Archive for the ‘Christian Thinking’ Category

Are We Free to Make Moral Decisions

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

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Are We Free Moral Agents?

In our bible study the thought was presented that we humans are free moral agents. I questioned that in my mind and shared that I did not believe that we are free moral agents. My thoughts put me to wondering how we humans really fit into God’s purpose and plan for His creation. So I want to share with whoever reads these thoughts about the concept of free moral agent.

I have heard in one form or another most of my life, I’m an old dude by the way, that we are free moral agents. I have never disagreed with that and believed it to the extent that I would go to bat for anyone to be free. While serving for over two decades in the military, I always saw the U. S. Constitution as a document that came from our fore fathers as my reason for being in the military. I wanted people to be free and govern themselves as a nation or community. People were and are precious and each has the right to be free from tyranny.

But how does the above fit into the idea of being a free moral agent? Does the U.S. Constitution gives us a right to be free moral agents? It only states in the preamble “. . . secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity . . . .” I don’t read in it that we are free moral agents. Maybe the Declaration of Independence will help here. It seems to be reflecting the right of people to govern themselves and not be governed by a despot or some other entity. Here is what I found. “. . .all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” I cannot find anything in that which indicates that man is a free moral agent. It does say that we have a right to life, liberty and a right to pursue our own happiness. God does not speak of us this way in His Word however. Notice moral is not mentioned at all in the Declaration. I suppose that a person could stretch or read into those statements something moral but I find nothing that alludes to moral freedom. It does speak of being free from control of others and being able to pursue happiness and one’s life as to be determined by themselves, not someone else. So all this does relate to freedom. But this seems to focus on a freedom that comes from only external control. Still the question is, “Is man a free moral agent.?”

Just a little side note about where the founding fathers got many of their ideas.  They were mostly Puritans who left England in order to be free to worship God in Christ. Their belief in God had a major influence on the Founding Fathers but many of their ideas for building this nation came from John Locke. One of the major concepts that was passed on through American psychology to education was that the mind was a blank slate or “tabula rasa” at birth. He believed there was no original sin within the mind. It was blank at birth which is absolutely opposed by God in His Word. Locke did not believe in original sin nor the Trinity, which is a belief in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. He seemed to be a cultural Christian. Now back to our reason for this writing.

Let’s define moral first. In my college teaching years, one hour of a course called Human Growth and Development, was devoted to ethics. Ethics and morals are closely related. Webster’s dictionary of 1911 defines moral as:

1. Relating to the practice, manners or conduct of men as social beings in relation to each other, and with reference to right and wrong. (In today’s society the concept of right or wrong is up for grabs. My words.) The word moral is applicable to actions that are good or evil, virtuous or vicious, and has reference to the law of God as the standard by which their character is to be determined. The word however may be applied to actions which affect only, or primarily and principally, a person’s own happiness.

(. . .reference to the law of God as the standard. . . . “ comes into play regarding man’s mental state of “morals” and discussed last in this writing. The question to be answered is: “Can man born in sin know what the law of God and right or wrong is prior to an internal change whereby one comes to know God?”)

So moral has something to do with conduct of a person in social relationships regarding right or wrong. A major consideration is that there must be a reference point for what is right and what is wrong. Is the reference in one’s self or others or laws written in books? Just where is the reference point. Is it inside or outside ourselves in a Supreme, Sovereign God? This point is where religion gets involved in a society. Is “moral” floating in the environment or passed on by parents? If so then what is right or wrong will change from person to person and over time. Is that good? The major point to be wrestled with is just who or how right and wrong is determined. There will be a point of reference always. Otherwise right and wrong will just float around with little certainty. We could say that relativism is a good example of right and wrong floating from person to person in that it is determined by each and having no relationship outside the person.

Maybe we need to examine the term, free, because each of us has a definition and it may differ from others. An assumption that I will make here is that when free is used in referring to the state of humans that one is considering that the person is autonomous which means to be self governing. I will agree with that. But in trying to define free the implication is that a person is not only self governing but has no restraints of behavior, period. This cannot be.

Webster’s dictionary gives a number of definitions in trying to explain what free means. Here is the number one definition.

“Being at liberty; not being under necessity or restraint, physical or moral; a word of general application to the body, the will or mind, and to corporations.”

Notice that the word, moral, is included here. So is Webster, in listing moral, indicating that society may restrain a person from making certain decisions and thus determining the freedom of a person? There must be of necessity limits on each person whether limits are imposed from without or those which come from within. Maybe we as individuals are not as free as we would like to believe.

Here is number five definition of free from Webster.

“Unconstrained; unrestrained; not under compulsion or control. A man is free to pursue his own choice; he enjoys free will.”

In this definition we have the concept of free will. Now for the definition of will from Webster so we can get to the heart of this thing called free moral agent.
Here is Webster’s definition of free will.

That faculty of the mind by which we determine either to do or forbear an action; the faculty which is exercised in deciding, among two or more objects, which we shall embrace or pursue. The will is directed or influenced by the judgment. The understanding or reason compares different objects, which operate as motives; the judgment determines which is preferable, and the will decides which to pursue. In other words, we reason with respect to the value or importance of things; we then judge which is to be preferred; and we will to take the most valuable. These are but different operations of the mind, soul, or intellectual part of man. Great disputes have existed respecting the freedom of the will. Will is often quite a different thing from desire.

Notice words such as judgment, understanding, reason, importance of things and preferred. Webster here admits that the concept of the will is a disputed human characteristic. In areas of psychology the will is considered an operation of the the mind where the reasoning, understanding, and judging of the person takes place. In those operations of the mind, what is good, bad and important are determined. All of these operations within one’s mind then determine choices or direction of motion. All of these operations of the mind; emotions, reasoning, understanding, and judging have not developed nor exist in a vacuum. Something outside the mind and something in the mind influences these operations. The good. bad and important in our thinking are not determined in complete isolation within the person. They are determined by our mental processes but their roots are from our past and have been embedded in the brain. We came into this world with a genetic foundation and then grew up in an environment. The genetics and environments differ but there is a common thread which connects them and determines how we would think and understand our world. I’ll get to the common thread later. We came into the world with a specific mental functioning foundation determined by genetics. The environment then built on that foundation due to the way we are told to think, reason, feel (that which sets us into motion), and choose. A simple question to help us grasp how the environment effects our thinking is, “What kind of food do you like? Would you choose shrimp where another would choose steak?” Our genetics keeps us from grazing like a cow for our food. These preferences are rooted in our past whether it be in early childhood or of an experience a month ago.

Now there is one other component that must be considered in order to decide whether we are free moral agents. By the way the word, agent, we have not defined. Webster helps us here in defining this word. It gives us three definitions and there is a relationship between them. The relationship is in having power to act or accomplish something.
Here they are.

