Archives for posts with tag: freedom

why“Then Jesus told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil’?” (Luke 13: 6 -7)

Jesus is giving us the opportunity to do more than use up space. In fact in Luke 13, Jesus gives the bookends for our whole reason for being on the earth. The first reason why we are here is to repent: to align our life with the life of God, to align our will with the will of God; to turn to God, find forgiveness from God, and walk with God.

Jesus says, if we don’t repent we perish. Plain and simple. God expects fruit from our lives and the kind of fruit God desires is rooted in repentance.

The other bookend for why we’re here is the byproduct from what is begun in repentance. The way of grace works like this. We begin in repentance. We believe in the Lord Jesus and exchange our way for His. We build up our faith, praying and practicing the habits the Holy Spirit teaches us. We bless others. We bring life to others through the sacrifice of our service. Finally, we breakthrough into newness of life.

How do we breakthrough? We become a disciple maker. We become a fisher of people. We become an example, the proprietary system God uses to bring freedom and life to others: the freedom of forgiveness and faith, the freedom of healing and joy, the freedom of purpose and mercy.

I call you to account this day. Have you repented of doing no more than taking up space in the soil? The Holy Spirit will continue to dig around in your life so that you might align yourself in faith with Jesus but don’t take that work of God for granted. You can only share out of what you have. Have a relationship with Jesus. Live by His grace as a free person so you can be used of God to share what you have received.


hopeI’ve been asked to conduct a funeral today. It is for a classmate of my baby girl who is 25. I grieve at the very thought of having to do this. A life that was far too short. Yet, I do not grieve without hope.

What is hope? My favorite definition is ‘hope is faith with TBA written over it’. We know it’s certain. We know for sure what we hope for is going to happen, we just don’t know the when. There is no date on the calendar, no hour in our appointment book that is marked for its completion.

Today, though, I will give thanks for a hope realized, even though I give thanks with mixed emotions. I rest my hope on what the Apostle Peter says, “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desire.” (2 Peter 1 – 4)

I have mixed emotions because Peter goes on to say we can add to this work of God’s promise and confirm our calling and become fruitful in our experience of all God chooses for us. Or, we can find ourselves acting as if these promises are hidden from us and forget the freedom God gave to us when God gave us forgiveness.

Regardless of how we can become, God’s Word assures us (2 Peter 2) that God knows how to deliver us even when we’ve been put in bondage to distress and the depravity of others. Again, I remind you as I encourage myself: “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10: 23)


inaugurationdayAlexis deToqueville wrote, “Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”

That is a quote that would mean totally different things depending on whose side of things people came down on in the election. I know many have abandoned freedom’s first principles and exchanged them for government control and this exchange has occurred on both sides of the aisle.

Our language and our actions no longer define the responsibilities of freedom but rather speak to the obligations and mandates of an overarching government. Read the gospels. Jesus doesn’t bring the government up at all except to say his kingdom doesn’t work that way. What Rome does doesn’t occupy Jesus at all unless challenged by an enemy. Now we entwine every act of love to some responsibility of government and thus, our service is entwined with an earthly kingdom instead of an heavenly one. Churches and preachers even defining their ministries to keep their government imposed status rather than acting out on their status as new creations and ambassadors for Jesus Christ.

Second, the kingdom of heaven is not content to stand alongside or be praised for its tolerant place among the civil religions of the day as it was at the National Cathedral this week. Jesus doesn’t say, “I AM an Option, I AM an Opinion, I AM a Helpful Choice”. No, Jesus says, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life – no one comes to the Father except by me.” Pardon the pun, but Jesus trumps everything and everyone else. On purpose, I do not use anyone’s name or name a party among my thoughts today because the only thing I want to capitalize in my life is Jesus and His gospel.

Thirdly, our language is not precise or discerning. We are a representative republic. We are governed (or supposed to be) by the words of the constitution. Even the laws we write are only supposed to be valid if they adhere to the Constitution and making these distinctions seem to be a battle very few are fighting.

We are not a democracy. We are a walking contradiction as we describe our mob of love using foul or coarse language or as one preacher responded on his Facebook site to the great number that marched on Saturday, “Hell Yeah!”  There is a reason throughout history there are lynch mobs but never until now, love mobs. Love is not best expressed through the crowd but by the cross, not by self-expression but by self-sacrifice.

This is why I know regardless of who got elected or how people feel as a result, the only hope America has of being the United States of America is to experience a Great Awakening of grace and truth. The only hope we have, that we have ever had, is to repent and believe the good news of Jesus and to continue to act in accordance with that.


smileOne of the books I am working on while on vacation is called The Face of Grace. I want to share an excerpt from it with you today and give you the opportunity to answer the question: Do you have a face for evangelism?

…Think about it for a minute. What is the facial expression of your faith? What is it when you know God has given you the one thing you need to have “everything that pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1: 3), and because God gives you the one thing, God will give you all things?

How could our face be downcast? How could we look disappointed when God does “more than all we ask or imagine”? (Ephesians 3: 20)

“Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.” (Romans 8: 33) Why do we keep that paranoid look on our face? It is God’s Word that tells us who we are.

Why do we get so defensive and upset when other people say things about us? When Jesus went to the cross, all the insults and accusations that could be leveled against us because of our weakness and sin were borne by him. He bore that weight for us.  This is what the word ‘bring any charge’ means. Accusers are calling us on the debt of our sin. But, why should our expression make us look like we’re still guilty and Jesus’ grace and forgiveness doesn’t apply to us?

Is there something we need to confess? Something, for which we need to repent? Then, by all means, let’s make things right with God. But, having done that, don’t let our expression deny the mighty work God has done.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8: 34)

Why should our face be instead stuck on a look of thanks and joy? Jesus is praying for us. Why should our face be stuck on a look of thanks and joy? We are a blessed people.

