One bad drive.
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For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

Beautiful days in August mean that I get the amazing privilege to watch my son play golf for his high school golf team. On this particular day, it is obvious that all of his hard work perfecting his game is paying off. 

As the match begins, my son starts off with "not such a good first shot" but, continues to find a way to make the desired score for that hole. After several holes in this match, although not all his shots have landed where he intended them to, his score was still shaping up to be quite good. When playing golf, the lower the score (number of strokes) the better, and he is on track to shoot one of his lowest rounds ever. With only two holes left, his drive from the tee goes into the woods and he can't find it. He must take what is called a “drop” which adds an extra stroke to his game. At this point he is frustrated but is hoping to at least finish this hole with just that one extra stroke.

As he proceeds to play this hole he just keeps making poor shots. With each bad shot he continues to get more and more frustrated, resulting in his emotions controlling how he is playing, and in that one hole he blew his record round. After he turns in his score into the coach he said to me “mom, I just couldn’t catch a break today.”  In his mind he felt his one bad drive had sent him on the course to destruction. In actuality, he had let that one drive dictate how HE handled himself. He could have let that first bad shot go and continued playing with the intent to do better yet, he let a few bad moments and decisions dictate his future ability to play. Before that destructive drive, he was free from the anger that captured him and kept him captive the rest of his match.  

We often let the same kind of captivity come upon us when it comes to our freedom in Christ. We often let past mistakes or circumstances hold us captive in our lives. We sometimes let a mistake put a yoke (anger, frustration, etc.) upon us that causes a pattern of mistakes to emerge. We let sin hold us down to what our true potential for the Lord is. 

Jesus came to set us free. Friend, do not be a slave to your past, or to sin, any longer! You can be free!! Confess your mistakes, know that you can let them go - because Jesus has! Move forward from your one bad shot, and finish your record game. God has a plan for you, be free and choose to be all that he wants you to be.

Think about: What is the "bad shot" that I have let hold me captive? What am I going to do next when I let Christ set me free from this yoke of slavery?

Prayer: God, thank you for Jesus and thank you for freedom. I know that my past mistakes do not dictate my future if I allow myself to embrace the freedom you have offered me. Help me to move on from my past mistakes this week.

—-

Amy Pearson

River Community Church
Set free
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In the words of the song by Bonnie Rhett “I can’t make you love me if you don’t.” Oh how hard I tried. When I was a little girl I felt my daddy loved me. By the time I was a teenager and started liking things that were different than what he liked, I no longer felt that love. We were not allowed to wear red because he didn’t like it. We couldn’t have mustard on our food because he didn’t like it. He was totally in control. 

When you grow up under control like that, once it’s gone, you have no idea how to freely be yourself. Personally, I looked for others to please because that was something familiar and measurable. Making everyone happy became a real desire.

Being so singularly focused on pleasing other people caused me to lose a bit of my own identity. In fear that people wouldn't like me, I put myself in bondage by only liking or disliking similarly to those around me. I took on other's views and had none of my own. I had developed a self-image that said: "I'm not smart enough to adopt my own opinions".  I carried this thought process all the way into church as well. I thought if I wasn’t doing what other wives and mothers were doing then I was not good enough for God.

Thankfully, along the way the Lord has shown me that He has made me purposefully and beautifully unique (see Psalms 139:13-14).  I don’t have to conform to the opinions of those around me to be loved by him or anyone else.  

This is a journey for someone like me who isn’t used to thinking this way, but I feel like God is showing me that he is not going to stop loving me when I mess up. He is patient and kind as I learn. My journey toward freedom hasn’t been easy or fast, however, choosing to embrace the truth of what God’s word says about me, sets me free.

John 8:32 tells us:

“And you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Free will, which God created in us, allows us the opportunity to explore how he uniquely designed us for a purpose. How we live out our faith doesn't need to look like everyone else; it can be a unique expression rooted in God's design.  This is freedom!

Think About: In what ways have you found yourself living out the expectations of other people? Think of how God uniquely designed you, what is it that you specifically enjoy that could also advance the gospel of Jesus?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for freedom! Thank you that knowing you and loving you sets us free to be who you created us to be. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love and your mercy you shed on us abundantly. Amen

---

Rita Reagan is a mother of 3 grown children and Nana to 7 grandchildren. An Education Coordinator for a healthcare  company, Rita loves to laugh and is compassionate about helping people in need. A widow herself, Rita mentors single women and desires to leave a legacy of serving her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

River Community Church
You can't always get what you want...
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Have you ever cooked breakfast for a hungry and clingy one year old? I found myself in this situation a few Sundays ago.  

My wife was volunteering at church that morning, so my fifteen month old daughter and I were hanging out at home before attending second service. The morning was going relatively well… until I started trying to cook breakfast. My daughter was getting hungry, which also made her increasingly cranky. Have you ever tried to scramble eggs and fry bacon with one hand, while the other arm is holding your kid? I’m sure more capable parents can do both, while simultaneously changing a diaper, building a log cabin, and reading their Bible, but I could not. At least nowhere near efficiently. Every passing minute added to my daughter’s angst. She only wanted to be held, but I knew what she really needed was food, and the longer I held her the longer it would take to get breakfast ready. So, after about eight minutes in the life of a one-armed man, I did the unthinkable: I put her down.

THE WORLD ENDED. (At least in her mind.)

My daughter was overwhelmed by sorrow and suffering for the next two minutes, all while I calmly told her that I loved her very much and wanted to hold her, but I had to finish frying the bacon and eggs. She calmed down fairly quickly while listening to my voice, and a few minutes later she was giggling, jabbering, and eating breakfast.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:30-31

As our morning continued, several parallels became clear to me:

So often we are the young toddler, God’s loved and precious child, crying and screaming because we think we know what is best for ourselves, and it’s not where God has led us. In our impatience, we may think God doesn’t care about our future because He’s not being a “good genie” in the present.

God, our loving, caring, and perfect Father, always knows what is best for us. He sees the “big picture” of our past, present, and future, and is not limited by short-sighted desires. If we seek and pray for His best for us, we may often be disappointed with a lack of instant gratification; don’t confuse this for abandonment or a lack of love on His part.

Waiting patiently is better than waiting impatiently (complaining/ day-dreaming), but is not always easier in the moment. Waiting patiently requires focusing (often intensely) on what we know to be true about The Lord.

Think About: Where I am having trouble waiting patiently for The Lord? What do I know to be true about God? How does focusing on what I know about God, instead of on what I want my circumstances to be, affect my patience with a situation?  

Pray: God my Father, Thank you for being patient with me. Help me to wait patiently for You. Help me to remember truth about who You are when I grow impatient, and to trust You while I’m waiting. In Jesus’ name, Amen

—-

Lucas Brown is a Senior Sales Tax Accountant for Tractor Supply Company by day. By night and weekends, he is a musician, writer, project handyman, and outdoorsman. Lucas is a full time Christ-follower, husband to his wife (Katie), and father to their daughter (Maggie Mae). Small group discussions/ Bible studies are Lucas' favorite vehicle for mutual discipleship.

River Community Church