Free to Make a Difference

Happy days as we prepare for Memorial Day Weekend.

Freedom cost so many, so much.family history 3
family history 2

family history

As I look at my own relatives, I’m thankful.  My Great (x6ish) Grandfather Captain William Miller moved to the colonies from Scotland and was in the Revolutionary War. He participated in campaigns in Northern VA., part of which is now West VA. And in PA. where he was severely wounded by Indians near Ft. Pitt which caused his death late that year, 1777, in Goochland County, where his will was proven.  He along with my Great (8x) Grandfather George Washburn (an American spy), Great (5x) Grandfather Thomas Dickerson and Great (5x) Peter Daily (pictured), who became a Col., all fought in the American Revolution. Peter Daily’s father (Greatx6) fought in the French And Indian war from 1756 -58.  I had Great Great Grandfathers in the Civil War and a Grand Father in WWI.

This weekend, remember those who have served our nation, those still serving and all of their families.  Our freedoms have been expensive.

At the moment, we live in the most free country in the world. We are not guaranteed the same freedoms in our future.  We are one generation of poor choices away from losing that famed status and we are well on our way now. While family, political and spiritual freedoms are on the line for our future, no one can separate those of us having submitted to Jesus from the saving work of Jesus upon the cross and within our lives.   Gal. 5:1 reminds, “So Christ has truly set us free.”

Enjoy our free country while it remains.  Protect that freedom.  Defend that freedom. Teach that freedom.  Vote for that freedom.  And realize… we have this freedom for a season, for a reason.  May we use this quickly vanishing freedom to make the name of Jesus famous.

Once we teach freedom away, vote it away, explain it away, rewrite it away then we are giving it away.  We are seeing, in our modern lifetime, the colossal erosion of the freedom values that established this free nation.  Never doubt the power of a generation.  It took a generation to break free and create this nation in the 1700’s and it is taking a modern generation to cannibalize that freedom and use it to ultimately destroy it.

We have this freedom only for a season but we have it for a reason.

We are free to make a difference.  Let’s quickly make the name of Jesus famous.

 


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The Heart of the Matter…

Today I was sitting in an awards assembly for children ending the 6th grade and entering the 7th grade.
My heart was happy.
My heart was sad.
My heart was left with questions.
 
I was happy to see hard work rewarded with recognition. This made my heart happy.
 
I was sad to see many children who just made it out of the 6th grade with a pause and a photograph and a scattered bit of applause. This made my heart sad.
 

I was happy because I remember the involvement and encouragement from my parents to work hard, try harder, and work even harder to get ahead. My parents were pretty awesome.  The grade was not the issue… my “best” was the issue.  Knowing I had not given my best in math (I think)  when I was in the 8th grade, I changed an interim grade report card from a “D” to a “B” using my pencil to replicate a dot matrix printer on carbon paper.  I was successful.  (Sorry Mom… I know this will be a revelation for you)  I worked harder and had my “A”… a real  “A” before the end of the year.  I had great parents.  As I remembered their encouragement my heart was happy today.

 

I was sad to see so many little girls working so hard to look so much older.  Sixth grade was elementary school from my memories.  Wasn’t elementary school a time for children to get sweaty at recess and come inside stinking of wet heat?  Wasn’t elementary school a time for children to explore the world from the large eyes of amazement?  Wasn’t elementary school a time for children to remain children just a moment longer?  Today, it was clearly the beginning of childhood innocence voted out in exchange for children who knew their most photogenic side, best static pose, the most flattering position of the leg, the hippest resting place for the hand and the brightest smile… all coming together in a grand self revelation to be preserved among the thousands of pictures taken of each practiced performer.  This made my heart sad.

 

But what made my heart the most sad was when student after student (many of whom seemingly barely made it out of the sixth grade) awkwardly walked across the stage, paused for a photo and slipped off the stage into, what seemed like, more comfortable anonymity.  For the students who gave the year their best and still barely made it out… My heart is happy for their best.  But for the student who barely made it out of the sixth grade with their best buried deep inside themselves… my heart was sad.

 

My heart was sad for them because something more oppressive was upon their little lives.  Something was keeping their best, their greatest of potential held captive.  Some of these children did not get the privilege of giving their best to school and learning because they had to reserve their best to simply cope with life.  Their best was used up, beaten up, abused by simply trying to get through each day, each night and make it to school each morning.  For some, their best was depleted simply trying to make it through the circumstances of life in which they have been thrust (not by their own choices nor decisions).  This made my heart sad.

 
My heart was left with questions.
What will become of these children having to give their best to emotional survival?
What will become of a generation who knows how to work the camera angles at such a young age?

What will become of our children?

 
The answer is found here perhaps:  We move our children toward an amazing future in direct proportion to the depth of love we help them develop for Jesus.
If we invest more time, conversations and energy developing their outer-selves, their entertainment and their pleasures than we do in teaching them and demonstrating for them a love for Jesus… we have not helped them.  They might take better pictures but they won’t have a better life.

If we invest more time, conversations and energy in our own interests rather than teaching them and demonstrating for them a love for Jesus… we have not helped them.  We may have a self-satisfying life but they will be left empty.

