FREE!

Galatians 5:13

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

If you’re anything like me you love that word, but it’s meaning can be rather confusing. The first rule of economics tells us that there is no free lunch, that it’s either already been paid for or the bill is yet to come. Knowing this, we’re more likely to be skeptical of things that are free, and even less trusting of the phrase “At no cost to you” I guess it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I said ring, perhaps I meant hook…

The difference between the two is subtle, “free” denotes  something we aren’t beholding to anyone for, that we might indulge ourselves in without impropriety, without feeling encumbered by any sort of obligation. That being thankful for is merely good manners on our part, not a requirement.

Whereas, “at no cost to you” suggests something else that most people aren’t as comfortable with. Just knowing that there was a cost to someone at some point registers with most people as something that’s “owed”. Even if it’s merely some due consideration such as being thankful, it’s seen as being a liability or as undesirable.

As I was thinking about what these words mean I wondered if there was a worthwhile comparison involving these two definitions and some of the ways in which the gospel is presented to people.  Peoples misconceptions concerning Gods free gift of salvation can be a stumbling block,  as an ambassador of Christ I feel it’s useful to understand them. I’ve always believed that if the gospel was presented to people from the perspective of grace they’d have no reason not to accept Christ!  Unfortunately, most of what I’ve heard seems to come across kind of like this,

“You’re a hopeless sinner on your way to hell! Accept Christ’s free gift of salvation, and then spend the rest of your life trying to be good enough to keep it”.

Yes! You are a hopeless sinner and Yes! salvation is a free gift, but once you accept it you’re NOT on the “Holiness” hook,

holiness isn’t the way to Jesus, instead it’s Jesus who is our way to holiness!

Yes, God wants us to be Holy, but it doesn’t count for anything if we’re just doing it to save ourselves! I think He wants us to be holy out of our love for Him, not to be coerced or guilted into it or be told that our salvation depends on it. That doesn’t sound like grace, which is the UN-merited favor of God, that sounds more like a doctrine of works or the “at no cost to you” type of free.

2 Timothy 1:9

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

The point I’m going for is that man has great difficulty accepting that salvation is a free gift, or in understanding what love really is. Perhaps because all he’s  known or experienced is the “strings attached” type,  it could be that the obligated version of “free” may be all he understands.  I feel like that’s pretty common in this world, but this is the greatest example of real love!  Even though man may be much more familiar with the worlds lesser examples of love or more comfortable with seeing himself as being “worthy” of salvation, that’s not the real gospel message. Many Christian’s also prefer variations of that perspective because they feel it somehow puts them above other people in Gods eye’s which is of course “dead wrong”, many non-Christian people want nothing to do with “it” or them for much the same reason!

My favorite saying related to this topic is,

We’re not saved BY works, But instead FOR works!

Love is always a choice! Serving the Lord is my greatest joy! Living a God honoring life is something I attempt to do out of my own freewill because of my love for God and other people, in response to a love that was first shown to me! It’s not out of any sense of obligation, my salvation is a done deal! Therefore there’s nothing to “earn” or no ongoing dues that I must pay, I believe that I was blood bought, not blood “pawned”! The only thing I owe is to tell others what Christ has done for me and that is absolutely no problem!  Some of what is preached by “Christians” is intended to stir up guilt and condemnation in people which tends to have the  effect of turning them into unhappy, self righteous, “religious” people!

I’m so not into that…and I can understand why the world isn’t either!

Why? Because it’s a game you’ll never win, forever comparing yourself to others caught in some sort of tail chasing spiral that either falsely puffs you up or brings you down…fun huh?

I’ve heard this preached many times,

“We could double the attendance here in a month, all we’ve got to do is tell people they can do whatever they want and still go to heaven”

Why not say that? It’s a bit of a challenge as I see it!

Go ahead and put that on the sign in front of your church and when the people show up we’ll tell them about the love of Jesus and how He chose to die for all of our sin’s. We’ll show them a little piece of that love in the Christian fellowship we’ll extend to them. We’ll be patient and supportive while the Holy Spirit works in their heart and their walls of resistance are broken down by the great love of Jesus!  And when that time comes and their ready to accept what Christ did on the cross as being for them and recognize it as being the only way to wipe away their sins we’ll pray with them that Jesus would come into their heart and be Lord of their lives! Then, If they’ve truly had a born again experience I think you’d be safe to tell them,

” Go ahead and do whatever you want! Do whatever your new best friend the Holy Spirit will abide!”

Why? Because they’ve been set FREE!

From my perspective either you believe that greater is He that is in me, or that greater is he who’s in the world…That there’s power in the blood of Christ to save us and keep us, and to forgive us, no matter what we’ve done or what we will do, or you don’t! I believe that coming to know Christ is a life changing experience, and even though there are times that we’re all going to fall short of the mark I’d put my faith the power of the Holy Spirit over that of the world anytime!

