Finding Rest

Summer vacation is quickly sailing away, and with it the moments dedicated to pursuing rest, adventure, and connection. As I look back on this summer, it is easy to wonder where the sunsets and sunrises went. Packed into the summer were days “off” and trips away, but it was basically being busy in a new location.

We fervently checked off the items on our summer “bucket list”: go to Saturday Market, check. Read a book, check. Hike, celebrate Anniversary, go berry picking, swim often, go to the beach, check, check, check. Yet, cramming in these restful activities has somehow created the opposite result. I lost the rest in my resting. How is it that I feel the need for a vacation from vacationing?

Rest Holly HawesI’m tempted to scratch out “September” on my calendar and instead write in bold sharpie: GET STUFF DONE. No other season tempts the part of me that is a recovering perfectionist more than fall. Between color coded school supplies and an uptick in scheduled activities for the various members of the family is a deceptive little lie: Getting stuff done is the most important thing. Productivity speaks to your worth.

It is so subtle. Just a shade off. For a long time I didn’t realize that my life was dictated by a false value system that signed me up for all the good things. The christianized version of this culture of productivity: Doing more for/with God is the most important thing. You are worthwhile and more loved based on how much you get done. If alarms aren’t sounding warning in your mind yet, be aware, because this lie is pervasive and harmful. The absence of rest leaves weary, unconnected, striving souls wondering why the very activity they pursued has left them feeling captive.

Something in our humanity requires rest. Our need for sleep on a regular basis is a signal that we are not self sufficient. Pushing through a few all nighters is different than simply not needing to sleep. Most people have experienced the crankiness of a child (or even yourself) that is quickly reset with a nap and a snack. Though we may deny it or pretend we are now somehow superior to previous generations, the need for rest has only grown as our reliance on technology and time saving methods has increased.

Our creator, knows this about us. “Then he [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.’”-Mark 2:27

The God who formed the universe and created humankind built into us a need for rest. He also created a system of rest for His people described in several places in the Old testament that was referenced by Jesus during his time on earth. By no means am I an advocate of legalistic law keeping—Jesus has fulfilled everything. However, the one who made us knows how we operate. He created regular rhythms of rest: a weekly Sabbath, Every 7th year a Sabbath year, and every 50th year an additional year off (Leviticus 25). During these times no work was to be done. The time was set aside to worship God in order to practice reliance. A day to remember that God is sufficient to meet any and all needs. A year in an agrarian society in which they did not plant, produce, or in modern day terms “hustle”. Each half century, a reset occurred: Debts were forgiven, people freed from indentured servitude, land redistributed by family once again.

I cannot even rest for a whole week on vacation without feeling the need to busy myself. What would a whole community at rest for an entire year look like? There is so much to learn from the practice of habitually resting.

Regular, Planned Timeframes

People tend to rest when forced. An illness, exhaustion, or panic attack signals that the human body is outside of the realm of optimal conditions. Rest is the only answer. We not only need rest for our bodies, but also emotional and spiritual rest.

Rather than running us down, God provided regular times for this rest to occur. Today, we must fight for that rest ahead of time as we schedule our lives. Or, prayerfully rest for a time, perhaps months, or a year rather than climbing the corporate ladder or making a big move.

At Risk Of…

In their day the risk of loss in productivity was actually food to feed their families. In comparison, I have little to lose. Productivity matters little in the light of eternity. Each of us has things that are ours to do, and we strive to use the days God has given us well. But He made us for rest, any task before us is done within that understanding.

Whole Community

Holly Hawes RestOne excuse to forgo resting is the never-ending competition. Surely someone else will get ahead if I stop and rest. In Biblical times this problem was a non issue because the entire community would be at rest together. No one planting. No one working. I imagine a lot more time chatting around the fire took place. As well as time dedicated to learning what God had to say and remembering His goodness to them in the past years.

This aspect is harder to replicate. I have a hard time imagining what it could look like. From the outside looking in, those who know Jesus should be known for being at rest.

