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Return to Christ

Breaking news: It’s February 1, 2021 and I’m sitting in a coffee shop!

Just one short year ago sitting in a coffee shop was my daily routine, not an occurrence that warranted a breaking news bulletin. But then the virus that shall not be named came on the scene and the whole world flipped upside down. Ever since, nothing has been normal, not even sitting in a coffee shop.

I never imagined such a thing as a shutdown world. It never occurred to me that an entire planet could lock down all at once. What’s more is I never would have believed that the masses would readily submit to the tyranny of it. But here we are. Eleven months into fourteen days to slow the spread and, still, the vast majority of people are willfully going along with it. In fact, many seem to have totally adapted to their new, masked, sanitized, socially distanced world.

And me?

Well, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a hand sanitizer bottle on the table (placed there by the establishment, not myself), looking around at a few lonely, empty chairs, wondering if and when sanity will ever return to society? When will people miss the connection, community and compassion of our pre-COVID world enough to stand up and say “no more”? When will people stop buying the lie that we must separate from one another, lock ourselves away and become dehumanized in order to survive? When will my fellow man wake up to the truth that the deadliest, most destructive virus isn’t corona – it’s fear.

Employing the word “lie” when discussing COVID19 is controversial and certainly unpopular but it’s true. The COVID shutdown/lockdown was built on a lie. Actually, it was built on two fundamental lies. Lie one is that death is to be feared and lie two is that self-preservation is an admirable obsession.

Satan wants we the people to buy into these two fundamental lies because, if we do, then it makes every other lie an easier sell. Wear a mask? Sure, because I need to preserve my health. Shut down schools, small businesses and churches? Absolutely, because I’m afraid of the virus. You see how this works? The enemy always corrupts our foundation before he deceives us in the details.

To expose these lies for the destructive falsehoods they are isn’t very hard to do – no PhD or theological degree required. With our Bible opened to the life and legacy of Christ, we can plainly see that the fear of death and obsession with self-preservation are not admirable or virtuous qualities. Rather, they are sinful and faithless.

But don’t take my word for it – take Jesus’.

While speaking to His disciples, Jesus addressed the fear of death by warning them, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) Jesus knew full well that the lives of His disciples would be threatened by both pestilence and persecution and, yet, He commanded them not to fear anything or anyone but God Himself. And the same is true for you and me today. The only healthy, virtuous fear is the reverent fear of God.

The second foundational lie, that the self must be preserved at all costs, was debunked by Jesus’ own selfless, sacrificial life. Instead of sparing Himself (which He could have done – after all, He is God!) or numbing Himself from the pain of crucifixion, Jesus bore every nail with full awareness and consciousness. He didn’t prioritize self-preservation. He prioritized obeying the will of God and fulfilling His Father’s redemptive plan for humanity that saved a wretch like me and like you.

Furthermore, after Jesus rose from the grave, He gave His disciples one last command: go and make more disciples. “Therefore,” He said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) Notice that Jesus didn’t add a clause to this command stating that such commission is put on pause in the case of a worldwide pandemic. Nor did He note that the command is canceled in the case of physical threat to bodily health. No, Jesus gave no exceptions when He called the redeemed to live as broken bread and poured out wine for the glory and honor of the Lord Most High.

These directives given by Jesus Himself are as true today as they were the day He first spoke them. COVID19 has not changed them. No virus can ever void them. What has changed is society’s willful adherence to a lie. What has been voided by many in our nation and world is unwavering obedience to the word of God.

Which brings me back to the string of questions I posed at the beginning of this post and the one response that answers them all: return to Christ.

The empty chairs will be filled when society returns to Christ.

Connection, community and compassion will be restored when the world returns to Christ. 

Fellowship and relationship will thrive again when people return to Christ.

Fearless, God-honoring freedom will reign again when we return to Christ.

The only hope for this nation and world is for we the people to return to Jesus Christ, for He alone has the power to rescue, redeem and restore. Only His radiant light of Life and Truth can illuminate the darkness and expose every lie. Only His chain breaking power can set the the captives free to live in unbridled liberty.

And that is my prayer for this nation and the nations of the world: that they will throw off the chains that so entangle and stop buying the litany of lies that the enemy is selling. Then they will know the truth and the truth shall set them free.

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Let Freedom Ring

The coronavirus crisis has been eye-opening to many people in many different ways.

Some have become more aware of the dirt in their home and been compelled to do more deep cleaning. Still others have been awoken to their great dependence on household paper products and have decided to start keeping a secret stash of toilet paper in the basement – just in case.

For me, the coronavirus crisis has opened my eyes to freedoms that I took for granted.

While watching governors shutter businesses, I’ve thought long and hard about the fundamental principles of life and liberty that were won with blood, sweat and tears. As senators and representatives have argued over legislation, I’ve mourned the fact that the rights brave men and women died to protect could be so easily lost.

The events of the last two weeks have certainly been saddening. Within days, America has become a country I don’t even recognize. Instead of the home of the brave and the land of the free, we’ve become the land of “social distancing” that believes it is “safer at home.” Could this be the same America I grew up in and the country I call my own?

As much as I long for our nation, and all the world’s nations, to be free from tyranny and the stifling control of government, I have been reminded during these past few weeks that earthly citizenship is temporary. Whether or not we live as free people here is not the end all be all. Whether we live as free people in the life to come is what matters.

Earthly freedom in a nation is hard to gain and easy to loseBut eternal freedom in Christ is simple to gain and impossible to lose. This is why it is of critical importance that we do not place our hope in the liberties of this world for they are temporary and can be taken away in an instant. With one virus, our rights can be entirely dissolved.

But freedom in Christ cannot be taken away.

