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Mission Freedom

Freedom from Debt. Freedom through Christ

In God We Trust

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For the last 17 years I have worked in the financial industry, and I am blessed for having done so, but not how I would have expected. So much attention is paid to having enough money to retire or saving enough to pay for college. Entire television networks are devoted to economics, government tax policies, stocks, bonds, and central banks. Talking heads tell us which stocks are good and which ones are bad. They speak of the economy as if it is some blob without real care for the individuals that make up that blob. Since the financial crisis of 2008, some of the talking heads have spoken about hyperinflation and economic collapse. Advertisers have made millions selling gold, insurance for food, and ammunition to safeguard your family, your property, and your food.

In some countries such as Venezuela, we have seen shortages of food and other supplies that people need for daily life. Television shows have done specials on the hyperinflation of Germany during the Weimar Republic. Pictures of people taking wheel barrels full of money just to buy bread.

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Commercials with scary talk and pictures telling us the dollar is going to be worthless, and we need to buy gold as a “store of value” before the dollar becomes worthless. Gold has always been “real” money. As an aside, if the dollar is going to be worthless, why would the person want to trade their gold for my dollars? Will the dollar become worthless? What if I told you it is? In fact, what if I told you that all money is worthless including gold? Stay with me on this because I can prove it is true, especially if you call yourself a Christian. Even if you are a non-believer, I challenge you to prove me wrong.

On our money in the United States is the motto, “In God We Trust.” Christians and non-Christians fight over whether or not that motto should be on our money. Frankly, I think the motto is appropriate, but probably not for the reason you might think. What god? Allah? Jesus Christ? Buddha? Brahman? In what god do we trust? Who is we?

I am not here to have a theological debate with you. I believe that God created the world, and He sent His Son to die and take the punishment that I deserve for my sins. I believe that Jesus died on a cross, God raised him on the third day, and he is coming again. And, the only way to the Father is through him. If you don’t believe that, I’m not going to argue with you. You cannot prove he does or doesn’t exist, and if you choose to believe that he doesn’t, you are Red 35. Feel free to ask me what that means in the comments section.

One day a thought came to my head. We are told that the Federal Reserve is going to cause hyperinflation, the dollar is going to be worthless, and people will starve. There is truth to those comments. If the dollar becomes worthless, people will starve, but why? That’s stupid, especially for a country that claims to have 200 million Christians.

Last week I asked my 10 year old a few questions. “Jackson, does it take money feed people?” He said, “Yes.” To which I replied, “No it doesn’t. It takes food.” Then I asked him, “Do you need money to clothe people?” Again he said, “Yes.” My reply, “No you don’t!” Does it take money to stay warm in the winter? No, it takes heat. The point being, money is actually worthless. Prove me wrong!

Everything needed for life on this earth was freely given. It was already here. There is only one thing that man has actually created; money. Everything else was already here, and could always do what it does today. Mortal man simply hadn’t figure that out how to use it. Our lives are easier because of the discoveries of men and women, but the actual elements to that make those discoveries work were already here and always have been.

Now to the point. Why do I think the motto, “In God We Trust”, is appropriate? God, the provider of all things has been replaced by another provider of all things; money. Why do I say it’s stupid that people would starve because of hyperinflation or a currency becoming worthless? How in God’s name can we claim that America is a Christian nation when people could starve if a currency became worthless? Did the ability to grow food go away? No! Are we unable to clean water without money? Yes! But we have become dependent on a worthless, man-made god. A god that burns with fire. Money is the ultimate golden calf.

Money has become such a god that we spend almost all of our lives trying to accumulate it. People sitting in cars for hours a day only to spend more hours somewhere else to achieve the American dream while taking some of that money to allow someone else to raise their children. (Guilty as charged) And before you call me a socialist, think again because you are 100% wrong. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: ‘Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.'” Our government and all governments, our modern-day priests, have made it almost impossible to live without money via their ability to tax.

I don’t know if our currency will collapse any time soon, but the starving people in places around the world that have experienced hyperinflation, are proof that money is god, and they became dependent on that god to provide, and like all false gods, it fails. If a country is truly a Christian country, especially one with 200 million Christians, it should be impossible for them to suffer simply because a piece of paper or digits on a computer became worthless, but they will. Why? Because we have exchanged the One True God, the Great Provider, for a paper calf. (It’s not even golden today)

So yes, “In God We Trust” should be on our money, but would more accurately be, “In god We Trust.”

“Don’t store up treasures on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves cannot break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved by money.” Matthew 6:24

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the minds of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:31-33

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World Needs More Jesus?

The World Needs More Jesus?