1 Corinthians 7:22

For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.

I know that some of what I’ve written here could be easily misinterpreted. So just for the record let me state that in no way am I advocating using grace as a license for immorality or sin, neither am I saying that I don’t thoughtfully consider or that I take for granted the great price that Christ paid on the cross for my salvation.  Doctrines of works and of grace can both be taken to flawed extremes.  Personally, I feel as though I want to do my best in this life, to always choose love. But I know that I fail at it and that if it weren’t for the Gods grace I wouldn’t have any hope at all! I believe that because God is all knowing and loves us so much He made it very simple and totally free for us to be saved!

Thank You Father God!

Your Hearts Desires!

Psalm 37:4 (King James Version)

4Delight thyself also in the LORD: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Twenty eight months ago I wrote a blog on Yahoo 360 entitled,

“When I live my dream”

It was about what I wanted to do with my life, here’s a small sample from it,

“So dream a little dream with me, I’m sort of going out on a limb here I know but like they say “if you’re not living on the edge,you’re taking up too much room” here goes, I want to open up my own counseling business, I’d like to hang out a shingle here in the 2 horse town in which I live”.

Here’s a link to the entire post if you care to read it...here

Since then I’ve really done nothing to move towards the realization of that goal. Oh I checked into some online courses but never pursued it any further than that.  Instead I continued to write blogs and witness to people online and to those I came into contact with personally.  My feeling has always been that my calling is to people who are hard to reach and that my place of ministry was to be “in the trench’s” so to speak.  But when I was recently presented with the opportunity to take my game to a whole ‘nuther level I didn’t hesitate, it was much more than merely an answer to MY simple prayers, it was a vision of a much greater plan for me than I ever dreamed!

If the ultimate freedom is to be who we are,

then the ultimate power is to know who we are “In Christ”

John 8:32 (King James Version)

32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

For me, that’s what it’s all about and that’s what I can’t stop trying to get people to understand. That’s what I’m trying to understand more myself. Perhaps attempting to understand it is a dead end in that it’s approaching something that’s entirely spiritual and attempting to make it “square up” from our worldly physical perspective. It’s something that despite our best attempts to control or intellectualize ultimately can only be experienced in the moment. To realize our true orientation, like the difference between being a physical entity on a spiritual journey and a spiritual one on a physical journey! In many ways it does “occur” in our everyday lives, in common experiences each of us have. Our instinct is to reach out and grab it but it’s like sand, it slips through your hands…

When an athlete plays at the pinnacle of his ability they’re said to be “in the zone”, Ministers proclaim Gods word under the “anointing” artists paint great works of art and musicians write beautiful songs because of inspiration!  Our creations flow from our passions, but what are they compared to the passion our heavenly Father feels for His creation?

I say, “find that thing you can do in this life that allows the one true God to manifest His perfection through you to the rest of the world and you will find purpose and peace and love and joy and you will find God! Then you will know why you are here and be ever so thankful that you are. Then you will turn to the one who has created you and praise His name out of an overflowing heart!

What I would like is to establish a place where people can feel comfortable. A facility where we offer a variety of opportunities for them to come to know Christ.  We’ll set a table, and then invite hungry people to come in and sup with the King of Kings, and the Lord Of Lords!

For far too long many churches have been a stumbling block to helping people come into a relationship with Christ.  Instead these churches present a rigid religious “institution like” atmosphere where there is no freedom, where the doctrine and the rituals are held sacred above Gods commission to GO and seek the lost.  At The Vineyard Ministry Fellowship and Outreach Center, we want to change that!

building shot

This is the front of the building as it is now, our goal is to open to the public by the first of the year! We’re very excited at the speed in which our progress is being made so far, things can happen quickly when they are directed by “God Speed”! We know that our Father is not merely willing to provide for us all that we need, but that He’s eager to really show Himself to as many as have eyes to see!

interior shot

We want to partition the inside of the building for various activities. In one area there will be bible studies that are ongoing, a gospel message being given in another. We’d like to have a comfortable common area or lobby for people to relax with refreshments and enjoy fellowship. We plan to offer group and individual Christian counseling designed to break the bondage’s of the many forms of abuse perpetrated by the enemy against those who God loves!

Our mission is to be a resource, not a church,to equip people to be effective ambassadors of the gospel, not to become “members”. We want to be used by God to free the captives and lead the lost into saving relationships with the risen Savior. As ambassadors, we seek to convey the great desire of our principal to His intended through whatever opportunities or means we are availed, to present His terms and make His case, that some might receive Him and be saved! I believe that there’s always room for something different, and that if what you’re doing isn’t working you should try something else instead. It’s our hearts desire to fulfill what we know to be the commission of our Lord Savior and King, to fulfill the desires of His heart…

John 3:16 (King James Version)

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.