RELATIONSHIP OF PUNISHMENT AND DISCIPLINE

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

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

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

TWO KINDS OF FEAR

September 15th, 2009
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Two Kinds of Fear

There are two kinds of fear depicted in God’s Holy Scripture.

In America, anxiety is at an all time high. More people are on anti’anxiety drugs than ever before and it is not just because the population is greater. A greater percentage of the population is using antianxiety drugs (medication if you will). Anxiety is a form of fear. It is kinda a pervasive form of fear that lingers within the person when there is no apparent danger in one’s environment. Sigmond Freud and his followers have used the term neurosis. Karen Horney talked of it as some internal state that moved a person “away from” others. There is no question that when a person is anxious (frightened) they move away from people or things that they perceive can harm them. In fact some folks become so anxious or neurotic or frightened that they are controlled by it to the extent that they will not leave their house. They will not go into a public place where people are. Within the person’s mind is a belief that they are not safe anywhere or with others. It is as though they have a radar antenna scanning constantly for danger especially when relating to others but the fear can be of life in general. To us (I’ve been there) who have experienced anxiety there is a sense of doom hanging over one’s head. Now why have I said all this?

In God’s Holy Word fear is defined in two basic ways, fear as in fear of things that can physically or psychologically harm us and fear of God. Fear of man and things can be understood easily because this is the fear that all of us carry from birth. It is built in us to protect us from harm. We know it because we live with it. When this kind of fear turns into anxiety that a majority of Americans suffer from and fight constantly then it can immobilize us. We also come equipped to fear God. Some do not want to accept that idea but read history to see how man has always questioned if there is a God. This comes from a fear that there may be a God. It is very difficult to separate these two in our mind because to understand the fear of God we MUST know God and only a minority truly know God. My thoughts thus turn to fear of God. Why? I believe that fear of God is the primary deep unconscious need of all people but we focus on the secondary shallow fear of people in our society and what they can do to us.

At creation God built in us a great need for Him. All mankind has some awareness of this which is evident in the way all peoples throughout history have developed a religion. Over the centuries all people worshiped  something whether outside the person as in plants, trees, carved objects, powers, storms, mountains, automobiles, job, house, spouse, children, heavenly objects (planets, stars, sun), earth (mother earth) or inside the person as in self. This kind of worship is reflected in the pride we have in self or as C. S. Lewis calls it, self-admiration. It also shows in our self exaltation. In our modern day we have become much more sophisticated in our religion. But some claim they don’t believe or worship a god. However all humans will worship something. Therein lies that built in need to fear (worship) God even though most modern day folks claim they don’t.

Fear of God is a worship fear of a Holy, Perfect, Righteous, Just, Loving, Merciful, Gracious God. This fear is sometimes called reverential fear. It comes from an internal state that moves us in AWE toward a Holy God but at the same time a fear that keeps us at a distance from Him because He has the SOVEREIGNTY and POWER to do as He WILLS in human history and our life. As many young people say today “That is awesome.” It is more awesome than the mind can imagine and He REALLY SHOULD be the only thing in our mind that is AWESOME. And we should have a fear of God. A fear that is born from an awareness of a Supreme Mysterious Being that transcends our puny being. That fear should repeal us away from Him but His awesomeness should move us to explore and get acquainted with such an AWESOME GOD.

If we truly have this fear of Almighty God, then the fear of one’s earthly life will be minimal. Why? Because we will know all is well with our souls if we submit our self to Him in worship. Worry for others and concern for personal well being will be given to Him. Read the story of Horatio Spafford. In 1873 he penned the wonderful old hymn, “It is well with my soul”, after four of his daughters perished when the ship on which they were passengers sank in the Atlantic. And that is not all of his tragedy. His son died in the Great Chicago Fire. He later had other children who died. He also went bankrupt after the Chicago fire. Here are some of the words to the hymn.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

How could Spafford say it is well with my soul? He had God’s love through Lord Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(NASB)

