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?

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

 

Jesus in Everything: Pringles and Faith

There once was a boy who loved Pringles.

He loved them so much he would save up money to buy them, alongside his hot wheel cars.

When he got married his wife failed to understand his obsession with Pringles, but out of love and care, she faithfully bought him cans of stacked potato chips for his stocking every Christmas and his easter basket every Easter.

But this isn’t a blog about love and marriage, it’s a blog about disappointment, and more than that about faith and genuineness.

I shattered Dave’s world one day when I checked out a series called “How It’s Made” from our local library. In one episode, they show the making of Pringles from start to finish. I remember Dave jumping up from the couch…

“They’re powdered potatoes???!!!”

Dave’s whole life he thought Pringles were the world’s most carefully cut potatoes. Then one day he learned, they’re kind of fake…artificial…not what he thought at all.

We laugh about it. It’s a funny story and you’ll really want to hear Dave talk about his chip struggles in the podcast, but what matters more than the humor of it all is that small things, like this in life, teach us about a bigger picture.

There are so many everyday things that can point us to something bigger if we just let them, if we let our minds wander to the eternal, rather than settle for the here and now.

In John 3, a man named Nicodemus asks Jesus a very complicated question about belief and faith. Jesus answers about being born again. Nicodemus asks another question, based on his limited perceptions and biases-

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Like you and I, Nicodemus thinks about things in a very narrow way. Birth means one thing to him in this story until Jesus reveals to him the bigger picture.

Jesus says “new life” and we think “isn’t there only one life?”

Jesus says “family” and we think “people we live with.”

Jesus says “taco” and we think “Mexican.”

Ok, so Jesus never said taco or Mexican, but the idea for chips and salsa came from somewhere, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God makes tomatoes grow on a vine. 😉

There is a myriad of things in everyday life that can point us, and others, to Christ, if we let them.

At I Love My Shepherd one of our core values is Jesus in Everything. We believe that all things in creation, all of life’s relationships, all of life’s challenges, are best when we let them give us a little more perspective and understanding into who He is.

So, welcome to our new podcast series, Jesus in Everything –

Grounded in the Word, found in the everyday.

Today’s episode is indeed about Pringles and genuineness – how Dave learned that being the most genuine form of ourselves is important and showing people the most genuine and truthful version of Jesus is important too, all through a potato chip.

Where do you see Jesus in your everyday life? Tell us more! We’d love to hear your suggestions for future episodes! Send them to us in the comments below or on social media:

YouTube – I Love My Shepherd

Facebook – @ilovemyshepherd

Twitter – @ilovemyshepherd

Instagram – @ilovemyshepherdministries

Jesus in Everything: Pringles

PS This is not a op-ed about Pringles as a product. They are, and continue to remain, delicious. Dave simply prefers kettle cooked chips with the skins clearly visible, at this point in his potato chip journey.

As mentioned in the podcast – Christ is the Unseen Guest art by Pure Joy Creative