Emancipated, But Are You Free?

Posted: June 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: It Hurts So Good, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

freedom_shackles_chains_Few words have changed the course of American history like “emancipate.” It’s very utterance stirs images of black families being freed from bondage.

I can see entire families who have just received the news colliding in the middle of a field with crazed enthusiasm greater than the celebration pile at the end of a sports championship win. Decades of struggle, toil, and beatings finally come to an end. The fruit of their labor could now be their own.

But for some it was not so. When the Union won and President Lincoln enforced the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners were less than honest. Since slaves weren’t taught to read, some owners told their slaves not that they were free, but that it meant that they could no longer be sold to a new master. This was incredible news to them as it meant their families would no longer be split up and sold to other masters. They could all serve the one master together.

Some worked for years for their old masters before they found out that all along they were truly free to walk off the plantation and make their own way in life.

This Sunday at church, we sang the song “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. The main words of the chorus are:

There is power in the name of Jesus
To break every chain

In singing these words, I couldn’t help but think about the freedom that Jesus’ death and resurrection purchased for all mankind. However, a harsh master, the Father of Lies has intentionally misrepresented it to us – and some have believed him.

I cannot imagine what it was like to be a slave in the early years of our great country. The humiliation, degradation, and utter emotional and physical devastation that they underwent is unsurpassed in even my imagination.

But I do know what it means to be hopeless and a slave to sin. I know the weight of those chains well. I know what it means to serve the Master of Deception. The wounds of his whip and the scars of his shackles remain.

But when I put my faith in Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin. He gave me the right to walk away from sin and never serve its master again. But I fear so many times I look down and see my broken chains and loosed shackles and just stand there. Maybe it’s that after so many years of bondage I don’t know what freedom even means and the Father of lies says, “Yes Chris, you are free. You can be holy and still work for me on the side. You can raise your hands in worship to God on Sunday morning and lower His standards for you in worship to me on Sunday evening.”

Instead of running for the hills with my freedom papers in hand, I choose to stay and work for the same hard master. I believe my old, harsh master’s words over God’s.

Maybe it’s that I’ve restricted the definition of freedom as only a release from bondage and not also as the permission to move toward liberty. Is it possible that I’ve watered down the regenerating power of God in my life as only the power to abstain from sin and not as the authority to be righteous and holy.

Corporately, as a church, have we done the same and in so given ourselves, by an abuse of grace, a way to serve our old master? Have we manipulated freedom’s definition to hold tight to unholy habits that satisfy our flesh yet defile our spirits?

I know I’ve asked more questions than answered, but look hard at your life, and I will mine. We must look in the mirror and ask the hard questions and not be afraid of the answers. We must examine ourselves regularly to see if we are still in the faith, or out of it. And do so humbly allowing God to confront us where we are wrong and submit ourselves to His correction.

Remember, Jesus’ death was a contract. We’ve been emancipated. We are free, because whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed!


By the Word of Our Testimony

Posted: March 4th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

By the Word of Our TestimonyA few weeks ago I gave a friend a ride to Rochester, which is about a three hour drive. No, acquaintance is more accurate, though I believe now we are friends.

See, there’s only a few things one can do when stuck in a car for a few hours with another individual. You can listen to the radio, talk, or sleep. If you know me at all my only option is to talk.

So talk we did.

It started with the small chit-chat, “How’s it going?” Blah. Blah. Blah. But before long we were sharing our history with each other.

My friend is a single guy, and I’m a fourteen-year marriage veteran with five kids (number six due in three months!). He started asking me how I liked marriage and family life. With each question he drew wisdom out of me like buckets of water from a well. I told an almost perfect stranger about past failures and victories few people know. Before long he was telling me his story and what God had done in his life to make him the man he is today.

It was powerful.

Do I think what I said will make a long-term difference in his life and how he someday treats his wife? I hope so. I hope he avoids some of the pitfalls I fell into and that he develops the type of relationship that love stories are written about. I may never know.

One thing I do know is that God accomplished something in us. This past Sunday Peter Hopper shared at our church about the power of our testimony. When we open our mouths to speak, not only is the other person strengthened but so are we. We are better men, better Christians today because of that talk. We shared our lives, our testimonies of how God has dealt kindly with us despite our transgressions and in doing so broke some of the lies of the devil in our lives–that we are alone and no one can understand our struggles or has overcome them.

And I know it can’t just be me. I believe there’s something deep inside us all that longs to be seen by others. To be known.

