Friday, February 26, 2010

Freedom or Chains

Jackson and Cameron competed in the ACSI regional Speech Meet today in Tyler, Texas.  Cameron recited the fable, "The Honest Woodman."  Jackson gave an original speech about our nation entitled, "Freedom or Chains."  I am proud of them for their courage to stand before students, parents and judges and speak.  It is a skill that many of us do not possess and I love them for their willingness to strive to become better.  I know God has great things in store for them.

I wanted to share Jackson's speech with you.  Several parents who heard him said he had their vote.  His are powerful words that we should take to heart.  Let's keep our nation free and commit to doing our part to make her into a strong Christian nation who honors the Lord.

Freedom or Chains
by Jackson Bates, age 10
As Americans we claim to be free, but are we? We can move about freely, own private property and bear arms, but will the government one day try to change this?
In church we can worship in our own way, teach our children to believe as we do and we can believe in God as we wish, but will the government one day try to shut down all the churches we have built? Will they one day try to take away our religious freedoms?
Based on recent events, such as, government takeovers of the auto industry, bank bailouts and the White House leaving out Fox News from important press conferences because of the way they were reporting about them leads you to believe that the government is on its way to replacing our freedoms for their chains.
It appears that our taxes are going up on a daily basis. We should learn from the example of the Congo and their former leader General Joseph Mobutu. He took away what should have been their enormous wealth and made himself one of the richest men in the world as he allowed them to spiral down to the depths of the poor. The Congolese are still suffering from the effects of his leadership. America could very well be on her way if our citizens don’t keep an eye on the leaders of this country.
The one guarantee we have in maintaining freedom over chains is democracy which means “people rule.” Democracy is the idea that people have the right to take an active part in their government. We have the right to vote. We have the right to run for office. We have the right to make sure our voices are heard. We should do our best to keep our freedoms free and take back those things the government has placed in chains.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love and War

 "...Mostly what God does is love you...His love was not cautious but extravagant...Love like that."
Ephesians 5:1-2 (msg)

Kelly and I have been married for almost 19 years and our relationship is at its best when we are spending time together talking, laughing, eating (Mexican food preferably) and focusing on the other.  Extravagant love does not require a sacrifice of money...simply a sacrifice of time and selfish desires.  God does not spend money.  God gave His Son.  Jesus gave His energy, His tears, His very life.  These are the marks of extravagance.

"What the Eldredge bestsellers Wild at Heart did for men, and Captivating did for women, LOVE & WAR will do for married couples everywhere. John and Stasi Eldredge have contributed the quintessential works on Christian spirituality through the experience of men and the experience of women and now they turn their focus to the incredible dynamic between those two forces.

With refreshing openness that will grab readers from the first page, the Eldredges candidly discuss their own marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they faced. Each talks independently to the reader about what they’ve learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from all previous books on this topic. They begin LOVE & WAR with an obvious but necessary acknowledgement: Marriage is fabulously hard. They advise that the sooner we get the shame and confusion off our backs, the sooner we'll find our way through.

LOVE & WAR shows couples how to fight for their love and happiness, calling men and women to step into the great adventure God has waiting for them together. Walking alongside John and Stasi Eldredge, every couple can discover how their individual journeys are growing into a story of meaning much greater than anything they could do or be on their own."

This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.  You can purchase your copy at

Saturday, February 13, 2010

More Than Enough

A friend mentioned in her status update recently that "God always chooses the right person for the job... we're the ones who have our doubts..."  I had just finished reading the portion of Scripture describing the construction of the Tabernacle for the children of Israel to construct when I read her words.  God detailed a place for Him to dwell among them.  I love the details that God gives for each item, including the hooks.  He shows concern for the little things that will bring Him honor.

Even more than that, I am humbled by the use of the phrase "a skilled craftsman" should do the work.  Several times as God is describing how things should be built and the types of material to use, He says a "skilled craftsman" is to do the work.  Then, in Exodus 31: 1-5, God says,
"See what I've done; I've personally chosen Bezalel...I've filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him skill and know how and expertise in every kind of craft to create designs and work in gold, silver, and bronze to cut and set gemstones; to carve wood - he's an all-around craftsman."
LOVE IT!  God commanded a temple to be built and He gifted someone with the skills necessary to do an exceptional the Spirit of God! Normally, we all think of the spiritual gifts listed in I Corinthians to be the only things God gifts us for in ministry.  But, right here in the Old Testament, we are shown that God gives us ALL of our abilities, ALL of our knowledge, ALL of our passions to be used for His glory!

When Moses tells the children of Israel what God has commanded in regards to building this place of worship some of them are touched by the Spirit to give.
Exodus 35:20-29  "...then they came back, everyone whose heart was roused, whose spirit was freely responsive, bringing offerings to God...  They came...all the willing spirits among them...women skilled at weaving brought their weavings...women who were gifted in spinning, spun... Every man and woman in Israel whose heart moved freely to bring something for the work that God through Moses had commanded them to make, brought it, a voluntary offering for God."
How awesome would this sight be?  God gives a church a job to do.  He moves among them and they give through obedience.  And, without the mention of the blessing they will receive through their obedient giving. What a concept!  Give because God says to, not because of what we could get.  His Spirit moves in us and causes to care.  He causes us to become emotionally involved and moves us to act by giving what He has ALREADY blessed us with.

But, wait!  It gets better!  In Exodus 36, a picture is painted that I have yet to see with my own eyes or experience in my lifetime. 
"The people kept on bringing in their freewill offerings, morning after morning.  All the artisans who were at work making Moses, saying, 'The people are bringing more than enough for doing this work that God has commanded us to do!'...The people were ordered to stop bringing offerings!"
Can you imagine a preacher getting up before his congregation and telling them that the offering plates would not be passed that day because the church had more than enough to do the work God had given them?  How often has this happened?  Exodus 36:7 says, "There was plenty...enough and more than enough."

God instills in each of us exactly what we need to obey.  He has gifted us, shaped us for His service from our dreams to our knowledge to our skills to our pocketbooks.  He wants us to be involved in His Kingdom work and has graciously provided us with everything we need to obey Him just as He commands us.

What is it that your church has been called to do?  What are the pastors at your church looking for?  How has God gifted you to meet those needs?  How is the Spirit rousing your heart?  Jump in!  Day after day volunteer.  Be the one to provide more than enough, because YOU are the one He has gited!  YOU are the one God has chosen. 

YOU are the one!