In this section of the devotionals, we will focus on Jesus and his words in the book of Matthew. You might ask, why have a question mark at the end of the title of this section? Do you not agree that the world would be a better place if we all followed Jesus’ lead? Absolutely, I agree that the world needs Jesus! The challenge comes when what Jesus taught goes against my/our natural instincts.

Before writing this, I struggled with how to write it. The last thing I want is to sound pious or condescending because I fail every day. Reading the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 7:15-16 gives me hope. “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”

Understand that each and every one of us is going to fail. Jesus is God. He is perfect and we are not. When we fail, God will forgive us.

We will delve into many things that Jesus said and some will challenge you more than others. Some are very hard. For example, Jesus said to love our enemies. When someone hits me, I don’t want to “turn to him the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:39) Heck, I want to hit him back, but I don’t get to pick and choose what words of Jesus I want to follow. If we want the world to have more Jesus, it starts with us!

 

The Greatest Commandment

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the Law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:36-37

“You must not have any other god but me.” Exodus 20:3

It’s easy to make fun of people that worship things that we can’t fathom. For heaven’s sake, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it. Rome had a god of the sky, Jupiter. Neptune was Jupiter’s brother and was the god of the seas. Juno was the wife of Jupiter and was the goddess of marriage and women. Mars the god of war. Venus the god of love. Bellona was the goddess of war. I guess Mars needed help. It seems the Romans had a god for almost everything. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Roman_deities)

Today, we Christians can’t imagine how anyone could worship some of the things that they bow down to, but are we really any different? Are there things that I have put before God? You? If I’m honest, the answer is yes because my actions prove stronger than my words.

One of my gods was baseball. Is there anything inherently wrong with baseball? Of course not, but it would be a lie if I said I didn’t place it before God. For others it’s fame, a career, possessions, and maybe even other people. Where are my thoughts? What do my actions prove? What do I worry about?

Taking an honest look at your own life may reveal who or what you really worship. If there is anything that you are unwilling to give up to follow God, that is your god. That is my god. Ask yourself this one question. If I were to stand before God today, would He find something that I placed above Him and am I doing that now? God is a god of love, but He is also just, and the answer to that question has eternal consequences.

Why I’m Writing

Why write this book? That is a question that my friend and co-author David Hill asked me as we were thinking of writing a book together. Both David and I have our own personal reasons for writing, but one thing we do share is a love for God, people, and a love for the truth. For me personally, I have several reasons that I felt this book needs to be written and I will share those with you but first let me give you some background of the journey that has led me to where I am today.

There has never been a point in my life where I didn’t believe in God. Growing up in a small town in the south, the Bible-Belt, church was just a part of life. As a child I never even questioned the existence of God. My grandparents were Christians, my parents were Christians, so that meant my brother and I were Christians also.

As of this writing I am 45, and frankly for most of my adult life, I never doubted that there was a god. My family went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and occasionally on Wednesday nights. As I grew older and moved on to college, I still believed in God, but I didn’t attend church as much. Partially because I was playing baseball in college and we had games every Sunday in the spring. I don’t know what my excuse was during the rest of the year. Lazy?

In 1995 I married my wife, Nicki. For the first 4 years of our marriage we lived in South Carolina, and we attended church almost every Sunday morning. Very seldom did we attend on Sunday nights and never on Wednesday. We believed in God, and we were doing our duty to Him by going to church once a week.

Then in 1999, we moved to Kansas where I started a new career. In Kansas we went to church occasionally in the beginning and eventually settled on the church that we are members of now. We were the typical American church going family. In 2001 our first child was born and in 2006 our second child was born.

Most of what I knew about God was what I was taught by preachers, family, Sunday school teachers, and some other people. I had read many parts of the Bible. The stories about David and Goliath, Abraham, and other figures that are in the Bible I knew. Jesus dying on a cross, rising on the third day, and that he is coming back was something that I believed, and still do, but I didn’t know why. Preachers and teachers told us as kids to read the Bible, and I did read some out of guilt for not.

My faith had never been really tested until around 2008-09. These events are all documented in my first book, The Road to Complete Fitness, plus what led to the existence of Complete Fitness. For the first time in my life, I began to question what I believed. With the guidance of my pastor and friend, David Welsh, I started reading the Bible in earnest.

There are many details that I am leaving out of this for brevity so I can get to the points of why I wrote my part of this book. In 2014, along with two friends, I introduced the concept of Complete Fitness. Frankly it was just a name, but it became more to me than just a name, and now it is a mission.

For over a year and a half, I simply moved forward with Complete Fitness without knowing what I was really doing, yet I felt compelled to continue. Frustration set in because I wasn’t seeing any real progress although, we were able to help some people along the way. Sometime in 2016, when I was probably the most frustrated because I saw things that just didn’t make sense, and that’s when I met David Hill through a mutual friend.

