No Stranger to House Arrest

by Dawn Lynn Mann @DawnLynnMann1

Isolation and loss of freedom like we have experienced during this pandemic is nothing new for this girl. Before this all started, I had already been living in captivity for over four years since my arrest.

But God has been at work in me through it all. He turned my life upside down since prison with deep inner healing from trauma and addiction recovery. I spent many awakening hours with Him. His direct line was always open when I called to Him. All that isolation was actually a gift to me, a golden opportunity to spend time with Him. Our relationship blossomed and grew.

I was living in a second prison. Freedom for all, except criminals, that is. For the most part, I lived under house arrest. I was not able to go to gatherings, friend’s graduations, or baby showers. It was a harsh punishment, but God helped pull me through every day. I followed every single rule and even went beyond what they asked for, but it was never enough because I was labeled a criminal.

But God sustained me to the end and pronounced me “not guilty” through our Lord Jesus Christ. God heard the prayers and did a miraculous intervention, even in the midst of a pandemic. He made a way for a video conference with a hearing officer, and my license was fully restored. I had worked so hard and had been faithful in my recovery. God provided me the strength to endure and walk through the trial. I never gave up and kept persevering with Christ.

The trial was finally behind me. Praise God. No more blower, no more driving restrictions, no more court, no more testing; but the journey continues. God is not finished yet. By accepting the trial and not fighting it, my viewpoint was changed from a victim to a participant. This brought growth and peace that could only be found in Christ. God has used the whole process to draw me closer to Him. All that remains is what I learned through it and the new life I am now living. A freedom to walk with God to seek His will with all my heart by surrendering my life to Him.

I was freed by the Lord, even while under lock down. Jesus sets the captives free.

It is never about being good enough. The truth is, none of us are good, but instead it is about putting our trust and faith in Jesus, who transforms lives. This past August, by the grace of God, I celebrated four years of freedom from addiction. Freedom is found in Him wherever you are placed. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17, ESV).

The verse following that says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 2:18, NASB). The Lord is gradually transforming us into something that can reflect His glory, bit by bit: replacing our sinful past with a glory-filled future.

I am grateful that God has given me a second chance in life, and is using even me to advocate for justice that restores, bringing hope to others living behind bars—in or out of prison—by showing them there is a God who cares deeply and will never forget us.  

If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36 NASB

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No Stranger to House Arrest – thoughts on #FollowingGod from @DawnLynnMann1 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Dawn Lynn Mann serves as a Justice Ambassador for Prison Fellowship and a Celebrate Recovery leader. Her story, “Breaking Free” is published in the compilation book, “Faith and Freedom.” She is currently writing her own book, and shares her story of God’s miraculous intervention and work in her life with many churches. She has a passion to see others set free and is on a mission to win souls for the kingdom of God.

Join the conversation: Have you experienced a healing from addiction? Please share!

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.

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

stacy sanchez

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

TWEETABLE
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?

Flopping Like a Fish

by Ashley Schroeder

We celebrated a recent wedding anniversary by going fishing. I was proud of myself as I learned how to bait my own hook from my experienced husband. I dropped the line into the water, and waited for a bite.  A few minutes later, I felt something nibble on the bait and then a sudden tug on the end of my line. I pulled it in, and I tried to take the fish off the hook with a tool my husband gave me. It wasn’t so easy—the fish was jumping all over the place as I tried to release the hook from its mouth.  In its panic, it quickly wiggled its way out of my hands and onto the boat deck.

The more the fish flopped, the harder it was to remove the hook. Since I am an animal lover, I felt sympathy for it and desperately told it, “Stop flopping around so I can help you!” Finally, with a little more help from my husband, the fish settled down and I was able to release it. I put it back into the water to swim away, free.

As I later thought about that little fish in its panicked state, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the times I have been a flopping fish myself.  I have felt the panic of a bad situation, making it hard to hear God’s voice for the way out of my bad choice or sin. Of course, my panic made the situation worse, and harder to hear God, who was holding me in His loving hands, ready to help set me free.  Often, when I take it upon myself to try and escape the hook on my own efforts, I can end up swallowing the hook deeper—causing me even more pain.

It’s not until I become still and really listen that He can get through to me and guide me out of my problem.

Can you relate to my flopping fish experience? What did the heart of God say to you in those times of struggle? For me, it was: “Relax your thoughts and stop flopping around like a fish on a hook; be still and listen to My instructions. Will you trust Me to take the hook out of your mouth so that I can set you free?”

God loves you.  Don’t allow the hook of sin to hold you or a loved one captive.  Pray for direction and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Removing the hook might be scary at first, and the process may even hurt, but the Lord will be with you, leading and guiding the way forward to freedom.

Choose to be still in God’s presence. Remember Jesus is holding you in His loving hands, ready to set you free, if you will let Him.

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, You shall be free indeed.” John 8:36 NKJV

 

Ashley SchroederAbout the author: Ashley Schroeder is married to the love of her life, Kurt. They have two daughters. Ashley loves teaching people about their relationship with God. Her blog, Papa God and Ashley, is a result of her quiet time with God in His Word. She also is an advocate for Holt International, promoting sponsorships that provide love, nutrition, education, and medical care for abused and abandoned children.

Free Book Contest!  Arise Daily will use a random number generator to pick a winner from today’s comments. To enter our contest for Ashley’s book,  Papa God and Ashley  please comment below.  By posting in our comments, you are giving us permission to share your name if you win!  If you have an outside the US mailing address, your prize could be substituted with an e-book of our choice.

Join the conversation: Have you ever felt like a hooked fish? How did God set you free?