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Breaking Free

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People talk about freedom and the lack of constraints and lack of limitations; I will tell you that that's just not the case Measure the cost, measure the cost! Here's what I would say–first, let me communicate something, and I hope you hear my heart here

There's a few things that I'm not Number one I'm not a theologian Number two I'm not a Bible scholar; I haven't graduated seminary Let me tell you what I am-I'm a child of God I love my Lord and Savior more than anything else and when God needs to stretch me, when God needs to use me in a capacity that I may not even understand yet

what I've learned is the right answer for me to say is, 'Yes, God" Even if I don't understand what direction You're taking me, even if I'm not completely aware of where I'm supposed to be, you know what I'm willing to do? I'm willing to be stretched, I'm willing to humble myself, I'm willing to step out in an area that I might not be comfortable in because when I realize this Christ is saying, "You know what? I want to use you to affect the kingdom" Now my first question to everyone here is where's God at in your life? Where's God trying to stretch you? Where are you at right now in your walk with Jesus Christ? See, God created all of us for a purpose, right? There's no doubt in my mind when I look around and I see somebody and I see him saying, 'I think I need to grow a little more I need to mature a little more before I can step to the next level" We talked about the culture of next steps here at Heritage and so often I see somebody saying, "You know, I I think I need a little more time; a little more study

I gotta get a little more spiritually mature" And quite often what God's saying, "Quit worrying about you, start looking at Me Grow close to Me and I can help you get there" So now, Brad's been talking about Romans and the complexity and that is a–Paul is going deep Some of the top topics and some of the subjects we've been discussing over the last few weeks, Brad's done a great job of being able to articulate what Paul was saying in Romans as he first talked about his spiritual authority and where it came from

And then he goes and he talks about salvation and why salvation is critical with regards to our relationship with Christ And he says you know, because the world is so full of sin and he covers all the angles of sin to make sure we understand the only way to break that bondage, to break that hold is through Jesus Christ, is through salvation, it's through our belief that God sent His only Son Jesus Christ to walk this earth and pay the penalty of sin–the wage of death, He paid that with His blood on the cross so that He could rise again, sit with the Father, and we could have relationship with Him when we accept him as our Lord and Savior The first thing that I want to discuss before we even get into Romans chapter 6, which is talking about freedom, is I want to talk about a foundational issue See, because I think we have an identity crisis at times in the body I'm not talking about do you understand what your spiritual gifts are

I'm not talking about do you understand what your purpose is I'm talking about even more foundational than that: who we are; who we are in the body I can't do like Brad; I gotta have notes We're both phenomenal for that The first thing I want to talk about in here where it addresses in Colossians

Go to Colossians first because I need to identify something foundational It says in Colossians 1:12 -13, 'Always thanking the Father He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light For He rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His dear son' See, there's only two kingdoms

We're going to bring an illustration up where we're going to show you there's only two kingdoms that exist and once you accept Jesus Christ– see, Paul tells us Adam introduced sin earlier in chapter 5:18 It says the consequences of the sin that Adam introduced meant that we were all in alignment with the kingdom of darkness when we were born We're born into sin and because of that sin, sin leads to death, but as Colossians tells us, as you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, once you go through the regeneration, the rebirth process; once you've experienced salvation, you get sanctified We're set apart We no longer live in the kingdom of darkness

We're now brought to the kingdom of light and once we live in the kingdom of light, it's through God's grace in Chapter five it talked all about grace, grace, grace and the concept was mind-blowing to the people at that time because he's standing there saying–the people are asking Paul, "Hold up now You mean we can live a life of grace even though we've sinned?" Paul said, "Yes You've been justified by the blood of Christ" It's just as if I'd never sinned when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior When you put faith in Christ and through that faith we're given grace by God which enables us to live a life of righteousness

It's that life that enables us to be able to live in a different environment Quite often people try to relate to the world and the first verse in Romans chapter 6, Paul was really talking about that In the very first verse it says, 'Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more more of His wonderful grace?' Let me put something in there: well then, should we keep on sinning because we're in the kingdom of light so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Let me give you a today's reaction to that "Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace?" And Paul's like, "What! What? Why would you even–why would you even make that comment?" Because see, to make that comment it's almost as if you're saying, "I'm still living and operating in the realm of darkness; I'm still over here and the power over my life, the auth ority over my life is sin" Who are you a slave to? Being a slave just simply means who are you surrendering your life to? It's either going to be the kingdom of darkness or the kingdom of light