1. An actor; one that exerts power, or has the power to act; as, a moral agent.
2. An active power or cause; that which has the power to produce an effect; as, heat is a powerful agent.
3. A substitute, deputy, or factor; one entrusted with the business of another; and attorney; a minister.

Notice the words moral agent in the first definition. That seems to fit in with, We are free moral agents.

Now to the one other respect as mentioned earlier and one that, I believe, comes from God’s Word. What does God have to say about our being free. The concept by the way, free will does not appear in God’s Word. The question remains, “Are we free moral agents?” I think we’ll find the answer in God’s Holy Word. I’ll give some scripture here and if you believe in God’s Holy Word, (All of us called Christian should), you decide whether we humans are free moral agents.

Just to set the stage let’s refresh our minds regarding God’s creation of man and then go from there to see what He says about our freedom to choose and function in this world. In Genesis 2:7 God says this:

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (NASB)

What a paradise! Man was given a garden to tend and eat and live a life of Riley. He had a “help meet” and all the food he needed and all he had to do was take care of the garden but one restriction was applied. “Don’t eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil or you will die.”, God told Adam. At this point in man’s existence the question of moral or moral freedom did not exist. Good and bad did not exist in the head of Adam for him to even consider making choices that required him to think of the goodness or badness of some choice. There was no social relationships except with Eve and he still was a companion with his Creator, God, in the cool of the evening. But God plants a thought in Adam’s mind about something he is not to do. So what did Adam do?  He did eat of the tree. And this was rebellion (sin) against God. Adam then got acquainted with good and evil of life and things. At that point things changed for the human race. Man (Adam) then lived in a world that was cursed and his slavery to sin was absolute. Adam could not escape the curse. Because of Adam we humans have no escape from sinful thoughts and decisions as a person. Why? Adam passed sin to us through his genes. God’s Word tells us that we have sin in our physical body. It tells us we are born with sin and that the flesh is sinful. Our minds now are bent toward sinful (rebellious) thoughts against our Creator and we cannot do otherwise. Where is the freedom?

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. (Ps 51:5  NASB)

Question: If we are born with sin as part of our genetics, how can we be free moral agents?

Lets go to the New Testament and see what is said there about the moral state of man. In Ephesians and Colossians we find that we are dead in our trespasses and sin before we are born into Christ and in order to throw off this sinful state we must be born again (born from above).

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Eph 2:1  NASB)
. . . even when we were dead in our transgressions, (God) made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (Eph 2:5  NASB)
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions. (Col 2:13  NASB)

So we are told in the New Testament that us humans are dead in sin before we are regenerated in Christ Jesus. Dead means we have no moral aliveness. We are not a free creature. We cannot make a moral choice. Now you and I know that people make choices regarding behavior but scripture says we either make choices while dead in sin or alive in Christ. There is no total, abosolutely free state from any influence. We are either influenced by the sin within that came from Adam or the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

If that is true, ( I believe with all my being it is.) then there is no way that we can be free moral agents. Every thought that I think and every decision that I make is tainted with my sin state. I am born with that state of mind in my nature. It is in my genes. I got it from Adam. I am a slave to my state of mind. All my thinking, reasoning and choosing will be tainted or shaped by sin. Paul makes clear in Romans chapters 1 and 2 the state that we are in before becoming a believer in Christ Jesus. And then we read this:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned– (Rom 5:12  NASB)

Now I am not saying that an unbeliever cannot make some good decisions because most do to some degree based on what they learned from their environment as a child and by God’s grace in the providence of His creation.  Graeme Goldsworthy says there is something called by Christians,common grace. He says this,
“. . . non-Christians have an understanding of meaning and a sense of right and wrong which is the result of the goodness of God and of being created in His image. The fact that the non-Christian repudiates such a notion is not the point.”1

The point that I am trying to make is that just because a non-believer can have some knowledge of right and wrong does not make them a free moral agent. All truth of right and wrong resides in God not man. Thus unbelievers are still enslaved to sin and dead in their trespasses unless they know God. Paul in Romans 1 makes this very clear. He says:

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Rom 1:21)
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.  (Rom 1:25)

(In Romans 1:21 above, the word, knew, in the Greek can have many meanings as in English also. As used here it means an awareness of God and not an apprehension or knowing God. It is a knowing of or about and not a knowing in an intimate fashion.)

In Ephesians 2:1 we read, “And they were dead in trespasses and sin.” Paul is talking about the soul/mental state of the Ephesians before they were born again or regenerated by God.

Jesus tells us that we will only be freed from the sin state when we know the truth. He is the truth. Knowing Him (intimately) is knowing the truth. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is what we will know in Christ our Lord.

John tells us of our Lords glory, truth and grace in 1 John 1:17.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14  NASB)
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17  NASB)

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32  NASB)
In the above statement Jesus is saying that we are not free before we come to Him to get the truth. We are enslaved until know Him intimately and cannot be a free moral agent until we do come to the truth  that resides in Jesus, the God Man.

The question remains, “Are we a free moral agent?” Can we truly make decisions that come from an unbiased and completely neutral state of mind? Some will say “Yes we can even though our mind is biased toward or saturated in badness. We don’t have to be a new creature in Christ. We are free from external influences and constraints.” I will concede that we may emote (have an emotion) and do make decisions toward external objects (people, places, things) without some external influence or constraints but the internal influence does not allow freedom of our mind unless we have the Truth which makes us free to make moral decisions.

We must always remember or think about external influences also because we are never free from them. We are influenced by our peers, parents, fellow workers, politicians. news media, and all the things from our society that we take into our mind such as TV, church, school and work.

Are we humans moving through life as a free moral agent on this planet from conception to death? Do we come equipped at birth with the freedom to always choose what is good? To think good? Can we be free from any influence upon our decisions and choosing? I think of it this way, “No Virginia there is no freedom in our sinful social and moral state.” You decide!

Here is what I have decided. I cannot find anywhere in God’s Word that I am free unless I am in Christ Jesus. That is where real freedom lies. BUT I do find in God’s word many times that I am accountable to our Great, Almighty God for what I think and how I behave. How we live our life whether a believer or unbeliever is commanded by Holy God. Therefore we are accountable to Him. Along with that accountability I have a grave responsibility to Him who created me. Accountability and responsibility were given to me starting in the Garden of Eden. There is a Creator/creature relationship that falls under the providence of God which does not allow us humans to be autonomous. However we were from the beginning given self awareness and reasoning ability to know reality in order to live a life that would honor the Creator.

