Independence Day 2016

Freedom-Not-Free--independence-day-825621_960_720pixabayFreedom isn’t free.  It’s a phrase we often hear, so much that it’s become cliche.  But it’s true.

President Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

In the United States, we are blessed to live in a place and at a time where we are free to worship God, and to tell others about Jesus.  Many, many places in the world do not have that same freedom.

But as important as that political and social freedom is, it pales in comparison to the freedom we have that was secured to us by Jesus.

Because of Jesus, we are able to receive forgiveness from God.  This is true, unending freedom.  Forgiveness now and forever.

Freedom to follow Jesus, live like Jesus (as best as we can, anyway), and ultimately spend eternity with Jesus once we experience our Earthly death.

That is true freedom!

Restoration Projects

AOC_Capitol_Restoration

Last Fall I had a delightful autumn run down the Mall in Washington, DC.

I ran 2.5 miles, starting near the US Capitol Building, running past the Smithsonian museums, the Washington Monument, the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the reflecting pool and Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, and back down the Mall to the Capitol.

I wrote that while I was running, I was thinking about the great freedoms we have in the United States, and the ultimate freedom we find though faith in Jesus Christ.

Well, I was back in Washington recently, and lucked out with a day where temperatures were near 50 degrees; so off for another run I went.

I ran the same general route, and as I headed back East to the Capitol, I noticed that it is undergoing a restoration project. After my run I stopped and took a selfie with the dome in the background. And I started thinking that I, too, was undergoing a restoration.

JW-Capitol-Restoration

When I was there in the Fall, I only ran about 2.5 miles. This run was 4 miles. I’ve changed my eating habits, been walking, hiking and running more. Not only have I lost weight, but I feel better, and am running longer and with more strength. I feel better. I’m focusing on things that are truly important.

But the restoration of the Capitol dome, as impressive as it is, and my restoration as a result of taking better care of myself, pales in comparison to the restoration that we find in Jesus Christ.

Jesus restores us fully into relationship with God. We need this restoration because we are separated by our sins. No matter how hard we try, sin is simply a part of us. Some choices we make knowing they are wrong, others we struggle and fight against; sometimes winning, sometimes losing.

Unfortunately, there is no room for error when we are talking about a relationship with a Holy God. To be in God’s presence, we must be perfect, just as God is.

And that’s why our restoration is so important. God desperately wants this relationship with us. That’s why he created us!

So, though his ultimate love, grace and mercy, he restores us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

We are his ultimate restoration project!

.

.

Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol, photo in the public domain and PastorJamie.com

Co-Sign A Loan? Uh, No!

money-stupid-co-sign-prov-17-18_640pixabay

Why do bank’s or other lenders want co-signers?

Because they’re pretty sure they’ll need one!

Banks and other lenders are in the business of making money.  If they lose out too often, the go out of business.  So, when they are concerned about someone who wants a loan for a car or just about anything else, they’ll ask for a co-signer.

What they’re saying is they EXPECT it’s pretty likely the person taking the loan WON’T PAY IT BACK!

And when that happens, the co-signer is on the hook.  It protects the bank; not the person borrowing!

Did you know the Bible actually says it’s STUPID to co-sign or guarantee someone else’s loan?

It does!

Don’t co-sign a loan for anyone, for anything.  It’s “stupid,” “poor judgement” and “poor sense.”

Don’t believe the Bible says that?  Take a look.

For more really, really good advice on staying out of debt, building wealth and being generous, take a look at Dave Ramsey’s website.  It’s got tons of good information.

.

.

Scripture link:  Proverbs 17:18 (Yea, it’s in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

Stop Buying Crap You Don’t Need

pedestrians-stop-buying-crap-eccles-5-10_640pixabay

Today, Black Friday, is the largest shopping day of the year.  In some ways, its become a bigger “holiday” than Thanksgiving.

People go out insanely early, some even camping out in line for hours, to get shopping bargains.  Stores and malls are crowded.  It’s crazy.

I’ve never been a big Black Friday shopper.  In fact, quite the opposite is how happening.

Exactly a year ago a significant change began taking place in my life.  On vacation in Florida, I began reading about simplicity and minimalism.  I read just about everything I could find, and discovered something my soul had long been searching for, I just didn’t recognize it.

LESS IS MORE.

I have found that all the stuff I had was weighing me down; it was a hinderance; it was visually distracting; and most of the crap I had I didn’t even need or use.

So, over the last year I have simplified, minimized and significantly reduced the number of “things,” the “stuff” I have.

