Freedom – Hard but Worth It

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James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 

Its Hard:

Our values are worth fighting for.  What we value is worth going through the hard things for.  Any success or significance that occurs in our lives wont just happen, but require doing the hard things.

Its worth it:

When we face difficult circumstances.  When we go through the tests and challenges of life, it can seem arbitrary and uncesseccary, but if we have the right perspective and the let the hardships be our teacher instead of our enemy it will be worth it.  

We must look at the obstacles as opportunities and the problems as possabilities.

We will find that the results of the hardships are developed faith, strong resolve, determination and patient perserverence.

Its hard but its worth it.

Freedom has a Cost:

Freedom is a powerful word.  To be free is to be unencumbered by external control.  To not be enslaved.  It sounds so easy.  It sounds just like a decision and mostly, it sounds free.  Although freedom is a gift, and it is a powerful force in life, and may make us free, its not free.

Being a person who travels the world and has seen the difference between the USA and so many other nations, I am truly thankful to live in this great nation.  A Nation that was founded on the idea that all men are created equal and are free to Pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  

But Freedom is not Free

We are free to Believe and express our religeous beliefs freely.  We are free to speak our mind. We are free to assemble.  We are free to do so many things.  We are free from so many things.

Thank God today in America although not perfect, it is a beacon of freedom around the world.

But Freedom is not free.

There has always been and will always be tyrannical power hungry, corrupt people and systems who desire to enslave and control others.  Whether they be nations, terrorist, abusers, traffickers, perpertrators of poverty, or individual control and fear mongers there will never be a shortage of freedom thieves.

However as long as there are those, there will also be others who have a deep God given desire for freedom in the depths of their soul, and will stand their ground, and speak up for those who have no voice and speak out for the down and out, and fight the good fight, to win freedom for themselves and for others.  There will always be freedom fighters.

Because freedom is not free.  Freedom is Hard but its worth it.

It’s easy for us to take freedom for granted, because we know nothing else. 

This generation and many before it in the USA don’t know the bondage of tyranny, or slavery. We don’t understand what it’s like to be confined in our speech, or beliefs or, mobility. We don’t know what it’s like to be controlled by an external power telling us every move to make. 

Rather, we know the privelege of freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom to decide, freedom to believe, freedom to take the opportunities afforded us, freedom to be educated, freedom to live where we want, so many freedoms that we are immersed in and don’t even understand or realize them as freedoms. 

Although we live everyday in these freedoms we don’t have to pay the price for them. 

But Freedom is not Free

I think we would respect and appreciate freedom a lot more if we aknowleged that even though we don’t have to pay for the freedoms we enjoy, someone did have to pay for them and someone still has to pay to maintain them.

Condalisa Rice Said…

   

Now, to be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy.
I know, as you do, the sacrifice of Americans, especially the
sacrifice of many of our bravest in the ultimate sacrifice, but
our armed forces are the surest shield and foundation of
liberty, and we are so fortunate that we have men and women in
uniform who volunteer, they volunteer to defend us at the front
lines of freedom, and we owe them our eternal gratitude. 

I am grateful for the men and women and families who sacrifice so much to protect and defend this great nation and its freedoms.  Men and women who are cut from a different cloth. They have an incredible sense of duty.  A deep seated bravary.  A root of responsabiity for the protection and advancement of freedoms way of life.  A root that runs deep and grows into an enormous tree of freedom that extends its branches to provide shade for all those who would gather under it, and produces fruit of opportunity, education, and empowerment for a nation.  

These men and women put themselves in a place of vulnerabiliity for the sake of our security.  These men and women and their families make sacrifices that few understand for the sake of the freedoms of all of us who enjoy them.  These beautiful, faithful, loyal men and women of all of our miliatry branches are owed a debt of grattitude, by every single individual who reaps the benifits of their labor.  

The bible tells us in Romans that we shoud give honor where it is due.  We honor these men and women because freedom isn’t free, and they have and are paying the price for it.

