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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

By Mike Edwards

It isn’t always easy to believe in an invisible God; it isn’t always easy to know how an inaudible God is speaking or guiding us. If God was more visible or audible, wouldn’t our spiritual journey be easier? Jesus established a 24-7 relationship with twelve men and they struggled to believe everything that came out of Jesus’ mouth. Today, God’s awing or overpowering presence may only lead to fearful obligations to obey. I am convinced the road traveled of learning and reflecting better leads to lasting convictions. Maybe God speaks to us in non-dramatic ways out of love!

We are right to look for God’s direction through God’s spirit.

It is reasonable to imagine that since God is invisible that God’s Spirit resides in us and somehow guides us. There is rightly an emphasis in Christian circles that God guides up by their Spirit as opposed to the Bible (i.e. Holy Spirit). When Jesus was leaving this earth, He said the Spirit not some Book such as the Bible guides us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). How do we discern such guidance?

We have more freedom than we realize if God truly created genuine freedom.

We often seek God’s voice in important decisions such as career or marriage. It is natural to think an all-knowing, powerful God has special insights into future outcomes to avoid problems, but creating freedom requires an undetermined future. To say God knows the future suggests a predetermined future which makes freedom nonsensical. God can’t tell you if the person you want to marry won’t end up betraying you or the job you take won’t end up being phased out. God is in life with us. We are free to make our own decisions while being open to the Spirit’s influence to act in the best interest of not just ourselves but others.

Doesn’t God mainly guide through influence?

The example a parent sets, than direct commands, is often how best to guide children to make wise decisions. Doesn’t the Spirit mostly speak through influencing? We know the Spirit’s influence when we have thoughts to be the perfect partner, parent, or friend we desire to be deep down despite our constant failures. We know the Spirit’s influence when we recognize violence begets violence and respond non-violently. We know the Spirit’s influence when we have wronged someone, we quickly confess and make amends. That just isn’t always natural. All we have to do is being open to the Spirit’s influence.

Isn’t the Spirit’s voice only human impressions or thoughts so we can never be certain?

I mentioned Jesus left this earth saying we would be guided by God’s Spirit in discerning Truth (Jn. 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem overly concern that Truth requires discernment. Jesus didn’t spell out what those specific Truths are. Which decision to make depends on individual circumstances. What may be best for one person about their marriage may not be best for another person. Relax, there is practically universal agreement on most moral matters. Criminals don’t defend their murderous actions; they deny they committed such actions. Certainty when it comes to politics or God has only led to justifying verbal or physical violence in the name of God or morality. Keep an open mind to what God is like!

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by Jim Gordon

I recently listened to a YouTube video by Richard Jacobson and in it he mentioned veal crates. I had never heard of that before so I checked it out a little. It was interesting reading about veal crates and it got me to thinking about another type of box.

What I found was that veal crates are a close-confinement system of raising veal calves. Veal crates are designed to limit movement of the animal because meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. In some veal crate systems, the calves are kept in the dark without bedding and fed nothing but milk.

Veal crates seem to limit the calf from being able to move about and roam in much larger areas thus getting exercise which would cause the animal to strengthen. It also keeps them from contact with other calves and under the control of the person raising the calf.

VealCrate

Personally, this makes me think of the institutional church. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I am not an enemy of the church. I was part of the institution for over fifty years and very involved, so I can speak as an insider rather than someone who knows nothing of what I am saying. I do believe the institution confines us and limits the freedom God intended us to have.

I also realize that people cannot just up and leave because someone else says they should. It is a choice between the person and the Spirit. I believe there is specific timing as to when and if someone leaves the religious institution. I know for me it took fifteen years or so of being dissatisfied and thinking there had to be more. As Barbara Symons mentioned in her book ‘Escaping Christianity: Finding Christ’, “There is a need for all of us to experience restriction until Christ is formed within—like a pearl within an oyster, closed tightly until the time of harvesting. Before I understood this principle, I tried to convince others to leave the system as I did and in retrospect, it was before their time. I felt like a cage fighter; only my opponent was the cage itself. I was battered and beaten by trying to dismantle the religious system from the inside out as I tried to liberate those still within its grasp. I now understand that people will remain within restraint as long as they need to”.

People are brought into the box of religion and kept there to support and grow the institution. Once inside the box they are taught what that particular denomination believes or how that specific pastor thinks. Sometimes they are kept in the dark and only fed the milk of the word rather than the meat that gives them strength, knowledge and the ability to hear the Spirit for themselves.

