Tag Archives: wisdom

Irrational Choices Versus Common Sense.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m neither a philosopher nor the son of a philosopher—as you can easily discern. My dad and one of my brothers were engineers, the others skilled in the building trades. I took forest engineering. We were taught pragmatics, something most profess but few practice.

Why do I say that? Well, legislators seem to be abandoning common sense. They propose practices that run counter to reality: replacing his and her pronouns, adopting multi-sex bathrooms, financing sex-change operations, legalizing some drugs and on and on it goes. It’s time to ask why? Where have these ideas come from?
In my search, I’ve returned to Francis Schaeffer’s book, He Is There And He Is Not Silent. In the 1950’s and ’60’s he challenged the irrationality of atheism and agnosticism as philosophies. Today irrationality rules.

As Schaeffer pointed out, our world view (philosophy) must explain the reality and dscn4172complexity of our universe. There are two main answers given. One, there is no answer. All is chaotic and irrational. No one has been able to live with this answer in real life. They daily depend on gravity and a thousand concrete and unchanging realities.

Answer two, there is a rational answer that can be communicated. Among those who accept this thought, there are three possible sub-answers.

1. Everything that exists came out of absolutely nothing—no energy, no mass, no motion, and no personality. No one has ever been able to sustain this answer. It is unthinkable. Those who maintain this as a view embrace other irrational ideas. But empirically, everything we enjoy practically, comes not from zero but from already existing matter.

dscn39502. Everything had an impersonal beginning whether from mass, energy, or motion. However, if we start with an impersonal something, how do any of the particulars that now exist have any meaning? No one has ever demonstrated how time plus chance, beginning with the impersonal, can produce the needed complexity of the universe, let alone the personality of man. If we subscribe to this answer, human love is just an impersonal chemical reaction. And if everything arose from impersonal “things” why have values. Why worry about pollution, poverty, or injustice? Indeed, why ponder questions at all? The dilemma of modern man is simple: he does not know if or why mankind has any meaning. He is lost. Man remains a zero.

3. Everything had a personal beginning in a personal-infinite God. This choice alone explains value, complexity, and personality. Schaeffer comments, “I would

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be an agnostic if there were no Trinity. Without the high order of personal unity and diversity as given in the Trinity, there are no answers.” Man, created in the image of God, has personality and in his complexity he has unity. God expresses in his being, the unity and diversity we see in the universe. There is no other answer that explains reality.

If, as most in the west do, we reject answer number three, we are left at sea without direction, purpose, moral principles, or goal. By choosing to ignore our divine origin and accountability, our society runs either by consensus or according to whoever has the loudest voice or the most influence. Whether a policy fits with reality doesn’t matter. Society just does whatevdscn1336-1er it wants; whatever feels good at the time; whatever gets the most votes; whatever is most convenient.

Is this any way to live? You be the judge. As for me and my house, we accept the third choice and thus embrace the description of reality and values as revealed in the Scriptures.

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca –Follow him on Facebook: Eric E Wright; on Twitter: @EricEWright1; on LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

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How God Speaks Today

To assert that God speaks today, many consider either the height of arrogance or wild imagination. Yet it is true; God does speak into our worldMute Swan. However, as I indicated in the previous blog, Christians generally don’t mean that God speaks to them in an audible voice. God speaks in many ways—if we have ears to hear.

The main bottlenecks to hearing God’s words are either human inattention, hearing impairment or bias against the very possibility of receiving a message from God. “Hearing, they do not hear or understand”(Matt. 13:13). Of course, few humans admit their impairment, just as people who are hard of hearing often delay getting hearing aids, blaming their difficulty in hearing on the way others speak.

Are we listening? Do we want to hear God’s voice? Do we have an innate bias against even considering the possibility that God would speak? Or conversely, has our response to the gospel rendered our heart tender and open to God’s entreaties?

Assuming that we want to hear God’s voice, what means does He use to speak to us?