Whether they are fallen in battle, or served in the past, or currently serve or are newly inlisted we honor them because they honor this nation and what it stands for by their service to it.  
Freedom isn’t freee…Its hard but its worth it.  

Our founding fathers in founding this nation of free people did so at the risk of their very own lives. 

In reference to the occupation of the founding of our nation and the resulting response of the british government Benjamin franklin said to his partners…

“We must all hang together, or we will all hang seperately”  meaning if we are not all in, and unified we will surely die for what they consider a treasonous act.

From then until now many have put their very life on the line for our freedom.  

They were able to do this because they had a mind to fight for freedom.  

They understood freedom isn’t free and although its hard, its worth it.

Benjamin Franklin said…

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

Patrick Henry Said…

“Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! 

They were so completely given to the cause of freedom it empowered their every thought and was the filter through which they saw every thing.  To the degree that they wanted every child to know, embrace and live out freedoms cause.

John Adams Said…

“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”

An Incredible Gift:  

As we can see freedom is an incredible gift to us.  A gift that has made our way of life possible.  A gift that has given us opportunities that others are not afforded.  A gift that causes our great nation, our young nation, to take its place in a very short time as nations go, atop of the list of nations of influence.

Not the Best Gift:

External freedom is a great blessing but not the greates gift.  There is a freedom that is greater.  A freedom that is eternal and not temporal.  A freedom that far supercedes any type of earthly freedom…

Ronald Reagen said…

Democracy is less a system of government than it is a system to keep government limited, unintrusive; a system of constraints on power to keep politics and government secondary to the important things in life, the true sources of value found only in family and faith.”  

A Greater Freedom:

I submit to you today that there is a greater freedom than external freedom.  It is Internal freedom, spiritual freedom.  There are many who enjoy the gift of external freedom but don’t understand or live in internal freedom, spiritual freedom.

The bible calls this freedom Salvation.  Many use the terminolgy being saved.  The greek word is Sozo – to save, make safe, make whole, to heal, or be whole.  The theological term is regeneration, which means spiritual rebirth.  It is what Jesus talked about in John 3 when He told a man by the name of nicodemus, how to be saved (be in true relationship with God) “You must be born again.”  Nicodemus asked him, “How can I, an old man go back into my mothers womb” Jesus explained that to be in relatiobnship with God we had to know christ and in knowing him, believing him, we would have a spiritual encounter that results in being born spiritually.  Saved, made whole, changed, reborn.  

This is the beginning of true internal freedom.  Its not religion or religeous ideas that make us free.  Its faith in Christ alone that makes us free.  It saves us from the enslavement of sin, and destruction.  It sets us free from the perils of life without God.  It releases us from the chains of shame and guilt and binds us to Jesus with cords of love.

Freedom however isn’t free.  Its hard but its worth it.

We can’t earn salvation, spiritual freedom.  We can’t do good things to get it.  We can’t be good enough to earn it.  It is free to us.  All we have to do is believe it and receive it.  

But freedom isn’t free.

Someone had to pay.  Someone had to stand on the front lines of spiritual battle for us.  Someone had to pay the penalty for the sinful things we have done, and the sin nature that we are born with.  Freedom was available but not free.

There was a cost

Jesus, was perfect, and sinless.  He is the Son of God, and as a result the only one qualified to pay for the freedom we all need.
So He willingly went to that cross, but before doing so, he went to the garden to pray.  In that Garden, he talked to his father, and came to this conclusion, that the price for spiritual freedom was steep, expensive, and personally costly for Him, but  It was worth it!

So He went to that cross, gave his life in place of us, then was buried in a tomb, and three days later, on his own volition decided He would not be a slave to sin, death, hell or the grave, and he rose again to personal freedom and as a result gave all of mankind the opportunity for true, real, internal, spiritual freedom!

This is the inspiration for the words free at last, and the only real fulfillment of them.  Free at last, free at last, Thank God almighty I’m free at last.  While external and national freedom are great blessings, they aren’t real freedom.

