Give Me Liberty or Give Me … Grace

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Roger Willmore is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. Dino Perdrone is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me…Grace?

“Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”  Romans 14:13-14 (ESV)

Give Me Liberty Or Give Me

I am sure there is a good majority of you who remember hearing about a guy named Patrick Henry who said “Give me liberty or give me death”. It’s a pretty cool statement to make isn’t it? It says I would rather die than live my life as a slave, doesn’t it? And as remarkable as the philosophy is behind such a bold statement we live in a society that can, at times, not realize that it is a slave to one thing or another. For those in Secularland, slavery goes very much unnoticed but in Christendom the argument about slavery has a loud whisper amongst us, doesn’t it? I am speaking of the territory called “Christian Liberty”.

It’s that territory where verse’s like “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) get tossed aside because we found this, Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4), as a justification factor for our skewed view on “Christian Liberty”. It has if we have decided that the Apostle Paul is confused, in and of himself, and some 2000 years later he needs our help to re-iron out the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. May it NOT be so!! “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)

On a nice Saturday afternoon my wife, Kathy, and I had been cleaning out a storage building we have on our property. After plowing through all our kids’ stuff we found ours and some of the stuff we found deserved to thrown out but there was one box that I ignored because I thought it belonged to one of my two teenagers…it belonged to me. In this box was some knick-knacks that I use to keep on my desk when I had an office job but there a manila envelope with a few surprises. One was my father’s obit from when he passed back in December of 2008 along with all the sympathy cards I received the other was a manuscript for a book of poetry I had been working on…back when I was addicted to methamphetamine in the mid 80’s.

Nothing good was in that writing I assure you but in it I found out something I had been a slave to and it wasn’t so much the drug as it was my justification to keep on consuming the drug. I had built a character around the whole idea and named him “Crankenstein” (monster, cuddly monster). Nothing good I assure you was in him and by the grace of God he died when I left him at the foot of The Cross. But he made me think about those who think it is okay to just skim the surface of those things, any of those things that not just can BUT WILL cause us or another to stumble. It boggles my mind when I hear about Christians who defend their right to enjoy those things that subtly lure us into slavery.

Isn’t it better to understand what the gift of God is than it is to keep on paying for the wages of sin? I hope your answer is yes and you are one who understands that freedom in Christ Jesus comes by grace and is not a liberty for you to misuse. But for the grace of God, go I as well my dear brothers (and sisters). Just because I have written this doesn’t make me immune to it myself…oh, no, no, no. I need to be careful all the more, after all, I would rather be a trophy of God’s grace then a poster child of constant rehabilitation. Who wants to be a slave to that? Amen? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 140-145

Think About This:“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!”—Patrick Henry

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Oh, what joy for those who disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! Psalm 32:1-2

A Hard Bargain

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Roger Willmore is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. Dino Perdrone is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

A Hard Bargain

“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” Psalm 115:1

One thing I will never be accused of is being a salesperson. The few times I sold my cars have been less than a “joyful experience”. There are people who can get excited and even feel very comfortable being the salesperson. I find that sometimes even trying to share my faith I am looked at as a door to door insurance guy.

You Drive A Hard Bargain

Did you ever try telling someone that money will never make you happy? That’s a hard bargain to sell. I remember thinking to myself when someone told me that and saying “it would sure help”. The truth is money can make you very happy, but is “happy” something you want to pursue? It’s like trying to grab a hold of sand and keeping it in your hand.

There have been many attempts to “sell Jesus” that have gone wrong. The truth is we are an “assurance” salesperson, I just think the advertising we use make Jesus a hard sell.

The Psalmist tells reminds us that we are to give glory to the Name of God because of His mercy and to give glory to His truth. His sales pitch is God is our help and shield.

When I think of giving glory to God’s name I believe we do that through our character and the way we carry ourselves. I can remember growing up there was a time when my Dad would give me strict warning not to do anything that would cause my name to be in the newspaper in a negative way.  In our small town people were judged by their name sake. There are multiple times in the Bible where someone is asking for mercy and deliverance “for Your name’s sake”.