You can't operate and exist in both, but you must be in one of those So that's why I said this is a foundational understanding When we realize that when we accept Jesus Christ and our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and we are set apart, when we are sanctified and then moved to the kingdom of light, we now can have oneness with Christ A couple people asked me in the first service or after the first service, "Hey, what's up with your shirt?" No, it's not a new name brand or anything So a few years after I retired from the military, I opened a leadership consulting company and the leadership consulting company was called Indivisible by 1

Now, most people thought that the premise behind that–1 stood for own the process, never stop growing, and enjoy the day They thought it was a worldly perspective for team development, but it wasn't It was oneness with Christ It was our ability to understand who we are in Christ Romans 6:3 says, 'Have you not forgotten that when we were joined with Jesus Christ in baptism, we joined Him in His death

' Once again, I want to go back That oneness that we talked about, that living in the kingdom of light, that opportunity to live a life of grace, to live a life of righteousness, that comes from our oneness with Christ When we understand that when we experience salvation, we were with Jesus When He died and rose again, we were one with Christ When we experience baptism– there's a few things that that baptism signifies and there's a purpose behind when we are baptized

Number one it tells of the salvation; it tells a story of salvation It's a chance for you to be a witness to Jesus It joins us in unity with the body and yes, it is a celebration Last week I had the opportunity to baptize one of the young men that I've been discipling and I can't tell you how good that felt to watch and just be a part as God is growing and stretching he and I both in the process But I gotta tell you something else that I'm looking even more forward to-next month I get the opportunity to baptize my son

And see, a lot of you don't realize or maybe some of you do, I spent so many years apart from my family because of deployments and because of other things I thank God right now that God is enabling me and and my children and I to grow closer at the same time we're going closer to Christ Right now depending on whether it's Monday or Tuesday, one of those two days, Hunter and I normally get to eat lunch together and we just study the Word, and I'm watching God stretch Hunter at the same time that He's stretching me And I tell Him all the time, Thank You, God Thank You for that opportunity

" Because when he was younger, it seemed like every time I turned around I was in some other country, I was at some school being prepared for the next deployment But God said, "Just be one with Me and I'll bring you where you need to" Romans 6:4 says, 'For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism And as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives' In other words, we're free

In my opinion, most Americans don't understand the term freedom When I ask most people what does it mean to you to be free? Quite often they say, "It means I can do what I want, when I want, how I want, as much as I want" There are no limitations, there are no constraints The truth of the matter is freedom costs And if you ever put the uniform on, you understand just how much it does cost

Friday, Renea and I had the opportunity to see some of our our friends and fellow warriors from years past because a young man that was shot in our deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 finally passed away He was shot in the head and for the last ten years– he hasn't been been a vegetable, but I will tell you that he's paid the cost and for me to stand there and watch his wife and his children that have stood by his side and loved him for the last ten years, it's real easy to see the cost of freedom In 2005, on one of the IEDs that took four of my young soldiers; it took their life and we were out and part of the the military operation–whenever that takes place is you've got to secure the area You've got to secure the area and you've got to be able to police or pickup and gather the remains of those soldiers to be able to send them back to Dover so they get processed and they go to the family When we found three of them–it was a massive IED-an improvised explosive device

It was put under a bridge over a canal and it took the entire road system out So massive And we couldn't find the remains of the fourth soldier, and we looked and searched in the only place we hadn't looked and actually been was in the canal Now, please understand the canal systems have everything that you can imagine Their filled with sewage and filth and anything

I mean, it's just a putrid smell If you put your hand in the water, you can't even see it once it gets underneath the water And you know, it's one of those times that you just can't make somebody else do it I'll never forget the smell because I stripped down and swam in this canal to try to find something to be able to send back home to a loved one, and we ended up finding a piece of a name tag that had a couple of letters and we knew based on the letters and the soldier we were looking for, we knew that it had to be his name tag So please understand when people talk about freedom and the lack of constraints and lack of limitations, I will tell you that that's just not the case

