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Archive for the tag “Hope”

You are Free

Ok, I need to air some dirty laundry here. I have something I need to admit to you all.

I, not so secretly, love Christian rock from the 1980s and 90s.

Yes, the music sounds very similar to secular bands like Depeche Mode, Motley Crue, or Run DMC. Sometimes the theological message of the songs is, well, way off base. And many times those artists weren’t even really Christians, they were simply cashing in on the latest craze.

But bands like Daniel Amos (hands down my absolute favorite band of all time), Adam Again, the 77s, Mad at the World, 20/Twenty, Crumbacher, Rage of Angels, Common Bond, the Altar Boys, Bride, Code of Ethics, D-boy, the Dynamic Twins, Farrell and Farrell, Jacob’s Trouble, Jerusalem, Leviticus, One Bad Pig, and yes, even Petra are all still on my playlists to this day.

I don’t even listen to Hillsong or Bethel or any of those top 20 Christian artists today.

So why do I bring all this up?

In 2017, one of my favorite Christian bands from that era reunited to record an album.

Roger and Randy Rose, otherwise known as Mad at the World, put out a new album in 2017 entitled Hope. The album goes back to their earlier sounds of being very Depeche Mode-esque. They cover a lot of songs that deal with leaving behind our oppressions, addictions, and hang-ups in life.

The underlying theme of the album is that we have hope in a Savior, Jesus Christ.

One of the songs really struck me tonight.

It is called You are Free.

One of the key points in this song is that once we accept Christ, we are free. Jesus died for all the sins that we have ever done or will ever do, once and for all.

But Satan continues to tell us lies, claiming that we will never be free. The problem is that we believe those lies.

Roger Rose sings in this song the words of Isaiah are repeated as a benediction of sorts as he quotes Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Isaiah (quoted by Luke, quoted by Roger) uses the word free twice in this series of verses. It is the exact same word used twice which literally translates to “deliverance.”

So what are we delivered from?

Many would say sin.

But that isn’t entirely true.

Even the most well-meaning Christians still sin.

No, what we are delivered from is the power of sin.

Sin can no longer control our appetites. It can no longer keep us slave.

But I know so many people who are living as if they were never delivered. Some of them are close to me. Some are just people that God has placed on my heart without knowing who they are or the details of their oppression.

To the person who is struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol or pornography, there is deliverance in Christ and accountability found in community.

To the person who is struggling at work, fighting for their job daily, God has freed you of the concern over other people’s views. You are not a slave to them, you are free in Christ. Seek first the kingdom of God and then you will find all you seek.

To the person who has been fired from their job, God has given you a freedom to pursue Him. Seek Him during this transition and understand that God will take care of you. The Creator of the universe adorns the sparrows and they don’t have any needs that God has not met.

To the person who is dying of a deadly disease, know that now is the time to finish well. Take this time to celebrate the blessings God has given you in your family and friends. Make your legacy a desire to see God’s Name proclaimed for years as yours diminishes through the years.

To those who have sinned and have been found out, know that the truth is freeing. It may lead to short term pain and significant change, but eventually God will show you the way that leads to heaven as you mature and learn how to live as Christ desires.

To those who have sinned and are doing well at hiding that sin, you also need to know that the truth will set you free. The more you fight repentance that more energy it takes from you and the more you drift from God. Once you repent and come clean, you will find that freedom waits for you. It is your choice.

To person who just feels like he or she can’t go on and wants to take their life, know that freedom comes in living. If you give in to the sin of suicide, you will never know the person God has created you to be. You are beautiful. You are not a mistake. You are a beloved child of God and there is a community of believers who love you and want you to know that.

To those who have been hurt by others or called stupid or fat or bad, know that those words can only define you if you allow them to. God created in you someone special. God created you to be you, no matter the circumstance. Don’t allow people define your purpose, allow God to define it.

To the single parent who is trying everything just to provide a decent life for their children, know that God sees your sacrifice, and, while you might feel like life is a constant closing door, your children will understand your sacrifice and they will rise up to call you blessed.

To the divorced parent who doesn’t have custody of the children, simply be there for them as much as you can. Allow them to see all your bumps and bruises and teach them where to follow in your footsteps and where not to.

To those who are alone, take this opportunity to find your purpose in Christ. You are never alone, God has promised not leave you nor forsake you.

To everyone else that I have left out, God has a purpose and a plan for you. You simply need to know that and follow that.

You are free.

Accept the freedom that comes in Christ.

Don’t believe Satan’s lies.

Believe your freedom and live a life that exemplifies it.

Peru Mission 2017 Day 1 – Fluid

So Mimi and I are taking another team to Peru this year. We left on Friday morning and arrived late Friday night.

We had our schedules and itinerary in hand and we headed out the door.

The first flight to our layover in Miami was bumpy but uneventful. I sat in the back of the plane while the rest of our group sat in the middle and front. In the back with me were 13 women heading from Baltimore to Miami to have girls weekend away. They all had really flashy shirts and were very loud, but fun. I also had about a 4 or 5 year old child sitting behind me, kicking my seat much of the flight.

Mimi sat on her own in the middle of the flight and, since she doesn’t travel well, fell right to sleep and woke up in Miami.

We get to Miami and were to meet up with a woman I had met a few years earlier at a church planting conference. While we had a few glitches there, it was pretty easy to get together and we headed off for some lunch and our first devotion of the journey.

When we got to Lima, we located Paige and Stalin, our guides, and they took us to La Victoria, the area of the place we would be staying.

La Victoria is a very different area than where we have stayed in years past. It is the inner city. Smells of marijuana and prostitution are done in the open here. There are gangs in this area and random packs of dogs roam the streets.

