Tuesday, December 17, 2013


This conversation comes out of a dialogue between three friends of mine discussing ObamaCare and the redistribution of wealth. 

One of the parties was arguing that no one has the right to take another’s money and give it to someone else without permission; the other argued that it was our duty to give to those who do not have. 

All of that sparked me to write asking “Where is giving to God in this picture?”  Other than what is personal and confidential (specifics) regarding Sheryl and my giving, this is pretty much the entire conversation.  Enjoy!

The place to start with our money is to give God the tithe/10% (Malachi 3:10; Matthew 23:23).  Then give alms — that’s when our left hand knows not what the right hand does (Matthew 6:3).  After we’ve done that, we should strive to live a reverse tithe: we live on 10% and God get’s 90%.  How cool would that be?  Now, God doesn’t ask for a reverse tithe, ONLY the tithe (10%) and Offerings — gifts above the tithe.  

Here’s the truth of the matter, most people who are rich, sadly, are not generous in giving to the church or charitable institutions.  They want to come off as being generous, they give a million dollars — BIG DEAL! — they have given out of their abundance.  Remember the widow?  She gave all she had and it was two small copper coins.  

Oh! and when we give to our own … is that not giving to ourselves.  Sheryl and I have never counted what we do for family “giving,” even contributing to our grandchildren’s tuition to a Christian school.  Good cause?  Worthy cause?  Yes!  But NOT tithes and offerings.  However, so many do.  I hear it all the time, “I can’t give the tithe because I’m helping my daughter (who got pregnant out of wedlock and can’t pay the bills or some other similar scenario).  Sorry!  That’s God’s money and should be given ‘undesignated' without strings attached to God.  The tenth is HIS and only His; it belongs to no one else.  Putting strings on the tithe is like giving to yourself – it’s not trusting the Leadership who oversees the LORD’s work.  If for whatever the reason, the leadership of a Church is unfaithful with what has been entrusted to them, God will take care of them, believe me.

Sheryl and I aren’t at 90% and may never get there (unless one of my books makes it REALLY big), but we are working towards it.  Since our marriage in 1975, it has always been our goal to give to what counts for eternity — where no moth or rust can destroy.

As one wise man said, “If you want to see where a person’s priorities are, look at his/her check book registry.”  Profound!

This I have found to be true: No one can OUT GIVE God (Luke 6:38).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


The Christmas season is upon us.  One of the many positives, the good things, of this season is that His name, Jesus the Christ, is heard EVERYWHERE … and not as a “curse” word (or phrase).  How cool is that?

The beauty of the Christmas season is so much more than gifts, fun, food, music and even family; the beauty of Christmas is the message of faith, hope and love demonstrated in humility. 

In a world where the wealthy rule – seldom do the personalities of the poor make headlines – it’s those of wealth and celebrity status.  Yet, God who has greater celebrity status and wealth than anyone chooses to reveal himself in complete humility both in status and wealth.  Why?  Because God’s ways are not man’s ways, and what man considers important is of little value to God.  The Bible says, “a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  Again, “for those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."  And still again, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (Psalm 51:17; Luke 14:11; James 4:6) 

So God, in Jesus, brings to life in the flesh a living example of what He wrote and preached.  This Christmas season let’s keep in the forefront the real and true meaning of Christmas.  All that He is came to earth for the purpose of becoming all that we need – beginning with our GREATEST NEED – a Savior.  It’s humility in its highest form.  As the Latin Hymn (mid 1800s) beautifully puts it:

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel,

shall come to thee O Israel!

Friday, November 29, 2013


Commercially, Thanksgiving Day is a forgotten holiday; and maybe that’s a good thing that it’s not commercialized.  However, the idea of giving thanks to the Creator of the Universe, who bountifully gives both small and great all good things, should never be forgotten and always be at the forefront of our society.  With Christmas commercialized in the public arena, and stores across from East to West soliciting our dollars, it is easy for our attentions to be diverted from God to the purchasing things. 
So, before we rush into the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, take a moment and reflect upon the many good gifts God has bestowed upon us as a people and nation – and GIVE THANKS!

I am thankful
for the air I breathe,
the cool, crisp morning air.
I am thankful for the gift of love
and the family with whom I share
the bounty of the season
as we bow our heads in prayer.
I am thankful
for the little things,
for shelter from the rain.
I am thankful for a summer day...
I am thankful for the pain
of lessons learned
and small misfortunes
cast upon the path;
for they lead me to the things in life
that are true and strong and fast.
I am thankful for so many things,
each one a gift to me
from one who knows that all we have
is sometimes hard to see.
Be thankful for the pleasures of your day.

Three years after the Pilgrims' arrival and just two years after their first Thanksgiving, on November 29, 1623, Plymouth colony Gov. William Bradford made this official, politically incorrect, proclamation:
"To all ye Pilgrims:
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat peas, beans, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, now I proclaim that all ye Pilgrims … render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings."
But it wasn't until just after the signing of the Constitution that Congress immediately moved to pass a resolution asking for a National Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer at which time George Washington intoned this famous proclamation in 1789:
[New York, 3 October 1789]

Friday, October 11, 2013



INTRO! Some years ago when the Harry Potter books were being made into movies, people wanted me to address the subject from the Pulpit.  In so doing, I addressed Halloween and Harry Potter.  This is from my public address (sermon), along with a few additional thoughts.


