Monday, September 22, 2008

For Freedom Christ Has Set Us Free!

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 ESV


To give a little backdrop to this post… Yesterday during our gathering, the question was asked – “If we are free in Christ, does that mean we can do whatever we want…won’t people take advantage of this?” Well let me tell you, this opened up a conversation that lasted the rest of service, it was great! I pondered this topic the rest of the day and on into the evening. In fact, I woke up this morning with the subject still fresh in my thoughts. So I figured it would make a good post…


To you, what does it mean to be free in Christ? We use this term constantly but is using the term enough? Are we living in “freedom” as the Bible means or are we living as we want? There is a difference.


The world would define freedom something like this; to be really free and able to do exactly what ever you want, when ever you want, how ever you want and with who ever you want… sound familiar?


The dictionary defines freedom as a state of exemption from the power or control of another; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. But what does the Bible mean when the word freedom is used? Are we really allowed to just run amuck with no care in the world; all-the-while claiming praise God I’m saved! Or, is there something bigger behind the meaning of this word? YES!


Freedom according to the Bible has more to do with the word emancipation which means - the act of setting free from slavery, servitude, subjection or dependence; deliverance from bondage or controlling influence; liberation; as the emancipation of slaves by their proprietors. The law is the covenant of bondage. This is at the heart of Paul’s pleading that we cling to our freedom found only in Christ. His burden was that followers of Christ would not to be subjected again to the burden of Jewish law, being made slaves again to rites, customs and habits. The heart of the book of Galatians is FREEDOM; freedom from the pursuit of righteousness through works, which is wearisome and empty in the end. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:2-4


As the infomercials would boldly state…But wait! That’s not all – with this freedom you also receive a life-long, even eternal relationship with the living God of the universe, absolutely FREE! Wait! There’s more – act now and you will also receive a guilt free conscience!


This entire package is yours to be had right now because Jesus Christ has paid, in full, the price required and this is known as GRACE…


One of my favorite worship songs is “Your Love Is Extravagant” written by Darrell Evans. Casting Crowns has done a great job with this cover, turn it on close your eyes and listen – God is awesome!


Thursday, September 18, 2008


All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV

An evangelist is one who recognizes how great it is to be reconciled to God and to be in fellowship with Him. He understands that God provided the way for this relationship to exist by making His own Son pay the debt we each owed. He also understands the awesome and privileged responsibility we have of getting this message out to the entire world!

Reconciliation restores the fellowship we were created to have with the living, loving God of the universe! Fellowship with God is…
companionship - mutual association on equal and friendly terms
partnership - joint interest
company - a state of being together
communion - intimate familiarity

God doesn’t need us—He wants to share Himself and His eternity with us! Beloved, we need to get this; God WANTS to share all of who He is with us! He so wants this that even the “cost” to acquire this relationship would not deter Him form creating man. Revelation 13:8 makes clear that even before He began creating, the cost was understood—His only Son would have to die! All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. (NIV) Would you or I have gone through with a plan that would cost this much? NO.

Reconciliation brings deliverance and FREEDOM! Let me ask a question, “Why do some believe and not others?”. I think part of the reason the world doesn’t see God as the answer life, is because His own people often walk around as bound up as they are, all-the-while claiming “God is good”. If we would walk as the delivered and free people we are in Christ, you can bet that the world would be as attracted to us (ultimately, the Christ in us) and we would be able to freely proclaim that our hope is found nowhere but in Jesus Christ!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Pledge My Head To Heaven

As Jesus was starting on his way again, a man ran up, knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to receive eternal life?”… Mark 10:17 GNB

Jesus looked straight at him with love and said, “You need only one thing. Go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; then come and follow me.” When the man heard this, gloom spread over his face, and he went away sad, because he was very rich. Mark 10:21-22 GNB

What is it that Jesus would ask of you that would be too much for you to give up?

Keith Green, one of my favorite Christian music artists, wrestled with this same challenge… Keith’s heart was poured out in his song writing and one of my favorites (which seems weird to say since it cuts right to the heart) is “I Pledge My Head To Heaven”. These lyrics are rich with the reality of what it means to walk with Jesus as Lord not just as a man.

I Pledge My Head To Heaven
Keith Green

Well, I pledge my head to heaven for the gospel,
And I ask no man on earth to fill my needs.
Like the sparrow up above, I am enveloped in his love,
And I trust him like those little ones, he feeds.

Well I pledge my wife to heaven, for the gospel,
Though our love each passing day just seems to grow.
As I told her when we wed, I'd surely rather be found dead,
Than to love her more than the one who saved my soul.

I'm your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I'm your child, and I'm going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I'm gonna count all things lost.

Well I pledge my son to heaven for the gospel.
Though he's kicked and beaten, ridiculed and scorn.
I will teach him to rejoice, and life a thankful praising voice,
And to be like him who bore the nails and crown of thorns.

I'm your child, and I want to be in your family forever.
I'm your child, and I'm going to follow you,
No matter whatever the cost, I'm gonna count all things lost.
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I'm gonna count all things lost.
Well I've had the chance to gain the world, and to live just like a king,
But without your love, it doesn't mean a thing.

Oh no matter whatever the cost, I'm gonna count all things lost,
Oh no matter whatever the cost, I'm gonna count all things lost.
Well I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven,
I pledge my son, I pledge my wife, I pledge my head to heaven, for the gospel.

