Your Prayers Are Heard

I was at my Bible Study tonight with some friends. We’d had a really great and biblical discussion and it was time to close in prayer. Our little circle gathered all of our prayer requests together and then we all listened as our originator prayed. As he prayed though, I was struck with a reality.

I remember telling someone one night in my effort to preach the gospel to him, that his prayers were heard. I had a thought as if something almost magical was taking place at that moment. We were communicating with the most awesome being of all and if Christianity is true, we are being heard.

I wonder if maybe that’s why we can be so lackluster in prayer. Do we really think that God is hearing us? Do we really know who this God is that we are praying to and what he has done in the past and is doing now? Is he really such an overwhelming influence in our lives that we live our days in awe?

I’ll go on and confess that I’m not at that point yet. It seems we make prayer so that it is difficult to do. Maybe we do expect too much. Emotions aren’t the strong point of all of us, but there should be some feeling of awe. When we pray, are we merely saying vain words, or are we really believing that our prayers are heard?

This is one of the great dangers of our lives. Our lives can become ritualized. We read the Bible simply because we’re Christians and that’s what we do. We pray because we’re Christians and that’s what we do. It’s the reason we go to church or help out people in need. How many of us have helped out someone in need and been annoyed at doing it but thought, “Well, I’m a Christian so I gotta do it.”

That’s probably one of our greatest dangers. We don’t really get to live the excitement of the Christian life. Oh we can sit down and watch a movie we’ve seen several times before and say “I love this movie!” or we can listen to a song we’ve heard several times before and say “I love this song!”, but dare we read a passage of Scripture we’ve read before?

I would point the finger again at a loss of wonder. Movies can hold us in wonder. Music can hold us in wonder. Prayer and Scripture don’t. Might I posit a culprit for this? (Of course I might. It’s my blog and I can do what I want.) I would say that the culprit in all of these is holiness.

I’m not talking about biblical holiness. I’m talking about our conception of holiness. Somehow when we say “Holy Bible”, we enter this austere mode where we think we have to be reverentially silent and control our emotions and think only the holiest of thoughts and not laugh or enjoy ourselves. Somehow, our society has equated holiness with boring.

Don’t believe it? Go watch a movie based on a book of Scripture sometime. Everyone in them seems to speak in a monotone all the time. You don’t see smiles. You see just people walking around as if they’re all in a sour mood and trying to be better than everyone else. I hate to say it, but biblical movies usually are boring.

Yet here’s something to consider. Spirituality is considered exciting. Be it the sentimentalism of “Touched by an Angel” or the New Age of Sylvia Browne. Things that are “spiritual” have an air of excitement and danger to them. Why else do we have so many TV shows and movies with those kinds of themes?

Why are those exciting? Probably because we give them an air of surprise and excitement. You’re talking to a psychic! Anything could happen! They’re in touch with the other side! Here’s what I’m wondering. If talking to dead uncle Fred is exciting, why isn’t talking to the God of all creation exciting?

My solution? Restore that wonder. If you want to laugh while reading Scripture some, do so. Celebrate your emotions when studying. Be honest in your prayers and realize who you’re speaking to. One of the best prayers I know of is the one of Dwight L. Moody after a long day of ministry prayed “Lord, I’m tired. Good night.”

Also, remember the truth about what it is you believe and who it is you believe. We look at holiness as a punishment today. We need to change that and look at holiness as exciting. Holiness is not meant to keep us from having a good time. It is meant to make sure we have a good time.

Why don’t we? Let’s remember our prayers are heard. Let’s be holy. Really holy.


When it comes to thinking about Jesus as I’ve said, I wanted to find a good place to begin. What better place can there be though than to begin with the fact that Jesus exists? The fact that anything exists should hold us in wonder. We can look at the world and say “All of this might not have been.”

A question that has often been asked to atheists by theists, and I think it is a good question. Why is there anything rather than nothing at all? We could look and ask not just why are we here, but why is anything here? It is nonsense to say all of this came from nothing, yet there amazingly some atheists do hold to this position.

Let’s start with the root of existence. All that is I believe is that which reflects God. What about evil? Evil really isn’t. Evil is an absence and an absence is not a positive existence. It’s showing a lack. It is like saying the empty portion in a glass exists. It just doesn’t really fit.

