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
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.

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Amy Pearson

River Community Church