For 3, Not 4

Calculator and pencil

“The Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” ~Matthew 18:21-22 (NASB)

Don’t go grabbing your calculator I’ll give you the answer right here. 490. Yeppers you can forgive someone 490 times before you get to say, “Sorry but you’ve used up all my forgiveness towards you. Now please exit the room and consider yourself dead to me.” If you really think that then maybe today’s Freedom Fighter is not for you…just kidding it is for you and for me as well. This past Wednesday night’s Bible study was an eye opener to something that I haven’t seen in Scripture before. The concept of forgiving someone 3 times but after that you’ve used up all your “get outta jail free” cards.

Pastor John Mol has been in Matthew for quite some time and he’s just getting done with chapter 18. So we stopped in to see what the parable of the unforgiving servant was all about. Basically when it’s condensed we see that this is a message for Christ’s church. Yes, it deals with the topic of forgiveness and I’ll get to that but it is a huge glimpse into how Christians should treat Christians…and dare I say how we should treat Secular Lands citizens.

It all starts when Peter, possibly thinking himself more highly than he ought, approaches Jesus and, possibly stroking his beard, asks Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Now Peter had been taught by the Jewish leaders of his time that you can forgive your brother 3 times and things were to be cool between you and he but that 4th incident occurring meant you could after him. Now Jesus being Jesus, sees right through this and wants Peter to change his thinking from one that keeps account of forgiveness to one that forgives unconditionally. But what’s up with the 3 times stuff? Got your Bible? Then let’s go to Amos 1.

When you look at verses 3,6,9,11,13 and even continuing into chapter two we see this written; “Thus says the LORD, “For the three transgressions of (fill in the blank) and for four I will not revoke its punishment,” and then we read why the LORD is doing what’s He is doing to the ENEMIES of His people and for the reason’s He is carrying it out. Guess those wacky Pharisees saw this as a way to punish their own. After all, we shouldn’t be sinning against our own people anyway and if we do and we go too far with it…like 4 times, they are no longer with us but are against us (ENEMIES) and we should be allowed to “send a fire upon the walls of (my brother), And it will consume her citadels.” Seems kinda extreme but those filthy sinners need to learn their lesson!! After all, do they not know who I am? Hmm…

When we look at the parable that Jesus teaches in Matthew 18:21-35 things should be quite clear to us. If a certain KING has forgiven YOUR huge debt who are you to not forgive a smaller debt owed to you by others. By the way, that dollar amount forgiven by that certain king in the parable was about $16,000,000 in today’s money…I ain’t got that kinda pocket change laying around, do you?

See the bottom line here is that whatever we think is a great offense done to us isn’t even measurable to the sin we commit against a holy and righteous God. But for some dumb reason we think it is and what is even more troubling is we tend to wanna punish our own when it’s done by our own. Now we can rest on Jesus’ words “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” when it comes to those in Secular Land but we forget to say this when it comes to those folks that are in The House with us on Sunday morning. What a wretched bunch we are, huh?

Here’s something to glean from this as well…even though the unforgiving servant got his just desserts, he wasn’t cast out of his master’s kingdom. Why? For the same reason he wasn’t punished for not having $16,00,000 in hard currency…LOVE. The king loved him, just as our King loves us. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as His children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when He corrects you. For the LORD disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:4-6) Pretty cool stuff, Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 119; Proverbs 27

Daily Quote: We trample the blood of the Son of God underfoot if we think we are forgiven because we are sorry for our sins. The only reason for the forgiveness of our sins by God, and the infinite depth of His promise to forget them, is the death of Jesus Christ. —Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. ~2 Corinthians 4:8-11

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Don’t Assume Jesus is with You: Luke 2:41-51

Yellow boots on the road

“43 But when the feast was over, as they were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but (because they assumed that he was in their group of travelers) they went a day’s journey. Then they began to look for him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” (Luke 2:43-46)

It is understandable that Jesus’ parents lost track of Jesus given they were most likely travelling in a large caravan full of family and friends from Nazareth to Jerusalem and back. If Jesus was hanging out with His cousins (possibly playing tag) then His parents could have easily lost track of Him. However, it is interesting that the text says that “they assumed” Jesus was still with their group. And this should be familiar to us all. How many times have we as Christians in America ventured off with our plans, and our goals, all while assuming that Jesus is with us? It is as though we presume that whatever we do Jesus will automatically endorse, offering His divine stamp of approval.

