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On July 4th 1776, a group of leaders joined together to authorize the publication of a declaration sent to the King of England.  These leaders joined together to stand against the reign of King and a political system that epitomized tyranny and exploitation.  

They banded together around ideas that had been born years earlier.  Ideas that would revolutionize our world.  Ideas that would change the way governments were ran and how the average person in our world experienced life.  

While these ideas originated in the Enlightenment with men like John Locke years before, they came to a head in this document with words like: “We hold these truths to be self evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This document would declare the thirteen American colonies independent of England and free from the rule of this tyrant king.

Signing this declaration would most certainly warrant a death sentence from the King and his regime.  This group of leaders banded together and joined in with their signatures to begin this revolutionary move of independence.  

The leader of the group is credited with the first signature to be applied to the completed document.  His name is John Hancock, and if you ever get to look at photo of the Declaration of Independence (or the real document itself), you will immediately notice that his signature is five times larger than the others.  It was a bold statement of commitment, total commitment, to a cause much larger than himself.

I thought about this moment this past weekend.  And I thought about our church.  I thought about the leaders that Jesus has given me the privilege to work with and how we are all engaged in a similar fight for independence.  I thought about how bold they are in their commitment to this move of independence, and how much many of them have given to advance it.  I wanted to take a moment and publicly thank them for that:

Bob Morgan.  Bob has given up so much in life to do what he does in ministry.  He freely gives of his time, above and beyond what’s expected, his energy, and his passion.  Bob has walked through some difficult places personally, and he always finds a way to try to make you smile, no matter what he’s going through. He’s courageous and dedicated.  I thank Jesus for Bob’s commitment and courage.

Linda Roberts.  Linda is remarkably invested in our church.  There is nothing that she does not care about in church and nothing that she thinks we cannot do.  She’s one of the few leaders that whenever she’s approached with a new idea for ministry, her mind starts turning on how to make it happen.  She is remarkably capable and dedicated, never looking at something as above or below her.  I’m thankful to Jesus for Linda’s investment in our ministry, because she constantly lives out Jesus through her dedication.

Josh Walters.  Josh was a friend of mind before I came to our church.  He is one of the most genuine and loving guys I’ve ever met.  He is also a remarkable minister.  He has a gift for contextualizing Jesus into a relationship or a moment or a talk or a service.  He has a passion for his Savior, for his students, and for his Family.  He always tries.  He is also one of the most giving men I’ve ever met: he’s helped me move, helped me build a fence, let me borrow his stuff, etc.  I’ve told Josh repeated that he makes me better, not just at doing what I do but being who I am.  I’m really thankful to Jesus for Josh, his friendship and who he is as a man.

Kathy Tetreault.   Kathy is one of our worship leaders.  She is gifted beyond belief.  She can literally hear a song and determine the key and chord progression simply by ear.  She’s passionate about music and passionate about serving Jesus.  Kathy has chosen to stick it out during times when there was a lot of change around her.  She is constantly willing to form new friendships and help teach those around her.  She is remarkably faithful and helpful to me, personally, with our worship program.  I am thankful to Jesus for Kathy’s dedication and service.

Greg Dowey.  Our Senior Pastor is one of the most passionate men I’ve ever worked around.  He is passionate about Jesus, because he constantly returns to Jesus’ words to affirm both our practice as a church and our vision.  He is passionate about the bible; he always uses the bible as a standard for our beliefs, our practice, and our vision.  He is passionate about prayer; he gets to work early every morning and prays long before the rest of us show up.  He is passionate about giving; you could never know all the ways that our pastor gives to our church and to others … I’ve seen portions and am amazed.  Our pastor is passionate about grace; he is always faithful to view a difficult moment through the lens of the cross.  I love that he quietly teaches us how to love our families and how to laugh.   I love that he never takes himself too seriously.  I thank Jesus for our Pastor’s passion and ask that Jesus would share a little bit of that passion with the rest of us.  I also thank Jesus for who our pastor is as a person.

Be reminded: our community needs independence from tyrants, the tyrants of sin and self, and we are joined boldly together to spread to them the message of freedom that Jesus has offered us through his cross.

Please join with me in praying for these men and women as they lead the way.   Often leading is full of difficulty and danger.  However, I know them and they’re not backing down.  So, also pray that God advances His message of freedom in our community as we boldly declare it.

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