Real freedom is to know Christ.  To be covered in His righteousness.  To know that the chains that used to bind you no longer have a hold on you.  To be free of sin, and to have hope in spite of death, and to know that your eternity will not be in the eternal jail called hell, but in the presence of your liberator, your king, your friend and father.  

You are free.  Free from the traps set to you bind you.  Free from the enemy that’s out to get you. Free from the wrong thinking that enslaved your mind.  Free from the petty survival mode of this life and free to live out the purpose and destiney that God has planted as a seed deep inside your spirit that flourishes and grows and rejoices, in Freedom!

What do we do with this real freedom?

We Know it, live it, and never retreat from it.

Galatians 5:13-15 MSG

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? 

I thank God for a free nation, and for the people who have paid the price for it, and I thank God for spiritual freedom and for Jesus who paid the price for it.  The question is are you really free today?  Do you know him?

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Independence day…

My encouragement to all on this wonderful celebration of the Independence of the Untied states of America. Is to remember where we came from. Remember what are true roots are. Read for yourselves the history of the men and women who founded this country. Read their very own words. Not words taken out of context to influence history. This Country was clearly founded on the Bible and Christianity. The founders themselves said so. So as we celebrate our Nation, find yourself at church on Sunday giving honor to God, to our leaders, and to our military men and women who are so valiant in there efforts to preserve freedom. God bless America, and God bless you!

David

Its a dark and rainy day….

I love days like this, I don’t know why but they slow me down. They cause me to think. To reflect and to meditate on things to come. I am thinking of the true possibilities of our Global Reach for Justice in Rwanda. We are leaving on June the 8th. I was meeting with the team just days ago, and we ask the question, “why do you think you are supposed to go on this trip?” There were many different answers. Some said, “I want to help the children,” while others said, “I’m not sure what I can do but I want to help change things for the people of Rwanda.” They all truly gave good answers.

I think we all should take time to ask that question about our lives in General, as to why we do what we do. Why are you involved in this or that? Where are you serving and why? It should bring perspective and clarity.

I asked myself, why are you going to Rwanda this year? My response is simple. To produce potential in people. I see this as one of the main reasons for my life. I have a vision for the potential in people and I feel my assigment in life is to help people realize that potential.

I know when we look at places like Rwanda, we see all the bad things that have happened. After having been there and built so many great relationships, especially with young Men and women who want to lead their country to health, I see a lot of promise and unending wells of potential.

My purpose in going this year, is not to just give a fish, but to teach them how to fish. I have kept relationships going through the web as much as possible, and we are planning a major connection with young leaders when we go. I believe that interaction and teaching, and relationship time is going to make a real difference in the lives of these young Rwandans, and in the life of the future of their country. We are going to help them in humanitarian ways, and in leadership.

How do you change the world, by seeing the potential of change, and producing it.

That’s why I am going to Rwanda. Why do you do what you do? Please share.

“Recieve”

