The Limits of Our Free Will

We can choose our actions but not their consequences.

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Who’s in the library?

In one of my college classes a visiting speaker mentioned that Karl Marx was in a library when he developed the ideas that became the basis of communism and socialism.  Marx’s ideas have led to deadly consequences.

He went on to ask the question, “Who is in the library now?”

Who is reading, studying, thinking, wrestling, doing the hard work necessary to create a culture-shaping movement?

I want to be part of a generation of Christians willing to “be in the library.”  I want to love God with my whole being, including my mind.  I want to think about how the Gospel speaks to our culture.  I want to be prepared to offer a defense of my faith.  I want to think about how the church should impact or even create culture.

What would be the results if this generation of Christians was as committed to King Jesus as Marx and his followers were to communism?

A Covenant with My Eyes

“I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?
(Job 31:1, ESV)

I have made a solemn promise never to look with lust at a woman.
(Job 31:1, GNB)

In the 18th-century John Gill, in his Exposition on the Scriptures, wrote about this verse:  “(Job made a covenant)…. Not to look upon a woman, and wantonly gaze at her beauty, lest his heart should be drawn thereby to lust after her; for the eyes are inlets to many sins …. both in bad men and good men …. Job …. entered into a solemn engagement  …. made a resolution in the strength of divine grace, not to employ his eyes in looking on objects that might ensnare his heart, and lead him to …. sin; he made use of all ways and means, and took every precaution to guard against it …. to …. turn his eyes from beholding what might be alluring and enticing to him …. he made a covenant with his eyes, to prevent any impure thoughts, desires, and inclinations in him; for the eye affects the heart, and stirs up lust in it …. the thought of sin is sin (as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:27-30 and 15:19) and (Job) had the same notion of lust in the heart being fornication and adultery as he (Jesus) had …. good men are not without temptation to sin …. and therefore should carefully shun all appearances of evil …. and take every necessary precaution to guard against it.

Job’s commitment to moral purity is an example worthy of being followed (by both men and women). However, in the twenty-first century, the Internet offers us unprecedented access to material that can arouse lust.  I firmly believe in the roles of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God,  and prayer in resisting temptation, but I also agree with Gill that we should take every precaution to guard against sin.  An important precaution that I use in my own life to guard against Internet temptations is Covenant Eyes, an Internet accountability and filtering service.  I encourage you to check out this program.  If you are interested in signing up you can receive a free 30-day trial at  https://covenanteyes.com/signup/?promocode=DY7.  You can learn more at the Covenant Eyes homepage or my Internet Safety page.

Where to Turn?

(This article was written by Frank Reed and was originally posted here)

We make a life to deal with the life we have inherited. We forge our life. We have two options:
1. One way is to forge our own way.
2. The other way is to accept and live God’s way.

Today many youth do not accept family, do not accept church, do not accept society. So, they make a life to deal with the pain of their inheritance. Their experiences have shown them that society, as they know it, has not been useful, has not been authentic, has not been God or Godly. Where to turn?

Are they too harsh in their judgment of their inheritance? Quite likely. On the other hand, they have make sense of life somehow. Where to turn?

It is easy to split into all good or all bad. Life has good and life has bad. Honesty and balance are key. The Scripture is the source. That is where to turn. That is the answer for life.

In the Scripture we find Spirit and Life. That is what Jesus said. That is what He is still saying. That is where Jesus wants you to turn. Whether you are young or whether you are old. That is where to turn.

You can drown life in good things. You can drown life in bad things. Either way, you drown. Only Jesus has the water of life. He offered that to the ‘woman-at-the-well.’ He offered that to Nicodemus. He offered that to the whole nation of Israel. He is offering that to you.

That is where to turn.
Today.

In the Image of the Father

When my father and I attended the same church convention, it was impossible to hide the fact that we are father and son.  People repeatedly commented on the obvious physical similarities between us.  Those who had known only one of us before the convention were able to quickly note that we are related.  In fact, for most of my life I have heard people I just met make comments such as, “I know who your father is.”

I wonder if people can just as easily observe my connection with my Heavenly Father.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, ESV)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1, ESV)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”” (1 Peter 1:14–16, ESV)

 

Tug of War

(This article was written by Frank Reed and was originally posted here)

“Tug of War” – again – when will we learn?

One of my favorite pictures is a picture of two tractors. One tractor is a John Deere G and the other is a Farmall Super M. They are chained drawbar-to-drawbar and trying to out-pull each other. Beneath the chain is a line someone has scratched in the dirt. Hanging directly above the scratched line is a white handkerchief tied to the chain.

Both tractors are obviously straining at their limits. The smoke is pouring from their stacks. Their rear tires are digging into the earth. Their drivers are leaning into their loads. Much energy is being expended. Neither tractor is going anywhere (except deeper).

Each machine has a cheering section. This contest of mettle has brought them together (and is keeping them apart). Each group seems to know which tractor should win (and which should lose). These groups are obviously losing no love on one another.

While much energy is being expended – no plowing is being done. No discing. No planting. No cultivating. No harvesting. Valuable fuel is being exhausted. Expensive tires are losing tread. Powerful engines are being stressed. Delicate gears overloaded. Useful life shortened.

Intriguing but convicting. Does it matter which tractor wins? Imagine how much work could be done if these powerful machines would return to their respective fields of labor. The operators, with a vision of a goal accomplished, could wave to one another across the fence row as they passed. If one had more power than the other, what would it matter? They could work together (albeit in different fields) to feed a hungry world.

Our churches have so much to offer the community and the world. It has become apparent that tensions have weakened our ministry and limited us to a debilitating degree. There is too much at stake to continue the struggle. Both “tractors” are being damaged while their mettle yet unproven.

Why can there not be an amiable agreement so that we can work together or so that we can work in separate fields? There appears to be huge open fields where all can find places to work. Certainly some of the persons involved in the present struggle would feel quite comfortable in some other, related fields of labor. Is it not possible that we could “unhook the chain” and employ energies in gainful, meaningful, productive accomplishment? In this way, we could finish the work without the damage and disruption which will be hurtful to us all.

Can we not “rather suffer wrong” if we feel that we or someone we are supporting has been wronged? Will not the polarization and escalation of present attitudes existing at all levels prove destructive to all? What about the people we are here to serve? They are the ones to whom we owe an apology. What are we teaching them? What are we demonstrating to them? Are we not hypocritical to teach the Bible while “biting and devouring” each other as our physical and emotional energies and our very spiritual lives are being consumed? Can we show the people that we are disciples by the way we love one another?

A peaceful resolution will certainly not be nearly as exciting as all the smoke, noise, and clamor of the “tug of war.” But it strikes me that a peaceful solution would be closer to what the LORD intended when He gave talents to each of us and told us to “occupy until He comes.” Then each of us will need to give account of how we used His talents. Are we working the fields or playing “tug of war?”

Frank Reed – Written in 1997. Published in 2013. Published in 2016.