Freedom


Healing is a choice. It’s not our choice though, it’s God’s choice. It’s always God’s choice.

God created a natural healing process. When we get injured or when we get sick there is a natural healing process that takes place. Healing doesn’t always happen though. Sometimes people get injured or get sick and healing doesn’t occur and they die or live broken lives. OR, the healing doesn’t happen in the way or the timing that we want. For example, God may choose not to heal the physical or mental illness. He may choose, instead, to give us the inner strength, peace, and resources to cope with the illness. How and why this happens I haven’t a clue. Healing is God’s choice. It’s always his choice.

When it comes to emotional and spiritual wounds, however, I believe that God wants to heal us. I believe that he wants us to be healthy emotionally and spiritually so that we can better serve him. He also gave us free will, which means that we are able to make choices. The choices that we make can either allow God to heal us or can hinder him from healing us. Our choices can either facilitate the natural healing process or can block it.

The first choice we need to make re: emotional and spiritual wounds is whether or not we want to get well. Believe it or not, not everyone wants to get well. We can become comfortable with our wounds and want to hold on to them. Though they may get in the way in some area or areas of life, they may be our best friends or protectors in other areas.

The next choice we have to make is are we willing to do whatever it takes to get well. Sometimes there are things we need to do, doctors that we need to see, medicines that we need to take, procedures that we need to undergo, therapy sessions we need to go to, recovery meetings we need to attend, etc. in order to get well. The question then becomes are we willing to do whatever is needed.

(Some of the above content is paraphrased from Steve Arterburn’s book Healing is a Choice)

There is an event recorded in the gospel of Luke about a man who did what he had to do to be healed. “One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seems that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, ‘Young man, your sins are forgiven.’ But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, ‘Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’ Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.’ Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!’ And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God” (Luke 5: 17-25).

Here’s a song about this event. I invite you to take a listen.
Joy Gardner – Healer In The House (Live)

Today those of us who live in the United States celebrate our political freedom. It is ours simply because we are Americans. We don’t have to do anything to get it. Political freedom was obtained for us by individuals who paid very high prices to obtain it, such as:

Cost of the American Revolution:
• Total American military casualties were approximately 50,000 men.
• Of these 50,000, approximately 8000 died in battle; 17,000 died from disease.
• Of the 17,000 that died from disease 8-12 thousand of these contracted diseases while living in the deplorable conditions of rotting prison ships in NY harbor.
• Another 2500 Americans died while encamped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-1778.

Cost of the Civil War:
• Casualties were approximately 750,000 soldier deaths.
• Of those 750,000 soldiers, 56,000 died in prisons.
• Another 60,000 men lost limbs.

Spiritual freedom is also available to those who want it. The price that was paid for spiritual freedom was also very high. It was bought and paid for by one man. Jesus Christ obtained spiritual freedom for us at Calvary. Spiritual freedom, however, is not automatic like political freedom. We have to do 3 things to obtain our spiritual freedom. Those 3 things are: 1. Accept Jesus’s work on the cross as a personal gift; 2. Give our lives to him to do with as he pleases; 3. Lay our hurts, habits & hang-ups at the foot of the cross & LEAVE THEM THERE!

Political freedom and spiritual freedom are very different and do not necessarily coexist. It is possible to be politically free and be in spiritual bondage. It is also possible to be spiritually free and be in political bondage. Political freedom is being released from the bonds of others. Spiritual freedom is being released from the bonds of self.

The Apostle Paul discusses spiritual freedom in his various letters. Paul’s calling, the assignment God gave him, was to travel throughout the known world preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ and planting churches. He would stay in a certain location for a period of time, plant a church and move on. He stayed connected to the churches he planted by writing letters to them.

Toward the end of his ministry Paul spent approximately 2 years in a Roman prison. While there, he wrote letters to the churches in Phillippi, in Colosse, and in Ephesus. Excerpts from these letters:
• “So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1: 6-7).
• “So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 7).
• “… you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” (Philippians 1:27).
• “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).
• “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am participating in the sufferings of Christ that continue for his body, the church” (Colossians 1:24).

