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Category Archives: Liberty

Grace, Freedom and the NFL

Boy, what a firestorm! The tension and controversy in America has reached a fever pitch over the last few years to where we have arrived at today. Not long ago it was just 49’ers  (ex) quarterback Colin Kaepernick (still doesn’t have a job) who intentionally thrust himself into controversy by refusing to stand for the playing of the National Anthem in protest of what he deemed to be wrongdoings against African Americans and minorities in the United States. Well, it’s a free country….and I don’t argue the subject of free speech. But, what we do with that freedom is an entirely different topic that oftentimes reveals the character of those who might use, or misuse it.

You may wonder about the above title and question how grace, freedom and these protests could be connected. I think, in principle, they’re very connected. Let me explain; Grace is an extremely important Biblical subject. It’s a wonderful thing! But it’s also one of the more controversial topics in the church today. It’s controversial mostly because it has been miscommunicated, ….and therefore misunderstood, ….and when all that happens it can easily be misappropriated. (used in an unwise manner)

Paul, in one of his letters, said it this way, “Brothers and sisters you have been called to liberty (freedom), but don’t use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh”. More clearly put, don’t use your freedom as an excuse to sin. It’s only the unwise, or maybe innocently by the immature, who would accept God’s perfect gift of grace and then use it as an excuse to sin. That would be an undeniable, gross misuse of grace! That’s where I see grace, freedom and these NFL protests intersecting.

The freedom that we enjoy in America is like none other in the entire world. It’s a freedom that has come at an extremely costly price. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives on the battlefield, here and around the world, in the name of freedom. I appreciate that; I’m grateful for it and it’s something that I would never, ever take lightly. So, it only makes sense to me to use that freedom in a wise, mature and conscientious manner. Everybody doesn’t agree….and that’s OK. But my opinion is that those who choose to dishonor the national anthem and the flag, are thus dishonoring the nation and those whose lives were sacrificed for our freedom. It appears to be a very immature, arrogant and unwise use of something so precious….and that cost so many, …..so much.

The NFL has some unbelievable athletes; best in the world for their God-given talent and abilities. But many of these young men have been coddled, babied and catered to since they were old enough to be involved in organized team sports. It’s a historical fact that many of these athletes making millions today won’t have any of it left after their careers are over. And, if the old adage rings true that “we all have 15 minutes of fame”, it’s a crying shame that these boys are using theirs’ this way. They’re influencing another generation of little boys in a very adverse, and negative way. I wouldn’t want that on my resume’!

Someone will probably cry, “racism”; But, c’mon …..give us a break! It’s not that. It’s called patriotism, …..and it’s makin’ a comeback!

“All things are lawful, but not all things edify; all things are lawful, but not all are helpful” – Paul

The way you handle grace….and freedom will tell the world just how deep your character actually is. 

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You like football Blogs? (click the link)

“Loosen Up, Sandy Baby!”

“I Don’t Know How We’re Gonna Win….I Just Know We’re Going To!”

Life’s Like Football, It’s a Game of Inches

It Takes a Village to go Back to Back…..to Back to Back!

 

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The Bible Belt – “The Land of Never Enough”

After 30 years or so in the ministry there are things you start to notice, things that stand out. There are patterns of thought and behavior that seem to be deeply woven into the fabric of Bible Belt mentality. One such pattern that runs very deep among born again believers is that one can never do enough to get,….or stay, in good standing with God. If you wonder why I say that, here’s why; I hear it all the time; “I don’t go to church enough”, “I don’t pray enough”, “I don’t read the Bible enough”, “I don’t have enough faith”, “I’m not a very good Christian”, I hope I”m going to heaven”. I just heard this from a man yesterday, “I think God has given up on me”. I refuted that lie as quick as I could!

It’s a prevalent attitude with many people always thinking they can never do enough, or be good enough to satisfy the Lord. It gives the feeling they’re trying to serve a God that’s unreasonably demanding and impossible to please. It’s like being on a treadmill of performance in an effort to earn their righteousness; A state, in fact, that many never seem to arrive at. This is a problem of the highest order, in my opinion, because it gives an incorrect image of ‘Who’ God actually is. It’s one of the greatest misportrayals the world has ever seen. There are many out there who’ll live their entire lives believing they were never quite acceptable or good enough to please God. And, what’s worse is that it leads one to believe that the Father’s love based entirely on our behavior.

Sad,…. Sad,…. Sad!

The danger of ‘never enough’ exists anytime a mixture of law and grace are preached. And, sadly enough…..that’s what happens most of the time in the Bible Belt. Paul spent the last half of his life contrasting law and grace. He knew them both well….in fact better than anyone on the planet in his generation. He was a staunch defender of grace even after it caused him to be beaten more than once and left for dead. It was controversial then….it’s controversial now…..but only to those who believe their behavior is what makes them righteous.

