Category Archives: Mind

The Pitfalls of Being a “Self- Made” Man

James HJames Mom%20%26%20Jamesallmark is a good friend of mine…and I am proud to call him”friend.”  He is a pioneer in television in these parts beginning his work with KRBC when it was tiny studio up in the hills of the Callahan Divide overlooking Abilene.  We found we had a lot in common having both begun work when TV was just a kid.  I was on the “floor crew” at KMID, in 1960 moving cables and cameras around.  James was beginning his career as an announcer and doing voice over for commercials.  He has been responsible for telethons every year…hard, detailed work.  But best of all he is a strong, faithful, committed Christian.  He writes a great article nearly every week as you will find out when you read the post below

“He is a self-made man and worships his creator.” Someone once used these words to describe a man that he knew. Cutting but true! The world has convinced mankind that a self-motivated, self-serving lifestyle is his right and obligation. The self-worshipper is “full of himself” and thinks nothing of ignoring others and even God, if they stand in the way of his agenda and human nature’s desires. He deliberately keeps God and others at arm’s  length. The Apostle Paul described the self-driven lifestyle in these words: “And that means killing off everything connected  with this way of death: sexual promiscuity, lust, doing whatever you feel like whenever you feel like It, and grabbing whatever attracts your fancy. “That’s a life shaped by feelings and things instead of by God” (Colossians 3:7 MSG).

Let’s dig down deep and see if we can discover our spiritual enemy and how he has always worked his will in our lives. Let’s set aside the image of Satan as having horns, wearing a red suit (fire resistant I presume), and carrying a pitchfork. He is the general on the battlefield of our spiritual life, who dispatches his army of demons to torment us and take us as prisoners of war. Satan ensnares us by manipulating the man of flesh that resides deep within each of us. This man of sin is easy pickings for Satan and his hordes.

Self-control is the only weapon we have fight off the enemy. The problem that we have is that most of us don’t have sufficient ammunition to fight off the invaders. Their concept of self-control is that they, themselves, control our lives and actions. And, of course we as human beings excuse our bad behavior with the lame blaming that “after all we are only human”.   That leaves us holding the bag!

Self-control means that somehow we must exercise control of our choices. Let’s look in the mirror and see our ego-centric self is what we must overcome, and we have to be able to admit that it is out of control and uncontrollable without divine help. The truth of the matter is that until we can overcome the influence of our human nature that rules in our lives. our lives can only get worse…never better!

Several years ago I discovered that hyphenated words that start with “self” run up a red flag. I’m talking about words like self-indulgence, self-fulfillment, self-absorbed, self-motivated, self-love, self-driven, self-pity, self-centered, to mention just a few. I’m sure that others may come to mind. Our problem is that many of these appear to be good characteristics that we have been taught to nurture. Now, substitute “God” for “self” in each of these words and you may be surprised at the cleverness of our enemy. Replacing “self” with “God” brings into sharp focus the kind of live we are prone to live, left to our own devices, and the real life that God offers. It has been suggested to me that sin is a perversion of God-given. When our instincts for security cross an invisible line it can morph onto pride, greed, and envy and anger. Our human need for companionship can turn into lust and lust into sexual impurity. Our need for self-preservation can find expression in angry outbursts and gossip. It has occurred to me that all of my unacceptable behavior can be traced back to my self-centered distortion of legitimate human needs that are carried too far. My responsibility is to learn the difference between my “wants and “needs.” He leaves the choice with us. Do you want to be a self-made man or the Creator’s creation?

A few years ago, a commercial ran on national television that really caught my eye. It was a commercial for the Edward Jones financial people. It opened at a nurses’ station at a hospital. A doctor is on the phone with a patient, who is at home. Try to visualize this scene. The doctor is instructing his patient on how to do surgery on himself. The doctor said: “Now, make an incision about six inches long between your third and fourth rib.” The camera cuts to a very distraught man standing in his kitchen with shirt unbuttoned. In his hand is a butcher knife from the kitchen. He had broken out in a cold sweat, and muttered nervously: “Doc, shouldn’t you be doing this?” The spiritual surgery that must be performed to set a person free from himself is drastic and painful, but absolutely necessary. You must decide whether you want a scalpel, or do you want the Great Physician to take over?

