…An Embrace of Freedom

i am free

My prayer, today, is that we embrace the freedom we’ve been given, as a gift, in Christ. May we boldly receive His forgiveness, declare “I am free”, live in it and love one another through it. Press play to hear the song on my heart.

You’re the reason I have hope / You’re everything I need and more / You made me / You made me free 

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

…Different Response to the Zimmerman Trial

Over recent weeks, the George Zimmerman trial has been at the forefront of news headlines, social media, water cooler discussions and conversations amongst family and friends in the United States. Frankly, since the death of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, many have been consumed with whether or not Zimmerman is guilty or not guilty.

When the verdict was read on Saturday evening, the reaction of millions could immediately be heard and seen throughout the country. The support, as well as the opposition was expressed with fervor. The initial reaction in my own home and from my family and friends was equally passionate. Taking in the feelings of others seen on television and the thoughts of those on Twitter that evening weighed on my heart. Where I could understand that everyone had the right to their own opinion and also clear on how we could end up on different sides of our take on what actually happened; what burdened me the most was the realization that the majority (if not all) of us were missing out on an opportunity…to be different.

As I replayed in my mind so much of what I’d read and heard about the incident and the trial over the weekend, God placed the need to talk to Him about it on my heart. At first, I assumed He solely desired that I pray for the comfort of the family that lost their 17 year old young man. I cannot fathom the emotions they have experienced, and at that time, felt that it was our responsibility to cover their hearts with as much intensity as we expressed our positions on what they were going through. As I began to go in on my prayer, I realized the need for much more.

As many of us wondered whether or not violence would play a role in the response to the trial’s outcome, and as many debates continue to occur on whether or not race has been or remains a factor, the necessity for forgiveness is prevalent. Therefore, as we move forward this week and in the upcoming days; and even as the interest and enthusiasm of this trial may waiver, I charge us all to be different in our response to the Zimmerman trial.

When drawn to share our opinion on the subject at hand, let’s instead choose to  seek and ask for a heart of forgiveness – forgiveness for our own judgements of the prosecution, defense and families, and forgiveness between the Martins and Zimmermans for one another. When reading or watching news updates from witnesses, juror interviews, and more, let’s elect to think and act with a heart of compassion. Then, no matter what side we are on, we can walk in freedom from our own thoughts of disappointment, pride, resentment, anger, revenge, hatred, doubt and/or fear. We can truly be the difference He’s called us to be – and through Him love our neighbors and our enemies selflessly, and as ourselves (Matthew 22:39Matthew 5:44).

…Happy Independence Day

freedom

The United States observes today, July 4th, as our Independence Day. My prayer is that we all reflect on the gift God’s given us to be able to claim our freedom everyday (Galatians 5:1). See how Jesus Be A reflected our freedom in Christ in 2012 here.

…Publisher of a Glorious Story

shout3

Ever find yourself in the middle of a conversation when you suddenly realize that you’ve said just a bit too much; revealed a little more than you intended to; or wish you would have stopped talking about 2 minutes before you actually did? Well, I tend to experience exactly this in more than enough instances. When I click with someone, I easily become chatty (to say the least) and have noted that my tendency for transparency can serve as either a gift or a blunder.

In recent weeks, I’ve found myself in several discussions about discussions. As VS and I brainstormed ways to better connect with friends that we see and talk to less often, we asked each other whether or not we’d ever taken time in our gushing moments and long winded conversations to simply share our story with them. With NS, I vetted my internal back and forth in whether I’m being too open, should be more open or am not being open enough with my JBA supporters and  friends. During a D-group call, we talked about relationship stewardship and the importance of discerning what to and what not to unveil about our own lives within discipleship. And, in conversing with MT, we recognized the struggle we sometimes face in choosing to be unreserved or politically correct in our friendly dialogues within the purview of our workplace.

In a moment, it dawned on me. The common thread in each discussion was the charge to make a conscious decision about the level of transparency to walk in with each person that God had given us. It can be so easy to be talkative about the trivial things; and in turn, it can be so easy to keep quiet about those things that are truly meaningful. Thus, the focus of our decision in each relationship that we have is not only about how transparent we are, but what we’re transparent about.

Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does. Psalm 93:6 (NLT)

Testifying seems to be the most common and natural means to attest God’s goodness. Just as we once were, our family, our friends, our co-workers and even strangers that we encounter are searching for change, joy, peace, love, answers, provision and solutions. Therefore, regardless of what we currently think, someone out there can and is waiting to benefit from our story.

I was encouraged to give my testimony after experiencing freedom through hearing a testimony so akin to my own journey. Initially, the task seemed daunting. But, the memory of how I first felt in realizing that God is for me, just as He is for the woman with that testimony, kept me invigorated. Just as she had done, in obedience, I wanted to be bold; I wanted to encourage others with what He was doing in my heart and in my life; I wanted to defeat the enemy by sharing my victory. And, in doing so even in the first time, He proved that His Word does not return void. One young lady openly let go of her conviction after hearing the story of how He allowed me to do the same.

When we are open, He’s able to use our chattiness for His glory…not just in formal settings, but even in the day to day conversations that we have. The more we share of how He became real and alive in our lives, and the more we share about the positive changes He has made in us, the greater the invitation is for Him to show up.

I encourage you to find and tell someone your story this week. Whether in front of a small group or with one friend, do it. It is one of the easiest ways to brag on our loving Father, and it is one of the greatest ways to sow seed. Here are a few brief steps on how to share your testimony, below. For additional tips, please click here.

  1. Briefly describe your life before Christ
  2. Carefully explain how you came to the point of submitting your life to Christ
  3. Joyfully describe your life since Jesus became Lord

Someone is waiting on your testimony. Be ready to publish and proclaim it. If He did it for us, He’ll do it for them. Let’s not keep that truth ourselves!

…Freebie

On July 4, 1776, the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence, proclaiming liberation from Great Britain. Today, we observe this as our Independence Day.

The 4th of July is recognized as the US national holiday as a means to commemorate our freedom. Regardless of whether we actually recognize the true meaning of the holiday, most of us enjoy the day off of work relaxing at home, attending parades, cookouts or concerts, going to the beach and/or watching fireworks.

As this holiday approached, I questioned myself on how much I actually knew or remembered about the history of the day (without going to Wikipedia). In recalling its significance, I pondered on whether or not I truly value the freedom that the US declared from Great Britain over 200 years ago. And, in turn, I reveled in the realization that even before 1776, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…” Galatians 5:1.

Knowing that we could never keep all of the old covenant laws (in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy), Jesus Christ came to fulfill the law for us. In His work on the cross, His death and His resurrection, He liberated us from the law. By doing so, we are enabled to receive His freebies, the gifts that He freely gives — grace, mercy, peace, power, righteousness, etcetera!

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering… Romans 8:1-3

In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul reminds us that because of Christ, we are no longer slaves to sin, but we are free to live under grace (Romans 8:14). While, John 8:36  simply and boldly declares “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

My prayer, today, is that we each are reminded of the invaluable state of freedom that Christ has given us; that we recognize the true meaning and significance of our freedom in Him. We “…my brothers and sisters, were called to be free…” Galatians 5:13. So, let’s boldly receive forgiveness, accept that freedom, live in it and love one another through it (Galatians 5).

Jesus, thank you for Your freebies.

SM.