Monday, June 30, 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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

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

Friday, June 27, 2008

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.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

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 doing "business as usual." I'm expecting some excitement -- of the good variety!

Hopefully, we can buzz quickly through the "tedium" -- and then set Jo Anne loose to share her heart and vision with us -- 'Te Deum!" ("To God!" or "Praise to God!")

A good protestant version of Te Deum is "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name." To really get it, you have to go through ALL the verses.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

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 the Lord"
"Awesome God"
"How Great is our God"
"How Great Thou Art"
and "More Love, More Power"

Robyn Bjork will be singing a powerful song she wrote, "I'm Not Abandoned", and Eunice LaCoy will be sharing her faith story.

I look forward to seeing you at church Sunday morning!

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!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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?

Monday, June 23, 2008

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!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

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!!



Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dangerous

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

Friday, June 20, 2008

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!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

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 next week's District Conference.
* Established a couple of helpful policies with our office manager
* Wrote and submitted an endorsement for Dr. John Jackson's latest book, (God-Size Your Church.)
* Communicated with missionaries from Croatia.
* Connected with our Global Partners Office in Indianapolis.

Reflecting back -- It's just amazing, really, how far one can travel in a day, without using a single gallon of gas.

In the evening, I stained the deck, fed the birds, then went fishing with Wes and Hannah on Nelson Lake. We caught a baker's dozen plus one.

Monday, June 16, 2008

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 action, they'd rather just keep the "status quo." Unfortunately, "status quo" doesn't hold tune. It always goes flat.

While shrill leaders bring disharmony by going sharp, dull leaders also bring disharmony by going flat.

Nobody wants to participate in an dull, flat organization that's not going anywhere. Often, the reason a leader settles for "status quo" is because he/she doesn't want to cause disharmonoy. That course always ends on the flat note of mediocrity.

Over the years, through personal experience as well as observation, I've discovered that just as much disharmony is caused by going flat as by going sharp.

So, leaders, heed this adage:

Push too much and you'll go sharp.
Push too little and you'll go flat.
Seek harmony through the whole song.

The way to make beautiful music is to simply stay in tune. That comes by being God-centered, walking by faith, staying true to yourself, and listening carefully to others.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

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 preacher who stayed at the same church for thirty years. Some of those years were difficult. Lesser men would have quit and moved on to greener pastures. Dad, however, was made of stronger mettle. He believed that if we stay through the hard times, the end result will be better.


2) Dad Taught Me to Stay True: He stayed true to my mother. He stayed true to us kids. He stayed true to God. He stayed true to his convictions. He stayed true to his church. One time, during some troubled years in the Wesleyan Church, a large group of ministers led their churches out of the denomination. Many of dad's best friends were in that group. They pressured him to join them -- but my father felt that God wanted him to stay true to the church. I wonder where I would be today, if Dad had followed his friends.


3. Dad Taught Me to Stay Positive: He always said there's a good side to just about everything. Sometimes, you have to look harder than others to find it. He believed that, though we cannot choose our circumstances, we can choose our attitude and the way we respond.


4. Dad Taught Me to Stay Prayed Up: One of the greatest memories I have of my father is his prayer life. He prayed often and spent extended time with the Lord. In recent years, God has developed a much stronger prayer focus in my own life -- and I owe that to my good father who taught me by example.


5. Dad Taught Me to Stay Sweet: Whenever people opposed him, he would simply turn around and bless them. I was amazed at how kind and forgiving he was towards those who mistreated him. Growing up in the parsonage, I never heard him speak negatively about the church. He genuinely loved the people.


6. Dad Taught Me to Stay Spirit Filled: The Holy Spirit was Dad's power source. He believed that unsanctified ministry is impossible. Thus, my father's pastoral service was marked primarily by holy love. I recall, in one of our last conversations, dad reminded me of the great need of a continual re-filling of the Spirit. This has proven helpful many times since.


Dad's life, sermons, and library (which was passed on to me) all reflected holiness unto the Lord. I am, indeed, grateful for my godly heritage, and hope, someday, my kids will be able to say something similar about me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

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.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Watkins on Lyon Election

Jo Anne Lyon Offers Church World Hope

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.

Monday, June 09, 2008

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.


Sunday, June 08, 2008

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. You can't go back and change it - but you can do something about today. Make the most of your moments - and do not allow bandits from your past to rob your joy.

6. Invest your life in service to others.
One of the best ways to be happy and fulfilled in life is to be a blessing to others. Look for ways to help and encourage other people, and you will be rewarded with happiness. I've never yet met a generous grouch.

7. Always tell the truth.
Honesty brings freedom to the soul.

8. Nurture your most important relationships.
Be sure to cherish your faith, family and friends. Don't get so caught up in the hectic pace of making a living that you forget to make a life. The human heart is rich, indeed, when full of love.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

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

Friday, June 06, 2008

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.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

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 spent planning saves three late hours of scrambling.

He taught me to start meetings on time. (Starting late rewards the tardy and punishes the prompt.)

He taught me that every donated dollar is important, and must be handled with utmost wisdom, respect and stewardship.

He tried to teach me the importance of long range planning -- but I'm still learning that one.

One day, just before launching a much needed building project, I got cold feet. "We don't want to get ahead of God," I explained. (My attempt to spiritualize fear)

To that, John replied, "And we don't want to lag too far behind Him either!!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

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.)

Monday, June 02, 2008

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)

Sunday, June 01, 2008