There's a lot of things that I no longer get to enjoy I used to love the sound of bagpipes; it seems like the only time I get to hear bagpipes in today's society is at the memorial of a fallen comrade so that sound just doesn't sound the same to me anymore And I used to love them So when we talk about what does it mean to be free? It''s like Luke telling us about being a disciple and Jesus said, "Measure the cost, measure the cost"Because if you want to show me somebody that has freedom, I'll show you somebody that is putting things in place

I'll show you–show me somebody that's got good health, show me somebody that's mature in age, that has good health and I'll show you somebody that's probably got a pretty good, healthy lifestyle Show me great Christian parents and I'll show you children that are raised with parameters I'll show you children that are raised with rules I'll show you children that understand what it means to be pruned and punished in order to help the growth and maturity process And then show me somebody that's living a God-centered life

You show me somebody that's spiritually mature and I'll show you somebody that understands spiritual habits I'll show you somebody that understands what it means to live a life of prayer and fasting, to studying in the Word, they understand Godly fellowship They understand the stewardship from a standpoint of what do I do with my time, my temple, my talents, and my treasure? I'm gonna put an illustration up Quite often people want to know where am I? How do I know where I am? Some of you in this room may truly be experimenting with God You may be sitting here today and you haven't experienced salvation because you haven't accepted that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior

Then there may be people that are sitting in salvation; you've accepted Christ, you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, but you're sitting on the starting line Trust me when I say God created us to live a God-centered life, but the only way you're going to get there is by putting discipline in your life, living those spiritual habits You're never going to find somebody that's living a God-centered life that understands exactly why they were created, that understands their gifts and skillsets, that understands their purpose, that isn't holding themselves accountable When Brad tells me about his pack team, he stands up here quite often and he tells us about the fact that they can ask him any question I love the fact that my wife and I–I'll share my phone with my wife at any time and over the last few years we've had the same iCloud account

Partly because we're just not tech savvy enough to have several ones But at the same time, you know what I began to realize? When sharing the same iCloud account, every time I made a phone call guess who knew who I called? My bride I love that accountability Because–make no mistake I love Jesus Christ, but aside from Jesus Christ, I love Renae Lassiter and I love the accountability that comes with it that says, you know what? God brought us together and I want to make sure that I put any kind of limitation or constraint to ensure that I'm never going to be found somewhere that I'm not supposed to That's what living a life of freedom is

That's what's being able to say, "I love my bride, but guess what? It means that I'm not willing to do some things" You know what I don't do? I don't go hang out with the fellas There's places I won't go, there's people that I won't be around, and people quite often ask–especially whenever I enter into a one-on-one discipleship relationship with a disciple, "Well how do you know? How do you know when you're getting there?" Well let me show you something else Let me show you another illustration I would tell you it depends on how you see things

See the circle on the outside here represents the circumstances In both of these views, the circumstances, the environment are depicted by the outside of the circle When you're faced with adversity, when you're faced with a tribulation, when you're walking through the fire, when you look through the lens, do you see God? Do you seek God first? Do you reach out and say, "God, I know You have a purpose I know You've brought me and walked me into this fire right now; what is the purpose? What do I need to know? What do I need to learn and how do You want me to handle this?" The more that you begin to realize, as you see God, God tells you which direction to go God tells you how to handle things because of your steadfast commitment to getting close to God, becoming one with God, your ability to understand now enables you to see life different because you live in the kingdom of light

But if when you look through the lens you see the world, or you see man and you're making decisions based on what the world's telling you, if you're making a decision based on what people think to be success; if that's what's driving you, I will tell you, you need to grow I will tell you you need to grow closer to Christ and only when you get close to Christ, only when you truly have a oneness and a humbleness can you begin to see this It's the reason why when you ever see and communicate with somebody that's living a God-centered life, they stop using the term I and they give praise to Jesus Christ Because they realize that all of their gifts, skills, and abilities came from Him The last time I preached I talked about Proverbs chapter 30 and Agur was one of the people that we talked about

Agur was considered to be a wise man by everybody around him and Agur simply said, "It's not me! I'm just the average person It's because I'm getting close to Christ and God keeps revealing my purpose, God keeps revealing why I'm here- that enables me to appear to be wise to you" Romans 6 chapter, verse 6, "Sin no longer has power over us" Now I want you to put something in here- life without blank, fill in your sin, only comes from a personal relationship with Christ 'We know that our sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives

