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Posts Tagged ‘free will’

I know that I am not a fatalist

June 14, 2010 1 comment

I have been thinking quite a bit about God’s will in my life in the last several months.  I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fatalist.  I do not believe that our lives are completely predetermined.

I truly believe in free will and that our choices matter.  I do not think that God has our entire lives mapped out from before we are born and we somehow must struggle to find our one true path in order to fulfill destiny.  I also do not believe that every choice that we make is between a “good” and an “evil” choice.  Sometimes, there are two good choices or two evil choices (in which, neither would be an appropriate choice).

My opinions on this have grown stronger through my own actions as a father.  Jesus asked if a father would give his son a stone when he asked for bread and how much more does the Father give good gifts?  Yes, I know that God is all knowing but if He wants us to ask, then doesn’t that mean that what we want matters to Him?  Not in a “Oh, Lord, I need a fishing boat” sorta way, mind you.  However,  I know that when my children express interest in something that could be good for them, I am willing to explore it and if they have a passion for it, I will do anything in my power to help them.  We have driven for hours so that my girls could spend minutes doing gymnastic routines and will probably do the same for my son in baseball if his passion stays remotely as strong as it is at the ripe age of 6.  We have bought art kits and help turn items that were never meant to be part of a craft project into just that because one of the kids had a creative idea that we saw as good.  We do these things because our children have a passion or desire for something and as their parents, we want them to do what is both good for them and what they enjoy.  Doesn’t it stand to reason that God wants the same for us?  That may be oversimplifying things quite a bit.  Obviously, what we want needs to be pleasing to God in the same way that what my children want must be pleasing to me.  Just because my son could be real passionate about sitting on the couch and watching television hours on end and his oldest sister may be passionate (and talented) about tormenting him and his other sister, I am most certainly not going to allow those things, let alone encourage them.

If I am wrong, then why do we have free will?  Why would  we have varying talents and passions?  Why would we have such abilities to dream?

Before I go off on another trail or get way too deep, I should wrap this up and leave deeper thoughts on this for another day.  What do you think?  Let me know.

Half Blind

June 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I’ve had medical eye problems since I was 21 years old.  Considering the fact that my family’s medical history reads like the annuls of the New England Journal Of Medicine, it’s a small cross to bear.  I have to put drops in my eyes every day.  I had cataracts removed at age 31. No big deal,really.  I have had bee stings that hurt worse than cataract surgery.  Last week, things were different.  Things had never been this cloudy before.  A quick trip to my eye doctor and it was determined that I would need to see a retina specialist because the inflammation was in the rear of the eye.  Again, no big deal.  I was expecting to get a shot in the back of the eye and go about my business.  Tuesday morning, I was hit with the news that my retina was 2/3 detached and it was getting worse.  7 hours later, I’m full of happy juice while the doctor cuts and ties, flattens and squeezes my eye back into shape.  Still no big deal, right?  Pain meds are good.  I will be fine.

The doctor comes in post op and explains that all went well but there is one problem.  Because of where the tear occurred, in order to have a chance of using my right eye again, I will need to keep my head down facing the floor with almost no break for one to two weeks.  This is a big deal.  You see until now, all the outcome was out of my hands.  I can promise you that after two and a half days of this, the complications from leaning forward far outweigh any post op pain or discomfort.  I don’t say this to garner sympathy (although I do like cookies) but rather to explore the comparison of this to our spiritual and mental responses to our condition.

Today, the technician in the office said that some people do not follow the doctor’s orders and their retina detaches days after the surgery.  Tanya could not believe that people would do that.  I can.  I have to purposely make the choice to do something that will cause back pain, neck strain and headaches for over a week.  I can make the pain go away simply by sitting up straight.  I have to choose.  My family has to put up with this big baby that is staring at the floor all day.  But if I just sit up, the pain will go away.  All it will cost me is a blind right eye for the rest of my life.

There was actually one moment where, based totally on current feelings, it was almost worth the cost of the vision to have relief from the pressure in my head.  But James said that to know what is good and to not do it is sin.  If I had given in to my weakness, I would regret it for the rest of my life.  I’m only 36, so I plan on it being around a long time.  My wife has been able to provide the decades long perspective when I’m stuck on the moment.

For the moment, my head is clear and this has made me think about how our life choices affect us and many times, and we do not realize it.  It’s nice to know the consequences.  Keep your head up and be half blind.  Life choices, however, are not usually so clear for us.  It is often said that we cannot choose our circumstances, only our response to them.  The clear lesson for me is that our choices matter.  My doctor could be the world’s expert on retinal reattachment but he cannot make me keep my head down.

We are quick to cry out to God when faced with something tough.   We want God to make life be like a McDonalds drive thru.  I want a number 3 with sweet tea.  Extra ketchup.  Many of you reading this will have varied opinions of God, but think about this.  Do you know a God that controls and manipulates you or do you know a God that gives you free will?  My God let’s me make mistakes.  I have to choose to do what is right.  I have to choose to look past the current and examine the costs of my decision.  After this incident, I will pay even closer attention to those choices because I don’t want to go through life half blind, physically, mentally, or spiritually.