This can be seen in big and small decisions we make every day or through the materialistic and financial focus we operate by. We often are trying to climb the corporate ladder or accumulate more toys, like big houses and fancy cars. We just chase after our dreams and take for granted that God also wants that path for our lives.

Jesus’ parents are disrupted from this assumption when they realize that Jesus indeed was no longer journeying with them. How devastating it must have been to realize their child had been left behind in the big city (remember, they are small time country folk from Galilee), and they have no clue as to where He is. As a father myself, I can only assume that they felt helpless, vulnerable, broken, and scared. It is no coincidence that they must go three days in Jerusalem, because for them the loss of their child would have begun to feel like God had abandoned them in their despair.

After three days of searching, they finally decide to look in the Temple. Contrast the parents with Jesus. The parents are anxious and frantic while Jesus is hanging out, seemingly un-phased by this familial separation. Like any Mom, after realizing that their child is fine, Mary digs into Jesus, disturbed with how their child could put them through such agony. Jesus simply says “didn’t you know” that I had to be “in the things of My Father” (that’s the literal Greek translation). Again contrast the parents’ posture and approach with that of Jesus. The parents began assuming that Jesus was journeying with them. However, Jesus had actually intentionally aligned and arranged His life with, and around, the things of His Father. And there we find a timely challenge for us to follow after. May we, like Jesus, surrender our will to the Father and rearrange our lives and decisions around the Lordship of the Messiah. And may we join God in His radical in-breaking kingdom rather than assuming Jesus will go along with all of our pursuits.

Written by Dr. Drew Hart: Dr. Hart is a professor in theology at Messiah College, author of “Trouble I’ve Seen”, and an activist with ten years of pastoral experience. Dr. Hart recently spoke at a America’s Keswick this past summer with his father, Dr. Tony Hart.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 115; Proverbs 23

Daily Quote:God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. ~C.S. Lewis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

Who Can Imagine Life Without Worry? THE WRAP-UP

 

anxious

“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” ~Matthew 6:26-27 (NLT)

Time to put this baby to bed. As you may know I’ve been covering something that can be a deterrent to our faith and that deterrent is worry. My friend Matt Henry says, “There is scarcely any sin against which our Lord Jesus more warns his disciples, than disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of this life.” Guess that’s his way of saying we shouldn’t be so worldly-minded and so much so that Jesus came right out and addressed it during the Sermon on The Mount. Jesus wants us to understand that we have a Kingdom value to God and that we need to stop questioning our worth in this world.

A great deal of us tend to dress ourselves in material security when we only need to put on the garment of Christ and suit up in the armor of God. Guess it’s a matter of answering a simple question…Can you serve two masters? Maybe for us it’s like having two jobs at once in order to make ends meet. Eventually one is gonna dominate the other depending on what can rule your ambition better. You can call it “Doin’ what I gotta do” all you want but misplaced ambition is a joy killer and when your joy is gone worry can flow into your life to fill the void. That’s why Jesus says “Therefore I tell you do NOT be anxious about your life…”

Now what do I mean by misplaced ambition? Well what I’m not saying is that planning ahead is foolhardy. J.C. Ryle (the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool 1880-1900) once said that “Prudent provision for the future is right; wearing, corroding, self-tormenting anxiety is wrong.” If all you live for today is to make sure you have a tomorrow Jesus pretty says you’re missing the point. “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Bottom line here is that worry is incompatible with the Christian faith (Stott) so when we worry about stuff that hasn’t happened we ain’t addin’ nuttin’ to our lives (well maybe acid reflux). It doesn’t make sense to carry a fear over something that may never happen…it stunts your growth of faith in what God has already planned for you.

