Tag Archives: Freedom

Red, White, and Blue – An Elfje x3

Red
blood shed
colonists fought hard
our independence to gain
Freedom

White
pure light
stars shining bright
our freedom to reveal
Liberty

Blue
loyalty true
freedom rings out
our liberty to protect
Independence

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Free – A Poem

Sin once held me in darkness
separated from Your glory
unaware of Your mercy
But from sin I now am free
You set me free

Sin once made me a failure
alienated from Your story
ignorant of Your grace
But over sin I now have victory
You gave me victory

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Rejoice! He Ransomed Captive Israel!

I’ve been listening to the new Jeremy Camp Christmas Album, Christmas: God with Us, in my car this past week. He does one of my all time favorite Christmas songs: O Come O Come Emmanuel. Of course he does an awesome rendition. My son was with me in the car the other day when it was playing and he said, “I love the way he sings ‘Israel.'”

On a side note, my son and I were on our way to a Winter Orchestra Concert at his high school when he said this. I wasn’t thrilled about going because I didn’t expect any Christmas music at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the whole show and they played some good old traditional Christmas songs, like Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as two songs from my favorite Charlie Brown Christmas (which I still need to watch this year). The reason was that the orchestra students were told to form small ensembles and to choose whatever they wanted to play. It was such a blessing to see so many of the kids choose some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you Jeremy Camp’s rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel to get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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The Cost of Freedom – A Poem

It is the Fourth of July here in the United States, the day we celebrate our independence and freedom. So I decided to write a poem about freedom. And I’ve linked it over at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night #51.

The Cost of Freedom

Freedom is never free
It costs the life
of scared young men
who fight to keep it

Reviled by pacifists
who believe evil
will simply pass them by

Freedom is never free
It requires the shedding
of blood, injury and death
because evil never stops
and it desires to
enslave us all

Freedom is never free
It cost the life
of God’s own Son
who died to give it

Reviled by the anti-religious
who believe evil
will simply pass them by

Freedom is never free
It required the shedding
of blood on the cross
because the devil never stops
and he desires to
enslave us all

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Freedom in Christ – A Poem

Two months ago I wrote my first pantoum poem. I learned about how to write this form of poem at the dVerse Poets Pub. The other morning I was thinking about what to write for my Thankful Thursday poem for this week and this wonderful form came to mind. Because tomorrow is Veterans’ Day here in the U.S., I knew I wanted to write a poem about freedom. Not just about the political and social freedom that we enjoy in this country, but about the spiritual freedom that is available to all through Christ, even if they are not fortunate enough to live in a country where they are free to believe in Him without fear of persecution.

Freedom in Christ

Freedom in Christ transcends all
Stephen was stoned, his soul was free
His is a faith I honestly seek
When the Son sets you free you are free

Stephen was stoned, his soul was free
Paul was in chains, his joy was complete
When the Son set them free they were free
The love of the Redeemer breaks chains

Paul was in chains, his joy was complete
Wurmbrand was tortured, his captors he loved
The love of the Redeemer breaks chains
With a power only hope comprehends

Wurmbrand was tortured, his captors he loved
Youcef is imprisoned, his faith is strong
With a power only hope comprehends
The Spirit dwelling within overcomes

Youcef is imprisoned, his faith is strong
His is a faith I honestly seek
The Spirit dwelling within overcomes
Freedom in Christ transcends all

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36 (NIV).

Update 8/2/12: The Pantoum is once again the subject of Form For All at dVerse Poets Pub, with a call to write and link a pantoum. I don’t have time today to write a new one, but decided to share this one that I wrote several months ago. Samuel Peralta shared his own very good pantoum about Michael Jackson and I’m sure there are others linked from Mr. Linky.

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Celebrating Freedom Reminds Me of Those Who Aren’t Free

Happy Fourth of July! It is a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. We are celebrating and enjoying the freedoms of our wonderful country. One freedom that I particularly appreciate is our religious freedom. Because I live in the United States I am free to worship Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I am free to own multiple copies of the Bible, the Word of God. I am free to write this blog in which I can express my belief that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that there is no other name by which people can be saved. I am free to attend church and my church is free to hold worship services any time we want.

But as I joyfully celebrate these freedoms, I am reminded that not everyone in the world is so blessed to live in a country that offers them religious freedom. So I decided to share a “Prisoner Alert” that I received via email from Voice of the Martyrs just the other day. The following is copied from their website. If you want to help, Voice of the Martyrs provides ways to help persecuted Christians throughout the world.

