Jesus means freedom
Understand this: Jesus wants you free.
Here are seven freedoms that are your birthright as a child of God:
Jesus wants you…
1. Stress free
Jesus fixes stress.
I think I always knew that.
And I believed it too—in a theoretical sense.
Trouble is: I never experienced it.
Since I didn’t experience it, I needed to pretend. My version of the “peace of Christ” was to politely smile while I churned inside. No one would know. In fact, people used to come up to my wife and say, “Your husband is so mellow. He’s the most mellow person I’ve ever met.”
My wife just laughed out loud.
She knew the truth.
For years I could eat and eat and eat and never gain a pound. Why? I burned calories just sitting in a chair because I was so torn up inside. I woke up more tired than when I went to sleep because I literally never ever relaxed. Not even for a moment.
But, hey, I was a good Christian, right?
Well, I was much loved by God. I was trying really hard. I was completely failing. But I was a good pretender.
This went on for years until I learned a few secrets that are rarely—if ever—shared from the pulpit. I began experiencing God in a whole new way. In time, my level of stress went way, way down.
Understand something: My circumstances didn’t change. If anything, they got worse. I have lived a life I would never wish on anyone. I have up close and personal experience (either myself or the people I love the very most) with rape, homelessness, addiction, overdose, cancer, death, bankruptcy, business failure and the list goes on.
But this amazing thing happened: The things that used to stress me out just didn’t bother me any more. For example, the mortgage could be due and overdue. I might have no money to pay it, no work, no income, no promise of work or income, no idea how it would get paid.
Would that freak you out?
Let me tell you: It used to freak me out. But then something happened, and that situation simply lost its power over me.
I’ve been in those circumstances again and again, and I’ve been totally, completely at peace. I went to bed, slept like a baby, woke up refreshed, excited to see what God would do, and ready to do my part.
The mortgage was due. No money to pay it. No work. No clients. No prospects. But perfect peace from God. And every time God provided. We were okay. The money came in. I found work, or God provided some other way. The mortgage got paid.
In the same way, some people used to just set me off. I hated being around them because they just got me so wound up that I was literally shaking inside.
But after I started experiencing God in a whole new way, those same people just couldn’t get to me any more. They were still doing all the things they used to do, but it didn’t phase me. It didn’t bother me.
Now does all of this mean that I’m never stressed? No. Let’s get real. I’m a work in progress just like you are. But the before-and-after difference in my life is night and day.
And it can be for you too.
I really believe that. God wants you stress free. He wants you at peace. He has peace “that passes all understanding”—peace that nobody can explain—for you.
I would love for you to have that peace. That’s why I created the Spiritual Self Defense course so I can show you how you can experience that peace and begin to live with less stress. More about that later.
Jesus also wants you…
2. Doubt free
I remember years ago listening to a reporter interview Billy Graham.
“Do you ever have doubts?” she asked.
“No,” he said. “Not any more. I used to, but I don’t any more.”
For some reason, that really struck me. Maybe it’s because I was always afraid of doubt—afraid of what it might do to my faith. Sure, doubts would come creeping into my mind, but I didn’t really know what to do with them. Nobody ever told me. Nobody ever gave me a strategy for dealing with doubt.
Meanwhile, something else was going on. I had questions. Lots of questions. And I went around to Christian leaders asking them for answers. This did not go very well.
For the most part I got a polite version of “Go, bother someone else.” When I did get answers, they were often pious platitudes, Christian cliches, spiritual sayings that didn’t have any teeth to bite into the life I was living.
All of this made me determined about two things:
(1) I would find answers that satisfied me no matter what it took. I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
(2) If I was ever in a position where I could help others, I wouldn’t brush off people who have honest questions, or who are honestly struggling with doubt. I would listen, and we would figure out a way to get answers that made sense to them.
I also learned something somewhere along the line: The answer that works for me won’t necessarily work for you. Let me give you an example: For a year and a half I struggled with the idea of hell. When I say I struggled, I mean that it kept me awake at night almost every night. How could hell exist if God is as good as I really believe He is? I don’t know how many hours I spent during those eighteen months hashing this thing out with God, but I finally came to a place of peace on this. I got an answer. I’m not sure I could even put that answer into words for you, but if I could, there’s no guarantee that my answer would satisfy you. My answer is my answer. It was custom designed by God for me.
I want the same for you. When something is troubling you, I want you to have a process you can go through to get the answer that you need.
I guess that’s a big reason why I created the Spiritual Self Defense course. You deserve answers—answers that work for you—not somebody else’s second hand, leftover answers, but fresh answers custom designed by God for you. There’s a process for getting those answers, and I want you to understand how that process works.
So when I say, “doubt free,” I don’t mean that you’ll never have any doubts or questions. No. Honestly facing questions and doubts is a healthy part of our journey of faith. What I do mean is that we will provide a process for working your way through those doubts and a supportive community for processing your questions. Your confidence in God will grow, and your comfort level with your faith will increase.
