Keys to living a lifestyle of Freedom Pt. 2

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Freedom in curtain areas of our lives can seem like this far off reality, right? But what if Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection made it possible for you to actually experience a life of freedom? I believe freedom from oppression, sin, depression, anxiety, and physical illness (to name a few) is all obtainable because of the power and authority that Jesus has made available!

Last week we began to study Mark 5:1-20. It’s the story of the demonized Gerasene. I believe there are three keys to experiencing a lifestyle of freedom that we find in this story. Last week our first key was surrender… Let’s look at our second.   

Mark 5:9-13 says,

9 And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. 11 Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, 12 and they begged him, saying, “Send us to the pigs; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs; and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the sea.

Jesus frees the oppressed man of the demons by casting them out into the pigs who then rush down a bank and drown. It’s in these five verses that we find our second key. The second key to living a lifestyle of freedom that we find in this story is:

Encounter 

In this passage, we see the bond man have one encounter with Jesus that changed everything! After this one encounter with Jesus, he was set free from his torment. I believe that the cutting stopped, the desire for isolation left, and the confusion left after he encountered Jesus (See Mark 5:2-7). 

Here’s the truth: some bondage in our lives require an authentic encounter with Jesus to rid of. You can’t free yourself with your own willpower or by trying to be “good enough”. It’s only through the understanding of His grace and encountering His power and love that freedom comes.

Deliverance comes from the encounter

Encountering Him has the power to break off self-hatred and anxiety. It has the power to free you from addiction and fear. Encountering Him has the power to break generational curses. It has the power to free you from all demonic oppression, unlocking revelation of your true value, worth, and your destiny. Our Father wants to encounter us! He wants to encounter His people!

While He was on the earth, Jesus’ disciples were a group of well-intentioned, sometimes fearful, and inconsistent group of guys. But in Acts 2:1-13 they have an encounter with the Holy Spirit and they’re filled with boldness, love and power… their lives were never the same! It was this encounter that empowered them to complete the purpose that they’d previously received from Christ. These kind of encounters are still available to us today!  

In every encounter with the Holy Spirit there is always a measure of freedom released

The way that you encounter Him begins with the understanding that you are loved by your Father. He is passionately pursuing you. He wants you to know Him. Then, create space in your life for Him to show up. Whether that’s through taking time to be alone with Him in the morning before your day starts, at night before you go to bed, or even during your lunch hour. 

I worked for a large bank for a while when my wife and I lived in the North Suburbs of Chicago. I would often take half of my lunch break to spend time worshipping in my car, worship music blasting, praying, and reading my Bible. I would get so overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in those moments, and then I’d have to clean myself up so that I can finish my day! But what was I doing? I was creating space for the encounter! 

We have to position ourselves to receive His Presence

Next week we’ll dive into our third key to experiencing a lifestyle of freedom, but until then I want to challenge you, carve out some addition space in your life to encounter the presence of Jesus. He’s longing to release even more of His love and presence in your life today! Encountering Him brings the liberation we’re called to live in!

PEACE.

Keys to living a lifestyle of Freedom Pt. 1

 

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Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Freedom is your inheritance… Freedom is your birthright! It’s in your divine bloodline because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus didn’t pay for you to experience partial freedom, but complete freedom!

Let’s be real, it doesn’t always feel that way. Honestly, it’s the opposite that feels true. Freedom in certain areas of our lives tend to appear as an intangible reality. Have you been aggressively trying and trying?  You’ve tried reading a popular self-help book; you’ve tried using your own grit and willpower to overcome some of your most personal battles, but there just seems to be no breakthrough; no change; and no progress… 

Well, there’s a story in the Bible that I believe gives us three keys that we need to practically experience a lifestyle of freedom. Over the next three weeks I want to study this story with you. It’s the story of the demonized Gerasene in Mark 5:1-20.

This week let’s read Mark 5:2-7… it says,

2 And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit. 3 He lived among the tombs. And no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain, 4 for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart, and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones. 6 And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. 7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”

Now this is a very odd scene… Jesus and his disciples stepped out of the boat, and immediately this oppressed man runs to meet them. He’s so oppressed that he lives isolated in a graveyard and  he’s been rejected by his community. This man lives in a constant state of torment and brokenness. Upon the arrival of Jesus and his disciples, there wasn’t anyone that was capable to help him.

However, this man does something that fascinates me. Mark 5:6 explains that when he sees Jesus from afar, he runs out of the tombs towards Jesus and falls down at His feet.

Here’s the first key to living a lifestyle of freedom we see from this passage:

SURRENDER

There was something inside of this demonized man that recognized in Jesus lied his only opportunity for freedom, so he ran from the tombs and kneeled down at Jesus’ feet.

Living a lifestyle of freedom will require dedication to leave behind the things that are dead, the things that aren’t life giving for the feet of Jesus. Living a life of freedom will require that you leave behind thinking patterns that aren’t life giving, relationships that aren’t life giving, environments that aren’t life giving, beliefs about yourself or others that aren’t life giving for the feet of Jesus.

Sons and Daughters fight their battles through a lifestyle of surrender.   

What is it that you have to surrender to Jesus? What are you lugging around that you don’t actually have to? What are you tired of carrying on your own?