My prayer dating all the way back to 2008-09 timeframe was to know Truth, and today I still pray for that. What I saw was solutions to many of the issues that we face in society today, yet they weren’t being done, especially by the church. Little did I know there was this guy that lived in the same town as I live that was doing something, and somehow I had never heard of it. His foundation was feeding thousands of people, helping sick children, fighting against the sex trade, and numerous things that you can look up at www.1spark.net. He, David, gave me hope and since has become a good friend and a partner in this mission.

Someone once told me when a verse of scripture is quoted. Then go back and see ifthe person that quoted the verse is using that verse in the proper context. His advice was to go one verse before and one verse after the quoted verse. If you still do not have the proper context, continue doing that until you do. What I learned was many verses or scripture, when taken out of context, can be used to manipulate. One of the reasons that I am writing this book is to take some of those commonly misused verses put them back into the context in which they were written. In doing this, I hope to expose those that are purposely manipulating others for personal gain. At this point, I do not plan on naming names because I want you to learn the truth, remove emotion, and let God lead you to the truth.

David nor I are perfect, so we ask first that you understand that. And, second that you test our words against scripture. Not because we are trying to pull a fast one, rather because we are only interested in the Truth. Even the Bereans in scripture tested everything that Paul taught them, and we do not claim to be Paul.

Another reason I’m writing what I write is to not only challenge you, but to challenge me. Jesus and the apostles that wrote the books in Scripture are pretty clear on how we are supposed to live. Things that are very hard and go against our human nature, yet Jesus perfected them all. He is our standard, and Jesus was and is perfect. I can never be perfect, but I’m given hope because the people written about in Scripture were not perfect either. Some were adulterers. Others were murderers, yet God used them in mighty ways, and He provided the perfect sacrifice for your sins and my sins.

Some will reject us, and I’m very aware of that, but some of you are thirsting for the truth. We hope to bless you through this writing, but more importantly we hope this is just the beginning of changing lives and creating a community that looks like and chooses to live as God meant for us to live. A life of Freedom!

The foundation of all that we write comes from the words of Jesus himself when he was asked by the religious leaders of his day, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

May God bless you and lead you to the Truth, and the “Truth shall set you free.” John 8:32

Mickey Ellison

Why We Play the Game?

Wiffle ball

Remember being a kid in elementary school on Career Day? Kids would dress up as firemen, policemen, astronauts, and doctors. Career Day for me meant I could wear my baseball uniform to school.

Baseball was a part of my family. My grandfather played in the old textile leagues in the south, my dad played, my older brother’s games, and of course the Cheddar Youth Center.Cheddar Youth Center

It did not matter where we were, somehow we would find a way to play baseball. We were obsessed? No, we were kids!

We simply wanted to play. Give us a cup, and before long it was wadded up in the shape of a ball, and a cup ball game was about to break out. Tin foil works well too, but hurts more than a paper cup. Behind the concession stand at the American Legion field or anywhere else where we could make a “field”. At home, with a Wiffleball and plastic bat, the door to the crawl-space was turned into a strike-zone and a ball hit past the clothes line in the air was a homerun. If it was dark the flood light came on for night games and thousands of games took place. No grass could grow on the pitchers mound or the batters box. Not because it wouldn’t grow, but because we played. Wicked curveballs, screwballs, dropballs, and risers were thrown. If you could hit these pitches, you could hit any pitches.

When no one was available to play with you, the game still had to be played. The door to the crawl-space and a tennis ball would work. Nine innings and the same crawl-space door was pounded by thousands of pitches. All nine innings and I never lost!

No one to hit the ball to you? No problem! All that was needed was an outside wall and a tennis ball. Diving catches to save the game in the bottom of the ninth with the winning run on third. Again, I never lost.

No one available to pitch? So! A cutoff broomstick, Pa Haynie’s gravel and a fence across the street is all that was necessary. (Making sure no cars are coming when you hit the rock is a good idea. Not that we ever hit a car.)

Baseball could be played almost anywhere!

That was thirty years ago. Fast forward to today. What happened?

Drive by your local ballparks. Most of the fields are empty unless there is an organized practice going on. Nine year old baseball teams are having tryouts, and 10 year old year olds are playing 80 games. I know a few coaches that have cut 8 year olds. Parents are shelling out thousands of dollars so their son can play at the “elite” academy, and fifteen year olds are traveling all over the country to play in “showcase” tournaments because college coaches can see them play. Really?

