By Dr. Donald Whitchard
If we’re honest with ourselves, especially as it pertains to our maturity as a child of God, we have to admit that we don’t start out our walk with the LORD with an established, concrete worldview or set opinions about issues that are forming and attracting attention in the world. I believe that when we are drawn to the saving grace of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit, our formation of thought and behavior starts out at an elementary level, with the expectation from God that we are not to stay in one level for long. The LORD expects us to mature and come to conclusions about issues that are not based simply upon raw emotion and reaction, but upon a foundation of Scriptural knowledge, common sense, God-centered rationality, and the necessity of prayer in order to get guidance and advice from the One who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. When we are saved, not only does our soul belong to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but we are also expected to surrender our flesh and mind to Him as well. Sin occurs in our lives not just because the devil is around to get us to take our focus off of Jesus, but also because we do not consciously surrender the totality of our being to His specific direction and plans. We have to realize that it is often our own stubborn will that causes us to fall and sometimes delay us in getting up and carrying on with the job to which the LORD has called us. It is no wonder that we are called upon as Christians to crucify the flesh daily.
When I was saved at the age of fifteen in December of 1975, I hungered to know the LORD on a deeper level. I sought out those who had been walking with Him and who could give me advice on how to stay focused on the glory of being one of God’s children. I wanted to know what the Scriptures taught about what it means to live a life that is focused on Christ and to stand strong in the face of adversity. Now, for a teenager who was socially wet behind the ears and lacking in maturity for the most part, looking back, I considered that as a major step in my overall development not only as a Christian but as a human being who didn’t merely exist to consume food, breathe air, work, and then at some point in time, die and go back to the ground.
Even when I wasn’t saved, I had an impression of the reality and existence of God. There was never a time in which I didn’t believe that He governed the affairs of men. Belief in God was as natural to me as breathing. From the time that I was born, my parents made sure that I was at church on Sunday mornings. My spiritual journey, as I look back, began when my parents bought storybooks for me to read and enjoy. I was reading coherently at the age of three and was on a high school reading level by the time I entered first grade. God, in His wisdom, put teachers into my life who not only taught me facts and figures, but instilled within me a sense of right and wrong, what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and the concept of morality and responsibility. It is a shame that modern education has devolved into a house of horrors where discipline, character, respect, and the joy of learning has given way to indoctrination and disillusionment of the foundation of our nation and expectations of mature character and the beginnings of a worldview that is not focused upon self, but the well-being of all concerned.
As a result of this philosophy of education, I received something that the youth of today are definitely missing, and that is the skill of critical thinking and analysis of thought and action. I believe that because of this deliberately ignored skill, people are thinking with their emotions and feelings at the time, not allowing for logic and rationality to explore the validity of what some people are presenting today in the arena of what the world considers correct behavior and dismissal of thought that threatens the secular status quo. The exchange of idea has been drowned out in a sea of anger, self-centeredness, sense of entitlement, and perceived offense at things or issues that might affect some people’s narrow worldview and have them running to “safe spaces” as if the universities and places of higher learning were a form of daycare, with rational thought and a God-centered worldview seen as something one would find in a toddler’s dirty diaper.
Now, let’s get back to how the LORD directed my thinking as I grew up. It is my belief that faith and knowledge go hand in hand and that there is no excuse for deliberate ignorance, especially not in this day and age where all we have to do is open our computer or tablet and look up information on the internet while checking the validity of sources whenever possible. Of course, I didn’t have that luxury while I was growing up. I devoured books and other sources that would aid me in my spiritual development, especially while I was in college and later, seminary. Now I don’t want to give anyone the impression that this journey intensified after my conversion. Because no one would help me in the church I attended, I floundered for a while and got involved with a religious cult that I soon got wary of because of some teachings that didn’t line up with Scripture. For about five years, I half- heartedly read the Bible and prayed for things that only would have satisfied my ego and not for God’s glory. It wasn’t until I went to live overseas and worked in the oil field that I found someone to mentor me in the things of God, namely an Anglican priest and the rich teachings he presented every Sunday that fed my starving soul.
After coming home to the United States, I enrolled in a Christian college and majored in history, which I always found fascinating. My initial thoughts were to go to graduate school afterwards and earn a Ph.D in the subject. That didn’t come to pass, and later my thoughts and a call from God drew me to the seminary. That atmosphere permanently grounded me in a love of learning and study. To this day, I’d rather spend my time alone with an interesting book than anything else, besides my duties as a minister. I also spent a considerable amount of time as a high school History teacher, not merely presenting raw facts to memorize for a test, but to get the students involved with the concept of how the events of history have produced consequences that affect our lives in the present, along with the importance of learning about what happened so that we don’t fall into the same traps that caused incidents of tragedy as well as learning from the noble and good events of humanity that has improved our status as a nation and society.
I believe that when we set our sights upon Christ-centered scholarship, it is more difficult for a despot to use whatever charms and ideas he has fostered in order to imprison a country and people founded upon beliefs and practices that tear apart the fabric of our character. What I see in what passes for knowledge today deeply concerns me and how what the world considers as fact is used as a tool of control and conformity to what secularists perceive as normal. The concept of original creative thought disappears when the demon of totalitarianism envelops a group or, in the case of the former Soviet Union and other socialist nations, poisons the notion of thinking apart from what is acceptable and of benefit to the nation as a whole.
