Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

--William Arthur Ward

For God, Family and Friends …
I am grateful for God’s love, goodness, grace, and mercy

I am grateful for parents who always believed in me

I am grateful for my five children whose love has kept me going more times than they will ever know

I am grateful for my sister and two brothers and the zillions of memories I have of them that always puts a smile on my face

I am grateful for my close friends with whom we share our lives and souls, and, for how they each have always made our relationships a priority

For This Great Nation …
I am grateful to our Forefathers for their wisdom, genius, and bravery, and for their having crafted the Constitution that make this a most exceptional nation

I am grateful for and in awe of the men and women of our military who are willing to lay down their lives for our freedoms

For God’s Beauty Reflected in Creation and Art …
I am grateful for having been able to travel around God’s magnificent world, multiple times

I am grateful for Michelangelo, Bach, and Beethoven; for Arthurian Legends, Shakespeare, and Arthur Conan Doyle; and for Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and the Beatles

For All That I So Easily and Regrettably Take For Granted …
I am grateful for electricity, air-conditioning, modern medicine, and hot showers

I am grateful for all the men and women who provide the food I eat each day

I am grateful for computers and reading tablets, and for smart-phones and iPods

For Quests and For Knights of God …
I am grateful for “impossible” quests and battles

I am grateful for each of my victorious quests, as well as for all that I have learned from my failures

I am grateful for Fellow Knights of God who stand tall when it matters most, who get back into the fray after being singed by a dragon, and who will stare down a Morgan Le Fey knowing that, without God’s favor and protection, she will flash-freeze their souls

I am grateful for heroes who show us we can be and do more

For Simple Yet Profound Blessings …
I am grateful for Single Malt Scotch and great cigars, for plump turkeys and mashed potatoes with “way too much” butter, and for being able to enjoy these blessings with people I love and cherish

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Warrior's Code

A perfect description of chivalrous behavior is found in Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur where Sir Ector describes Lancelot, who has just died, as “a man meek in the hall with women and as the sternest of knights in battle.”  He was both humble and fierce—and he knew when to be which.  Blending and integrating strength and honor, a warrior’s spirit with humility, was the Code that governed the Knight’s behavior on the battlefield and “in the hall with women.”

--From my book, Legendary Leadership

When I was in Junior High school, if two boys got into a fight, they’d be sent to Coach Reams who would lay down a mat, put 16 oz gloves on them and tell them to have at it. After around 3 minutes, the boys found it difficult to even raise their hands above their waists. And, wouldn’t you know it, after knocking each other around for a few minutes, they always became fast friends. This was how we handled “conflict resolution,” back in the day. Today, such boys would be force fed Adderall.

My dad, a Baptist minister, told me if some asinine imbecile (one of his favorite phrases) started bullying and taunting me, I was to wait for him after school, walk up to him and demand he back off. If he chose to keep at it, I was to hit him as hard as I could in the solar plexus, then a forearm to the nose—and he would stand with me, if I got into trouble. “Even if you get your butt kicked, you will keep your self-respect and earn the respect of others. If you start a fight, you’ll answer to me. If some guy starts a fight with you and you don’t fight back, you will also answer to me.” The second, “you’ll answer to me,” sounded more ominous than the prospect of being whacked upside the head in a fight. Dad was true to his word and always backed me up.  

Most of the guys I grew up with were budding young warriors who needed to be taught how to be “meek in the Hall.” Today, however, it seems to me that many “boys” need to learn how to be warriors. Even their “meekness” or “humility” is actually a mask hiding a plethora of fears: fear of inadequacy, fear of the politically-correct police and the opinion of others in general, fear of getting their noses bloodied, fear of failure, and fear of taking a stand, alone. I find myself constantly wanting to grab these “boys” by the shoulders and yell at them: MAN UP!  

Our nation is engaged in life-and-death battles over cultural issues that are evidences of deeper spiritual conflicts. Our enemies are fighting to win—that’s what true warriors do. These battles in the Arena of Ideas and Ideals are not going to be won by men and women who think meekness requires that they compromise their beliefs, principles, values, and honor, and surrender the Arena to the enemy. The US Marine motto “Semper Fidelis,” (Always Faithful) is the mindset that leads to victory, not “Please, like me.”

Meekness is a warrior’s spirit governed and informed by love for God and humility before Him. Moses was referred to as the meekest man on earth. Do you think an invertebrate could have led over one million Israelites (600,000 men) across the desert to the Promise Land, a 40-year journey? And never forget that “meek and mild” Jesus took up a whip and chased the moneychangers out of the Temple who were taking advantage of foreigners who had come to worship and, thereby, desecrating his Father’s house.   

CS Lewis wrote about the need for integrating a warrior’s spirit with meekness in his essay, The Necessity of Chivalry:

(The Arthurian Knight’s Code of Chivalry) It taught humility and forbearance to the great warrior because everyone knew by experience how much he usually needed that lesson. It demanded valor of the urbane and modest man because everyone knew that he was likely to be a milksop.

