The ‘Greatest’ Freedom [v77]

JULY 2005

THE ‘GREATEST’ FREEDOM—In the past few months I have shared with you a summary of the book “Living The Life You Were Meant to Live”—its ‘essence’ is to help people discover their foremost traits and talents, and how this can aid in one’s efforts in gaining greater purpose and fulfillment in life.

In America, and especially during this particular holiday, I think people would say that the most important “fulfillment” of life is the freedom we have—the ‘liberty’ and ‘independence’ our Constitution affords every American.

The Declaration of Independence and The Bill of Rights speak of all people being “created equal,” and that we are endowed with certain “unalienable rights” and liberties. These documents guarantee that the government will protect those rights for all its citizens, and clearly reveal that the nation’s freedom depends largely on a strong constitution of independence.

For me, this ‘liberty’ is shown visibly towering above New York Harbor, in the form of the Statue of Liberty. For more than 100 years, this stately lady, with freedom’s torch held high, has beckoned millions of people worldwide who are choking from the stifling ‘air’ of tyranny and oppression. They’ve been drawn to what that monument symbolizes—freedom and independence.

Inscribed on Lady Liberty’s pedestal are the deeply moving words by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

One of the ways the “homeless” have gained some freedom and independence is through an organization called “Habitat for Humanity.” Since its founding in 1976, it has built and rehabilitated more than 175,000 houses worldwide for families in need—becoming a true world leader in addressing the issues of poverty housing. It has developed the concept of “partnership housing”—where those in need of adequate shelter would work side-by-side with volunteers to build simple, decent houses.

The houses are sold with no profit added and no interest charged. Building is financed by a revolving “Fund for Humanity,” and fund’s money would come from the new homeowners’ house payments, donations, no-interest loans provided by supporters, and money earned by fund-raising activities. The monies in the “Fund for Humanity” continues to ‘outstretch’ the costs, and the surplus is used to build more houses.

The ‘mantra’ of the early Habitat organization still applies: “What the poor need is not charity but capital, not caseworkers but co-workers. And what the rich need is a wise, honorable, and just way of divesting themselves of their overabundance.”

So, a bunch of us from my “small groups” got together on Saturday, 18 JUN 05 in Pontiac, MI to be a part of the “Jimmy Carter Work Project”—a special two-week program in a selected area of the world, which, this year, so happens to be right here in Michigan (primarily in the Detroit Metro and Benton Harbor areas). There were 225 homes constructed as a part of this project!

We were a part of the Oakland County “Blitz Build” that constructed 10 new homes during the two-week project. “Our” home was being built for the Melendez family, with one of the homeowners, Enid, being right there on-site doing ANYTHING you wanted her to do (she was on the roof with me in the afternoon pounding nails to attach the sheets of plywood to the roof trusses). [Note: See the “M6…” movie below for a ‘snippet’ from her].

The following link is to a Detroit News article—that so happened to highlight “our” house! (Note: The picture captions are wrong—Enid is the one looking through the window; Pat is the one in the foreground ‘wielding’ the hammer):
http://www.detnews.com/2005/metro/0506/20/C01-220890.htm

As the ‘organizer’ of this community outreach for my small groups, I heard from many of how this ‘affected’ them. I think Cynthia Fitzgerald’s comment summarized them well: “I just wanted to thank you for putting together the Habitat for Humanity event for our group. Michael, David and I all thought it was an awesome experience-we really enjoyed it!  I thought it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in terms of charity work. We all want to continue doing it, so if you hear of other homes being built, let us know. I really wish I was going to be in town this weekend to work on “our” house to see its completion.”

To give you a better idea of what we did (and hopefully, for some of you, what to expect you will do in the future), the following are links to “QuickTime” movies, in order of the construction, on the house at 188 Harrison (you may need to download the “player”:  http://www.apple.com/quicktime/ ).

Of the ten homes that were being ‘raised’ that day (with all starting at the same point), our ‘crew’ of about 30 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon ‘beat’ all of the other houses in putting up the first roof truss, and, as I was told at the end of the day, did almost as much as a ‘normal’ crew does in two days!