How do we come to Jesus? By believing in Him and casting ourself on His mercy and begging Him for mercy and forgiveness because we have rebelled against Him. When we do this in REVERENCE and AWE of Him and loving Him with all our might and mind then He will help us cope with a life filled with anxiety. Our security will rest in Him and not others or things or even self, but Him ALONE. It is not easy to turn loose of self. Society teaches us to have self-esteem but self-esteem does not work. Why? Because deep down inside we know that we don’t have the resources or power to make the world in our imagine so that we will feel no fear. Our only hope is in Him because our life is not based on our efforts to stop worrying . It is not in fear of others and a frightening contentious world that is ready to put us down or punish us if we don’t live up to other’s expectations that we are to live. Our life is to be lived out in His love. In 1 John 4:18 we read these words. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast our fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (NASB) His perfect love becomes our life energy because we cannot love perfectly. The world’s love just won’t be enough. If we turn to Him then He’ll give us the love we need. Only in Him will we find true love. A phoney love is when we love others and things and expect them to love us back.

Love the Lord God only and fear Him. In Gensis 6:13-15 we read these words. “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name. You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth.” (NASB)

In these verses, God through Moses was telling the people about fearing Him. In these verses we see the fear that contains the two states in the fear of God as pointed out above and expressed in God’s Holy Word. We see the AWE and REVERENCE for our Lord and the fear of harm from Him. Do you only have the fear of harm in your being or do you have the fear that gives you the security of life in the present and life everlasting after death? My heart goes out to all who only have fear of this earthly life and have little peace within. The fear of God can give peace and rest.

In Him alone is Life,

Dewey Wise
Hope Fruit and Berry Farm
September 8, 2009

DOES GOD KNOW?

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

Kindness and Tenderness of a Loving Savior

August 26th, 2009

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A Battered Reed

I saw and touched a battered reed this morning.”

What comes to mind as you read those words? Is it of something that has very little significance in this big world where we live? Something very small that cannot match tall buildings in the largest of our cities or be useful for building a house. Something that will probably never be seen and certainly never win an award and be recognized at a banquet. Something that has no value and needs to be broken off and thrown away if it gets in our way. It offers no food for the hungry, no resting place for the weary, no beauty to be observed and no softness to the touch and no cover for the cold. It is just battered and should be broken off, removed from sight and be thrown away. Would you throw it away?

In Isaiah 42:1-8 (KJV) is expressed by God about the coming of Jesus, His Servant, these words.

1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

2 “He will not cry out or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street.

3 “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.

4 “He will not be disheartened or crushed Until He has established justice in the earth; And the coastlands will wait expectantly for His law.”

5 Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it And spirit to those who walk in it,

6 “I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations,

7 To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison.

8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images”

Reeds are mentioned many times in the Old Testament and New Testament. They were of much significance and use. There were small reeds and large reeds. Some grew very tall and had broad leaves.

Notice verse 3 where God says through Isaiah that He will not break a bruised (battered) reed. What kindness, what gentleness, what sensitivity, and what concern He has for things we consider broken and insignificant. We give little thought to those around us who are poor, broken, troubled, and suffering. BUT, oh, the kindness and gentleness of God in His Son.

Have you experienced His gentle loving kindness?

In Him is Life,

Dewey Wise

August 25, 2009

Self Admiration- Pride

August 26th, 2009

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Do We Admire Ourselves?

Recently I received a Desiring God blog email from John Piper. John Piper is pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minnesota. He gave a quote from C. S. Lewis which was written to a friend about one year after he was converted to Christ. As I read it, I was struck by its simplicity but very deep insight into the human heart. Actually it was Lewis’ own heart that he was looking at. Here is the quote.

During my afternoon “meditations,”—which I at least attempt quite regularly now—I have found out ludicrous and terrible things about my own character. Sitting by, watching the rising thoughts to break their necks as they pop up, one learns to know the sort of thoughts that do come.