This may be easy to read or write than to live out but we need to develop a true Christian ambition for God. I mean everyone is ambitious to be or do something. When Jesus took to The Mount that day it was to split anxiety down the middle. We have a false ambition where all its about is building up stuff on this earth and being bogged down by worrying if we’re gonna get what we think is ours. Then we have a true ambition where the spiritual matters and we strive to build up treasures in heaven. To quote John Stott on the matter, “In the end, just as there are only two kinds of piety, the self-centred and the God-centred, so there are only two kinds of ambition: one can be ambitious either for oneself or for God. There is no third alternative.”

I started a journey into a book titled “Laugh Again…Experience Outrageous Joy” and what I gleaned outta the whole thing was I let worry over an issue dominate my whole existence. My joy in serving the Lord was crushed and I wanted out from serving God’s people. My faith got seriously rocked and I wondered why I even bothered being in His House. I dove into my job with a fury that said “All that I got going right is this job” Man was I so wrong. Truth be told brethren I straddled the fence (was doing it for months) but my God loves me too much to have allowed me to stay that way…and God’s people wouldn’t leave me alone either. So what is a boy to do from this point forward? How about a little diddy from a guy who found his joy in the Lord while in prison?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” Amen?

Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 112; Proverbs 20

Daily Quote: So anybody who divides his allegiance between God and mammon has already given it to mammon, since God can be served only with an entire and exclusive devotion. This is simply because He is God; “I am the Lord, that is my name; My glory I give to no other” (Isaiah 42:8, 48:11) To try to share Him with other loyalties is to have opted for idolatry.” ~John Stott

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

How To Communicate With Millennials – Part #3

millennials

Well here is one more blog about communicating with millennials. I appreciate the guys who have shared that this discussion was helpful in understanding this generation that is so much a part of today’s world.

I want to finally answer the question: How do I communicate with millennials?

There is no magic bullet. I want to answer the question by asking YOU a question: How do YOU like to be communicated to/with?

That pretty much answers the question. With any generation the Bible lays a pretty solid foundation to help us with communicating. Proverbs is a classic book of God’s Word that addresses how much I need to think about my words and how I communicate with my words.

I don’t really think communicating with millennials is any different than communicating with the silent generation, the boomers, or busters.

But let me offer some insight: 

1. This generation will not be motivated by the false guilt that worked for some generations. I shared before that they don’t want to just talk about issues – they want to do something about it. Recently I was taken to task because it appeared that America’s Keswick was not addressing the who black/white/racism issue. Quite frankly I was stunned at the comment that was posted on my Facebook wall. The reality is that America’s Keswick HAS addressed these issues. This summer we had three black preachers share God’s Word for our summer conferences. Two specifically addressed the racism issues. Over the past 20 years, our ministry has become a ministry of color and every ethnic group. 50% of our Labor Day weekend guests were comprised of ethnic groups: Hispanic, Black, Asian and Indian. It was cool. My response to my critic was that we are not talking about it – we are living it.

All that to say is that if you want to motivate this generation – tell them the issues and then give them the freedom to use their giftedness to address that issue – not just financially – but hands on.

2. I am 62 years of age and I laugh because some of my “senior” friends still speak to me as if I was still 20 years old. Robert Hayes and I often joke that we must wear signs on our foreheads that read “ Village Idiot.” Sometime we are treated like we have no clue how to run a multi-millionaire non-profit ministry. So what am I say? The millennial generation are not just “kids!” They are educated, well-read, technologically equipped and connected, and eager to learn. Don’t come on to them as “I have all the answers and you are just a kid” mindset. Open your ears. Open your heart and let them verbalize what they are thinking. Listen to how they will solve a problem, address an issue, handle a task. Want a secret? Sometimes there ideas are even better than ours and you might be able to say, “Why didn’t I think about that?”

3. Focus on what’s right with millennials, not what’s wrong with them. They are far from perfect. But guess what – neither were we. The good old days were not necessarily all the good old days. My wife had to take me to task once in how I was communicating with our son, Zach. I was focusing in one all the things he wasn’t doing the way I thought he should. She looked me in the eye and said, “He’s a good kid. Keep this up, and you are going to lose him.” That really hurt and was a HUGE wake-up call. I wish I could tell you that I get it right with Zach all the time. But I have made huge progress – we’ll maybe you need to ask Zach that question.