We are no longer slaves to sin' In order to able to understand that–or in order to be able to convey that the right way, I read a lot of–as you can imagine, I've read over the years a lot of military tactician type things and one quote that I wanted to to make this morning was a guy by the name of Sun Tzu Anybody here has ever read 'The Art of War,' you know, Sun Tzu was pretty high up and here's one of the things that he said that I that I always took He said, "Victorious warriors win first and then go to war" Victorious warriors win first and then go to war

To the average person it makes you wonder, "What does that mean? Win first and then go to war?" It means two things Number one it means that I need to be willing to be prepared before I ever step off into combat It means that I must be prepared so when we think about stepping out into the world, it means to put on the full armor of God It means that I understand the breastplate of righteousness, I understand the helmet of salvation, I understand the belt of truth, my feet are solid in the gospel, I understand the sword of the Spirit so when I step out into the world if I want to be prepared, that's what I do But my last illustration of the day, I want to show you what it also means

It means that we must be willing to win in the thought process Too often you find people that only try to change their actions and I want to give you the life cycle of influence; you've probably heard this before- a thought becomes a word, a word becomes an action, an action becomes a habit, a habit determines our character, and our character identifies our destiny If you are starting at the action, you're already defeated When we experience salvation and when our spirit aligns with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit is able to communicate to us through the Word and then once we get in alignment, once we begin to get closer, once we become one with Christ, now we understand what it means to have influence from the spirit to our soul Our mind, will and emotions

So now once our soul is being influenced by our mind– correction, by our spirit which is an alignment with the Holy Spirit, now the fight that takes place actually takes place in the thought process See that's why when it talks in First John about being able to stop your habitual sin, this is what it's talking about The only way that I can stop habitual sin is to win in the thought process When you have the fight that takes place in the thought process, in all honesty what you begin to find is it's easy for the action to not take place There was a time in the military that my language was terrible

Very seldom do I ever use anything In all honesty, I feel like right now I would have to force myself to use bad language because it's just not part of my vocabulary anymore Because the thought process and the real fight that needed to take place was there Talking about freedom, I remember in 2005 after you know the first 30 days in our sector in Iraq, I talked a little bit last time about how we were being hammered by the enemy and I talked about how we had to pull back off a little bit and seek guidance from Christ; to go into prayer to understand what does the right approach look like I would submit to every one of you it's the same way; there's no doubt in my mind that you are struggling with something

We all walk through the battlefields of life as I call them We all walk through trials and tribulations We all are being stretched and my question to you is: are you winning the fight in the right place? Have you seeked closeness with Christ? Have you seek a one-on-one relationship and are you growing closer to Christ through your Word and through the study? Please understand I think that listening to the message on Sirius is phenomenal I think that listening to praise and worship is phenomenal, but in order for me to get closer to Christ, in order for my alignment with my spirit and the Holy Spirit to get closer, guess where that happen? It's as I open the Word and study and then I begin to realize why the things that are happening are not only happening, but I begin to understand how God needs me to affect the outcome And and a lot of times it's simply by saying, "I need you to pray

I need you to back up" When I'm talking to young men and I'm in a discipleship relationship with someone, I always ask them, 'How do the people outside of your inner circle-your family-how do they describe you?" Let me get my TD Jakes' rag So how do they describe you? Quite often when somebody's just beginning to learn, they look at me and say, "Well, what do you mean?" Well, you know if we're living a life with Christ, if we are one with Christ, the way those that are around us should describe us are the fruit of the Spirit

We should be able to be described by people that we work with, by people that we associate with in the community I coach by my players, by my parents, if they can't say love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, self-control; if those are the terms they can use to describe me then guess what? I need to change I need to submit myself to Christ because I need to grow Now as you can imagine, I'm not a real meek guy So I have to constantly submit myself to Christ in that area and thank God my wife will remind me when I'm not being meek

I think she did that last week at a baseball tournament and I appreciate that Accountability is good Limitations are good Constraints are good If you want to grow closer to Christ, if you understand what it means to win the fight in the thought process, then what I would say is begin to understand how the enemy's attacking

