Showing posts from June, 2008

Going In

I went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
-- John Muir

Give Me Jesus

The Tree and The Shadow

"Character is like a tree, and reputation is like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing."
-- Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

District Conference

Just returned from District Conference. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, our new General Superintendent, led us magificently! She allowed our fine District Superintendent, Dan Bickel, to chair the business meetings -- and then, from time to time, she interjected her words of encouragement and direction. Dan was a great chairman -- and kept things flowing along smoothly.

Five young men were ordained last evening, and Dr. Lyon preached the sermon. It was an historic occasion. I believe it was the first Wesleyan ordination sermon ever preached by a woman. (155 years after the early Wesleyan founder, Luther Lee, preached the ordination sermon for Antoinette Brown, the first woman ordained in America.)

I was elected to be the District Secretary. They were really scraping the bottom of the barrel for that one!

On the way home, Cathy and I stopped by to visit our friend, John Metz, in the Nursing Home. (I wrote about him a while back.) He and Phyllis were overjoyed to see us! I'm glad we stopped.

From Tedium to Te Deum

This morning, a vanload of us are headed to Wisconsin Rapids for our District Conference. We'll hear reports, elect officers, and cheer each other along.

I believe this is the 30th District Conference I've attended down through the years -- and, try as I may, I hardly remember anything about any of them.

Oh, there are two or three memorable exceptions -- when people worked themselves into a dither over some issue or another -- but for the most part, the best word to describe District Conference is "tedium."

(I recall once coming home from a church business meeting with my teenage son. "Dad, that was REALLY BORING!" To this I replied, "Praise the Lord, son! Church business meetings are SUPPOSED to be boring. The only time they get exciting is when bad stuff happnes.")

Of course, this year, our newly elected General Superintendent, Jo Anne Lyon is coming. We're her FIRST District Conference -- an historical event. I have a hunch that we won't be…

This Sunday

To The Hayward Wesleyan Church Family:

This Sunday, we'll be starting a new sermon series called "Mighty Faith: A Journey Through Joshua" The series will continue through August 24. I know you will be encouraged and inspired by the life of this great hero of faith.

In preparation for worship, I encourage you to read Joshua 1. You can view it online by clicking here.

Compare Joshua 1 with Deuteronomy 31:1-8:

1. What themes do you see intertwined in these passages?
2. How many times is the phrase "strong and courageous" used? Why?
3. There was a "water parting" on each side of their 40 year trek in the wilderness. (Exodus 14 and Joshua 3) Joshua was one of only two men who experienced both of them. What was similar about the two water partings? What was different?
4. What transitions are you facing that require strength and courage?
5. Has God worked miracles in your life before? Do you need a new miracle now?

We are planning to sing:
"The Battle Belongs to …

Competition or Completion?

Perry Noble recently shared about visiting the church of fellow pastor, Ron Carpener, and the warm welcome he received.

Perry remarked: I love that guy…talk about a Kingdom mindset! Seriously, I was blown away. He wasn’t about competition…He was about completion, He knows the church is called to COMPLETE the Great Commission, and celebrates with churches that are doing God’s work.

I like that perspective!

Time for a Tune Up

As a college student, I learned (the hard way) that cars need routine maintenance if they are going to last long. Our spiritual lives are like that too. We must vigorously maintain our souls for continual spiritual health and victory.

Here are a dozen good questions to ask yourself in order to "tune up":

1. Is anything in my life keeping me from experiencing the fullness of Christ?
2. Are there any frayed relationships which need mending?
3. Is there anything I have not surrendered fully to God?
4. Is my image more important to me than my integrity?
5. What is God calling me to do?
6. Have I been growing closer to Christ recently, or drifting further away?
7. How can I bless someone else?
8. Do others see the love, mercy and justice of Jesus in me?
9. Am I faithful in my Bible reading? my prayer life? my church attendance?
10. Do I love Jesus? How does it show? What real difference does Christ make in my life?
11. What would great faith have me do?
12. How can I be more generous?

The Appeal

Just finished John Grisham's new book, The Appeal. It started slowly -- developed int0 vintage "Grisham page turner" -- and then ended with a fizzle. At least you could say that the ending isn't predictible --and, reading the final chapter, I felt like appealing to a higher court for a few more pages!

Ryan's Song

My son, Ryan, performed his new song, "Burden of the Blessed" today in church as the conclusion of a powerful drama presentation.

Several asked about whether his music is online: You can find it at his "MySpace" -- scroll down to "Burden of the Blessed" to hear it.

How Rich Are You?

You can discover how rich you are compared to everyone else in the world by clicking here.

Maybe, you'll stop griping about your measly little salary. (Note, the "default" is in British pounds -- but it can easily be changed to US dollars..)

Ach Wo!!



Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it's the only one you have.
-- Emile Chartier, Philosopher

Set Us Afire

Set us afire, Lord, stir us we pray! While the world perishes, we go our way Purposeless, passionless, day after day! Set us afire, Lord, stir us we pray! -- Bishop Ralph Spaulding Cushman

Around the World and Back

I spent yesterday in my office, yet travelled all the way around the world.

* Counselled with a young couple and helped them find their way to faith and forgiveness.
* Connected a former student from Myanmar (now ministering in Canada) with Morris, our Myanmar National Superintendent.
* Showed my friend, Anthony (who pastors in Brooklyn), how to apply for a Sabbatical Grant. He's excited.
* Prayed, via phone, with three parishioners who are recovering from illness.
* Had sweet fellowship with a precious, godly couple from northern Minnesota, who happened to be "passing through."
* Prayed for the church family, as well as our mission work around the world, especially Nicaragua.
* Advocated for a Native American brother.
* Made plans, with a happy, young mother, for her baby's dedication.
* Shared some ministry ideas with a few staff and board members.
* Conversed with a member of our Stewardship Committee.
* Read a couple of Spiritual Formation reports.
* Promoted a good idea for…

The Church is Not a Business

Comeback Church

A great article by Ed Stetzer and Mike Norman: Producing a Comeback Church

Sharp and Flat

Last week, I was a delegate, representing Wisconsin at the North American General Conference of the Wesleyan Church. We elected officials and voted on a plethora of issues and resolutions.

As the business proceedings unfolded, I noted an interesting observation about leadership which I'd like to share with you.

People are like piano keys. They have to work together and be in tune in order to produce harmony.

Some aggresive folks go "sharp." Attempting to force change, they speak shrilly, and that brings disharmony. (Have you tried to sing in a choir beside someone who is singing a half pitch too high? It's not a pretty sound, and sets everybody on edge.)

Now, there are times when I am impressed with a person, and say, "There's a sharpie!" Maybe that's not such a compliment after all. One piano key, a little sharp, makes the whole song sound bad.

On the other side, there are those leaders who do less than they ought.. Rather than attempting progressive ac…

Six Things My Father Taught Me

Seventeen years ago today, we buried my father. Sometimes, it still seems like yesterday. Grief has a funny way of popping up in the most unexpected places.

I was working on my Father's Day sermon while travelling by plane three days ago -- and suddenly I missed my dad. I was overwhelmed with a longing for him, and sadness that my children did not know him (except in my stories.)

Earlier this week, I ran into one of dad's old friends. He said, "You're Andy Wilson's boy! You look so much like him!"

When I was younger, I don't think I would have appreciated that comment at all! To me, dad always looked OLD!! But, now, I consider it a great honor to look like father. Reflecting back these days, I remember that dad looked happy and holy. It's not so bad to look like that!!

Late at night, driving home from the airport in a thunderstorm, I found myself reflecting on the formative things my father taught me.

1) Dad Taught Me to Stay Through: He was a country prea…

Better Instead of Bitter

My friend, Kathy Baker, recently posted a beautiful story of God's redeeming grace in the life of her daughter, Amber. She also shared the video of when we baptized Amber. I encourage you to stop by her blog, and perhaps, leave a comment for her.

Flooding in Iowa

"We're just kind of at God's mercy right now, so hopefully people that never prayed before this, it might be a good time to start" -- Don Zeller, Linn County (Iowa) Sheriff in response to the flooding of the Cedar River. Adam and Allegra, my son and daughter-in-law live in Waterloo, and were a part of the sandbag brigade to save their city. Allegra's grandfather, who was staying at an area campground, escaped the floodwaters by kayak, but lost his camper and his wallet. Please pray for the dear f0lks who live along the Cedar River.

Watkins on Lyon Election

Jo Anne Lyon

I returned late last night from General Conference in Orlando, Florida. It was an inspiring event, and I came home glad to be a Wesleyan.

We elected Dr. Jo Anne Lyon as our new General Superintendent. She is an amazing woman, who has been graced with extraordinary leadership ability. As the founder and CEO of World Hope International, she has literally rescued thousands from poverty, sickness, slavery and death.

Somebody asked, "Isn't it a step down for you to leave World Hope to provide leadership for the Wesleyan Church?"

To this, she replied, "Shouldn't the mission of the church be the most important thing in the world??"

I think she's right. If the vision and ministry of World Hope is larger tham the vision and ministry of the Wesleyan Church, then the Wesleyan Church needs a bigger vision and ministry.

Go get 'em Jo Anne!! I think this Lyon will take the tiger by the tail.

