A safe and happy 4th

Loving this nation doesn’t mean staying blind to its faults. Not staying blind to its faults doesn’t mean “drudging up the past.” Not staying blind and being honest enough to examine where we’ve been also means demanding more as we go forward.

Why would we fear demanding more of ourselves going forward?

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The freedom found in Christ

“The fact that those freed by the divine action still live in the world does not mean that they belong to the world, as though possessed by the world and incorporated into its structure. They are indeed in themselves finite individuals, but are no longer in slavery for — through the process of dying and rising with Christ — they have broken through into the infinity and freedom of God himself.” — Hans Urs von Balthasar, Engagement with God


What made the religious leaders angry?

I am not very good at goal setting when it comes to Scripture reading schedules. This should be a week when I am on Luke for the second time… or maybe Matthew for the third time… and I’m in Matthew 9 the “second” time around.

But, what’s my hurry?

As I read through Jesus’ actions and the anger of the Pharisees, I am struck by this thought: Jesus hasn’t angered them by his arguments, but by his actions.

When he healed the blind and mute, the Pharisees accused him of being demon-possessed himself. When he acted, when he did what they should have been doing, they were angry. People in Israel should have been set free in so many areas, but the religious leaders had no spiritual power.

Our call as the Church is similar. We drift into crazy theological arguments that divide us up and get us angry… and sell books and get us blog post time on widely ready sites… but we find this condition all around us:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt. 9:36)

When we devolve into foolish theological arguments, people around us stay bound up when we have all the ability, as the Church, to set them free. 

Live in the liberty Christ gave you… not for your own selfish pleasure… but for the joy of seeing other set free. 

Being set free from Egypt

The patterns, habits, bondages of the old life don’t easily go away. There are wonderful stories of addictions that instantly leave when people come to Christ, but more often than not it takes a little more time.

Israel came out of slavery and still had a lot of Egypt in them. A few days (relatively speaking) out of Egypt and they are ready to default to what they knew in worship.

400 years of slavery wouldn’t be overcome by 40 days of freedom.

It’s a longer process and one we need to understand from the outset. It is a walk of understanding. A walk learning to trust God and quit trusting the gods of this world.

Egypt may be more deeply rooted than you anticipated. Keep walking in freedom.

True Freedom

True freedom isn’t found in lack of discipline. True freedom is found as a result of discipline.

Our lazy view of Christianity has reduced us to saying a prayer of salvation to get our “Get out of hell free” cards.

The call of the Kingdom of God is freedom. Freedom to obey. Freedom to walk in the power of the Spirit. Freedom to hear the voice of God. Freedom from bondages and addictions.

When Jesus gives the command to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48) it comes with the expectation that is possible. 

The HOW of that comes in Matthew 6. When we learn to walk in discipline, we find the true freedom of the power of the Kingdom of God.

Jesus gives us three examples of disciplines.

Somehow, we are deathly afraid of disciplines… especially fasting. Although there could be some people I know who are very allergic to giving as well. 😉

It is when we learn the disciplines that tune out the junk of this world and tune us in to hear the heart of God that we find true freedom.