I know that we are not saved by works; I hope that is obvious by the content of my previous blog posts. But I am also challenged with what it means to call Him Lord. Biblical Lordship is living my life IN Him and FOR Him, nothing more and nothing less…

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 2Corinthians 5:9 ESV

Once when large crowds of people were going along with Jesus, he turned and said to them, “Those who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me more than they love father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and themselves as well. Those who do not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples…” Luke 14:25-27 GNB

“In the same way," concluded Jesus, “none of you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you have…” Luke 14:33 GNB

None of us really knows what we will do in any given situation but I am fairly (fairly being the key word) confident that I can stand before my God and say with Keith and countless others - that I pledge my head to Heaven and to all that entails… My family and I have been through a lot and have had to give up things and dreams for the Kings agenda to be fulfilled in and out of our lives, but there is much more that could be asked – we live a “comfortable” life as Western Christians and I like it! This though is where I struggle, if He asked me to go and sell everything I have and then to give all the proceeds away…would I?


I can’t imagine what it would be like to have everything stripped away, like Job – to go through this journey with the intensity of Paul amid all his sacrifice i.e. wifeless, beaten close to death numerous times, shipwrecked even once let alone numerous times, jailed for the Gospel, hungry etc.


I have a friend who felt that he was called to minister to the homeless of his community – sounds simple enough, heck many do this – only he felt that he needed to buy a home as close as possible to the park where they slept and then to open it up as a safe place, no questions asked. He often would not even be able to stay in his own home since it was full to capacity. I know that he has been given money to take care of his basic needs but instead he has used the money to help others within the community he has created.


The list of examples is certainly longer than this and your own life experience may blow his out of the water, my point is simply that I know I have more to give and I want to be able to do so if He asks me for more.

Fear nothing but God,
Hate nothing but evil,
Desire nothing but the Kingdom…

Grace to you all,


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

God Is Excited About You And Your Future!

I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD. They are plans for peace and not disaster, plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11 GW

We have all read or heard stories about those who have chosen to die for the glory of God and we think to ourselves “Wow! I wonder if I could stand even in the face of death.”

But what about “continuing on” in the face of tragedy or out-of-our-control circumstances?

What about trusting God in all things - even when they make not one bit of sense to us?

I believe it is easier to choose immediate death for the glory of God than to keep the faith in the wake of life’s turmoil.

Remember Todd Beamer, the hero who helped over-through the hijackers during the 9/11 attacks? Many have marveled at his wife Lisa, whose strength and ability to carry on after the tragic lose of her husband, was quite inspiring to say the least. Through it all she has adamantly given all the credit to God for her strength and peace.

Several years ago - Lisa was interviewed by Larry King. During the interview she was asked several questions about her faith, about her church and about keeping her faith. He asked her if during the previous months she had ever doubted in God.

Here is a little piece of this interview:

BEAMER: My church is a Christian Missionary Alliance Church, but we just try to follow what the Bible says and try to find out how it applies to our lives every day in the 21st century. A lot of people think the Bible is irrelevant to our lives here now, but we found that by studying it and looking at the examples in it, especially the example of Jesus, we are able to determine how to live our lives through tough times and easy times and certainly no time is more relevant to me than now about how to do that.

KING: Did you not at all, Lisa, question your faith when this happened?

BEAMER: I didn’t. I referred before to when my father passed away 17 years ago and I think as a 15-year-old I did question my faith at that time and say, “God, why would You let this happen?”

You know, this isn’t in the plan that I had and I don’t think a God who loves you would have let this happen to me, but I spent quite a few years trying to think through that question and getting the right answer to it.

And I think God led me to a place where I understand that just because I have faith in God doesn’t mean that He is going prevent every horrible thing from happening to me or take me away from the difficulties that this world brings to us, but that He is going to screen those difficulties and only allow those in that He wants to allow in and then through the difficulties certainly continue to show His love for me and the promise that I’m going to spend eternity with Him in heaven and that is the perspective that I was able to get after a few years of grappling with my father’s death and that perspective came to me obviously immediately on September 11 and has stuck like glue since then. So even looking back on the tragedy of my father’s death, there is a reason for that, even if it was for nothing else but to prepare me for September 11. It was certainly a valuable piece of my life that I know that God orchestrated in advance for me. So I look to this tragedy along the same lines and say, I don’t know what it means for the big picture of my life right now, but I do trust that God was in control that day and that He is taking care of me and loving me through this now.

How is it that some can survive incredible challenges with such energy, with such joy and with such confidence? Answer - Because they have come to a place of extreme confidence in their relationship with the living God! They have come to understand that He has a plan and that He is well aware and acquainted with our sufferings…their confidence is in Him not in this temporal existence.

God has a plan for each and every one of us! That’s His promise to us in Jeremiah. A “plan” is a method for accomplishing an objective. God’s objective is that you prosper - 1. to make steady progress 2. to succeed 3. to thrive 4. to increase 5. to become strong 6. to flourish. God wants you to live a life filled with hope - desire with expectation of fulfillment

Whatever the circumstance, God will not leave us hanging.
He is always about the business of accomplishing His plan and it INCLUDES YOU!
He is excited about you and your future!