Then there’s “Your truth” he speaks about. I believe the truth of God is best received when we patiently wait for someone to ask. A witness only answers when he is asked for his testimony. Our actions will raise questions. I read a billboard which said “God isn’t looking for attorneys, He’s looking for witnesses”.  Another moto I live by is “before you tell someone about Jesus, Tell Jesus about that somebody”. In other words, asking God to draw a person unto Himself makes us a vessel for the work He alone can do. Than when someone trusts Jesus as savior or surrenders to His lordship we can say, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.”  Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 133-139

Think About This:If God’s peace is in our hearts, we carry it with us, and it can be given to those around us, not by our own will or virtue, but by the Holy Spirit working through us. We cannot give what we do not have, but if the spirit blows through the dark clouds, and enters our hearts, we can be used as vehicles of peace, and our own peace will be thereby deepened. The more peace we give away, the more we have.Madeleine L’Engle

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Oh, what joy for those who disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! Psalm 32:1-2

The Journey

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Roger Willmore is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. Dino Perdrone is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

The Journey

“And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.” John the Baptist

The Journey

As I continue to walk with God, I am beginning to understand that everyone is ata different stage in their walks: beginning with the new believers, to a growing disciples, to mature Christians, and finally Church leaders. I believe that if we can locate and operate in our positions, this journey with Lord would look a lot different.

This journey in grace is in fact that, a journey. As a new believer or newcomer, there are some essentials that establish our foundation, like baptism and joining a beginner’s bible study. These help us sort through fundamental truths that for many are difficult to comprehend even as we mature. How much thencan we really expect from new believers? However, as we grow, there should be some bearing fruit or leveling upward, provided we develop habits and disciplines that help us grow.

One way is to stay active by attending Sunday morning worship service. The level of teaching and learning during this activity should cultivate to a deeper comprehension of God and His Word. For me, accountability partners were huge in my walk, they consulted with each other to assist me, and poured life in me. This is where my active service started, and I began to share my faith. Ultimately, as we develop in our walks, believers ought to persevere to become leadersand mature Christians. That is the goal, I believe.  Mature believers should have some type of leadership role in the body, yet others disagree. How does a mature believer, become a leader in the church? By faithfulness!True leaders are faithful, and believe in the ministry.

The ministry leaders are the individuals who are on the first line of defense. Pastors, elders, youth leaders, deacons, worship leaders, etc… However, this group of folks can vary between different denominational structures. In general, every church leader should regard the great commission for not only lost souls, but also that it is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ. Christian leaders are usually equipped to teach advanced workshops and attend them for further training.

And let us not forget prayer. Every leader is required to have deep prayer life.  This is the connection to victory.

This journey in grace looks different for all, but we are all somewhere within these realms. John the Baptist knew his role in the kingdom work. If we each can recognize where we are in the journey and focus on getting to the next level, it allows the body of Christ to function harmoniously. Where are you? Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 120-132

Think About This: On this side of the cross misery persists, but the scales are tipped in favor of joy. —Ed Welch

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Oh, what joy for those who disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! Psalm 32:1-2

The Deceitfulness of Sin

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Roger Willmore is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. Dino Perdrone is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

The Deceitfulness of Sin

The other day I came across a blog on the Gospel Coalition site and I thought it was a good reminder for us.

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The Eight Steps of Sin – Sin nibbles at our soul in small steps was written in a sermon by John Witherspoon (Hebrews 3:13)

1. Men enter and initiate themselves in a vicious practice of small sins.

2. Having once begun in the ways of sin, he ventures upon something great and more daring; his courage grows with his experience; and he gives himself more liberty to walk in the ways of his own heart, and the sight of his own eyes.

3. Open sins soon throw a man into the hands of ungodly companions.

4. In the next stage, the sinner begins to feel the force of habit.

5. The next stage in a sinner’s course is to lose the sense of shame; and sin openly and boldly.

6. Another stage in the sinner’s progress is to harden himself so far, as to sin without remorse of conscience.

7. Improved sinners often come to boast and glory of their wickedness. It is something to be above shame; but it is more still to glory in wickedness and esteem it honorable.

