Free or Slave? Which Are You?

Free or Slave?  Which are you?

The Gospel of John (chapter 8) tells us a story of Jesus talking to people who considered themselves Disciples of Christ.  Jesus said to this group, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (v. 31-32)

They responded by saying, “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free'” (v. 33)

These people, just like many of us, had no idea that in reality they were born slaves.  They were born slaves to sin; or if you prefer, a slave to “missing the mark.”  They were born slaves to doing wrong, to being self-centered, even to addictions.

Just like that group of people, we also were born slaves, born prone to missing the mark.  We can believe in God, consider ourselves disciples of Christ, attend church, read our Bible, even attend a Clean Heart For Men meeting, but never experience freedom. Why?

Because we don’t realize that we were born a slave and we are not able to free ourselves from slavery.  Only Jesus can do this.  “Whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (II Cor. 3:16-17).”

But you say, “I have turned to God and I still have this problem of ‘missing the mark’ in a certain area.”

I ask you the same question the Apostle Paul said to the believers in Galatia, “How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort (Gal. 3:3)?”

I have listened to a few different men say they were no longer  attending Clean Heart because they have not experienced any progress in their “missing the mark” area.  Yet, they also willingly said, they never really left a meeting and put into practice the various behaviors, strategies, and attitudes discussed in the meetings in their lives.

Jesus said, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

I encourage you to seek God by reading the Bible, by finding a home church, by participating in a small group with other believers, and if need be  attending Clean Heart For Men.  But I also encourage you to pray and seek God for freedom. “Take your conviction and turn it in to commitment.” Without action it’s just a really good idea, not a God idea (#codeorangerevival).”

Free or Slave?  Which one are you satisfied with?

I choose freedom…join me.

To Laugh or Not to Laugh

In a typical week, I will listen to three to five different sermons by as many speakers.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I listened to one speaker share a story of road rage in which he was a part of a few days earlier and though he explained how his actions and attitude were wrong, people laughed at the story.  This week, I listened to a different speaker share a story about how he was alone swearing at nobody in general but swearing none-the-less and how his attitude and behavior were wrong and as he shared the story people laughed.

I wondered why pastors can share struggles in some areas and yet would ruin their reputations if they shared struggles in other areas.  I’m not suggesting that all details of all struggles would be wise to share but in a recent email conversation with an author of one of the books we have read, he suggested that sexual issues are considered taboo in the church, and at times I would even argue outside the church as well.

A few years ago a credit card commercial featured Jerry Seinfeld doing stand-up in England with no laughter from the audience.  Once he understood the culture and developed material people could relate to, they laughed.  Most people laugh at others struggles when they relate to them as well.  Stories of failure with road rage and language can sound funny, whereas, sexual failures rarely can come across with humor, which can explain an audience’s differing reaction to varying stories.

Interestingly it is estimated that 16 million Americans are affected by road rage or intermittent explosive disorder*, while 40 million American adults regularly visit porn websites every month (Internet Filter Review), and this does not include teens, or other forms of sexual integrity issues.  In actuality, more people identify with sexual integrity issues than road rage; however, sexual sin is so deep, so embarrassing, so hurtful, and has so many other issues connected to it, that rarely is it a laughing matter.  If every man and woman with a sexual integrity issue were to wear an armband for a day, our society would be astounded.

I wonder why people would prefer a person to keep their issue so private that they never ask for or are afraid to ask for help, in fear someone may find out?  I tend to respect those people who realize their own faults, desire to improve themselves, and seek out help.  Those people who have brought their issue into the light, typically have more success in overcoming their issues.  Obviously, I am not saying one should share their issues with everyone and everywhere, but the secrecy is usually more damaging than the openness.