Archives for category: Freedom

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Alfred E Neuman was known for the phrase “What Me, Worry?”  If you don’t know about Alfred, you might want to look him up for a blast from the past.  He might have said this phrase but if you know the history of this comic, fear and worry and obstacles were a big part of his life.   There is nothing different from our real, non-comedic lives.  So, let’s take a spinoff from Alfred and ask “What is it that gives you anxiety, fear, and/or worry?”  Why do we struggle so much, even as followers of Christ?  Where can and do I go when fear sets in?  What does the Bible have to say about fear?

To tackle the first two questions we need to understand that fear and worry is very personal and it varies.  Some people seem to be calm, cool, and collected in times of trials and others seem to fall apart and are consumed with what seems to be just simple, ordinary tasks.  What might not worry one person can just rock the foundations of another.  Often times, in our situational anxieties, we seek out people to help console us and many times that backfires.

In our sinful humanness fear starts kicking in because we look at our situation/s expecting all of God’s promises to be fulfilled right now and when our expectations don’t meet up with God’s action we start to worry and fear and mistrust.  We are looking for the invisible with only human eyesight.  In our quest to have the answer to “Where can and do I go when fear sets in”  We often times go seeking a human answer to something only faith can do.  This is where our faith comes in to practice.  As C S Lewis said in A Grief Observed “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong and sound as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn’t you then first discover how much you really trusted it?”   Faith is believing in God’s full promises when we can’t see or feel them.

In our times of fear and doubt we cling to the rope of faith as we hang off the precipice and life dangles us.  As much as we seek people to comfort us, it so often times ends up backfiring with one simple sentence. The phrase “Don’t Worry” is like a sledge hammer crashing down on you.  We have all been guilty of trying to pacify someone, or our own uneasiness about a situation, and we throw out a cliché response.  Trust me, these have all visited my home,  when you offer false hopes or easy answers to someone in a crisis situation like  cancer, divorce, and death, the “Don’t Worry it will be ok” phrase is just adding to the fear and worry.  Instead of balm for the soul and mind it’s like dousing a fire with gasoline.

The balm we must offer to ourselves and to others is God’s Word.  God’s Word is the only answer that fits our first question as well as all of our others questions. There are said to be 365 pieces of scripture to help us combat our fears and frustrations.  The verses cover the things in our lives that just seem impossible.  If we look at our scripture text we see God being with Abraham in a time of fear. God always meets fear in scripture with words of comfort and peace.  After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O Lord God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. -Genesis 15:1-6    God stepped out and gave comfort and reassurance to Abraham that though he did not see the answer yet, the answer was still there.

You see, our God is the only God of the Impossible.  He sent His only Son to buy us back from sin, Satan, and ourselves. Paying the impossible debt that we cannot ever pay.

He hands to us the Incredible.  There is nothing more incredible and powerful than the Holy Spirit sent to each of God’s children to give them the power to understand God’s Word and empower us to fight and ward off fear.  Other gods rule by fear but not the Triune God.  He wants us to fear/respect/have awe of Him.  When we truly grasp the Holiness of God and how sinful we are there should be a healthy fear but He assures us that He alone is with us.  Our God is the only god who dies for His people.  That is more than Incredible.

So the next time fear knocks, and it will knock, let Faith answer the door instead of human frailty and reasoning.  Put on the full armour of God and let the Holy Spirit fill to you with God’s Word and cling to the rope of faith.  Stay connected to worship, prayer, and Bible study so you can be strengthened and seek out caring Christian friends who will encourage you with God’s love and Word when you don’t have the strength to fight.

All Powerful Lord, in these uncertain days, strengthen Your peoples’ faith to Trust You in the impossible, to be our invincible, incredible power to fight all fear.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen

To help you in your journey, here are seven verses to look up, memorize, and cling to.

Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 56:3, Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:18, Isaiah 43:1, and Psalm 23:4.

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1428250327951For many of you, seeing the title of today’s blog, instantly conjured up images of the 37 foot 2 inch wall in the Red Sox’s ballpark.  Others might have seen the green gooing claw marks from the energy drink can.  Yet for others maybe you saw a green monster figure like a nasty dinosaur.  Maybe your first thought was the Wicked Witch from the Wizard of Oz. Whatever image you had jump in your mind, hold onto it as we walk through a few likely scenarios.