Here are God’s words:

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  (Gen 2:15-17  NASB)

God does not discuss freedom with Adam. You may see the word freely in the above BUT this is not in the Hebrew. The word, freely, is the exact same Hebrew word as eat in the above translation. The best translation is the ESV or English Standard Version which says, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but . . . .” The literal translation of the Hebrew would be “eating you do eat.” Nothing is said about freedom. God is giving permission to eat except of one tree’s fruit. Responsibility and accountability are given to man. The responsibility to be productive and care for what God had given him. He is held accountable to God the Creator for choices of what he eats. Adam had no control over the consequences of his choosing. If one has no control over consequences how can one be free?  We are like men/women on board a raft floating down a river where we have no means of determining where the raft goes. We only can determine where and how we move around on the raft. If we can’t see the river we believe we have a lot of freedom. If we see beyond the raft we know we are trapped. So where is the free moral agent to determine the future of one’s existence? Adam was not in control (free) to determine what consequences he would experience. God had given him permission to choose but the consequenes of his choice were determined by God. I am not in control of the outcome or direction of my life. I may think I am. My wife will tell you that I think I am because I have a “bent” toward  controlling  all that goes on in my life. My thinking comes from a belief that I can control my life. But I live an illusion if I am not in Christ. To live an illusion is to be a slave to one’s illusions especially the illusion that humans are not influenced by forces we cannot see, hear, smell or touch.

I recall a statement made by a pastor over 40 years ago that fits with the idea that we are free moral agents. In a sermon he said, “God has a vote, satan has a vote and you’ve got the deciding vote.” I’ve heard that statement many times since then and I’ve said that because it sounded so good at the time I heard it. It was brief and to the point which I believed. It indicated the freedom of us to make our choices for God. Since 2001 I’ve come to another conclusion based on God’s Word and not human driven assumption. We don’t have a vote in the matter of being free to make choices for or against God. We are born in sin and that is where we’ll be and continue unless God Almighty through Jesus Christ whom God in His counsel tells us we are His. Ephesians 1:3-12 tells us that God in His Great Majesty chose believers before God created the world and then made it known to us.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  (NASB)

May the Sovereign God of the universe through His Son, Christ Jesus, touch your inner being and set you free. Free to live as a FREE person who is loved by Him for all eternity so that you can love freely yourself and others. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Soli Deo Gloria

In Him,

Dewey Wise
Mar 1, 2010
(All underlining is mine.)

1 Goldsworthy, Graeme, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p. 17.

WHEN ARE WE AT OUR BEST?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009
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We Are At Our Best WHEN!

We are at our best when we are most dependent on Almighty Loving God in Christ Jesus. When we are at our worst (humanly speaking) in our helplessness; when we turn to God for help, we are at our best (Godly speaking)’ and if may add, for all eternity. At that moment we are honoring and praising our Holy God because we are helpless and turn to Him in absolute need and dependency on Him.

Our culture tells us to be in charge of our life. It tells us be strong, be courageous, have pride, put our best foot forward, take charge of our life and be somebody. It tells us that we will never get far unless we have a “stiff upper lip”, as has been said about the British. Self esteem is held out to be the cure all for what ails us. Therefore self-esteem becomes the focus of all education because unless the child has self esteem they will not do well in school. We say, “Buck up and get a grip on your life because you are esteemed. You have worth and can do something.”

The flip side of society is to tell us that we are helpless so we need help. Those that can help themselves are to reach out to those who cannot help themselves. No one can argue with this. But many times we even help those who can help themselves. Our government—it makes no difference which one (local, county, state, national)—tells us “You’re down and out so let me care for you,” or “you don’t have to be concerned, we’ll take care of you.” Even as caring individuals, we do this at times because we “feel sorry” for others, not even knowing whether they can or cannot help themselves. We see a lack of self esteem in them who appear down and out even though they have an ability to care for themselves. Our society says these kinds of people do not have self esteem so we need to make them feel they are wanted.

You may be wondering by now what is going on with all this talk about what society believes about us and wants to do for us. I’ve said these things to point out that we as a people (culture if you may) are very uncomfortable when we have an awareness of a person’s helplessness. We tend to think that they are just not healthy and something is wrong with them. But we (I include myself) are really at our best when we turn to the Source of our existence and beg for help. It is then that the true self emergences and that we are at our best. (Notice I said “we turn”. Some of us don’t turn to our Creator. We’ve been brain washed to believe that the world is where we turn to.)

However, we were created as a being dependent on our CREATOR and we were created to GLORIFY Him. All our needs are satisfied in Him. He gives us our food, the air we breathe and life everlasting. So when we are at “rock bottom” or when we “hit the bottom”, as is used in a discussion on alcoholism, we are helpless, and that means we MUST be dependent. All that our friends and society can do for us is just put a little bandage on our hurt. When the bandage comes off, we may be right back to helplessness. Our friends may not be there with another bandage and society may be morally bankrupt. Why? They’ve got the same need (problem). Where does that leave us? Helpless again!! Why am I helpless in a world full of people who want to help? I am distant and separated from the One who made me, Almighty God, my Creator. I am separated by my sin or rebellion against Him. But we need the One who made us. He is our lifeline. Can you see why “Just buck up and take charge” or “we’ll take care of you” doesn’t hack it? Do you see how we are treated as though we are an unlearned child who needs constant care from society? And society says we just have low self-esteem. Our deepest needs can never be met through others, our family or our self esteem. Why? They’ve got the same problem. Have you ever seen one drunk helping another drunk? I (we) need One who is not in the same condition, one who can save us from our helplessness.

Who can make us alive? And who is that? It is Christ Jesus our Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria

Oct 22, 2009

Dewey Wise

RELATIONSHIP OF PUNISHMENT AND DISCIPLINE

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009
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How Do Punishment and Discipline Relate?

I share the following regarding punishment and discipline. Why? Because I have seen such a lack of understanding about punishment and discipline in parents and educators over the many years I worked with parents and teachers. Where there is a lack of understanding there will probably be conflict, and judgmental anger can result in the home and even in the church.

Punishment is concerned with paying for a crime that has been committed against another, against society, or against God. A little side line—in America we do not know what the purpose of prison is. Some think prison is to punish and some think prison is to bring about a change in behavior (Discipline). Punishment is not to teach but to hold a person accountable to a higher authority (Society or God). No correction is in mind.

Discipline is concerned with correcting a behavior for the good of the person. Notice I said the person. Punishment is concerned with society’s position or God’s position as Creator and final Authority. Discipline is to teach. Correction is always in mind. God punishes those who disobey and are not His children. God disciplines those who disobey and are His children. Discipline comes from love. Now that thought ought to bring on a GREAT BIG question, namely: does God love the people who are not His children? I’ll leave that thought for you to wrestle with for yourself.

This is important to keep in mind because the discipliner and punisher have two different goals. To disciple is to teach. To punish is to have no concern or desire for the punished to learn a new way of behaving. Discipline is so that a disciple can learn to behave differently. A criminal is to suffer for his behavior; therefore he is punished.