Christ though is the one who has already existed. Of course, all three persons of the Trinity have existed for all eternity, but Christ is our revelation so that we could know what God is like. Before we know what Christ is like tonight. We need to realize simply that Christ is.

I find this so incredible. Let us think about this one who was from the very beginning and in the bosom of the Father.  And what does John say about this one? This very one who was from all time walked among us! We saw him! We touched him! We heard his voice! He was entirely real! He lived like one of us!

Do we really pause to think about this? This God who revealed himself dwelt among us! When the ancients read John 1:14, they were stunned. How could the Word, which has the divine nature entirely, become flesh? How could that which was God from the beginning live on Earth?

Yet this is what happen! This Christ who eternally existed came and lived above us. Why? He wants us to experience existence as he does. He loves us. He wants to show us his utter delight in us. He wants us to have the most real existence of all. An existence where we reflect him in every way.

And this only starts, because he exists. Let us pause and keep in mind this great wonder. God exists and existence is good.

More Thoughts on Thoughts

A friend of mine and I were discussing last night (And an awesome Christian friend he is!) what I had written in my blog last night. He reminded me that it was an interesting idea, but is there anything to back it yet? That will take more thinking, but he also wasn’t sure how to apply it to his life. I thought as I went to bed that thought came to me. I had thought of the application, but in my excitement with a new theory, I lost track of recording it.

As a man thinks in his heart, so shall he be. What we eventually download into our thought life effects who we are. Consider the child who grows up abused. He is constantly told he is no good and constantly shown that. What happens eventually? He will sadly most often believe it.

What does this mean? It means that if we are to change our actions, we need to change our thoughts. We will act based on what we believe is true. If I believe that car heading down the street will hurt me if it hits me, I will not be likely to cross the street in front of it. If I believed I was a magical being and the car would pass through me, I would probably go ahead and cross.

I believe this has sadly happened to a lot of ladies for instance. I meet a number who I think are quite beautiful and I’m stunned as they look at themselves and don’t think they are. I ponder that probably many guys could relate to that. It seems the things most obvious about other people to us are the things they miss. (My friends are hoping I follow my own advice here.)

This is why we preach the gospel and encourage one another. The more people are told such things, the more they will be overwhelmed by the evidence and have to accept it. How different the church would be if it would learn to encourage its own instead of being the organization that shoots its own wounded.

How else can we apply this? Let’s consider the case of a young man struggling with lust. (And what young man hasn’t, this writer included) What can we tell him to get his thought life under control? Tell him not to think about sexual intercourse or girls? What will that result be? You go on and try it. Try for the next ten minutes not to think about a pink elephant. It won’t work.

Cold showers and such? Those are only temporary solutions. I’m not against getting a porn blocker or something, but the problem is not just with the external world. It’s with the internal world. The young man needs to have his heart changed to a proper attitude about women.

I will not forget one thing that did help me in my learning to deal with and control desire. It was being in love. It took true love to take care of the false love. It’s the same in any situation. Truth is the best way to deal with falsehood. When I was in love, being lustful was just unthinkable.

Let us suppose that we take a Muslim in the Middle East who is Anti-Semitic and wants to destroy Israel and has nothing but hate for the Jews. What is the way to change that? To love a Jew. I would say that the best one for him to start with is Christ. It has been said the only way to stop terrorism is to convert Muslims to Jesus Christ. I agree wholeheartedly. We can contain the threat some, but the only way to end it is to change the heart and that is conversion.

And this is the way to change our hearts ultimately. We must think of that which is true. What is more true than the one who said he is the truth? If it is true that as a man thinks in his heart, so shall he be, then the more that we do think like Christ, the more like him we shall be.

Of course, this doesn’t negate that we follow the other commands of encouraging and preaching the gospel to one another, but for our own selves, we can gain more by thinking on Christ. Being in love can provide one happiness because one loses one’s self in another in constant thought about the other. So should it be with the one we are devoted to. Ironically, the more we lose ourselves in him, the more we find ourselves. What we really lose is not ourselves. He keeps us and takes all that isn’t us.

