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A Return On Investment
Have you ever put your hard-earned money in an investment that resulted in a partial loss or total failure?
Early in our marriage, Judy and I invested a large sum of money in a venture that we were sure to make a great return. Many of our friends were also convinced this was a money-maker, so literally hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested from people in the Grand Rapids area. All of us were excited about how this new opportunity could make life economically easier.
Then the bombshell exploded and the company went bankrupt, leaving each investor with nothing but a piece of paper with an empty promise.
I am a very forgiving person and can overlook people’s mistakes and shortcomings. However, I find it more difficult to trust people when they refuse to take responsibility for their actions.
I grew up in a family of five children. Mistakes and bad decisions were always forgiven, but excuses were not tolerated.
When Dad told us to complete a work project, he expected us to do it. If it was not completed, he wanted to know why. If our reasons made sense he gave extra time to complete the project, but if we gave him excuses it resulted in extra work. More excuses equaled more work!
Photo: Steven Spassov
I decided to have more flowers around the house this summer. We have some bright pink ones in the front along the pathway to the house. You know, there’s just something so inviting about the sight and smell of beautiful flowers lining a pathway to the front door. Then I added some purple ones that hang over our front porch.
On one side of the porch the flowers looked stunning. They were full and vibrant as if to say, "Hey look at me everyone! I am so fruitful and pleasing to be around; I make this place look great!"
But on the other side of the porch hung a very sad looking basket of the same type of flowers. I babied it ... fertilized it ... watered it ... trimmed it ... pulled the dead flowers and leaves off of it, but it didn't look like it would make it another day.
Well, I have a very hard time giving up on anything. So, as silly as it sounds, I spoke to it and then prayed for wisdom on how to keep this plant from dying.
It seemed like our guests noticed that sad hanging plant more than the pretty ones. When they'd ask me why I wasn't watering it, my reply was "I am, but it doesn't help." So the thought came to me to put it on the back porch.
However, the strangest thing happened about a week later. The plant was starting to bud and the lifeless stems were starting to rise up and reach for the sun. I slowly added water and watched it fill out and it actually made our back porch look cheery and much more appealing. It needed to be in a different place, in order to survive and be fruitful.
People may be unfruitful or barely surviving in life, because they are simply in need of a change. It may be a job, an attitude, a relationship, a location, or even a ministry.
If you find yourself just surviving in life, maybe it's time to speak encouraging words to yourself like David in Psalms 42:5. Then trust the Master Gardener, Our Heavenly Father, to prepare that perfect place that will help you grow and thrive.
Why are you down cast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, was recently interviewed by Fox News concerning the terrorist threat in the Middle East. He was asked how peace could be achieved in this volatile area. His response was this:
You can't negotiate with terrorist groups. They only know and respect strength. Their goal is to convert you to their religion or kill you if you resist. As long as you are stronger than them you will be able to control them. Once they become more powerful than you they will kill you.
A well equipped battle-ready army is essential to engage this type of enemy.
The Bible says Satan is the ruler of this world and he roams the earth like a roaring lion looking for those he can devour. When a person gives their life to Jesus Christ, they are dropped into a war zone.
Matthew 10:34 echoes these stern words of Jesus to His disciples:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
The sword represents a symbol of dividing, or warfare.
[Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Satan has two plans of attack:
1. He wants to bring as many people to hell with him as he can by blinding them from the saving power of Jesus Christ.
2. He bombards followers of Christ with self-centeredness and undisciplined lives so they cannot affect others with the message of salvation.
II Corinthians 10:4 - 5 tells us that our weapons are not like the world’s weapons, but they have power to destroy spiritual forces of darkness that assault us on a daily basis.
Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes. Our weapons are the Bible, prayer, worship, fellowship and witness to the world.
A war is won with more than one of the armed forces. The Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard all work together, coordinating their battle plans to bring a decisive victory. We must use all of our weapons to bring about spiritual victory in our lives and in the mission of the church.
Soldiers cannot be taught to fight battles only in the classroom, they must learn how to fight on the battlefield. It’s more fought than taught.
