How to find maximum freedom

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Parenting teens is seldom fun, almost never easy, is it?  Bev and I aimed for a balance between love and respect.  We tried to affirm a sincere ‘try’ even if it failed, but also let our teens live with the consequences of their choices. I smile when I recall an oft-repeated line that I spoke when they were angry with me. “I’m not your best friend; I’m your father.”  Nothing brings greater joy to my heart than seeing those ‘kids’ navigating adulthood, creating good for others, loving God and their own families.

Let me ask you this. Which child will be a happier person when they reach adulthood;  the one who is indulged and therefore thinks the world owes them everything; or the one who knows how to show up responsibly, who understands the concept of commitment, the one who can choose wisely for long-term gain?

Just as loving discipline, sometimes unpleasant, trains a child for life, we who are God’s children need our Father’s training for godliness!  He is not a cruel God when He allows us to feel the sting of His correction. In the letter to the Hebrews we learn: “Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.”  [12:11-12 The Message]

Freedom is often confused with irresponsibility.  Those who do what needs to be done regardless of how they feel often are mocked as drudges.  But, doing the daily things, the little things, consistently and in an orderly fashion, frees a person from the chaos that comes with the snarls of unmet obligations and unpaid bills.  Do I always enjoy finishing a project on-time? No, sometimes I would rather goof off.  Do I like mowing my lawn on a hot day, or doing the laundry when I’m tired? Not any more than anyone else. But, I do enjoy the beauty of a well-kept property and finding a clean shirt in the closet at 6 am. Yes, there is a freedom that discipline produces.  When we take care of the little stuff, the larger problems are less likely to develop tomorrow.

Disciples (see the connection with discipline?) who want to know God and to walk with Him in joyful freedom will choose well today.  I cannot recall ever having a discussion with a Christian who said, “Jerry, I just want to do the minimums, live spiritually on the edge, and squeak into Heaven by the razor edge of grace!” Yet, that is exactly the way of so many who claim to be followers of Jesus.

One last thought today …  We love quick fixes, easy solutions, and pills to heal our ills. Truth is there are no ‘magic pills’ that will produce instantaneous or effortless spiritual health and maturity. There are choices to be made, disciplines to practiced.  Most are not huge, earth-shattering, turn life inside out, kinds of choices.

They are ordinary life decisions, things like –

  • Turn off the TV an hour earlier and go to bed so you can get up 30 minutes earlier and have time to prayerfully meditate and take in some Scripture before rushing out the door to work;
  • Make a first line priority of being in corporate worship on Sunday morning.
  • Deal with temptation in its infancy instead of letting it turn into an enslaving habit.
  • Settle conflict quickly, forgiving instead of carrying around the weight of a grudge.

One writer puts it this way: “Each of us becomes another Michelangelo, for choice is nothing other than the chisel we use to sculpt our life. The chisel doesn’t come free, however, for the price of choice is responsibility. But when we accept and carry out our responsibility, the reward is great. The reward is happiness.”  (Learning to Laugh, Gary McGuire)

Let’s ‘grow up’ in grace. Our Father provided the means for freedom of choice by saving us through the gracious gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit persistently leads us to life. Now, let us use that freedom to grow into Christians who live worthy of His investment in us.

Here are a couple of thoughts from the Word. Take them with you today. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” (Proverbs 1:7, NIV) “If you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” (James 1:25, NLT)

___________

He Set Me Free

Once like a bird
In prison I dwelt
No freedom
From my sorrow I felt
But Jesus came
And listened to me
And glory to God
He set me free

He set me free
Yes He set me free
And He broke the bonds
Of prison for me
I’m glory bound
My Jesus to see
For glory to God
He set me free

Now I am climbing
Higher each day
Darkness of night
Has drifted away
My feet are planted
On higher ground
And glory to God
I’m homeward bound

Good-bye to sin
And things that confound
Naught of the world
Shall turn me around
Daily I’m working
I’m praying too
And glory to God
I’m going thru

Albert E. Brumley © 1939. Renewed 1967 Bridge Building Music, Inc. (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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