Monday, June 3, 2019


This is Monita. I was with her 2 weeks ago. She is in the care of Amahoro orphanage in Kampala, Uganda, and its head honcho, Caleb. We have supported his orphanages for years. Monito was found on the streets at 4 months old. When Caleb took her to the hospital, the doctors told him she would only live for maybe 2 weeks. She had severe cerebral palsy and could not swallow. Some days later, Pediatricians from the US visiting Kampala hospital gave him the same diagnosis. Caleb told Lydia, who was to be her chief caregiver, even if she only lives 2 weeks, she will be loved the entire time.

Lydia began massaging her muscles multiple times a day. Caleb called us about her and we provided a specially made wheel chair so that she could go outside and watch the children play. They also secured an IV so they could feed her intravenously.

Monita is now 4 years old. She uses a walker to get around and can now sit up on her own. She is also able to eat strained fruits and vegetables. This, my friends, is a living miracle.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Somali: Relief in the Desert

We drove for hours on roads that were more suited to the camels we saw than the SUV we were in.  It was hot and harsh and everything and everyone was baked in sand. I asked Abdoo, our man on the ground, why in the world there was a refugee camp here. He told me that it was far worse where the people we were going to help had come from.

Thousands and thousands of people had fled drought and conflict and ended up here, in the desert, with nothing. And this is better than what they had been experiencing.  It's difficult to get my head around the horrors these people must have experienced that would make these conditions a relief.

We are the first charity to bring these people any aid.  We brought four trucks with us filled with over 30 tons of rice and 1,000 gallons of cooking oil. All of this was distributed to 1,000 grateful families, around 6000 people.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Triumph of Mercy

But we are assured that we must be ourselves extravagantly generous, if we are to hope for the extravagant generosity which is the slightest easing of, or escape from, the consequences of our own follies...
- “The Letters of JRR Tolkien”

Many of you have read or watched the movies of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR). For those of you who haven’t – stick with me. While reading the Letters of JRR Tolkien, I ran across one where he laments that so few people caught a crucial point in his story.

Frodo failed.

At the end of his Quest – his mission – after expending “every drop of his power of will and body,” which brought him to the “destined point,” Frodo succumbs to the power of the Ring and chooses to keep it for himself. It was Gollum, who bites off Frodo’s finger in order to regain the Ring, who falls into the Cracks of Doom with it clutched to his breast, who “accidentally” destroys it.

“In this the cause (not the ‘hero’) was triumphant…” *

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, early in Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring, he had the opportunity to kill Gollum and chose not to. At the time, Gandalf (think: Merlin) told Frodo something to the effect that his mercy towards Gollum very well might turn out to play a significant part in destroying the Ring and, thus, the Enemy, Sauron.

In his Letters, Tolkien explains the significance of Frodo’s earlier mercy and the victory that was won.

“(B)ecause by the exercise of pity, mercy, and forgiveness of injury, a situation was produced in which all was redressed and disaster averted. Gandalf certainly foresaw this….” He goes on and notes that, “Of course, he did not mean to say that one must be merciful, for it may prove useful later – it would not then be mercy or pity, which are only truly present when contrary to prudence.”

Had Frodo not extended mercy but, rather, killed Gollum months earlier he wouldn’t have been there in the end to bite off Frodo’s finger. Thus, mercy created a scenario where victory was attained.

One of Tolkien’s critics, “(R)eviled Frodo as a scoundrel (who should’ve been hung and not honoured), and me too. It seems sad and strange that, in this evil time when daily people of goodwill are tortured, ‘brainwashed’, and broken, anyone could be so fiercely simpleminded and selfrighteous.”

Some “temptations” are beyond our power to resist, Mr. Self-Righteous. For example, Tolkien refers to those who leave prison broken or insane, “praising their torturers. But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with which they entered the Sammath Nauer (this is a chamber in Mount Doom where the Cracks of Doom are located); and not demand impossible feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned with real moral and mental probability.”

Tolkien believed that Frodo deserved all the honors he received for the victory, as he had spent all of “his power of will and body, and that was sufficient to bring him to the destined point, and no further. A few others, possibly no others of his time, would have gone so far. The Other Power then took over: the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), ‘that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named’ (as one critic has said).”
Thank God that victory is in the hands of the Writer of the Story and not in those of some “hero,” eh?  We might want to remember this, the next time our Frodo falls. Remembering it even before this is even better!

We also may want to spend some time contemplating “doing unto others what we would have done unto us,” granting to others what God so graciously has given to us, remembering that mercy triumphs, whether in this life or the one to come.