Many times, people are restrained from being free to serve and use the gifts they have been given. Therefore, due to lack of exercise of using their talents they become weak and have no confidence to do anything other than what the institution says.

Most of the time they are only having fellowship with those within the box and usually encouraged to avoid fellowship with people who see things differently or do not go along with their way of thinking.

Outofthebox

Rather than enjoying the freedom God has provided outside the box and a life of accepting others and loving others, they are kept inside. By doing so they learn to exclude people, avoid certain people and are only fed the knowledge the institution and pastor wants them to know, all with the purpose to keep them from leaving.

It seems to me that breaking out of the box and being free to follow God without the rules, regulations and expectations of religion would be a much better way of showing the love of God to others. Being free to fellowship with all people, accept and love others with the love of God no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are not meant to be confined within the walls of institutional religion. God has set us free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. We are free from the rules that religion puts upon us for the purpose of making us better Christians. We are the Church that Jesus is building, a people who love and follow him not a building or organization.

Rather than live within the confines of the box religion puts us in, break free and live in the world God has created. Love people, accept others and show the unconditional love of God to everyone.

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by Jim Gordon

Here in the United States we are always talking about freedom of speech. I have to say I am in favor of it, yet many times the practice of it seems to be done in the wrong manner.

Freedom to say what we think, how we feel and what we believe should be the right of every individual. Done in the right way it should not be a problem for anyone. There are questions as to how far we go with this and what is beyond freedom in regard to the rights of others and disrespect towards others, but that is for another discussion.

The trouble starts when one group thinks they should be able to say what they think but the other group should not. Or one person is very judgmental and condemning in what they say and are very rude in their presentation. Or the person or group speaking thinks everyone should conform to their way of thinking.

Freedom of speech should be done in a respectful way. Make your point and speak your mind but do it in a way that is not mean and judgmental.

FreedomofSpeech

Also remember that we will all have different views and opinions and just because we are free to speak them out, we should be accepting and respectful towards others whose views are going to be different.

Most of the time we would rather fight and argue over opinions, trying to prove ourselves right and the other person wrong. Name calling gets started and it ends up in a mean free-for-all and nothing gets accomplished.

Just because we have the right to say what we think, we have to realize that it is only our opinion. Not everyone will agree with what we say and we should be respectful of others opinions.

It would be best if we could say what we think in a kind and respectful manner, yet I know that does not happen most of the time. By being mean and condescending towards others we usually cause people to be defensive and respond in the same rude manner.

Enjoy your freedom of speech. Express yourself, give your views and opinions in a respectful way but allow the other person to have the same freedom. If we could express ourselves in this manner I think we would make more of an impact and we could actually have meaningful discussions with one another.

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Galatians 2:16 – nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus

Ephesians 2: 8,9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

We christians usually focus on pleasing God and living for Him by trying to obey the ten commandments and trying to do the right things.

We will go to church every time the doors are open, tithe our 10 percent, we will not smoke, drink, dance, go to movies, we will look down and condemn those who do not do what we feel the Bible commands. We feel guilty every time we mess up and think God is going punish us if we do not do everything we think is right to do as christians.

The truth is because of grace we do not have to be trying to keep the law at all. We do not have to try to do good works to earn our favor with God.

What happened to grace? What happened to being saved through faith in Christ and Him alone. Not Jesus and baptism, not Jesus and good works, not Jesus and avoiding certain things. We are saved through faith in Christ and we no longer have to do any of these things to be a child of God. We have freedom in Christ that was bought and paid for with the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This freedom does not mean we just live our lives doing whatever we want. There are consequences in this world for doing things that are not good for us. As it says in 1 Corinthians 10, “all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good but that of his neighbor”.

We have freedom from the Law because of the grace of God. We do things out of love, love for God and love for others. It is no longer out of obligation or trying to follow any law.

Stop putting your faith in trying to follow all the rules and regulations of the old covenant law. Stop forcing the law on others thinking that will make them better people. Jesus fulfilled the old agreement and began a new agreement, an agreement of love and grace.

We no longer strive to please God through the law, but we do what pleases him because of love.

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I am becoming more and more angered over the religious freedom talk and the laws being signed in various states across our country.

I know it sounds good and I do believe everyone should have religious freedom. Yet a lot of these bills sound more like discrimination to me.

When we sign into law a bill that forces one groups views on everyone, or when the religious beliefs of one group are forced on another group that is not standing up for your faith…that is discrimination.

