Summer @ Harvest

This summer has been incredible at harvest. Starting with the GFC, Pastor Nancy and her team put together a powerful conference so many ladies from each of our campuses and from churches around the region were empowered and encouraged.

Two days after GFC our Global Reach for Justice Africa team went to Africa. We held a leadership conference and medical clinic in Rwanda, and built an education building. It was life changing for many Africans and all the team.

While the team was still in Africa, we had our Youth America Kids Camp, a huge success! Pastor Phil and the team conducted a great camp experience for hundreds of elementary students. Many decisions for Christ, and leadership development for kids leaders from other churches.

Immediately following kids camp was our Foster kids camp. this is a camp free for foster kids ages 7-11. We treat them like royalty. 60 foster kids and families were blessed by this week. Allison Morris did a great job leading the team to create an awesome atmosphere for each of these kids.

The very next week we started the Youth America Youth camps. 3 weeks of the most powerful camps we have ever experienced! The batton was passed to Grant and Monica Pankratz, and they and their team did an outstanding job, leading the beginnings of a movement that I believe will ultimately effect the nation. There were thousands of campers and hundreds of decisions for Christ. The speakers were first rate, and God showed up.

During all of that all of our campuses are showing signs of growth and enjoyed a great series called “Dream Big,” as well as the Fantastic four weekends. four weekends where we streamed live to each campus four guest speakers. It was fantastic and we just wrapped that up with Dino Rizzo.

We are about to graduate our first class of NGI, and receive our second, and wrapping up the summer outreach with a Global Reach team going to Cambodia.

Now we are starting a new series called the “Power of We”. I can’t imagine the results. Thanks to all the volunteers of harvest who realize we are the church and were highly involved. Thousands of volunteer hours were put in this summer and it’s made a huge difference in the lives of so many.

We glorify God for all He has done and the privelege it is to be used by Him to help others.

The Art of living Free

Exodus 2:23-25 (NKJ) Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them.

We live in a great nation, a nation blessed by God, a nation founded on Judeo Christian principles and thinking. Being a person who travels to different places in the world, I have to say there is no place like home. The thing that makes the U.S. great is the freedoms we have and the lack of tyranny. May we always be free. Free to Express our love for Jesus, and free to worship our God.

The one thing about freedom that is most interesting to me is that freedom is not free. Freedom is free to the ones receiving it, but very costly to the ones giving it. To get freedom, or to receive something free, implies that the one receiving is not charged for it. This is a picture of Grace. We can’t earn grace, we can’t make ourselves free in our own effort. Our freedom is based solely on a price paid by someone else. The giver of freedom himself, Jesus Christ.

The most powerful freedom is not physical freedom but spiritual freedom, and in order to be truly free physically, we must first be truly free spiritually. Even for Christians today who have received the gift of God we have not learned to walk in freedom, there is an art to walking in freedom. You have to learn to receive it, think it, live it, and share it.

Lets look at the children of Israel and their challenge to live free. When the children of Israel cried out for freedom and God sent them Moses, this was a type of Christ. Meaning God was showing us what was to come in the future through the messiah. Moses was a type of Christ, the deliverer. Egypt was a type of sin and bondage. Canan was a type of the promise of God his grace and freedom, and pharaoh was a type of the enemy who fights to keep you bound.

There are four components to the art of living free.

1. RECIEVE freedom

What we’ve experienced through the years is people having a hard time receiving something of significance for free. Its hard for people to imagine that something that has great importance and will impact their life tremendously could be free in anyway. Just in our efforts to serve the community, many times we have encountered people who just don’t want to receive it free, they want to give something back. Thats actually a good thing, but in order for us to be truly free, we must learn that the Spiritual freedom we get, does cost something, but the cost of it was paid by someone else. Jesus paid the price for our spiritual freedom, and so to us it is given as a gift.

Many times people don’t know how to receive freedom because it doesn’t look like they thought it would. I wonder how many times we have prayed for something, and we didn’t receive it because our answer didn’t look like we thought it would. When God sent Moses to deliver the people they had a hard time receiving it, because they couldn’t see Moses as the answer. Its the same reason that many of the Jews did not receive Jesus, because they saw their freedom coming by a military, governmental, Overthrow. The saw the Messiah being a military conquerer, yet Jesus was coming to start a revolution in the hearts of man, not to overthrow the government.

