Monthly Archives: November 2016

What Does Freedom Look Like?

The media is all aglow with an uproar over an  actor on Broadway who made a public statement to our newly elected Vice President.  Governor Pence’s comment to his daughter was interesting. He referred to the expression of the actor as ‘what freedom looks like’. His comment got me to thinking. What does ‘freedom’ truly look like?

The greatest freedom I have ever found is in knowing God.  You can’t get it from education, relationships, drugs, alcohol, money, fame or anything else this world has to offer. True freedom comes from the truth about God.

Freedom is not obligatory, static, wild, over-indulgent, undisciplined, unruly, insistent, self-centered vain and certainly not controlling. It involves love, patience, courage and fearlessness .

In Romans 8:21, the first use of ‘liberty’ (or freedom) in the New Testament is found:

20 For the creature (creation) was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature (creation) itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Because of what happened way back in Genesis (as recorded in chapter 3:1-19) in the garden of Eden, the creation became subject to a great frustration ) as the earth fell under new management. The world around us now is not idyllic. There has been a lot of corruption. Mankind has fallen into bondage because of the evil intentions of a force other than God. But God has promised to deliver his people from this bondage of corruption and  bring them into glorious ‘liberty’ as his own children. True freedom does exactly that. Godly truth sets people free. To be free indeed, we have to know God and his son, Jesus Christ.

What does this freedom look like? Freedom has God at the source and lives in a heart that rests in righteousness. It is peace, it is love, it is joy. It is gentleness, goodness and endurance. It is also faith, humbleness, and self-control.

Life can be a pressurized rat race without God. The restlessness of the soul and the striving for something that  really doesn’t bring joy is not ‘”freedom’s safest place”.  When our heart is genuinely free, it doesn’t matter if we are alone or in the center of a crowd. It doesn’t matter what other people think of us even if they misjudge us. It is a rest that enables us to love freely and is built on a rock-solid assurance that we are loved by the creator of the universe.

Have a glorious Thanksgiving!

 

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Life as it rolls……

When a feather floats along the ground it is subject to the bumps, scrapes, and impediments along the way. Should even a gentle wind happen its way, it can be lifted into the air to float with the wind on a less destructive path. As we roll with life along the terrain, we too can be jostled around in a path we seemingly cannot control. We can choose, however, to take a higher route and stay above the dust and dirt and launch into the wings of God soaring and not subject to the meanders that push people along.

The Book od Judges illustrates this beautifully. The promised land experience was an up and down trip. When they allowed God to provide the path, they were fine.  When, during times of prosperity , they let things ride they inevitably ran into problems. God does not control, he simply provides a path. Man chooses and acts upon his/her choice. The judges were temporary deliverers, Jesus Christ is the once and final deliverer that God has sent under the new covenant.

You never will get to know God unless you look for him. You have to do it, otherwise, something else will try to define him for you. Jesus Christ is the only path to God. It was Jesus who said:

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? John 7:7-11

Jesus Christ has provided the lift  to live life to the fullest. After he died and was resurrected to his position on the right hand of God as God’s high priest to man, he sent the gift of holy spirit to provide for and tie us all together:

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:20-26

When we rely on others to find God, we relinquish the richness of the fellowship indicated in the above verses. God can work through others if need be, but the ultimate responsibility for each of us is in a relationship with the Father and his son.

3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. I John 1:3-4

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The Constitution and the 1st Amendment

Thanksgiving is a reminder of the Mayflower days and the men and women who made the courageous believing journey across the Atlantic to find religious freedom establishing a new world based upon God’s abundant goodness.  Life wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter, but they were blessed with the the greatest freedom and peace. We have all benefited by their actions and commitment.

The United States of America is not a theocracy but the 1st amendment guarantees freedom of religion.

 Notice that the phrase ‘separation of church and state’ does not appear in the amendment. This phrase was first used by Thomas Jefferson in response to the Danbury Connecticut baptists in 1807 to calm their fears of government intervention in church affairs.

In the 21st century, America has the greatest diversity of religions and is one of the most religious countries in the world. There is much evidence that this country started in Christian Theism. God is mentioned in our national anthem and referenced to in the Declaration of Independence four times (Nature’s God, Creator, Supreme Judge of the world and divine Providence). There are Bible verses as well as the name ‘God’ etched in stone and brass all over Washington D.C. The Bible was at one time used as a textbook in schools. Our founding fathers often utilized biblical quotes in their writings.

According to the amendment, the government is not to establish a particular denomination as the official denomination according to the Constitution. It also restricted government meddling in church business. This did not apply to states. Several states originally had state religions. The courts did not interfere with this for over 150 years. In 1947,  the Supreme Court utilized the words ‘separation of church and state’ in a ruling of the Everson vs Board of Education case reversing previous rulings and applying the Establishment Clause to states. From this point on in history, there has been increased pressure to separate church and state in many avenues of American life.

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Reformation Day

Yesterday was Reformation Day on the calendar. It was  the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses (also called ‘Disputation of the Power of Indulgences) on the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.  The indulgences were certificates that a person could purchase to reduce penalties for sin for himself or someone else that was already in purgatory. Purgatory  and indulgences are never mentioned in the Word of God. In fact, Luther saw how both ideas contradicted what he read in the Bible.

Martin Luther discovered the reality of the scriptures and he saw how far religion had swerved off the plain path of the grace of God. It is easy to see why. We live in a world that pushes so hard that it is easier to trust what is said about God than believe what is written directly.

Luther had problems with the word “righteousness” until he saw the reality of the phrase “the just shall live by faith’. When it registered in his brain what that truly meant, righteousness became a lovely word to him.  With ‘rightousness’ came  the dynamic duo: grace and peace.

3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: 5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:3-5

In his commentary on Galatians 1:3, he said: “Grace released sin, and peace maketh the conscience quiet.  The two fiends that torment us, are sin and conscience.  But Christ hath vanquished both these monsters, and trodden them underfoot, both in this world, and that which is to come.” 

So many people are afraid of God and have not realized how much he has shown throughout the Bible that he loves to be believed.

When you read through record after record in the Old Testament, book after book, this is so visible.  In the New Testament, grace and peace start almost every epistle and certainly the life of Jesus Christ in the gospels oozes both.

Reformation is an ongoing event, not just something that happened almost 500 years ago.  Peeling off the false doctrines that sneak their way into religion is not easy intellectually sometimes, but believing God to show you is relatively easy once sin and condemnation are removed. Jesus Christ paved the way for this to happen.

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