Let’s look at some scripture that will help us sort out the difference between punishment and discipline.

In 1 John 4, John talks about love. In verse 18 he compares love and punishment and says this, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”

So punishment is to induce fear and say to the person, “Stop doing it.” But discipline says “do something different for your well being.” Punishment does not focus on a behavior to be acted out in the future; it only says, “Stop doing such and such.” Whereas discipline says, “Do such or such instead.”

In Hebrews 12 there is an excellent discussion of discipline. Notice that discipline is for the good of the person.

Here is the way it is stated in verses 5b-13
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
Nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines,
And He scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.12Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

(NASB)

Underlining and italics is by the writer.

My desire is that this is helpful in understanding the difference between punishment and discipline. John, in his epistle, is concerned with us showing love, and I believe that if we can understand the purpose of punishment and discipline we can love those around us more deeply. Why? We create confusion in our mind and in the minds of others when we use the term “punishment” instead of discipline. ALWAYS punishment in the mind of a child, and even adults, is perceived as negative as it should be, whereas discipline should be presented and perceived as positive.

In Him who loved us to the greatest depth is no punishment for the believer. He died for all believers. But to those who never come to Him through faith in this earthly life will be eternal punishment. I hope I can love the way He taught us love. Only through His discipline of me can I love others. My hope is that our aim in this earthly life is the first and second commandments that Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37-40.

And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the great and foremost commandment.39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
(NASB)

Soli Deo Gloria

Oct 19, 2009
Dewey Wise

CONFUSION IN HYPERACTIVITY WHERE’S PEACE

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
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A Hyper-Active Culture

How does it feel to be part of a hyper-active culture? We are part of one whether we like it or not. You and I cannot escape that fact, and it is a fact that we live in a time of attention deficient disorder or attention deficient hyper active disorder. More anxiety and more dysfunction at home, workplace, and school exist today than ever before or at least in my life time—and I’m old. To put it mildly, we are in a major decline in our society regarding stability and wisdom and personal control of daily activities. Everything moves at a rapid pace. This shows up in instant communication, instant gratification, instant healing, instant loans, instant coffee, instant tea, travel at high speeds, instant cooking, instant travel, instant divorce, and even instant community. In other words what we want (notice what we want not need) MUST occur “right now”. This conclusion came out during my early morning time of thinking (the best time to think) this past week about family, community, county, state and nation. My thoughts were about a person’s influence of others.

We do always have influence over others. It may be good influence (meaning something that helps other grows to their purpose in existence), or it may be bad (meaning something that is destructive to them). It is impossible not to influence or be influenced by others unless we live in isolation. We can’t do that, so we are influenced. My concern (this comes from my personal life) is how others influence us (me). Most of the time we are influenced on an unconscious level. Notice I said “most” not all of the time. We have no conscious awareness of being influenced. When I was in high school many years ago in a little school in North Alabama, some of us boys would do weird things. One I remember well was at recess standing on the playground looking up—not looking at anything in particular, but just looking up. The kick out of this was to see how many people would walk by, stop and look up and after awhile inquire as to what you were looking at. A person looking up would draw a large crowd at times when there was nothing to see in the sky other than the sky. That is a very simple example of being influenced by others. Another is, of course, when people tell us something.

We listen when people talk. I guess we want the spicy and juicy news. Gossip it is called. But the point is that we listen. Have you ever considered how much you are influenced by what others have to say? It is bunches and bunches and probably more than you would think or realize. It starts when we are babies. Why am I saying this? My point is that we tend to believe what others tell us without sifting their words through the TRUTH. We just believe them. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “If you tell a lie many times, others will believe it.” Ah you may say, “Well, how am I to know what is true?” That is the major question and a simple answer is to search for the facts beyond the source that gives you the information. Well, this takes us back full circle to our hyper-active culture. We are part of it whether we want to be or not. THEREFORE we MUST be in charge of how we handle information and not how information handles us in our society.

The mind of a child is precious in God’s sight but we have caused it to work at a fractured, almost schizophrenic, hyper-active pace, due to us adults bombarding it with too much societal junk. We keep looking up to the sky, and they join us in seeing nothing, but still looking at the sky. So what do we do?

First and foremost, while looking up to the sky we need to see the One who created us and has a wonderful plan for our life. And that plan is not to go “to and fro” looking and becoming more hyper-active or lost in space, but to look to Him. You may be saying “But how will that help settle our lives down so we won’t be in a hyper-active state?” Well for one, He will give you peace with a calmness. That does not mean that life is gonna’ be all puddin’ and cream. It will provide a foundation for stability and a platform for your life to become less hyper in the world and more dependent on the One who created the world for our peace and His Glory. Think about those who have willingly gone to the stake and were burned to death with a peace of mind. Mr. Latimar said to Mr. Riddly in the 1600s, “Me Riddley be of good cheer for today we will light a fire that will be seen around the world”, as the executioners set fire to them. What unsurpassable peace and joy that exist within a person when they can say that in the face of a fiery death. No more searching, no more hyperactivity, no more confusion, no more frustration—just peace and joy residing which can come from our Creator to us.

My desire is that you have this peace. Philippians 4:6-8

Soli Deo Gloria
To Gob Be the Glory

In Him,

Dewey Wise
Oct 2, 2009

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

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What is Important?

I spent almost a life time trying to figure that out. I pursued questions such as; Why do I exist?, Why did I get married? Should I stay in the Air Force and make it a career? (that was even after 12 years of active duty), When should I retire? (after 20 years), Where should I live after retiring?, What kind of career should I pursue after retiring? (One must have another career ’cause one can’t live on retirement pay) Where should my kids go to school?, etc.

Do you get the picture yet? I bet most of you have ask those kinds of questions over and over. Don’t get me wrong those questions should and must be pursued. BUT I’ve come to conclude that there are much, much more important questions that should be pursued. Here they are.

What do I believe?

Why do I believe it?

How do I believe it?

Now searching the answers to those questions and sorting out the answers will set you free in a sense. If we can determine what we believe we can determine if our beliefs are harmful to us and others. If we can determine why we believe it then we are on the way to making sense out of our world. Why do I say this? Well if I logically determine “the why” for some belief then I connect myself to realities and expand my world. If I can’t then I’m stuck in time and place. The WHY question helps me examine self and where I fit. If I can figure out how I came to believe something then I can feel confident that I can continue to find answers for my well being. Here I’m primarily talking about resources used to develop my beliefs.

Maybe these are the most important issues in my life. Do you pursue answers to these questions? I hope so.

Our only hope is in Him who died that we might live.” Romans 5:1-10


In Him,

Dewey Wise

September 26, 2009

DOES GOD KNOW?