Ben Witherington ends his blogs saying “Think on these things.” It’s a good ending. I’d end this one saying “Think on this Christ.”

God’s thoughts and Triune existence

I was walking to our pool tonight and started thinking. Ah. But what to think about? Well, I’m walking, so why not think about actions? Now this is still an idea I’m chewing on, but I’d like to go on and get a lot of it out here. Perchance more will come to me as I continue to write my blog.

There are different types of actions. I think of walking first off. I walk to the pool. Where, the pool does not receive the action of my walking. I do. I am the one acting and in an odd way, the object of my walking. My goal of course, is the pool, but it is all happening to me. Now maybe some English majors might want to correct me and if so, very well.

Some have an object in their very nature and can only apply to the one doing the action. I think about the saying “I sleep.” I can put an adverb to that action of sleeping. I sleep soundly. However, if I am the one doing it, I can be the only one receive the action. I do not need to describe another object.

Some are automatic in their object. I think of words like hallucinate and dream. I do not hallucinate what is real. If it is really there, then it is not a hallucination. I can see a hallucination and it seems real, but I cannot hallucinate something that is really there before me. I cannot dream anything other than a dream either. (And I mean dream in the sense of what one does when asleep and not have a deep desire.)

Then I thought about words like love and hate and desire. They automatically imply an object. If I say, “I love” that is rather incomplete. Love automatically has an object that is receiving the action.  Hate and desire is the same way. There is something receiving the action. The same goes for thinking.

I got to thinking about God’s thoughts then. My view is that God gets no new thoughts. God knows all that can possibly be known for all time. New ideas do not enter the mind of God. That would kind of go against omniscience. God is the eternal knower and he knows all truths eternally.

Now let’s imagine that God thinks about the highest thing he can think about. Well that would be himself. Let us suppose that he thought of himself. Could God have a perfect thought of himself? Of course! That would mean though that God is incapable of thinking a less than perfect thought of himself.

Could he have a thought of himself that’s as real as he is? Yes. For if he couldn’t, then God is limited in his thinking and his viewing of himself. God would not be able to even know himself. If God could not know himself, then there would be knowledge outside of God and if knowledge resides in a mind, we must know where this knowledge is.

So God eternally has this thought of himself and this thought cannot be less than himself. That would mean that the thought would have to be an exact representation of himself. However, for the thought to be an exact representation of himself, it would have to eternally exist an eternally exist in reality.

With that, we can say we have the Son. The exact representation of the Father in reality.

Now someone is saying “Alright, then why aren’t there 1,000 Sons? Why just one? The answer is simple. If this is an exact representation, then what difference would there be in another one? They would all have the same properties of being the eternal thought of God and would not differ then. If there is no difference, then they are the same. We avoid Unitarianism because God is thinking and that thinking is producing something. There is the thinker and then the thought.

Now these two eternally exist. There is a deep love then that is just as real. It is so real it is personal, for how could love between the two persons be less than personal? With that, we could say we have the Holy Spirit. In essence, the Son eternally reflects the Father and the Holy Spirit is the love between them.

Thus, God is capable of knowing for each person knows things other than themselves. They know each other. Could this be also how we are capable of knowing things other than ourselves? We can know other because each person of the Trinity can know other? Were Unitarianism true, we might be capable of only receiving actions directed to ourselves.

Now this is all just thinking out loud at this point and I want to do some more pondering on this line of thought, but I think it has some merit. I hope the reader thinks such as well.

Who Are You?

I’d like you to picture a little boy. This boy is constantly ignored by his parents. The times that he is not ignored, he is being hit by them. He is constantly told that he is no good. His parents do not honor him in any way or show him any love or affection in anyway. When this kid grows up, do you think he’ll carry any of that with him such that whenever he performs an action throughout the day, he’ll be thinking of that?

Picture a beautiful teenage girl. She meets a guy and she thinks this is the real deal so she goes on and sleeps with him. The guy has what he wants then and decides he’s going to dump her. The girl feels used and that she can’t truly bring satisfaction to a man. Do you think this will have an impact on her future relationships?