Sharing our story with others is part of that. Anyone can love the “good” us, the façade we put on display when we pretend that everything is OK and we are perfect (or at least better than “so and so”). One of love’s greatest powers is knowing the good and the bad about a person and still loving him despite his failures.

Answer that call deep inside you and share your story with someone today. Heck, share it here. Not only will it bring victory into your life, it will bring it to theirs as well.

Revelation 12:11 ” And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (ESV, emphasis added)


Hand to the Plough by Sons of Korah

Posted: May 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality, Videos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ever hear a song that’s so deep it haunts you? Enter “Hand to the Plough” by Sons of Korah. It hurts so good. If you don’t care to listen to this acoustic version from their living room, at least read the lyrics which I put in under the video. Oh, and you’ll have to buy the actual CD if you want the song as I can’t find it digitally anywhere. I guess the Outback is still catching up.

If it hits you like it hit me, please share it on facebook, we could all use a little more conviction.

 

Lyrics:

You say that you’re following Jesus
But I don’t think you know what it means ‘
cause all I can see is
you with your dreams saying,
“Jesus, won’t you come follow me?”

He gave you His life He gave you His Spirit
He gave so that you could give too
He said, “Follow me! There’s work to be done”
and “the workers have always been few.”

You say that you’re following Jesus
So follow and no looking back.

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say that you’re following Jesus
But you’re giving me reason to doubt
You pray, “0 Lord bring in the
blind and the lost!”
But you never pray, “Lord send me out!”

The harvest is plenty
but the workers are few
And the reason could
be that the worker is you
So test all your dreams
Your goals and ambitions
Do you really believe that the gospel is true?

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are
drowning outside. (twice)

Imagine you’re a doctor
sent away to the war
Sent by the General to tend to the
poor wounded soldiers
in the battle out there
But all you ever did there
was treat your own wounds
care for your comforts
never leaving the room to go out
to the battle outside

Hand to the plough
I’m tired of your talking
there’s no time to lose;
are you trying to hide?
There’s wind in the sails
But you’re still in the harbour
While the millions are drowning outside.

You say you’re alive
but I don’t see you living
you say you’re a servant
But I’ve never seen you serve.
O where are the faithful;
the Lord’s precious few?
O where are the workers?
Does anybody know?

Words and Music by Matthew Jacoby


Review: Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments »

(Read to the end to learn how to win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos today!)

Buy Here

We’ve all watched monster movies and later that night held the covers close while sleeping with one eye open, hoping the beasts of the night will find other prey to appease their appetites.  In “Night of the Living Dead Christian,” Matt Mikalatos stumbles upon a mad scientist and some monsters during his neighborhood watch.  The ensuing comical mayhem results in Matt helping his neighbor Luther, a werewolf, find a cure for his lycanthropy before he is killed by Borut the monster hunter.

Mikalatos spins an incredible allegory as the unlikely gaggle of heroes battle various monsters and make allies en route to discovering there’s a monster in all of us.

Now, there are those who will see the words werewolf, zombie, and vampire and dismiss this title completely.  To those I say “a spoonful of brains helps the medicine go down.”  Sometimes the only way to confront the difficult questions in our lives is to see them from a different perspective, and that is what Matt Mikalatos offers in “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”  It’s a light hearted delivery system to some heavy-handed self reflection.

The end of the book has a couple of great features including a glossary of monsters and a Q&A with Mikalatos.

I highly recommend “Night of the Living Dead Christian.” I put his writing in the Jon Acuff section of “makes me laugh until I hurt, and it hurts most because he’s talking about me.” This is my first encounter with Matt Mikalatos’s writing, and it’s impressed me enough to warrant me buying his previous title, “Imaginary Jesus,” in which he is also a main character on a mission to find the real Jesus.

Here is Matt and his take on “Night of the Living Dead Christian.”

watch on tyndale.com

You can find Matt’s blog here: http://mattmikalatos.com

And on facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/matt.mikalatos

Thank you to Tyndale House Publishers who provided this copy to me free of charge for review.  A positive review was not required.

