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Free will, God’s will, and the importance of the Lord’s Prayer

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Free will Gods will and the importance of the Lords Prayer

Arguably the most challenging concepts for true believers in the Bible to reconcile in our minds is the seeming contradiction between God’s Will and the free will of humans. Some frame the debate as one between predestination and acceptance of salvation through our actions. Others believe that free will is an illusion. Still others believe in predestination through a prescient view. All of these concepts can take a diligent believer on a journey of the mind that spins around in our conscience like a roller coaster that never ends.

The problem is that we’re incapable of fully understanding it because of our physical constraints within the universe. Time is a physical property that is impossible for us to avoid. Even those who have studied and are able to see things theoretically from perspectives outside our dimensional constraints are incapable of acquiring real understanding. In short, it’s truly beyond our grasp.

Thankfully (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), it’s a concept that compels many to strive to comprehend. Ephesians draws this question in with four very potent verses:

Ephesians 1:3-6 (KJV)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

When Christians see that we were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world” and that He “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself,” it poses a question within many who wonder how free will comes into play for our salvation if we were chosen ahead of time. This is reiterated briefly in Revelation in reference to those worshiping the first beast.

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. – Revelation 13:8 (KJV)

A good number of churches and pastors take the prescient view and draw from Arminianism. In essence, this perspective believes that the saved, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, believed in Yeshua as Lord and Savior and had their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because God saw that they would choose to believe. It’s a powerful teaching because it reconciles the idea of predestination and free will into a convenient package that people can understand. It does not take away from our responsibility to accept Grace while maintaining that we were chosen beforehand based upon this acceptance.

The premise was created for the right reasons. It points us in the direction that allows for free will to coexist with God’s Will. The result in the minds of those striving to embrace the Word of God is mostly righteous because it attempts to prevent the concept of predestination from lulling people into a sense of hopelessness or impotence. It calls for us to remain diligent and is justified in the minds of those preaching it because otherwise people could fall away by believing that they have no say in their own salvation. If predestination exists without free will, Arminians would argue, then there’s no reason to live a life guided by the Holy Spirit because our fate is sealed regardless of our actions.

It’s a compelling argument, but it’s flawed. The prescient view unintentionally takes away from the sovereignty of God. It diminishes the power of His Will by declaring that predestination was actually precognition. In other words, the prescient view declares that God looked ahead to see which one of us would believe in Him and His Son and would follow the Holy Spirit, then He wrote the names of the people who believed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. That’s not predestination.

It isn’t just for the sake of free will that this concept is believed. It also has to do with our human perspective of fairness. If God chose who He would save and who He would not before they ever existed, it seems unfair to our human sensibilities. This is where things can be very confusing for believers because we cannot fathom a state outside of time. Time itself is a creation of God. Therefore, He exists outside of a physical rule that is unavoidably embedded within out conscience: the rule of cause and effect.

We are persistently constrained to the concept of cause and effect. It is impossible to comprehend the consistent state of God to the point that I hesitate to write about it. As he told Moses, the way that He was to be identified to the Hebrews was as “I Am.” Yeshua reiterated this in John.

John 5:56-58 (KJV)

56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

It’s with this concept of existing that our understanding fails. We see the world as cause and effect: we’re born, we do things, we face challenges, we are born again, we do things differently, we die. Our perspective within the framework of a world constrained by time does not allow us to understand the state of simply being. This is most confounding unless we’re able to at least partially grasp that our names were written in the Book of Life before the foundations of the world because our names are written there. For the sake of comprehension it is worded in the Bible as being before, but that is only done for convenience to allow comprehension of a Book that exists outside of the time-space continuum within which we currently exist.

The imperfect way of looking at it is to know that our names weren’t written because of our actions but that our actions are guided by the writing of our names in the Book of Life. It’s imperfect because it once again forces a constraint within our own comprehension, but it’s as close as we can come to understanding it at this point of our existence.

This is why we must always pray the Lord’s Prayer as Yeshua instructed us. The key is within the portion of the Lord’s Prayer when we are to pray that our Father’s Will be done in Earth as it is in Heaven. The Lord’s Prayer is extremely precise. It is a constant reminder of how we must live our lives. It is also a plea for our prayers to call for the Will of God to act on this world.

Matthew 6:9-13 (KJV)

9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

We are told in the Bible how to live our lives. It isn’t for us to understand how we were chosen or to debate the fairness of predestination. Rather, we are here for His pleasure and the fact that He gave His Son for our salvation is enough for us to be humbled and grateful. He isn’t compelled by anything we do. His Love alone for those who deserve nothing is the most wonderful gift that supersedes any sense of fairness we might try to inject.

 


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Culture and Religion

Thoughts and prayers are exactly what we need

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Thoughts and prayers are exactly what we need

One of the more disturbing developments in recent years is the growing attacks on thoughts and prayers in the wake of tragedy. Not only are more and more shouting that thoughts and prayers are “not enough” in the wake of tragedy. Many are also doubling-down on the idea by calling thoughts and prayers an excuse to do nothing.

This assertion not only strikes me as wrong-hearted but fundamentally in ignorance of two honest observations.

Firstly, those who attack thoughts and prayers ignore the necessity to grieve and the resolve that arises in the hearts of those who mourn.

Offering thoughts and prayers provides a message of unity and compassion. It’s a unified message that the victims of tragedy do not stand alone. The time where we offer thoughts and prayers is a time where we can set aside our petty differences and unite in mourning.

Further, it has often been my observation that those who offer heartfelt and fervent thoughts and prayers are the ones which arise from their knees, wipe the tears from their eyes, and provide the most energetic actions towards the support of others.