Picture the employee at his job. He wants to do good and be hard-working, but it seems that every time he does a project, his boss criticizes him and lets it be known that he could have definitely done better. Before too long, the employee doesn’t feel the need to try and grows lax in his work. Will this change his approach to future projects and/or jobs?

Chances are, most of us answered yes. I know we have this idea in our modern world of “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” You almost want to slap the moron every time who came up with that saying. In my reading about the honor society of the biblical times, this makes more sense.

When the Bible was being written, persecution by death wasn’t a huge problem for Christians. Nero was the first instigator, but many of Paul’s letters did not address that. They were talking about Christians suffering. What from? Loss of honor. The Christian community was not well accepted and was thus, in a sense, ostracized by the world.

This is what Hebrews is about. The writer is telling the listeners to endure. They will have their honor restored by God. Peter says the same thing in his epistles. The Christians are called to remember the truth to restore their honor. What is the truth. It is the truth about who they are.

How we act every day in the world in every situation will come out of who we are. One of my problems, for instance, is a lack of confidence. I even find it in my hobby of gaming. I often play Super Smash Brothers with my friends and I find myself hesitant to fight at times because I doubt my capability and then, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

How you view yourself though will change how you handle a challenge. The person with a more positive self-image will start seeing this as an opportunity to soar and overcome and learn something greater or be better than they were. The other type will put the problem over them and feel threatened by it and fear that it cannot be overcome.

I believe this is one reason the Bible tells us to encourage one another. We need to be reminded of who we are in Christ. So who are we?

We are bearers of the image of God in Genesis 1.

In Psalm 8, we are the crown of creation.

In the Song of Songs, we are altogether beautiful.

In Luke 12:32, We’re the precious little flock.

In Romans 8, we’re the sons of God who will be conformed to his image.

In 1 John 3:1, we are children of God.

In 1 Cor. 12, we are the body of Christ.

In Ephesians 2, we are the ones raised up and seated in the heavenlies.

In 2 Peter 1, we are partakers of the divine nature

In 1 Peter 1, we are God’s elect.

If I kept going, there’s no telling how long this blog would be.

This is who we are. Those who are familiar with Scripture know that this is all throughout Scripture. Question! Why don’t we live like this? Answer! We don’t believe it. Let’s be honest. There is a degree where we are all atheistic in our living and denying the truth of God.

My suggestion? Let’s remind each other. I try to end conversations with friends now by reminding them of the truth of who they are. Now if you have a friend who isn’t a Christian, you naturally can’t tell him that he’s in Christ. However, you can tell them that they are a bearer of the image of God. That is a great compliment in himself.

Just remember, you are a bearer as well. Live up to the image of the one who made you.

Here’s to you Melissa!

I was in our break room tonight and the NBC Nightly News was on. I don’t usually go political, but I can’t stand most news programs today. The media is extremely liberal and their coverage of Christianity is hardly friendly. I consider myself a strong conservative. I have friends who are not and are Christians, but this is just where I fall politically.

They told a story about a young lady who had been married and her husband went off to fight. This childhood sweetheart of hers from elementary school on died just eight months later. (I might have the time wrong. I’m having to do that from memory.) I was expecting to hear another Cindy Sheehan story.

What did I hear about this lady doing? She was enlisting in the army because she wanted to make a difference. She was training to go over and be a medic to help other people who are dealing with loss. I listened to that and I was stunned. This lady’s name is Melissa Garvin and I knew then that this was someone I wanted to honor by writing a blog about.

I thought what a contrast this was to Sheehan. I can see why a mother would grieve and be angry at losing a son, but that does not prove that the war is immoral or moral. People have been killed fighting for and against moral and immoral causes. I see Sheehan as one who played the victim card.

Garvin though has not. Instead, I was astounded. This girl looked incredibly young and in looking at her tragedy, was only thinking of a way she could help those who were over there. She didn’t make any statements about the war on whether she was for or against it. She only wanted it to be known that she was wanting to go over and help people who are grieving.

I don’t know about the faith of this lady, but I know what I saw tonight was greatly moving. I think the church can learn a lesson from Garvin. Too often, we retreat into our shells when the world gets hard and refuse to do anything. Garvin tells us a good way to act. Go out and make a difference still. She doesn’t care what the price is. She wants to make a difference.