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

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Does God Know? Does He Know Everything?

What a loaded question! Of course God knows. He knows what I think and what you think. If God has numbered the hairs on my head then of course He knows. In Luke 15:16 we read these words when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees: And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” No question about it, God knows. Jesus said that He knows our hearts, meaning that each belief we have and each thought that we think is known by God. We can’t run and we can’t hide. We can’t hold thoughts in our heads and believe that no one knows. God knows. That can be kinda scary. Scary because we don’t like others knowing what we think. We don’t like others knowing why we do things or say what we say. We resist others knowing about what is in our head. We don’t like “thought” police who patrol our mind searching for hate within. I’ve heard people say to me, “You don’t know what I’m thinking.” if I raised the issue of what is going on in their mind. (While trying to help people deal with major issues in life I needed to help them search their mind for thoughts that were not good for them.) Keeping one’s thoughts to self are the last bastion of freedom from being controlled by others. BUT God knows. A logical question to that thought is, “If He knows our thoughts then He can control us.” This is the age old question of “How responsible is man and how sovereign is God?” I’ll let you deal with that idea. I have many ideas about that but I don’t have enough space to deal with them now. Let me just say, “God is absolutely SOVEREIGN over His creation. You can take it from there.

Let me throw in the discussion another thought so here is a question. If you or I know something, I’m talking about knowing and not guessing, will what we know occur? Think carefully about that question. Notice I did not say what we know “might” occur or “may” occur. I said “will” occur. To me that means there is no possibility that it “will not” occur. There is absolute 100% probability that it will occur. By the way those words “possibility” and “probability” get confused in our minds. Possibility merely means it will or will not occur. If we say something is possible then it either can or it cannot. And to the best of my “knowledge” everything is possible. Probability is of great importance when discussing what will occur in the future. Probability is based on the percentage of something occuring. Now back to the question.

If you or I know something (could be anything) that is dependent upon the activity of a living being, will that something occur? Please be very deliberate in your thoughts. Now back to the original heading question. Does God know? Jesus said so and I believe Jesus with every cell in my being. GOD KNOWS. Will what God knows occur?

In Romans 8:28-30 we read:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? (NASB)

Paul is talking to the Romans about the Great, Awesome Love of God in Jesus and if we believe and have faith in Him not one single thing can be against us because He is for us. The English word “know” appears in verse 28. This is a good point to talk about what “know” means. Know is connected to the word “knowledge” in our English.

Its roots are in a Greek word, cognition or cognitive, which basically means the process of knowing. The best definition I have ever seen is the one by Jean Piaget. Piaget was, to me, the greatest cognitive psychologist of all times. Here is how he defined knowledge. These are my words which shorten his concept of the cognitive development in children. (He devoted his life to studying how children develop their thinking and knowledge.) My paraphrase statement: “Knowledge is the process of reenacting the original process of knowing.” In simple terms this means experiencing our world and reenacting it as we interact with our world in the future. So just to read a book and puts some facts in our head is not knowledge. Unless we can perform mental acts which result in a behavior that can be viewed or seen we do not have knowledge nor are we knowledgeable.

Can you see where Paul is coming from when he says in verse 28 “we know”? He is not just saying that we have words in our mind. He is saying that we have experienced God’s marvelous grace and love through His Son, Christ Jesus, and KNOW. If we know then it will occur. There is no if, and, or but about Him being for us. There is no way that God will not be for us. There is an absolute 100% certainty. He is for us therefore NOTHING can be against us.

That thought takes my breath away. I become speechless when I think of that. Almighty, Holy, Sovereign, Righteous, Loving, Merciful, Just GOD in JESUS CHRIST is for us and nothing, I mean not one single thing, can be against me. What a feeling of security. No worry is mine. My anxiousness is gone. Jesus, God our savior, is for me. My future is secure. Whatever occurs and by the way things don’t “just happen” all things will be well within me. There is purpose in every thing. So whatever occurs in this life all is well. Not because of self esteem, not because of my knowing about the world, not because of some inate ability, not because I try to live a good life, not because I give to the poor, not because I go to church BUT because CHRIST JESUS is for me. WOW! FIREWORKS GO OFF! Now how can I know that? Think on Romans 8. Digest it. Savor it. Oh how sweet it is. Now what is my responsibility?

What about you? Are all things well with you?

In Him only is life,

Dewey Wise

September 15, 2009

Importance of Beliefs

Monday, August 17th, 2009

How Important is Belief?

What we believe is what we do. Analyzing that thought can take us into very deep territory. Regardless of whether we analyze it, the beliefs that we carry in our head determine what we do. The difficult part is analyzing our beliefs. Why? Well we can’t take our beliefs out bit by bit and put them on a table so we can see them. BUT they are there in our head and we keep adding to them. Do you know what you believe? Do I know what I believe? Maybe and maybe not. We probably know some of our beliefs but as we grow older and we put more beliefs in our head things become more complicated. They get all intertwined and we can’t get them separated. Here is something to think about. When you or I have major difficulty in making a decision, probably the culprit lies in our beliefs that oppose each other. It could be a belief that “I don’t have all the information. therefore I just can’t decide.” But not having all the information does not prevent is from deciding. It is our belief that we need information. (Notice I’m not putting a value on beliefs. Meaning that I am not saying beliefs are right or wrong.)

More is to come on beliefs. For now think about “what makes you tick.” What are the controlling beliefs in you head (mind)? Look at where they take you.

In Him alone is Life.

Dewey Wise

Aug 16, 2009

Relating to God

Monday, August 10th, 2009
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Who Am I Before the Living God?

Have you ever wanted to do something good for God? Now that seems like a question that is commendable and probably is. If we love Him who first loved us then why should we not do something good for Him. Now let’s raise the bar a notch. Have you ever thought of doing something good for God? Now we’ve gone from wanting to do something (wanting to perform an act) to thinking about doing something good for God. We are just thinking at this point without any plans but letting thoughts run through our head about something good that would benefit God. (clue here: How can I benefit God?) But let’s go on and see where this takes us. To further raise the notch we can raise another question. Have you ever thought about doing something good for God and thought of what good thoughts He would have about you for doing something for Him? Now when we get to this point let’s pause for a moment and think about what we have thought. Do you ever do that? Do you ever think about what you are thinking? In Proverbs 23:7 we read these words, “As he thinks within himself so is he. . . .” This last question is calling on us to examine the person we really are. It is asking us to look within. Raising the notch to the top level we now ask “Who am I before the living God of the Universe? How does He see me?” Or better still, “How do I see myself before the Holy, Righteous, Loving, Merciful, Just God of the universe who created me?” This is the ultimate question when examining self. When I get to this question in my personal life I find that I am in deep trouble if I think about this question.