Reliance

In the end, reliance on God rather than ourselves is what rest really comes down to. It tests our true beliefs when we must act. Will it really be ok if I take a day off? Will the school be at risk because I chose not to be on the PTA? Why do I think the world revolves around me anyway?

When I stop, God continues to keep the world spinning. My heart still beats. Rather than seeing the hustle, I see the beauty. I see the people He has placed before me to love. I see the great masterpiece of creation. I see the adventure He is calling me into. In rest there is quiet enough to hear Him again.


holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Taking Time

Like any mom with three small children, I have trouble resting. There’s always a load of laundry to fold, a dishwasher to unload,and children waiting to be bathed or fed. When I do have a few minutes to sit down, I have difficulty using that time for actual rest and instead find myself updating my to do list.

Rest Sarah ClewsSometimes I’m good at setting boundaries and saying “no” to obligations and appointments. Yet still I often find myself rushing from task to task. Not to mention how social media amplifies the sense that one isn’t doing enough. Instagram is full of what feels like hashtagging taunts of “mom boss” and “hustle.”

Our family just closed out two weeks of sickness, colds, and even one case of pink eye. Although it felt frustrating that everyone was down, it was also a gift in disguise. I canceled my normal appointments, obligations, and errands. I was forced to stay home, slow our pace and rest.

I don’t know why I think I can push and push. Even Jesus took times of rest. When I think about his ministry—three short years, I am baffled. From a human perspective, if you only had three years to accomplish your life’s work, you might be thinking, “Hey, I can’t possibly take a break now!” And yet Jesus took time.

Time to sleep

Mark 4:35-40

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Have you ever been so tired you couldn’t stop crying? This happened to me recently. I was bone tired. I needed to sleep, but a nap…who has time to nap?  

Jesus had time. During the three most significant years of his life, Jesus took a nap.

Time away from others

It’s so interesting to me that Jesus felt the need to get away from the crowds now and then. He encouraged his disciples to come with him away from the people that had been following them.

Sarah Clews RestWe all need a break from people once in awhile. As an introvert, I definitely get worn out by groups larger than seven people and need to spend some time at home either alone or with just with my family.

I find the verses like Mark 1:35 comforting,  “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

Time to abide with Jesus

Another way for the weary soul to rest and refresh is by spending time in God’s word or praying. I find myself inundated by memes, sayings, and the words of humans all week long. I long for something truly refreshing—the timeless truth of God’s word.

“Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”-Jesus (John 4:14)

God isn’t surprised by our humanity or our need for rest. He understands, sympathizes and modeled what it looks like. He meets us in our weaknesses and even commanded a day of the week just for resting so we would take the time to find Him.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

Glory Day

Author: Kimberley Mulder

The day was almost sabotaged. It arrived sandwiched between National Blueberry Day and another week of packing with three kids suffering summer doldrums. We sat in moving mess, random socks, treasured Turkish bowls, and Christmas lights were stepped over as we popped fresh blueberries into our mouths.

In an effort to keep life enjoyable and remotely summer-ish, we kept to our tradition of picking blueberries though boxes begged to be packed and the to-do list called. Those first exploding sweet-tart tastes led to excited exclamations, but the heat and fatigue of the weeks wisped away the wonder within quick minutes. We foraged on, determined to make good on our tradition, but in the end our moods nearly spoiled the joy of fresh fruit.

Today,God says, -rest.-Today is what we call glory day, our day of rest among the chaos. Blueberry day lies behind me along with the half checked-off moving list with twenty more added items, scores of mediating moments as siblings lock horns again and again. Ahead of me lies two weeks that look nearly blank on my Google calendar – a picture perfect, relaxing summer vacay–except that it simply doesn’t record the hours of packing, organizing, and sorting, the time it takes to mediate moments, the impromptu play dates, and the legion of other moving preparations.

Today, God says, “Rest.” If I were not in the habit of resting on the Sabbath, I would not slow today. The pressure of so many decisions to be made and things to be done would fuel my activity. I am so thankful that this is a habit that the Lord has given me, as He has you. He commanded us, knowingly, mercifully, to rest, just as He did (Gen. 2:2-3). This literal break from whatever work I have in that particular season, this breath of a day meant to enjoy Him and savor His presence–it leads me to Him and resuscitates my body and soul weekly.