8. Not to be content with being wicked themselves, but to use all their art and influence to make others so too. This is to be zealous in sinning, and industriously to promote the interest of the infernal cause. How often do we find those who have no fear of God before their own eyes, use their utmost endeavors to extinguish it before others, to laugh down qualms of their consciences, and break any reluctance they may seem to have at running to same excess of riot within themselves?

Dr. John Maxwell said it this way: “Sin will always take you further than you want to go; sin will always keep you longer than you want to stay; sin will always cost you more than you are willing to pay!”

This is a great reminder for us, brothers. Is there an area of your life that identifies with one of the steps outlined above? Then I suggest you fall to your knees and apply 1 John 1:9. – Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 119:89-176

Think About This: To hold on to the plough while wiping our tears – this is Christianity.Watchman Nee

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: Oh, what joy for those who disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! Psalm 32:1-2

The Kingdom of Heaven is Yours

The Kingdom of Heaven is Yours

And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
~ Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Ephesians 2

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Oh beloved, it is true. However some truth is so astounding that, for us to believe it, we have to let go of everything we have thought we understood before. For the G_d we serve is infinitely better, and more Good than we could ever hope or imagine. We, like the the seraphim, must but cover our eyes and feet and scream to one another: Holy! Holy! Holy!

And Holy He is.

This One who hath crashed through the veils of time and death and sin and fear, and all the other aspects of our wretchedness, to make us one with Himself (and each other), is still completely, utterly and immeasurable set apart to Himself.

All things past.
All time.
All events.
All things present.
All authority.
All eternity.
All riches.
All things to come.
All power.
All goodness.
All grace.
All honor.
All strength.
All in All.

Are all His. They are from Him. They are for Him. They are all but expressions of His own unfathomable Majesty. And this we almost understand. For the eternity He has created has been implanted in our hearts that we might yearn for it, and seek Him to bring us into it in the knowledge of His Great Love and His amazing work on our behalf.

In all of this, we somehow begin to understand that G_d is going to bring us into His Kingdom one day. We have put our faith in Him that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life. We know there is no other way, and we just look forward to a time where we will be closer to Him in a place He has made, called Heaven – like it some wonderful place to go and visit forever.

But then all the wheels fall off of our thinking. We say, “It can’t be true.”

But it is.

Can we see it? Beloved, read the passage. You (the believer reading this entry) are a citizen of Heaven, and member of the Household of G_d. Its all yours. The One who is the very wellspring of existence and eternity and the actual storehouse of all that is truly valuable in all creation has given all He has – to you.

Wait. You mean?

Yes. Stars and time and beauty and valor and truth and strength and Love and Him and everything else in all creation and the new creation to come – are yours. All yours. Forever. You, by invitation of The Great L_RD of HOSTS, have been made a co-owner and co-regent of the universe.

And we, in this preview of real life, worry about tiny bits of metal, and stacks of bricks, wood, hay and stubble? Before us is an astounding destiny. Look not away from the real wealth and power and strength He will impart to you on that Day. Instead, abandon the foul and fake facsimiles the liar foists upon you in this world.

Oh beloved! Nothing matters but Him. For in Him all the fullness of everything dwells. And from Him will pour the real riches of Himself and of eternity in quantities and qualities we cannot even begin to fathom.  – Makala Doulos is a graduate of the Colony Mercy and a frequent Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 108-114

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Saved to Rest … To Serve Part 4

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Woodrow Kroll is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. David Epstein is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

Saved To Rest…To Serve Part 4

“Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.” Mark 1:29-31 (NKJV)

Saved to Serve Part 3 Hughes

Today I will wrap my little series on what it was like to spend a Sabbath day with Jesus.

So everything that has been going on either inside the Synagogue or outside of it has come to an end. Jesus has performed His miracles and finished His teachings…it is time for everyone to return to their homes and relax. Jesus, along with Andrew, John and James, head over to Simon Peter’s house for rest and refreshment. When they arrive we find Peter’s mother-in-law very ill and without hesitation or even being asked Jesus heals her. So in the same “without hesitation” way Jesus healed her is in the same way that she immediately rises and begins to serve everyone.