So there you have it. I’d love to hear your feedback. Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 111; Proverbs 19

Daily Quote: Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. RUDYARD KIPLING

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

Still, Like Water

Empty footbridge over the lake
It is only with total humility, and in absolute stillness of mind that we can know what indeed we are. ~Terence James Stannus Gray

be still.pngI beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. ~Paul, The Least of The Apostles, in Romans 12

Oh beloved, it is true. There is so much of us that has to go. And most of it is stuff within us that is all to precious to us. The list of things to be jettisoned is long and wide and deep:

The right to pleasant circumstances.

The right to be accepted.

The right to be successful.

The right to my possessions.

The right to be rescued from my circumstances.

The right to see results.

The right to know the specific will of God.

The right to understand my circumstances.

The right to be proven right.

The right to be loved.

The right to have a mate or children.

The right to be used by God the way I want to be.

The right to live in the place I choose.

The right to the job I want.*

Our rights in general.

And this, is the pain of death that is going on inside of us. Though we have already died with Christ, there is so much programming and tapes that need to be cut. There is so much garbage in the waste bins of our emotional makeup.

This fool of a writer is not good at this.

There are so many times, where i really feel the need for people, especially those close to me, to realize that my life is being poured out for them. I have made so many mistakes in the past; ruined so many things and people and circumstances, that i get hurt when people don’t see that i am finally getting it right after 45 years of getting it wrong.

He must increase, but I must decrease. ~John, The Prophet, in John’s Gospel 3

What to do?

Absolutely nothing.

The reality is truly that we have given our lives as a living sacrifice to our King. And if our King deems that our lives be poured out over rugged terrain and mixed with the dust of the earth. Quite simply brothers, we need to come to a place where we realize that a living sacrifice does not give orders back to the One receiving the sacrifice.

Can we see it though? There is an upside. It is here, in complete stillness and surrender that we finally begin to get some clarity on where we are supposed to be going with our lives. We finally get to the place where we can here Him speak… And when we do, we truly find another thing we have been looking for all the while: We hear Him tell us how much He Loves us. We hear Him saying how proud HE is of us. We hear Him telling us that HIS grace is sufficient, and that all is well.

So, are you going through the pains of death to your own self? This fool of a writer does. And just when he thinks the thing is dead, The Holy Spirit shows me some more things that need to go. However, what i have learned is something that may be of benefit to you. I have never – not once – regretted letting go of anything. EVERY time i have let go of some little thing, He has poured more goodness and freedom into my life than i could ever have imagined.

Tonight is your night beloved. Time to be still.

Makala_FF 2016Written by Makala Doulos: Makala  is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

*this list is from another, unknown author

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 101; Proverbs 9

Daily Quote:  What then are we afraid of? Can we have too much of God? Is it a misfortune to be freed from the heavy yoke of the world, and to bear the light burden of Jesus Christ? Do we fear to be too happy, too much deliver from ourselves, from the caprices of pride, the violence of our passions, and the tyranny of this deceitful world? ~ François Fénelon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.~Romans 8:33-34

How to Communicate With Millennials – Part #2

Using smart phone
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Good morning, friends. I trust that you had a good weekend and that you are prepared for this new week.

Last week I started a dialog with you about communicating with millennials and I want to continue to share my heart with you.

Millennials are a unique generation. They are the largest demographic alive right now and have become a powerful part of today’s work force.

What I am not saying is that one generation is more important than others. What I am saying is that the millennial generation is here to stay and we can choose to either ignore them and be frustrated, our we can learn about them, embrace them and encourage them to be the men and women God desires them to be.

I personally believe that if we think it through, we have the opportunity to equip a group of people who God could use in incredible ways to reach the world for Christ.

This generation are not pew sitters. They are not interested in talking about whether or not we need Hymnals or sing off the wall. They are not concerned about carpet colors, pews or no pews, dress code, and tons of other things that have been issues with other generations.