Mocking thoughts and prayers is mocking the humanity of those who are overcome with the grief of a heart-rending tragedy. It’s to mock the natural response of caring, faithful citizens. Quite honestly, it boils my blood that anyone would mock or belittle a quiet, tearful prayer, a lit candle in the window, or messages on social media that are, for once, positive, supportive, and contemplative.

Secondly, the attitude of mocking the thoughtful and prayerful is yet another example of the degradation of what holds us together as a society. It is a manifestation of our nation’s rotting core of community and brotherhood.

Ultimately, it is a demonstration of the same societal decay that is itself responsible for the lost souls of those who not only perpetrate horrible crimes, like mass shootings, but who resolve to end their problems by ending their life or escape their hollow realities through substance abuse.

We need a more thoughtful and more prayerful society. If we are ever going to get to the bottom of what is causing people to grow so cold in their hearts to kill others or so fallen from hope to kill themselves, we must rediscover the compassion and empathy that can alone save our families, our communities, and our nation from abject dysfunction.

Thoughts and prayers are not keeping us from solutions to the problem. Thought and prayers are the only true beginning to real solutions for the problems that ail our country.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Everything wrong with our political discourse in a single tweet

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Everything wrong with our political discourse in a single tweet

I will be completely transparent. I did not click on the link to read the extended version of what John Pavlovitz wrote. I looked at his tweet and determined that I was not going to give him the revenue for a single click. Especially for such clickbait. I did look at his profile which reads: “Author of ‘A Bigger Table’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Low.’ Unapologetically committed to equality, diversity, compassion, love, and justice.” Given the content of his tweet, the word irony comes to mind. As well as the dismal state of our politcal discourse.

John takes an approach toward people he disagrees with politically that I would not allow my children to take against anyone. Whether they looked different, practiced a different religion, came from a different country or God forbid, may vote for one of the insane Democrats currently on the debate stage. I have taught my children to think more deeply than that about people and relationships. To look at what people do. Not a single characteristic and make inane judgements like John.

I have been clear in all of my public statements that I did not vote for Donald Trump in 2016. I also did not vote for Hillary Clinton. It was astounding to me out of a country of 340 million people we had two candidates under investigation by the FBI. It was even more concerning that one of them would be leader of the free world.

However, I will vote for Donald Trump in 2020 barring some unforeseen circumstance. I do not own a MAGA hat, and do not think I have ever tweeted the hashtag without irony. However, given the fact I could now be construed as a supporter, John’s aspersions are being cast at me. They are also being cast at many of my friends who did vote for Trump in 2016. Wonderful people, they just thought Hillary Clinton was as corrupt as she actually is. I know them, their children and their values. Here is what we actually teach our children in the order John has defined them:

  • Do not judge people by the color of the skin, who they love or what they worship and be very suspicious of those who do. It is the content of a person’s character that matters.
  • Apologize if you are wrong. Do not ever apologize for speaking your mind. Be polite. Don’t waste time being politically correct. That is a soft form of censorship that does nothing but limit your thinking.
  • Diversity is more than skin deep. (See number 1.)
  • You need to take responsibility for your own behavior and success. Then be generous.
  • Empathy means you can understand where a person is coming from. Don’t confuse that with sympathy and ever think you can truly understand someone else’s lived experience. Move through your life with empathy.
  • America is exception and has given more freedom and opportunity to more people than any other country in the world. That does not mean everything America has done is a source of pride. Learn history and to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past.
  • Women can be whatever they want to be from CEO, to teacher to stay at home mom. They should not feel shame for any choice they make.
  • See number 1.
  • Religion is the foundation for values that made Western civilization one built on free will and freedom. It also helps you find the “you” shaped hole in the world.
  • When in doubt, do your homework.

I literally can’t imagine thinking the way John thinks. Of course it does not surprise me with the identity politics so valued by both the far left and the far right. To actually imagine that you can tell anything about someone based on a single characteristic is the most arrogant and simplistic point of view I can imagine. To think you know anything about the values people teach their children based on their preference on taxes, regulation, border security or foreign policy is asinine.

I have no idea what John has taught his children any more than he knows what the millions of Trump supporters nationwide teach theirs. I certainly hope they have been taught to be open-minded, to actually listen to people with different ideas and judge people for who, not what they are. Otherwise their point of view will be a simple and lacking as John’s tweet. And our public discourse will never improve. That would be sad.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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Culture and Religion

Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trump

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Democrats turn Mexican Independence Day celebration in Chicago into political statement against Trum

The long-standing tradition of cruising in Chicago streets for Mexican Independence Day had a double meaning this year as hundreds of revelers circled Trump Tower in Chicago waving Mexican flags and honking in celebration and protest.

The change in venue from the normal “cruising” in Hispanic neighborhoods was prompted by law enforcement’s decision to block off roads normally used for the occasion. The disruptive and sometimes violent celebrations were relocated after 10th district police blocked 26th St. in the Mexican neighborhood of Little Village.

The motivation behind the blocked streets in Hispanic neighborhoods was clear: To move the celebration downtown where it could become a protest. We know this because the official police statement declared their reasoning was for cleanup following a parade… but there was no parade scheduled for the streets in question. This was clearly a political move orchestrated by leftists in the Mayor’s office.

Cars and trucks with Mexican flags have been cruising Hispanic neighborhoods for Mexican Independence Day since the mid-80s. It wasn’t until far-left Mayor Lori Lightfoot sought to weaponize and politicize the celebration that the venue was changed to the streets right in front of Trump Tower.

Expression of cultural pride is one thing. Waving Mexican flags defiantly at Trump Tower has turned the celebration of Mexican Independence Day into a political statement, just as Democrats want it to be.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

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