And there is an example we need to see here and that is we were saved to serve (how many of you would agree to that statement). There is much Scripture we can look at to support this…

“Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.” Malachi 3:18

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” 1 Peter 4:10

So what we have seen here is basically a Sabbath day with Jesus. And at the end of it all Jesus was doing was going to Peter’s to rest. After all, he removed a demon from a man held in its bondage, healed a servant for a Gentile from a distance, and honored Peters family by healing his mother-in-law right on the spot. But even with the burden of Pharisaical law lifted and a night full of casting out demons and healing a community of its sickness’s we find Him rising early in the morning to enter into His Father’s rest by coming to Him in prayer. He would sit in His Fathers rest before He began His walk.

How many of us would think that Christianity does begin with walking? Yeah I know, we are told to walk worthy, to walk circumspectly and to walk uprightly but as Watchman Nee observed it begins with sitting. “God…made Him to sit…and made us to sit with Him”. Sitting is about resting and accepting that sitting is an attitude of rest. You have to admit that when we walk or stand we spend our energy and eventually will become weary.

Jesus is quite clear when He says to all of us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Towards the end of his book ‘The Pursuit of God” A.W. Tozer discusses the meekness of Jesus and entering into that kind of rest. He also wanted his reader to examine the burden of pride (the labor of self-love), pretense (the labor of putting the best foot forward) and artificiality (the labor of protecting an empty soul). So in the Spiritual sense to sit down is basically taking time to rest our whole weight—casting the whole load, ourselves, our future, our everything’s—upon Jesus Christ. What a privilege to carry everything to God…in prayerful obedience!! AMEN? – Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger.

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 106-107

Think About This:“To men and women everywhere Jesus says, “Come unto me, and I will give you rest.” The rest He offers is the rest of meekness, the blessed relief which comes when we accept ourselves for what we are and cease to pretend. It will take some courage at first, but the needed grace will come as we learn that we are sharing this new and easy yoke with the strong Son of God Himself.”—A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

In It For The Long Haul

We’d love to see you this week at America’s Keswick. Dr. Woodrow Kroll is speaking Sunday night through Thursday night, and Dr. David Epstein is speaking Monday – Thursday morning. You can also watch live at: www.americaskeswick.org. We’d love to see you. Check out our website or call 800-453-7942 for more information.

In It For The Long Haul

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  The Father of mercies and God of all comfort.”

The Long Haul

Over the years I’ve maintained a retirement fund which comes out of my pay. There were times I’d get my statement and see that I had a loss and the money that I was supposed to be saving was, well, “not so much”. When I would discuss this with people who were familiar with the market, they would say “Be in it for the long haul”. Basically, they were telling me not to panic, but rather trust.

It’s funny how easy I can trust the stock market, an establishment that isn’t worthy of trust. Then, when trouble comes into my life and it “seems” like I’m taking a hit, I’m ready to jump ship and take things into my own hands.

It’s not until I come across a portion of scripture like the testimony Paul starts his second letter to the Corinthians. I believe that scripture, along with a good testimony is profitable. I know that the Word of God is true and can stand alone but there’s something about talking to a seasoned saint and hearing their testimony that has a profound effect on my life.

Paul goes on to say later in the same chapter “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us”. “Through us” is the key when encouraging someone. Earlier in the chapter he states regarding the Father “who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”.

It’s similar to me speaking to a retired person regarding my retirement account when they say “In it for the long haul”.

Are you persevering through the tough times by trusting God at His word? Maybe you should surround yourself with those who have walked this walk and can relate to your trouble. I think of it in this way, me reaching up for help and as I’m being lifted up my other hand is reaching down to the next guy. Your testimony is an important part of how effective you’ll be in ministering to the hurting and lost. So the next time you’re taking a hit remember you’re “In It For The Long Haul”. Amen!  Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick

Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 103-105

Think About This:The righteousness that God requires from you, is the righteousness that God gives to you.

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: “ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30