What I had in mind actually can have similar traits as those images we just talked about.  It can be a high almost insurmountable monolith of a wall once it gets into your ballpark, and it will enter your playing field.  It also is an oozing, creepy claw marking thing that just rips to shreds all that it touches.  It has an energy of its own and it doesn’t generally wear off like the stimulating drink.  It’s also a very nasty, ugly large dinosaur of a creature that can carry you away without a trace.  What about the Wicked Witch?  Yes, this thing I am talking about even has her nasty disposition. It takes away your ability to love, care, and be nice to others.  You only see the ugly and it melts your heart like the witch when doused with water. Are you a little curious yet?  Are you a tad anxious to know that this doesn’t allude a single person and it’s as corrosive as cataracts to good eyesight.

This green monster is simply summed up in one little five letter word but has the impact of the green monster wall, energy drink, green dinosaur creature, and Wicked Witch, wrapped up in one and then even dwarfs all of those.  It is GREED!

Maybe when you see the word greed you think that is reserved for only the rich, powerful, political, or well the Ebenezer Scrooges of the world.  Maybe you think it only refers to money.  Sadly, you would be wrong.  Greed is the Green Monster Elephant in every room in every home, in every heart, that no one wants to admit to seeing, possessing, or being. Greed is rooted in dissatisfaction and lust for more of anything.  It’s a lack of trusting God for the way He provides.  See, we and the world say “feed my wants and desires”, “buy more”, “get more”,  and “spend more”.  The holy ground of the temple of greed beckons us to shop until we drop, buy one more lotto ticket, visit one more casino, get one more degree or job title to be able to get one more thing because that “thing” it will fix my pain, my problem, my emotional emptiness, my broken relationships.  The only thing it tends to fix is a large debt that can’t be paid and empties the heart of joyful, thanksgiving.

The problem with the green monster of greed is that it never satisfies. You can have a million dollars and still not have enough. You can jump from relationship to relationship and still not have enough love that you want.  You can have all the bedrooms in your house filled with kids and still not be satisfied with the blessings you have in your family.  Greed breeds ingratitude and the lust for more of it never fulfills.  It never satisfies.  It never delivers on its bogus lies and keeps us distracted chasing the illusion of the American Dream and heaps on the disillusionment because nothing lasts forever and we can’t get enough, buy enough, earn enough to stop death.  No matter how much stuff we acquire, we will all die. You could pull a U-Haul behind the hearse but you still can’t take it with you into eternity.  No matter your station in life, just like chess, at the end of the game the King and the Pawn go in the same box. Just like we all have death in common, as sinful people, we all have the problem of greed in one area or another and the first step in getting handle on greed is admitting we own it.

Jesus dealt with the sin of greed and we can learn from Him on how to Fend off the Feeding of the Green Greed Monster.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”  Luke 12:13-21

Jesus first shows us that for eternity purposes the only inheritance we should be concerned about is storing up treasures in heaven and not worry about worldly wealth and possession.  Jesus then tells this man to guard himself against greed and lust and want of what others have or are given.  He straight up tells this guy STUFF won’t make you happy and life is more than possessions.

So how do we guard ourselves against the lies the world and our sinful selves tell us?  How do we scale the green monster wall? How and where do we find our energy to conquer the green monster in the room of our hearts and souls?  How do we fight off the monster dinosaur of lust, desire, and the likes?  How do kill the green wicked witch of greed?

Jesus tells us to be concerned about God’s riches first.  The riches of knowing Jesus Christ comes in the Word of God.  The power of the Holy Spirit touching us when we read God’s Holy Word and actually digest it.  The Word will teach and instruct us and douse the wicked witch of greed with the Living Water of Jesus Christ.

Worship gives us the ability to be ministered to by God and to be filled up with the love and forgiveness Christ won for us.  The Body and Blood given to us in Holy Communion is a constant reminder that Jesus Christ scaled the monster wall of sin on our behalf.

Giving of our tithes, offerings, special gifts helps us to see how richly God has provided for us in giving us all the things we have.  In turn by giving back to the Lord, we are blessed by knowing that we are caring out his commission to love care and provide for others in not only physical ways but spiritual ways as we tend to the business of the church.  This helps melt our hearts of ingratitude and thanklessness.

When we spend time in prayer this helps us be alert and on guard to where we need to seek God’s direction and repent of our ways when we let the green monster of greed rear its ugly head.  Prayer is always about us being in line God’s will and changing us from the soul on out to the body.  When we spend time to not only seek God in prayer, but listen to Him in prayer, we will find out that again, we are very blessed and rich beyond imagination.