———————————————————————

Awesome! You’ve made it to the end of my review, and I hope it was helpful for you.  So, how do you win a copy of Night of the Living Dead Christian? There are two ways to enter:

a) Leave a comment about your favorite monster movie and what frightens you the most about it.

b) Share this post on Facebook.  (edit: My tracker is showing the number of shares, but not who shared, so please leave a note if you shared it. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Each of these will get you one entry and you can only enter today (12/15/2011). Tomorrow I will put all of the entries into a hat (Yankees!) and have one of my kids draw a name.  Check back to see if you have won. I will post the winner on the blog and on my facebook page (facebook.com/baddogmooney).


I Surrender

Posted: December 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

This morning I woke up with this thought in mind, “God show me what I need to deal with in my life – what keeps me from walking perfect and blameless as You have called me too?” The Holy Spirit then brought Galations 2:20 to mind. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” I need to be careful not to beat myself up though. Some would say that you have to “Kill the flesh!!” but we have to be careful NOT to. See, I cannot crucify myself, someone else has to do it. God uses other people in our lives to help change us. I believe that as long as my heart is for God, that He will work things out of me that are not giving glory to Him. After all, isn’t He more gentle and merciful than I? The Word says He has ABUNDANT mercy (1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the ressurection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” .

When will I learn that this life I live is not my own? When will I learn, not in my mind but in my heart, that the life I now live is not my own. When will I follow the example set by Jesus in the garden and let my prayer be “Not my will but YOURS be done” (Luke 22:42Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.)

Here are two more quotes form Jesus from John 5:19 and 30, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.“, and “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” Jesus said He could do nothing in and of Himself, only what He saw His father do. How can I think that I can do anything on my own? Why do I try to stand on my own two feet?

I can have the type of relationship with God where I lay aside my desires, motives, and pride and say to God, “I will do nothing unless You tell me to.”

I need to die to myself so that my selfish wants, needs, and motivations are not in the picture. Actually, I have already been given the power to do this according to 2 Peter 1:2-4Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

When will I accept that am NO LONGER a sinner by nature, and do NOT have to live a sinful selfish life.

Lord, crucify me and help me to look to Your will for my life. Let my motives be out of love for You and love for my brother, and not love of self. Teach me to be who you have already given me the power to be. I repent of my pride and my doubt. Thank you for freedom through Christ Jesus!


10 Uncommon Insights Into Evil from Lord of the Rings

Posted: November 24th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Some guys just know how to say it. Peter Kreeft, a professor of philosophy at Boston College and King’s College, is one of them.  I loved The Lord of the Rings, and here is a insight from Kreeft that I hope you will enjoy. The top link is to the audio, and I have included the time stamps for the different sections.

10 Uncommon Insights Into Evil from Lord of the Rings

10 Uncommon Insights Into EvilAudio icon
47:47
14MB
Introduction (0:00)
1. Evil is Real (6:37)
2. Evil is Immortal (12:03)
3. Evil is Obvious (17:09)
4. Knowledge is Not Always Good (18:53)
5. Evil Defeats Itself (21:59)
6. Evil is Used for Good (25:28)
7. The Weapon of Sacrifice (29:01)
8. The Weapon of Humility (35:05)
9. The Weapon of Friendship (35:55)
10. The Weapon of Words (38:50)
Questions (43:11)


Help! I’m Drowning!

Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »
drowning_man_by_the_psycrothic

©2008-2009 ~the-psycrothic

When I was a kid, our family went to Watercountry USA in Willamsburg, VA as part of our vacation.  It was an amazing place full of incredible water rides.  One in particular really got my attention, the wave pool.  It looked like a football field of yellow donuts with people popping out where the jelly should have been.  People were screaming as the waves threw them around and people were being tossed in every direction.

I had to get in on the fun, so I hijacked an empty tube. Well, by hijacked, I mean I jumped as far as I could to try and reach one.  I missed.  What had before appeared to be an awesome time turned into terror as the field of happy faced yellow donuts morphed into a suffocating yellow blanket filled with angry, thrashing legs.

Panic set in as I tried to reach the surface, but I could not escape my prison, and my lungs began to burn.  It’s crazy, but everything became peaceful, and I felt OK.  At that moment, someone pulled me out of the water.  I don’t know who, and I don’t know how, but he did.

And I was safe.  I was saved.  I was coughing a bit, and my lungs still burned, but I was no longer in my desperate, life-threatening situation.  And it felt wonderful.  I still smile, because I never saw the guy who helped me.

Now I think about the world we live in, and how it too is in a desperate place.  It is lost, and searching for some sign of hope; a hand to reach and pull it out of the sea it is drowning in.  They are trying to scream for help, but the water muffles their cries and fills their lungs.  And I look at my life and see that God wants me to be the hand, He wants me to pull as many out water as I can.  And it hurts, because I’m standing at the edge of the pool with my hands in my pockets, thinking of what a great time I am having just being alive.