And, will you believe it, one out of every three is the thought of self-admiration: when everything else fails, having had its neck broken, up comes the thought “what an admirable fellow I am to have broken their necks!” I catch myself posturing before the mirror, so to speak, all day long. I pretend I am carefully thinking out what to say to the next pupil (for his good, of course) and then suddenly realize I am really thinking how frightfully clever I’m going to be and how he will admire me…

And then when you force yourself to stop it, you admire yourself for doing that. It is like fighting the hydra… There seems to be no end to it. Depth under depths of self-love and self-admiration. (quoted in The Narnian by Alan Jacobs, 133)

I must confess that his thoughts brought on a lot of self examination because I ran across a phrase I had never run across in all my conversations or readings. It was “self-admiration”. Then I ask how does this fit with the thing we call pride. God’s Word tells us that pride is a horrible sin. In fact it is the sin that is most destructive in our lives. It is a sin because out of the heart comes all manner of evil and the greatest evil is wanting to be God. I pondered and pondered “self-admiration”. Well lo and behold Lewis was talking about me. Therefore I must confess. I admire myself. Is that good or is that bad? How does self admiration relate to self esteem? Is self esteem good or bad? (When I use the terms good or bad I hope your thoughts are that good relates to life and bad relates to death or troubles of life. Read or reread a previous article on GOOD in my ramblings.)

In a previous writing I left this thought with you, “For now think about what makes you tick. What are the controlling beliefs in you head (mind)? Look where they take you.” Self admiration shows up in the way we think about self and the world of others and I’m in the center. And it is based on beliefs we carry around in our head about self. In Proverbs 23:7, God tells us this, “As he thinketh within his heart so is he . . .”. (KJV) In the New American Standard Bible it goes this way. “For as he has thought in his soul, so is he.”

Now you might say, “How do you admire yourself and how does that effect the way you behave?” Well here’s a few ways. I say or have said in my mind, (thoughts): “Wise, you sure did good there.” “I wonder what other folks will say about me. I bet they’ll have something good to say.” “I hope that what they think about me is good.” “I really made so and so feel good today.” or “I’m really glad he asked me. Maybe I can help him.” Examine the beginning of each thought. With whom does the thought begin? I, I, I.

What is my belief that I’ve developed over the years in my mind that produces self admiration? Or did I develop it? Maybe it was there at birth. Basically this belief is that I am important and want others to think or say good things about me. I believe that I need to be viewed as unique (special) in all human relationships and that somehow I’m set apart from others. (Who does this sound like? God maybe.) But you may say all people should have the belief that we are unique so don’t throw God into the discussion. We are unique in abilities and appearance, however we are all part of the human race and thus not unique. Now if I want to be God then where does that put me in relationship to all others? I no longer am part of the human race. After working (counseling and teaching) with people for many years I find all of us with that belief in our head. And a belief of specialness can take us into believing we have special privileges and that we deserve to be treated in special ways. Specialness is self-admiration.

Self-admiration is nothing more than pride rearing its ugly head. So to answer an earlier question, “Is it bad or good?” I must say that it is BAD. It sets me apart from others in that I “feel” superior. HOW HORRIBLE THAT I BELIEVE THIS.

So now you know, I am a prideful, sinful person. What must I do? Answer: Fall down on my knees in front of Almighty God and beg Him for forgiveness that I want to be Him. I am His creation and can never be anything else. I’m in the sinful human race and must look to a Just, Righteous, Loving, Merciful God in Christ Jesus for mercy and forgiveness so that I can live in harmony with my brothers and sisters in Lord Christ. I must mortify pride daily and moment by moment.

If I may ask, what is your belief about you? All beliefs start with self but in order to understand self we need to start with our Creator because He knows us better than we know ourselves. We can only know ourselves when we know Him. John Calvin, an early Reformer, said this:

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy -this pride is innate in all of us – unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly and impurity. (Institutes, pg. 37)

Thank you for allowing me to confess and share about me. I don’t know about you, but our Glorious God does know about you. He knows the way you think and what beliefs you’ve developed over the years in your mind. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (NASB) Ask Him.

In Him only is Life,

Dewey Wise

August 23, 2009

Importance of Beliefs

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

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

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