Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. -Psalm 86:11

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is true liberty?

Psalm 119:45- And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Society today dupes us into believing that true liberty comes when we shrug off all rules, responsibility, and accountability. The guidelines and precepts found in the Bible are, according to secular spiritual skeptics, straightjackets that prevent us from living truly liberated lives. To them, freedom is found in living a life that is free of "traditional" rules and "outdated" codes of conduct. But are they right?

The verse quoted at the top of this article teaches us that true liberty is found when we seek to fulfill God's predetermined precepts. Imagine that! That freedom is found in obedience- that is almost paradoxical! But notice with me a couple of practical illustrations that have assisted me in understanding Psalm 119:45.

In any sport, it is the rules of that sport that give us the freedom to be able to enjoy the sport. In fact, without the rules, you don't have a sport. Although it is absolutely hilarious to imagine, golf would not be a very fun sport if your playing partner just randomly decided to tackle you in the middle of your backswing. By adhering to the rules of the game, we are able to fully enjoy the benefits of the game.

Imagine with me a math teacher who has a new, revolutionary philosophy of teaching that abandons the "traditional" rules of math and embraces a more "free" approach. This new teaching method would no longer bind students to the strict, rigid laws of mathematics, but would allow the students to just experiment with numbers, and write their own equations. After all, these students should not have to endure the shackles of the Pythagorean theorem, the quadratic formula, and other binding "traditions". They should be free to express their own approach to math. But would there really be freedom? Obviously, the answer is no. There would be bondage. The students would be bound to a perpetual state of ignorance. Interestingly, the rules of mathematics are the very agents that give us the freedom to learn.

1 John 5:3 reads, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment: and his commandments are not grievous." The truth, regardless of what more "enlightened" individuals may say, is that God has established predetermined precepts and rules for life. Life that is lived within these guidelines experiences all the joys that God intended. A beautiful picture of this is marriage. Some of the greatest joys of human existence are found in the covenant relationship of marriage. This is exactly what God intended. With marriage comes companionship. With marriage comes security. With marriage comes the undefiled sexual relationship. With marriage comes children. With marriage comes wonderful memories. With marriage comes...rules. When the rules of marriage are broken (infidelity, failure to fulfill the God-given roles of husband and wife, etc.), the freedom that is found within the marriage is greatly hindered. And the same is true in regards to our lives and God's precepts.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hearts Divided

The Lord laid a desire upon my heart to create a blog that is specifically designed to help teenagers and young adults in their walk with God. Over the past several years, God has given me some unique opportunities to meet hundreds of teenagers from various backgrounds. I had the privilege of teaching junior high and high school at the First Baptist Church School in Long Beach, California for two years. I loved it. I loved the students, and still do. During our time in Long Beach, my wife and I spent every Saturday afternoon with children, many of whom were teenagers, of Cambodian refugees. Not a day passes by when we do not think of them.

In Psalm 86:11, David cries out, "unite my heart to fear thy name." David, just like all of us, had a battle in his heart. Would he give his heart to his own lusts, desires, and pride? Would he give his heart to this world and all of its temporary, empty pleasures? Or would he give his heart to the very One Who gave him life? Would he give His heart to God, and embrace God's plan for His life. Would he resist the temptations that bombarded him every day, and embrace God's commandments and precepts? The reason David cried out for God to unite his heart is because there were times when his heart was divided.

This blog is not primarily about trying to get teenagers to "do" the right things. It is not about outward conformity. This blog, "Unite My Heart", is primarily focused towards helping teenagers and young adults be who they need to be. Although there are a myriad of struggles teenagers face, the most critical struggle is the one that takes place in their hearts. Many teenagers have divided hearts. I believe that when the heart is united to fear God, the outward aspect will take care of itself. I pray that the the articles written in this blog will be helpful to every teenager and young adult who reads them.

By the way, I need this stuff just as much, if not more, as anyone.

Thank you for reading!

Chad Phillips