Whether it is discrimination against Muslims, Gays, Atheist, Black, Christian or whatever group we could mention, forcing the views of one group on everyone else is not right.

loveyourneighbor1

It is also hard to believe that people want laws passed saying that if you have a certain religious belief you expect everyone to adhere to that belief and you do not have to give the same rights and consideration to other groups of people.

What happened to the teaching of Jesus to love our neighbors and do not judge? Do we not remember that Jesus spent time with the non-religious people and those who the religious crowd would not spend time?

We need to remember just because people are different, just because we have different views and different faiths or no faith at all, as christians we believe God created us all and He loves us all. We as his followers are to do the same.

We are not going to legislate christian morality. We are not going to convert anyone to our way of thinking by passing laws, especially those that discriminate against anyone.

Remember, as christians we are to love God, love our neighbor, love our enemies, and love those who hate and mistreat us. The Holy Spirit is the one who will convict the world of sin where convicting is needed.

Obviously, this does not mean we are all going to agree. We can have our individual beliefs and ways of life and still respect and care for each other.

We should stop trying to do the job of the Spirit and love one another in spite of our differences.

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Here in the United States we recently celebrated our national independence. We all enjoy the sense of pride we feel at this time of year and we celebrate the freedoms we have. We enjoy watching fireworks and the many ways of celebrating with friends and family.

I, along with most Americans, love my country. I certainly do not agree with everything that goes on and we are not even close to being a perfect country. I also cannot agree that we are a Christian country or one nation under God, yet in my opinion that this is a great country and I am very happy living here. So many opportunities, so many good things and so much abundance for a lot of us. So many people served our country and gave their lives for it and we are all very appreciative.

We have a democracy and freedom that a lot of people do not have although as time goes by it seems we are losing more and more of them. Yet I would not want to live anywhere else.

The political system that has been set up in our country gives everyone the right, freedom and opportunity to vote and/or run for office. I do have a problem with the fact that so many people think that being a Christian means being a Republican. Truthfully these days I think our political system is one where neither party is totally moral or completely trust-worthy, so I certainly do not put my hope or trust in any political group.

As followers of Christ we know that our true citizenship is in heaven and our true leader is Jesus. When it comes right down to it our all-out allegiance is to God and not to any country or political system.

KingdomofGodwithinYou

I do not think there is anything wrong with loving and respecting your country. Like Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. No matter which country you live in you have grown up there and love your country.

Although we are separated by countries and political systems those who are followers of Christ are united in being citizens of the Kingdom of God.

We need to remember that our loyalty is not to be to any country or political system. Our true loyalty is to the Kingdom of God. Our true allegiance is to God and living as one with our Father.

As followers of Christ feel free to celebrate the good things we have in this country. Respect the people who have given so much for the freedom we enjoy. But keep in mind that this is not our home. Our home is with God, we live in the Kingdom of God and no matter what country you live in God is within you through the Spirit.

We also can celebrate our independence from the old sin nature through Christ each and every day in any country or political system. We can rest in our freedom in Christ and live for him daily. Let His life flow out of you to show others the love and freedom He has given to us by grace through Christ.

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We Christians like to make things so much more difficult on ourselves with constant effort trying to follow the ten commandments, tithe, church attendance, do this, do that, don’t do this, stop doing that. We have the mentality that in order to be approved by God we have to obey the law and be busy doing things for Him. We think that by doing these things we feel better about ourselves and are more spiritual because we are doing something for God.

Galatians 2:16 and 20 make it plain that we are not justified by the works of the law but we are justified by faith in Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life here on earth. He fulfilled the law, the rules and regulations that God required for a person to be perfect. By doing so, when Christ died on the cross he was qualified to be the perfect sacrifice that would do away with our sinful nature. When He died He fulfilled the law, or the old covenant. He said ‘it is finished’ meaning the old agreement was complete and done.

Finished

When He died and rose again he paid the penalty for our sins and set us free. We were spiritually crucified with Him. Now all our sins are forgiven and the sinful nature is dead and buried. We are now raised up as new creatures in Christ and live as the righteousness of God because of the free gift we received through Christ.

We no longer live according to the old covenant and trying to live up to the law. We no longer live trying to do enough good works to be worthy and earn our salvation. We are now free in Christ and we live each day by faith in Him. We live out of love for God because of the grace that was given to us by Christ. When we continue to try to follow the ten commandments and Old Testament law, we are saying that the death of Jesus was not enough to pay for our sins.

Enjoy the freedom Christ purchased for you. Don’t bind yourself to all the rules and requirements of the law. Live a life being free in Christ, and live it out of love for God and love for one another.

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