Most people cannot wait until 2020 is over. It has been a year that most people would just as soon forget. So let the countdown begin.
September 22, 1862. There were 3 million people in our country who could not wait for that year to be over and were literally counting down each day.
On that date, Abraham Lincoln signed The Emancipation Proclamation which set a date (January 1, 1863) for the 3,000,000+ slaves in America to be freed. The proclamation officially recast the Civil War as a fight against slavery – a fight that many people would suggest is still going on 158 years later.
Even though slavery was officially abolished in principle it did not mean that it was abolished in practice. In fact, it did not become law for another 3 years with the passing of the 13th Amendment – but the Emancipation Proclamation was a very important first step towards ending slavery.
In Luke 4 Jesus applied an Isaiah 61 Scripture text to Himself when He said:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
His proclamation became “law” when He rose from the dead, amending the old covenant and providing a way for everyone enslaved to sin to be emancipated. Romans 8:1-2 puts it this way: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
A few other choice verses to ponder:
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Freedom is a wonderful thing. And yet many people, even believers who have been liberated from bondage to sin, do not experience genuine freedom in their lives. They still live in many ways as if they had never been emancipated. Don’t live “as if” lives. Cling to the cross daily and let the power of the cross and the power of the resurrection enable you to live in the freedom that the Lord created you to experience. A freedom that allows you to enjoy walking in the newness of life and savoring each day as a gift from God.
And never forget that you are very loved!
You are reading this now because God said NO! If God had said yes you would not be alive to read this.
Let me explain.
I was in the middle of my junior year at Tulane University in New Orleans. I was involved with a campus ministry organization called Campus Crusade for Christ and wanted to go on one of their summer beach projects in Myrtle Beach, SC. This would give me a chance not only to do the project but also to see many of my hometown friends over summer break. But God said no. I was not accepted to the project and planned just to go back to Aiken for the summer.
Meanwhile, Nona was in the middle of her junior year at UNC-Greensboro. She also applied to go to the beach project at Myrtle Beach. But God said no. She also was not accepted to the project.
Now keep in mind that at this point we had never met. I grew up in South Carolina. She grew up in North Carolina. And we went to different universities that were 800 miles apart.
We both received notification that even though we were not accepted to the Myrtle Beach project that we were accepted to the Galveston, Texas project. And you can guess how the story ends. We both went. We met. We fell in love. We dated 2 years. We got married. We had three awesome kids named Christy, Scott, and Tucker. They grew up and married three awesome spouses named Chad, Mary, and Danielle. And they had children named Grayson, Bowen, Miller, Keller, Audrey, Haddon, Asher, and Ezra (so far).
So you see that if God had not said no then you would never have been born because Nona and I never would have met.
We love it when God says yes! But sometimes (maybe more than we would like), God says no. And it confuses us and disappoints us and frustrates us and makes us wonder if God is even listening. But sometimes His no to one thing means that He is just waiting to say yes to something else. So while I still get confused and disappointed when God says no, I have learned to do something that can be really really hard – and that is to wait. Waiting is probably one of the hardest things we American Christians have to learn how to do because we are so used to instant gratification and getting what we want when we want it.
I am also learning to rejoice (even when I don’t feel like it) when God says no. I am certainly glad that HE said no in 1979 to Myrtle Beach. Because if He had said yes I would not get to be your Pop Pop. And I can’t imagine missing out on that.
Never forget that you are very loved!
(C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)
Well we didn’t get chased away from the beach by a hurricane this year. And actually we had very good weather. Maybe a few more flies and mosquitos than we would have liked. But still a great week. A loud, wild and crazy, crowded week – but a great week and it was awesome.
It was really interesting for me to see each of your personalities over the course of a week and to see the Lord’s unique handiwork on display. You are each a masterpiece of creation, being fashioned and formed into His likeness. Even the picture above gives a bit of a glance into each of your uniquenesses.
A year ago I wrote an epistle rehearsing some of the memories from when your parents were kids. Now we are creating a whole new generation of memories. Here are some that I suspect we will be talking about in year’s to come:
- Crab Island
- Jumping waves
- The awesome holes that were dug on the beach
- Game nights
- Ryan and his “speedo”
- Audrey’s elephant junk
- Home made ice cream
- The candy store
- The 1000’s of bluefish that turned up dead on shore
- Nacho table night
Here is a video that Christy put together to help us remember the week:
Here are a few verses to ponder as we think about our family:
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
May we always remember the Lord’s faithfulness to our family and hold fast to the hope that we have. May we indeed spur one another on and encourage each other to treasure Christ and to seek to do good toward one another and those around us.
Never forget that you are very loved!
Charles W. Colson, The Good Life
I took a walk down memory lane yesterday. I pulled out my high school yearbook from my senior year (1976) and looked through all the pictures and read most of the things that were written to me. Here are a few of the things things that I discovered:
- Evidently I didn’t make a great first impression on people – several people didn’t like me at first, but then when they got to know me they loved me.
- My eyes and my smile must have been 2 of my good features.
- I was thought of as a good athlete and a good student.
- Several people that signed my yearbook I have absolutely no recollection of
- In my mind, all of the people in that book still look the way that they did 44 years ago. As do I.
As I looked at the pictures of all the people I graduated with, I began wondering about their stories – and what tales they would tell about the almost last half century. What did they do with their lives? Here is a short list of just some of the people I know about – there are lots of people that I don’t know about. Our graduating class included:
A Navy Seal, a college professor, a college administrator, a college football player, a Business Development Director for DisneyWorld, doctors, dentists, lawyers, sales executives. pastors, entrepreneurs, a novelist, a sports management consultant, teachers, a high school principal, the first African American woman to graduate from the Naval Academy, an Airline pilot, stay-at-home-moms, an interior decorator, career military, accountants, bankers, etc.
We were an accomplished bunch. And as impressed as I am, if they were telling me their stories what I would really want to know would be questions like these:
Did they experience joy in their lives?
Do they even now live with contentment and satisfaction?
Did their jobs help them do what God created them to do?
Are they leaving a legacy that makes their heart glad?
As they look back on their life do they smile?
So many faces stared back at me as I flipped the pages of my yearbook. So many stories I would love to hear. But what I am looking forward to is watching your stories unfold and being a part of helping to write them. Now is a good time to begin asking the right questions so that 44 years from now you can re-read the story of your life… and smile.
Can you pick me out in this picture?
Never forget that you are very loved!