Church, we need to reach out.  There is a world drowning, and we are to be His hands.  God, that I would be like C.T. Studd and “…run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

(sorry mom and dad, should have told you when it happened, instead of 23 years after the fact)


Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist ?!

Posted: October 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

This is a recent story from the Barna Group, which does extensive studies on Christianity.  My reaction is , “What are we doing wrong that professing Christians do not believe Satan or the Holy Spirit are REAL?”

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)

Click on the heading to go to the article…

Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist

altApril 10, 2009

A new nationwide survey of adults’ spiritual beliefs, conducted by The Barna Group, suggests that Americans who consider themselves to be Christian have a diverse set of beliefs – but many of those beliefs are contradictory or, at least, inconsistent.

The survey explored beliefs about spiritual beings, the influence of faith on their life, views of the Bible, and reactions to faiths other than their own.


Views on Spiritual Beings

The Barna survey asked questions about God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, Satan, and demons.

All 1,871 self-described Christians were asked about their perception of God. In total, three-quarters (78%) said he is the “all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the universe who rules the world today.” The remaining one-quarter chose other descriptions of God – depictions that are not consistent with biblical teaching (e.g., everyone is god, god refers to the realization of human potential, etc.).

For the other survey items a four-point opinion scale was used to measure people’s reactions to statements about each spiritual entity.

Four out of ten Christians (40%) strongly agreed that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.” An additional two out of ten Christians (19%) said they “agree somewhat” with that perspective. A minority of Christians indicated that they believe Satan is real by disagreeing with the statement: one-quarter (26%) disagreed strongly and about one-tenth (9%) disagreed somewhat. The remaining 8% were not sure what they believe about the existence of Satan.


Free Sample?

Posted: August 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

free_sampleWe’ve all been there.  You’re walking through the food court of your local mall, bee-lining it to the restrooms because one of the kids can’t “hold it” any longer, and you hear the words, “Free sample?”  Your thought process stops for a moment and your mouth begins to water as the smell of General Tsao’s chicken hits the back of your tongue.  Your head turns past a smiling lady and your gaze turns toward the tray she is holding.

“Free sample?”

Little Johnny is tugging at your arm, and it is the moment of decision.  What do you do?

At this point, my senses override my child’s pleading to relieve himself and I say, “Sure!”  Now, I have no intention or time to indulge in the delicacies the Flaming Kitten, I mean Wok, but I know a little dab will do for now.  Maybe next time I’ll get the veggie with three meat special, but for now, it’s off to my fatherly duty.

Maybe you find these people annoying and just brush by them in annoyance.  But you know, they really don’t mind it.  It’s a time proven effective way to generate sales: Get the product before as many people as possible. Some will buy, some will not.  The number of people that buy will go up exponentially however, if you you can get them to taste its savory goodness.

What is this all about?  The gospel.

In Matthew 4, Jesus tell his potential followers, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Most of my life that translated as, “Let’s go catch some people.”  Intriguing, right?  But how do we do it?

Most of today’s literature would suggest that you become good friends with someone, then over time share the gospel with them.  Honestly though, if you are a Christian, how many non-church friends do you really have, and of those how many do you actively try to tell the good news too?

I think this is a flawed method, and unscriptural.  See, in calling the disciples to be fishers of men, they new exactly what it meant.  Their method of fishing was not to put bait on a hook and pray that a fish would bite.  No, they took their boat to where they knew the fish were, and cast a net.  Some times they caught many fish, others they caught none.  When they cast where Jesus told them, their nets were overflowing to the point of breaking.

Are you starting to get it? Jesus wants us to spread the net wide, and offer our free gift to everyone.  Sure, some people are going to blow you off, maybe even be angry; but in the end, if we offer as many as we can something they can sample, many more will receive the gospel willingly.  Some will chose to follow Christ, others won’t, let the Holy Spirit worry about the results.

For now, let’s try to get over our shyness, and offer the one thing that actually matters in life.  maybe the next time you ask someone “Free sample?” will be the one time they accept.

God bless!


Don't let it be said by God, "I never knew you."

Posted: August 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Saw this recently.  Wow.  About 10 minutes long, but it will really make you think about.  There is a way to pursue righteousness that leads to hell!