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Do You Want to Be Free?

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I recently read a news story that was amusing, confusing, strange, and sad all at the same time. You can check out the actual story here: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/07/29/fbi-woman-robbed-wyoming-bank-to-return-to-prison.html

According to Fox News, Linda Thompson, who had just recently been released from prison walked into a bank with a sign that read, “I have a gun. Give me all your money.” The teller hands over thousands of dollars to this woman who then exited the doors of the bank calmly. Here’s where it got strange. On the steps leading up to the bank, the woman sat down and threw the money into the air!

I laughed out loud! Are you serious?!

She began giving money away to passers-by! No, she was no Robin Hood. She had no interest in helping the poor.

What she wanted was both simple and complex. She wanted to be arrested. When the police arrived she made no attempt of escape, she offered no excuses. She simply stated that she wanted to go back to prison.

It was at this point in the story when I felt something for the lady. I’m not 100% sure what it was. It was a mixture of pity, sorrow, compassion, and curiosity. There was also some introspection.

This might sound strange. But how often do we run back to our sin and its misery simply because it’s familiar and comfortable and in many ways much easier than taking responsibility for our lives and putting in the hard work of living through the consequences of our past mistakes?

I have a couple of thoughts that might help when we find ourselves unable to move forward in life.

First, desperation can be a good thing. Jesus is drawn to desperation. Are you desperate to control your anger issues? Do you run back to pornography and other sexual sins to cope with an unsatisfying relationship? Do you find yourself unable to prioritize time with your spouse and children? Do you feel helpless to change your situation, to change your life? If so, you're not alone. The reality is, we are ALL in desperate need of God on a daily basis.

All through Scripture we find examples of God meeting helpless people in hopeless situations and extending grace. When we stop desperately pursuing God we become self-sufficient. But the problem with self-sufficiency is that it’s only as good as we are. It only lasts as long as we can last. It only solves the problems that we are able to solve on our own. And then we fail. And when we fail, we sink back into the prison of despair and discouragement.

If you find yourself in despair and discouragement, don’t give up in self-deprecation or give in to self-gratification, but look up to Jesus. He is waiting for you. He wants you, in your desperation, to desperately seek Him with all your heart.

Second, you can never reach your full potential in prison. In prisons today there are opportunities to be somewhat productive. You can certainly reflect on life, build relationships, exercise your body, serve others, work for a small stipend, even enjoy entertainment from time to time, all in prison! And as nice as that may sound. You’re still locked up! You may not think the prison of your sin is all that bad. You may even enjoy it. But you’ll never live the life you were intended to live.

There are so many Christians walking around in prison today. I think you know what I mean. They’re enslaved to the rumor mill and gossiping about others. They harbor resentment and unforgiveness in their hearts. They think more highly of themselves then they ought to. They don’t show the love of Jesus to people who look different, think different, and act different, then they do. I’m telling you. You can live that way if you want. But you’re still locked up! You’ll never reach your full potential. You’ll never live the life God wants you to live until you throw your hands up in desperate surrender.

Crazy thing is, when you surrender to God, you don’t get bars, you get freedom.

Do you want to be free?

Posted by Aaron Harding with

Just Do It

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Prayer really is one of those things that you learn by doing.  When people ask me, "How do you pray, pastor?" I tell them, "I just do it."  The truth is, the Bible contains many promises concerning prayer. For example:

"Evening, morning, and noon I cry out in distress, and He hears my voice." -Psalm 55:17

"In the day of my trouble I will call to you, and You will answer me." -Psalm 86:7

And while I could go on and on and even share personal experiences with you, the best thing I can tell you at this point is to just do it. Just talk to God! That's prayer. Just pray. As you go for it, I want to give you three simple thoughts.

First, set aside some time to pray. Of course dialogue between you and God is something that can and should take place through out your entire day, however I've found there's no better way to start my day and prioritize God than setting aside some specific time each day to meet with my Creator. My Heavenly Father. If you think about it, it's a staggering privilege we have!  When we set aside time specifically to meet with God we're developing the ability to put God before everything else and to seek Him first before doing anything else.  

Sometimes people say to me, "Aaron, I just can't find the time to pray. I'm too busy. I have too many responsibilities."  If you read through the gospels in the New Testament you'll find that it's actually quite surprising the amount of time Jesus dedicated to prayer. He was never too busy to meet with His Father.  In fact, as Jesus' life became more hectic and whenever He faced monumental decisions or tasks we find Him alone in prayer (See Luke 5:15-16).

Second, be conversational in your prayer. Sometimes we get upset because God does not respond to our requests in prayer immediately. Think about it though, if you only ever talked to your friends, spouse, children, parents, etc...when you needed something, how deep would that relationship be? If we're honest with ourselves, we'd admit that it wouldn't be that deep.  God wants intimacy! Don't just ask God for things. Talk to God about everything! Tell Him how you feel whether positive or negative. Express your doubts and frustrations. Be silent for awhile. Listen. But be consistent in just doing it! Make requests, sure! But make an effort to know Him rather than to use Him as some cosmic genie.

Finally, do some personal study on prayer: As I mentioned earlier, the Bible has a lot to say about prayer.  Below you'll find some great passages to get you started. But seriously, JUST DO IT! JUST PRAY!

Matthew 7:7-11; 18:19-20; John 16:24; Romans 8:26-27; Ephesians 6:10-20