He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners- Isaiah 61:1

Isaiah 61 has always been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It is the same passage Jesus read in the synagogue when he first began his public ministry. The fourth chapter of Luke shares this. For me, these are very powerful words that describe just what Jesus set about doing when He came to earth. The prophet Isaiah had written these words several hundred years before, and when Jesus read them aloud He added, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21, NIV).

I am fortunate to live in a place that allows me great freedoms; the freedom to marry a husband of my choice, the freedom to have as many children as I desire, the freedom to worship God, the freedom to meet, the freedom to be educated, the freedom to teach what I have learned, the freedom to pursue a career of my choice, the freedom to live where I desire, and the freedom to travel wherever I wish and the freedom to vote for my leaders.

I realize, however, that this is a special perk of living in the United States, and not everyone has these same freedoms. This freedom is amazing and I am thankful that this is the place God chose for me to live. But, unfortunately all who are free at least physically, are not free spiritually.

Many of us struggle with the freedom from whatever has control over us. We try to free ourselves from life’s pains, sorrows, doubts and fears by our own strength. This is weary work. We try to find freedom in organized religion or a self- centered religious practice, only to find it lacking any true release. What we need is help from God to be free from this pursuit of freedom. This pursuit of spiritual peace.

This is precisely what Jesus offers. Jesus came to set men free from the sin that binds them, from the endless religious rituals that were only a temporary staving off of the darkness and hopelessness felt by men. The sacrifices offered in the Temple were only good for a year, for a short time, for it was just a foreshadowing of what was to come through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Jesus set men free from the captivity and hopelessness of sin, the thing that keeps us from peace with God and ourselves and others. We no longer have to be prisoners of this world, in darkness and without hope. We can and have been set free, if we will only realize this. Jesus opened the prison doors, but we must acknowledge it, and trust Him for our salvation and be reconciled to God. It does not take any additional religious working, or sacrificing or reading ten chapters of scripture per day. It is realizing our need for His sacrifice, believing in His work, confessing Him as Lord and Savior, for us, for you, personally, that opens our eyes, redeems us, and enables us to see the doors of the prisons we have created are already open. God does not force us up on our feet, dragging us out of our prison cells against our will but rather, He proclaims freedom. He declares that what the world had long waited for, a Savior, a Messiah, a deliver, was here, freeing us from religion and declaring that sin and Satan had no more control over us.

Whether or not we have personal freedoms or political freedoms, does not matter, for we can experience true freedom- spiritual freedom by accepting Jesus’ proclamation of our release and walking in faith in Him. This my friend is true freedom. God Bless- Nancy


So, what’s holding you back? From taking that next step? From moving forward. I’m sure if you are like me, you kinda know the answer already. The minute you read the question, you could picture just what it is. The big thing that holds you back. Is it fear? Is it doubt? Is it because you lack faith?

For me it has always been fear. The fear of rejection, and the fear of failing, of not measuring up to others, not fitting in. I always have this same recurring fear of not fitting in and people not approving of what I do. When we let fear control us, we get held back from our progress forward. I have written previous blogs on facing fear before, and like I always say, I am a work in progress. I write about what to do, but even for myself, those steps forward in facing fears, have never been easy. I think it is that way for all of us. We let ourselves and our fears hold us back. It isn’t really anyone else, but US.

We have dreams and goals and maybe even callings, but we can feel hindered from pursuing them. These dreams, goals and callings, are like small seeds when we first sense them. If we nurture them, they grow and produce fruit. If we leave them alone, they can become stagnant and lifeless. When we let fear, or whatever else that we know is OUR hindrances become larger than our dreams, the dreams will wither. It’s like the parable of the sower that Jesus taught. We can let the worries and cares- like the fear of rejection- steal the seeds and prevent them from growing. If you would like to read the entire parable it is from Matthew chapter 13, Luke chapter 8 and Mark chapter 4. Jesus is of course explaining how those that hear the Gospel can hear it, but not everyone will accept the message of the Gospel, and still others will fall away from faith and not grow. It takes nurturing and good soil. The principle is the same, however,

We need to continue to nurture and grow our dreams and callings. To press past the worries, pray about every step we need to take, make time in our schedules to pursue those dreams and believe that God has uniquely qualified us and hard- wired us with certain skills and talents for those dreams and callings.

