Trained Elephants
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Elephants are magnificent creatures. The largest animal on land. They have so much power that they can easily take down small trees and move most anything in their way. Yet they can be kept captive by tethering them with a rope to a stake in the ground. How could something with such might and ability be kept detained with so little? The trick is that they are trained to think that way from a young age. When they are small, they are tied up with a rope that is too strong for them to break. At first they pull and tug trying to get loose. Eventually they resign to the fact that they can’t break free and they stop trying. As they grow larger and stronger, they never realize that they now have the power to break free. They see the rope and count it as defeat without even trying any more. So, they stay bound.

As people, we sometimes have the same experience. Jesus encountered such a woman. She had been bound for eighteen years, bent over and unable to raise up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” Luke 13:11-12. She was free after eighteen years of being in bondage! This was all she had known for so long. You could imagine that she never thought she would see that day come. What joy she must have felt when Jesus laid His hands on her and she straightened up! She has no idea that she would ever know anything other than captivity in her own body.

Many of us have the same issue as this poor woman. We are held captive by something that has been hanging around so long, we think it’s just a permanent part of our lives. It could be a negative idea about ourselves that we have been told since childhood, so we grew up believing it was true. It could be a bad habit that we feel like we can never break, because “it’s just part of who I am”. There are so many ways the enemy trains us into thinking we are stuck in situations of bondage. But Jesus says we are free! That’s one of the reasons He came – to set the captives free. It’s what He did when He defeated the enemy. All the schemes of the devil, the lying, the deceit, the trickery …everything that comes from him, has been defeated by Jesus. And whom the Son sets free is free indeed!

Think about that woman for a moment. She was physically stuck in a stooped position. It would be impossible for the muscles to soon become flexible and strong enough to hold her upright. It would be impossible for the bones that were fused in that position to become loose, but it happened instantly! That freedom is not only for that one woman. It is for all of us who believe. Don’t keep believing the trick and letting that little rope keep you tied up.

Think about: Is there something that is holding you captive? Is there a habit you would like to break or an attitude you would like to change, but you feel as though it is impossible? Would you like to be set free?

Prayer: Father, thank you for sending Jesus to set me free. I want to walk in that freedom. Help me break this rope of bondage, and show me what I need to do to keep from getting tangled in it again. In Jesus Name. Amen.

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Amy Key works as a secretary during the week and helps her friend with catering in her free time.  She enjoys serving on the kitchen team with her daughter.  On Sundays she can usually be found serving breakfast to the wonderful volunteers here at the River.

River Community Church
True Freedom.
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“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

John 8:32

Jesus came “to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” We read in the Gospels of His message and ministry, meant to bring His followers deliverance. He came to rescue us from ourselves, from our lives of narcissism, sin, and self-destruction. For thousands of years, He has set at liberty any who would place their hope and trust in Him. Does that describe your experience?

For a long time, it didn’t describe mine. Looking back, I think I wanted to know the truth and experience the freedom Jesus promised it would bring. But freedom to what? And for what? God’s purposes, or my own? Honestly, the posture of personal, autonomous freedom seemed to suit me more than the obedient Christian one. But Jesus didn’t die to give me a life of my choosing. The life He wants for us is much better than that. I learned the hard way through years of failure, freedom in Christ does not mean freedom to live as I want, but freedom to live my life surrendered to Him.

Experiencing true Christian freedom is not a mix and match business. Selfishness brings slavery. Surrender brings freedom. (Ironic, I know.) And the more we surrender to God, the freer we become. As Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32) Freedom in Christ means living in a vibrant, passionate, obedient relationship with Him. Obedience to Jesus is the condition of freedom, and the entrance ramp to a life of blessing beyond our understanding, for both you and everyone you are privileged to be used by Him to influence.  

Paul said, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) When we devote ourselves to the Lord, to a commitment to His word, prayer, and obedience to His leadership, we experience a truly free life… a result that is better than we can choose for ourselves.

