Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Maintaining our freedom (3)

In this series we will be looking at freedom through a magnifying glass. Freedom as mentioned in Galatians 5:1, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

It is not as easy as it seems to give a personal definition of freedom. If you struggle with an addiction you want to be free from that burden. If you have a sickness you want to be free from that pain. If you have continual thoughts about fear and worry, you want to be free to think different thoughts. Well, we can all fill in the blanks... From a personal point of view we can all come up with a definition of freedom, based on our own experiences. If we would ask any group of teenagers to give a definition of freedom, we will get a totally different response then when we would ask the same question to a group of elderly people. For young people freedom often means: doing whatever you want or feel like, saying whatever you want or feel like, living without rules. This is the freedom the world promotes. But if we are really honest we know, in our heart, this is not real freedom, but anarchy (chaos, misrule, state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority).

Biblical freedom is totally different from worldly freedom; it is freedom from sin, shame and guilt, but also the freedom to choose. As human beings we are created with a free will. God has put the freedom to make choices in every person, whether you are a Christian or not. The freedom from sin, guilt and shame however, can only be obtained through grace and by faith in Jesus Christ, by asking Him to come and live in us with his Holy Spirit. Don't ask me why this is the only way. God has decided so and I cannot add or change anything. The Bible keeps it simple with a wonderful promise: If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). Who doesn't want that, who can refuse such an offer?

To be truly free and staying free... starts with making a choice for Jesus. We all have the freedom to do so. No one can force a person to make that decision, but we can surely encourage others to make this choice. If you desire to be truly free, ask Jesus to come and live in your heart. It is no more complicated than that. After we make that choice it is our responsibility to keep our freedom, to not be a slave again. More about that in the next post.

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds (Titus 2:14)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Maintaining our freedom (2)

Each time I start a new series on this blog it is exciting to see whether a subject has the reader's interest. Curious as I am, I checked the blog statistics after my previous post and I am thankful to see that many are reading with us.

We will take a closer look at freedom as the Bible mentions it. What kind of freedom is that and, to make it practical, how do we maintain that freedom in our daily lives? The basic scripture I am using for this series can be found in Galatians 5:1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

It is very clear from this scripture that it is Jesus Christ who offers us freedom. Not our relationships, not money, vacation, therapy or medication. Nothing or no one can give it like Jesus does. It doesn't really matter which subject is being discussed, everything starts and ends with Him. Everything starts with putting Jesus in the center of our lives, our thinking and acting. Therefore it will be useful to start this series with a proclamation, a statement, of who He is. Feel free to read aloud the following:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:15-20).

Jesus is not just someone we talk about or read and sing about. He is the Son of the living God and He wants to live in us with his Holy Spirit. In that way making our body his temple, his home... a place where He loves to live. Now, no one in his or her right mind wants to live in a prison, not us, not the Holy Spirit! That is why Jesus offers us freedom, real freedom, and He wants us to keep living in that freedom. The reality is, that maintaining our freedom does not come automatically. Often we find ourselves (sometimes without realizing it) again enslaved by sin, sickness and/or worries... Maintaining and enjoying our freedom starts with understanding what that freedom is all about.

If you sincerely want to think about this subject it might help to write down, for yourself, what real freedom means to you.
In the next post I will write some more about worldly freedom versus biblical freedom.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Maintaining our freedom (1)

Not too long ago my husband and I spoke at a conference in Germany about the theme FREEDOM. A week later we shared the same messages during a youth conference in Belgium. The responses to this theme were very positive, sometimes surprising and always moving. One thing became very clear: maintaining our Christian freedom does not happen automatically.

On this blog I would like to take a closer look at the theme FREEDOM. In the coming weeks I will share short, readable and understandable summaries of the five sessions that make up such a conference. The scripture we have used as a foundation throughout all sessions can be found in Galatians 5:1, It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. A remarkable scripture. At first sight I thought: Duhhh... for what else? Of course He has set us free for freedom. You don't need a degree in theology to understand that. But as I was reading along, it became clear that living in freedom is not to be taken for granted. It is possible to become burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Maybe you think slavery is not of this time and age. Maybe you think slavery is limited to addiction, or maybe you have no idea at all when thinking about that word. But, when we look around us, we can see millions and millions of people who are a slave of:

  • money (whether having nothing or having too much)
  • approval (being a people-pleaser)
  • power (either manipulating and intimidating or being manipulated or intimidated)
  • laws and rules (being legalistic and not being open to the Living Word)
  • fear and worries (not being able to think differently)
  • sickness and ailments (having given up on healing)
  • television (watching what we don't really want to see)
  • fantasy (living in a make-believe world)
  • Nicotine, drugs, alcohol, medication (purposely destroying the body)
  • pornography... and the list goes on and on

It doesn't matter whether you are a Christian, a Muslim or an Atheist, no one escapes the joke of slavery that tries to come on us if we are not careful. Yet, the Bible is very clear about it: we are supposed to live in freedom. In the next post I will take a look at biblical freedom versus worldly freedom and furthermore concentrate on the three words that link the first part of Galatians 5:1 with the last part: STAND FIRM, THEN.

It is my hope that you are willing to read along and that you will be encouraged by what the Bible teaches on the subject. We need it more than ever!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Dare to write something unusual

Do not be afraid to write something new,
a short story if you've never done so,
or a poem for a friend
By all means: write!
Do not be afraid to discover the outer most edges of your talent...
and see what happens

Happy blogging, happy weekend!