We can also ask others to pray for us. I know I need prayer warriors, praying for me. I also find that I need to spend time reading the Bible and reading books that others have written who have gone before me in this faith journey. It renews my thoughts and renewing my thoughts, renews my mind. And my mind is my biggest hindrance to stepping out into my dreams. The fears I have tend to roll around in my mind, unless I decide to believe what the Bible says, over what I might be feeling, others are saying about me, or what the devil tries to tell me about myself. I have to choose to free my thoughts, to unhinder them from fears and move forward in faith. It is a journey, not a dash, but I am moving forward and so can you. God Bless- Nancy


Here in the United States we will be celebrating the Fourth of July in a couple of days. Two to be exact, although by the sight of firework vendors that appeared in late June and the pre fourth lighting of firecrackers- it seems the fourth expands past just one day. Celebrating freedom and independence from tyranny needs more than one day, right?

I have copy of the Declaration of Independence that I purchased some time ago, I think in Boston, at one of those museum gift shops. It is printed on yellowed, crinkly paper-  to look like the original I suppose. Although it is just a copy, the words are the same as the original. Many are probably familiar with the opening line “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary” But, probably most haven’t read all the rest, the complaints against the King of England and his failure to support and offer representation to his subjects living in America. The writers speak of his abuses and his absolute despotism. If you get a chance I suggest you read it through.  Then you will really understand why you are shooting off those fireworks. The people had legitimate complaints. But unlike our contemporary culture, they didn’t just post ugly memes on Facebook, they were actually willing to work together and to trust God for the outcome. The last line of the Declaration of Independence reads “We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor”. They wanted this freedom so much they were willing to risk all. And as history tells us, many did.

Have you ever wanted freedom that much? That you would do anything to have it? Or have you grown accustomed to following someone else’s rule over you? Maybe its not even a someone, but a something that feels like a tyrant that controls you. Maybe its  an addiction, or a health problem, or your anxiety or worries or fears. Maybe its a bad habit you just wish you could break, or a job you wish you could leave but can’t because you fear financial ruin if you did. But, you just stay stuck. It’s easier to stay as you are than risk what freedom might cost.

Two weeks ago, I felt this kind of freedom I’m describing, I didn’t realize how much I had been stuck. But, for the first time in a long time, I just felt this overwhelming sense of what it is like to be free. I was sitting outside on a warm summer evening to watch an outdoor movie. I looked up at the stars and felt the evening breeze across my face. I felt like a kid again. The group gathered were also enjoying the movie and the evening. Although I did not know them and spoke only to my husband, their presence felt comforting, not oppressive. For too long I had surrounded myself with people who made me anxious. I often felt like the walls of the church were closing in on me and I needed to be doing more and acting the way I was expected to act in church.

For those who know me, I’m not bashing any particular church I’ve attended, but just a compiled view of what my own experience with church has been like in the past. Rather than being a place where I could come to find rest and peace, it drove me further into perfectionism- my tyrant of choice. Perfect people do not belong in church- we won’t be perfect until we get to Heaven. What the church should be is a hospital for the wounded, and broken, seeking freedom from their addictions and hurts.

We all seek freedom from the things that hold us captive, that  rule over us like a tyrant king. Some try to find it in alcohol or drugs, others through working long hours, hoping they will be too tired to care, or in relationship after relationship seeking affection. We are all looking for the freedom to be who God created us to be. God created us to be a people loved by Him and for Him.

Jesus said it is truth that will set us free. How do we know what truth is so that we will understand what it is that will set us free? Jesus answers “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, NIV Bible). He adds a bit later in the same passage “So if the Son sets you free you are freed indeed” (v.36)

Jesus wasn’t just some good moral teacher, but the Son of God who died to set you free from your tyrants of addictions and your longing for love and acceptance. When Jesus spoke these words in John, he was speaking to a group of church people who had sought following the rules as a way to gain freedom. But, rule keeping was never intended to make anyone free, just point to our failure to keep them. Jesus was trying to tell them that when He came, He was going to set people free. There would be no more trying to keep a record book of how many rules you followed or how many sacrifices you brought to the temple to pay for your failures to follow the rules. He was going to pay once for all for all time.

This is freedom. It’s not about controlling people through man- made rules, but about faith in Christ that brings true freedom. This is worth celebrating. Luke records in his gospel that as Jesus taught the parable of the lost coin, He said “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:7, NIV). In other words, when someone puts their faith in Christ, Heaven celebrates. They are free now! It doesn’t mention fireworks, but maybe they have some they like to shoot off for the occasion. Okay, so maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the point is freedom is worth celebrating.

If you do find yourself struggling to walk in freedom even after you are a Christian, you are not alone. It takes time. Maybe you will need to make some changes in your life that won’t be easy, but are necessary for you to experience freedom again. For me, it was a different place to worship and to spend more time reading God’s Word.  God Bless -Nancy