Now the first time that ever gave a message, I was still in the military and my chaplain came up to me and said, "Hey sir, would you be willing to come speak to my church, and I said, "Hmm, sure I don't know what about" He said, 'Well, it doesn't really matter" So I said, "Okay, let me think about that" Me being the infantry guy, writing operations orders, you know thinking tactical, I called him up

I said, "Chaplain, I think I know what I want to do" He said, "What you got?" I said, "I think I want to write an operations order about my family" He said, "What?" I said, 'Yes, I want to write an operations order about my family because I want to take my my wife and I and our relationship and I want to take my children and their relationships with us and their relationship with Christ, and I want to say how is the enemy–" See, in an operations order, the very first thing you talk about is the enemy And I said, "I want to sit down with my children, my wife and I, and then have a conversation and say, 'How is the enemy attacking you?'" When you begin to understand that the enemy is doing A, B, and C, guess what you're able to do? You're able to go win the battle in a thought process with regards to A, B, and C

Shocking to me was to find out some of the things that my children said the enemy was attacking them with I would submit to you that conversation with your loved ones, sometimes it can be eye-opening to understand really where the enemy's attacking us and when you reveal, "Hey, I need you to know–" I'll tell my wife, "I need you to understand I'm being attacked here Please understand that" So when Renea sees something, when she sees something that may not even be or out of context for me, then she realizes what's going on

But even more importantly what I'm really asking her is will you pray for me in this regards? I believe when people take the issue that was between them and they walk around to the other side and they stand shoulder to shoulder and they both look at the issue, it's easy to do; it's easy to win So when we're talking about the thought process– intercessors and prayer warriors are phenomenal understanding your role So now I have just two issues today I have two questions for you Number one: Where does God need you to be humble? Where's God stretching you? Where is God asking you to go to? You know, I look in our midst right now at team life

I look at our church where we talk about next steps; we have a culture of next steps What's your next step? Are you serving? If you're serving, when's the last time you stepped up and took another step? Sometimes the reason you need to step up and go to a higher level is because the position that you're at right now, somebody else needs it Somebody needs it for their own growth I will say this: a week ago or this last week, I had an opportunity to to watch a video of some young men and women in hostile areas of the world They're not pastors

They're not leaders They're simply children of God that the minute they experience salvation, they go out and immediately start trying to create disciples And they say, 'God, wherever You need me, take me! Even in a hostile environment Even when they know that if they're found it would mean torture or death And in our midst here, we get so relaxed sometimes because we get to experience freedom

Do we find ourselves in an environment, "Well, I probably need a little more time to be able to step into that next position" Then the second concept that I want to ask you about is who's in charge of your thoughts? Who's truly in charge of your thoughts? Is Jesus Christ the influence in your life when it comes to the thought process? Because if you remember that illustration, the only way that you keep the world at bay is to win it Win it far to the left Win it in the thought process Win it in the spirit that's aligned with the Holy Spirit and then let it be influenced into your soul, your mind, will and emotions

When you win it there, then it's easy to carry it out That's why the Word tells us it's not flesh and blood, it's principalities It's the thought process in that realm So where are you at? Those are the two things I have for you today I know the praise team is gonna come out, let me let me pray for us real quick

But I want to just make sure that you understand those two points Father, I thank You, Jesus I thank You for this opportunity For this time for us to come together and just to be able to study the Word Father, we realize that we live in a free society, but Jesus when we talk about freedom when it comes to the kingdom, that freedom means that we're submitting to You

Father, I pray that You would just continue to bless us Enable us to understand that a closeness, that living a God-centered life means that I'm carrying out spiritual habits, it means that I'm on my knees in prayer, it means that I'm studying the Word, it means that I'm in Godly fellowship and understand stewardship Father, I pray that You would just help us to remove the obstacles that are preventing us from getting closer to You Father, I pray that You would stand up a mighty army of soldiers that are committed to You, Jesus that are just committed to enhancing the kingdom Father, just lead, guide, and direct these young men and women as they realize what their purpose is

Equip them Allow them to be armored I pray, Father that You would just continue to put a hedge of angels around them and protect them as they go out into the mission field Allow them to understand the kind of audacity You want us to have We love You, Jesus and just ask this in Your name

Amen

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