I’m Done Chasing Freedom: Sign Me Up

Most days, around 5 o’clock, I want to strangle life.

I do perfectly fine from 7am-4pm. 4pm starts to get a little dicey, and then 5pm…

I’m hungry, I’m tired, and, more than any of that, I’m emotional.

For 38 years of this life, I have struggled to reign in my emotions. It’s better than it was, but I want more.

I want freedom.

Emotions are my yoke. I walk through my life, secure in the knowledge of God’s great love for me, Christ’s unmitigated sacrifice for me, and the Holy Spirit’s counsel and care for me. However, I so often look around me at the world and pick up my yoke of emotions, heaving it on to my back, and then I let it push me until my face is in the dirt. Why?

It’s painful and it’s unnecessary.

But there’s good news for me, and for you:

We’re invited to stop chasing freedom.

Galatians 5:1 blasted through my life when I was a new mom, a new pastor’s wife, in a new location, and wanting anything but the life I had:

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. (NIV)

God values freedom. He values my freedom. He values your freedom. He values it so much that He gave His Son and sent His Spirit. He knows my heart better than anyone and still loves me.

He knows I’ll pick up that yoke.

So, He writes freedom across the pages of my Bible again and again to help me see it as reality. It’s there, He’s there, every time I’ve picked that yoke back up.

I’m no longer chasing and I’m no longer chased by my emotions, the scars of the past, my own brokenness, the expectations of this world, my sadness, my loneliness, people’s rules, my idols…all of it. I’m throwing off that yoke, every day.

This is God’s work in me.

This is freedom, in His Word and with His people.

Will you join me? Will you join us?

Let’s stop chasing freedom together. Let’s stand in the proclamation of all He’s done for us. Let’s stand in freedom won for us.

Chasing Freedom: A Study of Galatians is a 6-Week online Bible study, right here at ilovemyshepherd.com.

It can be done on your own. It can be done in a group. It can be done on the go. You can join in one day a week, or read a study post five days a week, or anything in between. You’ll never be behind, just join in when you can, read old posts if you’d like, share with friends online easily if a post speaks to you.

Here’s how it works:

Chasing Freedom is a 6 week study starting September 18 thru October 27th.

There are 4 posts a week, Monday- Thursday.

Thursday nights you can join in the week’s Facebook Live Study with women around the country on the I Love My Shepherd Facebook page, at 8pm CST or catch the video archive, when you can, on the I Love My Shepherd YouTube channel, linked right here every Friday morning.

Look for some Chasing Freedom extras to be revealed soon too, free downloadables and visual faith tools, as well as Young Adult and podcast extras.

Ready to sign up?

Subscribe to I Love My Shepherd by email, found at the top right side of your screen or at the bottom of the page on your mobile device. The study will come directly to your email inbox! If you are already subscribed to the blog, leave us a friendly comment below so we know you’re joining us and we can celebrate. 

Invite one friend or many friends to join you by sharing. The Word is so much more full when studying and finding insights together.

Embracing Freedom, around the Word, together.

Let’s do it. Are you in?

Dear College Student: Be Brave


Dear College Student,

Be Brave.

This is a big thing you are doing, not a little thing. Jumping head first into the world. Entering the unknown, in order to know and be known deeper; learning, growing, becoming a truer version of yourself.

Some days might be scary. Other days might be lonely. Some days will be filled with laughter, so full and rich, that you’ll beg for more days, just like that one. You’ll crave more of that, want more – stronger relationships, more authentic conversations, more vulnerability and less doubt.

You’ll look around you and know suddenly that these are the people that you’ll stand beside to watch them marry, you’ll walk together through success and failure, you’ll hold each other’s babies. You’ll cry with them when their jerk boyfriend leaves them, even though you never really liked him anyway. You’ll comfort each other with Doritos and Halo Top, when life sucks the heart and soul right out of you. You’ll cheer and jump when someone gets accepted to something that seemed impossible and elite.

But again, none of it will be easy. It will be good, but very rarely will it be easy, and that can be more than a little disconcerting.

It’s time to be brave. Braver than you’ve ever been.

It’s not actually about reaching the skies. Don’t worry, GPA matters, but people matter more.

Be brave.

Care about truth more than being right.

Set some boundaries. Give of yourself, but only give yourself away to Jesus. Care for friendships, stay up late, do crazy things, but know your limit.