Location: Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Arrested: October 2009

Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old pastor from Rasht, about 750 miles northwest of Tehran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required children, including his 8- and 9-year-old sons, to study the Quran in school. Youcef told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice. As a result of his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him for protesting. The charges were later amended to apostasy and evangelism of Muslims. Youcef was tried on Sept. 21–22, 2010 by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal and sentenced to death on Nov. 13 for apostasy.

The pastor is imprisoned in Lakan prison, where authorities have used various methods, including medication, to convert him back to Islam.

After Youcef refused to convert to Islam, his wife was arrested, put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. She was later released after an attorney appealed her sentence. The Nadarkhanis’ children were cared for by a relative while they were both in prison.

Death Sentence Upheld
The Iranian Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence of Pastor Youcef. He has been in prison since October 2009, and the appeal of his death sentence was rejected by the Iranian Supreme Court on June 28, 2011. He is to be executed by hanging. If the death sentence is carried out, it will be the first court-ordered execution of a Christian in Iran in 20 years.

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Psalm 146 – The Lord Sets Us Free

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the United States, and since if falls on a Monday it’s a three-day weekend for a lot of people. All weekend we will celebrate our freedom and our country. With the idea of freedom on my mind, I did a keyword search on Biblegateway for a Psalm with the word “free” in it. Of the seventeen search results, I decided on Psalm 146 to post because it is a reminder that true freedom comes from God above. Although our country is great, we cannot put all our trust in those who run it and be sure that we will always enjoy the freedoms our forefathers fought hard for in the Revolutionary War as we declared our independence from England. But no matter what happens with our rulers and our country, we can always be free in Christ.

Psalm 146

1 Praise the LORD.

   Praise the LORD, O my soul.
 2 I will praise the LORD all my life;
   I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

 3 Do not put your trust in princes,
   in mortal men, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
   on that very day their plans come to nothing.

 5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
   whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
   the sea, and everything in them—
   the LORD, who remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
   and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
 8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
   the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the alien
   and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
   but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

 10 The LORD reigns forever,
   your God, O Zion, for all generations.

   Praise the LORD.

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Jesus Sets Me Free from My Own Prison

When I first started looking for and listening to Christian music, I came across the music of a band called Creed. They are not technically a “Christian band” because their music covers a number of different themes and they aren’t on a Christian label, but they definitely have some songs that are faith-based. One of my favorites is “My Own Prison.” When I was getting ready for work yesterday, it came on my iPod (currently on shuffle of my Christian playlist). I’ve been pondering doing a post based on this song for some time, and decided today is the day. I found this great acoustic version on YouTube to share. Listen carefully to the lyrics.

Although the band is not a “Christian” band, the individual band members do all identify themselves as Christians. The themes of many of their songs touch on Christian theology and spirituality. “My Own Prison” speaks of the cross as the key to freedom. It is in Christ that freedom is found. So many people live in a prison of their own making. They live in prisons of addiction, hatred, greed, selfishness, and more. They are held captive by sin. They don’t know that there is a way to not only escape, but to be truly free.

Luke records this account of Jesus’ teaching about why He came, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah:

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“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.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21 (NIV).

Jesus came to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” and to “set the oppressed free.” But do we, as Christians, help those who are captive in a prison of their own making find the key to freedom? Or are we so busy pointing out their sins and faults that we forget that we were once like them, if not in degree at least in kind. We were all once sinners in need of grace to set us free.

Worse yet, many Christians continue to live in a prison of their own making and struggle to take hold of the freedom that Christ offers. They hold the key, but instead of using it to unlock their own prison they “drop and kneel” as their demons continue to taunt them, trying to do penance for their own sin. They can’t quite accept that Jesus would and did pay the full price for all their sin. Each new transgression or failure results in a crisis of faith, leaving them locked in a prison of doubt wondering if they are truly saved.

Are you still living in your own prison? If so, take hold of the key to Life itself, Christ Jesus our Lord, and unlock the door. When you walk free, slam that prison door shut behind you and walk with Him who set you free. And don’t forget, when you see others still imprisoned in their sin, don’t judge and point out their sin. Show them the key that will set them free. Tell them that “if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” John 8:36 (NLT)

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Liberating Restrictions

This past Sunday was our last sermon in a 4-sermon series by Chris Nye. It was another great sermon. Again, nothing new that I didn’t know, but he said it in a different way that I thought was worth sharing. I want to be clear that the ideas in this post aren’t original with me; they are all lifted from Chris’ sermon, though not necessarily in his exact words. But it’s basically the Gospel and I know Chris wouldn’t mind me sharing. In fact, I told him after our church service that he had inspired another blog post, and he thought that was great. He also posted his own great blog post when he was preparing for this sermon that is a great discussion of this topic.

