Thursday, July 31, 2008

Permission To Be Free

I have a mentor that most of you probably don't know. As a matter of fact, he doesn't even know that he's my mentor, but he's been that for me for over twenty years. He's a man who lives his life behind a microphone, and for over twenty years I have listened to his daily 15-minute broadcast. His program used to be broadcast on my local Christian radio station until they decided that he was too "outside the box" for them, so they booted him. When I was working with Trans World Radio in Guam back in 1991, I proposed that they pick up his program on the local island-chain Christian radio station, and they did. He's been on that station now for 17 years. Now days, I have his program on my daily podcast line-up, and I listen to him pretty faithfully that way.

My mentor's name is Steve Brown, and his ministry is called "Key Life." He sums up the purpose of his ministry by saying that it exists to communicate to people everywhere that God is not mad at them. He speaks daily about the freedom that we have in Christ, and he desires to give Christians permission to be free.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Steve takes this verse to heart and says that since we've been filled with the Spirit of the Lord, we ought to be living in freedom. He says, "Everybody wants to be free in Christ, but very few people realize it. So most of us play a game. We conform to what everybody thinks and what everybody says, and we end up in prison by our own fear."

I used to live in the prison of my own fear, and it nearly ruined me. Then, a couple of years ago, I hit rock bottom. My fear of failure, my fear of regret, and my fear of losing the things that were most precious to me had totally imprisoned me. I felt hopeless, afraid, and depressed. It was then that the Lord convicted me of the sin of my fear, and it was then that I began to realize that because of the work of Christ on the cross, God actually gives me - and you too - permission to be free. My mentor, Steve, had been telling me this for years, but it took me hitting rock bottom before I understood how locked-up I really was and how miserable I was making life for myself and my family.

1 John 4:18 says, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." God, through the work of His Son Jesus (who is perfect love) on the cross, has removed fear from our lives and gives us permission to be free. Hallelujah!

Today I was listening to my mentor, Steve, on my iPod, and he said something to me that was really funny but really profound. He said, "All of Bible theology can be summed up in two statements: Cheer up...you're a lot worse than you think you are! And cheer up...God's grace is a lot bigger than you think it is!" Now that's freeing!

I'm choosing to live in freedom today. Are you?

1 comment:

Mike Potter said...

My mentor, Steve, was at it again today. He told me (via my iPod) some more about receiving and granting permission to be free. He gave me six ways that I can be free in Christ and at the same time grant permission to others to be free in Christ as well. I thought I'd share them with you.

1. Be honest. Based on Ephesians 4:25, we should be honest with others about who we really are. If we're struggling, be honest about it. If we have doubts and fears, be honest about them. Freedom comes when we're honest with ourselves and then honest with others.

2. Refuse to bear the guilt for the sin of others. Based on Ezekiel 18:20, we must each do our own business with God. When my kids act or think in sinful ways, I often tell them, "That's between you and God." In doing this, I am in essence refusing to bear their guilt while continuing - as their father - to point them to the One who already has.

3. Think of people as living in process. Based on John 16:12, we must allow others the room and grace to be where they are in their spiritual journey. We must allow this for ourselves as well. This doesn't mean that we can't or shouldn't encourage spiritual growth and progress for ourselves or others, but we must recognize that God works in different ways with all of us, and we must be accepting of that process in ourselves and in others.

4. Don't be shocked by the sin of the saints. Because we're all sinners who fall short of God's glory (Rom. 3:23), we must refuse to believe that there are ANY saints for whom Christ didn't have to die. Because there is no sin that anyone of us is not capable of committing, we should not allow ourselves to be shocked when it happens. Sad, yes. Shocked, no. When we allow ourselves to be shocked by the sin of our brothers and sisters, we allow judgment - whether intentional or unintentional - to creep in, and where there is judgment, there is no freedom.

5. Let people be human. Humans struggle with their faith. They have doubts, setbacks, trials, and frustrations. They sin. Superhumans don't struggle with their faith. They live victorious, near-perfect Christian lives. Sin is a rarity if it happens at all. We must allow ourselves and others to be human and realize that superhumans - much less superhuman Christians - don't exist. Never have. Never will.

6. God's grace is sufficient. Regardless of what you do or don't do, as a child of God, He will never let you go. He's faithful, and He loves you. No matter what you've done, what you're doing, or what you will do, God's grace is sufficient. Run to Him and rest in His grace today!