So, tell me, what’s on your list of things to do that make you righteous? And, while you’re at it explain to me where the line is of, enough….or not enough. Truth is, if you never read your Bible, if you never went to church your righteousness isn’t diminished one bit. I’m not advocating that….just pointing it out! You’re not righteous because of what you do…..you’re righteous because of what He did! The Father doesn’t love you because you’re good…..He loves you because He’s good!

THAT, in itself, makes me want to do good!

Good fathers would never keep their children in limbo over such important things! So, pack your bags, enjoy your relationship with the Father….. and get out of the land of never enough!

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The Sound of Silence

If you were around in the 60’s you’ll remember that song*(click here to listen) It was written by Paul Simon and recorded by him and Art Garfunkel, aka, Simon & Garfunkel. An interesting thing about the song is that the album it was originally released on in 1964 was a total flop and actually led to the breakup of the S&G duo. But the song, after hardly any airplay, began to pick up steam around Harvard University. The producer did a remix adding some electrical instrumentation and it ‘took off’!! The Sound of Silence hit #1 on the Billboard Charts in January of 1966! The duo immediately reunited and recorded their second album. You can still hear it on classic rock stations today. And just recently a group called Disturbed, released another version of the song.

Sound….of Silence; that’s kind of an oxymoron when you think about it. Silence actually has no sound, whatsoever. Silence is something we don’t experience much these days. On a personal note, Julie and I raised 5 kids, 4 boys, and a daughter. And, as you can imagine, there’s not much silence in a household like that. It was challenging, we loved it….but not much silence, if you know what I mean. And now with 9 incredible Grandkids….again, not much silence. We love the activity…and the noise that goes along with it! 

Most of us, when given the opportunity for silence, almost feel the need to turn on the TV, whether we’re watching it or not, just so we don’t have to deal with the deafening silence. But, we could be missing out if we’re not getting at least a little bit of silence now and then. If you think about it, embracing silence is one of those things we probably ought to consider. The clatter of everyday life has the potential of drowning out the, sometimes very quiet, voice of the Father. The Bible calls it, “the still, small voice”. God’s not limited to speaking to you in the silence….but the natural noisiness of life makes it a lot harder for you to hear.

Learn to ‘deal’ with the distractions, ‘make’ time for some silence….and hear what the voice of the Father is saying to you!

 

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He Won’t ‘Put More On Ya’ Than You Can Stand

There’s a common misconception, in my opinion, on a certain passage of scripture that’s used over and over. It’s usually construed this way, “God won’t put more on you than you can stand”, or “more than you can handle”. And, while that’s a nice thing to consider, I submit that the truth of it is not nearly as clear as most would like for it to be. In fact it’s not what the verse is talking about at all. (The verse in question is 1 Cor 10:13)

For starters, just so you won’t get the wrong impression of God, it’s not the nature of a father to put unreasonable, or unbearable things on their children just for the heck of it. That doesn’t make sense at all. And, don’t forget….He’s a lot better Father, by far, than we could ever be. And, the folks that say God puts hard things on you to teach you a lesson……are a ‘long ways off’ from reality! They really need to STOP it!

But here’s something that experience has taught me. He really doesn’t ‘put more on you than you can handle’, but He consistently allows you to go through things that you don’t think you can handle! In fact, and don’t get the wrong idea here, I actually think He kinda likes it! For, it’s in those times of desperation that you’re reminded of how much you really need Him. You’re a lot more prone to trust Him at times like that. THAT’S what He likes!

So, don’t be so quick to blame Him for ‘putting something on you’….and remember, as a Father, He’s a lot more interested in building character in you, than making you comfortable!

Check this one out, too:

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

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Let’s Work Together

I was watching a documentary on TV awhile back. Yeah, it’s just part of my exciting life! I think it was at a star fair, maybe Wisconsin. There were these huge Belgian draft horses like the Budweiser Clydesdales in a contest to see how much weight they could pull. They started the single horses out at 1500 pounds, pulling a weighted sled. They’d add to the weight after every round and if a horse couldn’t pull the sled, they were out. It amazing how much weight these horses can pull. The winning horse pulled 8,000 pounds! Then it was time  for the ‘team pulling’ with two horses hitched up and yoked together. And, what happened was absolutely mind boggling.

You’d think that two of these draft horses would be able to pull about twice what one horse could pull but it turned out that they didn’t pull twice as much…..but exactly three times more than one horse! I found that to be pretty amazing, to say the least. After a little reading on the subject I learned that it’s fairly normal for two horses to pull three times the weight that one can pull. And, what caught my attention even more is that the phenomenon of synergy (the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects) works with people….and organizations, as well.

The principle,……and the power, of synergy works with a husband and wife, a pair of business partners, leaders and their organizations, a shepherd and his ‘flock’…and the list goes on and on. The more people that are added to the equation, it appears the more incredible the results are apt to be. When it comes right down to it, it’s a whole lot more than just working together. It’s coming to agreement on a common goal and then ‘yoking’ up together, addressing the inevitable obstacles that will surely come, refusing to be divided over petty issues, keeping the focus on when the ‘chips’ are down, riding out the lean years…and the determination to keep going.