Today He is taking the lesson deeper. I am a peace-glutton, responsibility-taker, rule-follower, recovering perfectionist, people-pleaser, leader, Mom, busy home-maker, and micro-manager. This combination, under the pressure of a tight timeline for major life change, is the perfect storm to turn me into a barking, harsh, commander who makes the lives of everyone around miserable with the quick winds of unrealistic expectation.

Kimberley Mulder RestI foresee a squabble and pre-empt it through lecture or separation. I get bent out of shape when my timeline for the day is warped by not finding a child’s shoes where they should be (how many times have I told you to put it where it belongs…!). I accuse people of being inconsiderate for taking too long to say goodnight. You get the picture.

To me God says “Rest”. Take a break from the plans, the details, and the must-do’s. Lay down your management of relationships, your pursuit of perfection, your penchant for peace and allow His right relation, His perfection, allow His peacemaking to shine through. I must enjoy Jesus’ offering to befriend me in my imperfections; accept His invitation to give me His peace that transcends the sum of my circumstances. I let the wrinkles remain in the sheets today, it’s not the day to fix them. I make room in the disorganized space for the kids to sort things out themselves, for Jesus is with them too. I allow this day to shine in its given glory.


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

Free to Live at Peace

We live in a world of outrage. War, death, and injustice are happening all around us, in large and seemingly small scales. At any given moment we can read something on Facebook that offends our views, opinions, and even our own selves.

freedom Britney Bradley (1)Is there a different way to live, or must we always be upset at someone or about something? Must we live in a way that feels we are constantly attacked or disrespected? I hope not. There is a way of peace that is not common in the world around us. I believe, in fact, there is a way to live with the awareness of ultimate, everlasting, and eternal peace in our hearts day in and day out. In Jesus’ last days he was able to comfort his friends with this truth found in John 14:27:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

What a beautiful comfort to the ones who were about to see humanity perfected, Jesus, crucified, and for themselves as some of them would face martyrdom for their own faith.

Attaining this ultimate peace may not be exactly what we dream it to be. This peace that Jesus himself offers us is a hope that sees us through to the end. It does not mean happiness at every corner. It does not mean we will never see true trial and suffering in this life. What the peace of Jesus has to offer us the reassurance that we can go through anything life might throw at us, and be rest assured that our eternity is held in his grip. It means that when we are truly attacked or suffering, we can remember that this life lasts a moment, but our eternity with Him is secure and nothing can strip that away from us.

We can choose to live in certain turmoil, taking on pain that was never ours to bear. We can choose to feel hurt when our cause and views are attacked viciously over the internet. We can choose to respond with outrage towards those who hurt us, letting them have a piece of our minds. Or we could choose to put on the peace that has been given through Jesus on the cross. We CAN choose to not respond out of hurt, but to hold our tongues, knowing that justice isn’t ours alone to be had. In choosing to live at peace in this world we have freedom from so much unnecessarily quarreling and painful relationships.

Britney Bradley FreedomJames tells us:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.  Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. ~James 1:19-21

Will you join with me in prayer that God would give us his peace, that we would be freed from outrage, and that we would be those who extend His peace into the world around us?

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

 


britney-squareBritney Bradley loves being a wife to her loving husband, Brian. She is mother to 3 girls (so far) Ruby, Cora, and Lily, as well as auntie to 8, and friend to many. She has always dreamed about marriage and motherhood, and is now navigating God’s will each and every day in these realms. She enjoys writing when she gets a chance, and of course, coffee.

Sacred Mundane: A Book Excerpt from Kari Patterson

For our July book recommendation Anchored Voices is honored to be able to share a book excerpt from Kari Patterson’s new book Sacred Mundane now available at Amazon.

How Will You Run the Last Leg? 

