Freedom: Is It Safe?

by Stacy Sanchez

Aslan is a lion–the Lion, the great Lion.”

“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he–quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

 (C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)

Is he safe? No, but he is good. The first time I read these words as a child, they leapt off of the page and resounded in my being. They became somewhat of an unofficial motto that I have chosen to live by. It’s right up there with “How hard can it be?” My friends won’t even let me finish that sentence anymore. They know what will be coming next–-something very, very hard.

I am a bit of a rule breaker. If there is a sign marking a trail that I’m supposed to stay on, I see that as a mere suggestion and forge my own. Nothing was ever discovered by staying on the path.” I assert, as I grab my reluctant niece’s hand and tromp off  into the desert. (I may have got a text from her mother the next time I took her hiking, asking if we could please stay on the path.)

I could have been an explorer–-except in cold climates. I’m daring, not stupid. I’m more of a warm weather, beach explorer. More than once, my husband has had to reel me in. The echoes of his warnings still ring in my ears: No, Stacy, you can’t do that. Don’t taste that! There might be parasites. Get off of the lava!! Don’t swim after the sharks! Moray eels don’t like you all up in their face. You went where? By yourself? Are you crazy?

This dare-to-be-me personality of mine has come at the cost of other people’s judgment. When I became a pastor, I was called sinful, uppity, and a woman with an agenda to take over. That’s a lot of names for someone that just wanted to love God’s people.

As the only female to play and coach in a baseball league, I was labeled with words that would today be considered homophobic and sexist. Even now, when I stand up for a righteous cause, I learn a whole new set of words that describe how others think of me.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

In him and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12 NIV

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. Galatians 5:1 NIV

I guess I just take these verses to heart. If the Bible says we are free, ’nuf said. We have the freedom in Christ to be all that He has created us to be. Why don’t we act like it?

Freedom isn’t always safe. Quite the opposite. It can be messy. It costs us something. It cost Christ everything to give us our freedom. He definitely didn’t live a life of safety. If you think about it, a safe life isn’t a free life. We’re bound to be held captive by something or someone—maybe even our own fearful desires for safety.

When we are doing what God has called us to do or be, it can be scary. People will judge us. They will make their opinions known. It can hurt. But God is much more concerned with our character than our comfort. It is scary to step out into the great unknown of his calling. Nope, it might not be safe out there, but it is good because God is good. His ways are good. His plans for us are always good. And sometimes we find out that even though scary, it can be a lot of fun.

I prefer a dangerous freedom over a peaceful slavery.” –Thomas Jefferson

Amen! Me too! We are free! We have been set free from religious laws, opinions, judgments of others, and the lies of the enemy, because of the unsafe thing Christ did for us on the cross.

No, He is not safe, but He is good! 

Father, sometimes You call us to step out into the great unknown. You want to stretch and grow us into the people you created us to be. It can be scary out there. Forgive us for not trusting You. Just like You grew a little shepherd boy into a great king, You want to make us into something great. Help us to trust that the plans You have for our lives are good and we don’t have to be afraid.

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Freedom: Is It Safe? – encouragement from Stacy Sanchez on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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About the author: Stacy Sanchez has been married to her beloved husband, John, for 32 years, is a mother of 5, and a very young grandmother of six (soon to be seven) yummy grandcherubs. She is a pastor, author, and speaker. Her passions include teaching Christians about the Jewish roots of their faith, as well as helping to empower women to become all that God has created them to be. When not teaching or writing, you will find Stacy and John walking on the beach and playing with their grandchildren. You can connect with Stacy at her blog, writetotheheart.org, and on Facebook and Instagram.

Join the conversation: What scary thing has God asked you to do?

Freedom Leaders

By Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

As a writer, I’ve always wondered what it was like to pen something as significant and monumental as the Declaration of Independence. Did Thomas Jefferson welcome the challenge? Did sentences form in his head faster than he could dip quill to ink pot? Or did he sit and stare at blank parchment, as he considered the magnitude of what he was about to write?

His mother’s family was one of the most prominent in Virginia. He studied at the College of William and Mary to prepare for the practice of law. Jefferson entered the Virginia House of Burgesses just as the rumble of opposition to British taxation was increasing, and in 1774, he wrote a pamphlet about the rights of British Americans.

At the second Continental Congress, in June of 1776, Jefferson was appointed to a 5-member committee, along with John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman. Although an awkward speaker, Jefferson had already distinguished himself as a gifted writer and was chosen to draft the Declaration of Independence by the other committee members, who read, made suggestions, and agreed to the document before it was presented. Jefferson, however, was the primary author.

Moses was also a freedom leader. Like Thomas Jefferson, he was a son of privilege, the adopted son of the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter. Both Jefferson and Moses had issues with verbal communication, but as is often the case, had strengths in other areas.