Lastly, when we stop being greedy with our time and chasing our worldly pursuits, and start serving and giving our time at church and in service to others, we will be put in situations that show us people and situations in true need.  We will find out that no matter how poor we think we are there are always others far worse off than we are.  You will also find in serving that there are those that are destitute in the worldly things of money and possessions but way richer than you because they possess a peace and solitude that only God can give them.  They walk upright with the joy in knowing that God is caring for them even in the tough times of life.

So, there you have it.  Let’s start killing the Green Monster of Greed and start examining your holy grounds of the temple of greed and start being RICH in the Things of God!

Gracious Giver of all things, thank You for all that You give us and all that You keep from us because it is for our own good.  Show us our areas of greed, lust, and dissatisfaction and unthankfulness.  Help us turn from our sin and turn to You.  Give us an extra measure of Your Holy Spirit so we can fight this sin that erodes our hearts, relationships, time, and joy.  Put our priorities in proper order so that we only seek and want what Your Word tells us to desire.  Give us the power to give fully of ourselves to Your work and mission so we can help others climb over the green monster wall of greed and move into being rich in Your grace.  Melt our thankless, covetous hearts.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

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In America, especially around the month of July, we really like to focus on our FREEDOMS.  We like the thoughts that come to mind when we hear about how free and liberated we are, not only in the US, but also in the realm of Christiandom.

Most of us know the words Jesus spoke and were recorded in Luke 8:26 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  The freedom from SIN, because of faith in Christ’s death, resurrection, and fulfillment of the Father’s plan is a liberation that none can compare.  In this Freedom of Faith, it can be easy to forget what we are free from and that the Fruits of Faith charges us with some duties.

Does it seem odd that Freedom brings about Responsibility?   In our sinful world, freedom is generally broken down to the least common denominator: “I can do whatever I want without any care or thought of anyone else.”  “I want it at all cost.”  “If it feels good do it.”  However, as a Christ Follower, this flies in the face of what God’s Word teaches us and what Jesus teaches.

In Galatians 6:1-10 there is an abundance of care and responsibility that is entrusted to us because we believe, trust, and follow Christ.  Let’s take a quick look and see what runs up the flagpole of Faith and Freedom.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Let us NOT grow weary – Do NOT Give up – Reap – Restoration – Accountability Partner-Burden Bearers – Keep Watch and Test Yourself – Do NOT Boast in self – Do NOT Compete with Others – Share with your Teachers – Do NOT be Deceived.  That is a lot of Fruit from Faith and not all of the points to this passage.  It might even be an overwhelming thing when you first take a look but when we realize that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables us to do and act, then this is a great thermometer to gauge our Christian Liberties and Freedom.

Because we know that God is the Lord of the Harvest, we can keep being faithful to His call because He will give us the skills to plant so that there will be a harvest to reap.  If the harvest is looking weak or weedy, then we need to test the soil and see if we are reaping for ourselves and our sinful desires and then be accountable to Christ Alone.  We don’t just give up because it is hard, we keep on keeping on with the Mission of Christ.

Since, we love one another and are called to be a Burden Bearer, we stand ready to walk side by side to encourage our fallen brothers and sisters so they can be encouraged to leave the sin that has taken them by surprise.  In the same fashion, we need to not think to much of ourselves because we need other loving Christians to help us when we are overcome by sin. As long as we are on this earth we are both Saint and Sinner and we need Accountability Partners to encourage us along this treacherous road as we walk in the world that is so ready to steal our eternal freedom.

This is all part of testing ourselves and to test ourselves we have to be in God’s Word and let it permeate our every ounce of body, mind, and soul.  God’s Word is our litmus test to see what we are reaping in our lives as well as His Kingdom.  God’s Word will also keep us from being deceived by the world, ourselves, others, and Satan.  It’s easy to want to compare ourselves to others because it can inflate our egos but God cannot be deceived or mocked and He knows who we really are: we are the ones CHRIST came to SAVE!

Since we have been saved, then we should be overfilled with gratitude and want to share with others. We are called to love and not miss the opportunity to care for one another in the Body.  Sometimes an opportunnity only comes about once, so let’s be on guard to care for others.   Part of the “others” we are called to share with are those that have taught us along our faith walk.  Our Faith Teachers and Encouragers need us to help them as they carry the load of serving in God’s ministry.  They sacrifice more than most would know because they firmly believe God’s mission and Call on their lives is to enable others to see and know Jesus Christ at all cost.

Above all, in our celebration of FREEDOM let us not forget that we only have True FREEDOM because CHRIST bought us at the Full Payment of His LIFE.  In reality, we are DEPENDANT on Jesus for our Independance from SIN.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:15-16