If you’ll work together, you’ll be like those draft horses…..your output will surprise you….and everyone around you!

Here’s a great song by ‘Canned Heat’, a 60’s band that performed at Woodstock, that captures the essence of synergy….and the power of working together.

*(Click on highlighted link) “Let’s Work Together”

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Shift Happens!

 Well, I bet that got your attention….for all the wrong reasons, too, no doubt! Lol. I’m not talking about the bumper sticker that you’re so familiar with, although there is some common ground between that and what I’m writing about today.

I was having a conversation with a young guy about a week ago. He’s a very sharp young guy…and one that I’d consider a ‘son’ in the Lord. He has tons of potential, and for his age displays a lot of character and maturity. I often think about how far ahead of the ‘curve’ he and a bunch of other young ones, are….compared to where I was, spiritually, in my mid to late ’20’s. It’s truly a blessing to see…and to know that I at least have had a little bit of influence with them is extremely rewarding.

He’s at a ‘juncture’ in his life; not a bad place at all but a place where he really doesn’t know exactly what to do. It’s the Lord that has brought him to this place….and it’ll be the Lord that’ll direct him from here. I do appreciate these young guys ‘leaning’ on me at times like this but I’m determined to never take the place of the Lord in their lives. And, while, many times I know exactly what decision they should make….I nearly always think it’s best to let them…and the Lord flesh it out. It seems to work and I really think the Lord likes that scenario a bunch better. But the most important thing that happens is the person learns to put his dependency on the Lord…..and not on me. That’s very, very healthy!

Times like these form and shape young believers (old ones too!) into their true identity. That’s where the title of this blog comes into play. When we’re faced with an issue, a problem or a dilemma and we arrive at the point of decision….there’s a ‘shift’ that takes place. The new understanding brings us into a ‘new’ place, a new point of perspective; we automatically begin to see things different. And in more ways than one….everything changes!

So, roll with it! And, keep in mind that anyone who’s serious about following the Lord is going to face a lot of times like that. It’s just a normal part of ‘the journey’. So the next time you see the ‘other bumper sticker’, let it be a reminder that ‘Shift Really Does Happen’!!

If you’re interested in one of my very favorite topics, “Hearing the Lord”, you really should read these:

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 1

“What’s The Lord Telling You?” Part 2

If God Has Your Heart, He Can Get Your Feet Where They Belong!

You’re Better at Hearing the Lord Than You Think You Are!

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Tragedy in Dallas: What Can I Do? Part 2

Serious times here in the good ‘ol U S of A! The tragedy in Dallas is the most recent in a seemingly unending nightmare of mass shootings. It comes on the heels of another hate crime and terroristic catastrophe in Orlando. Omar Mateen, a Muslim ISIS influenced loyalist, entered a gay bar two weeks ago, heavily armed. He killed 49 people and wounded another 53 before he was killed by a member of the SWAT team. It’s just now coming to light and being reported that Micah Johnson, the Dallas shooter, had strong ties to Islam, himself. Radical Islam is a term that we’re hearing almost every day now. But it’s a term that our President refuses to utter. I think we all know why!! It’s a problem that’s growing by the day and something must be done immediately to close the door.

Racial tension is at a fever pitch, the most intense that I can remember in my lifetime. If it wasn’t for knowing the Lord has our solutions it’d be extremely discouraging. I’ve thought about how we should respond as humans, as Americans….but more important as Christians. Here’s a few practical things that each of us can do that I think’ll make a difference.

  1. Pray! It always makes a difference. As you pray your level of faith will rise.
  2. Take it to the Lord. Inquire of the Lord ‘how’ you should pray. When you do that your prayers will be strategic.
  3. Get the facts. There’s so much false and conflicting information out there by the media that it takes work to find out the ‘actual’ truth.
  4. Be an agent of positive change. Each of us has a ‘circle of influence’. We can influence those around us in a positive way.
  5. Watch your mouth! This one may be just for me! It’s so easy for me to go negative with my mouth. It’s not good….it doesn’t work!
  6. Be careful with your social media comments and responses. *Everything your read on FaceBook is NOT true! Don’t treat it as such!
  7. Pray for and Support law enforcement. Now, more than ever they need our support!
  8. Use your ‘voice’ – The larger your audience – The greater your responsibility. Speak truth; speak with maturity.
  9. Don’t take the ‘bait’!  – Love instead! Lots of ‘race baiting’ out there right now. Be wise!
  10. Stay the course! This is not an overnight fix. Don’t get discouraged, don’t throw in the towel.

As believers it’s our responsibility to bring ‘light’ during these ‘dark’ times.

Let’s make a difference!

This is not a conclusive list. I’d be interested in your own thoughts. Let me hear from you!

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