Like Jefferson and Moses, all leaders possess strengths and weaknesses. They also had huge failures: Moses committed murder. Jefferson was a slave owner. Yet God used these faulty men to further the cause of freedom.

God may not have given you an assignment like penning a document that alters the course of history, but your task may still involve leading captives—those living in bondage to sin, shame, and guilt—to freedom by sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free,” Paul wrote the Galatians (5:1 NASB).. Thanks to the saving work of Jesus, we were set from the condemnation that our sinfulness would have earned us (Romans 8:1). We were released from the yoke of sin, which previously ruled our hearts, will, and minds (Romans 6:8-14). We were rescued from death and raised with Christ to live forever (Colossians 2:12). We are free to rest in the work of Christ and know there is nothing we can do to add to His gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

This is freedom worth sharing to those still living in bondage.  And like Jefferson and Moses, God can use us even with our weakness and failures to give the news to everyone who will listen. The greatest liberty one can experience is the freedom we receive when we believe and are given salvation through Him.

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NIV

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Freedom Leaders – encouragement & insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: For what freedoms are you thankful on this holiday?

Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be

by Beth Duewel @DuewelBeth

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.  Romans 15:13 ESV

Life may seem a little off right now. In Fix Her Upper language, it’s been a bit of a demo time.

But that’s the good news. There will be a day we can look back and marvel at all God’s done. Today even. We can pray together, because we know prayer changes everything.

Jesus knew this. In Scripture we see Him step away from the crowds. Walk off quietly to pray. He takes walks with His Father and declares, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11 ESV). No matter what happened to him on this earth, He remained in perfect peace. It’s prayer and the presence of God that fixes this anxious life.

Now that I’ve had 8000 moments to catch my breath, I can see how frequently I forget to pray when life is moving quickly and noisily.  

The enemy would love us to stay overwhelmed with crisis and underwhelmed with Jesus. But while the world tells us one thing—God tells us something different: “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness” (Galatians 5:16 The MSG). I love this verse and the future it holds for us. God encourages us to live our best life freely, dynamically, and sensitive to the nudging of the helpful hand of the Spirit.

Apparently, I wasn’t living my freest life, though. Not at all. Because when the pandemic arrived, I was reassigned to work in our hospital Emergency Room with many of my coworkers. My dynamic was gone. My fear? The same as everyone else’s with the forecast of what the virus might do to our world, my family, and…me. I started to self-preserve and hold back; I noticed my preoccupation with the ability of my N95 to save me from all things germy.

But I’ve realized there’s no freedom in fear. None. Fear is selfish. It causes our spirits to retreat in an effort to ensure our own survival, protect ourselves. All this time, I’ve tried to play it safe.

A safe life is not our best life—because faith makes us live for something more.

This assurance came as I sat with a patient who was dying—my N95 pooling with snot and tears—my heart so full of prayer for the other person that I couldn’t safeguard my soul. Suddenly, I felt fierce and full of hope. Apparently, we don’t feed the compulsions of self-preservation or worry when we’re in all-out prayer for someone else. Galatians 5:16 reminds us “the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness.” Prayer is the freedom that overrides fear, selfishness, and self-preservation. Prayer is the dynamic that protects the ones we love, and those we don’t know but love anyway. Prayer places the future in the best hands.

Seriously, we don’t have to be consumed with the thought of staying safe in order for God’s loving intent to protect us. He just does. In fact, the very definition of Sovereignty means to be free from external control—God’s perfect purpose protects even when we can’t shield ourselves. You deserve the freedom in this thought. I do too.

We can live free. 

It’s okay to be afraid. It really is. It’s smart to be cautious. It really is. But Romans 15:13 (above) tells us that it’s by the Holy Spirit we have power and hope. It’s my guess that this power makes us more alive today than ever before.

Remember: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1 ESV).

In Christ, our flesh is released from sin. In prayer we’re energized with LIFE. Friends, this is good news! Because in the beginning the world was great, and then it wasn’t. And maybe today is good, and then it’s not. There is freedom when we live in the Spirit and have conversations with the Father. In this new day we can pray.

Lord, we want to live our best life with You. Stripped down, sanded of all the things we once felt important, we can feel full and undeserving of Your joy. We can only look back and marvel at what You’ve done and praise You for what You are about to do. May we settle into Your hope and stay totally dissatisfied with self or fear. For freedom You have set us free. Amen.

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Live Free…Your Best Life is Yet to Be – encouragement from @DuewelBeth on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

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fix her upper reclaim your happy space

About the author: Beth Duewel is a writer, speaker, and blogger at Fix-Her-Upper.com. She has three almost adulting children, and lives with her husband in Ashland, Ohio. Beth and her coauthor, Rhonda Rhea, are super excited about their new book,  Fix Her Upper: Reclaim Your Happy Space.

Join the conversation: What have you found to help manage your fear in these uncertain times?