The war siren is sounding. People of God, prepare yourself to fight against an enemy that is out to kill you physically and spiritually. Let’s be like David in I Samuel 17: when all Israel was afraid of Goliath, David volunteered to fight him. Before he faced the giant, he confidently said, “I will kill him and cut off his head, because he defied the armies of God.”
David was prepared for war early in life. His abilities were tested against a lion and a bear. The giant was no match for him because the God of the universe lived in Him. He ran to the giant to fight him because his focus was on God’s greatness, not on the size of Goliath.
We are in a war every day, Goliaths are constantly taunting us.
Let’s run toward them and defeat them because I John 4:4 says, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Photo Credit: Probiotics.org
Recently I listened to Christian doctors explain about their cancer research and what they found out about the disease.
They talked about its ability to hide from detection under a covering of protein. When the white blood cells (our physical army of defense) patrol our system, it sees protein as a normal presence in our body and ignores it. The white cells are on the lookout for foreign or dangerous cells in our body. When they detect them, they attack and destroy those cells before they can reproduce and multiply. Disease is from the pit of hell and is characteristic of its source. It robs the body of strength - destroys the body from the inside out and its goal is to literally kill the body.
When these cancerous cells hide under protein in the blood, the white blood cells are deceived by their outward appearance and allow them to remain. The doctors found that the answer in dealing with this problem effectively was twofold. They needed to expose the hidden danger, while building a strong enough immune system to eliminate it.
This is such a clear picture of how Satan and the forces of darkness work to destroy the body of Christ. His strategy is to deceive the unsuspecting church, organization, or individual into believing that everything is fine and healthy, when they're literally being destroyed from the inside out.
I began to think about my own spiritual life. Was my spiritual immune system strong enough to fight and eliminate unhealthy thoughts, actions or even relationships? When was the last time I asked Holy Spirit to reveal anything hidden or deceptive in my life? Could deadly influences surrounding my life be hiding under a covering of what appears to be godly?
Holy Spirit, I ask that You would strip away any deceptive form of godliness and expose the plans of darkness. May The Word of God, our true defense system, move through the cleansing blood of Jesus to seek out, attack and destroy any ungodly presence in our lives.
Psalms 18: 28-30
The LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
Build your immune system! Ingest God’s Word and stay healthy in every way!
I pastored for a number of years in Marquette, Michigan. I remember reading a story at that time about a young man who was killed in a car accident not far from Ishpeming, Michigan. He arrived at Marquette General Hospital brain-dead.
A short time before his accident, he filled out an organ donor’s card; his organs were immediately harvested from his body and distributed to teams of surgeons from Pittsburgh and Minnesota.
One of this young man’s kidneys was implanted into a 17-year-old man at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and the other kidney was implanted into a 43-year-old lodged in the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis. His heart was implanted into a 50-year-old man at the University of Pittsburgh Hospital.
This tragic death brought a new quality of life to two men in need of a kidney, as well as a middle-aged man’s ability to continue life.
The Christian life parallels this noble deed. Jesus said, “One does not find life until he loses it.”
And, “Unless a grain dies in the ground, no fruit can be obtained.”
This principle goes against the world’s philosophy: Get all the gusto in life! You owe it to yourself. Climb to the top no matter how many people you hurt. If it feels good, do it.
The ultimate investment is to give your life away to others.
What is the motivation for this type of self-sacrifice? Love is the primary reason why we sacrifice our lives for others.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
Love is a tremendous motivation!
A young man was trapped behind enemy lines with his wounded brother. His love prompted him to carry his brother on his back to safety. The wounded brother slowed him down and put him in harm’s way. However, love trumps fear and self-protection.
Matthew 9:36 – 38 expresses pointedly the compassion Jesus had for people to have eternal life:
When He saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
Mathew 5:13 – 14 also emphasize that we as believers are to be salt (preservative) and light (give truth) to those without Jesus in this world.
The Scottish Catechism says, “Man’s chief end is to live for God and glorify Him forever.”
We do this first by becoming a part of God’s family by inviting Jesus Christ into our lives. Once we’ve done this, we are given a life’s mission to make disciples from all nations for Christ. (Matthew 28:19 – 20)
The mark of the Christian life is giving our lives to others out of a grateful heart for what God has given to us in Jesus.