There are three things in this one verse that establish that blessing. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised for us, and Jesus is interceding for us. Ecclesiastes 4: 12 says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” No one can undo what God has done for you and me.  The added strand of Jesus’ intercession means no one can undo what God is doing for you in the present or will do for you in the future.

Count on it. Let your face show it. God will be with you and together you will overcome…


setfree1I hesitate to write today but believe it is a priority that I blog on a daily basis in 2017. Why the hesitation? One is I don’t want my blogging to become like a Facebook post simply reporting the facts about my thinking or activity. The second reason is I was having a cautionary moment about my Bible reading this moment. I got caught between two places of Scripture, one in Genesis, the other in Luke.

They both focus on receiving or acquiring something from the Lord. The hesitation comes in how to share my Observation. I believe I have known some folks through the years that have acquired a curse. Something happened in their family and the children are still living under the shadow of it. Life seems to be harder, rougher, though you can’t pinpoint any circumstantial differences between you and them. You both go to the same church and the same school. You live in the same neighborhood. Your parents even have the same occupation.

We don’t know what happened in the past. That’s shrouded from our sight. It just seems when we go through the same activity, hear the same lessons, we come out in a different place.  It seems when we’re drawn to the Lord, the same situation moves them like Cain, “away from the presence of the Lord”. (Genesis 4: 16)

The other Scripture that caught my attention was Luke 2: 40: “And the child grew and was strengthened by the Spirit, was being filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.” When I observe this verse, a whole different expectation is awakened.

As the child grows there is no competing spirit that will disorganize and disassemble what the Lord and the parents are doing. There will be no parental self-sabotage or none that will override the strength and order given to the child by the Spirit of God. Humility not pride sets the tone for this house so wisdom or grace doesn’t return to sender but rests and soaks into the heart and mind of the child.

setfreeThe application I receive from this is threefold. The first is recognizing there is more than one spirit at work in everybody. The second application moves me to heed the words of Jesus in John 14: 1, “Let not your hearts be caught up in this spiritual struggle; you believe in God, then put your trust into me.” We are not able to resist the spiritual forces of wickedness in our own strength. Our first priority is to receive the strength and organizing help of the Holy Spirit. We make sure our pride doesn’t leave us stuck within the curse and struggle that sin brings to life.

The third application is in how I pray for others. My intercession must become more intense, more intimately tied to the wisdom of God’s Word of grace “which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” (Acts 20: 32)

Prayer: Lord, thank you today for spiritual discernment, the gift that empowers us to identify the root cause of a curse and break its power through faith in Jesus Christ. Thank you for the power of faith to trust Jesus and find in the Holy Spirit strength to be forgiven, restored, and reorganized in our thinking and in our actions. Thank you for your intercession for us. Thank you that intercession shares the power of the resurrection with us and binds us to your unfailing love.

It’s that time. It’s time to focus on the qualities that will bring us into conformity with Jesus. It’s time to see the next to last step of the six qualities of grace that allow us to match steps with the Lord. Here they are again: 1. Unity, 2. Liberty, 3. Authority, 4. Authenticity, 5. Fidelity, and 6. Integrity/Humility. I want to share these in reverse order from the chapter excerpt of my soon-to-be-released book, The Pathway of Grace: Learning to Walk with God. We’re counting down to #1 and today we focus on #2 Liberty. You read and I will look forward to your comments.

To be justified by God is to have liberty. We are living life led by the Spirit of God. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (II Corinthians 3: 17) There is liberty! We are not controlled by anyone else. We don’t have to be told what to do or be encouraged (or nagged) to ‘get with the program’. We are led by God. We are already co-initiating things with God. Husbands, we don’t need a ‘honey-do’ list because we have a ‘honey-I-love-you’ list already working in our minds.

We are already looking for ways we can bless, strengthen, encourage, and love our wives. We don’t have to be told we have to do it. We don’t have to be pushed into it. We have liberty. We have freedom to do it ourselves.

We are not hen pecked. We are not in bondage to the ‘boss’. We are the head so we move like we know what we are doing to love our wives. God wants unity. God wants peace between us and him. God wants liberty. God wants us to move in freedom: the freedom of his grace, the freedom of his love, the freedom of his power in the authority of Jesus. As we like to remind ourselves at home, “we don’t have to, we get to.”

Stay tuned for the final installment to Matching Steps coming up at the end of the week. Remember ‘It is for freedom that Christ has set us free’. Don’t let regret stake you to the past. Don’t let unbelief or proficiency in failure pile up to block your future. Let the love of God constrain you to move forward. The Apostle Paul lays out our choices about as starkly as they can be posed: “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2: 7 – 8)

Go for it! Match your steps with God.

CB Christmas TreeI was watching a Charlie Brown Christmas on TV the other night and realized how important it is to choose the right tree.

In the beginning, God chose for us to be free and to reinforce and define that freedom, God supplied one restriction, one rule to govern the expression of Adam’s faith. “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die’.”

In the last days, we must choose the freedom chosen for us in creation. How do we do this? We do this by observing the one rule for living in Romans 10: 8 – 11. But, to do that we must once again consider a tree to supply the one, overriding guide for the expression of our faith and life. It is a tree set in the midst of two thieves and temporarily planted in the place they called The Skull, Golgotha. It a tree of execution both for Christ and for us. As we fix our eyes upon the light of this tree and eat of its fruit, it will kill our bondage to sin, bring us forgiveness, and establish a new life of freedom for us in the Spirit.

How do we express our choice to be free? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”

Have you chosen the right tree?crosses3