Set Free

by Tammy Kennington

I didn’t know her, but the vulnerable thoughts she’d written pierced my heart: “I realized where I was stuck. I was stuck in jealousy–wanting the childhood she had. Wanting. Wishing. But, not having.”

She spoke of jealousy, but I heard something different in her words. Grief. Yearning. Broken-hearted longing. If I had to guess? This woman, like so many, grew up in dysfunction.

She may have been raised in a home with an empty pantry and only harsh, angry words to nourish a girl’s hungry soul. Hers may have been the home other children politely refused to visit because they’d heard the shouting and cursing seeping from the walls in the dark of the night. Or, she might have been the child shivering beneath the covers because the heating bill had been neglected in favor of another bottle of her stepfather’s favorite whiskey.

If that is part of your story? I. Am. Sorry. Something is terribly broken in a world where children grow up with hungry stomachs and hungrier hearts.

You can do something different, dear one.

And if we are honest, we all might admit the truth… even the best families are dysfunctional in one way or another. While not everyone experienced a childhood without a father or cleaned up after an addicted parent, we all know this one thing.

Our. Parents. Were. Not. Perfect.

And, of course, neither are we.

So how can dysfunctional, messed-up people break the chains of familial bondage? Is it even possible to rid ourselves of unwanted habits that have hitched a ride from one generation to the next?

Yes, but not our own power. Instead, we can turn to the one who is All-Powerful.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners…” (Isaiah 61:1 NIV)

But to begin moving in that direction? We need to recognize the hurts and habits that have moved into our marriages and families uninvited. Call them out. Denounce their destructiveness and invite the Holy Spirit into the walls of our homes and hearts.

Unabated sarcasm? Angry outbursts? Shutting down? Shutting out? Whatever the sin. Name it, friend, and He will begin to unfasten the chains.

Invite His correction. Accept His instruction. Trust His direction.

There isn’t a stronghold that can stand when we invite the Helper into our sin-created, self-mandated cage. The walls of resistance are shaken, doors burst open and we step into the light of freedom the moment we acknowledge our weakness.

There may be times we wander back into the dark den that once held us captive, but we don’t belong there. Remember, the day we trusted Jesus we were set free from bondage. The door stands open. Let’s trust Him enough to step across the threshold.

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.   Galatians 5:1 NASB

Tammy KenningtonAbout the author: Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them.

The author of five children’s nonfiction books, Tammy has also written articles and devotions for Thriving Family, The Upper Room, MOPS and several other publications. When she isn’t writing, Tammy is likely discovering unmatched socks and candy wrappers tucked beneath the cushions of the couch or drinking a cup of Calming Chamomile tea as her children configure a boxing ring in the front yard with traffic cones and twine.

Join the conversation: From what strongholds has God released you?

Congratulations to our first week winner: Allyson King!!

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In Search of Peace

by Sandra Allen Lovelace

My days were busier than they’d ever been. There was no way I could keep up. Something would have to give, but what? I thought and prayed, organized and planned to no avail. It was as if I were trapped in a forest of responsibilities, unable to see any light. The escape route appeared one especially dark Saturday.

I called it a Day Apart—no alarm, no list, no schedule, no phone, no internet. Just me, my Bible, a notebook, and a pencil … for as long as it took. And it took a while. I checked the concordance for references to captive and freedom since that’s who I was and what I wanted. Surely I’d find some sort of strategy to handle my situation.

God is usually into a deeper process, and this confab was no exception. Rather than simply solve problems, the Father’s plan entails the transformation of minds and hearts. With what I found in the pages of my Bible, God worked to change my heart and guide my action. His Son came and gave His life for that very purpose—to ransom souls and empower the redeemed to enjoy new life.

Jesus explained His role with Isaiah’s prophetic words. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim release to the captives, to set free those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18 NASB). Those weighed down with burdens of any kind are called to receive Christ’s gift and come out from under the expectations from without or within which drive us—into His arms of grace.

The Old Testament commandments had their place, to underline our inability to satisfy the standards of a holy God. But the once for all atoning life, death, and resurrection of His Son settled the debt. A whole new world of opportunity awaits those who walk forward in Him. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NASB

And He did not leave us to find our way and fight temptation alone. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17 NASB) The Holy Spirit indwells each believer to guide and equip us to meet the challenges ahead.

We don’t need to be overwhelmed by the obligations we face, nor succumb to their pressure. As we come into God’s holy presence the demands fall away. The more we adopt the truth of who He is and all He’s done for us, the easier it becomes to pursue His purpose in His peace.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV

sandra allen lovelaceAbout the authorSandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a home-school pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). Her current manuscript is Wallflower Women: How We Got Stuck and Ways to Gain Our Freedom. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Connect with Sandra on her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner51xYzTxBG9L._AC_US218_ from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Sandra’s book,  Children in Church: Nurturing Hearts of Worship, please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!

Join the conversation: Have there been obligations in your life that held you captive? How did God provide the peace you sought?