It is necessary to prepare for what is and will be coming our way. We face enormous problems and pressures that cannot be solved with human effort and ability.
Our country is being systematically dismantled from its Christian foundation and the world is being controlled by hatred and anger. We live in perilous times that put a demand on Christians to arise with courage to stop this onslaught of evil.
Why is the Christian church so silent and unable to stop this army of darkness that is invading America and the world? There are three reasons.
1. Christians are not familiar with their weapons.
We cannot fight a war if we do not know how to use our weapons. We are engaged in a spiritual conflict that identifies itself with the fruits of sexual immorality, impurity, a party spirit, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, orgies and the like. (Galatians 5:19-21, acts of our sinful nature.)
This is a spiritual conflict that can only be won with spiritual weapons: prayer and God’s word.
II Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
II Corinthians 10:4-5
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretention that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Knowing the Bible and praying its truth over people and circumstances will create an atmosphere for people to make right choices to follow God rather than their own destructive ways.
2. Christians have been silenced because their members have taken the path of least resistance.
The easy way often has a horrible result. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. Difficult people and issues must be dealt with head on.
In the movie, Courageous, Javier Martinez was asked by his employer to participate in unethical behavior. He needed his job to support his family, however, his behavior and decisions were guided by an authority higher than mere self-preservation.
His response was: I am very grateful to have a job here, but I cannot do what you have asked me to do, because it is wrong. I cannot dishonor God or my family by lying on this report.
He was ready to give up his job in order to obey Christ and live with a clear conscience. The owners responded positively to him and offered him a management position because the entire event was a test. They were looking for a man of integrity and trustworthiness.
3. Christians have been silenced because their members are waiting for others to fight the battle rather than taking the initiative to engage the culture themselves.
The only cure for our decaying culture is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
II Samuel 23:8-12 describe three of the best fighters and leaders in David’s army.
Phrases like these describe them:
He raised his spear against 800 men whom he killed in one encounter. [Josheb-Basshebeth]
He stood his ground and struck down the Philistines until his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. [Eleazar]
He defended a plot and struck down the Philistines. [Shammah]
The result of the engagement of these heroic men was that the Lord gave the Israelites great victories.
Where are the men and women of courage? God is calling us to act on His behalf so we can experience the victories of David’s three mighty men.
In the days in which we live survival is not just a word in a fictional storybook or a new program on TV, it's a part of life.
It can be a financial struggle to keep from losing everything we have worked so hard for, or it can be an emotional storm that just seems to carry us farther away from the peaceful shore. Many of my closest friends and loved ones, including myself, have been faced with fear and discouragement as we fought the battle of sickness and disease.
Some clergy friends were ready to leave their ministries or churches, because the people they poured their life into turned on them. I have personally learned that I can't focus on circumstances, the bad news reports, the doctor’s scary diagnoses, physical limitations or the abandonment of people. I must keep my eyes on Jesus, the One who gives me hope in hopeless situations.
Fear and discouragement are powerful, destructive tools of the enemy. They can cause us to imagine the worst and try to get us to believe that we should just give up without even trying to go on. Fear can actually paralyze a person, making them powerless and unable to function. However, fear when confronted by the Word of God, becomes powerless and the truth of His word fills us with renewed courage.
In the first chapter of 2 Timothy, Paul is encouraging Timothy to remain faithful. He reminds him that God has not given him a spirit of fear, but instead He has given him a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. Paul states that he was abandoned by those close to him...those he trusted, but then he focused on those who were faithful.
He encouraged Timothy to guard, with the help of Holy Spirit, what Paul had entrusted to him...the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
If you have been fearful...betrayed...abandoned...discouraged...and you feel like giving up, let me encourage you today. Put your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. You will not only survive this trial, you will finish well, for within you is the spirit of God, developing the heart of an overcomer!
Study His Word like a training manual for surviving in the wilderness, exercise your faith like an athlete preparing for the Olympics, and believe in the depths of your being that Jesus loves you and that He is with you.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I have followed the ministry of Christ for All Nations, founded by Reinhard Bonnke, for the past four decades. This wonderful evangelist focused his ministry on the continent of Africa.