[Note: Some of the files are a bit large, so be patient—it’s worth the wait. Also, the movie named “HabitatM2…” (a final ‘walk-thru’ on Friday the 24th) is not in the list since it is very large (over 200Mb)—contact me if you would like to view it].

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http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM1-GoodMorning.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM2-Walls-Will.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM3-Porch-Cindy.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM4-InTheLead.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM5-Cleanup-Pam.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM6-Owner-Enid.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM7-Porch-Jon.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM8-Trusses-Cindy.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM9-Walls-Will.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM10-Fascia-Michael.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM11-WallsUp.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM12-WallsFromAbove.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM13-Trusses-Michael.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM14-LevelWalls.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM15-MovingEndTruss.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM16-FirstTrussUp.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM17-TrussSpacers.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM18-PutUpTruss.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM19-RoofPanels.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM20-PrepPorchFascia.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM21-PutUpPorchFascia.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM22-RoughWalkThru.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM23-AlmostFinished.MOV
http://www.spiritedesign.com/HABITAT05/HabitatM25-FinishedExample1.MOV

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Though Habitat constructs homes year-round, since 1984, former President Jimmy Carter has personally helped on homes during a special two-week ‘build’ that now bears his name. As president of the United States, Jimmy Carter was deeply committed to social justice and basic human rights, and when He and his wife Rosalynn left the White House, they searched for meaningful ways to contribute in these areas. In addition to Habitat, they promote peace and human rights through the non-profit “Carter Center” in Atlanta.

Both believe that securing decent shelter has a profound impact on people’s lives. “They often get new ambition,” Jimmy Carter said. “They have seen success and they have seen a promise kept at least one time in their lives.”

Volunteers often sacrifice to attend a JCWP (http://www.habitat.org/how/carter.aspx ), paying their own way and bringing their own tools, notes the former president. By week’s end, however, “the sacrifice turns into a wonderful blessing. I guarantee you at almost all of the 100 houses (1998) there’ll be tears of joy and happiness and friendship and love shared,” says Jimmy.

Mrs. Carter adds that, “I think just the fact that people have a home does something for their self-esteem, their independence.”

For most of the Habitat home ‘partners’, this is the first single-family home they have ever had—and sometimes the first ‘generation’  in their family that has even had a home.

Most families come from ‘bad’ situations—run-down apartments in drug-infested neighborhoods, or have moved half a dozen times in an effort to have a better living arrangement for their family.

They just want to have a small home they can “treasure” and call their own, and have a bedroom for each child. Like all of us that volunteered, they just want to be in a neighborhood they don’t have to worry about being ‘broken into’, and know that their neighbors are “employed and looking out for their well-being.”

As a typical example of the many stories about how Habitat houses have helped people, a few years ago in Kansas City, the Brown family found themselves in the unbearable situation of not being able to find housing for four—with a new baby on the way.

“We didn’t have a choice,” Jennifer explained. “Our landlord wouldn’t allow us to have three children in our apartment, and we couldn’t afford anything larger. [My husband] Jimmy earned too much to qualify for HUD (Housing and Urban Development) housing. We didn’t know what else to do. We put our baby up for adoption.”

Well, at least for the Brown’s, the story turned out all right—they were accepted into the Habitat program and moved into their 3-bedroom home a few months later just in time for the new ‘bundle’. One of the volunteers on the project commented, “This project has really touched us. Hearing the Brown’s story has made us all appreciate the work Habitat for Humanity does. And working side-by-side with Jimmy and Jennifer to make their dream come true is something we’ll never forget.”

Families selected for Habitat for Humanity projects are chosen based on their level of need, willingness to become partners in the program, and their ability to repay the no-interest loan. They also invest “sweat equity” by helping volunteers with the construction.  According to a Habitat for Humanity spokeswomen, they receive nine times more applicants than they are able to accept into the program. “We’re partnering with hardworking families who are falling through the cracks,” she said, “and the need is tremendous.”

Another ‘recipient’ from Brooklyn, NY, Leon Gelzer said gratefully, “This means independence, life, renewal, and prestige.”

In the foregoing few paragraphs, there were many references to freedom and what it ‘engenders’—rewarding blessings; feeling of accomplishment; joy; touching; augmented self-esteem; renewal; independence; rights; and a new life!