Archbishop Fenelon was a spiritual advisor in the court of King Louis the XIV in France some three hundred years ago. He ministered to a small group of faithful Catholics and often wrote letters to them to encourage and instruct them. Here is an excerpt from one of the letters. “The death that God brings pierces deep within. Soul and spirit will be divided. He sees all in you that you cannot see. He knows exactly where the fatal blows should fall. He heads straight for that which you are most reluctant to give up. Pain is only felt where there is life. And in this situation is precisely the place where death is needed.”(The Seeking Heart-Fenelon, pg 5).

The Christian life was never meant to be a self-improvement program because it requires that we nail our old self to the cross of Christ. When we have carried out this self-crucifixion, God immediately goes to work recreating man in the image of his Son. As Peter wrote, “Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us by getting to know, personally and intimately, the One who invited us to God. The best invitation we ever received! We were also given absolutely terrific promises to pass on to you—your tickets to participation in the life of God after you turned your back on a world corrupted by lust” (II Peter 3-4 MSG). Read Peter’s words again and absorb the significance of what they mean about the daily, intimate relationship that our supernatural God wants to have with each of us.

It boils down to choosing whom we will believe. We have to decide whether we will believe the lies of the father of lies, or take the word of the One who created the universe and mankind. Many years ago I put my trust in God, and have never regretted my decision. I have even begun to experience God working in my life, and that brings me peace, and hope that the world cannot comprehend. I am not willing to be a self-made man any longer, I much prefer becoming A God-fashioned man.

I am content to be the clay and put myself in the hands of the Master Potter to turn a pile of mud like me into something beautiful.

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Filed under Awareness, Christlikeness, conversion, Courage, Culture Wars, Discernment, discipleship, Encouragement, Heart, Holy Spirit, Initiative, Integrity, Jesus Christ, Life, Meaning of Life, Mind, morality, Peace, Persuasion, Philosophy, Redemption, Religion, Scripture, Selflessness, Supernatural, Trust

Bandwagons

I’m not referring to actual wagons hauling actual band members. I’m talking about groups of people who have decided to think the same way without due consideration of all the information. Humans have a natural tendency to conform (fashions, fads, etc.) The few real non-conformists get the label “eccentric,” and summarily dismissed. That label applied to my father who always thought for himself. He was a curmudgeon with few friends, but he called it as he saw it (even if the way he saw it was screwed up). His main fault was making up his mind so solidly that it took a charge of dynamite to loosen him up to alternative thinking.

I especially notice the bandwagon effect expressed in blogs. For example, there are blogs where independent thinkers can express their independent thinking to other independent thinkers (bandwagons) and, in the process, lose their independence. Members of Political parties often confine themselves to party lines (bandwagons) instead of opening themselves up to other points of view. Members of certain religious groups are very often willing victims of “groupthink” (bandwagons) with their own special jargon. Atheists tend to stick together and parrot the current atheistic cant (bandwagons).

Bandwagons, I am thinking, come into being because people want to believe certain things and behave in particular ways rather than basing their personal philosophies and resulting actions on something substantial. Or, in the absence of substance, reserving their conclusions until they find it (it is, after all, okay not to have an opinion on everything).

While reading in the blogosphere, I notice that people who believe a certain way tend to read the blogs of others who believe the same way and merely applaud, cheer and conform to the thinking of the group. For them, “hopping on the bandwagon” becomes a convenient way to avoid thinking for themselves. Hats off to those brave and hardy souls who dare to disagree, challenge and debate those with whom they differ. We need to jump off our bandwagons and consider what others are saying. We might agree, disagree, challenge, debate, correct, suggest, applaud or, most important of all…learn.

My blogs:
Whitticisms: dwhitsett.wordpress.com
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com

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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Discernment, Discussion, Faith, Ignorance, independence, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Skepticism, Theism, Thinking

Atheists and Thinkers

“The bigotry of the nonbeliever is for me nearly as funny as the bigotry of the believer.”