Why, for example, is the theory of evolution accepted as fact when, if you examine it, is not a field of observable, empirical science, but a philosophy born out of ridiculous, godless thinking that many in the scientific world accept as truth when they’ve not bothered to research the gathered data in an objective, rational manner? Instead, many take the words of others as the standard in what they consider as acceptable thought in the world of academia. I have always seen this area of scientific discipline as a way of those who desire to rid the world of God’s fact of design and order so that they don’t have to be accountable to Him on the Day of Judgment. It’s as if our warped sinful thinking can eradicate the obvious reality of the existence of God. The apostle Paul in Romans 1 presents the facts of God’s reality and governance of the universe by the means of natural and special revelation. Creation proclaims the absolute fact of a Creator who is interested in not just producing a work of wonder, but is interested in the well-being of His crown jewel, that is, man. When I listen to the words of those who espouse evolution, they are in essence saying that we who live here have no real meaning and that we’re just “dancing to our DNA.” This and other worldly philosophies only goes to prove an obvious point, and that is that knowledge not grounded in the truth of God’s word and being is just a recipe for self-centered thought and living that has no interest in the well-being and development of others, but instead is the evil foundation of the ruin of a nation’s morals and ethics if carried to the extreme.
It is because I have devoted my life to Christ and the acquisition of knowledge, studying facts and trends and ideas and teachings that appeal to itching ears that makes me appreciate the truth of biblical prophecy and its foundation in the certainty of the fact that despite what we observe as chaos and the spread of ungodly behavior and thought, we must take comfort in the realization that none of what we currently experience and suffer through here has caught the LORD off guard or without prior knowledge. He has all things under His control and is allowing the plans He made before the creation of all things to come to pass. What we see as an ungovernable, unholy mass of evil spreading throughout our young people and society in general is proof of the reliability of Scripture and the certainty that what we read in it is not the product of man’s imagination that would just as soon leave the idea of God out and elevate humanism instead, but is the absolute truth of our sinful nature and the need of a Savior to rescue us from the foul creatures we have become as a result of our rebellion in the area of history past.
God is the author of history and the plan of salvation for His children is His idea and not the fruit of man-centered wishful thinking that would put his limited, worldly learning at the center of alleged peace with whatever deity one chooses in which to believe. These are issues that consume a part of my daily thought and study. I did not start my Christian walk as a teenager with this type of thinking, but as I’ve grown and matured in the faith that sustains me and makes me wish to go home to be with Him every day, I am looking forward with excitement and anticipation to that day when the trumpets will sound and we will be taken off of this wicked world to allow Satan and his horde to corrode the thoughts and beliefs of those left behind to swallow the drug of rebellion and follow the leading of the Antichrist in blind obedience, not really thinking that by accepting his mark, they have condemned themselves to an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
It is glorious to know that one day all of the false, ungodly thinking and lifestyle will be destroyed by the brightness of Jesus’s coming and promised rule and reign in the new heaven and the new earth. Our minds will no longer be clouded with the inability to think pure, godly thoughts and concepts, but our minds will be filled with the glorious knowledge of Him who sits on the throne. Our new bodies and minds will be free from the stain of sin once and for all. If my range of thought and study only centered on this one fact and I were, for some reason, ignorant of anything else, the very thought that because I trusted in the LORD for my salvation and eternal hope makes me more wiser than any philosopher who has graced the stage of history, only to have his teachings known by a handful of budding scholars. The pure knowledge of the LORD and the study of His word and the glorious consequences thereof has outlasted all of the barbs, slings, and arrows of skepticism and hatred throughout time. Nobody remembers the ranting of the critic or scholar who trusts in his limited thinking denying the reality of God. I am grateful to the LORD for giving me those gifts and talents that center around the absolute fact that Jesus Christ is LORD and in Him are all the treasures of knowledge. Who can even dare to compete with that glorious fact that everyone who treasures learning can deny or ignore? Praise be to God that He has never concealed Himself, but has graciously allowed us to taste Him and see that, indeed, He is good. Let the knowledge of the glory of the LORD be upon the earth. He is worthy of our praise, mind and all.
Don was born and raised in the true Cajun Country of Louisiana. He holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Louisiana College, a Masters Degree in Christian Education from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastoral Theology from Andersonville Baptist Seminary in Georgia. Don has served as a pastor, interim pastor, high school teacher, and hospital chaplain over the past thirty years. He currently serves as a volunteer chaplain (2008-present) with St. Francis Hospital and also served as the pastor/teacher from 2013-2016 at the Gospel Rescue Mission, both of which are here in Muskogee. He was called to Meadowbrook in February 0f 2017 and began his ministry in March of that year. He has also served as President of the Muskogee Baptist Association’s Pastors Conference, which is a weekly meeting that presents speakers and ministry ideas and concepts to church leaders in the greater Muskogee area.
Don’s top priority is to see that the good news of Jesus Christ is shared with our lost and hurting world and that the people of God are taught sound doctrine and preparation for our Lord’s soon return.