This is human thinking. This kind of thinking is the way we humans relate to each other. We humans think about how others will think about what we do for self or them. We want others to think good thoughts of us so we analyze our relationships to be sure, or fairly sure, that what we do will be looked at as the best whether in school, work or some deed. We may deny this when ask about the reason for doing something but deep down inside we want others to think good about us. Look at children. We praise them once and they’ll come back for more. We give them a reward as a snack and they’ll ask for more. You see, they know how to manipulate us so we’ll like them. Us parents start training them at birth to look for our pleasure in what they do. At this point please notice I have not put a value on this kind of thinking. We need to think this way in human relationships to a degree.

BUT what about the way we think about GOD, the Creator of the universe? Should we think that way about Him as just another person who we relate to? You may say, “Of course.” Many believers think this way. I was taught that God created us to have a relationship with Him. That He needed a relationship. NOW that is not in His Word. His Word tells us that we were created to Glorify Him.(Isaiah 43:7) There is a major difference in thinking about the reason for existing is to have a relationship with someone and thinking about my existence to glorify a person. If I see my existence for a relationships then I will tend to see all others in the “same boat”. We’re to negotiate to have peace. We’re to do things to relate. I do for them and they do for me and hopefully we can get along. They are dependent on me and I’m dependent on them. We talk that way especially in marriages.

How will I think if I am to glorify a person? Now that thinking takes on a whole new radical approach. We have to change completely in the way we think. First we must think, “I’m not in the same “league” with the other. They are “top dog” and I am nothing.” “Whoa!” You may say. “I am somebody. So don’t tell me that I am not equal.” Can you see where thinking about someone else being better than me is radically opposed to our American democratic system and where the self-esteem movement taught that each person is to esteem themselves. BUT when it comes to our Great God and King of the universe, we are not in His league. We are absolutely a “no body” and we are not looked on as having merit. God told the Israelites that it was not because they were “somebody” that He chose them. We are totally depraved sinners which separates us from the King, the Ruler, Our Great God and Creator. He made us and we are owned by Him. The property of an owner does not relate to the owner as an equal. The owner does as he wills with the property. The property is subservient always to the owner and is used to honor the owner (king). To make the owner shine before others is the goal of property. (Now these thoughts my bother you because of belief in human rights and equality. But please think.)

Now what does glorifying Him and being a “no body” have to do with the question raised at the beginning? Here is the question. Have you ever thought about doing something good for God and thought of what good thoughts He would have about you for doing something for Him? Reflect upon this question. Where does the question come from? Does it come from a relationship oriented person or does it come from a totally depraved sinner person who is created by God for His Glory? In my life it comes from a relationship oriented person. AND THAT MY FELLOW BELIEVERS IS SIN. That kind of question just reinforces who I am as a sinner before my Creator and Redeemer. I’ll let you think about how it is SIN.

I write these things not as a judge but a sinner before God Almighty who is Holy, Righteous, Just, Love, Mercy and Grace. Oh how I must always throw myself on His Mercy and beg for forgiveness daily.

In Him alone is Life.

Dewey Wise

August 10, 2009

The Absence of Good

Friday, July 31st, 2009

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The Absence of Good

What does good mean? This is a question that can take us on a long journey in our mind if we will let it. We think about good things and, in conversations with others, we many times will classify people, things, and events into “good”. The writer, that’s me, on many occasions, will say something like the following: “these are good people”, “something good happened today”, “it is good that so and so did that”, “talk about something good”, “that is sure good cake”, or “he is a good person”. So if we take the time to examine our thoughts and words, we’ll find that they are saturated with the word good. The issue on the table is to define “good” and think about the absence of “good”.

So the question before us is “What is good?” “Good is anything good”, may be a reply. (I hope you can see some humor in that sentence, good is anything good.) Of course that is no definition at all. It is only a way to ignore defining good by telling us about objects, people, things or events that are good. In reality the way that the question is stated can certainly plant in one’s mind that things classified as “good” define “good”. Not so!

Now to a serious discussion of “Let’s define ‘good’.” I must say there is purpose in this writing and that purpose is to bring to mind “What is the ultimate good in my life?” “Why?” you may ask—because the answer to that question is the difference between life and death. And the difference between life and death is the difference between the presence of good and the absence of good in our lives.

First it must be said that defining “good” is very difficult, as we will see from dictionary definitions. From Webster’s 1913 dictionary we read this:

Possessing desirable qualities; adapted to answer the end designed; promoting success, welfare, or happiness; serviceable; useful; fit; excellent; admirable; commendable; not bad, corrupt, evil, noxious, offensive, or troublesome, etc.”

Now looking at the word “good” in scripture I find there is only one Hebrew word in the Old Testament for good and that is TOWB with variations on it. This word means good in the widest sense such as prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, etc. In the Greek language of the New Testament there are three words which are translated “good”. These are AGATHOS which seems to be the most common. It means a benefit to others in any sense. It means possessing moral excellence or virtue. It is used by our Lord and by Paul often. Then there is DOKEO. Its meaning is to be of reputation. And lastly there is EU which means to do right or to commend. This word is part of the English word eulogy which means to ‘speak well of’.

All of these words, English, Hebrew and Greek, can only be defined from context. But they do have something in common. Look carefully and you will see that each has to do with our reputations and with the state of human life whether it is happy or troubled, whether it is well or ill. Life is celebrated when speaking of something good. So the very heart of meaning for “good” is life itself in all aspects. We see this when Jesus is responding to the Pharisees regarding healing a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. In Mark 3:4 Jesus says, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save a life or to kill?” Something good promotes or saves life. Good as it relates to all aspects of life is a comparative term. It is used in the relationship of one thing to another. The essential quality of good is how it is used in thinking about the good or bad of life activity, the life of us humans. Only we creatures on this earth can think of good. No other creature has the ability to process comparative information as to how decisions and activity affect our well being in the present and future. They do not have the language ability, which is the vehicle for thinking that has been given to us who are made in the image of God. So to further define “good” we must make comparisons between self, others and God. I recall that in my public school days in English I saw on the black board the words “good”, “better” and “best” many times in learning how to use words in a sentence. It seems from the dictionary definition and the fact that good is a comparative qualifier of our life state that we have to define it by examining relationships between self and God, who is the final end of good. God’s Word tells us that only God is good.