Since 2000, over 55 million people have made decisions to follow Christ in his gospel crusades. His crusades outnumber any gathering we have had in the United States. The hunger for having a relationship with God is so intense that over one million people gather at one time for his meetings. The crowds are staggering and the response to the invitation to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior is humbling. Vast numbers of people pray to receive Christ and sign decision cards so proper follow up can be completed.
Bonnke emphatically states that, “Jesus didn't die on the cross to make preachers famous. Jesus didn't die on the cross to give pastors a well-paid career. Jesus died on the cross to seek and save those who are lost. I do not seek applause. I am not after the honor of men. I am after souls, nothing more! God wants to save people and he uses you and me for His purposes.”
Bonnke does not stop here! He introduces them to the experience the early disciples had in the book of Acts – the baptism in the Holy Spirit!
Luke 24:49 states Jesus’ words before He ascended into heaven after His resurrection:
I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you have been clothed with power from on high.
These words were repeated by Jesus in Acts 1:5, 8. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he recognized Him by the Spirit descending upon Him and remaining on Him. Jesus wanted the same for His disciples in order for them to live successfully in the Roman culture that persecuted Christians. Jesus had an intimacy with God the Father that guided Him through His earthly ministry. He wanted the disciples to experience and use this power to share the gospel with lost people.
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Evangelist Bonnke knows that these new converts need the Holy Spirit’s fire and power to live in them to affect non-believers for the cause of Christ.
He shares this truth with them to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit immediately after the crowd prays a prayer to receive Christ. The whole crowd begins to speak in other tongues; this was a common occurrence in the book of Acts.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit…
I Corinthians 14:4 says praying in tongues edifies, or encourages us.
Romans 8:26-27 says the Spirit intercedes to pray through us in accordance to the will of God.
There are wonderful brothers and sisters who love Jesus who would dismiss this experience for the believer. They believe this phenomenon ceased with the early apostles. However, there are over 500 million Pentecostal-Charismatic Christians around the world who would testify of the necessity to be baptized in the Holy Spirit with the ability to speak in other tongues.
This experience develops intimacy with Jesus, power to win others to Christ and the desire to live a holy life.
Look at the words of Ephesians 4:24
…And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
We actually have the ability to live the same way Jesus did by the Holy Spirit’s power. We also develop fearlessness, love, power and self-control from the Spirit who lives in us.
Bonnke recently spoke to thousands of American young people. His message was, The Presence of the Finger of God. The Finger-of-God is another name for the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is looking for willing young and older people to say yes to God’s call to Christian service. These people will be the new generation of evangelists, pastors, church builders and missionaries. Thousands in the video responded. Revival starts with developing Christian leaders and workers from this present generation.
Bonnke has turned his attention to America because he believes the greatest revival in America’s history is about to visit our country. The same Holy Spirit power that has been present in Bonnke’s African crusades is now present in American gatherings.
A frozen religion rejects the power of the Holy Spirit. They attempt spiritual ministry with physical strength. The result: they freeze out! One who is baptized in the Holy Spirit is energized by God’s fire and desires spiritual fruit in his or her life.
Bonnke states, “There is no fellowship with fire and icicles. You can ignore this experience or embrace it. The choice is yours.”
The Bible says we are in a war with spiritual darkness. Ephesians 6:18 commands us to “pray in the Spirit at all times.”
This verse has its context in putting on our spiritual armor so we will be ready to do battle with the forces of darkness. We need to embrace and use this wonderful spiritual weapon to annihilate the powers of darkness.
I pray you will choose the fire of the Holy Spirit rather than the frozen efforts of doing spiritual battle in your own strength.
Be fired up, not frozen out!
Photo: Judy and Bethany, July 16, 2014
At Crossfire Church July is a month to celebrate the relationships we have in our lives. We slow down our ministries so our people can rest and enjoy family and friends.
Our worship services celebrate the goodness of God and the joy of relationship with brothers and sisters in our congregation. We encourage our people to spend time with one another in their families and to connect with their church family without an agenda.
My wife and I had the privilege of hosting the worship team and their spouses at our home on July 9. We ate together, talked and laughed our way through the evening. Our agenda was simply relationship and fellowship.
