Archives For freedom

Several years ago, I remember how I first reacted after learning the controversial news that there was a possible link between the overexposure to aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease.

As it turns out, further studies have not been able to confirm this link.

At the time, however, the news grabbed my attention. My doc had told me that I was already at risk for this disease (because I suffered a severe concussion as a young child). So once I understood the potential risks, it was relatively easy to cut out aluminum.

I didn’t care how well it kept my body odor from stinking up the joint, there would be no more deodorant containing aluminum for me.

Oh, that it would be that easy when it comes to stopping an addiction! But anyone who has ever battled an addiction knows that it’s never that easy.

One of the maddening things I’ve noticed about addictions is that we can’t seem to resist them, even when we know that they threaten to ruin us (and others). And it’s one reason why we absolutely need Divine help.

Over the years, I’ve noticed something else. Most of us start seeking God’s help for an addiction by asking Him to take away the urges. But what if that’s not the best place to start?

When the urges come, what if it’s best to start with the simple, yet profound, recognition that we can’t resist them without Him (John 15:5)?

Humbly surrendering to God and admitting our own powerlessness as a starting point keeps us from going down the well-worn path of trying to resist our addictions in our own strength. Ironically, the more we struggle to break free on our own, the more entangled we become. But as we stop trying so hard and accept that, in and of ourselves, we lack the power to resist—well, that is when we start to tap into God’s power to resist.

Perhaps this is what Paul was getting at in his own life when he wrote: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:19).

When we come to this point of appropriate helplessness, that’s when we see how much we really need Jesus’ help (Romans 7:25). Or, as Paul would put it in another place, it is when we acknowledge our weaknesses that Jesus is strongest in our lives (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

There is much more involved in walking away from an addiction, but we won’t get very far until we first surrender.

Freedom on the Inside

Jeff Olson —  September 15, 2011 — 2 Comments

I recently learned of a new study bible titled Freedom on the Inside. It’s been developed in conjunction with Prison Fellowship, a Christ-based ministry that reaches out to prisoners and their families.

I love the title. Anything that reminds me of freedom is a winner in my book. Even more, it’s simple, yet speaks of a deep powerful force that can only come through God’s grace (Romans 6:14).

Most of us will never find ourselves doing time behind bars, but all of us are incarcerated by something–a wound, some habit, legalism, debt, shame, fear…something that ties us up in knots. And true freedom from whatever holds us captive begins when our hearts encounter grace.

Freedom inside our hearts sets us on a path to live more freely on the outside. Or as the Psalmist put it,

“I run in the path of your commands because you have set my heart free!” (Psalm 119:11). 






What Occupies You?

Jeff Olson —  August 4, 2011 — 1 Comment

To illustrate the truth of Ephesians 5:18, Evangelist DL Moody once held up an empty glass and asked an audience, “Tell me. How can I get the air out of the glass I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But Moody replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.”

After many other suggestions, Moody picked up a pitcher and filled the glass with water.

“There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then explained that freedom from a sinful habit does not come by working hard to eliminate it, but rather by the allowing the Holy Spirit to take full possession of us.

Is there a sinful habit in your life that you can’t to get rid of, no matter how hard you try? Maybe you should stop striving so hard to eliminate your out of control problem. Generally speaking, we don’t need more self-effort and self-regulation. What we need more of is to humble ourselves before God so that He can fill us with His Spirit.

The more we occupy ourselves with Jesus the less room there is for sin to occupy us.

To read more about freedom from addictions, Check out the Discovery Series Bible Study Released!



Freedom from Sacrifice

Jeff Olson —  July 2, 2010 — 1 Comment

As another July 4th approaches, I’m reminded of the costly sacrifices that bought unprecedented levels of freedom we currently enjoy in the United States of America.

Freedom always comes at a cost. Freedom from goverment tyranny cost many fine men and women their lives. Freedom from financial debt requires us to make spending sacrifices. Most of us who are 40+ years of age won’t enjoy freedom from a bulging waisline without making healthy sacrifices in our diet. Of course, freedom from the penalty and power of sin and the evil one came from the greatest sacrifice of all–the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

As the tag-line from the trailer of the film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King puts it:

“There can be no freedom without sacrifice.”

What freedoms do you enjoy as result of your own or the sacrifices of others? 

Do you want to get well?

Jeff Olson —  July 20, 2009 — 5 Comments

prison-fenceEarly in his ministry, Jesus ran across a man who had been handicapped for thirty-eight years. After spotting him lying near a pool in Jerusalem, Jesus approached him and asked, “Would you like to get well?” (John 5:6).

At first, that sounds like a strange question. Of course the guy wanted to get well. He’d been handicapped for decades! In asking the question, however, Jesus acknowledged that sometimes people want to remain in a crippled and broken state more than they want to get better.

Ironically, for some, the journey to restoration from personal brokenness seems too scary. Even though the wounds of life have crippled and imprisoned them, it’s what they’re used to.

Anyone can get so accustomed to “living” in a state of brokenness that they’re too afraid to leave it. It’s called becoming “institutionalized”—a term inmates used in the prison film, Shawshank Redemption, to describe the state of a prisoner who flounders when he’s paroled. Afraid of the freedom outside the prison walls, some ex-cons would commit another crime in order to get sent back to the only way of life they knew.

This is the same frame of mind the Israelites slipped into shortly after God miraculously freed them from the bondage of Egypt. A life of slavery was the only way of life these people knew.  It was their normal. And just days into their freedom, when the journey became hard, they wanted to go back (Exodus 16:1-3). Following God into the wilderness towards the promise land was apparently too risky. They weren’t ready to “get well.”

How might you answer Jesus’ question: “Would you like to get well?” Is there something so familiar to you that too you’re afraid to leave behind in order to be restored?