Several years ago I ran in the world’s longest relay race, Hood-to-Coast. Our team was named “Girls and Guys with Aching Thighs,” and this was an apt description! It was an incredible experience, spending thirty hours in a van with six other sweaty runners, sleeping on the ground, running in the middle of the night, becoming fast friends in that surprisingly immediate way that only really uncomfortable circumstance can bring.

Sacred Mundane SidebarThere were twelve of us who ran three legs each, and I had the joy of being the last runner. This meant I ran the final stretch of the entire 200-mile race, stepping off pavement and onto sand, through the finish line.

I’ll never forget the feeling of finishing well, and the key was, I knew when the end of the race was near.

See, each leg of the race had a map, complete with elevation and course description. I had studied my legs. I knew that last one—how it would climb for a straight mile, then drop steeply at the end, then wind through the city of Seaside, then end up on the beach.

When I reached the steep descent, I knew it was time to pour it all out. My quads hurt so bad. Our team name wasn’t cute then—this was killin’ me! But there was no use holding back, no reason to save strength for later. I knew I’d never regret giving it my all. I ran as hard as I could.

When I saw the ocean, I can’t describe the joy in my heart. The view would have been breathtaking, but my breath was already taken. Thousands of people crowded on the beach, congratulating each other, an overwhelming celebration. What a glorious end!

My team was there too, my beloved friends, cheering me on through those final strides off the sidewalk and onto the sand and through the finish line. I was tired but overjoyed. I was so glad I had given it my all.

So glad I’d poured out.

Friends, we’re on the last leg.

Friends, Jesus is returning. Like, soon.

Now believe me, I am the furthest thing from an eschatology-obsessed, reading-Revelation-over-and-over, stockpiling-supplies-for-Armageddon kind of girl. Okay? I have zero interest in end-times arguments and pre-trib or post-trib camps.

This isn’t the time to huddle together under banners Jesus didn’t wave.

Jesus did give us some pretty specific instruction, however, and one of the most repeated was simply this: know the signs of the times.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus exhorts us, “Stay awake.” He warns us that just as in the days of Noah, the end will come upon many when they least expect it. He gives us many clues to help discern when his return is near, a course map so to speak, and although no one knows the day, we do know the season.

We have a pretty clear description of the last leg. And Jesus says explicitly, “When these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

Friends, our full redemption is drawing near. As I have been praying about this chapter, asking specifically what God wanted me to say, I heard this simple phrase over and over in my heart: “Tell them I’m coming soon.”

sacred mundane instaSo there. Jesus is coming soon. I have no definition of what “soon” is, but there is no way I’m ignoring this sense in my spirit, and I have seen dozens of things lining up in times recently that convince me our time here is coming to a close. I’ve seen the course description of this final stretch.

There’s a steep descent upon us, and it’s moments before the ocean opens up before us and we see the finish line.

These are the days for pouring out.

In the book of James, God gives a harsh indictment of the rich because they hoarded their resources instead of pouring them out for others. Specifically, James writes, “You have laid up treasure in the last days” (James 5:3). In other words, this is the time to pour out, not store up. Now is not the time to lay up treasures here on earth. Now is not the time to hold back, saving some for later.

These are the last days, a time for all to pour out, and our glorious God is going first.

We are seeing unprecedented outpouring of his Spirit on this earth in prophecy and signs, in miracles and movements. And we are also seeing darkness. We are seeing the chasm grow wide and the gradual separation between opposing kingdoms.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to live lukewarm, and the fence won’t hold us up any longer. We have to pick a side. Those who choose Christ are given a precious and great promise: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . . and everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17, 21).

He’s been calling us to bear fruit, and it’s almost harvest time.

Now, let’s bring this full circle. My desire is that we would let our days transform our lives. That we’d dip down into our ordinary days in such a way that we are radically transformed from the inside out. That our mindsets change, our habits change, our marriages change, our budgets change, our lives change. Why? So we can bear fruit that nourishes those near and far and displays God’s glory for all to see. This is how we prepare for every ordinary Tuesday, and this is how we prepare for the glorious return of Christ. Jesus already promised he will commend those who were faithful with little, so our simple aim is to live our sacred mundane in a way that pleases him.

