Chasing Freedom: Fall Bible Study and the quest for free

Freedom

When you were a toddler you got your first taste of it…you may have started with the army crawl, perhaps you put one knee in front of the other in your pursuit of electric cords and other dangers glimmering from your side view.

Maybe you pulled up on a chair and cautiously slid a chubby little foot to the right to peek at where mom had gone. One day, your parents put your bare feet down in spiky grass at the park, the big blue sky shined bright overhead and you got your first real taste of possibility.

You ran.

There were bugs to chase, flowers to eat, and the sound of children laughing somewhere just within reach.

You began chasing freedom and have been doing so ever since.

When we become adolescents freedom becomes so important to us that we push for it at every turn. We buck rules, maybe not dramatically, but putting our pencil in just the right location to let it roll off the desk to annoy the teacher, pushing out angst when our parents make us show up for the family reunion or church picnic, not because we don’t enjoy it, but because we don’t want anyone to think we are following their expectations. We start to either reign ourselves in and make our own rules where we can or we bust out of expectations all together and find anything and everything to rebel on.

Ah, the days of adolescence…fun, exhausting, and important.

To some extent this fight for freedom will always be with us, because it’s a spiritual battle, not an emotional or intellectual one.

God made us for freedom, but we chase it and search for it all around us, always seeking a little bit more, where freedom already exists. We want control over our life, freedom from the expectations swirling around us, freedom from the pain inflicted by others, shallow or deep.

We want freedom, like we want air, and you would think this is only a problem for unbelievers, but it isn’t. No matter how mature we are as Christians we are always discovering what Freedom in Christ means and what that looks like in our lives.

I invite you to lean into this question with me this Fall. Dig deep with us into the six chapters that make up the book of Galatians, a New Testament letter written long ago by the Apostle Paul.

What does Paul know about my search for freedom in the 21st century? It turns out…maybe everything.

Let’s stop chasing freedom together and start sitting in the freedom we have, discovering more of all Jesus gives us, today and each day from here forward, throwing off the expectations of others and resting in the expectations of God and God alone.

Introducing…

 Chasing Freedom: A Study of Galatians  

our upcoming Online Bible Study – six weeks, September 18- October 27th. Mark your calendars, invite a friend, subscribe to I Love My Shepherd so you don’t miss it.

Oh goodness I look forward to studying with you. Look for updates in the weeks to come, a little more on where we try to find freedom and what we are seeking freedom from, and an official “sign up” day August 17th.

Freedom – this Fall.

Together.

 

Why we sell stuff: Products with a message

 

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Here’s the deal. We buy stuff all the time.

It’s a semi-well known fact that I am an Aldi aficionado, a TJ Maxx fananista, a regular at the local Goodwill, and I definitely get my Prime memberships worth in packages on my front doorstep, and this is with a modest income. My son tripped over an incoming package by the back door last week and my daughter kindly, yet snarkily, pointed out, “How can you trip over those? We get them, like, every day?”

It’s true. We all buy stuff daily. We buy stuff to eat. We buy stuff to live. We buy stuff to enjoy. We buy stuff because God has given us good gifts in this life and we were meant to steward them and certainly to enjoy them, especially with one another. We buy stuff to have guest in our home and to make it warm and inviting. We buy stuff for mission projects. We buy stuff for team sports and hobbies to share with others. We give gifts and love through gifts.

A while back, I had a post about a t-shirt my husband had with a very bold Christian statement across the front. This t-shirt not only attracted attention, it attracted conversation. This was my kind of shirt. It brought up the Gospel without me trying to hem and haw to get there. It removed awkward and let the Spirit do His thing.

I want more of this in my life and I want to help people find more of this in their life.

In talking with my friend, Melissa, I discovered I wasn’t alone. There had to be a way to deliver the message, gentle and bold at the same time, fresh and clear, reaching into the hungry souls around us.

Because the world is hungry.

They need to know. And honestly, on any given day I need to know. I need reminders, every where. Not just when I open my Bible, but when I sit at my table, and walk along the way, and walk down the road, and open my front door, while I sit on my couch, and lay my children down to sleep. I need to be surrounded by Jesus.