 
May we make the home, once again, the center of teaching our children and demonstrating for our children a love for Jesus.  Let’s make the heart of God smile.

 


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I’m Emotionally Exhausted…

Family life is tough… I wish I could say it gets easier and less complicated.  I could say that but I don’t think it is true so I won’t.  It is tough for children, parents, siblings and relatives.  It is tough.

I’m emotionally drained today.

Yesterday contained one of the most difficult Sunday teachings I have passed on to Stuttgart Harvest Church.

Difficult because it was about me.  I have lived it.  I am living it.

Difficult because so many of my friends are living it too.

Difficult because I did not want to misrepresent God’s instruction.

Difficult because I wanted to hold His standard high and celebrate it but I  have missed His standard.

Difficult because I wanted to adequately communicate the rest our souls receive in His amazing embrace of grace… but I can’t seem to communicate the depth of that amazing grace.

Difficult because I want people to experience that grace in the face of His standard missed.

Difficult because words can’t describe the embrace of His grace.

Difficult because the only way to understand it is to experience it.

Difficult because I’m not sure I can plead with someone enough, correctly, in order to get them to jump into the arms of that grace.

Difficult.

But oh dear friends… worth it.

Hold His standard high… not for judgment of another… no!

Hold His standard high as a guiding north star for your own life… and live in His grace… knowing He met the standard for us because we could not.

His standard gets higher but His grace gets deeper.

Thank you Jesus.


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The Scarlet Thread

stuttgart harvest church the scarlet thread logo

 

We have been in a teaching series called The Scarlet Thread.  Because of time, we selected a mere sample of how Jesus is woven into the Old Testament.  Wow… this has been exciting!

Today I have a treat for you.  A little over a year ago I taught through the story of Abraham… and yes… this is a huge part of the scarlet thread.  Don’t bail out early because it builds all the way to the end of the teaching at which point the scarlet thread becomes powerfully clear!

Enjoy the teaching.

Click here to listen.

 


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What happens when I die? (some references)

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Wow… what a huge topic.  Check out part two of “What Happens When?” where we discussed what happens when we die.

Check out the teaching here.

For further study:

One Minute After You Die; Erwin Lutzer

Revelation; Chuck Missler

Return of the King; Kluttz

Charting the End Times; Tim LaHaye

 

While this is not an exhaustive list, here are many references for Sunday’s teaching (March 13th)

Death:

Luke 16:19ff     

Luke 23:43

Psalm 49:15; 86:13; 89:48

Hebrews 11:39–40; 12:23

2 Corinthians 12:2–4

2 Corinthians 5:8

 

Rapture

John 14:1-4

John 14:1-3

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

1 Corinthians 15:50-55

 

Great tribulation

Ez. 20:37-38

Zec. 13:8-9

Rom. 11:26

 

Judgment Seat of Christ (bema)

Rev. 19:6-10

1 Cor. 3:11ff; 4:5

2 Cor. 5:10

 

Second coming of Jesus

Rev. 19:11-21

Joel 3:1-2

Mat. 25:31-40, 41-45

 

Judgment of the nations

Mat. 25:31-46

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

2 Corinthians 5:10

1 Corinthians 4:5

 

Millennium Kingdom (not heaven)

Rev. 20:1-3

Rev. 20:4-6.

Isa. 65:21-24

Isa. 65:20

Rev. 20:7-10ff 

 

Satan’s last revolt

Rev. 20:7-10

 

Great White Throne Judgment

Rev. 20: 11-15

Gal. 3:20

Rev. 20:11-15

 

Eternity begins

1 Cor 15:24-28

 

Our response:

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT)

9  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

 

 


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What happens after you get saved?

FB cover photo _ what happens when

 

Yesterday we started this discussion… What happens after you get saved?  We said the first command for new followers of Jesus is the command to be baptized.

Today we will continue this discussion.  After you get saved… After you start following Jesus… What happens then?

 

Book stores and libraries are filled with volume after volume, book after book, article after article answering this question.  I don’t pretend to be able to answer it fully here.  I will simply get us started thinking about it.

After you start following Jesus, in fact immediately after you choose to give your life over to the control of God, God gives you a gift.  We don’t deserve the gift.  We can’t earn the gift.  It is given to us freely, as promised by Jesus Himself.

John 14:15-17 (NLT)
15  “If you love me, obey my commandments.
16  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.
17  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

 

Jesus said it was actually better for Him to leave because He would be sending God’s Spirit to live within followers of Jesus.

John 16:7 (NLT)
7  But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

 

It is God’s Spirit that goes to work in your life, changing you and rearranging you.  No longer is God just around you.  No longer is God simply near you.  If you are a follower of Jesus, God sends His Spirit to live within you.  WOW!

For the rest of your life God is going to be at work in your life.  That is good news.

I want you to learn more about what God is up to in your life.  Here are two series on the topic.  Listen to them in order and be encouraged, be changed!

The first series: The Best You Now

The second series:   Watch Your Step

 

Be encouraged, be changed.

 

 

 

 


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