This section of the city is up almost 24 hours a day.

As I sit here right now typing this, I hear about 5 different songs playing throughout the city, someone is shooting off fireworks, and car alarms go off quite frequently.

The place we are staying is a chapel. It is 5 stories and in the middle of the city. The outside is black and white and all of the windows have bars. There is a man who sits just inside the door and opens it for people who are allowed in. Every Sunday, this chapel, the smallest of the 5 campuses of Camino de Vida, has 350 regular attenders.

The first level of the chapel is the church. It is really just a big black box style. They can transform the room into whatever they want it to be for the day. It can be church on Sunday and then on Monday turn into a wheelchair build site.

The second level of the chapel is a kitchen and offices. The missions offices are housed on the second level of the place. There is also an occupational therapy facility on this level.

The third level has a sewing ministry where they make all the shirts for their missions program. They also have a meeting room and a place where people can come and get clothes for free.

The fourth level is where short-term missions teams like ours stay. There are bedrooms for the women and bedrooms for the men. They also have a “living room” where short-term teams can hang out and unwind.

The fifth level is storage. All of the maintenance equipment and paints are kept up here. They also have a small outside living room that overlooks the city. I am hoping to get to use that a lot more later this week.

IMG_20171007_103334

We arrived about 1 AM and went straight to bed. I couldn’t sleep and spent the majority of the cold night laying there in prayer, thought, and yawning.

The next morning came and we ate breakfast and had a quick devotion before we gathered together for orientation. We learned that a few days ago someone had come and sprayed graffiti on much of the building.

I have to say that my heart sank a little when I saw it. 2 years ago my team painted the building, the sidewalk and the bricks. It was a long couple of days, but we did a really nice job. Seeing it tagged with graffiti was a little upsetting.

We were told that we would be spending the day painting the building again.

We gathered all the materials and started in at painting at about 11 AM.

We finished the outside of the building by 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch.

It was a little late to do our original plan of evangelism, so we decided to help Paige get the chapel ready for church tomorrow. This meant a lot more painting. She wanted a few levels of the steps painted as well as one of the offices so that they could move furniture out of another larger office to use for kids ministry in the morning.

We broke up our group and started going to town on the painting.

We finished about 5:30, got cleaned up and headed off to dinner.

It is now 10:30.

The city is alive and very, very loud. Many people are sleeping with ear plugs or ear buds in to drown out the noise. While I am exhausted, I want to take in the sounds of the city. I might not sleep, but I want to experience what the people of La Victoria experience daily.

Tomorrow we will be tourists. We are going to start our day at the chapel and attending church and then heading off to enjoy the touristy side of Lima.

More on that tomorrow.

Many Regrets, One Hope

Luke 2:14 – “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Being 45 years old, a lot has happened in my life. Some things I am very proud of.

In high school I did very well in the science fairs and received a decent amount of college scholarships because of it. I was really into robotics and my senior year I built a robot butler that ran off dual motorcycle batteries and was about 5’ tall. It poured drinks and vacuumed.

When I went to college, I was in a lot of different activities. I acted and did sound design for our theatre, was Production Manager at the radio station (I will forever know how to pronounce a “W” after spending years there) and my senior seminar project was producing a digital demo for a band. These days a digital demo is all too normal, but during the early 90s, digital was almost unheard of.

I became a multi-unit manager at a fairly young age with Taco Bell. Managing 3 stores, building a new one, and leading several regional task forces all by the age of 25 was awesome. That springboarded a career that led to managing 175 units across 26 states and eventually to a long, successful career at a large grocery chain and finally ending in owning my own recruiting franchise.

But along the way, I have had several moments that were not so glorious.

Because of my awkwardness in high school, I never made any close friends. Because of my busyness in college, I never really grew close to anyone there either. Because of my work schedule and strong desire to succeed (pretty much an addiction to work) I was never there for my now ex-wife and kids. My ex-wife eventually gave me up for another guy and the relationship with the kids is strained, although in some ways getting better.

But there are a LOT of days that I wish I would have done things differently.

I know what you are thinking, “But, Fred, you have an amazing life.”

You are right, God has blessed me beyond measure despite the screw ups I have done.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I wish I had changed things in my past. We all have that feeling. We have all done things that we wish were different.

But we can’t dwell on those past problems.

For myself, I need to move forward, past the issues of my lack of friends in the past and my lack of commitment to my ex-wife and over-commitment to my work.

You see, if it weren’t for those mistakes, I would not have been given the hope I have now.

It is very easy to say that in the past few years, God has turned my life around and given me more blessings than I could ever imagine. You are right, but the physical blessings are merely a vapor in this life.

As much as I love Mimi, we will both die one day and not be together.

As much as I enjoy the house we have, time will take the new house smell away and it will simply be another house.

As much as I enjoy the ministries that God has given me, all the people I minister to will disappear one way or another.

But the hope I have came in the form of a little baby.

Luke 2:15 – When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

Not my own children, although they are blessings.

The little baby I am speaking of was born in a manger to a couple who never expected to be birthing the Savior of humanity.

But that little baby brought me hope.

Luke 2:11-12 – Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

That little baby was born out of love.

Not necessarily between the human parents of Jesus, but between God the Father and humanity.

For God so loved the world…

That little baby is my hope.

That little baby is the reason I have a life.

That little baby is the reason that I know that whatever regrets I have in the past, I have a future that will lead to heaven. Even though I will always feel the pain of my regrets, which will affect my happiness, my joy will always be present because my life is in Christ.

And that is more than good enough for me.

John 3:16 – For God so loved  the world,  that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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