In order for us to receive freedom, we have to drop our pride that says, I have to work for what I get, and it can’t be this easy, and understand that Jesus paid the price so we wouldn’t have to. So our role in this is to receive His gift of Freedom and commit our lives to follow him, in gratitude for this great gift. We also must see our freedom many times comes in ways we don’t expect, we must not allow our misconceptions to keep us bound in the chains of discontent, guilt, fear, sin, religion or hopelessness. Freedom is something you receive, not something you achieve.

2. THINK freedom
Once we are set free we must think free.
EXODUS 6:9 (NKJ) So Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel; but they did not heed Moses, because of anguish of spirit and cruel bondage. When we are enslaved spiritually or otherwise for a period of time, it profoundly effects the way we think. Being bound is a very different life than being free. Someone makes decisions for you, you are hoping to merely survive. You are made to think low of yourself. When we have lived in bondage to sin, to shame, to condemnation to the opinions of others, to our circumstances it effects the way we think, our minds must be renewed. You can be free, but if you think bound, your freedom might as well not exist, because you are mentally still enslaved. Freedom is not just a state of living its a state of mind. Thats why if someone is truly free, you could lock them up and freedom will still ring true in their hearts, while others can be free, and still live like they are bound. Its all in the way you think. The children of Israel, after being delivered from egyptian bondage were free, but kept thinking like slaves. When they had to face the responsibility of their freedom it was easier to just say, lets go back to bondage it was less trouble. In order to be free, we must think free. How do we do this. By realizing we are not just being set free from something but to something. Our freedom has purpose.
We are being set free from sin to righteousness, from hate to love, from fear to confidence, from condemnation to a clear conscience, and from isolation to family. Freedom is not just the absence of bondage but the presence of purpose.

3. LIVE freedom
The sad part about the first generation of freedom out of Egypt for Israel was they couldn’t live in their freedom.
They allowed the behaviors of their bondage to Frustrate their freedom. They went from the bondage of slavery to the bondage of the wilderness, because they refused to believe, submit, and live in the freedom they were given. Fear ruled their lives, so they had to wander in the wilderness until the next generation arose and they died off.
Caleb and Joshua understood how to live freedom, to possess the promise of God, believe God and his purpose for our lives.
Jesus Paid the cost for our freedom, He set us free. So we must receive it, think it, and live it. Its amazing how many people who have come to know Jesus still live bound by the chains of their past, by the chains of others opinions, by the chains of condemnation, and by the chains of oppression. Freedom must be lived, not just known. Freedom is an action not merely an idea.
John 8:34 (NKJ) 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Don’t let fear, shame, condemnation, or man made religeous ideas keep you bound when you are free. Live in the freedom you have been given, refuse to accept the chains of the past. Have the attitude that Caleb and Joshua had, we will not fear, we know what God has promised, and even though we don’t deserve it, we are going to receive it, embrace and act on it. Don’t be a person who’s dreams die and who’s kids have to overcome them in order to live out their purpose, but be the generation that will live out the freedom that God has so graciously given us.

4. SHARE freedom
Freedom is not to be held on to for personal purposes, the most free people in life, are the people who are most bound by love.
The Apostle Paul describes it this way, we are bondservants of Christ. A bond servant, is a servant who has been set free, but chooses to continue to work for their master because of their love one for another, not as a slave now, but as a person totally committed by choice.

When Jesus gave us our freedom from sin, death and hell, he made us a part of his family, and our response to that is total commitment to him and his cause. We are sons and daughters who have bound ourselves in love to our savior Jesus Christ. That is true freedom!

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (MSG) Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

So, be free! Receive the free gift of freedom from Christ. Think freedom everyday, don’t let the thoughts of the past strangle you. Live your freedom out, free from guilt, and shame, and sin, and man made religious ideas, live free. Finally share your freedom. How dare any of us, have the keys to true freedom, and allow the people around us to live on in slavery.

This is the art of living free!