If we cannot produce Lancelots, humanity falls into two sections—those who can deal in blood and iron but cannot be “meek in hall,” and those who are “meek in hall” but useless in battle…. The man who combines both characters—the knight—is a work not of nature but of art; of that art which has human beings, instead of canvas or marble, for its medium.

“Warrior” is to be part of your life’s work of art. Evil in every form is to be resisted and engaged in battle, with victory, no matter how long it takes, the only acceptable outcome. Cruelty is not to be treated as a trifle. People in distress are to be defended and comforted. Bullies are to be confronted. Liberty, Justice, Truth, Goodness, and Beauty are to be defended and honored. And none of this is to be done with a view to self-aggrandizement. This is the Code of Chivalry of any God honoring and self-respecting person worthy of sitting at the King of the Universe’s Round Table. 

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tell Me a Story

When I was in my late teens, I wanted answers and I wanted them now. Who is God? How do I know that I know? Why am I here? Does history have a point, a purpose? What does it mean to be fully human? What is the nature of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty? Why is there so much evil and tragedy in the world? What’s it all about, Alfie?

The problem I kept running into on my quest-ioning was that every time I worked out a proposition or syllogism that would explain the Truth of my answers to any of these questions, I was always left with the awareness that there were mysteries that were still unanswered and unfathomable. Now that I am, let’s just say, no longer in my teens, I see that Truth – like God -- cannot be placed in a box, all tied off with a pretty ribbon. To put it another way, we may increase in understanding, but we will never fully understand, as there is always more to know and to see. Which is why I am now quite distrustful of pat answers, pretty boxes, and propositions masquerading as Final Answers.  

Garrison Keillor wrote that, when you get old, you realize there are no answers, just stories.  Think about that for a moment. Now, think about the Bible. Is it filled with propositions and syllogisms … or with stories? God’s stories give us a framework within which we know the Truth is over here, not over there. Goodness acts like this person; evil acts like that person. God’s love and grace is not so much explained as it is demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ and God's involvement in the stories of the people in the Bible. And the thing about a great story is that, as we grow and mature, we come back to them and see even more than we did when we read them the last time.

I wonder sometimes if this is why so many Christians are such poor communicators, when it comes to sharing their faith. When people are struggling or in pain or wondering where God is while their lives are in chaos, they don’t want a doctrine thrown in their face, a ready made “answer” for all that ails them: they need to hear a story – His story and yours. 

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Happiness: Life With A Happy Face or A Life Well Lived

One of the things that separate us humans from animals is the pursuit of a meaningful life. All too often, however, we choose to be like animals in solely pursuing pleasure and happiness, and avoiding pain at all costs, with no thought of adding more meaning to our existence. We have a choice to make and it is an either/or equation: we can choose a life of happiness, as most people define that word, of we can choose to pursue a meaningful life, but we can’t have both. 

By pursuing a meaningful life, I am referring to seeking to become all that God created you to become, to living a life in service to others and contribution to the world around you. I am not suggesting that such people never experience happiness, only that it is less frequent. Or so it seems to me.

People who pursue the Happy Life don’t give a lot of thought to the transcendent and so aren’t all that into sacrifice, service, and contribution. Life is all about me: my needs and my desires. The idea of a Transcendent God with claims upon the people He created is NOT a happy idea. “You want me to what? Uh, I don’t think so.”  

Happy People don’t spend much time thinking of the past or the future: only this moment in time. For people seeking a meaningful life, however, their pasts are always being mined for wisdom, their present is the anvil upon which they are hammering out the self they are to become, and their futures are filled with possibilities for more sacrifice and service. This is fulfilling and meaningful, for sure, but not always all that much fun.

There are days when I wish I could forget about meaningfulness, about quests to becoming all God intended and to giving my life in service to a cause that transcends my existence. Some days a life lived on the surface is appealing: just turn the brain off and hang a sign on the closed door to my soul that says, Gone Fishing. When I try to do this, however, I find that merely existing is far less interesting than truly living. As I have a very low threshold for boredom, and an abiding awareness that I am going to stand before my Creator and have to answer the question, “What did you do with all that I gave you, for my sake and for love’s sake?” before I know it, I am off on a new quest.

Happiness as a Life Well Lived
When our nation’s Founding Fathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to securing our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, they were not thinking about our right to party-down. For these men, “happiness” referred to the good life, to a life well lived.  Most people today don’t think in such terms, but, rather, only think of “happiness” as surviving and finding as many opportunities as possible to put on a happy face. Of course, they have a “right” to do this. However, when you are at the end of your days, is this the life you want to look back on? Is this a life that when presented to God you will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

You are not an accident. You are here on purpose, for a purpose. You have a mission, a divine assignment that you were given to accomplish. In order to pursue this unique mission you will need to become the individual who is fit for this task. This is the focus of the person who is intent upon having a meaningful life. For this person, the greatest happiness he can achieve in life is toward the end of his journey when he will look back and see how all the hard work and sacrifice that went into becoming and doing all God intended was used for his good and the well-being of others.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2013