Sometimes our lives are driven by schedules and agendas rather than people. When the last person left our house that Thursday night, Judy and I realized again how important it is to live together in community.
Today is my wife’s birthday, plus we have the privilege of our granddaughter’s company for the entire week.
Bethany recently graduated from Hillcrest Academy in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. She has already entered the nursing program in her local junior college and is working at an assisted living facility getting hands-on experience.
It seems like yesterday that Bethany was crawling through the house making sure I did not get out of her sight. This little baby has now become a beautiful, godly young lady who is preparing to serve our Lord in the nursing field.
I am celebrating my wife, Judy, and my granddaughter, Bethany, this week. I have slowed my pace down so I can take time to observe their beautiful qualities and sensitive emotions.
The above picture of Judy and Bethany was taken at Charlie’s Crab in Grand Rapids. Some celebrations call for dressy clothes, fancier restaurants and special attention. Both of these ladies have affected me in positive ways.
Judy’s gentle nature and love for Jesus has helped me become a more sensitive and compassionate man. Her concern for people challenges me to be more caring and available for friends, family and others. Her humor and creativity have created a joyful and peaceful atmosphere in our home that blesses me and those who enter it. I celebrate her today on her birthday and pray daily she will know how fabulous she is to me, our family and others. I echo the words of Jerry McGuire, “She completes me.”
I celebrate Bethany also because she represents another generation in our family tree that is pursuing God. Because of distance and family schedules I have had little time and opportunity to be with her alone. She’s all ours this week and I’m enjoying every minute. I enjoy her excitement for life and her focus for her nursing career. She’s a great example of a daughter who has made right choices, honored her parents, submitted to spiritual authority in her church, and now is honoring us with her time and love.
Bethany makes us feel special because she wants to be with us. She is open about her faith and welcomes our input. She exercises with me daily at MVP Fitness Center; she is the first grandchild to accompany me to the gym! She runs five to six miles per day, eats wisely and has a disciplined devotional life. Her church family is a priority and she wants God’s favor in her life.
She also likes to wear tasteful clothes so shopping with Grandma is a priority. She refers to Grandma Judy as her “cool grandma” because she dresses classy and listens attentively to her, giving input when needed.
There is nothing more rewarding in life than seeing your faith being transferred to your children and grandchildren.
I celebrate Judy and Bethany today. Let’s treasure and multiply ourselves through our family and those who need a helping hand in life.
Ephesians 4:24 encourages us to “put on a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Let’s allow our lives to be transparent so those closest to us will see Jesus in us. God created us to be like Him. Let’s celebrate people because God celebrates us.
I make it a priority to watch the news daily so I understand the world I live in. It’s important to understand the events that affect people so I’m able to understand how people perceive and cope with life.
However, it is difficult to maintain a positive faith among the turmoil and destruction that is happening all around the globe. Wars and discontent are surfacing in the Ukraine and Mid-East, financial collapse of the US dollar is being projected by many economists, the prospects for a better life are fading and giving way to worry. People are living under the constant pressure of uncertainty.
How do we respond as Christians to this giant of chaos that surrounds us?
The first and foremost choice we must make is to interpret the events in the world through the eyes of scripture…the Bible.
II Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
When we read the Bible God instructs us how to live and interpret life properly.
Last week, I wrote these words in my journal: You become like the God you serve and focus upon.
In Numbers 25, the Israelites began to worship the gods of the Moabites and intermarried with their people. Their lifestyle became promiscuous because the gods they served promoted immorality.
Worry can become an idol, also, if we fail or are unwilling to consult God’s word. God has some wise advice and words of comfort on this subject in two key passages.
Matthew 6:25-34 is the first passage of scripture that everyone should highlight in their Bibles.
Therefore, I tell you, do no worry about your life…
The word therefore is a concluding thought from verses 19 through 24. These verses contrast temporal treasures on earth with eternal treasures in heaven. Verse 24 ends with, “you cannot serve God and mammon.”
Mammon represents money and material things.
Four times in verses 25, 28, 31 and 34, this passage commands us not to worry. Why? He gives us two reasons.