Jesus in Matthew 19:17 says this: Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” (NASB) Mark says it like this in Mark 10:17. “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” Paul in Romans 3:10-12 when talking about the condition of man says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.(NASB) (my underlining)

So here in the New Testament a bleak picture is painted of man in relationship to God and even in relationship to man. Here is the comparison and contrast between man and God. God is good and all good comes from Him, while man on the other hand is sinful to the very marrow of his bone and can do no good. We are totally depraved in our being. If we put our thinking caps on and we believe God’s Holy Word then we will arrive at the conclusion that for me and you to do good then any good that we do MUST come from God and Him alone. You may counter this with, “But non-believers or non-Christians do many good things.” I will not disagree, but I say in return that is only because God shows favor to His created world. Scripture tells us in Matthew 5:45 that the sun shines and the rain falls on the just as well as the unjust. It is through God’s marvelous providence and rule that any good that exists in His created world is because of Him. Now let’s connect this to the Ten Commandments.

In Exodus 20, God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses. These commandments showed to the Israelites the very essence of God. (Remember, only God is good.) He wrote these on tablets of stone and gave them to Moses to take to the people. Read Psalm 119 to get a mental picture of how David loved God’s laws. How good they were for David! They were the essence of God to him and showed the very heart of God to him. They were to David his salvation. They were life. They were GOOD. Stop to think about the absence of truth, which is lying, the absence of care for our fellow human, the absence of love, the absence of life, the absence of friendly relationships, the absence of any civil discourse with our fellow human beings, the absence of God. The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites for their spiritual, mental and social good. They were to help God’s people live in harmony with Him and each other. They were given to them as a means of good. Now let’s turn to some things good that God does for us.

In Jeremiah 5:23-25 we read these words. ‘But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; they have turned aside and departed. ‘They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the LORD our God, Who gives rain in its season, Both the autumn rain and the spring rain, Who keeps for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” ‘Your iniquities have turned these away, And your sins have withheld good from you.’” (NASB) God is telling Jeremiah that in His Sovereignty (He controls the weather), He is going to bring judgment on Israel and Judah because they no longer fear Him as their God. They have closed their eyes and no longer see Him or listen to Him. Thus they will no longer get the good rain from Him for their crops so that they will have a bountiful harvest. No more rain will come, which is life giving. Without water all things die. In the Old Testament we read many references to God saving His people. In the New Testament we read many accounts of the God Man, Jesus, healing the physical ailments and forgiving the sins of people. Only good comes from God, and only God saves. Only God gives life and we can have no claim to power over life. The presence of good means life. The absence of good means death. And where did death come into the picture for us humans?

In Genesis 2:17, God tells Adam that when he eats of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would die. Here is the first indication that the absence of good would be death. You may be asking, “Well how come Adam and Eve did not physically die when they ate of the tree?” That can bring on another discussion about what death is. But suffice it to say that death is not just the mere stopping of breathing where we are declared dead. It is not that simple. It is a state where we humans are cut off from our Creator. Now that is death in the purest sense of the word because God gives life. Actually God was telling Adam “when you eat of the tree all vital phenomena within you will cease to be, and you will not be capable of any relationship on your part with Me your Creator. Life will no longer be possible for you. None of my essence or goodness will be available to you.” Pay careful attention to what God was saying. He did not say when Adam would physically die. In Genesis 3:19, He tells Adam about physical death and when it would occur. It was part of the punishment for violating God’s command. (Romans 5:12) God’s righteous judgment was a death worse than physical death. That was spiritual death which was the cessation of interacting with God until a rebirth took place. God rejected man and put him outside the garden. Adam would no longer have a life line connected to God his Parent. There are those who say that after physical death God will just annihilate us and we will not exist in any form so we will never know or have the awful sense of being separated from our Creator. God in His Word does not teach this. Did Jesus experience death? Did He experience a complete and utter separation from the Father? Did He go to Hades for a period of time? Why did Jesus in praying say, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” in Luke 22:42?” (Now things get kind of scary here when I think of that.) There is that word (“Hades” or “Hell”) that is seldom preached, taught or talked about except in profane language. It seems to be used by unbelievers often, so it MUST be part of their belief system. But in teaching scripture we tend to stay away from it.

Hell, the Bible teaches is real. Read Mark 9:43,45,47 for what Jesus says about Hell. Hell is a fire that will never be quenched. It is a place separated from God. There is no longer a connection to the only GOOD in the universe. Good is GONE. Those who go to hell will experience the ABSENCE of GOOD forever and ever. How can they avoid this ABSENCE of GOOD. By throwing themselves on Lord Christ’s great mercy and begging for the forgiveness of their sins (rebellion against Him). Jesus puts it this way in John 3:16 when He was talking to Nicodemus came at night to Jesus and was asking questions of Jesus. “so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.” The only way we can experience the Goodness of God is to throw ourselves at the feet of our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, and experience eternal life. Hell will become real if we don’t and the ABSENCE of GOOD will be our reward.

All of us have an imagination, It is one of those wonderful things that God gave us so I would like for you to use yours. Imagine that good is not in your life, period, Zip, Zero. It ain’t there. No rain, no truth, no love, no compassion, no car, no house, no food, no smiles, no handshakes, no appreciation, no one to depend on, no trustworthiness of things or people around you. Nothing of GOOD exists in your life, period. You have been rejected by all people. There is only bad and evil. You cannot escape the bad or evil that surrounds you. There is no way out.

Now these words I have used are very incomplete and poor at painting a mental picture of the absence of GOOD, and our imagination cannot create a picture of nothing good in our life because we experience some good. (Our minds cannot deal with nothing nor create nothing. It only deals with something.) I cannot paint a picture of the AWFULNESS of “Absence of Good.” It does not exist in this world because our Great, Almighty God is in charge of this world and His love is all around us. Notice I did not say “in us” because whether good is in us is determined by His redeeming us. So good could be around us or in us. BUT there is a place where GOOD does not exist. God’s presence will not exist in Hell and there will be no good there. And it IS a place. Where there is a presence or absence of something then that is a place. The most accurate statement I can make is the “place is you or me or some other person”. That is where God is or is not. And, if you and I do not give our being to Him in worship for His Glory on this earth then we will worship the absence of Him when we physically die. That worship will be directed to the ABSENCE of GOOD (no God). What a horrible thought, the ABSENCE of GOOD. I tremble at that thought and cry out, “Precious Lord never leave me or forsake me.”

We can throw ourselves on His mercy and surrender all to Him while physically alive, or beg Him for a cup of cold water after we cease to exist on this earth. But the sad, frightening, thought that He cannot respond to us is terrifying. We won’t get a cup of water in Hell. Read Luke 16:24-26. Our Lord Jesus says when talking of Abraham’s response to the rich man in verse 26 these words. “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.” Please dear friend go to our Wonderful, Loving, Compassionate, Kind, Righteous God of the universe and beg for mercy for life eternally. Believe in the goodness alone that Christ Jesus can give. A LIFE everlasting can only come from Him. Run to Him.

ONLY GOD IS GOOD!