The Gospel lesson for Sunday was from John chapter 8.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:31-36.

First, I want to point out an interesting thing about this passage that I never focused on before. Jesus is telling all of this to “the Jews who had believed in him.” These weren’t unbelievers whom He was trying to tell the truth about who He was. This suggests that the “truth” that will set us free is not simply knowing and believing who Jesus is. That knowledge and belief will save us — scripture is pretty clear on that point (but that is a whole other blog post).

So what “truth” is Jesus talking about in this passage? How many times have we heard this: “The truth will set you free”? We all want to be free, so it’s important to understand what Jesus is talking about in this passage. How, exactly, can we find this truth so that we can be set free? Generally when we think of being free we imagine having no restraints. We think we are free if we can do anything we want.

But Jesus claims that this isn’t true freedom. A lack of restrictions doesn’t really make us free. Consider your diet and exercise habits. You could eat whatever you want and only exercise if you feel like it. But if you want to be healthy and feel good, you must restrict your diet to healthy foods and you must put restrictions on your activity levels. You can’t be a couch potato eating cookies, cake, and potato chips, and expect to feel good. When we live the kind of lifestyle that some people think of as free — the partying life, the high life, the gluttonous life — we become slaves to our selfish desires and do not experience true freedom. Chris summed it up like this: “The truth about the restrictions we were made to thrive in will set us free.”

If you read any of my other posts about Chris’ sermon series, you will know that it was a series on finding Jesus in the Psalms. So where does the Psalm come in? The Psalm reading for the day was Psalm 37:1-7. But Chris focused on verse 4: “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” For many people, this verse means that if you delight in God, He will give you whatever it is you want. But that’s not what it means at all. That would simply be to experience that no-restriction type of freedom some have been deceived to believe is what they want.

What Psalm 37:4 means is that if we delight in God, He will give our hearts new desires; and these desires will be for what is good for us and what will set us free from being a slave to our own selfish nature desires. He will put in our hearts a knowledge of and desire for liberating restrictions on our lives that will make us spiritually, as well as physically, healthy. We will experience a freedom no other person or government can take away. Because when “the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

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I Share the Dream of Freedom

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States, the day we commemorate a great man who stood up for freedom and equality in our nation. He was a civil rights activist and Baptist preacher who is remembered often for his “I have a dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963 during the March on Washington. At one point during this speech, King said:

“Let freedom ring. And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring—when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!'”

We enjoy a lot of freedom in this country, and it is easy to think that we have achieved the dream King so passionately spoke of. But I know I must not become complacent and think that just because I am free the dream has been achieved for all. If I open my eyes I see that there are many for whom the dream is still but a hope for the future and not a reality of today.

There is a great song by Solomon Burke called “None of Us Are Free” that reminds me that as long as there are others in this country and in the world who are not free from prejudice and hatred, then I am not truly free.

And there are people still in darkness,
and they just can’t see the light.
If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother’s know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.

If you just look around you,
you’re gonna see what I say.
Cause the world is getting smaller each passing day.
Now it’s time to start making changes,
and it’s time for us all to realize,
that the truth is shining real bright right before our eyes.

We are all united as members of the human race, and we must continue to strive for the freedom of all and not be content with our own individual freedom. Even where laws protect the civil liberties of people based on their race or religion, there is not true freedom if people harbor prejudice and hatred towards others in their hearts. Although all of God’s children are afforded freedom by law in the United States, there is still racial and religious prejudice that prevents Dr. King’s dream from becoming a reality. In the rest of the world, things are even worse.

Throughout the world people are persecuted for not only their race but for their faith as well. Just last night I received a message from a friend asking me to pray for a pastor and his congregation in Tunisia who are in danger because of the government collapse as they may lose the little freedom to worship that they have now. In China, house churches are raided and Christians thrown in jail. In Pakistan, converting from Islam to Christianity is punishable by death. In many nations throughout the world Christianity is restricted or Christians are persecuted. In these countries, there is no freedom and the dream is but a hope for the future.

Are you free? Do you enjoy the freedom from being discriminated against because of your color or race? Do you enjoy the freedom to believe as you choose and to worship God as you desire? Do you think you are free? Has the dream been achieved and you can sit back and simply enjoy your freedom? Well, think again. As Solomon Burke, with back-up from the Blind Boys of Alabama, reminds us, “None of Us Are Free.”

But I share Martin Luther King Jr’s dream that one day we will all be free. If we each continue to desire and strive for freedom of our fellow man, then someday the dream will be more than just a hope for the future.

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