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Thursday, December 12, 2013


Freewill - "The power asserted of moral beings of choosing within limitations or with respect to some matters without restraint of physical or divine necessity or causal law" (Webster Dictionary).   According to Webster's there may be some limits to freewill and there may be cases where there is no restraint.

I have been in church for over 45 years and have heard the term freewill so many times that I have lost count.  In a religious context the term is being used in relation to man and God.  Does man truly possess absolute freedom of choice or perhaps there are some limits to his choices?

A few observations of my freewill not working as of late.  First, the lake where I live is 8 feet low and it is a growing concern for local residence.  I went to the lake and stood on the shore and freely decided that the lake should be full.  Not surprisingly the lake is still 8 feet low.  Second, I am a avid cyclist and runner and in recent months my right knee has been causing me some problems.  Thus, the other night I freely and definitively made the freewill choice for my knee to be fully well.  However, my knee still hurts today.  Third, I have tried my freewill in the physical world, the physical body, and now I have tried it in a family matter.  My daughter lives in Alaska and recently gave birth to our first grandson.  They live just a bit over 4,000 miles away from us.  I made the freewill decision to have them move to Texas.  They are still in Alaska.  My freewill does not seem to be working out the way I wish it would. Fourth, perhaps I should try out my freewill in spiritual matters.  The thing that causes me the greatest difficulty in this life is sin.  If I could quit sinning surely my life would be full of abundance.  I made a resolute and firm freewill decision to stop sinning.  I decided that I would never sin again.  Well?  It did not work.

I was reading in Exodus this morning and started pondering the freewill of Pharaoh.  Pharaoh made a lot of decisions, but where his decisions contradicted God's decisions it was God who always got his way and Pharaoh who lost.  I list but one example.  In Exodus 1:10 Pharaoh says pen-yirbe, which means, "lest they multiply".  Pharaoh makes a decision to keep the Hebrew people from multiplying and enacts a direct order to murder all male babies.  In Exodus 1:12 God says, ken-yirbe, which means, "the more they shall multiply".  Two decisions have been made by two opposing parties.  They cannot both have what they choose.  In Exodus 1:20 the text says, "And the people multiplied and grew very strong".

God is the only possessor of absolute freedom and whatever He chooses He receives.  To quote the Psalmist, "Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases" (Psa. 115:3).  Rather than clinging to and yearning for a supposed freewill it would be far better to humbly fall before the God of heaven and say, "Thy will be done".  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Bibles, Tablets, and Phones

I suppose I will be labeled as old fashioned or as a man who refuses to keep up with his culture, but there are many things that bother me about the modern devices of our generation.  I must admit upfront as I type on my Macbook Pro and listen to music playing on my iPad while waiting on cell service to reach Alaska where my iPhone will work, that I am a part of the technology of the day.  I have enough sense to know that I cannot stop the media world from going forward and I cannot escape the reality that I exist in this world.  I know that to get a message to my church family that I must send out the text message, email, twitter, or some other form of communication.  Gone are the days of a simple phone call or just simply meeting at the local coffee shop and passing on information.  I sure enjoyed life a whole lot more when people actually used their mouths to talk and their eyes to look at each other when they did.  I think it is important to look someone in the eye and have a conversation and to read the reactions of their faces.  All of this is lost in the electronic world and there is much mis-interpretation over text, email, and etc.

However, there is one thing that I am holding on too and I am resolved to hold on to it till the day that I die.  I am not willing nor am I ever considering giving up one piece of my history.  I have seen this item all but disregarded in my day, but I will go to the grave with mine.  It has been put away with numerous justifications by much of the religious world and the preachers have helped to usher this item out of our hands.  You may have guessed already, but let me be clear.  I am holding on to my book!  I am going to feel the leather on my fingers.  I am going to turn pages.  I am going to mark and underline with a black pen.  I am going to put notes in the front of my bible that are important to me.  I will use the first blank pages of my bible to write down quotes that are important to me.  When the preacher preaches I will look up the text in my book.  I will memorize my text on most occasions when I preach, but when I stand before the people I will open the book and place it on a pulpit (elevated and before the people; Neh. 8:4).  When I preach a funeral I will open the book and read the text in sight of the people.  When I go to the graveside I will open the book and read the appropriate text before the last prayer is prayed.  When it is time to join two people together in marriage I will continue to open the book and explain the covenant of marriage and to declare the gospel to all who are present.  When I go to the mission field to preach on the street, in the church, or in any other location I will not need electricity, powerpoint, nor will I need the projector to work.  I will simply open the book and help the people to understand the sense of it.

I know, I know that the electronic people have an answer for me.  I have heard all the answers before.  They use there tablets to do all of the above things that I listed.  Their tablets contain the same words my bible does.  I also know and have seen tablets (etc.) freeze up, batteries run dead, and the preacher to go to panic mode because one of his devices does not work.  I say, "memorize your text and take a bible in your hand".  I suppose electronics are faster, search better, and they have an amazing capacity to access all types of information.  It sounds good when people say this, but in reality I still hear more theology and in depth bible comprehension from the Puritans who possessed no electronics.  Stephen Charnock, John Owen, John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Watson, and etc. remain far superior in the Word of God than the modern man with his electronic device.  We need to face the fact that information easily attained does not have the same root system  as that which is gained by diligent study.  

10 Reasons I think that people ought to hang on to their bibles:

  1. God's people are to be holy (separate from the world) and carrying a bible to church, school, work, or anywhere else will separate you from most of the known world.  
  2. An open bible on a desk, lunch table, or park bench communicates far better than a tablet
  3. Electronics are extremely distracting to study and temptation to view other things is real
  4. Fascination with what an electronic will do is different than marveling in the glories of Christ
  5. Your bible will never ring, vibrate, or make any other distracting noise while the preacher is preaching
  6. Electronics have glitches, bibles do not.
  7. Leaving electronics at home and loading bibles in the car will communicate much to your children about the Sabbath
  8. Gadgets demand your eyes, but the bible is more conducive to meditation upon the Word.  
  9. You do not have to upgrade every year if you buy a good bible and even if you buy a top of the line bible it will be cheaper than a tablet
  10. There is a great heritage to the book we call the bible and many men have bled and died to ensure that we have copies of it in our own language.  It is important to hang on to this heritage and pass it on to the next generation.  
P. S. When I grew up we received bibles at birth, graduation, ordination, weddings, and on other special occasions.  We always had an open bible on the communion table in the front of the church.  We had an open bible in the foyer of the church.  The pastor always had a bible on his desk when you went in his office.  These things mean something and they are worth holding on to. 

Thanks for reading.