Be brave.

Tell boys, “No.” Tell girls, “No.” Only drink when it’s classy, and stop before you think you should. When situations feel not-quite-right, they aren’t. Get out, don’t do it. We all have a reverse button. Use it.

Be brave.

You have one life and one body, be good to it. Eat good food, three times a day, plus snacks. Workout, join intramurals, or be your athletic self. Get sleep. Stand in front of a mirror and tell your body it’s doing a great job. Don’t berate it. Speak the truth in love to yourself. Make sure you don’t creep out your roommate while doing it.

Be brave.

Some friendships may die. Some of the first people you meet may be your friends forever, but it’s ok if your first roommate isn’t the best one, and it’s ok to let a friendship go when it doesn’t bring out the best in either of you. God is always bringing new people into our lives, some things are worth holding on tight to, while some just aren’t. That’s ok.

Be brave.

Decide what really matters today. And if it takes some time to figure it out, that’s fine too. But don’t let professors tell you what really matters. Don’t let Joe Schmo tell you what you believe in.  Surround yourself with people who have questions, but are looking for answers, not those who believe they have them already. There is a difference between believing in something and being a know-it-all.

Be brave.

Listen for and follow people who share hope. Watch out for people who claim zeal with no mercy. Something is off. That’s a warning signal. People who cry mercy, but have no truth, that’s destructive too.

Think for yourself.

Ask often, “Is this truth in love and love in truth?”

Be brave.

Do not leave your Bible at home. You are going to have to open it, even if you never have before. If you don’t own one, go buy one. I’ll send you one, for that matter! You need a foundation, or everything you think you’re building will crumble. Look in the Word of God for the answers. Find pastors and campus ministries. Go to church, not just for the message, but to be part of the people of God. Seek, find, knock, and pray. Otherwise this world will seem so hopeless, so broken, so lost, that it will physically hurt.

Be brave.

Hold tight to Jesus. He’s not worth giving up – for a boy, a class, a job, a reputation, or a moment.

Be brave.

It’s hard. It’s work. It’s good. It’s new. It’s vibrant. It’s awesome.

Walk brave.
Think brave.
Be brave.
These are some of my favorite college students to be brave with.

* …for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord… 2 Timothy 1:7-8a 

 

Written in Iron Ink: Cancer, waiting, and a God who tends

Cancer is everywhere.

I’m no longer surprised by the growing list of those fighting cancer in our church bulletins, in our personal prayers, and in our neighborhoods and families.

Satan likes to destroy and if he can do something easily, he’ll take that route.

The good news is that cancer only destroys the body. It feels like it destroys the spirit, but time and again I have seen individuals I love stand up and fight it and proclaim the victory of Christ in it.

I am in awe. I am in awe of a God who works hope when life seems to be falling apart and I am in awe of the individuals who cling to Him in the dark moments, as well as the light.

In my recent podcast visit with Rev. John and Sharla Fritz we talked a lot about Waiting, because that’s the title of her latest book, but also because it is the earthly reality of life with cancer.

There are lots of gems of insights from the Fritz’s, but my favorite is their awareness of today. Cancer reminds you that each of us is only promised today, and while it is very imperfect, that day is a tremendous gift.

“Tending to the tender mercies of today.”

This day, right in front of us.

Cancer may feel like it’s winning, this day.

Life may feel overwhelming, this day.

The road may seems so long, or way too short, this day.

The waiting may be unbearable – waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for treatment options, waiting to see if the treatment options worked, waiting to see if it’s in remission, waiting to see if it comes back, waiting to hear how your loved one is doing, waiting, waiting, and more waiting…this day.

But God is tending in the waiting. He tends to us. He tends to our spouse, our children, our loved ones. He tends to today and He tends to eternity.

The body of Christ is there to tend to one another. This life is so momentary. Cancer makes us intensely aware of that, but…

this momentary life is lived in His hands, and best lived together.

God works His testimony in even this, in cancer. He works to shine the hope and light of Christ through our body’s imperfections and weaknesses. He shines so very bright.

He also gives us one another in the wait and I have rarely seen God shine brighter than in tending to one another.

I pray that however you have been touched by cancer, this resource and the other resources listed below will be used by God to tend.

Resources:

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Amazon

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Concordia Publishing House with free downloads

Cancer Companions

Phil’s Friends – Care packages for those with Cancer