 


Kari PattersonExcerpt from Sacred Mundane: How to find freedom, purpose, and joy, available through Amazon or directly through www.karipatterson.com. Kari reaches thousands of women worldwide through speaking events and her popular blog, Sacred Mundane. She’s a pastor’s wife, homeschool mom, Bible teacher, mentor, and passionate seeker of truth. All royalties from the sale of this book will benefit World Vision’s work with women and children in need.

 

 

Driving Free

Author: Kate Franken

I couldn’t breathe. Every muscle tensed. My face turned hot and clammy. I could see myself driving off the bridge. I wanted to slam the brakes and runaway. And then, in my head, I saw all the cars hitting me from behind.

I wrestled against what I felt, despite its intensity, and steered myself off to the side of the highway, once I gradually made it over the bridge. And there I sat paralyzed with fear, trying to breathe. I eventually pushed myself back out onto the highway, knowing people were expecting me. I drove with trepidation, fearful of another panic attack.

Kate Franken Driving freeThis moment is so vivid for me, the feelings of having no control pulsed strong. It, among other panic attacks, sit locked in my memory, ready to haunt me whenever I drive bridges, busy highways, and always the freeway.

When this anxiety first surfaced a little over two years ago, I immediately tried to make sense of it. I however couldn’t make sense of it on my own. I didn’t understand people that had panic attacks. I didn’t understand how I could go from a fearless to a fearful driver almost overnight for no obvious reason.

Fortunately, over time, I made my hidden pain known, despite the overwhelming sense of shame the anxiety invoked. A friend with a biblical counseling repertoire and a brother pursuing a medical doctorate degree, have helped me piece together the root of this affliction. The year prior to the start of the panic attacks, I experienced a number of (small) incidents on the road in which control felt stripped from me. One was a near accident, in which the van in front of me hit ice and swung wildly over both lanes of the highway on a narrow overpass. I had to press forward and pray the van stayed in the other lane as I passed.

Twice, I was in a car that was rear-ended. Another accident occurred when a motorcyclist hit my rear tire as I pulled out from a store parking lot one night. I had looked both ways and had seen nothing. From my perception, the motorcyclist had come out from nowhere. It was questioned post-scene-of-the-accident, whether the motorcyclist had a headlight because none could be found in the pictures of the wrecked motorcycle. These occurrences combined have potentially given me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Enemy ruthlessly attacked me in my weakness. I sought to get rid of the Devil’s foothold. I attempted the remedies for driving anxiety a Google search had rendered and the suggestions put forth by friends to no avail.

After a solid year of pushing myself to combat my fear, I gave up. I was tired of the panic attacks. They showed no sign of leaving. Back roads became my main means of going anywhere distant. I resigned to the belief that this affliction was my thorn. Like Paul, I had to accept that it wasn’t going to go away.

This mindset crippled me all the more. I’m certain the Enemy was wearing his evil grin as he saw me sink deeper into despair. But this is not where this story ends, for the Author of Freedom would not just let me be. He’s been faithful as I’ve endured this trial, using it for good. Great is my gratitude for all that He has shed light on as I’ve reached for freedom.

Driving free Kate FrankenI learned that fear and anxiety come about when we don’t trust that God is good. We are not living in obedience to God when fear and anxiety have a hold on us. For a professed believer, this can create feelings of shame, and thus the natural inclination is to believe a lie, to believe I can have both fear and anxiety and believe that God is good. But fear and anxiety will never loose its grip until you’re honest about your lack of trust in God. It’s when we are honest, that the Holy Spirit can then address the root issue.

My natural inclination to be self-sufficient and strong hinders me. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to lay down our fear and anxiety, and give it to the Lord. We can walk in the light when we stop pretending we’re not scared.

I  was impacted dramatically with the wisdom Apostle Paul imparts in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

When I resigned to my anxiety being my thorn forevermore, I had quit hoping. But it’s only with a hope in God that we can prevail against the Enemy’s schemes. It is only when we hope in Him that the best stories of freedom are written.