Here’s to you Melissa Garvin! I salute you!

The Family Through Time

I’ve been reading a book by David DeSilva called “Honor, Patronage, Kinship, and Purity.” Friends. I highly recommend that you read this one. I have found it quite revealing and I seem to be reading the NT through new eyes. However, I was reading last night as he was talking about the family.

In the ancient world, the family worked closely together. They would often deal in a trade and produce an item or do some sort of service. They were tightly knit and defended each other. Sibling rivalry was frowned upon and the chastity of the daughters was to be protected at all costs. Husbands, while above their wives on the scale of hierarchy, were to love their wives and cherish them and honor them. Extended family members could often live under the same roof.

The more I read, the more I pondered how different our families today are. Our families don’t really work together. Our home is really just a place where we live often. Chastity honored today? What a joke. Go look at the checkout lines at the grocery store and see what’s going on. It is a wonder to get a female to the altar chaste.

I prayed last night as I was going to sleep and I prayed repentance. I was reminded of how Nehemiah and Daniel and other figures prayed for the nation of Israel when they’d blown it. I think there are times we need to pray on behalf of our nation as well. It shows us the gravity of our situation.

I have seen this commercial that shows how far we have fallen. I’ll leave the company unnamed, but it has the father talking to the kids who are lounging on couches and saying that he has good news. He’s switched to a new wireless plan so now the kids can text anyone anytime all they want. The kids say “But we do that already.” Then the Dad answers, “Yeah, but now we can afford for Mom to quit her second job.” The mother walks in then dressed as a taco and puts the keys on the counter and heads off. The kids sit on the couch reading their magazines indifferent.

That sickens me. It shows me how far we’ve fallen. First off, those kids need to be taught a lesson. There are some times I do favor corporal punishment and this would be one of them. If they are too old, some form of discipline. The kids needed to learn that first. The parents were just indulging them by getting a second job. The kids are learning a lesson there.

Secondly, if there was a situation where there needed to be extra money, it did not need to be from the Mom. That Dad needed to be out there doing the work. Unfortunately, our men don’t often know how to lead which can lead to them being dominated by their wives, a position that should not happen.

Of course, this also means that men don’t abuse leadership. There are more texts that speak of how the man is to live than of how the woman is to live, but the men are the leaders and they need to be out there acting like leaders. They are the ones who are to raise their children in the fear of the Lord and teach them to be disciples of Christ.

I pray for our nation. I really do. We have forgotten the way a family is supposed to be. I really hope we can return, because I do not think our nation can survive if we dismiss the family unit.

Methods of Determining Truth

I have been in dialogue with two non-Christians lately. The objections are different, but the nature that they represent is the same. The first objection was in the belief in God. The person believes that the sun and moon exist and needs evidence in the same way for God. The second one believes that if the resurrection took place, we need more than natural means to determine it due to it being a supernatural activity.

I believe both hold an illegitimate bias in favor of naturalism and both are the same in that regards. My question to the first is how someone knows that the sun and moon exist. We could say our senses show us. Well how do we know our senses are reliable? There is the chance, after all, that this is all an illusion and anything in the world will seem to be real, but it won’t really be.

Of course, we could just accept the common sense approach. Our senses do give us knowledge about reality. That would be a faith claim though. It would be saying that our minds do fit the world outside of them, but why should I think that on the basis of naturalism? Could I not consider that instead, my mind is playing a trick on me?

Why do I believe God exists then? Because I look at the universe and I see the mark of design and I do not believe it to be an accident. I would say that while we may think the existence of God an incredible doctrine, we should realize that the existence of our next-door neighbor is incredible as well.

Now we come to the second. The objection assumes that we need more for a miracle. How come? Well, it’s because a miracle is an anomaly. It is not part of nature. Yet I am not sure our thinking can be considered part of nature. Are our thoughts the result of purely naturalistic events? If so, why should we trust them? It would be like trusting the answers of a computer that somehow came of an accident.

Let us use another example. Let us suppose a police investigator decided to go to an island on vacation once. This island has been a peaceable place for centuries. The police force down there has an easy time. However, while he’s vacationing, for the first time, a murder takes place. Our detective is a good guy so he goes to see if he can help when discussion starts about a dead body.