Every year at Halloween people ask me, “Is it alright to celebrate Halloween?”  And every year I tell people the same thing: “To the pure all things are pure.”  What I mean by that is, if you have a problem with it, “Don’t,” if you don’t have a problem with it, “Do it and have fun.”  Personally I have no problem with Halloween.  Here’s why:

ILLUSTRATIONNow that I look back on it, this is somewhat surprising.  Remember I grew up “Pilgrim Holiness.”  As “Holiness,” practically everything was wrong except going to church – yet we were allowed to celebrate Halloween.  And celebrate it we did!  We’d go out with pillowcases, fill them up, come home, empty them, and go out again.  Afterwards, those of us who went out together would compare our goodies and even trade for our favorite candies.  Never once, not for a moment, did any of us think we were honoring Satan by going “trick or treat.”  Why?  We never even thought of it as Satan’s day, it was a time for us to have good clean fun and get all kinds of goodies. 

I still remember the Halloween parties where we would get prizes for the best costume.  The person who remained unidentified for the longest time won the ultimate prize.  How clearly I remember Bob Westcott – we were all night trying to figure out who was under that outfit.  Finally, somebody recognized the boots – Bobby boy won first place. 

When Sheryl and I directed the Youth group at Mt Pleasant Church we would run a Scare Mare at Halloween.  Hundreds of kids came through.  The last room was a funeral parlor.  By then they’d be scared to death.  We’d give the plan of salvation.  We had hundred’s of “decisions.”  How many “disciples” was another story.  We would say afterwards, “Just because you scare the hell out of people doesn’t mean you put them in heaven.”

WHAT AM I SAYING?  If you want Halloween to be an evil holiday, then most likely for you it will be.  If you want Halloween to be a time of clean, wholesome fun – it will be.  “To the pure all things are pure.”  

1 Cor. 8:4-6 tells us:
    [4] So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. [5] For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), [6] yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

IN OTHER WORDS Paul is saying, “I could eat food offered to idols and it would never bother me, because I know idols are nothing.  Only God is God.”  Again, “to the pure all things are pure.”


I must be honest, I have not read any of the Harry Potter books, nor have I seen the movie.  One prominent southern Baptist pastor called Harry’s world “dangerous, evil and perverted.”  Charles Colson, whom I have come to respect and trust, says of Harry and his friends: “they develop courage, loyalty and a willingness to sacrifice for one another – even at the risk of their lives, not bad lessons in a self-centered world.” 

Again, when it comes to Harry Potter, my counsel is “to the pure all things are pure.” 

NOTE!  Since writing my above thoughts I have seen two of the Potter movies, and still concur with Charles Colson.  Recently (Oct 2007), although not stated in her novels, Howling (the author), when asked why Dumbledore, master wizard and Headmaster of Hogwarts, never seems to find “true love," responded, “Dumbledore is gay." 
Howling never says if she approves or disapproves of Dumbledore’s sexual persuasion – just that he is “gay.”  Sadly, that’s how the world sees “homosexuality” – it’s apart of our world and we need to accept it as such.  They do not understand righteousness, be it heterosexual or homosexual.  Do I look on this latest news (development) with favor?  Absolutely not!  Sin is never pure even if its intent is pure. 

Halloween is an annual celebration, but just what is it actually a celebration of? And how did this peculiar custom originate?  Is it, as some claim, a kind of demon worship?  Or is it just a harmless vestige of some ancient pagan ritual?
The word itself, "Halloween," actually has its origins in the Catholic Church. It comes from a contracted corruption of All Hallows Eve. November 1, "All Hollows Day" (or "All Saints Day"), is a Catholic day of observance in honor of saints. But, in the 5th century BC, in Celtic Ireland, summer officially ended on October 31. The holiday was called Samhain (sow-en), the Celtic New year.
Irish immigrants fleeing their country’s potato famine brought the custom of Halloween to America in the 1840’s.  At that time, the favorite pranks in New England included tipping over outhouses and unhinging fence gates.
The custom of trick-or-treating is thought to have originated not with the Irish Celts, but with a ninth-century European custom called “souling.” On November 2, All Souls Day, early Christians would walk from village to village begging for "soul cakes," made out of square pieces of bread with currants. The more soul cakes the beggars would receive, the more prayers they would promise to say on behalf of the dead relatives of the donors. At the time, it was believed that the dead remained in limbo for a time after death, and that prayer, even by strangers, could expedite a soul's passage to heaven.
So, although some cults may have adopted Halloween as their favorite "holiday," the day itself did not grow out of evil practices. It grew out of the rituals of Celts celebrating a new year, and out of Medieval prayer rituals of Europeans. And today, even many churches have Halloween parties or pumpkin carving events for the kids. After all, the day itself is only as evil as one cares to make it.

© 1995-2002 by Jerry Wilson  References: Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things, 1987; and Dr. Joseph Gahagan, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Personal letter, 1997


If you do any research at all on what we know today as “the Christmas tree,” inevitably you will come across an article saying that the Christmas tree is a pagan tradition, and therefore as true believers it is wrong to put up a Christmas tree. 

Most of you, actually I would hope it would be all of you, would say, “Pastor that’s ridiculous!”  Why?  Because to you the Christmas tree is a symbol representing the season of our Saviour’s birth.  Even if it were pagan, which it is not, it would not be pagan to you.  Why?  “To the pure all things are pure.”