* All quotation from Tolkien’s Letters, (Numbers 191 & 192)

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mannequin v Human

When I was around 11 or 12 years old, my mother told me that I had more patience than anyone she had ever known – “as you have never used an ounce of what God gave you.”  Her comment was made as I was pouring out my frustration over not being able to play one of Rachmaninoff’s sonatas: after a year’s worth of lessons, for crying out loud!

In my adolescent mind, there had to be a trick I was missing. I even told my piano instructor she was holding out on me, as she was clearly not allowing me to learn faster.

When it came to pianists, in those days Van Cliburn was The Man. I remember listening to him on mom’s record player thinking, I want to play like that. Subsequently, I began seeking some kind of unique power that would decrease the gap of time between desire and accomplishment. And by “decrease,” I meant less than minimal effort.

Let’s get this show on the road!

What I was looking for was just the right prayer that would cast a magic spell over my hands and, insto-presto (that’s Latin for Right Now), I’m a child prodigy.

While I gradually embraced the reality that mastering a skill-set or a body of knowledge (if there even is such a thing) takes thousands of hours of study and work, when it came to spiritual and psychological transformation, I spent the next decade or so searching for a shorter route to depth of soul and character than the one I seemed stuck on.

It wasn’t so much that I wanted total transformation, “Sometime this week, Lord,” but more a case where I kept looking for spiritual and psychological tricks (quick fixes with biblical proof-texts) to speed up the process. What continued to bedevil me, however, was that when I found a quick fix for what ailed me, what had been created was unreal, inauthentic, plastic. “Melts in your hands, not in your mouth!”

While mannequins can be put together quite quickly, the personal growth and transformation of a human being is another matter, altogether.

Using some of Christ’s metaphors, a seed is planted, dies, and then gradually creates a new plant. We, with God’s supporting grace, prepare the soil (soul); we tend to the seeds with water and fertilizer; when the plant grows, there will be the necessary pruning, and so on. If we seek to speed up the process by ignoring the preparation of the soil, the seed lands on hard ground and dies, producing nothing. If we seek to use the trick of, say, over-fertilizing the seeds, the plant grows quickly but has no roots, so that when the sun beats down on it, it just as quickly dies.

Getting to the point where a tree actually begins to bear fruit doesn’t happen over night and any one who tells you differently is either deluded or a con.

When it comes to soul work, we need to think like gardeners, not makers of mannequins or magicians. Gardeners understand what to do and when (which season) to do it, while patiently trusting the process - did you hear that, mom?!? – and, even more importantly, trusting the Creator and Sustainer of the garden of our souls.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

“He’s got the whole world in his hands”

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown
- Henry IV, Shakespeare

How many of us remember singing J Baird’s lyrics: “He’s got the whole world in his hands”? So comforting, so very reassuring. Until, that is, we are around 12 or 13 and begin noticing that life doesn’t always show up the way we hoped or worked for, which, we think, means that God isn’t paying attention to our worlds.

“He dropped the whole wide world from his hands…”

And how does this translate into the development of my modus operandi?

I’m in charge of my life and its outcomes
If something needs to be changed, it’s up to me 

Cue: Grrrr, Gaaaaah, Strain, Hernias  

Okay, with some of us, we know better than to come right out and say that we are in charge of our worlds, so we add “under God,” with a wink and a nod toward the heavens.  

“No, no, no Wilson. I really mean, “under God.”

Great. Then you won’t mind answering a few questions.

How often do you experience feelings of fear and failure, when life doesn’t live up to your expectations; say, when you didn’t get the job, your candidate wasn’t elected, or you were unable to move people toward your chosen path?

Do you frequently find yourself wringing your hands and obsessing over your plight, their predicament, or its demise?

Does the word “despair” often pop-up in your conversations with close friends?

What these states of mind and heart tell us is that we do believe that it’s up to us to make things happen: to change it, them, and that guy over there.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” eh?

The “unease” – the fear, the anxiety, the hand wringing - is due to the fact that God gives us no grace for seeking to be “rulers of our own fate,” much less for seeking to be the masters of others.

There’s only one crown, here, and it belongs to the Creator and Sustainer of all life.

The world is in God’s hands. Your world is in God’s hands, which, with even the smallest degree of self-awareness, should come as a relief. We perform our duties out of love for God and others, trusting God will use our obedience, As. He. Sees. Fit. We can pray, “Let this cup pass from me,” or even, “Let this cup come to me!” as long as our overriding prayer is, “Nevertheless, your will be done.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Plans or Arrogant Schemes

Me: Today or tomorrow I will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make some money.

God: Hold on there, tiger.

It never ceases to humor me when people who otherwise disregard or even pooh-pooh the Bible, love quoting passages that validate whatever it is that they are peddling. What brought this up to me (again) was coming across some wisdom from Proverbs being cited by an author who was selling the idea that our thoughts create our reality: yeah, verily, our very destiny. “For as a man thinks within himself, so he is.” This, in turn, got me to thinking about my own use of this verse in my writings, which, in retrospect, have been a tad squishy.

