Freedom Fridays: What is Freedom? Part 1

I’m starting a series I’m going to call “Freedom Fridays”. I’m hoping to at least post here every Friday on Freedom Fridays and make that my focus for now.

Why talk about freedom?

Freedom is my anthem – it’s my life’s theme. And the questions that come with the word “freedom” are questions I continually ponder.

What is freedom? What does the Bible have to say about it? Is it attainable? If so, what does that look like?

I do not have all the answers. What I can say is that most of the time, I feel free! Plus we already know it’s not about how we feel; that does not dictate my reality. Do I still have struggles? Yes, but I don’t feel enslaved to anything.

This wasn’t always the case. I struggled for years with several life-controlling issues (an eating disorder, sexual brokenness, self-injury, to name a few). I also wrestled with what I thought “freedom” should look like in my life, and these are some of the things I’ve learned in the process, as well as things learned while ministering to others.

Galatians 5:1 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Jesus said He came to “proclaim freedom for the prisoners” (Luke 4:18). Let’s start by understanding our terms: What is Freedom? In the New Testament, there are several words that are translated as “freedom”, “liberty” or “release”. And they basically mean the “liberty to do or to omit things having no relationship to salvation”, “living as we should, not as we please” or also “release from bondage or imprisonment”.

I would go a step further to say true freedom is living in the fullness of all God created you to be. It’s learning to walk in His design, what He wanted you to be when He created you. This is the freedom that Jesus died for.

Why is this topic so important? Because I believe it’s one of the most misunderstood topics in the faith.

Most Christians seem to reside in one of 2 extremes. Some settle for a lot less than God has to offer. If asked, they would say they, of course, believe that God is the able to do the impossible (to deny this would be to say Jesus was lying), but they don’t really believe God wants to do anything extraordinary in their lives or in their struggles. They just hold on till heaven. Then there’s the other extreme where believers can have an unrealistic idea of what freedom looks like, and how long it should take. They expect some sort of “zap” experience wherein temptations & struggles disappear in a moment. They quickly forget that even Jesus, who was without sin, was tempted! The Bible says we are a new creation, so shouldn’t we just snap our fingers and all our troubles should vanish? Well, that’s not Biblical either.

Let me explain a little more what I see as the middle ground of these 2 beliefs. If this freedom for which Christ died was a simple process & easy to grasp, then the direction offered to believers in Romans-Jude would be unnecessary and you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. I believe Scripture teaches that freedom is both a one-time gift and a process. The moment we come to Jesus Christ, He gives us freedom through the Holy Spirit, so that we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:17-18). But that freedom is something we need to learn to walk out.

So how do we learn to walk in true freedom? More on that next week 🙂

How To Keep Dreams Alive

How do we keep out dreams alive?

Through the mundane of life, how do we keep dreaming about the plans that God has laid and is laying on our hearts? How do we not get bogged down by the bills to pay, diapers to change, mouths to feed? How do we get our eyes off the obstacles in the way and rather lift our eyes a little higher, keeping the prize in view?

When I had already written all the above, I came across this blog entry. He gives some practical advice on how to get out of the rut you may have fallen into and get back into focus.

Some of it is not super practical for a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom like me. Finding a big chunk of time to spend alone and focus on God, the giver and sustainer of my dreams? Near impossible!! I’m thankful for the 10 minutes I sneak by myself in the morning to read God’s Word. But on a very rare occasion, my kids do sleep at the same time, and I really need to take hold of those moments and focus on Him.

I can also do small focus moments throughout the day. I enjoy having a Bible reading application on my iPhone, as well as a couple of devotional apps. I also listen to podcasts of some Christian speakers I enjoy and am inspired by as I go about my day. Sometimes, while my children are playing, I may even have the opportunity to read a few pages of a book! And just interacting with my children reminds me of who God is as my perfect heavenly father, and how His singing and rejoicing over me to exponentially bigger and greater than what I feel for my own children. The bottom line is that It’s easy for my focus to get sidetracked, so I can use these small things to bring it back to Him.

It certainly can be (and is at times) easy to get discouraged when I don’t feel as if I have the time & space to see my dreams come to fruition. As a mom, I need to remember that my primary mission is here at home! God has given me & my husband two (so far!) beautiful children to care for. God forbid I ever look on them as an obstacle to what God has for me in my life. On the contrary, when God knit together His plans & dreams for me, He already orchestrated all the great things my husband, my kids and I would do together!

Rather I keep my focus on the giver and perfecter of my faith, the One who is able to make His plans come to pass in His perfect timing. I’m just along for the ride 🙂

The Importance of Practicality

Today, I heard a great teaching on the importance of transparency and authenticity in our relationships, as we desire to live in freedom from life-controlling issues and grow to be the people God created us to be. I walked away from that time, wholeheartedly nodding my head and saying “Amen!” I also walked away, feeling as if there needs to be more practical instruction on how to develop these authentic and transparent relationships.

It made me think of this great quote:

“Preaching a sermon that is strong on information but weak on application is like shouting to a drowning man, ‘SWIM, SWIM!’ The message is true, but it’s not helpful.” From Jay Kesler via Kathy Koch

This quote is a bit harsh to blanket-ly apply to the teaching I heard because there was some application and some examples, but I’m a 3-point sermon kind of girl, and I like to walk away with a handful of things I can do today! So I followed up, asking for some helpful hints 🙂

Is Having One Best Friend Biblical?

This is not a new topic, nor is it one I thought up. I actually first heard it at an Exodus conference, and then read more about it in the book Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend. I’ve since wrote about it at Boundless.

I’ll quote myself is saying that Jesus had 12 good friends, His Apostles, but He also had three intimate friends whom He took with Him certain places, such as the transfiguration, and the raising to life of the dead girl in Mark 5. At the Garden of Gethsemane, He had the nine other disciples sit at a distance while Peter, John and James went further into the garden with Him.

I never made the connection that when Jesus called the first disciples, Peter (also called Simon), James & John, they already had some sort of established relationship. I read today in Luke 5 that James & John were Peter’s fishing partners. Jesus built a relationship with the 3 of them together.

Just a tidbit I found interesting 🙂 I’ll actually be writing about Mark 5 in a future blog post about how to find the right kind of support.

I’m Twittering

OK, yes, I know it’s called “tweeting”, but “twittering” sounds like more fun.

I’ll be sharing faith thoughts throughout the day, as well as any public events, etc.

My Twitter name is “livingunveiled“. Livingwithunveiledfaces was too long!

There’s also a feed on my blog home page.

If you are tiwttering yourself, add me and/or tell me your name and I’ll follow you as well 🙂

God is Trustworthy

God does what He does because of who He is.

We can’t separate the two.

Often, we are willing to praise God and to thank Him when we see how He’s working and when we know that He’s answering our prayers. But during the times when it seems as if He’s not hearing us, the times when we can’t figure out what on earth He’s thinking, we tend to turn our backs on Him. We praise Him according to what we see rather than what He sees. God’s character hasn’t changed. We have changed. He is still the same God, whether we know how He is working or not.

What we think we want isn’t always what He supplies, but He will supply.