What they are interested is in DOING SOMETHING. They are not about getting bogged down in policies and committees that are going to spin their wheels and never get anything done. If there is a house near the church that has burned down, they want to get down and dirty and provide ministry to the family – practical ministry from childcare to actually helping rebuild the house.

They will not just give money to an organization – they want to make sure that their resources are going to be used for what the organization is raising the money for.

They are interested in substance not fluff. Churches and ministries that are going to reach this age group need to learn that they have watched their grandparents and parents flounder from church to church because they are looking for the newest and best. They have watched their families dabble with “Christianity-is-for-Sunday” lifestyles, when everything else is up for grabs. They have watched their families divorce, use drugs and alcohol, and this new generation is asking how faith and life connect.

They are leaving what I call the “dog and pony show” churches to be a part of more liturgical settings where form and substance are a part of the worship experience.

They are more interested in depth to the preaching vs. shallow fluff and stuff entertainment preaching.

They are interested in being mentored. My generation, the infamous Baby Boomers could care less what our parents thought – we had all the answers and didn’t need advice or counsel. This generation wants to ask you questions, do the research, and then make their decisions. They may not take your counsel, but at least they have asked for it.

Because of their intuitiveness with technology, they have the unique ability to get things done with greater efficiency. They have embraced the technology with the ability to get stuff done. It’s pretty cool to watch them in action.

I am out of words. More next week. Thanks for hanging with me on this subject.

Written by Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick: He has been married to his child sweetheart for 40+ years, and has three married kids, one that is engaged, and 10 amazing grand kids. He loves music and is an avid reader.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 98; Proverbs 6

Daily Quote:  “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.~Romans 8:33-34

Idolatry of the Preacher 

Open bible on table with bookmarks in pages

The life wrought in Christ is one of tremendous worth and elevation. We who have yielded to the Lordship of the Son of Man are commanded to conduct ourselves in such a way that the harmful things at enmity with God, no longer infiltrate our lives. A terrible plight on the Body of Christ is that of the idolatry found amongst its members. It manifests itself in many different ways, all equally grieving to the Spirit of God. When a shepherd of a flock is esteemed higher than God by the people of God, this is idolatry. The theocracy established by the Scriptures becomes perverted and the divine order of operation is undone. This will always result in great detriment to church and greatly affect the power of its people.

With the eyes of its people fixed on the pastor rather the LORD, the church will never be satisfied in its pursuit of spirituality. They will in effect be drinking for broken cisterns rather than from fountains of living water. This will permeate each area of their lives sapping them of the fruit of the Spirit and by consequence, preparing them for the works of the flesh. The longer we live there the more our salt will loses its saltines and therefore, be good for nothing but being trampled under the feet of men. How poor and unfulfilling is the man who looks to his sinful brother to be his god.

Yes, it is surely true that we are to honor our pastors with a special reverence but God forbid we worship a person rather than our Creator. Remember that they are but men, pray for them to continually point the people God has given them to our Saviour. Stay rooted in the Scripture, be a Berean, always check what is taught for yourself. Ask questions, join a small group, pray, pray and pray. You would do well to take heed and lastly, ask of God to reveal Himself to you in a deeper way. Trust that when you see Him for who He is, mere men will no longer impress you the way they once did and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim.”


Written by Troy Fink:
Troy is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and is an Urban Missionary at New Hope Philly in Philadelphia.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 94; Proverbs 2

Daily Quote:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, 

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

-Helen H. Lemmel

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32

 

The Cost of Our Work

Dying Earth

We have spoken of trying and trusting, and the difference between the two. Believe me, it is the difference between heaven and hell. ~Watchman Nee

Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as He has said, “As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,” … Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again He appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from His sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. ~The Encourager, in Hebrews 4

Oh beloved, it is true. We are tired. So much has happened in our lives. But mostly, we are tired because of our efforts to try and live a christian life. And it is this “christianism” or “churchianity” that is nearly the end of us.

There is an opposite to this. And it is so very opposite, that we have a hard time even beginning to believe that it is true. Everything within us rails against the prospect that we have been getting it wrong. We think that our efforts to show G_d our gratitude are the way to go.