He looks at the body and notices signs of foul play and calls for the police chief. The police chief will say “It cannot be that, because murder does not happen here.” Our sleuth will say it just did and the police chief will ask for more evidence because that doesn’t happen here. The investigator gives all he can but the chief refuses to think that. Why? Because murder just doesn’t happen here.

Why should this be different though? If my actions are not caused by purely naturalistic means, then could we not say in some ways that I am an agent acting on nature? Don’t we use forensic science to determine that there are cases where people act on nature in such a way and we can determine what happened even if the event (Which it always is) is unrepeatable?

Why should we treat the resurrection of Christ differently? Why not look at the reports that we have of the event and see their proximity to it, whether their authors can be seen as generally reliable, Whether they are by and large consistent, and then look at any external evidence such as changes in the social structure or archaeology? We can then look to see the context of what happened and see if it fits in overall.

The argument that it’s supernatural just doesn’t cut it. When a man claims a supernatural experience such as seeing an angel, we can either say that the common man is a liar or that angels don’t exist if we want to dismiss the claim right off. However, the Christian is allowed to look at the claim and examine it and see if it could be true. He does not have to dismiss it out of hand.

Now someone might ask, as this one did also, about miracles in other religions. I have no problem with them. I examine the claim like any other claim. If they happened, then they happened. A miracle in a Hindu society does not destroy my faith. However, a miracle in ANY society destroys naturalism. There is one side that obviously might have a bias as there is more to use.

What’s my contention then? Be fair with the evidence. It is all the Christian asks. We must look back at our epistemology and see if any side truly is stacking the deck.

Doing Something Extraordinary

I was looking at the backs of some movies today and saw one named “Pride.” I read what it said on the back and it said that it was about how one ordinary man did something extraordinary. Now I’ve never seen this movie. It may be a great movie. It may be a terrible one. I don’t know. I did think about this claim though. How one ordinary man did something extraordinary. I thought on how that was the selling point of a movie on the DVD.

My mind thought of how C.S. Lewis said there are no ordinary people. Every person you meet will be either a creature you will be tempted to bow down and worship if you saw it now, or will be a creature so scary that your worst nightmares could not picture it. There are no ordinary people.

I pondered that along with this point. If there are no ordinary people, then it would seem that everyone is extraordinary. It seems then that the shocking movie to us would not be about the man who does something extraordinary. It would be about the man who does nothing extraordinary.

Unfortunately, I believe we have reached such a state of mediocrity where we expect that. There are those people that will come along and want to do something great. What will we say? “Come down and live in the real world.” No. The people wanting to do something great should say “Come up and live in the real world.”

A child will often grow up wanting to do something great. Adults he meets will tell him that when he grows up, he’ll get past such childhood delusions. The child needs to respond that maybe the adult needs to become a child again if that means that the adult will get past such adult delusions.

Does this mean you will necessarily be famous? No. You might be. You might not be. It does mean though that you can change things. I would suggest considering a man like Edward Kimball. Who was that? Maybe some of you know. It is quite likely though that most people do not.

Edward Kimball was a Sunday School teacher in the middle of the 19th century who taught 6th grade boys. These boys would gather and were more interested in cracking jokes and making noises with their armpits. Everyone thought Kimball was overwhelmed and didn’t know what he was doing. So did he.

Yet, he tried. He paced around outside the shoe store where one of his students named Dwight worked. He really didn’t want to go in and talk, but he did. He went to the counter and started talking to Dwight about how Jesus had changed his life. When Kimball looked up, he saw that Dwight was crying.

That Dwight, we know today as Dwight L. Moody.

Did Kimball change the world and do something extraordinary? You bet he did! In fact, as I ponder it, he not only changed the world, he changed Heaven and Earth. Heaven is a different place because just one more person was won to Christ. Be you a Calvinist or an Arminian, we all agree the preaching of the gospel leads people to Christ so I don’t think your stance on that issue will effect what I have said.