— Albert Einstein [1]

Quotes from two atheists demonstrate an unattractive and arrogant elitism for which there is no credible reason.  Guy P. Harrison said, “…atheism is not a conscious act of turning away from all gods. It is simply the final destination for those who think.” Ernest Hemingway concurred, “All thinking men are atheists.” Many similar quotes from so-called “new atheists,” echo these sentiments.  Such statements are deluded, egocentric and, with all due respect, stupid.  I define “stupid” as willful ignorance.  I suppose we have all been stupid from time to time, but such statements qualify since they are made in spite of facts to the contrary.

Perhaps a teeny history lesson is needed here.  Religious thinkers have existed in every age.  Historically, they laid the foundations for today’s science and philosophy and founded nations.  Can “thinkers” be “believers?”  Below, I provide a list of such people who, in the opinion of most, are “thinkers.”  For the sake of brevity, I have confined my list to the 20th and 21st Centuries.  These are men and women who, though some may not believe in a “personal God” have acknowledged a “higher power.”  To this power they attribute some role in the design and creation of the universe and the origin of life.

Winston Churchill

Helen Keller

Albert Einstein

R. Buckminster Fuller

Leo Tolstoy

Wernher Von Braun

Francis Collins

C. S. Lewis

Ravi Zacharias

John Lennox

Lord Kelvin

Max Planck

Simone Weil

Arthur Compton

Freeman Dyson

Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.

Karl Barth

Hans Kung

Edith Stein

G. K. Chesterton

Gertrude Himmelfarb

William Lane Craig

Francis Schaeffer

Nelson Mandela

Dallas Willard

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Rudolf Bultmann

Antony Flew

Reinhold Niebuhr

This is certainly not an exhaustive list.  But the question remains: were these men and women thinkers or not? Of course, a similar list could be compiled for atheist thinkers.  But, then again, I would not be so blind and bold to say otherwise.  It is estimated that 40% of working scientists are believers.  Yes, they are a minority, but a large one.  But here’s the pertinent query: can they do science without thinking? I think not.

Will this tiny article put a stop to such foolishness?  Not if those who make such inane statements continue to ignore the facts.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Those who disparage theists for believing in God without evidence ignore ample, overwhelming evidence.  Off the cuff, I can only think of five reasons for such statements:

  1. They can’t handle the inconvenient truth.
  2. They have invented their own exclusive standards and definitions for “thinkers.”
  3. They arbitrarily decide that theists can get lucky sometimes but can’t really think.
  4. They believe they have a corner on intelligence.
  5. They need to get out more.

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

You can read about more theist thinkers here and here.


[1] Goldman, Robert N., Einstein’s God—Albert Einstein’s Quest as a Scientist and as a Jew to Replace a Forsaken God (Joyce Aronson Inc.; Northvale, New Jersy; 1997).


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Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Bigotry, Culture Wars, Faith, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Religion, Ridicule, Science, Theism, Thinking

Thoughts on Turning Sixty-Seven

old-man1I entered my 68th year last month. My 91-year-old father might disagree but I guess I am now “old.” I find old age fascinating on several levels. It is, for example, in old age that you wish you had taken better care of your young self. The aches, pains and other afflictions are not pleasant. To realize that you have been categorized as “old” is not particularly good for the ego. Neither is the realization that you are no longer (if you really ever were) attractive to young women. These days, if they smile approvingly at you, it is because you remind them of a loved and respected father, grandfather or great-uncle (get that straight and it will help keep you out of a lot of trouble and embarrassment!).

These are the routine parts of old manhood. But, what I am writing about is something rather unexpected. It is the insight I’ve gained because

I have lived long enough,

read enough books,

encountered enough problems,

misunderstood enough,

experienced enough reversals of fortune,

loved enough people,

lived through enough crises,

eaten enough crow,

had enough experiences – positive and negative…

…to realize the arrogance of my youth. Not necessarily an obvious, exterior, obnoxious, puffed-up know-it-all arrogance. But rather that which rises out of misplaced self-confidence, academic knowledge and an assurance that one has found authentic truth.

I was thinking today about an encounter I had back in the late seventies with a man who held an opinion (more of a belief) that I considered downright wrong…maybe even ungodly. I thought, how can he believe that when Scripture says this? I knew the experiences that influenced his opinion, but I also knew what the Scripture said. Now, at a comparable age with my own collection of experiences, I see what he was saying and why.

