Tag Archives: Christ

What Freedom Really Means … For Today and Always!

What Freedom Really Means. liberation for you and me that spans eternity | Faith and Composition
Today, as those of us in the United States celebrate the birth of our nation, there will be an exuberant air. Backyard picnics will bear witness to plates piled high with fried chicken or barbecue, corn on the cob and potato salad, while homemade ice cream or strawberry shortcake will be spooned from bowls. Families will gather from near—perhaps even far—and kids will run barefoot atop green grass. In the heart of cities and across the country, flags will billow and concerts will sound the songs of patriotism, all beneath the banner of freedom.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And man it is. Because freedom … freedom is always worth celebrating!

What Freedom Really Means, for Today and Always | Faith and Composition

But there are some who will be celebrating today for whom true freedom is elusive. There are hurts that bind; addictions that enslave; circumstances that imprison. Perhaps those people are standing among you; perhaps it’s you. Perhaps you wave the banner of patriotism and paint a smile upon your face, but the deep-down honest truth is that there are chains binding your soul. 

Pornography.
Sexual immorality.
Drug abuse.
Alcohol addiction.
Insurmountable debt.
Debilitating sickness.
Estranged relationships.
Peace-robbing anxiety.
Soul-wounding grievances.
Scarred regrets.

These and so much more put chains on the soul that can enslave in the most suffocating way, choking out oxygen and masking the light until freedom becomes nothing more than an elusive hope.

But on this day that we celebrate national freedom, I have good news of eternal freedom!

“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

Galatians has been called “The Manifesto of Christian Liberty,” but this isn’t the only book where you’ll hear chains dropping off. Because beginning to end, the Bible tells of captives being set free by the God who created freedom. Noah set adrift upon the waters, Isaac spared from the altar, the nation of Israel freed from Egypt, Daniel saved from the lion’s den, Paul and Silas liberated from prison, the leper released from illness, the blind man rescued from darkness, and sinners everywhere—you and me—washed and saved by the blood of Christ on the cross.

Christ came so that we might have restoration, liberation, salvation. It was his stretched-wide, blood-stained hands that paid the price for our freedom. His sacrifice, sufficient for all who believe, releases chains, washes stains and covers our sin with amazing, unfathomable grace. When we’re washed by the blood, we emerge a new creation, no longer bound by the old trappings of the flesh.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
– 2 Corinthians 5:17

What Freedom Really Means. liberation for you and me that spans eternity | Faith and Composition

So today, as we wave the banner of freedom over this country, know that there’s also a banner over your heart: it’s a banner of rescue, redemption, freedom, purchased for you by the blood of Christ.

If you’re bound by the chains of addiction, loss or regrets, if mistakes haunt you and habits enslave you, this message is for you. It’s for you and for me; it’s for today and for always.

Chains release, slaves are free, bonds break … all at the foot of the cross. 

Christ has put it all to death; it’s done. So leave it there! Drop the yoke from your shoulders, surrender the burden, unload the baggage. And pick up instead His banner of redemption, salvation, liberation.

That’s a freedom worth celebrating, friends, not just for today, but for an eternity!

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
– John 8:36

Faith and Composition

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The Cure for Christmas {whether you’re a perfectionist or not}

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
The baby is sleeping, and the older two are resting when I pick up my phone to do a little browsing. Almost instantly I am overwhelmed by images of what-seem-to-be holiday perfection. Garland strewn across well-appointed mantles, Christmas cookies decorated with impeccable attention to detail, gifts wrapped with inventive materials, trees decked with enviable finery. I’m no stranger to all this; in fact I am drawn into the charm and whimsical beauty of it all.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and CompositionThe Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

But then slowly, silently, I feel it. The pressure to create a perfect holiday wells up from the pit of my stomach and begins to tighten around my throat. The images can be overwhelming; the expectations stifling. I glance around my own house and see a half-finished handmade garland with pine needles littering the tabletop, remnants from lunch sitting on the counter, toys strewn about the living room, and opened boxes of Christmas decorations serving as a tripping hazard in the hall. I haven’t started my Christmas shopping, and I haven’t iced a single cookie. In those moments, stylized images and my own unrealistic expectations collide with my current reality, and suddenly the holidays can feel like a high-stakes performance punctuated by the bitter taste of disappointment.

Since when did excessive commercialism subvert the birth of God-made-man in a lowly stable? What covert factors have worked to replace the gift of salvation with soon-to-be forgotten gifts that reek of materialism? When did cookie exchanges, visits to Santa, an elf on a shelf, coiffed trees and hot chocolate bars take precedence over the incredible miracle of God bending low and sending His son to take on flesh so that He might die on a cross and ransom us from the death we all deserve?

What has happened that we would rack up credit card charges to contribute to the accumulation of things, yet we wrap a tight fist around our cash when impoverished need stares us in the face? Why do we trample people on Black Friday yet tread on tiptoes when we speak His name? What has happened to Christmas?

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

The older I get, the more my heart is burdened by this over-commercialization of the holiday. For the past couple years, as this time has rolled around, I find myself longing for a pared-down simplicity. Yes I appreciate the beauty in a well-appointed mantel, I delight at lights glittering on a tree, I breathe in the scent of fresh pine, and I relish in the joy of friends and family gathering together, but I long for less Santa, less pomp, less fuss and more of the baby in a manger.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

Because the only cure for the disappointment caused by the intersection of high expectations and our daily reality is to focus on the intersection of grace and sin through the person of a baby born in a Bethlehem stable. So this year I’m trying to focus more on the heart of the matter and less on the materials. Yes, I have holiday-inspired posts coming your way, but they’re meaningless if this heart attitude isn’t the priority. We’re still doing a fun activity-focused advent calendar with the kids because I love to see their faces light up, but we’re also reading Ann Voskamp’s The Greatest Gift at dinner. It’s a bit over the five-year-old’s head, and the three-year-old wiggles out of her chair and asks to be excused … but it’s God’s word penetrating our hearts and it’s a disciplined commitment to turn toward Christ in anxious expectation of a shining star and his manger arrival. 

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
If we get caught up in the striving to make CHRISTmas perfect, we’ll miss CHRIST. Because at its core, Christmas is really the antithesis of perfection. After all, a perfect world doesn’t need a Savior, a broken world does. Christmas is about God’s son taking on flesh to be born into a filthy stable. He was wrapped in dirty clothes and laid in an animal feed trough. The awaited Savior arrived in a package nobody expected, and salvation came to sinful people through a means no one could imagine. He is redemption for a broken world, grace for imperfect people. And that, my friends, is worth celebrating, today, tomorrow, on December 25 and for a lifetime.

What do you think? How are you keeping your focus on Christ during this season, dear friends?

I’m linking this post up with Emily Freeman’s Tuesday’s Unwrapped and with Casey Wiegand.