Firstly, God speaks through the created universe. ”Day after day they pour forth WTripTrainMt smallspeech…there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth…to the ends of the world”(Psalm 19:2-4). In this case He is speaking through the stars, sun, moon which “declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands”(Psalm 19:1).

Romans explains further; “What may be known about God is plain…for since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse”(Rom. 1:19,20).

Has the Holy Spirit helped us to feel a sense of awe at the greatness and glory of God manifest in creation? Has He helped us to learn something about what God is like?

Secondly, God speaks to us through His Word, the Bible. In order to properly interpret events as diverse as suffering or prosperity, sin or judgment, we need to assimilate biblical content—theology. We desperately need a balanced and comprehensive understanding of the whole counsel of God. “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Have we spent time reading, meditating, and storing the wisdom of the Bible in our minds?

Thirdly, God speaks through history—the ebb and flow of world events. The Bible gives us a template to use in interpreting events. In the record of early history in Genesis, the story of Israel, and later the story of Jesus and the establishment of the Church we find principles that illuminate world events. Even the record of Israel’s misunderstandings of God’s purposes and may help us today.

But what about our own personal lives? On a micro level, biblical characters and general biography give us a sense of how God works in the lives of individuals. Interpreting events in our lives is not easy. Job’s three friends completely misinterpreted his sufferings.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClearly, we need the Holy Spirit. He alone can interpret the events we confront and give us guidance about how to react or what direction to take. He also uses experienced and godly counselors to guide us. We should be humble and open enough to accept counsel while avoiding dogmatic declarations; “God told me to do this or go there.”

We need to be cautious and humble, careful to ensure that what we believe God is saying is consistent with Scriptural revelation. God will not contradict what He has already said in the Scriptures.

A further caution. Even mature Christians may misinterpret what God is saying. We are imperfect until we get to heaven. Preparing to hear God’s voice requires faith in Him, complete submission to whatever He may reveal as His will, a heart that is cleansed from sin, and a mind that is sensitive and not arrogant. Sometimes our faith lags, or sin clouds our perceptions, or we are so overconfident that we trust too much in our own interpretation.

Learning to hear the voice of God is a very large subject that will require more than this blog. What about dreams and visions? What about mystery? What about God expecting us, as we mature, to require less and less special guidance? Why not join the conversation?

(Further articles, books, and stories at: http://www.countrywindow.ca Facebook: Eric E Wright Twitter: @EricEWright1   LinkedIn: Eric Wright )

Winter Moon – Reflected Glory

When the winter moon rises over a snowy countryside it casts a magical spell unequalled by any creation of Hollywood. Its soft light highlights every tree. It illumines the tracks of coyotes and turkeys and even the lowly vole.

And yet the moon creates no light of its own. It reflects the brilliance of the sun.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In a similar way we are to reflect through our lives the grandeur of God. God created us in His image to reflect His glory.

By writing in Psalm 84 that “The Lord God is a sun,” the psalmist means God is the ultimate source of all light and life. He is the infinite, eternal, unchangeable fount of all goodness, grace, mercy, compassion, holiness, justice, wisdom, and truth. All creative genius flows from Him, as does the impetus for moral and ethical well-being. (See also James 1:17)

As His image bearers we should reflect into the world around us the moral attributes of God. “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for [to reflect] the glory of God”(1 Cor. 10:31). Tragically, we have “all sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom.3:23) by yielding to our fallen nature. What can we do?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is only through fleeing to Jesus Christ to confess our sins that the dark cloud of our sinful selfishness that obscures God’s glory can be overcome. Once we have been cleansed through the work of the Holy Spirit, then we can become reflectors of God’s glory. “We who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”(2 Cor. 3:18).

How does this work in practice? “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise [glorify] your Father in heaven”(Matt. 5:14,16). As we give generously to others, we reflect God’s goodness. As we forgive others, we display the undeserved grace God bestows on us. As we have compassion on the poor, on refugees, motherless children, and widows we manifest the Lord’s tender heart. When we refuse to exaggerate, deceive, or lie we shed abroad the light of Truth. When we make wise decisions about our purchases and refusing to embrace debt, we shine light into theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA confusing world of modern finance. Transformed people shine God’s glory into the darkness of our decadent world.

