Freedom!

Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating “freedom.” With Memorial Day, we remembered those who died in military service for our freedom.  As I walked on the streets of Cuba, this month, I couldn’t help but think of the lack of freedom in the lives of the good people that lived there.  When we watch the news and hear about the oppressed around the world, a voice rises up in us and calls out to the captives, “Fight!  Fight for your freedom!”  It is a longing in every one of us, in every aspect of life- to always be free.

It is interesting that the opposite of free is exactly what it is- costly.  Every time an individual enjoys the luxury of freedom, the mind must go back. There was a cost somewhere; a payment made, along the way, to purchase that freedom- a transaction that would catapult into the future lives of others- affecting them on a daily basis.  Someone, at some point, paid for each freedom that is possessed.

We see that in our own country.  The cost of freedom has been high.  The Memorial Foundation reports that, “Since 1776, over one million Americans have secured the blessing of liberty through their lives.”  They also point out that 42 million Americans have served their country in time of war.  Freedom is costly.

Webster defines freedom as a noun:  “The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”  In the movie Braveheart, William Wallace is fighting for the freedom of his country, Scotland.  At the end of the movie, he has been captured by England and is being tortured to death.  Legend says that in the last agonizing moments of his life, he, ironically, cries out, “Freedom!!!” for all to hear.  He is shackled and imprisoned but his heart is free because he has lived honorably.  As a result of his sacrifice, his countrymen are inspired and fight to eventually take their country back from England’s “enslavement” of them.

Take a moment to watch this scene: Braveheart – FREEDOM – Y#3299DC

In our contemplation of freedom, there is One that trumps them all- the ultimate and final freedom.  The eternal freedom that Christ gave to us through dying on the cross,

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

God recognized that no matter how hard we were to fight for physical freedom, we would never truly experience spiritual freedom from sin without His sacrifice.  Even in the days of Christ, the throngs were so focused on freedom from Rome that they didn’t see the One, before their very eyes, that could grant them freedom from every kingdom and dominion.

Christ recognized that physical freedom was temporary but spiritual freedom was eternal.  We need to remember that too as we share the Good News of the Gospel- the news that brings freedom to every facet of a person’s life, despite the physical strongholds they may find themselves in- whether it is a communist country, a prison cell, a wall street desk or a down town park bench- each one of us is invited to receive and experience the ultimate freedom that only Christ can give.

Jesus declared the war to be over when He said from the cross, It is finished.

Freedom is now at hand,

Brice Maddock, COO Teen Challenge Southeast

 

3 Key Things to Remember in 2015

Christmas is such a great time to refresh ourselves in the story of Jesus’ birth in the gospels. The miracle of a virgin birth, a star and a stable, kings with gifts and dreams with
angels, shepherds in awe… You can’t stop reading but abruptly we’re thrust into Jesus adult life and His ministry here on earth. In the Matthew account, we end Chapter 2 with Jesus’ parents bringing him back to Nazareth after the death of Herod, and begin Chapter 3 with John the Baptist coming onto the scene and the baptism of Jesus, along with the most profound leadership lesson in the gospels. After Jesus is baptized by John, Matthew 3:17 says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased.’” Well pleased? Well pleased with what? Last we knew Jesus was a baby, and now He just comes out of nowhere and gets baptized – He hasn’t even done anything yet for His Father to be pleased with. But this one sentence is the foundation for all of Jesus’ ministry, and should be the foundation for our leadership journey. God the Father affirms Jesus in 3 ways:

1) You are mine

2) I love you

3) You don’t have to prove a thing, I already delight in you

Matthew Chapter 4 then leaves us with no fairy tale illusions about how ministry and leadership is going to be – no time for a honeymoon period here – the Spirit immediately leads Jesus into the wilderness for the famous 40 days of testing. Jesus was able to pass the test, and navigate through every earthly challenge, because He was assured in what His Father had told him – He knew who He belonged to, He didn’t doubt His Father’s love, and there was no pressure to get His Father’s approval because He already had it.

In your leadership journey you will encounter tests and challenges that seemingly so blindside you that you can’t imagine a loving Father would ever have allowed it. You will have times where you feel like an outsider, questioning if you really belong. Other people’s approval will be fickle – one day you’re a rockstar, and the next you’re just not ‘all that’. When we come to Christ, we have the same assurance:

1) We belong

2) We’re loved

3) God is pleased with us, there’s nothing to earn or prove

But, you say, of course Jesus was confident in what His Father had told Him, how could He possibly forget? Heaven flippin’ opened up and the Spirit descended like a dove and a voice came out of heaven! So that wasn’t your experience after you got baptized? Trust me, that still, small voice from heaven will say it again to you – and say it as many times as you need to hear it. Take heed to the voice of God, He will always prepare you for the journey by speaking these truths to you.

As you reflect on another Christmas gone by, it’s a perfect time of year to remember that freedom-in-christGod loved us so much, was so intent to redeem us to Himself, that He sent His only Son, our Savior. Just the fact that we accepted Christ’s sacrifice and asked Him to be Lord of our life pleases God’s heart to no end. Before you start sprinting into this new year, take time to recall when a voice from heaven has spoken these truths to you. If you can’t remember specific instances, if there’s any doubt, ask God to encounter you with these truths this year the same way He spoke them over His Son – that you are His, you are loved, and He is so pleased with you! Being rooted in our identify in Christ is the foundation for leadership that will finish the race!

Article Submitted by: Karissa Corpeny, Director of Corporate Training, TC Southeast

ELP Highlights – June 2014

My name is Cailee Dean and I am currently a student at Women at the Well in Athens, TN. God delivered  me from a 9 Cailee Dean WATWyear battle with self-mutilation. I was in and out of psychiatric facilities for 8 years. Doctors told me I was crazy and I would end up killing myself, but God had a different plan. He delivered me from death’s grip and has set me free. I believe God is leading me to youth ministry of some kind.  I desire to minister hope to teens and young adults who are struggling with self-mutilation and depression.

ELP has taught me how to be a godly leader and has given me the tools to walk in and carry out God’s calling on my life.