Saturday, July 02, 2016

Freedom Isn't Free

On holidays, I fly an American flag on the lawn in front of my house.  I do this is a reminder to all who pass by of the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. July 4th is, no doubt, the most important holiday to us as Americans. It marks the birth of our nation which was founded on the principal of "Liberty and justice for all." In our country we enjoy a lot of freedom. Our constitution guarantees us the right of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." We are blessed to live in a nation where we enjoy that freedom.

This might come as a surprise to some, but freedom isn't free!  Someone had to pay a price for us to have the freedom that we enjoy. That price was paid by men and women who have served in the armed forces—the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. Many of you who are reading this have helped to pay the price for our freedoms. Many of you have had loved ones who paid the ultimate price—they gave their life fighting for our freedom.

You and I have a lot of freedom, but the greatest freedom that we have is the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus. The Bible teaches that the penalty for sin is death, but you and I have been set free from this penalty. We have been set free because Jesus paid the penalty. The Bible tells us that Jesus died to set us free from the penalty of sin. Instead of death, we have been given eternal life. This freedom wasn't free, Jesus paid the price.

This week as we celebrate Independence Day,  I hope we will all remember to stop and thank God for those who have paid the price for our freedom. But even more important, let us remember to thank God for Jesus, who has set us free from the penalty for sin, because he was willing to pay the price.

Dear Father, we  thank you for the freedom that we enjoy in our country. We are thankful for those who paid the price for that freedom, but even more important, we thank you for the freedom we have because Jesus was willing to pay the penalty for our sin. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


They may be the most important words in any language—do you know what I am talking about?  I'm talking about the words "please" and "thank you."  Barney, the big, purple dinosaur that I see on TV sings a song called "Please and Thank You."  He calls them "the magic words."

 He's talking 'bout please and thank you,
 They're called the magic words,
 If you want nice things to happen,
 They're the words that should be heard, [1]
When I was a child and asked my mother for something, she would often remind me to say "please" by saying, "What's the magic word?" Then, after she gave me what I asked for, she would remind me to say "thank you" by saying, "Now what do you say?" I knew what to say, but sometimes I would forget.  We all know what to say, but unfortunately, we sometimes forget to say it.

In 2007, I wrote to Standard Publishing Company and asked permission to use coloring pages from their Thru-the-Bible Coloring Pages.  To my surprise, I received a letter from the Rights and Permissions Consultant, Joann Van Meter, and she said, "Yes." So, for the past nine years, we have been using their coloring pages.

On March 7, 2016, I received an email from Ms. Van Meter and she informed me that Standard Publishing had been sold to David C. Cook and the coloring pages would need to be removed from our website.  Even as I began to think about how I would accomplish this task, I began to pray, "Please, Lord, help me to resolve this problem.  Open doors and make it possible for us to continue using these coloring pages."

I wrote back to Ms. Van Meter and asked if she knew of someone I could contact to see if it would be possible to continue using the coloring pages with the permission of the new owner.  She gave me the name of Sondra Rymer in the Rights and Permissions division of David C. Cook and suggested that I start by contacting her.

I wrote to Ms. Rymer and shared information about Sermons 4 Kids, sent her a copy of the agreement we had with Standard Publishing regarding  the use of the Thru-the-Bible Coloring Pages, and asked if we might be able to continue to use the coloring pages.

On March 10, 2016, I received a reply from Ms. Rymer granting permission to continue using the coloring pages.

Thank you, Lord, for the answer to our prayers.

Thank you, David C. Cook and Ms. Rymer, for allowing us to continue using the Thru-the-Bible Coloring Pages.

Would you like to help me say, "Thank you!" to David C. Cook?  Here's how.  Go to their online store and buy one of their coloring books, craft books, puzzle books, or any of their many fine products. CLICK HERE!

[1]  (Words & Music by Phil Parker © 1992 Shimbaree Music)

Saturday, February 27, 2016

He Loves Me!

Have you ever wondered whether or not God loves you?  Maybe you have done something bad, like telling a lie, taking something that didn't belong to you, or maybe you have disobeyed another of his commandments.  Does God still love you?  To get the answer, you might play the "He loves me — He loves me not" game? You know how to play that game, don't you?  You take a flower, usually a daisy, and you pluck out the petals one at a time and with each one you take turns saying, "He loves me. . . He loves me not." The very last petal you pull out is supposed to tell you whether he loves you or not.  Do you think that is a good way to know if God loves you?  I don't think so.

To show how much God loves us, Jesus told a story about a man who had two sons.  One day, the younger of the two sons went to his father and asked him to give him all the money that would be his when his father died.  The father agreed and gave the boy his inheritance.  A few days later, the son packed all of his belongings and left home.  He went to a far away country and there he wasted all of his money in wild living.  When all of his money ran out, he went to a local farmer and asked him for a job.  The farmer hired him and sent him out to feed his pigs.  The young man was so hungry that even the food that he was feeding to the pigs looked good to him.

When the young man finally came to his senses, he realized that even his father's servants had a better life than he did. He said to himself, "I will return to my father and say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against you and against heaven. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Please let me come back home and be one of your servants.'"

The boy began his journey home to his father.  While he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming.  Filled with love, he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.  The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against both you and heaven, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

But his father called his servants and said to them, "Quick!  Bring the finest robe and put it on my son. Place a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Kill the calf we have been fattening and prepare a feast.  Let the celebration begin! My son was lost, but now he is found!"

You see, the father's love was not dependent on the behavior of the son.  The father loved his children regardless of their behavior.  That's the way it is with God's love for his children.  There is nothing we can do to be deserving of his love.  His love is undeserved, unending, and unconditional.