buildingbodies4christ

building on the foundation of Jesus Christ

Archive for the tag “Freedom”

There’s a Difference

I have been told that I am different. My tastes are unique. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease eleven years ago, I eat differently than most people. The first Easter after my change to a healthier lifestyle was the first time I experienced the reality that I was totally different. My Mom was still alive and well at that point. The family was together as was the tradition for holidays. As usual, Mom fixed everyone’s favorite food, except I couldn’t eat any of it.

Mom forgot that I could no longer eat like the rest of the family. I had to have a different menu. Not because I wanted to be different, but because I had chosen to treat my disease with a food-based approach and not a medical prescription approach. My Mom didn’t get it. My family didn’t get it. And on that Easter Sunday, I had to come to terms with hard reality of being different.

I don’t think many people really like to be different, especially young people. We like our friends to be similar to us. Even our church life has the same mentality. We want to be like our neighbors – nice car, nice house, perfect lifestyle with perfect kids. And sometimes that comes with a hefty price tag. We go into debt to finance our desires. I heard Dave Ramsey say recently on a show that we need to be different. Normal is to be in debt. Different is to have a healthy bank account without the burden of debt. The Bible tells us debt is our master; we are a servant to it (Proverbs 22:7). Possessions possess us.

We all need a hard reality check. Jesus didn’t come to burden us but to free us from our burdens. No matter what we struggle with – health issues, debt, unhealthy habits, etc. – Jesus is the answer. How you say? If we are followers of Jesus, we should have a different mentality. We should have a different focus. Pastor Tony Evans has a teaching series on eternal focus. We should be living in the light of eternity. Possessions shouldn’t possess us – sell it. Move into something that is affordable. Free up the bank account so that it allows for Kingdom purpose – to help those in need at a moment’s notice.

Living a healthy lifestyle has changed me in more ways than just my eating habits. It has freed me from the burden of feeling sick and tired all the time. I have the freedom with a clear mind and satisfied heart. Living well is a choice. It may have a steep learning curve, but it’s worth it to be different. Finding the right people to encourage us along the way is important. We don’t all have to be alike. It’s healthy to have a diverse friendship base. They can teach us many things. However, there always has to be a true foundation of belief in Jesus so that no one can move us from Jesus’ rock of truth.

Jesus promised us the gift of the Holy Spirit when we receive His gift of salvation. The Holy Spirit is our guide to living a different life. The Spirit will give us a check in our spending habits, in our eating habits and in choosing a different path. However, we have to be sensitive to His promptings. If we continue to ignore the promptings, we will no longer feel His leading away from the things that will entangle us in an unhealthy life. There’s a difference in the way we live when the Spirit is in control. It’s not easy living differently, but it’s very rewarding when the Spirit gives us a nudge in the right direction. There’s always a blessing when we do the right thing.

As followers of Jesus, the world cannot give us what we desire. When we look to worldly things, we leave God out of the equation. When God is in the picture, everything is seen in a different light. I had a conversation last week with a fellow at the gym about marriage. He said marriage was overrated. I said, God has to be in the marriage too in order for it to be a good marriage. God has to be in the middle of our lives in order for it to be a good life. We have to live differently. It’s the only way to live a truly joyful, peaceful life. Jesus is the answer. Choose to be different!

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. And now he has made all of this plain to us by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior. He broke the power of death and illuminated the way to life and immortality through the Good News. 2 Timothy 1:9-10 (NLT)

What are you doing?

Several weeks ago, I read a couple of Andy Andrew’s books. I love his writings. He has great insight. He said in one of his earlier books that his mentor, Jones, gave him biographies to read. Jones said biographies give perspective. Andy went on to write in the Traveler’s Gift about what he discovered in those biographies.

In the book The Noticer, Andy writes about Jones. In one of his meetings with Jones, they were sharing a meal on a beach. Jones asked Andy what he was doing right then. Andy responded eating fish and chips on the beach. Jones said that was the problem with people today, they lacked perspective. Andy asked what he meant. Jones replied – “you’re eating fish and chips on a beach; I am eating surf and turf with an ocean view!” It’s all about perspective. We all need a new perspective.

Several years ago, I mentioned to my aunt I would love to quit my job and just write. Guess what I am doing today? I quit my job five years ago; and I write blogs, I write a monthly newsletter on health and wellness, and I wrote two books. I never told my aunt how I could afford to do it because there was no way I saw myself doing it. It was insane to even contemplate such a thing. But somehow, I took that step of faith; and God has sustained me throughout this time. Sometimes I get down and out because I can’t afford to do the things I want to do – like travel or buy things I want instead of things I need. I see the things I lack instead of the things I can do. I have a very flexible schedule. I love to be able to talk with my neighbors in the yard on a sunny afternoon. I go to the gym when I want. I can sleep in when I have had a bad night, etc.

Before I left my job in 2011, I had a dream or a vision. The only thing I remember about this dream was a sliding glass door that I tried to close. The door popped back open when I attempted to close it. When the door popped open, I immediately woke up and was very afraid that someone was in the room with me. But God gave me peace, and I went right back to sleep. So, what was that vision all about? Was it about leaving the job? I hadn’t thought about it for years until this week when Christine Caine spoke about the “moving past the past.” She also spoke about perspective.

In her talk, she said we all have a gate (or door) of opportunity right before us. The past is on one side, and the future is on the other. Many times we are stuck at the gate. The gate is not to keep us in but to let us out. If there was no gate, then it would be a prison. But Jesus gave us a gate. He said He is the gate (John 10:7, 9). He is the one who opens the door of the opportunity to go out and help other prisoners be set free. With freedom comes responsibility. Our current circumstance is not a prison. It’s just a training ground for what we need in the future. The season we’re in currently will pass one day. It’s what we learn in the current circumstances that can bring a blessing from it and benefit someone else.

Christine said (commenting on 2 Kings 7:1-6) there’s power in the question “Why stay here until we die?” We sit at the gate waiting on something to fall from the sky – like the supernatural manna from heaven. The gate is not the end point. God could provide manna from heaven while we wait at the gate, but what if the best thing lay just beyond the door? It may take a risky step or three to get out of the comfortable, complacency where we sit today. When God says move, it’s time to move. We can go forward in the confidence that God goes with us. We might be afraid, but we still need to move forward. The future is out there, not behind our prison walls. It just takes a new perspective to see the possibilities. So, what are you doing? Are you eating fish and chips or surf and turf with an ocean view?

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. You, my brothers (and sisters), were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5: 1-2, 13

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