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Day By Day

photo by Hannah Wilson

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best—
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

— Carolina Sandell-Berg

Forget Yourself Into Greatness

photo by Hannah Wilson

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Who is my neighbor?”

“Anybody in need.”

“How do I love my neighbor?”

“With actions that help.”

“What keeps me from loving my neighbor?”

“Selfishness.”

“How can I stop being so selfish?”

“Forget yourself into greatness.”

Consider these words from William Arthur Ward of Texas Wesleyan University:

If you are wise, you will forget yourself into greatness.

Forget your rights, but remember your responsibilities.

Forget your inconveniences, but remember your blessings.

Forget your own accomplishments, but remember your obligations.

Follow the examples of Florence Nightingale, of Albert Schweitzer, of Abraham Lincoln, of Tom Dooley, and forget yourself into greatness.

If you are wise, you will empty yourself into adventure.

Remember the words of General Douglas MacArthur:

“There is no security on this earth.  There is only opportunity.”

Empty your days of the search for security; fill them with a passion for service.

Empty your hours of the ambition for recognition; fill them with the aspiration for achievement.

Empty your moments of the need for entertainment; fill them with the quest for creativity.

If you are wise, you will forget yourself into greatness.

As we forget ourselves into greatness, our hearts are filled with love.  Selfishness is defeated when we invest our lives in others.  It is in giving that we receive.

Rely on Heaven’s Springs

photo by Hannah Wilson

“The river of God is full of water; but there is not one drop of it that takes its rise in earthly springs. God will have no strength used in his own battles but the strength which he himself imparts; and I would not have you that are now distressed discouraged by it. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled; and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up.
Unexpected help shall come to us when affairs are at their worst.
Let us learn from our Master to reckon upon forces invisible.”

— Charles  Spurgeon

Change Is Life and Life is Change

For many years, I’ve driven the same winding road through the Ohio countryside to visit my mother.

One village on this route seems firmly determined not to change. Year after year, I drove by the same buildings, businesses and homes.  Nobody added anything new – not even a coat of paint.

In our fast-paced culture where change occurs faster than the speed of light, it felt somewhat comforting to drive through this meager hamlet so committed to yesterday.  Very few people these days appreciate heritage and historical context.

The folks in that community were committed to keeping everything the same.

But, over time, it didn’t stay the same.  Their refusal to change anything brought about a different kind of change:  decay.

Last fall, I drove through the village, and noticed it felt almost like a ghost town.  The storefronts were boarded up.  The businesses had all closed, with signs from ten years ago still plastered in the windows. The old houses sagged in disrepair.   I was reminded of Bruce Barton’s observation, “When you’re through changing, you’re through.”

This community is literally dying, and unless something happens soon, will cease to exist within a few years.

This raises an important point.  Change is a part of life — and life is about navigating change.

Change is necessary for life.  Even our bodies are made to change.  Did you know you shed 30,000 – 40,000 skin cells every hour?  The old ones must go for the new ones to come in.

Yes, change is necessary, but it is also difficult.  As humorist Mark Twain said, “The only one who likes change is a wet baby.”

Navigating change is hard — but it is even harder when you refuse to accept the new reality.  Embracing change is the only way to grow as a person.

Remember, change is life and life is change.  If we hold familiar routines and customs too tightly, we will eventually feel them slipping through our fingers.

The only thing in life that will always remain unchanged is God.  “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (Lamentations 3:22).  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).  “I, the Lord, do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

The best way to embrace life‘s changes is to hold God’s unchanging hand and move forward with him into the future.   Doing this, we choose to change by growth rather than dry rot.

Resignation Letter

Dear Hayward Wesleyan Church Family,

“There is a time for everything. . .”   (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

After much prayerful consideration and reflection, I’ve come to the
conclusion that it is time for Hayward Wesleyan Church to have a new senior pastor.   My last Sunday will be March 12.

Serving you for the past 25 years has been truly rewarding.  Like the Apostle Paul, I love you dearly and consider you “my joy and my crown” (Philippians 4:1).

However, Hayward Wesleyan Church is in a new season that requires fresh leadership beyond my energy and capacity.  My recent break brought clarification to me regarding this.   If I continue on as your senior pastor, neither the church nor I will flourish.  Something new needs to happen for all of us.  My prayer is that with a new leader at the helm, Hayward Wesleyan Church will be in a much better place to grow in the future, reach the rising generation, multiply disciples, and impact this community for Christ.

My own personal calling for the next chapter of life was also clarified.   God wires us all uniquely for a special purpose.  I am responsible to be the best version of who He created me to be, and feel I must serve in another capacity for that vision to be fully realized.  For me, this possibly means pursuing a broader ministry where I can focus on my gifts of writing, teaching, and public speaking as well as my passion to to train, equip and encourage pastors.

Hayward Wesleyan Church is, by far, the best faith community Cathy and I have ever experienced.   We’ve witnessed many amazing things down through the years, as we tried to join Jesus in His work here in Hayward.  You have loved our family well, and we’ve made many beautiful memories.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.  What a blessing it has been!

God has wonderful plans for this great church, as you continue to represent the Savior to our community and the world.  You will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Sincerely,

Mark O. Wilson

Words Matter

Today’s post was written by my friend, Ron McClung, Assistant General Secretary of the Wesleyan Church:

Words matter.

So in this New Year, how will you measure your words so they have the greatest benefit?

Someone suggested six very important words: “I admit I made a mistake.” That can be hard to say. We all know we’re human and when we catch our own mistake, we would like for people to give us a little grace and not make too big a deal out of it. However, when someone else notices our mistake first, it’s a little harder to admit.

Another phrase of six words, closely related to it, is this: “I was wrong, I am sorry.” That’s even more difficult because it’s an admission that our mistake, whether in word or deed, may have offended or injured someone. It takes extra grace not only to admit how human and fallible we are, but to apologize as well.

So much for six words. How about five important words: “You did a good job.” It takes so little effort to say it, when it is well-deserved. But in so doing, you may just make someone’s day. Who doesn’t like a little encouragement? Be an encourager in the New Year.

If you would like to consider four important words, try these: “What is your opinion?” Now you’re really backing off, considering someone else’s thoughts, looking for valuable input, and affirming that another’s opinion may just be as valid as your own.

Three important words, try: “If you please.” Couple it with “thank you,” two very important words, and you have a winning combination. Does anyone still write personal thank you notes? Some people learned that skill early on and they still delight others when they take the time to say “thank you” in print. But if not in print, at least verbally. Please?

Someone said the least important word, if you want to boil it down to just one, is “I.” It’s true that some people struggle all their lives with “I” trouble, always putting themselves first, finding it necessary to stroke their own ego. Take a backseat once in a while in this New Year and let others take the limelight. It will be good for you.

Words matter. The wise man said, “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NKJV). Let your words be pleasant in 2017.

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

A great prayer from my friend, Dr. Aaron Perry, who serves on the faculty of Wesley Seminary:

Lord, hear our prayer.

For the energy that is needed, be the source;

For the healing that is needed, be the physician;

For the wisdom that is needed, be the teacher;

For the relational peace that is needed, be the comforter;

For the shepherding, familial and ecclesial, that is needed, be the Great Shepherd.

AMEN.

Old Irish New Year Blessing

My daughter,, Hannah, with my 94 year old mother, Elsie Wilson

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!