Category Archives: Freedom

God’s Gift—Freedom of Choice

imagesGod gave Adam and Eve a wonderful gift. He told them how to use it. Still, they chose not to follow His directions. Do you know what the gift was? Here’s a hint:

In Genesis 2:16 (NLV), God tells Adam:

You are free to eat from any tree of the garden.”

A few sentences later, another hint:

“God made every animal of the field and every bird of the sky. He brought them to the man to find out what he would call them. And whatever the man called a living thing, that was its name.” (vs. 19–20)

1371397Freedom to Choose 
That was God’s gift to Adam and Eve in those first days of human history. It came with one rule: “Do not eat from the tree of learning of good and bad. For the day you eat from it you will die for sure.” (Genesis 2:17) Instead of obeying God, Adam and Eve decided to obey a conniving serpent. They chose bad over good.

God had given them a beautiful life on Earth, a life just shy of heaven. He wanted only good things for His humans. One of those was freedom of choice. God set Adam and Eve free to make every choice, including whether or not to obey Him. He also warned them that choosing wrong had consequences.

Today, Freedom of Choice remains one of our greatest gifts. It’s not provided by nations. It’s a gift given by God. Each of us has the right to choose between what pleases God and what displeases Him—And just like Adam and Eve, every one of us is guilty of making bad choices.


This leads to the issue of judging others. We might disagree with the choices others make, but too often we forget that God has given them the freedom to choose. We should react to an unsafe choice or a choice to harm someone, but in most circumstances when passing judgment on others we need to remember that their choices are between them and God.

Here are two questions to think about:

  • When judging the choices others make, do you support their freedom to choose?
  • Do you believe that supporting someone’s freedom to choose is the same as supporting his or her choices?


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Filed under attitude, Desiring God, Freedom, judging, Relationships, Sin, Uncategorized

47 Years Missing in Action—This Vietnam Vet is Coming Home


Photo courtesy of Michael Van Bendegom

In 1967, James Van Bendegom joined the Army to fight in the Vietnam War. Unlike some high school seniors who planned to attend college and avoid the draft, James enlisted. He quit school and left for Vietnam on Father’s Day.

On July 12 of ‘67, 18-year-old Van Bendegom was on patrol in the Ia Drang Valley, near the Cambodian border, when the enemy ambushed his company and nearly wiped them out. Fifty-five American soldiers died, many of them executed as they lay wounded in the battlefield. James and at least one other survivor were captured.

The name James Lee Van Bendegom joined the long list of American MIAs, whereabouts unknown.

James was classified as missing-in-action for several years. Then, based on circumstantial evidence in 1969, his family received word that “Jim” might be alive and a prisoner of war. That hope was dashed, however, in 1973 when returning war prisoners reported that Jim had died of his battlewounds. His body, they assumed, had been left in a mass grave.

Life went on. Jim’s brothers married and had children, Jim’s parents grew old, his dad died in 2002, and his mom turned 89 this year—

VeteransThen, a few weeks ago on October 17, Jim’s mom received a phone call. A portion of Jim’s remains have been found and positively identified through DNA testing.

Jim is finally coming home.

This week, a police escort will lead Jim back to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Citizens there will line the streets to pay their respects as his motorcade passes by. Then on Veteran’s Day, James Lee Van Bendegom, a casualty of the Vietnam War, will finally be laid to rest, at 11 AM, with full military honors.

His mother will be there to welcome Jim home. And as her son’s remains are lowered into the grave, in her heart she might hear him whisper, “Mom, I’m not dead . . .

“God armed me with strength, and He made my way perfect. He made me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. He trained my hands for battle; He strengthened my arm to draw a bronze bow. He gave me His shield of victory. Now, His right hand supports me, and His help has made me great.” [paraphrased from Psalm 18:32–35 NLT]

Welcome home, Jim. Welcome home.

We honor you,

the 522 American soldiers still classified as MIA,

and all those who served . . .


Read more about James here.

Local newspaper article



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Filed under Freedom, Veteran's Day

What Might Baal and the Oklahoma State Capitol have in Common?

empty-gilded-wooden-frame-2360047I rarely use my blog to vent or share my opinions, but this week I’m making an exception. I want to comment on an article in the L.A. Times, “Why Christians should embrace the Satan statue in Oklahoma.” If you are not familiar with plans to erect a statue of Satan near the Oklahoma State Capitol, please take a minute to read the article.

I use pictures in my blog posts, but you might have noticed that the picture for this post is missing. Some of you may disagree with my decision not to share the picture accompanying the Los Angeles Times article, but our Constitution gives me freedom of the press (to choose what I will or will not publish) and also freedom of religion. As an American, I am grateful for my constitutional rights.

The problem I have with the idea of Christians “embracing” the Satan statue goes back to America’s beginnings and my mother’s ancestors.

My Doty family arrived on the Mayflower in 1620. They were pilgrims. Their main reason for leaving England was that they wanted freedom to worship God as they pleased and not as the Church of England required.

In describing the moments before their departure on the Mayflower, Governor William Bradford wrote, ”…[they, the pilgrims] spent a good part of the day very profitably and suitable to their present occasion; the rest of the time was spent pouring out prayers to the Lord with great fervency, mixed with abundance of tears . . .but they knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on [the sadness of leaving], but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country, and quieted their spirits.” (From Bradford’s manuscript Of Plymouth Plantation.)

The Plimoth Plantation web page explains that a scripture passage from Paul to the Corinthians added to the pilgrims’ reasons for leaving: “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” (2 Corinthians 6: 16-18 NIV)

The italics in that scripture are mine. “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?…. ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.”

As an American, do I believe in freedom of religious expression? Yes. Do I accept that people have the right to equality in expressing their religious beliefs? I do. But I cannot help but wonder what my pilgrim ancestors would say about Christians “embracing” a statue of Satan. Would they link it with Baal worship in the Old Testament? If they were to come back today from heaven would they remind us of God’s warning in Deuteronomy 6:14–15: “Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you; for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a jealous God and his anger will burn against you, and he will destroy you from the face of the land.” (NIV)

I believe that many Americans, in their attempt to be fair, have lost sight of the Christian principles at the root of this country’s beginning. No, Christians should not embrace the Satan statue in Oklahoma. But, the one thing that they must embrace is that we are in the end times, and God will judge America according to its actions.


Next week, I promise, a much lighter post.


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Filed under Freedom, History, Politics and Current Events, Random Ramblings, Uncategorized