How did he do it? He talked to someone. Maybe you’ll do it. Maybe you’ll encourage someone. Maybe you’ll preach a message. Maybe you’ll go out and help the poor. Maybe you’ll be a counselor or a teacher. Maybe you’ll write. Maybe you’re financially blessed and you’ll donate to help others.

Whatever you do, let it not be said of us that the shocking thing was that we did something extraordinary. Let it be that we are not one of the shocking few that do nothing extraordinary. We can all do great things if we really see what it is we are doing and how God can take our actions and use them for great things.

And that’s the real way isn’t it? Don’t we need to look and see God behind it all and realize that this is a story that we are involved in? If this is God’s story, how can things NOT be extraordinary? What is not extraordinary? It is the sad reality of simply not participating in this grand story. Rest assured, God will use you in this story somehow, but will he use you willingly or not? Will you willingly enjoy this adventure, or grudgingly be carried along the ride?

That choice is up to you.


Our evening service at church had ended and I decided to go to the restroom before heading out. I won’t deny this. I hate public restrooms. I think they are the scourge of Satan upon humanity. Nevertheless, while in there, I hear the door to the restroom open and I don’t see anything of course, but here a voice say “If you want your lollipop, you’d better come back out here.”

Often times, we honor a man who says what he thinks, and there is some great truth to that at times. However, I often wish a man would rather think about what he says or in this case, what other people say. I think some great insights lie when we consider basic things about us that are so basic that we forget it.

I immediately realized that this child had two wants. He wanted to explore the restroom for some reason. Obviously, it wasn’t that he needed to go. His parent didn’t want him in the restroom for some reason and he did leave immediately without putting up a fuss. He also had the want of a lollipop. Which want did he act on? The want I would say that was greatest.

Which is what you and I do.

Many of us would like to blame the world for all that goes wrong in our lives. Now there are some circumstances beyond our control. I realize that. There are some circumstances that are really hard to handle. I realize that also. I do realize though that ultimately, if a choice is made, we make it.

If you are driving down the road and someone cuts you off in traffic, then they have done something wrong most likely. I’ll grant that. However, your getting angry with them is your choice. Your wanting to ram their car from behind is your choice. Your stepping on the gas to catch up to them and give them the finger is your choice as well. Your choice to accept it and pray for such an individual is also yours.

Right now, I am preparing for Seminary and my family, particularly my mother, is quite worried about it particularly in the area of finances. I have my own anxieties at times. All the anxiety each of us has though is our choice. She worries about it and is anxious about it because she chooses to be. I worry because I choose to.

Now some of you are saying to me “That’s how a mother is.” That is probably a mother’s natural inclination I’ll grant, but she does not have to give in to it. A mother does not have to worry. She chooses to. I do not condemn concern, but I do think that worry is something different from concern as worry too often excludes God.

Every choice you make implies that you could have made a choice in another way. I am typing one word now. I could have chosen to type another word. If there was no choice, I cannot really say I was acting on a want. I was merely acting in a way that I had to act for there was no other way.

Even an action done under force is still a want. Someone might say that if a thief puts a gun to your back and tells you to give your wallet, you have no choice. You do though. You can give your wallet. You can choose to get shot instead. You can even choose to try to go kung fu on the guy. To give in to a threat is still a choice and you could do it because you value your life more. Someone suicidal, for instance, might say “Go ahead and shoot.”

This also shows our choice to be happy or not to be. If we are not happy, it is for a simple reason. We choose not to be.  If we worry, it is because we choose to. Why woud we do such? I think the answer is obvious. We have two choices in the matter. We can worry, or we can trust God. Being happy also means that we surrender trust to God. We choose in that case either to trust or not to trust.

Why do we sin also? There’s one reason. We choose to. Why? For some reason, we want to more than we don’t want to. The problem is not with God. The problem is with us. Our wants need to be changed. We have no grounds upon which to blame God (Or anyone else really) for any wrong that we do. It ultimately comes down to one thing. We chose to do it.

What do I suggest then? We need to pray to change our wants. Let’s be honest. We might even want to pray “Lord, a large part of me doesn’t want to change this way, but I do know it’s for the best. I want you to change my wants.” My guess is before too long, that will happen.

And for that reason we should praise God. Not just because he’s done great things, but because hopefully by then, we’ll want to.