Lord, like the moon which reflects the sun’s light, help us to reflect your glory through how we live. May we be honest, generous, compassionate, forgiving, creative, and wise–all through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Bear Sightings

Country means the presence of critters: deer, turkeys, rabbits, and raccoons. But bears? Every year our local papers have an article or two about bears being sighted in our heavily populated but relatively rural county.

The Peterborough office of the Ministry of Natural Resources says that we have black bears, not only in the wilderness areas of the north but right down to the shore of Lake Ontario. A shoreline with a string of cities and towns from Hamilton through Toronto to Cobourg, Belleville and Kingston? Ontario evidently has over 75,000 black bears who can weigh from 100 to 600 pounds.

BearWe are urged to put garbage in bear-proof containers, take in all bird feeders, and make sure our barbecue is clean. If we face a bear we should not run away but make lots of noise, raise our arms to look big, and slowly back away. Bears are probably as afraid of us as we are of them. Never run or climb a tree.

Scary? Something to fear? In Canada, I believe there is only one death yearly by bear—and that by a grizzly. We have 9.2 vehicle fatalities per 100,000 population. We have 57 lightning deaths a year, 590 drownings, and 1200 fatalities from workplace accidents.

Fear of bears should be very far down on our list of phobias. Society sweeps a host of other dangers under the carpet which we should really fear. To use Dr. Craig Carter’s term, our culture has become a culture of death. We’ve seen the death of absolute moral standards. Relativism has murdered respect for absolute truth. Marriage is on life support. Hyper-feminism has sought to redefine life to allow for the death by abortion of about 100,000 unborn children per year in Canada. Agitation for euthanasia is picking up steam.

A culture of death! We need not fear bears. We need rather to fear that which destroys our ability to cherish life and fear God. The fear of God breeds reverence for life and clarity of vision—the sense of awe at God’s beauty that moves us to live clean, constructive, peaceful, gentle lives. How desperately we need to spread the message of Jesus, the only antidote for our culture of death. “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly”(John 10:10).

Foolish Choices & Suffering -#4

I agonize over decisions, especially big decisions like whether to move to another house or what kind of car to buy. That’s not to say that I take long to decide what kind of toothpaste or shampoo to buy or whether to plant petunias or pansies in the garden.

But too often I allow price to determine my choices rather than quality. Six months ago I bought a pair of attractive loafers because they were half price. They were a bit tight, but… Now I struggle to get my feet into them. And when I wear them very long, they pinch. I could give other illustrations but they would be too embarrassing.

Even when I determine to balance quality against price, it’s not always easy to make a good choice in our media saturated world. One report lists butter as harmful to our arteries. Another labels margarine as a dangerous culprit. Or take coffee, or chocolate. How do we navigate through all the shoals that we’re told can shipwreck our lifeboat?

Doubtless, bad choices can lead to great harm. And some of those bad choices are clear. Smoking. Overeating. Taking addictive drugs. Avoiding exercise. A steady diet of high calorie fast-foods. Too much sugar. Pornography. Sleeping with prostitutes. Drunkenness. The list is long; the effects devastating in terms of ill health, lost jobs and broken relationships.

Many of our bad choices lead to long-term suffering, or at least, suffering that catches up with us as we age. Why do we choose things we know will be harmful? Often it’s to find immediate pleasure through gratifying a sudden craving. Dare I say it, lust? Donuts and cookies and mega-burgers taste so good! Indulge. Enjoy right now. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong with an occasional indulgence but the danger occurs when indulgence becomes a habit.

The danger is magnified when the indulgence breaks one of God’s commandments. Outbursts of anger can not only shatter relationships, but, as Jesus said, even lead to murder. One pilfered item from a warehouse or act of cheating can feed into a lifestyle of dishonesty that ultimately ends in incarceration. Envy or jealousy indulged can foster lifelong discontent. One act of fornication or adultery might promote a careless approach to marital fidelity or lead to catching a sexually transmitted disease.