We know that we are sinners. We know that we are broken. We know that we need to live for God. We know God, in Jesus, has already given everything for us… But, something is teasing at the edge of our soul. We read His Word, and it tells us… but we think that we are just getting the interpretation wrong. Our fear (and our enormous pride) won’t let us see what is right in front of our face.

Something is not right.

We are exhausted

and bruised

and frustrated

and hurt

and failing

and doubting

and becoming bitter

and, just wishing things could be better in our walk with Him.

We have counted the cost of following Him, but what is happening to us seems far from abundant. It feels like we have been cheated. We don’t even feel the joy of His Presence, and the lightness of losing everything to gain Christ. Instead, we are just worn out. We are beginning to wonder if we got something very, very wrong.

Can we see it? We have indeed gotten something VERY wrong if we are in this place. We are to strive in this Life He has given us. But, we are only to strive for one thing – and one thing alone. We are to strive to quit striving. We are to shatter the idols of our busyness and effort. We are to slice up our lists of things to do, and we are to let His Word cut deeply into who we are.

And when we do, something amazing happens. We finally get it. The gargantuan Love of G_d has already saved us in Christ Jesus. There is nothing do, but rest in this certainty. Instead of trying to claw and trudge our way home, we find that we are already seated at table with our Lover and King and Dear Friend. And it is here, in this reclining at the table of Grace, we find strength we never knew could even exist.

Oh yes, there will be great labors and even deeper pain in the future. But now, everything is different. We are beginning to get it. It is joy that is our strength. It is Love binds us together with Him and it is Grace that empowers us for the work in His fields quite white unto harvest.

So, are you tired? It happens. But, are you worn out? Are you fraying at the edges? If so, you may indeed want to focus your efforts on just one last work: stopping. Tonight is your night beloved. Time to rest in Him. The cost of any other approach is just too high.

Makala_FF 2016

Written by Makala Doulos: Makala  is a child of G_d, a husband to his wife, a father to his children, and a teacher to his students. But mostly, he is a prisoner set free by Jesus. Love has invaded his life, crushed it, and made it new. Now, G_d’s Love is what constrains him to live in full surrender to the freedom The Father and Son and Holy Spirit have bought for us all. Grace and Peace to you all.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 93; Proverbs 1

Daily Quote: “It is the Father’s life, and the Father’s life alone, that ever lives the Christian life. It is the Father’s life, and Father’s life alone, which will live the Christian life in you. Embrace a formula or a list in order to “live the Christian life,” and you are doomed to frustration.” ~Gene Edwards

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32

 

Church Can Be Fun!?

First United Methodist Church of Pasadena

“We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, “What amazing things the LORD has done for them.” Yes, the LORD has done amazing things for us! What joy!” ~Psalm 126:2-3 (NLT)

Where in the Bible does it say church should be fun or even relevant? If we were to ask this question in a different way it might sound like this, “What is the purpose of the church? Is it a time when we all get together in comfortable setting, dump some loot in a basket, do a sing-a-long or two or three, listen to a self-help sermon because “Jesus loves you”, shake some hands, get some lunch afterwards and then get our butts home before the Star Spangled Banner is finished and the coin toss favors the opposing team?

My fellow Freedom Fighter writer, who I’ll call Rob (to protect his identity) and myself have gone back and forth on the notion of church being fun. We’ve taken to Facebook with the question (well actually he started it…I may have to finish it) and there have been some surprising answers. There are people who do find “fun” in their Sunday worship. Now we can find fun at Six Flags but get real here people, you wait in line to get on a ride…BORING!! Well now they are handing you cute little disc’s that vibrate and blink little L.E.D lights when it’s your turn to get on a ride that last maybe 90 seconds so you don’t have to wait in line but where’s the fun in that? Now you gotta go find something to do until the thing activates.

