Education: Dr. Wilson earned his B.A. in English (on a partial drama scholarship) at California Baptist University (then, College) in Riverside, California in 1972. He completed his Master of Divinity degree at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Valley in 1975. After pastoring in California for two years, Wilson attended The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky where he earned a Master of Theology (Th. M.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Old Testament Studies.
Comment to those looking at my sermons: Please don’t be frightened by the strange words, introductions, and illustrations I use. If you keep reading, I really believe you’ll hear something fresh that God has just shared with me. And please don’t think the fact that I often use my translations from the Greek and Hebrew means that I think I’m better than the men God inspired to work on other translations. I share my translations so you’ll know that I’ve been fresh in the Word to the best of my ability. Finally, if you expect me to spell out what you need to do in response to each sermon, you’re probably reading the wrong preacher. I learned long ago to preach the Word and let the Holy Spirit take care of the conviction.
Sermon or series that made a difference: Ron Dunn’s sermons on Joshua and victory made a tremendous impact on my life, as did Manley Beasley’s sermons on faith. I thought I had faith before hearing these men, but God showed me otherwise when the Holy Spirit opened my heart to trust God completely.
One of my favorite illustrations: I remember being poor enough that we couldn’t afford to buy a popsicle for our eldest daughter from the "ice cream man." We were barely able to afford making a half-dozen Kool-Aid popsicles in a little Tupperware tray. One day, when Jennifer was playing outside, some other kids knocked on our door. Jennifer wasn’t even with them, but they said, "Jennifer said you’d give us a popsicle."
What were we supposed to say? "Sorry, we can barely afford these for Jennifer?" No, we gave them the popsicles and admonished them to bring the sticks back or we could never have any more.
I rarely think about praying in Jesus’ name without remembering that incident. If selfish me could give a treat to some kids I didn’t know in the name of my daughter, imagine what Almighty God would give to us in the name of Jesus the Son!
Family: Pastor Wilson and his wife, Wailam, are "empty nesters" who have four children (two daughters and two sons) and one grandson. The eldest children (and grandson) live in California. The two youngest children live in Washington. Jennifer, the eldest daughter, is married to her husband Shane. She teaches elementary school and they live in Sacramento with their son, Hunter--his granddaddy’s precocious little second-grader. Jonathan, the eldest son, works in the restaurant business while taking a respite from the difficult state of real estate. He is still single. William, the youngest son, is finishing his second year of law school at Seattle University. Talyn, the youngest daughter, just finished her college degree at the University of Washington and is preparing to publish her independent research performed at the Cardiology Laboratory of the University.
What my parents think of my sermons: I don’t think my folks were all that impressed about my early preaching. But there came a time when God showed such grace to me that my sermons became so expository that both of my parents became excited about my preaching. They suddenly knew that the preaching was coming from real experience with God and the Bible and not out of some book. At that point, I moved from being an "intellectual ignoramus" in my father’s eyes to being able to unfold the Word better than almost anybody he’d heard in years (his words, but notice the "almost" that leaves a lot of room for some of the expositors he might not have remembered at the time).
What my spouse (really) thinks of my sermons: Wailam says that my sermons make her live closer to God. She says that she never experienced God as so real as when I explain certain verses and truths from those verses. She particularly likes it when I show God’s plan from Old Covenant through New Covenant by demonstrating how an Old Testament passage or verse was used in the New Testament.
Best advice given to me about preaching: Be certain that it is the Word itself that forms the sermon rather than allowing the sermon to reshape the Word.
If I don’t study the text in the Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek, I run the risk of missing an emphasis that the Holy Spirit inspired within the text from the beginning. If I don’t consider the context (both historically and in terms of its literary placement), I run the risk of trying to shoehorn the text into my presuppositions. Either way, I run the risk of giving myself top-billing over God and that, even though I might have good intent, is idolatry.
Books that have had an impact: The Divine Yes by E. Stanley Jones made me realize that any judgments I make about whether something is useful for my life and ministry is tentative at best. I need to listen for God’s "Yes" and avoid forcing God to say "No!"
Hearing God by Peter Lord had a fantastic impact on my prayer life. The book helped me to refocus on God’s power in my life rather than my limited understanding.
Helmut Thielicke’s Systematic Theology (3 volumes), The Evangelical Faith, helped me to rethink my understanding of the reality of and importance of the Incarnation and the understanding of the Holy Spirit. This set of theological studies and summaries is a vital resource for me in terms of explaining my beliefs to others.
Hobbies: In addition to drama, Wilson loves singing in choir and quartet groups (most recently, he was a member of the a cappella group known as the Southern Nights Chorale of Peachtree City, Georgia where they sang at the governor’s mansion and at an Atlanta Braves game, among other venues).
Wilson also enjoys writing, both fiction and non-fiction, and is currently rewriting portions of the third edition of High Score: An Illustrated History of Electronic Games. An inveterate gamer, Wilson loves military strategy games (sometimes called war games) best of all.
If I could Preach one more time, I would say...: If the whole Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God (and I believe it is), why don’t we spend more time in ALL of it? What are we afraid of? I believe that when Paul admonished Timothy to preach the Word in season and out of season, he meant to preach the whole Word--the tough parts as well as the fun parts. I think the biggest problem with most of us as modern Christians is that we want the "Executive Summary" of the Bible, not the whole Word. And that’s why some of my sermons are based on texts I’ve never heard preached before. God shows me that ALL Scripture is useful, edifying, and transforming when we allow God’s Holy Spirit to touch us with understanding.
Something funny that happened while preaching: I was using a dramatic monologue in costume as Jonah for an introduction to a sermon covering the points of the whole book. I really think we too often miss the fact that Jonah’s thanksgiving is what gets him out of the fish’s stomach and that God planned for Jonah to disciple those who repented, but Jonah was so obsessed with himself that he wouldn’t do it. Anyway, there was a point in the monologue where I was supposed to get on my knees and dig up the worm that killed the gourd. When I started to drop to my knees, the battery/controller for the wireless microphone slipped off my costume and dropped down out of the hem of my tunic--hitting the ground loudly. Not knowing what to do, I dropped to my knees, cradled the battery/controller in my hand and pretended that the wire was the worm. I’m not sure anybody really bought it, but the laughter subsided very quickly and I received lots of kudos after the service.
What I want on my tombstone: He loved God’s Word enough to try to live it.