Month: June 2014

I’m Free. I’m free. Freedom to choose what I will do or freedom to let them choose for me.

I’m Free I’m Free

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For failure and strength and self reliance.

Free to stop. I do not want to fail.
Or free to know that failure guides my path.
Free to fear and listen to its lies.
Or free to see my fears beset by strength.
Free to let my freedoms drift away.
Or free to build my self reliance to share.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For trials and dreams and one more step.

Free to see that I am just a failure.
Or free to know my trials are teaching me to win.
Free to just survive and nothing more.
Or free to dream and live my heart’s desire.
Free to drift and sink like all dead fish.
Or free to fight for one more glorious step.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For creation and encouragement and character

Free to make destruction a daily habit.
Or free to create for all of us to share.
Free to tear them all apart so I look good.
Or free to encourage so all of us can grow.
Free to judge and miss the real person.
Or free to see the content of their character.

I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.
For listening and cherishing and grace

Free to ignore some wise advice and be the fool.
Or free to listen to small nudges inside of me.
Free to covet what others have that I don’t.
Or free to cherish the wonders I already have.
Free to exact revenge and perpetuate hate.
Or free to give good will and peace to all.

Freedom to choose what I will do.
Or freedom to let them choose for me.
I’m free. I’m free. Thank God I’m free.

Ephesians 1:4a What comfort is there? Any hope of joy?

Ephesians 1:4a “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

So, was God sitting at the lunch table when He decided, “Hey, I’m going to create a world!”

For me, I’ve always been told that it’s bad to work on an empty stomach. At least now I know why I’m always hungry. And Noah, I wouldn’t have been worried about collecting two of all the animals. No, I say, forget the animals, save the pizza and the pasta. And the plagues in Egypt, not hail, I would’ve sent meatballs. forget the boils, I would’ve sent berries. No, its a bad idea to work on an empty stomach.

So, I say let’s create the world AFTER lunch, a spaghetti and meatballs lunch! Okay, roll up my sleeves, I’ll be done by dinner. Oh wait, I forgot. I need to select the people first. How in the world am I going to do that? I have trouble planning my dinner, let alone the next ten thousand years.

What a comfort to know that it wasn’t me who created the world.

What a comfort to know that God chose us before the creation of the world.

What a comfort to know that God created a perfect plan for each and every one of us. A plan that included adopting us.

Knowing that God has always wanted me always fills me with joy and I want you to know that joy too.

Ephesians 1:4a “Even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world”

Ephesians 1:3-6. How would you feel if you were in this painful situation? What would YOU do?

At 10 years old, I stood in front of the large metallic gate. The gates opened and they herded me into the strange city. For the millionth time, I looked around for my parents. For the millionth time, my heart screamed in pain. My parents weren’t there. They’d never be there. They died on the voyage over. I’m all alone – very, very alone.

I begged from the first person I saw. “Hey mister, can you help me?” Nothing. I asked a second person. Still nothing. I asked a third, nothing. No one understood me. What do I do now?

I searched desperately for something to eat. I searched for a place to sleep. I guess I have to find a job. What can I do? All alone, no friends, no relatives, I don’t speak the language, hopeless.

“How did I survive? I slept in alleys. Found warmth in cardboard boxes or metal drums. I stole what I could. Caught rats to eat when I couldn’t find anything in the garbage cans. Not much of a life.”

Think this was an isolated case? Nope. This 10 year old boy represents one of 30,000 children who found themselves orphaned in 1850 in New York City. That’s 30,000 orphans in a city with a population of about 515,547 people. That’s one orphan for every six people. Amazing.

No one had any time, or resources to look after so many children. Hopeless? Charles Loring Brace came up with an ingenious idea – The Orphan Train.

From 1850 to 1929 the Orphan train steamed west from town to town finding new homes for the orphans. Children with no hope and who were barely surviving were adopted into new homes filled with great hope. Some of these children grew up to be governors, United States Congressman, and even Supreme Court Justices.

The orphan train ended with the beginning of organized foster care in America. And as of September 30, 2013 in New York City, 4,487 children were awaiting adoption out of a population of about 8,405,837 people.

I can definitely identify with that 10 year old – from utter despair to incredible hope and a brilliant future. Remember that as you read Ephesians 1:3-6. We are all in the same position as that ten year old. Now, God has adopted us as His children.

Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

With our adoption by the Creator, we all can have 100% confident exceptions of a great future with a father who wants us to “bear much fruit.”

See also Romans 8:15-17 “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “ Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

The eyes of our heart ask, “Are we cast out to despair? Or, are we blessed with every spiritual blessing?” Ephesians has the answer!

No one is immune to the trials that drag the very core of who we are through the dredges of the lives that we attempt to lead. Making a presentation and watching your audience fall asleep. Sitting in a cold office as your boss hands you a pink slip that tells you that you don’t work here anymore. Standing besides a crib and watching your baby take it’s last breaths. The list goes on. Yet, this isn’t a story of the list of painful moments that all of us maintain. It’s not a recounting of the moments that have left our lives in shreds. This isn’t a story of getting knocked down. Oh no. This is a story about finding the understanding that leads us to get back up off the floor. This is a story of true success. This is a story of the eyes of our hearts. When the eyes of our hearts scream from the pain of abandonment and despair, the book of Ephesians fills the eyes of our hearts with bright light and amazement.

Ephesians talks about the amazing love that God has for us. It’s full of sensational news. We are given every spiritual blessing. We’ve been selected before the beginning of time to be adopted by God. Our debt has been paid for every wrong that we’ve ever done. We’ve been given wisdom and understanding. We’ve been given the armor of God. And so much more. Most of all, the book of Ephesians, through doctrine and practical advice, shows us that the Christian life is definitely worth the effort.

Read Ephesians. Read every single paragraph. Study it and believe it. God doesn’t lie.

Once you’ve read it, answer this question. What do you find most joyful about Paul’s message?

Ephesians 1:1-2. A closer look at the power of greetings

Grace and peace to the saints, the followers of Christ.

John walked slowly down the quiet hall when Chris, his boss, greeted him. “Hello John, you need to listen to me. You have great $5 ideas. But, we have $10 ideas. You need to learn to start listening and do what your told. I hope that makes sense to you John.”

Have you ever been ambushed by a boss or a friend? I have. It’s sad really, because the greeting can a powerful tool. Or, it can be the bane of your existence. In the true scenario above, Chris (names changed) never realized that he totally shut John down. After that conversation, John did exactly as he was told, never pointed out any problems, and never offered any new ideas. John also didn’t work there for much longer either. What a waste.

Greetings have changed a lot over the years. In the bible, “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” is a common greeting. Ephesians 1:1-2, Romans 1:7, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, and Titus 1:4, to name a few.

If we update that greeting to today, here is a far better way to look at greetings.

Chris looked up at the monitor and felt the stress of every employee. A sluggish economy meant work wouldn’t be any better this year. The fear in his employee’s eyes was palpable. He vowed to do whatever he could to ease the strain: any excuse to have a small celebration, to reward good work, and to encourage strong relationships. Most of all, he made it a point to look into the eyes of every employee and give them a friendly greeting and comment about some detail of their life.

Showing that we care for each other is a key ingredient for building trust and adds enormous benefit to the effectiveness of everyone’s work.

Charis and eirene to you, grace and peace to you.