James 4:6-7 says this,

6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

When the demonized man ran and kneeled down at Jesus’ feet it was an act of warfare; the most violent thing he could’ve ever done. Simultaneously, while surrendering to Jesus, he was resisting the enemy.

It’s important to understand that this man ran towards Jesus out of his own free will, but once he was in Jesus’ presence a battle began to take place. The demons within him didn’t want to flee, so they began speaking through him and resisting because they knew that it was eviction time!

When you surrender an area of your life to Jesus don’t be surprised if you experience pushback or some kind of spiritual warfare. For example, you decide to surrender your dating life to Jesus, choosing to wait on His best for your life. Then soon after you’re met with a on slot of unwarranted attention or messages from a ex…   Quite simply, it all means that the enemy is afraid. He’s afraid because he knows that he can’t ultimately win a battle against a Christian who has surrendered to Jesus!

He’s intimidated by your surrender

To experience the full extent of our inheritance as sons and daughters it will require surrender!

Next week we’ll dig into the second key that I believe empowers us to live in the freedom that Jesus has for us! 

PEACE.

   

 

3 things you can do to fight bullying with your student

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Let’s be real. When it comes to helping your student handle the pressures of bullying as a parent or mentor, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, unsupported by their school, and ultimately powerless. Being a youth pastor and having a wife who works in education, bullying is something that I am very connected to. Here are three impactful things that you can do as a parent or mentor that I’ve found work well in the fight against bullying. Here we go…

1. They Need You To Pray

Yup. Pray. It may not be the first thing that comes to your mind when your kid tells you what happened at school today or what that ‘one girl’ said about her on Instagram, but it’s one of the most effective things that you can do as a parent or mentor. Before you are a parent/mentor you are a child of God, and as a child of God your prayers are effective and powerful (See James 5:16). They actually have the ability to tear down evil structures like, bullying, depression, sickness, and so on (2 Cor. 10:4).

“As a child of God your prayers are effective and powerful.”

What should you pray for?

Good question. I don’t believe there’s one answer to this question, so here’s a few ways…

Pray that the bullying stops.

Pray for your kid’s emotional state.

Pray for the bully and their family.

Really prayer at its core is communication with God. Talk to Him about your child’s situation. Invite Him into it. Share your frustrations and fears with Him, then sit and listen for what He has to say. He’ll give you timely wisdom for what your child may be facing.

2. They Need A Place

One of the reasons why bullying can be so crippling for a kid of any age is because it violates one of our most basic human needs. Belonging. We all need a place of security and safety, where we feel valued and known. When a kid is experiencing bullying it can create a feeling of isolation. It can further the idea that, “I’m not accepted here.” Sure, they may not use those words, but at it’s core one of the areas that bullying attacks is our need for belonging.

What’s the solution? Give your child a place. What do I mean by that? I mean give them a secondary option outside of school where they can have the chance to connect and build relationship with a completely different group of students. A place where the school labels don’t exist. For me that place was church. I was able to overcome bullying at school because I knew that I had a secondary place outside of it where I was known and valued. For others maybe that secondary place is a club sports team, youth group, a volunteer organization, or a after school program. The objective is that by giving your child a secondary place you communicate to them, “Despite what you believed, you are accepted.” Give them a place. As a youth pastor, I’m a little bias towards the belonging that an intentional student ministry can give a child. Just sayin’.

“Despite what you believed, you are accepted.”

3. They Need Confidence

Nothing can strip you of your confidence like being bullied. Especially when we’re talking about vulnerable, hormonal pre-teens/teens. For them, they don’t say to themselves, “Well, in 15 years this won’t even matter! It’s all good!” No, studies show us that’s not the case at all. Generally speaking it’s the complete opposite, “My whole life sucks, and it’ll always be this way.” Bullying has the potential to affect a student in every area of their life. It slowly breaks down their confidence like cancerous cells break down healthy body tissue. 

If your student is experiencing bullying, they need to be put in intentional environments and situations that rebuild their confidence. As believers in Christ we are actually created to be not only Builders but Rebuilders. Isaiah 61:4 puts it this way,

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”

The bullied needs their confidence rebuilt. They need their self-worth restored. They need their spirits renewed. As an authority in their life you have the privilege of being a part of the construction process. So what does that look like practically? It looks like putting them in a sport, giving them music lessons, boxing lessons, or giving them some sort of leadership responsibility. The goal is to put them in an environment where they can see their God-given talents flourish, which in turn will begin to rebuild confidence. It communicates, “See, you are so much more than what others say about you! You’re gifted and talented!”  

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.” Isaiah 61:4

Remember, all of this is done in the context of relationship. There is nothing on earth that can replace the power of presence. Your student needs your time, your ear, your prayers, and your love. Be led by the Holy Spirit and compassion and take on the fight against bullying with your student.

See ya.

 

How’s Your Pour?

I was only 19 years old but it felt as if my life as I knew it had come to an end. I held my cell phone in my hand while my stomach sunk like an anchor in the middle of an ocean. My mom explained on the other side of the phone that my uncle Gene was abruptly passing away. As I listened, I can recall that a dark cloud of confusion began to loom over me. See, my Uncle along with my Aunt pastored the church that I grew up in. He was much more than a close relative– he was a spiritual pillar in my life. My reality was being shaken under my feet, to say the least.

It was out of this emotional and spiritual confusion that I decided to surrender my life completely to Jesus, and allow Him to have His way in my body…

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