My Beautiful Idol

Just finished reading My Beautiful Idol by Pete Gall. This was one of those "can't put it down" books. Pete Gall shares his spiritual autobiography by unvarnished, earthy, humorous storytelling.
At first, I wasn't too keen on the title -- because I'm not into anything that seems to promote idolatry. However, Gall points out that much of what is done "in Christian service" is, in fact, about image -- a subtle form of "self-worship (or "my beautiful idol") Powerful. Gripping. A great story. Funny and Free Flowing.
It's a great stretch for middle aged pastors inclined to be stuck in the mud.

How to Have a Good Day

1. Determine to have a good day.
Make up your mind that you are going to make the best of this day, no matter what! A firm decision to live positively is half the battle.

2. Start your day with a prayer.
Before you get out of bed, pause and thank God for your life and ask for guidance and wisdom.

3. Don't sweat the small stuff.
Isn't it funny how we can become so uptight about non-essentials? My friend, Eunice Walker, calls these petty frustrations "bugs on the windshield of life." Refuse to let minor annoyances get the best of you.

4. Look for postcards from heaven.
Every day God sends postcards that say, "I love you." He hides them in the most unexpected places - and you have to search in order to find them. Each day is packed full of blessings for you to enjoy. Look again!

5. Release your resentment and regret.
Some people are hostage to the past. Regret and resentment (the siamese twins of misery) bind us up so we cannot enjoy the present. Yesterday is history. …

On Excellence

“Excellence is not a policy decision. It is a mindset – an attitude – a way of thinking and behaving. We create a mindset of excellence in our business, our sports teams, our churches and our homes, not merely by demanding excellence – but by modeling excellence.”

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” --Elmer Towns

1) Prepare Prayerfully
2) Plan Ahead
3) Communicate Positively

“The bigger we get, the smaller we have to think. Customers still walk in one at a time.”

Sam Walton

Mr. Wilson Goes to General Conference

Flying today to Orlando for the North American General Conference of the Wesleyan Church. It's a real honor to be one of the six cheeseheads representing Wisconsin.

I'm not exactly sure why they picked Florida in June. Maybe next time they should make it Florida in February! Or, better yet, Hayward in June!!

Tonight, I'll be joining my heart with many others in a season of prayer for the nations.
On Saturday, we will celebrate God's marvelous work around the world through the ministry of Global Partners.
Sunday, we will worship and fellowship together. Good preaching. Good music. Good friends.
Monday through Wednesday we vote on a myriad of proposals which are being brought to us.
Monday night, I am privileged to participate in a panel discussion on "Corporate Holiness", following a heart-searching message by Dr. Jim Garlow.
Home late on Wednesday.

Great Music

My son, Ryan, has been writing some great music with powerful lyrics recently. You can hear them here. Stop by and pay him a visit, and maybe download a song or two. (they're free!) My favorite is "The Burden of the Blessed." He wrote it a couple of days ago for our June 22 church service. "Don't ask where God is when you hear the people cry. If Jesus lives inside of us, then where does the blame lie? Instead of asking 'where was God', instead ask, 'where was I?"

My Friend

I travelled four hours yesterday to visit my dear friend, John Metz, who is in the critical care unit at Luther Hospital.

Before moving to Eau Claire recently, John and Phyllis were pillars of Hayward Wesleyan Church. We miss them terribly.

John had an uncanny way of finding things that were wrong. For instance, if we were off in our budget calculations, John would undoubtedly find it, and point it out. He wouldn't let me get away with any slacking, sloppiness or stupidity. If I'd do something dumb, John would show up at my office the next day for a "visit."

At first, it bugged me. I wondered why John was so critical, though I knew he loved me, and was only trying to help. Then, it dawned on me:

Companies pay BIG BUCKS for Quality Control -- and I get mine for FREE! John was my Quality Control Department!!

He taught me how to delegate authority (rather than tasks.) I have taught this same lesson, now, to many pastors across the country.

He taught me that an early hour s…

Our Baptism Video

Thanks to Jeremy Mavis for creating this beautiful tribute to our Lord and His redeeming grace.

Happy Marriage

Researchers have uncovered clues as to why Cathy and I have such a happy marriage. (Rats -- just discovered that the link doesn't work! Sorry for leading you down the wrong path. Basically, the article said that beautiful women matched up with ugly guys have the best marriages because the ugly guy is happy to be with the beautiful woman -- and the beautiful woman feels even more beautiful around the ugly guy.)

If It Was Your Dog, It Would Be Dead

(found this at Living in the Way)

Leading or Managing?

A good thought from Robert Johnson at -- Are You Leading or Merely Managing?

Fear Nothing

Go courageously to do whatever
you are called to do.
If you have any fears, say to your soul:
"The Lord will provide for us.”

If your weakness troubles you,
cast yourselves on God,
and trust in Him.

The apostles were mostly unlearned fishermen,
but God gave them learning enough
for the work they had to do.

Trust in him,
depend on his providence;
fear nothing.

-- St. Francis De Sales (17th Century)


"The price of our vitality is the sum of our fears."
-- David Whyte