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!


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


Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted: April 21st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Writing | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

Man with writer's blockI stood on the dock and cast my line for at least the three hundredth time. Hours had past since my last bite and I’d almost lost interest in catching anything. It wasn’t bad to clean my limit of small mouth bass, but to clean just one sounded like work. My mind drifted to the novel I’d been working on for several years but could never quite find the time to write.

As I reeled in the line for the last time, I worked the bait with a slight jig. I felt a tug on the line. It wasn’t the staccato twitch of a nibble, but the slow easy pull of thick weeds. That’s where the monsters are. I saw my “weed fish” slowly surface and creep toward me like a stalking sea dinosaur. Something in it glimmered as the high sun reflected off it. I removed the inanimate beast from my line and extracted a small lamp from its belly. I wiped it clean of sea slime to see if it had any worth, and out came a genie!

“I will grant you one wish!” he proclaimed.

Not one to be without speech or opinion, I answered without hesitation, “I have a book I’ve been working on for years. I wish I could write like the pros!”

“Your wish is my command.” Smoke poured from his hands until it engulfed the entire dock. A hurricane force wind blew me backward. When the smoke cleared I found myself sitting at the desk in my office.

“That’s it? I’m a pro now?” I dried my wet hands on my jeans then placed them on the keyboard of my laptop and began to type. “The sun scorched Ernest through his sweat drenched shirt.” I paused, surprised at how freely the line came to me, then placed my fingers back on the keys.

Nothing.

I glared at the genie. “What’s the problem? I thought you were powerful. Where are the words? Why are they not coming to me?” I stood in disgust and headed for the door but was stopped short by a tug on my leg. I looked down. My leg was shackled to the desk.

“What’s this about? Am I a prisoner in my own home?”

“You wished to write like a pro, and you will. However, there is no magic that can accomplish this. You are bound to this desk every day until you have written for two hours. Only then will your shackles be loosed. Any time you stop writing, the will the clock will stop until all of the required time has been spent writing. And so it will be until you are, as you say, a “pro.”

“Wow. It sounds more like a prison sentence.”

“It was your wish. The good news is that once you are a pro, you will write four to six hours a day with no shackles. If I were you, I’d start writing.”

And with that, he vanished.

———————————————————————————————————-

I am writing a novel, which is more work than anything I have ever done before. This short story was written when I realized what it would take to be a successful author. I hope you enjoyed it, and know that anything worth doing takes work. There is no easy way, even when you love it.

 


My Favorite Chapter of the Bible – Psalm 27

Posted: February 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Simple enough.  This Psalm is by far my favorite chapter of the Bible.  It has strengthened and encouraged me in many ways.  What is your favorite verse or chapter?

Psalm 27 (NIV)

Of David.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.


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!


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)


Promises, Promises

Posted: September 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: My Thoughts, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NeverGiveUpPromises. As kids, we are taught that promises are to be taken seriously, and so we grow up trying our hardest to keep them.  Maybe it’s because we remember a promise being made to us by a parent or friend that ended up being broken, or maybe we try hard to keep them to avoid causing others disappointment. Maybe it just goes back to “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No’ be no.” (Matt. 5:37)

I think sometimes that we only say “I promise” to the easy stuff.  “I promise, I’ll take out the trash before I leave.” “Tomorrow we’ll go the park, I promise!”  You know, the incidentals.  If the promise isn’t kept, it’s not a big deal.  Maybe that is where our problem started, because it seems today that promises don’t mean much at all.

Maybe the best example is that of the politicians. They make all sorts of promises to get elected, and a majority never come to fruition.  Part of that may be it is not in their sole power to deliver on them, to which I say, “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.”  To others, I would say, “Don’t make promises you never intend on keeping.”  Either way, it really is setting a bad example.

Maybe more disheartening the example that 50+% of married adults (even Christian adults) make: “Til death do us part.”

I know, I know, crap happens, people “fall” in and out of love.  People change. People fight. People cheat.  The fact remains, a promise was made.  It’s one of the most important promises we can make, yet it is taken so lightly by so many.  If you think I am being harsh, I am, but please keep reading.

I ask a question.  Would you keep a promise, if it meant someone else being uncomfortable?

Like,  “I promise not to smoke any more.”  The chances are, if you make this promise, you will be grumpy for awhile, I know, I have been around plenty of people trying to quit.  But I have patience and tolerate them, because in the end, them keeping their promise is better for their health.  If fact, in their hardship, I even encourage them to keep this promise.

Now, would you keep your promise if it meant hurting someone’s feelings?

Scenario. “I will help you move next weekend.” Here, a promise is made to help someone, but on that day, your kids are not feeling well and your spouse asks you to stay home and help out.  What do you do? Well, you feel sympathetic toward your spouse and children, and you know it may hurt their feelings, and maybe they feel they are not number one for a few hours, but you go and help your friend move.  Why? Because your word is your word, and it sucks sometimes, but you do it.

Moving along, do you keep the promise when it causes harm to yourself?

“I promise to protect my family.”  A robber breaks in, and without hesitation, a man or woman will do whatever necessary to protect their loved ones, even if it costs them their life.  Makes sense right?  One of the most costly to follow through on, but we do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.

Now the difficult one: Would you keep a promise if it cost the life of your child? I know someone who did.

A man was promised that a nation would be made from his offspring, but to follow through on it, his own child had to die.  The promise was made by God, to Abram, at the cost of Jesus’ life.  Not only did God follow through on the promise, He made the promise knowing what it would cost.

Now I challenge myself and you to keep our word.  Make your yes, yes, and your no, no; especially when it comes to your marriage.  We make mistakes, I know, I have made plenty, but we can’t give up.  I doubt very highly that keeping the promise “Til death do us part” will cost us the physical lives of our children, but it is killing generations in many different ways (broken homes, broken relationships, bitterness, even hatred being passed around like Halloween candy all in the name of “What’s best for the kids” translates to “what is best for me.”).

It’s not easy sometimes, but it’s worth it.  It’s work a lot of the time, but it’s worth it.


To Live Is Christ, To Die Is Gain

Posted: September 8th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This is a great bit of audio.  Here is the video from youtube, or if you like, you can follow the link and download the mp3.

Words that hurt so good: “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.” John 16:2

Romans 8:35-39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?   As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.   Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.   For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,   Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Download Now! To live is Christ, to die is gain (compilation) by Compilations


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!