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While There Is Still One Soul In Prison

Empathy Freedom Outreach

Source: “Debs, Eugene V.” By Kyle Anthony, published INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR, retrieved 11/9/15

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Contributed By: Fred Gates | Date Posted: 2015-11-15

Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:15 ; Romans 3:23

Author: Fred Gates
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ILLUSTRATION

In 1900, Eugene V. Debs unsuccessfully ran as a candidate for the presidency of the United States as a member of the Social Democratic Party, and later as a member of the Socialist Party of America. He was an outspoken critic of US involvement in World War I. 

On June 16,1918 Debs delivered an anti-war speech which would ultimately land him in prison for violation of  the Espionage Act of 1917, with the courts citing his intention to obstruct the draft and recruitment for the war effort. Debs appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, but failed and began serving his 10 year sentence on April 13, 1919. While many others prosecuted under the controversial act were subsequently pardoned, Debs was released in 1921 when President Warren G. Harding commuted his sentence to time served.

Though his politics were no doubt in opposition to those of a democratic, capitalistic society, his identification with the needs and plight of the masses are both interesting and even perhaps convicting. At his sentencing hearing he famously expressed himself saying, “Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

APPLICATION

Debs' self-assessment of his identification with the lowliness of all humanity was not born of spiritual enlightenment, but more likely of secular idealism. Nevertheless, his sentiments hearken back to those of the Apostle Paul who recognized that no matter how great his accomplishments might be, he was no better than any other soul: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). 

May we all have this mindset in us—that we are no better than any other; we are all sinners! And while there is one soul still imprisoned by sin, locked outside the fold of God, we are all indebted to bring that soul into the liberty of Christ alone. 

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT).

Freedom Is Not A Luxury

Freedom Bondage Spiritual Life

Source: "Remarks by Ukrainian President Poroshenko to the U.S. Congress," Speaker: Petro Poroshenko Published September 18, 2014

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Neal Pollard | Date Posted: 2014-09-25

Scripture: Galatians 5:1

Author: Neal Pollard
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ILLUSTRATION

On September 18, 2014, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke to a joint-session of the United States Congress. It was an impassioned plea, from beginning to end, as he spoke in his broken English about the trials his people have endured for many months now in the face of Russian aggression. He gave poignant examples of brave men who have been killed for their courageous stand against ruthless enemies. 

In his imploring call for help, he invoked our own past path as a nation and our pursuit of liberty. It was then that he exclaimed, "Let's show them that freedom is not a luxury (as some try to convince them), but a necessity – and a precondition for the true success of a nation!"

APPLICATION

In the spiritual sense, this stated idea is most true and important. Sin is a horrible dictator and master, brutalizing and bringing death to those who are under its power. Eternity is in the balance for us. Will we leave this life as free men and women or as slaves? What makes this so much more paramount is that it is harder to discern spiritual bondage than physical bondage. We may think ourselves perfectly free, all the while toiling in the chains of darkness!

Paul made his own impassioned plea to the saints at Galatia, when he wrote, "Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1).

Can you imagine a nation or even an individual who had endured torture and seen loved ones murdered, now enjoying the rights and privileges of freedom, but voluntarily returning to that former way of life?

It is unthinkable, unless we speak in the spiritual sense. There we find people running back to embrace the enslaver of souls. To them we would exclaim, "Freedom is not a luxury ... It is a necessity--and a precodition for the true success" of spiritual life!

Beheaded Journalist James Foley Found Peace In Prayer

Prayer Peace Freedom

Source: "Phone call home A letter from James Foley, Arts ’96, to Marquette," published Marquette Magazine, Fall 2011

Link to Source: Click here to view source

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-09-18

Author: James Foley / Illustration Exchange
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ILLUSTRATION

Our sensibilities were jarred to the core this past week as news broke that ISIS terrorists had brutally beheaded American journalist James Foley. Foley had been in the terrorists' custody for two years prior to his assassination (unmercifully telecast around the world via video).

This however, was not his first capture. Foley had been taken captive in Libya in 2011, where he was held for some 45 days.

Following his release, he penned a letter to Marquette University describing the impact prayer had in sustaining, and ultimately liberating him from his ordeal. The letter reads, in part, as follows:

One night, 18 days into our captivity, some guards brought me out of the cell. … Upstairs in the warden’s office, a distinguished man in a suit stood and said, “We felt you might want to call your families.”

I said a final prayer and dialed the number. My mom answered the phone. “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.”

“Jimmy, where are you?”

“I’m still in Libya, Mom. I’m sorry about this. So sorry.” …

I told her. “I’ve been praying for you to know that I’m OK,” I said. “Haven’t you felt my prayers?”

“Oh, Jimmy, so many people are praying for you. All your friends, Donnie, Michael Joyce, Dan Hanrahan, Suree, Tom Durkin, Sarah Fang have been calling. Your brother Michael loves you so much.” ...

“They’re having a prayer vigil for you at Marquette. Don’t you feel our prayers?” she asked.

“I do, Mom, I feel them,” and I thought about this for a second. Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat.

The official made a motion. I started to say goodbye. Mom started to cry. “Mom, I’m strong. I’m OK. I should be home by Katie’s graduation,” which was a month away.

“We love you, Jim!” she said. Then I hung up.

I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head — my mother’s voice, the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.

My last night in Tripoli, I had my first Internet connection in 44 days and was able to listen to a speech Tom Durkin gave for me at the Marquette vigil. To a church full of friends, alums, priests, students and faculty, I watched the best speech a brother could give for another. It felt like a best man speech and a eulogy in one. It showed tremendous heart and was just a glimpse of the efforts and prayers people were pouring forth. If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did. 

APPLICATION

We can only hope and "pray" that the same dedication to prayer was the "glue" that gave him "inner freedom" to sustain him till he breathed his last at the hands of his captors, at which time he received his ultimate "release."

As James himself said, in those moments when nothing else in life makes sense, faith does! Rest in peace, James Foley, and all those who look to Christ for their ultimate freedom.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:4-7).

Desserts and a Cleanse

Cleansing Worship Freedom

Contributed By: Sam Shin | Date Posted: 2014-09-13

Scripture: Isaiah 44:22

Author: Sam Shin
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Boko Haram Decries Sin of Western Education

Freedom Truth Spiritual Blindness

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2014-05-12

Scripture: John 8:32 ; John 8:36

Author: Isha Sesay, Vlad Duthiers and Chelsea J. Carter /
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Mandela Now At Peace

Bitterness Peace Freedom

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-12-10

Scripture: Ephesians 4:31

Author: Illustration Exchange
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Happy Thanksgivukkah

Thankfulness Freedom Jesus, Savior

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-11-12

Scripture: John 8:32

Author: Lauren Markoe
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Re-Committing to the Ideals of Freedom

Patriotism Freedom Racism

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2013-07-05

Scripture: Revelation 2:4 ; Galatians 5:1

Author: Illustration Exchange
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Room for Doubt

Doubt Freedom Experiencing God

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-10-26

Scripture: John 20:29

Author: Frederick Buechner
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The First Duty of the Soul

Submission Devotional Thoughts Freedom

Contributed By: Illustration Exchange | Date Posted: 2012-08-16

Scripture: John 8:31

Author: Warren Wiersbe
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