To me, there is no clearer example of spiritual freedom than the image of Paul sitting in a foul Roman prison chained to a Roman guard writing these words.

To summarize:
We obtained political freedom by winning.
We obtain spiritual freedom by surrendering.
When we are politically free we do what we want.
When we are spiritually free we do what God wants.

When we are obedient to God he rewards us by infusing us with an internal peace that the world cannot give and cannot understand. It surpasses human understanding because it can only come from God.

Excerpts from When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough:

A number of years ago I read an article in a Psychology Today magazine titled Whistleblowing (by Myron Peretz Glazer and Penina Migdal Glazer, August 1986 issue). This article resonated with me (which is why I held onto it). It seems that when I was young I was endowed with an absolute inability to tolerate injustice, oppression, and dishonesty. To complement this, I was not endowed with an ability to keep my mouth shut. Due to this combination of characteristics, I have been a whistleblower my entire life and, believe me, this has not won me a whole lot of friends. What it is has given me though is a clear conscience and an ability to tolerate opposition.

The article contained words of advice from more than twenty resisters. I found most of the advice to be solid and worthwhile. One word of advice that I did not agree with, though, was “Don’t tilt at windmills; don’t waste your strength and courage fighting a battle you know you will lose. There are more than enough fights around that offer a chance of winning.” Rather than agreeing with and heeding this bit of advice, I agree with the following statement made by Martin Sheen’s character in the movie An American President :“Don’t fight the fights you can win, fight the fights that need fighting!”

In addition to getting this article out and periodically reading it for encouragement as I wrote this book, I read the book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas. Sacred Pathways is about spiritual temperaments. Our spiritual temperament, or our sacred pathway, is “the way we relate to God, how we draw near to him.” Of the nine sacred pathways Thomas identified, two of them (sensate and activist) describe how I draw near to God.

Thomas says that Christians with a sensate spiritual temperament “…want to be filled with sights, sounds, and smells that overwhelm them when they worship. The five senses are God’s most effective inroad to their hearts.”

In describing someone with an activist spiritual temperament or sacred pathway, Thomas says, “They define worship as standing against evil and calling sinners to repentance. These Christians often view the church as a place to recharge their batteries so they can go back into the world to wage war against injustice. . . . They find their home in the rough-and-tumble world of confrontation. They are energized more by interaction with others, even in conflict, than by being alone or in small groups.” Other statements he made regarding the activist sacred pathway are as follows:

• “It can take some time for the enthusiasm generated by the activist mentality to be tempered and seasoned by maturity and foresight.”
• “Every activist must learn that faithful obedience doesn’t always result in immediate success.”
• “Activists will never be satisfied playing it safe. They need to experience the exhilaration of seeing a miraculous God come through in miraculous ways.”
• “Activism is one temperament that, while it tends to spiritually feed many Christians, can also exhaust them.”

For many, many years I did not like my tendency to be a whistleblower. I wished I wasn’t like that and I tried to change it. I tried to be oblivious or tolerant of injustice and oppression. It never worked. I tried valiantly to keep my mouth shut about injustices and wrongs I saw. I failed even more miserably at that. When I read Sacred Pathways and realized God had wired me to be an activist, I finally relaxed about that part of myself and actually embraced it. I do wish, though, that my tempering and seasoning had happened a bit sooner. I might have made a few more friends if it had.

The more I studied it and thought about it, I realized that the activist temperament is my primary sacred pathway and the sensate temperament is my secondary pathway. I have felt that spiritual exhaustion when I am absolutely running on empty both emotionally and spiritually. When I am in a worship service where the music is excellent and the worship leader is worshipping, not entertaining, I can engage in authentic and meaningful individual worship. I then feel spiritually nurtured and energized and ready to take on the world. I realized that when God wired me to be an activist he knew about how exhausted and depleted I would get, so he wired me with the secondary pathway of sensate so I could be replenished and energized. Isn’t he a wonderful God?!