“Receive”….blog I wrote in 2006

If we’ll notice there are times in life that we’re more receptive than others. This should really be a lesson for us. It seems that all people are more receptive when life is brought to its basic simple reality. We live and we die, and then life after death. When people are brought face to face with mortality it’s amazing how receptive we become. I have very distinct memories when I was 20 years old, watching George Bush Sr. Declare war in the gulf coast to save Kuwait from its impending doom at the hands of Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The very next weekend our church which already had great attendance was at full capacity. In our church we could seat about 700 people including the balcony. We usually ran in attendance around 400 adults. That weekend every seat was full including the balcony, it was amazing. People we hadn’t seen in a while were at church, we had many first time guest and they were there to connect with God. People who were once a month or twice a month people all of a sudden became faithful attendees. It was a moment where we were faced with our mortality. Faced with the fact that our lives could change drastically, faced with the question are we safe? The sad part is that although we did grow overall, after a few weeks, slowly but surely people began to go back to their normal routines, God was no longer as important as He was in those moments that we desperately needed Him. I see this every time I preside over a funeral, every time I counsel someone who is in a moment of reality. I saw this Friday night, as I stood on the front lawn of Mitchell Hall on the University of Central Oklahoma Campus, as we honored the memory of an incredible young woman who was a member of our church, Hannah McCarty. They were unveiling a beautiful piece of art in her memory and to honor the scholarship that has been established in her name. What a great honor it was for me to be able to share in that moment. The head of the arts department Dr. Clinton presided over the ceremony, The president of the College, Dr. Webb was there and addressed the crowd, Jack and Pam sent out a clear message with their speech that Hannah’s life was so meaningful and continues to have meaning because of her relationship with Jesus Christ, as they say and I’m sure you’ve seen on city buses, “when you know Jesus the dance never ends.” Hannah was a prolific dancer, more importantly though she was a prolific Christian. I had the wonderful privilege of being the last speaker and had the opportunity to close in prayer. I hope that I represented Hannah and the McCarty’s and our church well in that moment, but most importantly I hope that I represented Jesus well. I simply told the truth. I told the crowd of it seemed like a couple of hundred people, how Hannah lived. She lived life with Passion and on purpose. I said to them she lived life to the full. “Many of us thinking living life to the full is filling our lives up with busyness and things, but she superseded that by living her life as busy as it was, with purpose. It wasn’t just about doing things but it was doing things on purpose.” I said.
I told them, “she looked her obstacles and problems and sickness in the eye, without complaint and simply said, I’m going to live anyway. The reason she had this Joy, the reason she had this peace, the reason she had this purpose, was her relationship with Jesus.” It was a great moment.
The context of this event was interesting, I’m sure that there were several Christians there, but there were also many very secular people there, but it was amazing how receptive everyone was. I didn’t feel a resistance at all as I spoke very clearly about Jesus Christ, I looked out on the crowd, and saw some smiling faces, some somber faces, and some faces caught in the act of introspection. Thinking over their lives, seemingly asking “am I living, really living?” It was a great moment. I am very proud for Jack and Pam, that Hannah was recognized in this way, but more importantly that they have taken a personal tragedy for them and turned it into a day to day ongoing outreach to people, who are getting saved and their lives changed. Pam told me that Hannah always said, I want to be responsible for at least one person going to heaven, and as Pam says, she has impacted many more than that.
It is very telling on us as humans that we are receptive at certain times more than others. It is very revealing when things are going well how easily we forget, how much we need Jesus and how unreceptive we become to His desires for us, and His purposes for our lives. If we could only find a way to tap into those moments of decision and understand how important it is for us to constantly and consistently be receptive to His spirit and His word.
We have been taught to be so cynical. Question everything, don’t believe anything, or believe everything. I don’t suggest that anyone go around blindly following others with no discernment. I think everything we see and hear and are a part of should be ratified by the word of God in us. Let us today make a commitment to God and to ourselves and to our church that we will be receptive. Receptive to the voice of God to His word and to His purpose for our lives. Why do we need to go about our own way until forced by circumstances to change our perspective, lets just keep a holy perspective and reverence for the things of God and watch Him use us to profoundly change our world. I am so grateful that even in our inconsistency and wavering God’s grace is sufficient, and He is not angry with us but longing for an close relationship with each of us.

American Christian…

After our trip to Cambodia last august, where we witnessed an extraordinary group of Christians who live their entire life for Christ.  He is truly the center of their existence.  They don’t have him i a compartment or say this is my “God Life” and “this is the rest of my life.”  It really challenged us as Christians to ask ourselves are we truly committed to the cause of Jesus Christ.  To His love, His grace, and to His Gospel?

A young Friend of mine, made this statement to me after we returned home.  He said, “I have realized that American Christians are more American than Christian.”  What a profound thought.  Have we allowed our culture as Americans to become more important to us than our Christianity, have we become the epitome of the Christ words when he said the Gospel could be choked out of our lives as a result of the deceitfulness of riches and the cares of this life?  I Know that some have, many for that matter, but I believe that God is raising up a new breed of believer, who really cares more for the cause of Christ than any other thing in their lives, and its this Cause that informs and influences every other area of life.  Jesus, let us be as Christians what you intended, that is my prayer.

David