Kids play baseball because someone introduced it to them and they continue to play because it is fun. When baseball is fun, they grow to love the game. That’s why we played cup ball. That’s why we played Wiffleball! We didn’t need adults to organize our teams. There was no adult to yell at us because we missed a groundball or struck out. Dad wasn’t sitting behind home plate telling us what to do on every pitch. We just played! Why?

We LOVE the game!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tears

Yesterday, June 27, 2016, I went to lunch after having a conversation with a frustrating conversation with a client. I pulled through the drive-thru at Subway with the intension of grabbing a sandwich, and parking in the shade of the parking lot at Target that sits just east of the Subway. A little time alone, a sandwich, and music from the band Building 429 when I noticed someone holding a sign and asking for help at the other end of the parking lot. From a distance I could tell she was a young lady, and I watched people drive by as if she wasn’t there while I ate my sandwich. After about 15 minutes, I drove over to her and noticed that she had a 5 gallon gas can and written on the sign was family with 2 children needing money for gas. I rolled down my window and asked for the gas can, and she simply handed it to me, said thank you and God bless. From there, I drove to Quik Trip filled the tank and grabbed a bottle of water for her since it was well over 90 degrees. When I returned, she wasn’t standing at the corner of the parking lot, rather she was sitting under a tree. I pulled into a parking spot next to the tree because I wanted to know a little more of her story. She told me that the police had made her stop asking for help or risk being arrested. Turns out she and her family were simply trying to get home. She and her husband have a 2 year old and another daughter that is 7. As I was leaving I handed what cash I had in my wallet, this young mom says thank you and God bless and made a reference to Christ. As I was pulling away, I took one more look to see her wiping a tears from her eyes.

Contrast that scene with the conversation that I had with my client just minutes before seeing her in the parking lot at Target. This man has over 1.3 million dollars available to him and is worried about being able to make it through retirement. Need I say more? No, I will let scripture say the rest.

The Parable of the Rich Fool, Matthew 12:13-21

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Faith and Deeds, James 2:14-17

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 

Lesson from Pa Haynie

Pa Haynie

James 4:15

 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

My grandfather, better known to us as Pa Haynie, was one my heroes! He, along with my dad, taught me to love the game of baseball. To this day when I’m calling pitches, I can hear him say, “Mick, the best pitch in baseball is a high and tight fastball.” That being said, Pa Haynie, was also one the most Godly men that I have ever known. There was so much wisdom in his words and actions.

One saying that he used often was, “Lord willing.” As a kid, when I would leave him to go home I would say something like this, “By Pa, see you tomorrow”, and his response was always “Lord willing.” Those words seem so simple, and I never put much thought into them until now at age 44 and they are powerful!

I’m going to share with you some sayings that sound good, but they are missing something.

This one is attributed to Oprah Winfrey, “Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.” 

Here is another one, not sure who it’s from, “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.”

Mark Victor Hansen, “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Norman Vincent Peale, “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”

Lyndon Johnson, “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”

This list could go on and on, but I will stop with one last quote from Napolean Hill, “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

These are nice sounding quotes, and there is some truth to them, but why are they wrong? First none of them start with “Lord Willing”.  The beginning of this writing starts with James 4:15, but let’s add context to it:

James 4:13-17

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. 17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

Is this saying that we should not plan or have goals? Absolutely not! Ultimately, we have no control of many things that may happen to us, so to say we are 100% in control of our own destiny is not only a lie, it is dangerous! Where is my faith? In me? or in God? In everything we do and plan to do, we should always preface it with “Lord Willing.” If you want to lose weight, “Lord willing, I will lose 80 pounds in the next year.” If I want to be somewhere financially start it with “Lord Willing” I will accomplish whatever that goal is. Things could happen such as a car accident, the stock market crashes, my business fails and leaves me with $200k in debt, or I’m stricken with cancer. If your faith is in you, then what?

In one day Job lost his family. He lost his wealth, and a few days later he lost his health! His friends had all kinds of advice for him, yet they were all wrong. Never once did Job curse God. He knew God was in control of ALL things, and Job was powerless to do anything about it. Job was tested beyond anything most of us can imagine, and in the end God restored him because of his faithfulness. Job 1, Job 42

Paul said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We like to quote that verse when we are trying to accomplish a goal. What isn’t often quoted are the verses that come before where he said he had learned “the secret to being content”. Whether he was in need or in plenty, well fed or hungry, Paul knew that he could endure and be content because his faith was not in his situation, his stuff, or anything worldly. His faith was in Christ! Philippians 4:10-13

Have big goals! Have great plans! But always start with “Lord Willing” because the creator of everything may have different plans for you and me, and placing our faith in HIM will allow us to say, I’ve learned the secret to being content, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

Tomorrow, I leave for Powdersville, SC to share a concept that can change the lives of millions, and Lord Willing it will!