I just finished reading Tim Tebow’s book Shaken. I liked it very much. Parts of it resonated with me on a deep level in a very affirming way.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

o So many times we are paralyzed from forward movement because we hold ourselves down. We compare our journeys, our losses, our victories, our marriages, our jobs, our dreams, our families with everyone else’s. And in our minds, in some way, we fall short…When our self-worth crumbles, when we’re not feeling confident, when insecurities overwhelm us, we have to remember whose we are…remind yourself how much God loves you and that He has a unique purpose and plan for your life.

o Trophies don’t last. Awards come and go. Impressive titles move from one person to the next. But how we live can make an eternal impact.

Those of us who are Christ followers remember today the last meal Jesus shared with his apostles. Tomorrow we remember the torture and death he endured for us, and Sunday we remember and celebrate his resurrection from the dead, thereby defeating death forever.

Phillips, Craig & Dean – Revelation Song (Live)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdvgEGlZ_UI

Excerpt from When Doing Isn’t Enough:

Love is not a feeling. It is an action. It is a choice. We can choose to act loving, even when we don’t feel loving.

If you want an example of pure, perfect love, think about what Jesus Christ did for us. He left the glory of heaven to take on human form and do something for us which we were not able to do for ourselves. He created the way for us to get to heaven. He explained this to his disciple Nathaneal in the first chapter of the gospel of John, verse 51: Then he said, I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth.

Jesus chose to act loving by carrying his cross to Calvary in Jerusalem and allowing Roman soldiers to nail him to it, then staying nailed to it until he died. A picture of pure, perfect love is Jesus, bloody and beaten beyond recognition, hanging on a wooden cross. He did not have to stay hanging there. He chose to stay hanging there. It was not nails that held him to that cross. It was love, love for each and every one of us, past, present, and future.

Jesus understood that the reason he had come to earth was to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongdoings of all mankind. Throughout the three years of his earthly ministry, he never lost sight of his purpose. He stated The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life John chapter 3 verses 14 to15. As Jesus went about ministering to people by teaching them and healing them, he was always moving toward the fulfillment of his purpose. Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem (Luke 13:22).

We get a glimpse of how Jesus felt about going to the cross in the account of him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest. He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’ Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:  41-44).

It is important to note that Jesus went to the cross out of obedience to his father and love for us. It was a choice he made in spite of how he was feeling. Prior to his arrest, Jesus spoke to the apostles about the choice he was making. He said, No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded John 10:18. He also stated, There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13).

The Apostle John spoke about this expression of God’s love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (1 John 4: 9-10).

 

 

Finished reviewing the edited version of my new manuscript, When Going with the Flow Isn’t Enough, Swim Upstream. One more excerpt:

Lasting change begins on the inside, i.e. in our hearts. Our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and values change first. Then, our behavior changes to line up with the internal changes. If our hearts don’t change, we may be able to maintain behavioral changes for a while, however, it won’t last. We will eventually go back to behaving in a way that reflects our heart. Jesus Christ made this point to a group of Pharisees when he said “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart” (Matthew 12:35).

Throughout this book I will be highlighting individuals who made significant contributions to both the civil rights movement and the women’s rights movement. I am hoping that their stories will touch your hearts, as well as encourage and inspire you to swim upstream against gender inequality in the church, if you feel moved to do so.

There is a critical difference, however, between effecting change in the world and effecting change in the church. That difference is: fighting for gender equality in the church is not about women’s rights or affirmative action. It is about spiritual liberation. It is about truly allowing Christ to be the head of the church by following the leading of the Holy Spirit when choosing who will serve in what ministry roles. It is about allowing individuals with the spiritual gift of leadership to lead, and allowing individuals with the spiritual gift of preaching, to preach, regardless of their gender.

 

 

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