And so the Surround Me line was born.

All with the intent of getting the Word out there. We spend money on stuff we need and stuff we sort of need, and stuff we don’t even need.

What if we spent money on stuff with a message?

I invite you to check it out. Here are some samples…

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I invite you to share it with friends. Let’s get the message out there, intentionally.

You can see the Surround Me line on the Products with a Message page. Here’s an easy link to it:

Products with a message

When you purchase our products you also help us do ministry- to take the time to create blogs and Bible studies, to speak up on things that matter, to visit and encourage others, to provide opportunities for counseling, and teach who Christ is and why He matters most.

Let’s share the message. Let’s start the conversation. Let’s surround our hearts, our minds, our families, our homes, and our lives with reminders of all He is for us and in us.

Products with a message…stuff with a purpose.
#surroundme #starttheconversation #productswithamessage

 

Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless

Casting Away Stones
Week One – An Introduction to Ecclesiastes 3
Heart verse:
I perceived that what God does endures forever
                                                               Ecclesiastes 3:14a

Day One – Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless
Oh, Solomon, Solomon! Wouldn’t it have been amazing to see the man in all his splendor back in the day? Every time I picture Solomon, I’m reminded of an article I read when I was about 8 years old, in some kind of major magazine, People or Time or something. The article was about Imelda Marcos, a former first lady of the Philippines, who was rumored to have over 3,000 pair of shoes. I still remember gawking at the pictures in the magazine article. Glossy images of luxurious clothes and robes, I’m almost positive there were plush seats in the closet and drawers upon drawers of jewelry and bags. And the famous rows upon rows of shoes. It was a little girl’s dream come true, right there, laid out before me. In Sunday school, I heard the stories of Solomon – his wealth, his wives, his wisdom, his vast kingdom. In my mind, Solomon was the male version of Imelda Marcos and those images still spring to mind to this day!
Solomon, we know had lots of stuff. He had lots of wives and children. At one point at least, he had a solid relationship with God. Solomon asks for wisdom in 2nd Chronicles 1 (or 1st Kings 3) and we see him graced by God with so much more.

I believe it was the “more” that started to weigh on Solomon.
You see, he knew. I think Solomon knew that “more” just may be difficult to handle.
2 Chronicles 1:6-12
Solomon went up to the bronze altar before the Lord in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
By the time we encounter the Solomon in Ecclesiastes, we get the Solomon who has it all and who has tried it all.
Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
    I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my labor,
    and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
    and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
    nothing was gained under the sun.
Solomon tells us he wasn’t just given it all, he pursued it all. Through the pages of Ecclesiastes chapters 1 and 2, Solomon shares that he tried fame, fortune, knowledge, work, people, and pleasure. And Solomon found the truth. None of it satisfies.
In our house, if you mention the book of Ecclesiastes, someone will respond by shouting out, “Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!” It’s an ongoing joke, but also a good reminder of a reality written all over the pages in Solomon’s wisdom filled, heart-poured-out ink:
Without God, it’s all meaningless.
With God, every single thing has purpose and meaning.
The good, the hard, the gathering of stones, the casting away of stones, every bit of it…meaningful, purposeful, woven with His grace and significance.


I’m excited to spend the coming weeks with you all, gleaning from Solomon’s experiences, discovering the poetic heart of our God, loosening and stretching our hearts to His plans and purposes.
This week we will tackle a brief introduction to all things Ecclesiastes by focusing on some commentary and background, as well a honing in on verse 1 of chapter 3, discovering a bit more about God’s timing.
Week 1 –
Day One: Vanity, vanity, meaningless, meaningless
Day Two: Our friend Ulysses and desperation
Day Three: To everything there is a season
Day Four: God’s time, my time, and getting them on the same page
Day Five: Finding ourselves a Solomon
Hope to see you tomorrow, friends!
Until then, remember this…“Meaningful, meaningful, everything is meaningful!” J
Discussion questions:
If you could have more of something in your closet, what would it be?
If you would have been in Solomon’s place, what would you have requested from God?
What experiences have you had or do you remember with Solomon? (ie Sunday school memories, past Bible study conversations, etc.)