I’ve not just decluttered, but de-owned.

And I’m far better for it.

If you stop and actually LOOK at everything you own, you’ll be shocked.  I was.  It’s staggering the amount of stuff we have.  And most of it you don’t need and don’t use.

I have found much joy and freedom in reducing the amount of stuff I have.  I think you would too.

So, below are some links to the most useful reading I found on simplicity and minimalism.  Take a look, you might be surprised at what you find.

Scripture link: Ecclesiastes 5:10 (Amazing, huh?  Yea, its in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

Buy More Stuff?

utah-Nothing-Buy-Happy-Eccles-5-10_640pixabay

That season is upon us.  Yup, THAT season.  And I’m not talking about the Christmas season where Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.

I’m talking about the Black Friday season.  The go-to-the-mall-and-buy-more-tons-of-crap-we-don’t-need-season.

We live in a culture where we are CONSTANTLY bombarded with advertisements, all meant to convince us to by more stuff.  And it works.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.

And buried in those really clever and often entertaining ads, is the message that if we just buy this particular product, life will be better.  We’ll be happy.

Problem is, it’s been going on our entire lives, and we’re no more happy than we were before we bought most of the crap we already have.

If we are dependent on stuff to make us happy we will continue to be caught in a viscous, never-ending cycle of buying the newest, latest-and-greatest, whatever it is.

It doesn’t work.  It just doesn’t work.

And deep down, when we really think about it, when we critically analyze it, we know its true.

All we have to do is look in our closets, our attics, our basements, our drawers, and our storage units.  There’s all that STUFF and we’re still not happy.

Heck, I bet you even forgot about much of the stuff you already have!

Truth is, stuff can’t ever make us happy.  Because if it did, we’d already be happier than we can imagine.

So if more stuff can’t make us happy, what can?

 

Scripture link:  Ecclesiastes 5:10 (Amazing, huh?  Yea, its in the Bible!)
Photo credit:  Pixabay.com

 

 

Freedom

Lincoln be free galations 5-13

Recently I was in Washington, DC for some meetings. It was a gorgeous day while I was there, 65 degrees and sunny with a light breeze.

Luckily, I had some time in the afternoon so I went for a wonderful run, starting at the US Capitol and down the Mall past the Smithsonian, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, around the Lincoln Memorial and finally past the Vietnam War Memorial.

As I was running, I was thinking about the amazing freedom we have in the United States. Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech and the Freedom to Assemble, among others.

This yearning for freedom is built into us as human beings. It’s in our DNA. President Ronald Reagan knew this, saying in his second Inaugural Address, “Freedom is one of the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human spirit.”

But where does this yearning for freedom come from?

It comes from our Creator.

We were created to stretch for this freedom. And while our political and social freedoms here in the USA are wonderful, they really pale in comparison to the ultimate freedom we find in God.

Freedom you say? But Pastor Jamie, isn’t God all about rules, what we CAN’T do? Just look at the 10 Commandments.

Good question! At first glance it may seem this way, but when we look at God’s commands we can see that they actually give us great freedom. Freedom to love God and love each other. They show us how God intends for us to live in relationship with Him, and with each other.

And, God loves us so much He give us the most basic freedom of all: freedom to choose whether or not to believe in and follow Him in the first place!

Then, when we come to understand God’s great love for us, we have available to us the greatest and most important freedom in all the universe: freedom from the things we do that hurt ourselves and others.

It’s those things that keep us away from the perfect relationship with God that He wants when our time on Earth is finished.

That’s how much God loves us. He forgives us for all we do that is hurtful. And all we have to do is accept this amazing gift!

Scripture link:  Galatians 5:13
Photo credit: PastorJamie.com

Sermons Are “Fair Game” in Houston — The Real Warning in the Subpoena Scandal – AlbertMohler.com

Sermons Are “Fair Game” in Houston — The Real Warning in the Subpoena Scandal – AlbertMohler.com.

This is an outrageous tactic being used by the Mayor of Houston to intimidate pastors, people of faith, and anyone who isn’t willing to capitulate to her political agenda.

The issue here is not discrimination, “fairness”, or gay marriage.  The issue here are our fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms as Americans!

The First Amendment to the Constitution protects our freedoms of speech and religion.  We ALL have these protections, no matter if we are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics or atheists.  If the freedoms of any are attacked, ALL of us are being attacked.

For an elected official, ANY elected official, to use the power of their office in this way is not only outrageous, but dangerous to our freedoms.

The Mayor should resign.  Immediately.