In my dotage I find myself considering, accommodating, tolerating and investigating ideas I would have rejected out-of-hand in my youth. I find myself believing things I never would have contemplated in my younger years. Now, older, sadder and wiser, I shudder at past positions taken, claims made, assurances given, defenses offered and explanations proffered. Today I am finally ready to reason more than react. Arrogance has been consumed by humiliation.

In our culture, older people tend to be marginalized and that’s a shameful waste. We are considered out-of-touch, hopelessly behind the learning curve and set in our ways. And, that sad assessment may be true for some of us. But I find myself more curious, more open-minded, more tolerant and receptive to new ideas than my youthful self.

Why did I have to get old to get reasonable? How much more productive and peaceful life would have been if wisdom did not depend on experience! Could I please try it again and this time with what I’ve learned? Oh the joyful thought of youthful living guided by age’s wisdom!

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Filed under Health Care, Ignorance, Love, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Mind, Peace, Random Thoughts, Respect, Scripture, Whitsett News

Jealousy — Is it Wrong?

Is it a sin? Is it evil? First let’s get a definition from our old electronic friend, Mr. Wiki Pedia.

Jealousy typically refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is being threatened by a rival. This rival may or may not know that he or she is perceived as a threat” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jealousy).

We tend to get jealousy mixed up with envy. But they are not really related in the English language. When I envy you, I want what you have. Perhaps I want your stuff. Maybe I want your fame or reputation. Maybe I want your ability or talent. Maybe (not me, I swear!) I want your wife. Oh the shame! Continue reading

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Filed under Good & Evil, Infidelity, Jealousy, Jesus Christ, Love and Marriage, Mind, morality, Religion

Something Happened

transform.gif It was the end of June and Mr. and Mrs. Disciple were listening to their 50th sermon since January. They and their fellow listeners were in danger of becoming the “I’ve heard it all before” group. The preacher was a good enough speaker with an effective mix of humor, illustration and Scripture. He worked hard to communicate God’s will. Unfortunately, however, he was becoming familiar to the sea of faces gathered in the auditorium. They had learned his gestures, his inflection and the new was wearing off. It was getting easier to drop off into a little snooze while he preached.

But today, something was different for Mr. Disciple, because, during the sermon, something clicked. Continue reading

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Filed under conversion, Mind, Preaching/Teaching, Religion

BLINK — a book review

blink.jpg I listen to audio books. I download from a service called Audible.com. I pay a certain amount each month and I can download two full-length books on a little digital player and, with a little FM broadcasting thingy which I plug into my car’s 12 volt outlet I can listen to books on my five hour round trips from Abilene to Lubbock where I teach.

I have listened to many fine books (and a few duds) and learned a great deal. I listen to novels which are entertaining or listen to non-fiction (science, history, biographies, etc.) which is educational. Occasionally I hear something absolutely sensational. Two books by Malcolm Gladwell fit into that category.

Some time ago I listened to his book, The Tipping Point. I was blown away. In the last few days I have listened to his book, Blink, and it’s happened again. I recommend both books highly but right now I want to talk about Blink. The subtitle is “The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.” Once you read this book you will never think about the way we think the same way.

What if I told you there is a psychologist who can predict the longevity of a marriage by spending only a few minutes observing a couple? What if I told you about some folks who, based on a few minutes listening to a physician talk to a patient, can accurately predict whether he will ever be sued? What if I told you about antiquities experts who can tell you whether a piece is a fake with just a glance?

In this book you will learn about the amazing accuracy of snap decisions. You will learn how what we hear and see can subconsciously impact the way we act. You will learn how, in many cases, a little slice of information is better than a lot of data.

The information in this little 254 page book can change the way you do business, the way you sell, the way you interact with other people…your world.

A special note to those who work with organizations (companies, churches, ministries, etc.) get this book and read it.

Malcolm Gladwell. 2005. Blink, Little, Brown and Company, New York, Boston.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Love and Marriage, Mind, Preaching/Teaching, Science