Fro The Past To The Future

Steve Arterburn

God wants to move you out of your broken past and into a better future.  As you cooperate with God’s process of redeeming your past, you need to honestly evaluate your life so you can redirect your course according to God’s design.

Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32).  The path to freedom always leads through the truth, even the truth about your past.  The apostle Paul examined his past, making an honest review of his earthly accomplishments, his wrongs, mistakes, gains, and his losses.  It was from this broad perspective that he wrote, ‘I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection! But I keep working toward that day when I will finally be all that Christ Jesus saved me for and wants me to be’ (Philippians 3:12).  

Freedom from the past also involves facing up to times when others have harmed you and turning them over to God.  In a letter to Timothy Paul even states the truth that someone has hurt him but leaves the matter in God’s hands.

When you hand over your past to God with the prayer that he work it out for the best according to his will, you can finally let go of it.  Then you can redirect your course toward a brighter future and help others to do the same through the lessons you’ve learned.

Freedom Within Boundaries

Steve Arterburn

In my years of working with men, I’ve seen how the lack of solid boundaries results in half-completed spiritual lives. Guys, good boundaries help you finish the course. They clarify convictions. They provide moral clarity by assigning healthy, predetermined responses to situations before they arise. They draw lines in the sand that you won’t cross because of your love for Christ and your desire to see His desires actualized in all areas of your life.

Establishing boundaries is a discipline. To this end, Oswald Chambers once commented, ‘Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.’

The paradox is that the things men tend to resist the most’limits, boundaries, rules, and restrictions’are the very things you need the most in order to experience real freedom. This kind of resistance is like trying to jump the fence without realizing that the Grand Canyon waits on the other side. You won’t ever know the terrors you’ve escaped when you find true freedom inside God’s boundaries. But then again, you don’t want to know these terrors.

When you understand that true freedom requires restraints, you’ll see that God doesn’t establish boundaries just to see if you can be a good boy and follow the rules. Instead, He gives you boundaries to keep you and your loved ones safe from moral and spiritual calamity’to make you a faithful husband, dad, and man of God. He put them there to help you experience the truly abundant life Jesus came to give.

Why is This Day Different Than All Other Days?

Wes Mason

In Jewish tradition the youngest child begins the Passover meal, or seder, by asking the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The rest of the celebration is an answer to that question; through the foods they eat, the way those foods are prepared, and the way they eat them, the story of that fateful night, when God delivered his people from captivity, is recreated. It’s a memorial of how they worked together, under God’s protection, to escape their captors and find freedom.

Americans could learn from this. For too many of us Independence Day has become just another day off of work, a day for good deals on mattresses and new cars, a day for barbecues and beach trips. We would do well to learn from our Jewish friends by asking ourselves the same question: “Why is this day different than all other days?”

Now this is not intended to draw a moral equivalence between Egypt’s enslavement of the Jews and King George III’s onerous taxation of the colonies. But the freedoms we enjoy in America today–to worship God as we choose, to speak freely, to elect those who govern us–were all rooted in that fateful July 4th day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was ratified, with John Hancock’s eloquent signature below Thomas Jefferson’s even more eloquent closing line, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” We see here another example of a group of people bonded together, under God’s protection, taking the first steps toward freedom.

Christ set us free with his death on the cross and resurrection. God gave us this wonderful gift, a gift greater than a walk across the Red Sea, far greater than thirteen Free and Independent States. And like those whom He set free in Egypt and Philadelphia He gave us one more thing to ensure that freedom: each other. The Jews in Egypt needed each other to make it to freedom on that Passover night. Our nation’s founders needed that “mutual pledge to each other” to see their vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness realized. God puts people in our lives because the connection in those relationships is the key to our freedom.

So if you’re struggling today, if addiction or emotional pain are holding you captive, if you want real freedom on this Independence Day, reach out to others. Give up on the “just me and God” plan that isn’t His plan and hasn’t worked for you anyway; ask someone for help. God has put people in your life to lead you to freedom; He’s ready right now for you to take that first step to connect with people around you, those who care about you. Make July 4, 2007 your Passover Night, Independence Day, and Resurrection Sunday all rolled into one. A year from now–and God willing each year after that–you may find yourself reflecting back, asking yourself, “Why is this day different than all other days?”