For too long, I wanted to ignore my affliction, thus I wasn’t praying about it. We need to be relentless in our communing with Our Lord, to have greater truth spoken over our lives. Each time we get on our knees and seek Him, our world is reoriented as it should be, with Him at the center.

The freedom I now experience allows me to travel over bridges and busy highways fairly painlessly. I’m steadily regaining my ability to drive on the freeway, after a year’s absence. Knowing where I’ve been and where I am now, only God could have freed me from these chains. He is the one to seek if we long to be free.

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

July Printable: A Watered Garden

Here in the middle of summer people can begin to feel emotionally parched, but the Lord can satisfy. Sarah Dohman wanted to remind us of where the water for our souls come from with this month’s free printable.

“The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

May the word of God water your roots so that you may bloom into whatever comes next.

Click Here to Grab Your Free Printable!

Isaiah 58-11 Printable Preview.jpg

That Which Cannot Be Earned

Years ago, I sat across from my counselor to hear her say, “Nothing you do can make God love you more or make God love you less.” My thinking was forever changed.

Freedom Sarah ClewsTo some, this might sound like a no brainer. But even though I was raised as an evangelical Christian, it was news to me. I knew my good deeds wouldn’t save me. Yet this felt like a new and remarkable truth because I did think my deeds could change God’s love. I found myself laboring under this idea that God was perpetually disappointed in me, that my sins and failures were making Him love me less. I lived my life in a cycle of shame and striving.

I had been so burdened by a yoke of slavery where I was constantly living in self-reproach, agonizing over my ungracious response to a family member the previous week or my unkind action to a friend a month ago. I was desperate for spiritual and emotional freedom. Jesus offers just that, freedom that says, “Not only do I forgive you, but I also free you from your shame.”

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 (NIV)

God is so clear in the Bible that He has FREED us from our striving. Living by a religion of works is so exhausting because it’s clearly never enough and obviously imperfect.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 

Sarah Clews freedomWhat freedom this scripture brings! I was recently thinking back to the story of when Adam and Eve first sinned. For the longest time, I thought they were ashamed for God to see them because they were naked. But they weren’t naked! They had tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. They tried to remove their own shame by their own efforts, by their own works. Yet it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t truly be covered until God covered them by His work.

It was God’s work that freed them from their shame, not their works.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Because I know my own weakness and inability to follow every rule, what a relief it has been to know that God’s love doesn’t depend on me at all! It is a gift that sets those held captive free. There’s no better hope than that.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

True Freedom

Current Location: Sunny San Diego. More specifically at my hotel’s outside oasis, surrounded by palm trees, orange umbrellas, pool lounger chairs. As I await my afternoon flight, I am naturally drawn to people watching. All sorts of folks have flocked to the pool area, splashing in the water, sipping their icy beverages in the alfresco restaurant…but all I can really think about is getting home.

Rainy Oregon over the land of perfect weather? Yes, because this is the week of the 4th of July, which is consequently one of my most favorite holidays. (I know you’re thinking, Fourth of July? Really, even more than Christmas? Aside from Thanksgiving—YES!) Why America’s Independence Day: The red-white-and-blue everywhere, people drenched from head to toe in the festive colors, flags proudly waving in the air, parades, barbecues, time spent with friends and family, country music blaring “Let Freedom Ring” and “God Bless the USA.” Some of the festivities may seem cheesy, but I relish and delight in it all. I love celebrating America’s birthday.

Freedom Sarah DohmanThe 4th of July makes me remember America’s freedom song, and I am compelled to think about my true freedom. The freedom found when all else is put aside and one truly knows and loves Jesus. Freedom through Christ is shared throughout all of Scripture. Christ came to set us free from everything that binds us up and keeps us apart from God. We sing a song at church titled “Death Was Arrested.” The lyrics in this song stir my love for my savior and proclaim how Christ brings us true freedom.