Sola Deo Gloria

In Him alone is Life,

Dewey Wise

Why Is Purpose Important?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

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An Appeal to Purpose

Have you ever heard the expression, “Everything has its place and everything is in its place”? Maybe not, but now you have—or at least you have read it. Well that expression when properly understood really holds a key to understanding life and possibly even death. Now that may seem a bit out of bounds, and may sound like I’m out of touch with reality. However when we break that expression down into its component parts and examine it in its abstract meaning we’ll have an answer to “Why?” as my grandchildren ask so often. That expression really addresses the concept of purpose. I recall a conversation about yellow jackets (You know the little flying critters.) that I had with the bulldozer operator during clearing of some land for me in Smith County a few years ago. He had upset some yellow jackets and been stung. He wondered what the purpose of yellow jackets was.

Can we understand the purpose of something regardless of the something? How important is it to understand the purpose of something? Why should we try to find purpose in all things? Is it possible to understand the purpose of something? If we find the purpose of something, will this help us understand how it functions? Should we search for purpose before we search for how something functions? Are these legitimate questions? Should we be asking these questions? If you are frustrated by now, don’t go away just yet. Learning is about questions not answers. Questions get us started toward the answers. I recall that years ago when I taught future instructors for the Air Force that I tried to teach them to determine how to ask questions. I told them that if they thought they had a problem then if they could not come up with a good question they probably did not have a problem. Veiled within the above questions are the issue that all things in existence have a purpose and until we find the purpose we really will not understand how to function in life. Function is how something works or operates. Purpose is the reason for a thing’s existence and goal. So do we look for purpose or do we look for function?

Suppose you gave me a watch and I had never seen one, never touched one, never been told what it was. When you gave it to me I saw the second hand moving. Remember I did not know the purpose of the watch. I did not know what time was or the purpose for keeping time. Now the second hand stopped moving. What do I do? Do I toss the watch in the trash can? I probably would because I saw no use for the watch. But no, the person who gave me the watch says “Well it was supposed to keep time but it has stopped running. I’ll get it repaired.” Now remember I do not know the purpose of the watch but a new word has been injected into my head. Time! In order to understand the purpose of the watch, I must be taught what time is and how my life fits into time. Then my understanding of the watch will grow, and even how it functions will become understandable. To the best of my knowledge, only God knows the purpose of time. I could say on a human level that time gives us history. But God has a purpose and I can only guess at His purpose. The only thing I can do is look at the history of this earth and surmise that it relates to history.

In summing up thinking about purpose, I can say that all things have purpose. I can say that all living things function in some manner and in those things where I am shown a behavior I can figure out their purpose. There is a relationship of function (how something works), purpose (the why) and goal (future end point of behavior). If I only understand how something functions (works), then I will be locked in time and understanding of the something. I will not know the purpose or goal. If I understand purpose, then I can know why (reason for existence) and figure out how something works (its function) and, with great probability, determine the goal (what the something wants in behaving or where it is going). A thought to add is that a goal can be external or internal. This means that something outside of me can set my goal and something inside of me can set my goal.

Now why have I presented these thoughts about purpose? Of course you know that I have a goal. If there was no purpose I would not have a goal. My goal is to help you understand human behavior and existence. BUT to do that we must have some understanding of WHY we (I) exist. Purpose in existence is the key. Psychologists and psychiatrists have expended mega amounts of time, personal energy and money on understanding human behavior and thinking while trying to change them. They (I was part of them) have developed a standard for human behavior and written books on what is normal and what is abnormal. They truly believe in their standards. HERE IS THE BIG QUESTION THAT HAS NOT BEEN ANSWERED BY MOST. (Some who believe in a Holy God and have a new way of thinking know man’s purpose.) WHY DO WE EXIST? Using my logic of function, purpose and goal AND belief in the existence of God, we can come to know the purpose of humans. (It is easy to know why we exist if we truly believe in a God who redeems a people) If we do not believe in the existence of God, we are primarily locked in to focusing on the function of man, or we attempt to get others to believe that we do know why we exist. However, each person will hold their individual belief of man’s existence. The big question is where does that lead us humans in interactive relationships? The answer is simple. We have major problems in relating, and we can see that in crimes against each other. As the old expression goes, “We stew in our on juices.” In fact, if we read Romans 2:28 we see what His Word tells us we will know that He leaves us to stew in our own making. SAD! SAD! Also He tells us why (purpose) we exist. Read Isaiah 43:7. He tells us in His word what our behavior will be if we do not believe in GOD our creator and Christ as LORD. Have you ever heard the expression “You can’t put a square peg in a round hole”? I hope you have. Our society today has very few truly meaningful abstract terms that relate to life. Anyway the meaning is that if you try to use something, whatever it may be, that it was not made for, it may work somewhat but in the end it will always be troublesome. Now draw that idea to us humans. If God created us for His glory (our purpose) and we are not doing that (our function), then we will continually be “out of sorts” as the old folks used to say. We will be miserable and constantly searching for meaning and our niche. We will not know the joy that comes from knowing, serving and glorifying Holy God.

Man (humans) continues to try to reinvent the wheel. God has already told us about our behavior and purpose, but we continue to believe that we’ve got the answer to end all answers. We see it in political leaders who tell us how to behave and what to believe. Most of their thinking goes like this, “If people can go to anger management classes, tolerate the behavior of others even though it may be destructive to them and others, not have any negative thoughts of other’s behavior who are bent on destroying people, not be responsible for one’s existence (behavior and life in general), let people do what they feel like doing, and believe that there is no evil on the planet then all will be well.” In other words, let all be a god unto themselves. They say, “If we could just get along with each other.” Now that sounds good and there is validity to that, but if all people do not know their created purpose and function toward that purpose, getting along with each other will never take place. The only way it can is to live in isolation. All human beings need a great unifier which is outside themselves in order to “love thy neighbor.” I recall that in the 1970’s there was a TV commercial that presented a vast number of people on earth just singing and loving each other. That came from the generation of people who just loved and wanted the whole world to love. They were trying to find meaning in life. I’ve heard the expression, “I just need to find myself.” Bottom line is that we can only “find” ourselves when we find God and know our purpose in existence.

I have reached the end. Now for the final question. Do you believe in God who created you and know how you behave, why you exist, and what your goal is? If you don’t then you (I) will “stew in life as we make it”. If you (I) do believe in HIM then we will have a goal, know our only purpose, and behave in a manner that will love God, others and self. WE WILL LOOK TO HIM IN FAITH AND ENJOY A JOY UNSPEAKABLE WHEN ALL AROUND US THE WORLD IS FALLING APART and LIFE SEEMS HOPELESS. What is YOUR purpose?

My prayer is that your only purpose is to GLORIFY GOD AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER. May the God of the universe bless and keep you.

Praise GOD above all earthly powers.

Soli Deo Gloria

In Him,

Dewey Wise

April 29, 2009