America, affirms traditional, Biblical marriage between one man and one woman, with clear definitions of sexual identity according to Scripture. These are the solid, moral foundations that have undergirded civilizations for millennia."

Read the entire article here at Decision Magazine. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Election Anarchy from the Democratic Party





The following comes from Tony Perkins' weekly email from the Family Research Council Prayer Team:

This past Friday, the liberal progressive-led House of Representatives passed HR1, the "For the People Act," the Democratic Party's signature piece of legislation for 2019. It is the most sweeping, unwise, destructive and I believe anti-American election "reform bill" ever proposed in America. I had a hard time writing a Prayer Target about it earlier this week. From my perspective, it is election anarchy. And if it were ever to become law, it would be the end of the American Republic.

I answered a good friend who wrote me about the Prayer Targets by saying, "I couldn't get my head wrapped around this bizarre, far overreaching, 700-page octopus with hundreds of tentacles intended to overthrow the election process and with it, what is left of American liberty." Read the Prayer Targets and the Heritage Foundation article I linked. It outlines HR1. Make sure to click "READ FULL REPORT" and you will understand why I thanked God for the three branches of Government and the two chambers of Congress.

This construction of government has preserved us, even amid our apathy and spiritual dullness, more than once, and given us time to wake up and mend our ways. But if we allow the people who passed this outrageous bill to gain even more power in 2020, it may be all over (and I do not believe I am exaggerating). We are facing the greatest divide among the citizens of our country since the Civil War, even if, so far, it is an ideological and worldview division. If Christians fail to use their spiritual tools and weapons to win this present war, by prevailing over this new worldview with a Jesus revolution (Mt 28:18-20) that makes America "One Nation Under God," again, American freedom will become a thing of the past.

Do not be deceived. We are still benefitting from the faith of our Founding Fathers, but we must see a revival of that faith if we are going to pass on to our children this awesome nation, established by God's grace. Only Christians who are able to use such spiritual tools and weapons can break through the moral insanity that has stolen minds. Only free men and women can stave off the darkness and bring deliverance to the multitudes in spiritual darkness around us and defeat the leaders of this apostasy, who are in spiritual bondage themselves, and labor day and night to bring others into their bondage (Jn 8:33-47).

Our Founders received God-given wisdom to establish three branches of Government and two houses within the legislative branch. That structural arrangement and the checks and balances it has produced, has saved us again and again throughout American history. It protects us today, but only to give us a little time to repent and do our duty. We are facing nothing less than an outright revolution, led by moral and spiritual anarchists who have been cooking up revolution on a slow burner for decades.

They have successfully hijacked a majority of our cultural institutions and our centers of influence, with the majority of America's news outlets now controlled by amoral and immoral liberals (media professionals are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats -- see MRC & IBD). Big Tech is controlled by liberals, too. Google, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and PayPal routinely manipulate users, overtly and covertly favoring liberal groups while censoring and restraining conservatives, and most Americans don't even know it. These internet giants all use the SPLC (see SPLC Exposed) to identify those deemed to be "hate groups" and work with the SPLC to destroy them. Among these groups are some of the most rock solid Christian organizations and leaders in America. If these organizations in any way oppose the LGBTQ agenda, they are deemed "hate groups."

The hatred of the "Progressive Left" toward Christians, Jews, the Bible, the constraints of the U.S. Constitution, and the U.S. partnership with Israel has been brewing and heating up over the past several decades, but now this cauldron of hate is breaching the dams and revealing what is in the hearts of far too many Americans. Now, Christians are called the "haters" and "bigots." Christians in leadership are called "intolerant" and "indecent" and the rest of us are dismissed as "deplorable" and "irredeemable."

Many of us turned from the left-leaning secular media years ago, grateful for the "new media" that provide Christians a venue for free speech. Now, those who control the internet have found insidious new ways to silence Christian and conservative thought and speech through "shadow banning" and outright censorship reminiscent of communist regimes. This could not have been imagined in America a few years ago. But it is the fruit of two things -- the capacity for evil to grow worse and worse among unbelievers, and the failure of the church to be salt, light, and leaven in every sector of society, which God has called us to reach and win with the Gospel (Mt 5:13-1613:332 Tim 3:13-14).

In the void, those who hate the Gospel have grown in strength and numbers, and America has experienced a rapid, shocking moral and spiritual decline. The psalmist answers this predicament:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us."

He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure (see Ps 2: all).

When the powers that be attempted to censor the New Testament saints shortly after Pentecost, the believers huddled and prayed that scripture aloud and the building in which they were gathered shook with the anointing and power of God who was with them (Acts 4:18-37). We have that same power today, as we gather to pray over the direct challenges to the advancement of God's purposes and kingdom in our nation and world.

  • Almighty God, may your people come together in one accord in making our appeal to you. You are the Sovereign Lord who sits in the heavens and rules over all. You hear the threats breathed against your people. You know the trouble planned for us by those who reject your Son. You see the persecution they have planned when they have the power to do so. Therefore, we ask with the Apostles and the early church: "Grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word." (Acts 4:29)


Tony Perkins (bio) is President of both Family Research Council and the Council for National Policy. A member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, he is an ordained Southern Baptist minister. This is from his periodic Fox News religious column.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

Grace in a Billfold



LOVE IT. ESPECIALLY FOR THE SOCIAL MEDIA AGE.


I'm currently reading Franklin Graham’s 2001 book LIVING BEYOND THE LIMITS

I love his story of how he and his family reached out to “fallen” Jim Baker in the 1980’s during and after his prison sentence. They threw no stones but reached out in love and grace – even though some of his theology and methodology differed from their own.

Franklin visited Jim several times in prison, and when Baker got out they invited him to attend church with them and sit beside Ruth. They invited him to their house for Sunday dinner and discovered he only had an envelope for a wallet, Ruth Graham gave Baker one of Billy’s wallets. Franklin writes, “He was visibly shaken. A fallen minister, convicted of financial wrongdoing, was being handed Billy Graham’s billfold! To this day, he still carries that wallet. I saw him pull it out during a recent interview.”

Graham continues, “Man’s way is to expose, to sell a lot of magazines, to boost circulation. Who cares that success comes at someone else’s expense?
When someone’s sin is uncovered, what are we to do? Call the Associated Press? Sell the story? Send it to a Christian magazine?

None of that. We are called to love and forgive the fallen. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says, ‘Love keeps no record of wrongs.’

This sin of gossiping has been around the church for a long time. Back in the sixth century, a monk named John Climacus chastised those he called ‘accountants of other people’s faults.’ 

I don’t mean to imply that we should be soft on sin. The Bible clearly states that sin should be confronted privately and in love.

A.B. Simpson said, ‘I would rather play with forked lightning . . . than speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others, to the hurt of their own souls and bodies.’

God will sort out everything when we get to heaven, so we can put away our knives.”

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Left - The Greatest Threat to Freedom and America



I believe lawyer Dennis Prager is one of the wisest voices today in our culture. He regularly explains the distinction between classic liberalism / classic conservatism vs. LEFTISM. And he habitually warns about the greatest threat to freedom and to America  – THE LEFT.

Today we are witnessing THE LEFT hijack and take over the Democratic party. And they are making a frontal attack to take over and transform the United States of America.

Dennis' short, five-minute videos about culture are excellent and worth your time. View them here.

The following is a list (not complete) of Prager’s articles about leftism and the danger it poses to freedom, America, and our way of life:


 





































If You Are Not a Leftist, Why Are You Voting Democrat?


Pictures used by permission from Pixabay