The Year of FREEDOM!
In 2011 I stumbled on what I now call my Word of the Year project. Basically, I chose one word I wanted to see happen in my life. Then I focused on that word for the entire year.
That year changed my life.
I chose the word FREEDOM. I dove deep into what freedom meant for myself, my family, my business – in every area of my life. I sought God, and I sat and marinated in those ideas and thoughts. I followed what I learned. In the course of 2011, something amazing happened.
I found FREEDOM.
The Principle of Finding FREEDOM
2011 was a springboard for me. It was way more than just one word. It was more than FREEDOM. It was understanding a principle Jesus shared with his disciples, and others who believed in Him.
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:31-32
Notice the progression that takes place in this short passage:
Christian culture has done us a disservice. Too often we teach and believe freedom comes immediately – upon salvation. Now there is definitely a truth to that notion. When we call on the name of Jesus (believe) we are free from the guilt of our sins – past, present and future. However, this doesn’t always set us free from the long-term effects our sin has on us – emotionally, mentally and even physically.
Most times, freedom comes over the course of time. It comes through learning to be a disciple (follower) of Jesus. Take me as an example.
The Missing Component
By the time I began my Word of the Year project in 2011, I had believed in Jesus for well over 20 years! I was a disciple or follower of Jesus. Yet, I was bound in my heart and mind by things not of God.
The missing component? Abide.
I wasn’t sitting in God’s presence on a regular basis. I WAS following what I knew to be true from years or months earlier. I WASN’T following what I heard from God that day or week.
The truth God showed to me at that time set me free in that moment.
Notice, this is cyclical, never-ending. As I learn new (to me) truth about God, I must continue to believe things about Him I already know to be true, abide in them, follow them as I find more truth and further freedom.
Why does any of this matter?
As a leader, I’m forced to ponder what gives me the best opportunity to lead people into following Jesus for the long-term. There are lots of things I can do to help point someone toward God – church attendance, small group participation, Scripture memory, etc.
However, I believe there is one thing that trumps everything else: teaching you to intimately know Jesus for yourself.
If you can learn to live this cycle of believe, abide, follow, find truth, live in freedom you will be transformed from the inside out. Here’s the beautiful thing, your transformation doesn’t end in you. It spreads. If you are changed, you impact your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees, random people you come into contact with.
How do I do it?
There are many ways to practically carry this out, but one of the most important is a daily devotion – reading a short section of scripture, diving a little deeper into that scripture and prayer. Here are 3 great options:
- Bible App – One of my favorite tools is the Bible App – free for most smart phones and tablets (Google Play Store | Apple App Store).
- 30 Steps Toward God – I’ve written a book of 30 devotionals to help point your heart toward God. It’s free and designed as a starting point for people trying to connect with God. You can get your free e-copy HERE.
- Cross Points Church App – Another great tool is the Cross Points Church (my church) app (Google Play Store | Apple Apps Store). On our app, we offer a new devotion each weekday (Monday – Friday) written by one of our pastoral staff.
That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a multitude of other sources and ways to connect with God. The key is you learn to connect with God.
In 2011, I changed. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t even happen in that year. It began. This week I challenge you to begin. Begin (or continue) the process – believe, abide, follow, find truth and live in freedom.