As much as I understand that we essentially should maintain a reverent mindset when it comes to Christ’s Church, I am also a man who believes Jesus wasn’t above having Himself a good laugh every so often. I mean, after all, we humans do some pretty laughable things…like take ourselves seriously on way too many issues. The bottom line is Jesus, although the Passover Lamb, also came to rebuild His Father’s community. And for all you wordsmith’s out there the word “commune” is the central idea here. We forget the idea behind the church is to “commune” with each other as we “commune” with The Father. Why do you think we are called to partake of the elements off The Table?

But what’s a community/church like without a little fun or laughter to it? Well…BORING…it doesn’t make it wrong but it can make it too rigid to handle a storm. Truth be told the only thing in a building that has to be true to solid is the foundation, the rest of the building needs to be able to handle the elements around it. Sometimes that takes a little flexibility to the construction. I once knew a guy (Jan Savercool is his name) that told me I was gonna need to be flexible in my walk. In its

own little way, it’s kinda laughable ‘cos he has been right since 2003. (wish he still among us so I could tell him)

The real thing to grasp here today is that church should be a place of joy. The writer of Hebrews puts it like this, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Even though I think using the word “fun” in the same sentence that we use “church” has a hint of irreverence to it (making it seem like going to Youth Group) I don’t think we should take things so rigidly when it comes to church.

But I do believe there should be laughter in church. If we can laughter together then we can pray together, serve together, worship together and even mourn together. And if we are coming together, out of the joy we have for our God, and joy is a Fruit of the Spirit dare I say that “fun” is a fruit of that joy and those folks out there who have fun worshipping YHVH aren’t doing anything that deserves them a stonin’ or two? Well maybe that’s still debatable among some but for me I have fun ironing out these kinda issues. But please heed this warning as I end with you today, when you treat the things of the Kingdom as common everyday items, judgement is just around the corner. Amen?

Chris Hughes_FF 2016Written by Chris Hughes: Chris, a graduate of The Colony of Mercy (11-2003) is married (Kathy) with two adult children (Kevin and Karen) and has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008.

 

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 92; Proverbs 31

Daily Quote: “The church is an outpost of God’s empire: a community of people whose passport is stamped [or issued by] “heaven” but who continue to live in a foreign land – earth – with the aim of making that foreign land more like home. We take heaven seriously, and live with different aims and different values from the people around us. We also take our citizenship seriously, so instead of hiding under the bed and waiting for rescue (or the rapture?), we live in the world with the intention of changing it…” —Andrew Wilson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize:

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? ~Romans 8:31-32

Diversity

Dorothy Church near Drumheller, Alberta

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. (Romans 15:2)

Have you ever sat after church and no one spoke or look at you? Have you ever attended a fellowship only to notice that the members hung only with their respective group? Did you ever wear clothes that did not seem acceptable at a service? I spent many years in various churches that did not regard my presence for reason I can only imagine. I left those churches without a follow up and thinking where was the love.

When dealing with proper church edict Paul is usually a reliable source. Paul was communicating that believers are not meant to take a comfortable approach to our newfound liberties. We are freed for something greater. Primarily, we need to glorify God with all our life. Second, it’s fair to say that we ought to love each other, and in this verse he mentions that it is good to please your neighbor.

As a counselor, moreover as Christian I have learned that my reality is a reality, but not the only reality. To be more effective, it is essential to reach and learn different cultural predispositions to be a better aid. Diversity is one our country’s strength, in that, it allows us to embrace the strengths and weakens of others to build our great nation.

We could continue acting like this does not exist and morbid the relationship building that could possibly be helpful for everyone. As Christian, we should consider the way our country is evolving, being equipped with our youth, nationalities, differences etc… an that will help us in the Spirit of unity and build us up together as entity.

The church is filled with diversities and cultures. And one of our callings is to operate in a Spirit of unity. This is work; being transparent in all things gives the advantage to understand each other circumstances. God wants us to build corporately; this is how non-believer will know we are Christians by love for one another; by the way treat each other, and how we work with each other.

Written by Juan Mendez: Juan is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a full time staff member at America’s Keswick.

The Daily Bible Reading: Psalm 63; Proverbs 3

Click Here to Download our 2016 Daily Bible Reading Plan

Daily Quote: “We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin.” ~ C.S. Lewis

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge. ~Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)