Liberty To Love – Todd Stocker.com

liberty to love.001I’m a patriot at heart.  I love the celebrations that honor our military, our leadership and our country.  Some call me soft, but it doesn’t take long for a tear to push its way out of my eye when our national anthem plays or our flag flies.  

Part of my patriotism is rooted in the word Liberty.  Defined, Liberty is the state of being free.  It is the ability to move and breath within the environment that is set up for protection.  In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In theology, liberty is freedom from the bondage of sin.

Maybe that last definition of Liberty is what chokes me to weep.  Seeing our flag reminds me of the flag of victory Christ waves over sin and death for me.  Hearing the anthems wells feelings of joy that I am part of a group, a community, a family in America and in God’s family.  Taking a step back and watching others operate in their freedoms helps me understand that all are love by the Lord and are offered freedom and liberty through his son, Jesus.  (John 3:16-17).

In response, I can turn my focus not on myself, but on others.  What would it look like if our political candidates would be reminded of the same?

In the King James Version, Galatians 5:13 says, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Loving and serving is how your liberty takes wing.  Carrying each others burdens and praying for all people is how your liberty has impact.  Trusting in the lord above all things is how your liberty best shows its bright side.  

This fourth of July, celebrate God’s blessing of liberty to your country and for your life!  

Peace!

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America — The Greatest Country in the World

flag-raisingiwo-jimaIt hit me today that America is great.  Never, in the history of mankind, has there been a country as magnificent as ours.  Several triggers caused my tearful patriotic heart today.

First, Jill Dougherty, a stellar teacher in our church and academy taught our kids in the worship service that people waved palm branches when Jesus rode into Jerusalem because palm branches represented freedom and liberty, just like the American flag.

Choke.

As she was teaching, to my right someone spontaneously yelled, “God bless America.”  I glanced over — as did several others — and a young veteran sat up, back erected, in proud honor.

Choke again.  I tear even now.  

Then, I spoke about the freedom we have in our country and the God-given freedoms under which we live.  I don’t know about you, but for me, I am honored and humbled at the thought that God would first, set up a country that finds its core in the divinity of our God and second, cause a swelled and tearful pride for our country even at the sound of her name … America.

Freedom is ours.  Delivery is granted.  Protect it.  Defend it.  Fight for it.  Above all, cast your choice into the bedrock that makes our country great — the God-centered choice of liberty.  

Palm branches and flags.  Freedom is ours in Christ and extended to the liberty’s we enjoy in the greatest nation on the face of the planet – The United States of America.

Peace,

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I WANT A DIVORCE

Photo by K. Karnez

Photo by K. Karnez

I want a divorce.

I’ve been married to you for far too long. You control me.  You run my life and I have no freedom.  When I want to go one way you force me to go another. When I want something better, you pull me back down. When I want to help, give, support and love, you weave your way into the fabric of my generosity.

And so, I am leaving you behind.  I know you will chase me.  I know you will want to stay with me but I will have it no longer.  I am seeking to be made new, washed clean and given life.

You are known by many names and given to fits of darkness.  And so, Pride, I am divorcing you.  Self-centerdness, you are moving out.  Hopelessness, Depression and Grief, you and I are parting ways.  I have found a new love.  Someone that makes me come alive.  Someone that stitches Joy and Humility together to cover me in a blanket of Love.  Someone who gives me Freedom that comes from Heaven and opens up a vast new territory of Peace.

Her name is Grace.  Birthed from the heart of my Savior, Jesus.  Given as a gift unending.  Not earned, waged or demanded, but poured out to me despite of me.  A forever lover through whom I live forever.  Joy is mine.  Hope is mine.  Love is now mine.

Peace!

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THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

Normally, this time of year, I’d write a post about one of the documents that state the greatness of our country.  Today, I simply want to give you an opportunity to read one of them in it’s beautiful fullness:  The Declaration of Independence.  It is about 3x the length of my normal post but it’s worth the read!

One key principle that you’ll understand is this – Freedom from… also means Freedom to

(The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Colonies
In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America)
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. —Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain [George III] is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

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