Source: This Thing Called Freedom
There is no point in time when man did not long for freedom. Freedom was an idea sought by the Israelites while they were being held captive by the Egyptians. More recently, King George sought to withhold freedom from those over whom he ruled. There was no such thing as freedom for individuals to worship as they chose. Instead, the people had to kowtow to the very wishes of the tyrannical monarch. Freedom was nothing more than a waning thought in the night. That thought though would soon become a plan of action.
Freedom is not as simple as it may seem, yet the concept is extremely simple. Freedom is nothing more than the lack of influence from external entities. The Jews sought to be relieved of the autocratic influence of the Egyptians. Those under the aristocratically charged ideology of King George sought to be rid of the chains binding them to the whims of the dictatorial leader. This is why both groups of people left lands of oppression in favor of lands wherein they were able to worship God without the influence of the ruling class.
Freedom would come at a cost. Those leaving King George’s charge would soon find themselves in battles with the kingdom they once called home. Blood would be shed so that the founders of the United States of America would have the liberty to worship God without the influence of a tyrannical leader. And, the battles for freedom would go on. There would be the world wars, The Korean War, the Civil War, and other wars were fought to secure the freedoms of a people.
As we remember those fallen to protect our freedom it becomes increasingly difficult to overlook the One who died for the freedom of all people. John 8:36 has the words, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” The freedom made possible by the Son is not the freedom to worship, while that freedom is enveloped in the freedom created by the Son. Nor is the freedom specific to the freedom of speech guaranteed in the United States Constitution. Instead, the freedom put for by the Son is freedom from sin. This means that those who choose to follow Christ walk in salvation. Salvation, theologically speaking, is deliverance from the power of sin.
If one is to be delivered from the power of sin, sin has no more influence over him. Deliverance from the power of sin means the one delivered no longer has to walk under the diabolical influence of the evil slave master, sin. It is much like the deliverance the Israelites experienced as well as the experience of those who fought to free a new nation from the oppressive hand of a dictatorial monarch. Freedom has a cost and that cost is the blood of those standing for freedom.
From the founding of the United States of America, many have raised the Star Spangled Banner as a sign of freedom. The colors are significant. The white is shown for the purity of a new country. The blue stands for the loyalty of those who fought and were to fight for the country. The red is for the bloodshed by those standing for the freedom the Star Spangled Banner represents. The price of freedom is far from cheap. Yet, the price must be paid. It is interesting that those paying the price for the freedom do not get to enjoy the very thing for which they laid their lives. Freedom, the one thing that is far from free.
The Son of God, Immanuel, also raised a banner. The Banner raised by the Son was a bloodstained banner. It is stained with His blood. The color of this banner is insignificant because the banner cannot be seen because it is covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. When properly applied the blood of Jesus washes away sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no freedom from sin. Christ, the Son of God, did more than all those who died for this country. Yes, we honor those who served and gave their lives for the sake of freedom. Still, we must not forget to honor the One who removed His robe of glory and died a sinner’s death so that we could be free from sin.
This thing called freedom cost many their lives. It is not cheap nor is it free. This thing called freedom means we can worship God without the oppressive hand of the Government. This thing called freedom caused the Son of God to wrap himself in the body of humanity so that man would be free from the impact of sin. This thing called freedom would be nonexistent without the shedding of blood. So, as we honor those who gave their lives for this country let us not forget the One who gave all for all.
Have you ever noticed that at camp fires the best place to be is close to the fire? This is because the closer you are to the fire the warmer you become. In fact if you are so close to the fire that you are able to stoke it not only do you become warm but you will actually become hot by reason of the fire. And if you are not careful you can be burned by the flames. With this good reason dictates that the further you are from the fire the cooler you become. In fact you can be so far from the fire that you become cold. Yet you can be close enough to the fire to see the flames yet far enough away that it has no immediate impact on you. This is living on the fringes. You can see and appreciate the fire but…
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Source: The Danger of the Fringes
Love is not familiar with rancor. Instead, love seeks to reconcile broken people to those who have been hurt and damaged by the abomination of hate.
Source: Enough Divisiveness
I admit, in my lifetime I have not seen this country so divided. I lived through a potion of segregation and saw the end of Jim Crow. I recall when Martin Luther King was assassinated and can remember motorcycle gangs roaring down the streets of Baltimore following the assassination. Yet, somehow this country largely pulled together to stand for right. Petty differences were laid aside in hope of a uniting nation. King, in part, sought to draw people together by reason of a common thread. That thread was that we were, and remain, of the same substance. That substance remains in that we are all human beings made in the image of God. Because of that there is more to bind us than to divide us.