Clearing up the squishy: the context of this wisdom is where an individual is being cheerily told by a ruler to sit with him for a meal, while his heart is actually filled with some bad mojo toward his guest. What appears to be sincere hospitality is essentially a desire to get something over on his dinner companion. Be cautious, here: don’t be tricked by his words but remember, as a man is thinking in his heart, so he is. (Proverbs 23.1-7)

Anyway, sticking with how the verse is often applied -

Yes, I believe that our deepest thoughts have a lot of influence on our daily habits and outcomes. Habits of the mind create habits of attitudes and behaviors. However, the idea that our thoughts – however “good” – regarding our desired outcomes are always aligned with God’s thoughts on the issue is foolish … at best.

How often, for example, have we experienced having the outcome of, say, eating bread: creating a strategy for attaining the desired bread, disciplining our minds to see ourselves eating the bread, even praying for the bread, only to be surprised that God had something else in mind for us. We thought we were going after bread when in reality it was, for us, stones.

We say that we are going to the city, “spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” We envision, we construct our plans, and we discipline our thoughts accordingly. God says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-15) If our plans are not continually bathed in the prayer, “Nevertheless, your will be done, Lord,” then, as James goes on to write, what we are calling “plans” God calls “arrogant schemes.”

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Pleasure of a Preening Self-Righteous Anger

Reasonableness and amiability (both cheerful “habits” of the mind) are stronger in the end than the . . . spleen. To rail is the sad privilege of the loser. -CS Lewis

In a letter in which CS Lewis is critiquing George MacDonald’s (his spiritual mentor) novels, he writes: “The pleasure of anger – the gnawing attraction which makes one return again and again to its theme – lies, I believe, in the fact that one feels entirely righteous oneself only when one is angry. Then the other person is pure black, and you are pure white. In fiction you can put absolutely all the right, with no snags or reservations, on the side of the hero (with whom you identify yourself) and all the wrong on the side of the villain. You thus revel in unearned self-righteousness which would be vicious even if it were earned. Haven’t you noticed how people with a fixed hatred, say, of Germans or Bolshevists, resent anything which is pleaded in extenuation, however small, of their supposed crimes. The enemy must be unredeemed black. While all the time one does nothing and enjoys the feeling of perfect superiority over the faults one is never tempted to commit.” *

The first thing that jumped out at me was the fact that, while CSL revered George MacDonald, he hadn’t made his hero so heroic that he had idealized him. MacDonald was a human with faults common to the human condition. The second thing that hit me was the temptation common to us humans of making our “enemies” out to be all black, thus giving us a sense of superiority while we self-righteously pour out our anger on the villain.

The second temptation is the one I am interested in, here.

One feels entirely righteous oneself only when one is angry.
When the only time we truly feel righteous is when we are angry then what we are feeling is self-righteousness. Anger is such a delicious emotion. We fondle it like Sméagol fondled his precious ring. (LOTR) Why: because, all too often, our anger is not about righteousness, not elicited by the desecration of God’s standards, but because it causes us to feel superior. Look at my anger: Dost thou not see my blazing righteousness? Dost not my parries and ripostes with this villain prove that I am the all-white hero? Actually, no: it doesn’t. How so?

One does nothing and enjoys the feeling of superiority
Doing nothing covers a number of breakdowns. For example, how about when we judge the sawdust in another guy’s eye, while doing nothing about the log in our own eyes? Or what about our trashing the all-black villain along with anyone who “pleads in extenuation” while we are doing nothing to demonstrate Christ’s love and Truth? And posting diatribes on FB rarely count. I suggest we need to check the “pay off” for our anger: is it virtue signaling to our tribe, ego boosting, or has it come from a place of devotion to God and love for others?

Playing the All-White Hero
The Pharisees’ prayer: God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax-collector … or CEO, politician, neighbor, TV personality, or minister. (Luke 18.11) So my sins in comparison to the villain’s sins are trifles?  His moral caca smells but mine doesn’t? Of course our intent is not to play the Pharisee. However, when we judge others while not judging ourselves that is exactly whom we are playing. But Wilson, I have never committed adultery or stolen from anyone or made a wicked deal with Iran. No, those are sins you were “never tempted to commit.” Ok, but what about pride or a preening self-righteous anger or the hypocrisy of being a poser?

How do we combat the temptations of self-serving comparisons and self-righteous anger, of playing the all-white hero against the all-black villain? We make our lives the prayer of the tax-collector, who would “not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner’ [….] For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 18: 13,14. NIV)

* CS Lewis: A Biography, by Roger Lancelyn Green & Walter Hooper. Letter written on January 17, 1931.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2018