So why is there suffering in the world? Much of it is caused by human foolishness, indulgence, sinfulness and ignorance. We would be wise to re-read the book of Proverbs often. “He who speaks rashly will come to ruin. The sluggard craves and gets nothing…Dishonest money dwindles away…”(Prov. 13b, 4a, 11a)

Fortunately, God is a forgiving God. There is no sin, no matter how grave, that He will not forgive if one but bows in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ, God’s Son. “His blood can make the foulest clean.” Forgiveness, however, does not necessarily deliver us from the practical consequences of our sins. The forgiven smoker will still have damaged lungs. The forgiven murderer will still have to finish out his jail sentence. The indulgent eater who is forgiven may still have clogged arteries.

Let’s not blame God for suffering we cause. Instead let’s make wise and godly choices.

The Mysterious Ocean and Human Conceit

A few weeks ago while visiting the coast of Maine, we watched two scuba divers get ready for a dive. They carefully checked each piece of equipment and every seam in their rubber suits before easing themselves beneath the waves. What wonders would they encounter, unknown to landlubbers like ourselves? From where we stood the ocean extends mysterious and deep to the farthest horizon—an unknown universe beneath the waves.

From time immemorial human curiosity has inspired expeditions to plunge beneath the ocean surface, to search the impenetrable jungle, to climb the highest peak, to explore space. And yet with each discovery, the universe’s enigma’s multiply. What marvels await us in the deepest troughs of the ocean? What spectacles may be encountered on distant planets? Each new discovery serves but to unveil a myriad more imponderables.

Why then do we demand absolute knowledge of God, the creator of all that exists? Why do we expect to understand everything about how God operates? Such conceit! Job, through his mysterious sufferings and undeserved trials learned to become more humble. God spoke to Job. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?…Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea?…Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? …Can you bring forth the constellations in their season?” (Job 38:2,4,16,31,32).

Job replied, “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know…therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3,6).

Wise men and women throughout the ages have acknowledged humbly the inscrutable wisdom of God. Moses wrote, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). What we need to know and do is clearly laid out for us in the Word of God. There’s no mystery there.

But because of the very nature of God, our understanding will always be limited. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my way, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8,9).

Let’s celebrate the mystery that is our God! “The Lord is the great God…In his hands are the depths of the earth…The sea is his, for he made it…Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:3-6).©

Uncommon Sense

Animals often display amazing ingenuity. Industrious ants build their colonies everywhere. They even farm aphids on the tender twigs of our cherry tree—not something I welcome.

 

 Hummingbirds buzz us in the early spring to remind us to put out their feeder. What instinct leads them, and other birds, back to the same territory year after year? And where do they learn to hover like that?

 This spring I admired the craftsmanship that went into the wood duck’s nest under the sheltering branches of the little cedar tree in our woods. And the nest building skill of a pair of blue jays had me going back often to the window to catch up on progress.

 So-called dumb animals fare well in biblical literature. “Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; coneys are creatures of little power, yet they make their home in the crags; locusts have no king, yet they advance together in ranks” (Prov. 30:25-27).

 By contrast the prophets often fault humans for their foolishness. “Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord” (Jer. 8:7).

 Animals instinctively know how important it is to conform their lives to the laws of nature, while humans tend to think they can break God’s moral laws without consequence. No wonder the prophets lament our tendency toward foolishness and rebellion. “The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand” (Is. 1:3).

 What else but foolishness leads a couple—or a nation—to spend more than they earn? Why else do humans inject and snort and drink poisons that ruin their health and shorten their life? Why do men and women think they can find love by cheating on their covenant partner? After reaping the bitter lessons of untold wars, why do nations continue to settle their disputes on the battlefield? Why do we demand a reduction in our taxes and an increase in services? Examples can be multiplied ad infinitum.

 Wisdom is in short supply while foolishness multiplies. We should heed the advice of the prophet and learn from dumb animals of conform our lives to the moral laws of the God. Foolish, immoral actions have lasting moral consequences.