This Ordinary Life

May 17, 2008 Leave a comment

This is a song that I wrote in 2007.  It remains one of my favorites

Verse 1
Looking at the peices of this ordinary life.
I stand in awe and wonder how You knitted it together and I see it in a new light
I know that You’ve got more for me than simple ordinary things
But I’ve refused to see
You see my stuborness has kept me from falling away
But my stuborness keeps me from being free

Chorus
What You want from me is complete surrender but I won’t give You all of me
I give You my life a piece at a time and a piece at a time You set me free

Verse 2
Too old for revolution but I’m too young to die
I’m stuck here in the middle where I only give a little, it’s an evolutionary life
I wonder at what You would do if I’d give all of me to You
The things that I would see
 But I’m standing here crying about holding these chains
And You’re standing here trying to take these chains from me

Repeat Chorus
Tag
We will all fall short of Your Glory
But we must run this race until it ends
I know I can walk but I want to run to meet You
If I could just learn letting go gains everything, everything

Repeat Chorus

The two verses, chorus and tag contain enough content for me to preach about four sermons.  I have to laugh a little because I was once criticized by those who know more than I do about song writing because the song didn’t say how I would surrender everything to God.  I’ll write that song as soon as I figure it out myself.  I personally do not think that we can solve the world’s problems in 3 minutes and 14 seconds.  I have seen people sing things like “All to Jesus, I surrender, I surrender all” and then go to the parking lot and have a cigarette.   

If we are honest with ourselves and God, we all have plenty of things that we hold onto.  What I have seen in my ordinary life is extraordinary growth in God.  I am amazed at what He has done in me over the last several years.  I have gone from being a part time Christian to writing about His grace and His power.  It’s true that God wants to take away our burdens.  He says “Come to me, my burden is light” but we cry about our burdens and our own chains. 

I remember hearing a testimony when I was a young boy.  The details are long gone but the message is very clear.  The person complained about all of their problems and how the devil was beating them down and how horrible their life was and their dog bit them, well you get the point.  They ended the testimony with “but God is good.”  Wow, what a testimony, your life stinks, at least to hear you tell it.  I have found that the things that I need to let go of the most are holding me down and when I finally get the faith and courage to let go, I experience a new level of freedom.  Can you imagine what God could do if we actually let go of the chains that we hold so dear and let Him truly work in our lives?

The thing about God is that He is faithful to take whatever we are willing to let go of and do wonderful things with what we give Him.  I was also criticized because the chorus made God seem too small.  On the contrary, we are the ones that are small.  He has given us free will and faithfully abides by that free will, even when it is the opposite of what we should be doing. 

So I find myself in my ordinary life making small evolutionary changes to allow God to work withing my free will.  I am a stuborn person that doesn’t like to be uncomfortable.  It’s really hard to truly follow God and not be uncomfortable.  I am slowly learning to let go and as I do, God is faithful to take what little I give up and do amazing things with it.  It’s what he does.  He is turning my water into His wine. 

Categories: Songs Tags: , , , , ,

Run To You

May 4, 2008 1 comment

Today, I had the chance to sing at the Salisbury Christian Shelter for the third time.  I sang three original songs: Enough, Even Me and the world premiere of “Run To You”.

Run To You Lyrics:
Verse 1
I can hear the sound of a thousand different voices screaming in my head.  It’s driving me insane.
You push through the noise and I’ll try to make the choices that leads me back to You,
That leads me to this truth that You are my hiding place.  To You I run. I run to You

Chorus
You’re the way the truth the life. You hold me close when things aren’t right
You will always be my shelter in the night I run to You
When my world is upside down You turn me back right side around
You’re my rock when all around is sinking ground I run to You

Verse 2
The world is pulling me as far away as it can, far away from You, from what I know is good
But for all You’ve done for me the least I know I can do is hold tight on to You,
To hold tight to this truth that You are my hiding place. To You I run. I run to You

Repeat Chorus
Tag
We were made to worship You but we caught in the average everyday
I will turn my heart to You and You alone ’cause You alone are God I run to You

Repeat Chorus

One of the things that I am so fascinated by is our free will.   So many times, we pray that God would move in our lives or that He does something miraculous or amazing for us and then do nothing to help our own cause.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the miraculous power of God and that He can work signs and wonders.  Most of the time, however, we must put ourselves in a position to be used by God or to receive what He has for us.  It’s true that Saul was converted on the road to Damascus via divine intervention, but Saul, now Paul, had to make the choice to see Ananias. 

I am always praying that I get a chance to sing my songs.  Recently, I received a last minute call to sing a few songs.  I had not been practicing faithfully at the time and was caught stumbling through my own songs.  I don’t know if those in attendance noticed it but I sure did.  I prayed for God to move and then didn’t prepare for what I asked for.  That’s real faith, isn’t it?  Today, I was ready, and will be the next time.

Yes, God still performs miracles today.  If you want to see proof, go to http://www.God.tv and watch the Lakeland Florida revival.  However, we must do our part.  We would all see the foolishness in trying to lose weight by eating a half gallon of Ben and Jerry’s every night.  Our spiritual growth works the same way.  We must try to make the choices that lead us closer to God.  We will fail sometimes, but grace will be given.  Let God be your hiding place.  Run to God.  You may be surprised, but you will never be disappointed.