For one organization to do so much is amazing and incredible—and we should ALL ‘pitch in’ and do all we can for organizations like Habitat! But, let me suggest that the GREATEST FREEDOM we will ever have is NOT to own our own home, the privilege to ‘fashion’ the purpose and fulfillment in our lives, or even all the rights and independence given to us by our “Constitution.”

The ‘greatest freedom’ is FREEDOM FROM SIN—something the bible says only Jesus can do!

Almost 2,000 years ago, Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished,” proclaiming the believer’s “declaration of independence.” In God’s ‘eyes’, all of humanity was under the tyranny of sin and death. But Christ, the sinless One, took our place on Calvary and died for our sins. Having satisfied God’s righteous demands, He now sets FREE FOR ETERNITY all who trust in Him.

This Roman ‘cross’ is a bit different ‘monument’ that towers over history—it offers spiritual freedom to enslaved people throughout the world. At first the ‘scene’ repels—and even the thought I am suggesting here may be even ‘worse’ to you.

So, I am suggesting that REAL FREEDOM and independence depends on ‘who’ you think Jesus is—and what ‘weight’ you believe are behind His words.

The Bible is the primary ‘source’ where you can find out more about Jesus, and in my opinion, is a more far-reaching “bill of rights” than either of the documents we ‘treasure’ as Americans. I believe it originated with God, who backs it up with His justice, His concern for all people, and His sovereignty—and states that it is the only ‘charter’ that guarantees freedom from sin’s penalty and power.

The Apostle Peter said to the Christians in the first century, that as “a holy nation, we are to proclaim the praises of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” [1 Peter 2:9].

That’s what I call TRUE FREEDOM! When we live by this “constitution,” we will be able to enjoy our rights and fulfill our life’s ‘calling’.

The Bible states that if you trust in Christ as your Savior, the heavy burden of guilt ‘rolls’ from your sin-weary soul—and you will be FREE for all eternity!

Have you heard and responded to the invitation of the cross? Consider this verse written by Neil Enloe:

“Oh, the cross is my statue of liberty,
For it was there that my soul was set free!
Unashamed I’ll proclaim that a rugged cross
Is my statue of liberty.”

Hopefully you enjoyed your “Fourth of July” festivities this past weekend and celebrated the freedom of our nation. Personally, I thank God for the freedom I enjoy as a US citizen—but more than that, for the freedom that is found in His Son, Jesus Christ!

[Excerpts from: Richard De Haan; Dennis J. De Hann; Dennis De Hann]

Blessings…Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v77) for JULY 2005
If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

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MY COUNTRY ‘TIS OF THEE
My country ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died!
Land of the Pilgrim’s pride!
From every mountain side,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love.
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture fills
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song.
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our father’s God to, Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King!
[Samuel Francis Smith]

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BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
His day is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery Gospel writ in burnished rows of steel;
“As ye deal with My contemners, so with you My grace shall deal”;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free;
[originally …let us die to make men free]
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is wisdom to the mighty, He is honor to the brave;
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of wrong His slave,
Our God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Our God is marching on.
[Julia W. Howe]

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FOLLOWING THE ‘SON’
Isn’t it amazing how sunflowers follow the sun?  This phenomenon is a result of the sunflower being a phototropic plant. Meaning the sunflower follows the movement of the sun from east in the morning to west in the afternoon. The flower constantly looks towards and depends on the bright, radiant sun for life.

The Christian life should be like the sunflower. We should have our eyes focused on Jesus. It is when we aren’t dependent on our maker or when we get caught in the shadows of sin that we, like the sunflower, fade. The sun does not move in the sky. It is the world that rotates and moves. In your life, no matter how the world changes keep your eyes focused on what is constant—Christ.

We must always keep our eyes on the Son, our ‘source’ of life. Jesus said, “I am the way and truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” [John 14:6].
[Jim Burns]

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DEEP THOUGHTS
“The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”
[Thomas Jefferson]

“Freedom doesn’t give us the right to do what we please, but to do what pleases God.”
[Dennis De Hann]

“True freedom is not in having our own way, but in yielding to God’s way.”
[Richard De Hann]

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I hope you enjoyed some of these insights. Share them with your friends and colleagues, so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from—and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” especially if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

“God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.”  [1 Corinthians 1:30]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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