Free

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“It is idle to say that men are of equal value. If value is taken in a worldly sense—if we mean that all men are equally useful or beautiful or good or entertaining—then it is nonsense. If it means that all are of equal value as immortal souls, then I think it conceals a dangerous error. The infinite value of each human soul is not a Christian doctrine. God did not die for man because of some value He perceived in him. The value of each human soul considered simply in itself, out of relation to God, is zero. As St. Paul writes, to have died for valuable men would have been not divine but merely heroic; but God died for sinners. He loved us not because we were lovable, but because He is Love. It may be that He loves all equally—He certainly loved all to the death—and I am not certain what the expression means. If there is equality, it is in His love, not in us.   

—from “Membership” (The Weight of Glory) by C.S Lewis
What holds you captive?  Strange question, perhaps, but a reasonable one. Looking at the people around me I can see a lot of things that they could be captive to:  work, Facebook status, approval of others, even their own dreams.  If we look at the world in relation to something and make our choices based on that thing then really we have become captive to it.
I have been contemplating how some people base who they are on their relationships (or lack thereof in the single world) and I think this is a dangerous thing.  Relationships change, they wax and wane, they grow, they fade, they’re ever changing.  If you’ve longed for a relationship for a long time and finally find one, the danger to you if you base who you are on that relationship is that if anything changes in that relationship your self esteem and even your sense of self could be damaged.
Sometimes even our relationship with God can be affected by this.  If we base who we are on our Christian practices, like the fact that we go to church every Sunday, pray every night before bed and go to Bible study faithfully, then it is possible that these practices might be holding us captive.  Don’t misunderstand me, these are very good things but we should ask ourselves, ‘Why do I do these things?’  To look better in the eyes of others?  If so, you’re captive to the approval of others.  To earn God’s love for you?  Then you’re captive to pride (‘me do, me do!’).
As the above CS Lewis quote says, we make an error if we think that we are anything in the eyes of God because of ourselves.  It is entirely because of who He is that we can come into His presence.  If we base our life on becoming worthy of God’s love, not only have we missed the point but we’ll be wasting our time. Even worse, if we are held back from His freedom because we are captive by a sense of unworthiness we will miss out entirely on His plan for us.  We must come to the place of freedom in Christ.  Part of this freedom is relinquishing our captivity in feeling that we earned or are earning His love.  Coming to the place of truly accepting God’s infinite grace even though we can’t understand it is freedom like no other. This is why John 8:36 says,  so if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (NIV)
I challenge you this week to honestly answer these questions to yourself–What am I captive to?  What can I do to change my focus to freedom in Christ?  And I hope you become free indeed!

Redeemed

Again, I would like to encourage you at the beginning of this great opportunity, this new year, to start anew.  Sometimes we carry around with us the weight of every bad thing from our past, every word unsaid, every selfish thought, every reminder of our unworthiness, every thoughtless thing someone has said or done to us, every lie from satan–“like ghosts that live in our past.”  Remember–there is freedom in Christ!

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9 NIV

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28 – 30 NIV

Redeemed
by Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I can see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son
Stop fighting a fight that’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains
Wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be
I am redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”
I remember oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I don’t have to be the old man inside of me
Cause his day is long dead and gone
I’ve got a new name, a new life I’m not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzGAYNKDyIU&noredirect=1

And the story behind this beautiful song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECV7op7Xg8k

Ironmen

One can find inspiration everywhere if you really look for it.  Today I was reading The Magazine for Canadian Subaru Owners, Six Star 2013, when I came across an article about a very unique father and son team, Dick and Rick Hoyt.  They began competing in 1977 and have competed together in more than 1000 endurance events, including 70 marathons and 6 IRONMAN competitions.

The dad, Dick, will be 73 years old this year and the son, Rick, will be 51 years old.  They are planning on competing in between 20 and 25 events this year!

What makes them stand out?  Why are they different from any other athletes?  Rick was born with cerebral palsy and competes in a wheelchair.  Dick carries Rick for the entire race.  According to Six Star, Rick is pulled by his dad in a rubber dingy for the water portions of the triathlon and then rides on the front of a tandem bicycle made especially for them.  For the run portion Rick’s dad pushes Rick in his wheelchair.

Swimming together

Swimming together

Biking together

Biking together

Running together

Running together

Dick carrying Rick

Dick carrying Rick

Again according to Six Star, Rick told his father after their first race together that when they were running, he felt like he wasn’t handicapped.  And they haven’t stopped since.

What a gift for a father to give his child!  The gift of flight, of soaring above the earth, of running over the ground when he could not himself!

Is this not what God does for us?  We are weak, alone, handicapped by our human-ness.  God picks us up and carries us.  He runs with us on His back!  He helps us to fly, “to soar up on wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), to feel the sun on our face, to feel free!

We are weak but He is strong and through His strength we can fly! But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV  Everyone will look at us and marvel–how can they do it?  How can they stand up with such weak legs?  How can they run?  It can only be through the help of their Father!  And then won’t they all want what our Father gives us?  Strength, power, hope, freedom!  And won’t God by glorified?

With God as our help we can all be Ironmen.