There is no virus or government that can ever undo God’s deliverance because Jesus ensured our liberation with His own blood, sweat and tears. What He accomplished on the cross cannot be dissolved by any power on earth. When Jesus rose victoriously from the grave, He broke our chains once and for all so that we need never again live enslaved to sin and death.

There is only one way to eternal freedom and it is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the true Deliverer who gives true liberty. Through Christ, we have the right to live as children of God and citizens of Heaven. Jesus releases us from the worry and concerns of living for this world and sets us free to live at peace knowing that we are only visitors on this earth. We are just passing through, taking every opportunity to tell the world about Jesus while keeping our eyes on the everlasting Kingdom of God where true freedom rings.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:36

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A Look Back 3 Years Post Stem Cells

Three years ago I underwent a stem cell procedure to treat what I believed was a case of Multiple Sclerosis.

The treatment utilized cells extracted from my body’s fat. In my case, my legs were the only part of my body with any extra tissue left to extract from. After the cells were pulled from my body they underwent an activation process. Once turned on, they were pumped back into my body through an IV and injected into my nasal cavity.

Four hours after it began, the procedure was over and I was full of activated powerhouse stem cells.

 

Since that day I have been asked (and have asked myself), “What did that procedure do for you?”

After the stem cells were injected into the immediate results were remarkable. Symptoms that had been unshakable for years completely disappeared. My energy was back. Brain fog lifted. Muscle spasms abated entirely. For the first three days I felt like a new woman and thought, “I’m cured!”

Then I returned home.

And so did my symptoms.

One by one the debilitating ailments came back. Pain. Muscle spasms. Fatigue. Hot flashes. Brain fog. Optic neuropathy. Slowly all of the symptoms crept back into my body….except one.

My claw foot.

Prior to the stem cell treatment my foot had gone into a perpetual claw. My toes were curled over and completely stiff. To release the tension I had to manually straighten them back out again but that was only a temporary fix. In no time at all the claw foot would return.

The condition of my foot made walking difficult and painful. Until my foot went into a claw I didn’t realize how important the toes are for balance and stability. Without all four corners of my foot engaged I fell more easily, tripped with absolutely nothing in my way and had constant discomfort in every pair of shoes.

My claw foot was a catalyst for pursuing stem cell therapy. In fact, before I underwent the procedure, I said, “If I could only have my foot back, this treatment would be worth it!”

Well, I got my foot back.

The morning after the procedure I awoke to a claw-less foot. There was absolutely no gripping in my toes or pain in my foot. The stem cell procedure freed my foot from the grips of the claw and, to this day, it has yet to return.

 

The freedom in my foot following stem cells was immediate but the most amazing freedom I experienced as a result of the procedure didn’t become evident until much later. It took over a year before I began to see the most miraculous outcome of the treatment: freedom from the claw gripping my heart.

Until I had stem cells I was fixated on being healed – and fast. That’s why I pursued stem cells in the first place. I wanted a quick fix to my problems. I didn’t want to have to wait. I wanted it done in four hours – or less. In my mind, the wait had gone on long enough and didn’t want to have to practice any more patience. There was a claw in my heart gripping immediate healing and it was refusing to release.

But stem cells freed me from the claw in my heart.

When the stem cells didn’t provide the cure I’d hoped for, my hope in immediate physical healing died. It was as if I had put all of my healing eggs in the stem cell basket and when I returned home I realized the basket had a whole in it. Complete healing hadn’t made it home and off the plane. I was still stuck sick.

Although I had my foot back I lost temporary sight of that miracle when the rest of my symptoms returned. I had said having a free foot was enough of a reason to get the procedure but the reality was my foot wasn’t enough. No part of my physical body could have ever been enough because the real trouble was still the claw in my heart.

A year post stem cells the true healing came. That’s when I finally accepted that God wasn’t going to use a quick fix to make me well. Stem cells showed me that what I needed wasn’t a procedure. I needed patience. I didn’t need powerhouse cells. I needed powerhouse contentedness in all circumstances.

Stem cells opened my eyes to the foolish fixation I had on the quick fix and revealed that my hopes had become dependent on physical healing instead of on God alone. When the claw finally unclenched freedom took hold. In the presence of God I am free to enjoy peace and rest, regardless of circumstances or physical condition.

 

 

So, what did that procedure do for you? Simple. It freed me from my claw.

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The Joy that Freedom Brings

It’s here. The day children wait for all year. And no, I’m talking about Christmas. Jesus’ birthday didn’t suddenly move to June.  The highly anticipated day I’m referring to is none other than the first day of summertime freedom. It’s official. School’s out for the summer.

All year long students have been held like caged birds trapped in small, stuffy classrooms. Confined to uncomfortable desks and a dictatorial bell schedule they have not been free to flit around and fly. For one hundred and eighty days they have waited for summer and all the fun it brings. Now it is here and students are giddy with relief.

In commemoration of the final day of school children and adults of all ages are gathering at amusement parks and picnic pavilions to celebrate. There will be rejoicing on roller coaster rides and suds of fun on water slides. Ice cream will be eaten for lunch and funnel cake will be devoured for dinner. For one day shouts of glee will be encouraged and no one will be shushed.

On school picnic day children are full of the joy that freedom brings.

 

In June or January, while stuck at a desk or basking in the sun, I aspire to live with the joy of a child enjoying the first day of summer vacation. I long to embody a child-like delight and glee as I rejoice in endless freedom.

I have every reason to be full of joy because Jesus Christ has set me free. God has released me from the guilt of my past. I am no longer caged by sin and shame. The door to salvation has been opened and on the other side is an eternity infinitely more glorious than summer.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

We are free to be full of the joy that freedom brings.