I clearly recall the time this nation was attacked. Our towers in New York were destroyed. The Pentagon was a target and another plane went down in Pennsylvania. All of a sudden there were United States flags everywhere. The people of this land began to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. A return to God began to be the mantra of the hour. We were all United States citizens and there would be no force to break that bond. Unfortunately, this bond of unity would not last. The ugliness of divisiveness would soon rear its ugly head. All of a sudden everyone was to blame except those perpetrating the most horrendous acts.
Now, not long after those tragic events we had an election. The election was legally won and our new President will soon take office. Yet, there are some that see reason to be divisive and call the soon to be Head of State illegitimate. Others have chosen not to attend the presidential inauguration by reason of the false rhetoric of an illegitimate election. These words and actions have only served to divide a nation that is already in the worst state of harmony that I can recall in my lifetime. Well, enough of this divisiveness already!
Frankly, the Church has not acted much better. Perhaps this is why the country is acting so untoward. It is high time the Church began to remove the ridiculous rhetoric of divisiveness and rancor and began to pull together according to the Word of God. There is no room in the House of God for division. There is much room for love. After all, men will know that we are brothers by our love. That love is not merely a purported love for God. No, it is action taken which shows that we love each other. This could mean helping a family in need of help. It may mean lending a shoulder to cry on. That love might also me demonstrated in helping to heal the hurts of the past. No matter how that love is demonstrated it serves not to divide. Instead, true love serves to unite. This is the ministry of those that love; reconciliation.
The example of love demonstrated by the Church is a love that is apt to spill into the world. Even so, the love the Church demonstrates is really a type of love provided by the Godhead. The fact is that God so loved the world that He gave His son. The Son so loved that He gave His life. The Holy Spirit so loves that He dwells in man. Love is a reciprocal matter that has not time to entertain divisiveness. Love is not familiar with rancor. Instead, love seeks to reconcile broken people to those who have been hurt and damaged by the abomination of hate.
King was right. One’s pigmentation is not a matter that should be considered in any instance. Instead, we should look to the heart of man as God does. We live in a strong nation and ought not to be divided by the vitriolic and visceral verbiage of those that choose not love. The divisive nature of some in this country is only causing a divide that could bring about the downfall of this great nation. This is unacceptable and far from Christ-like. Enough of this divisiveness! It is time we broke the bands of this that binds us and remember the part of King’s dream that can and must be more than a dream. He looked forward to the day when we all can join together and not just sing the old Negro spiritual but actually walk in the words – Free at last, free at last. Thank God, almighty, we’re free at last!
April 4, 2016 Academia: Through The Eyes Of A Preacher William James Carter is featured in this month’s edition of The Midwest Book Review! They said, “An absorbing read from beginning to end, “Academia: Through The Eyes Of A Preacher” is unique, thoughtful, thought-provoking, inspiring, and very highly recommended, especially to seminary students and all […]
Some of you may have had the opportunity to see the move Mr. Smith Goes to Washington starring James (Jimmy) Stewart. In the movie Stewart’s character is a bright eyed, bushy tailed honest man full of honest ideals. His world is nearly crushed when he finds out that honesty was a rare trait. His desire to help young boys was seen as a lost cause but that the help of an initially reluctant quintessential aid propelled “Senator Smith” to take a stand on the senate floor bringing attention to the worthless lost cause despite all those that sought to destroy this upright man of integrity. In the end victory was had because in the mind of the young senator the only causes worth fight for were the lost causes.
Today we have like problems in Washington. There is so much evil that one can barely keep up with…
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October, yes this month is set aside as “Clergy Appreciation Month” so I can think of no better time to express thanksgiving and appreciation to those clergymen who have played a part in my life.
To start, it was about fifty years ago that I came into this world. While I have no express remembrance of the day I can say of a certainty that the day was great and wonderful. You see I was named after my maternal grandfather, the late Reverend William James Smith. Yes, this naming of me set the stage for whom and what I am to be. This Baptist pastor gave me a clergyman to look up to. And why not, I bore his name and it appears that name has propelled me into the profession we share. Yes, it was a day that is written in the annals of time that started…
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