“Oh your grace so free
Washes over me
You have made me new
Now life begins with you
It’s your endless love
Pouring down on us
You have made us new
Now life begins with you”

This freedom, true freedom, not only sets us free from death and sin, but should drive us as Christ followers to love our neighbor. Galatians 5:13-14 shares, “For you were called to Sarah D Freedom (1)freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” We are called to freedom in Christ, and then, as captives set free, are asked to love others. This doesn’t mean just those easy to love, or those who are similar to us in race, ethnicity, education, etc. It means EVERYONE. Freedom in Christ ups our love game—it gives us the confidence and ability to love the people around us who challenge us, who believe differently from us, who may even dislike us.

On the Fourth, as I’m clad head to toe in red-white-and-blue, I cheer for independence. I’ll be celebrating America’s independence with gumption and gusto, but at a deeper level reflecting upon my true freedom—grace given freely through Christ alone. I will look around at my neighbors with love, and think of ways to bring joy into their day. I will look at my own freed life and reflect on the love and freedom God has lavished on me.


sarah-dohman-squareSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globe trotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah at her blog or on Twitter.

 

Friendship Takes Two

Author: Kate Franken

There was a time when I rarely opened my Bible, never once did I read a book in its entirety. I would pray a stream of words that flowed from my mind and not my heart. With little understanding of what the words within my memorized prayers actually meant, I prayed to the saints and to Mary, in attempts to better reach God.

It was a time when I knew some things about God, but I didn’t know God.

I was thirsty. I sought to quench my thirst with an inordinate number of things of this world like a farm animal that repeatedly gets its head stuck in the fence due to its pursuit to be satisfied. I persisted in chasing after fleeting desire, despite experience teaching me to do otherwise. I was chasing after the wind.

One hot summer’s day, a group of friends and I were embarking on a three hour drive to a northern coast town; we were given the choice of two cars. One of the two friends driving shared that she planned to listen to a sermon on the way up, knowing that would influence some people’s decisions. While the majority packed themselves in the other car, I opted to join her and her sister. 

As we rolled down stretches of country roads, my interest in what the pastor had to say about God grew. One sermon became two. Two became three and so on. And most beautifully, for the first time, we talked deeply about the things of God as dear friends.

After that day, I continued to listen to that same pastor. His teachings helped me see God with new eyes. He awakened me to God’s invitation to have a personal relationship with Him. He helped me see that God wanted my heart, not my works. He erased the hoops I had thought I must jump to reach God, and allowed me to see that God was close. The pastor captivated me with his words, as he broadened my understanding of who God is. 

One of the most mind-blowing things I learned in those podcast sermons was that God calls us friend.

Kate Franken FriendshipJohn 15:12-17 states, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

There is no greater love than Jesus dying on the cross for our sins, laying down His life for us. He is listening as we seek him. God loves us in a way no other friend can. With God, we are known—fully, truly, and still He loves us. He chooses us. He qualifies us to do Kingdom work. He showers us in mercy and incomprehensibly calls us friend.

God simply asks that we love. We love one another. We love Him.

As our friend, He wants to hear from us. He wants our prayers, for us to seek Him always. He values authenticity and constancy, just as we do. The more honest we are with God, the deeper our friendship becomes with Him.

Friendship is a two-way street. Just as He wants us to talk to Him, He wants us to listen to Him. He speaks to us through the Bible, so we must regularly be in the Word to hear His voice. His Word is alive and active and we ought not to dismiss its power and authority.

Friendship requires that both friends prioritize one another. It’s when this doesn’t occur, that friendships fall apart. We need to be asking ourselves routinely Am I prioritizing God? If not, we must reorient.

Friendship Kate FrankenForging a friendship with God has forever changed me. He has my heart and is all I’ll ever need. I lean greatly on the truth of His Word and the intimacy of prayer to walk the hills and valleys before me. It’s a fierce and beautiful friendship that has brought peace to what tomorrow holds. The peace comes about from knowing God—knowing he can be trusted eternally.

May this be an encouragement for you to incline your heart towards Him, seek His face, and lessen the gap. Open your Bible. Pray vulnerable words. Drink from the cup where you’ll thirst no more, forge and keep your friendship alive with the Truest of Friends.


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.