Charles Kingsley said, “There are two freedoms—the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought.”  Please take the advice of one who has tried: Don’t try and follow Jesus out of convenience, or a desire for a life of your choosing. The life we follow Christ to is far better, truly freer, and accomplishes the glory of God. And that’s what we’re here for!

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Ben HullI is passionate about loving God, loving people, and leading others to do the same. He and his wife Leslie have 4 children and have been members of the River since 2016. He is a church planting resident here at The River. You can contact him at bhull@therivercc.com. 

River Community Church
Freedom from our Silver Chair.
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Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace.

Ephesians 1:18 

I truly love the vivid imagery of C.S. Lewis’s book, The Silver Chair.  I know he wrote it for children, but it holds so many relevant parallels to our spiritual journey as believers.  

Maybe you recognize its story of a prince who’s been kidnapped and taken to a subterranean kingdom. Because he’s under an enchantment, this prince doesn’t realize he’s a prince or that he’s enslaved.  The only indication that something might be awry are his nightly psychotic episodes.  During these episodes he must be tied to his silver chair lest he turn into a snake and devour those around him.  

Enter Jill and Eustace, the 2 children who have been tasked by Aslan with finding and rescuing this prince.  Upon having the opportunity to observe his nightly episode, they hear the young man suddenly tell them of the enchantment, his imprisonment, and desperately plead to be set free.  It is only during this one hour each night that the young man remembers who he is and that he is indeed a captive.  

Jill, Eustace and their Marshwiggle companion, Puddleglum are hesitant to release him, but upon hearing the young man invoke the name of Aslan, they realize they must set him free.   Upon being released, Prince Rilian takes his sword and hacks to pieces the source of the enchantment’s power over him – the silver chair.

Shortly after destroying the silver chair, Prince Rilian makes this statement while discussing his true identity with his rescuers:

“For now that I am myself I can remember that enchanted life, though while I was enchanted I could not remember my true self.”

His statement brings to mind the parable recorded in Luke’s gospel of a son who left his family and squandered his inheritance on wild living.  The Prodigal Son (like Prince Rilian) was living a life of bondage and had been brought so low that he didn’t remember his true heritage.

Luke 15:27 tells us it was not until “he finally came to his senses” that the Prodigal Son realized he had better options.  

From time to time we all need to have a “come to our senses” moment.  We’ve been living under deception and held captive by an ugly sort of enchantment.  Our silver chair of bondage might be envy, anger, lust, greed, gossip, lying, control, manipulation, worry, or something else.  We are strapped down and held fast.  

Like Prince Rilian we might have periodic moments of awakening.  During these moments of lucidity, the pain of our choices hits us hard, but we aren’t without hope.

Like Jill and Eustace who freed Prince Rilian from his bonds, Jesus Christ, himself, has sliced away the chains that would hold us to our silver chair.  However, we have a part to play in our freedom.  

Like Prince Rilian, we must get up, grab the sword of Truth, and destroy the sin that holds power over us.

Sin’s ugly enchantment can be hacked to pieces as we honestly dialogue with our Heavenly Father by acknowledging our bad choices, asking for forgiveness and choosing to make choices in line with biblical truth.

This COMPLETE process of repentance will lead to freedom, and it is only by living in freedom that we experience all “The Good Life” has to offer.  

Are you being held captive under the deceptive power of sin, even one you consider as minor?  What is your silver chair?

Pray:  Father God, please expose the lies I am believing and replace them with your truth.  Open my eyes so that I might see any ugly enchantment that holds me captive.  Help me to walk in the freedom you offer.  Lead me to the Good Life.

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Jennifer Greene is passionate about inspiring and empowering believers through the study and application of God's Word.  She and her husband Jordan have two daughters and have been members of The River since 2012.  One of the many hats she currently wears is that of Discipleship & Assimilation Intern here at the River.  You can find out more about her at www.jennifergreene.org.

River Community Church