First, verse 32 says the pagans, or non-believers, live this way on a regular basis. When the follower of Christ worries, he or she acts the same way the world does; our testimony for Christ is greatly weakened.
Verse 33 encourages us to “seek first His kingdom and all these things [temporal things we need on a daily basis] will be given to you.”
The conclusion of this passage is to interpret life through the eyes of eternity and you will win over worry.
The second key passage is Philippians 4:4-9. Worry is annihilated when you learn to rejoice in the Lord, not your circumstances.
The origin of the Philippian church is described in Acts 16. Paul, the apostle, and writer of this letter, knew firsthand what he was writing about. While in jail, he and his companion Silas were beaten and put in stocks. Their response was to sing hymns and songs that caused them to rejoice in the Lord.
Focus on God’s greatness, not the enormity of your problem!
Once we have focused on God’s greatness, Philippians 4:6 commands us not to be anxious about anything. How do you do this?
He goes on to say that we are to pray and give God our concerns and thank Him immediately that He will grant us our requests. The result is that peace will guard our hearts.
Philippians 4:8 encourages us to follow up our prayers with disciplined thinking that focuses upon godly values and virtues so that peace will rest upon us on a daily basis.
Philippians 4:9 also instructs us to follow godly examples of people who model peace in their lives. The apostle Paul said, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Learn how to win over worry for yourself and then model it before others.
I have had many opportunities to lean upon these two passages of scripture. In May 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I was fearful because my father went through the same physical problem. He had many complications so in the back of my mind I had concerns about how effective this surgery would be and the complications that could arise because of this operation.
I appreciated the prayers of family, friends and our church. However, the real peace came when these two passages became part of my life.
I can report today that I’m 100% healed and I have no complications from the surgery.
When life becomes difficult, don’t worry and choose peace! You will live a lot longer and you will enjoy life a lot more.
Sir William Wallace
Epic films are watched by millions of people from different generations. They are popular because they tell a great story or illustrate a timeless truth.
One of the classic films I have watched repeatedly is Braveheart, released in 1995. Mel Gibson played the part of William Wallace, who was the primary leader responsible for Scotland’s freedom from English tyranny.
Many classic quotes were included in the script; while getting his men ready for battle with the English, Wallace says these words to his men:
You have come to fight as free men and free men you are. What will you do with your freedom? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you will live, at lease a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they will never take our freedom?
Freedom has two dimensions – external and internal.
Externally, our freedom is being assaulted by secular humanism, immorality, drugs, alcohol, abortions, pornography and rejection of the Judeo-Christian faith our country was founded upon. Sacred principles such as traditional marriage are being blatantly challenged by the homosexual community. A dark cloud of judgment is about to cover America.
Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, recently sent out a sobering plea to churches and Christian organizations throughout America for concentrated prayer during the first seven days in July to avert judgment. (Click here for more information.)
II Chronicles 7:14 gives us the recipe for reversing this wave of wickedness that threatens our land:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The second dimension of freedom in internal. Every form of government will fail if its people are slaves to sin. Sin is a dynamic power that separates us from God and causes us to live life on our own terms – we become our own gods.
The apostle Paul asks this question in Romans 7:24:
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
He gives the answer to this question in Romans 7:25:
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
This means that followers of Christ have the capacity to make right choices and live the right way.
The church in America is being called out to pursue its original mission, one that literally changed the Roman world in which they lived.
Romans 1:16-17 speak about the gospel’s power:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed – a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
This gospel changes people and people affect nations.
After World War II and the Korean War, America pleaded for missionaries to be sent to Korea. The Japanese had destroyed their culture prior to World War II and the influence of communism divided their land into North and South Korea. The North remained communist and is still in rebellion and isolation to the rest of the word.
South Korea’s destiny was affected by missionaries who introduced the gospel of Jesus. They filled a spiritual void left by the wars that ravaged their country. Today, some of the largest and most effective churches in the world make their home in South Korea. As a result of strong spiritual growth, South Korea has enjoyed economic strength and a rich quality of life.
As we approach July 4th, let’s proclaim the word of William Wallace before he died: Freedom!
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Freedom always expresses itself in serving others.
Happy Fourth of July!