Be gone backpack: Old yokes, new yokes, no yokes

Ever since I was 14 years old people have been telling me that I’ll have back problems one day.

In my academic zeal (yes, honest to goodness zeal) I would load every textbook I owned into my backpack and carry it around everywhere, just in case there was any moment to study. A single moment of study could make the difference between failing and excelling, in my mind.

I remember an actual moment at a concert for Green Day when I took out a set of notecards to study “for just a second.”

I sound super dorky, I know. I wasn’t really crazy about it. I just minored in crazy.

Even in grad school I hefted that backpack everywhere.

I realized something once I turned about 36:

I carried that backpack around because I wanted to change the world and the only way I could see that happening was by hefting around a giant load of books and learning everything I could about it.

My backpack of knowledge couldn’t change the world. Only Jesus can.

He might use my knowledge, my connections, my relationships, my life to share His Word and His Work, but I don’t have to yoke myself to getting it all done myself.

This was so very refreshing. I don’t have to do it all, be it all, figure it all out.

God has got this whole world in His hands. He is at work. I tried to carry around some yokes, but friends, it just never works out. Instead He gives me fruit and armor, instead of yokes. He gives me life and salvation, instead of a backpack filled with requirements.

On today’s podcast we’ll talk about the old yokes everyone carries around, the new yokes we might try to put on, and finally move on to getting to no yokes in Christ Jesus.

 

It is for freedom Christ has set us free – Galatians 5:1

Go forth in the freedom of Christ, leaving the backpack of our sins and all the expectations of this life on the pavement. Lift your hands to Him and say “thank you” to the Maker of the stars and the Healer of our hearts. He is working freedom in you every day.

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Restoring Grace

There’s nothing like ending a study on some grace.

Let’s do just that. Grace is an abstract concept.

More grace sounds just like what we need in this New Life of Freedom. Grace pouring in from a Savior who pours out.

How do we bring grace into our homes?

How do we bring grace into our families?

How do we end conversations with grace?

How do we end each day with grace?

Paul teaches the Galatians and he teaches us well. Galatians 6:18 reads:

18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Freedom means all the grace, welling up, running over. Freedom in not holding out expectations, not holding in hurt and bitterness, letting God work where darkness once held us captive.

Let’s talk grace in today’s podcast, lots and lots of grace.

Find the final video lesson for Chasing Freedom here –

Freedom from “the Show”

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Restoring Belief: It’s right in front of you

Have you ever tried to get a van full of kids to school on time? Every day? For, like, 152 days out of the year?

Have you ever attempted to get someone under the age of 8 to a doctor’s appointment at a specific time when the receptionist already gave you a hard time for “fitting you into the schedule?”

About twice a week I have this conversation:

Child: Where are my shoes?

Me: Right there.

Child: Wait, where?

Me: Right by the shoe bucket.

Child: Where are my shoes?

Me: (Picking up single shoe from the pair) Right here.

Child: (Looking in the opposite direction at a Star Wars guy or the dog or cheese) I don’t see them.

Me: RIGHT HERE!!!!!

Children have a hard time seeing things, even when they are literally right in front of their face.

Literally…right there.

We aren’t much different though, at times, and the Galatians along with us.

Galatians 6:11 leaves me to imagine Paul, sitting down to pen the conclusion of the letter, with parental strokes of purpose:

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!

Large letters, right here, Galatians. Pay attention. This is stuff that matters. Focus.

We aren’t really sure why Paul wrote in large letters. Commentators tend to differ on the explanation for this verse. It was customary for Paul to use a scribe, or the fancy word for scribe, an amanuensis – the word manuscript comes from the same root in Latin – someone who takes dictation.

We find a similar verse in 1 Corinthians 16:21:

 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.

The scribe would normally have written the letters as Paul spoke, but it is unclear whether Paul wrote Galatians out as a whole himself, or whether he ended the letter in his own pen, which was more clearly true in other epistles, like Corinthians above, Colossians 4:18, and 2 Thessalonians 3:17.

Do we just follow what’s the norm for Paul? Is it possible that Paul wanted to write to the Galatians himself in particular? Does it matter?

I’m not sure it does, but it’s fun to contemplate. More importantly, when do we need things written in large letters?

To some degree, I think the Galatians, just like us, needed Paul to get in their face, to hold their cheeks in his hands, so to speak, look directly in their eyes and say –

This is the Gospel. Right here. Right in front of you.

Don’t miss it for all the other junk laying around. Don’t be distracted by the Star Wars guys and the cheese of today. Shift your eyes a little to the left and you’ll see freedom was there all along.

You see, the Galatians never lost their freedom. God’s freedom just is. God’s Gospel is reality for the believer.

But in our frantic search for what to believe, we can miss what God has already given us.

The Gospel is simple. This is belief:

Jesus saves. Jesus frees.

Mark 16 finds a group of women, standing before a tomb they thought had sucked up their freedom. Lord have mercy, it makes me weep to read about it. Mark 16:6-7:

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

Don’t be alarmed. He is not here. He has risen!

He was risen, even when they failed to see it. The angel wrote in large letters for them, “He told you so.”

Freedom is the same. He told us so:

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. (Mark 16:16)

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (Matthew 6:31-32) 

 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever…(John 14:16)

Take these verses and tuck them into your heart.

You are free.

His promises are right in front of our faces.

Rejoice in the One who sets you free indeed! Walk out that door, two shoes on your feet or barefoot and too slap happy with freedom to notice. Freedom reigns in your heart, and in your lives.

See what large letters I write this to you:

You are free. 

Discussion questions:

What do you or your children usually miss that is right in front of your face?

Who in your life reminds you most often of freedom, rather overtly or by the freedom they live in each day?

Which Bible verse speaks freedom into your life (from any in this study or another in your heart)?

Walk barefoot on the pavement and take a moment to praise God for eyes-wide-open, large-letter freedom.

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