Jesus also wants you…
3. Anger free
I’m talking about the power to forgive.
Let me explain what I’m NOT talking about. I’m NOT talking about enjoying injustice. Little children are sold into prostitution. People starve even though food is available because government officials are too lazy or too corrupt to stamp a piece of paper releasing aid. Others die of preventable diseases because someone is too greedy to spare a couple bucks for a life-saving injection. I could go on. But you get the point. There’s plenty to be angry about. Jesus was angry at times.
Healthy, righteous anger has a role in our lives.
But like spoiled, rotten food, unresolved anger has a way of stinking up our entire lives.
What am I talking about?
Someone cuts in front of us when we’re driving down the highway. On the anger scale we’re suddenly at an 8 out of 10.
Or a spouse, parent, or sibling makes an innocent comment, and we’re instantly boiling.
Someone hurt us or offended us, and we know we should forgive, but no matter how hard we try, we still feel angry.
I understand this because I was an angry person. I hid it. I denied it. I pretended like I wasn’t. I even convinced myself that I wasn’t. But I was.
My family took the brunt of it. When I lost my temper (which happened a lot), they were stuck with it. I said things with my words and with my actions that I dearly wish I could take back. But, of course, I can’t.
It’s amazing to me now, looking back on it. So much of that great reservoir of anger that I was carrying around with me 24/7 is gone forever. And I’m not trying to keep it away. I’m not reciting some incantation every day, or carrying out “five steps to live anger free.” It’s just gone.
After learning how Jesus sets us free from anger, I helped other people forgive—truly forgive—perpetrators who hurt them in some horribly abusive ways. I was amazed at the results. This is so different than trying to forgive.
If you’re trying to forgive someone, I have news for you:
Forgiving isn’t just hard. It’s impossible. You cannot do it without God’s grace. But when you learn how to find that grace, forgiving those who hurt you becomes a delightful adventure with Jesus.
I know that probably sounds crazy. But after you’ve done it, and you walk away feeling a thousand pounds lighter, you’ll be smiling, just like I am right now.
Jesus also wants you…
4. Porn free
I could write a book…
Sixty to 80% of men and 30-40% of women in the church have fallen under the spell of porn.
We know this. No big surprise.
What most people don’t know is how to get free.
The traditional, white-knuckle, try-harder Christian approach is not only nearly useless, it often reinforces the porn addiction.
There’s a better way. It worked for me, and I believe it will work for you.
When Jesus is finished with His work, you will be able to easily walk away from porn. It won’t be some heroic struggle bolstered by accountability groups cheering you on to a desperate victory. Instead, the gravitational pull of porn will become so weak that it loses its power over you. That doesn’t mean that you’ll lose your sexuality. Jesus doesn’t take away your sex drive; He purifies it. But the way to access this grace from Jesus is very different than what most people expect.
I throw this into the mix in the Spiritual Self Defense course because I figure, hey, most of us can benefit from this. If we can’t, we probably know someone who can, and Jesus wants us all free.
Jesus also wants us…
5. Guilt free
Knowing you’re forgiven, and feeling forgiven—two very different things.
Maybe you’ve done bad things, or maybe bad things have been done to you, and you feel somehow responsible, to blame, guilty, tarnished, unclean.
Does this matter to Jesus?
Yes! It matters a great deal.
Guilt, shame and the inability to forgive oneself is rampant among people of faith. But it need not be. I want show you how to separate true guilt from false shame and safely remove both of these things from your life permanently.
6. Judgment free
If you feel (as I once did) that God is mostly disgusted with you, and is wondering when (if ever) you’re going to clean up your act, then I have great news for you.
Jesus said it to the woman caught in adultery.
The apostle Paul said it in his letter to the Christians in Rome.
And God wants to say it to you—in a way you can take in, in a way that will transform your life. The message is simple: If you are in Christ, you are not condemned. But how that message is delivered makes all the difference. I can say it 1,000 times, but that won’t help much. Instead, I want you to experience Jesus Himself conveying that message to you.
Of course, this list of freedoms could go on and on. Jesus wants to set us free from sin, loneliness, depression, addiction, poor self image, and a host of other things. Once you learn how the process of freedom works, you can approach any of these challenges with renewed confidence. But let me share one more…
Jesus wants you…
7. Anxiety free
One hot summer night about three in the morning, my wife woke me up.
“Dwight,” she said, “I can’t breathe!”
What do you mean, you can’t breathe? I thought. Just open your mouth and breathe!
While I was trying to figure out how to help her, she pushed me out of the way, ran out of the bedroom, and pressed her face up to the window air conditioner in the living room. She stood there for a long time, drawing each breath with a gasp, and trembling.
What was going on? Did she have asthma? Or what?
I thought this would be an isolated incident, but it was not. She had more and more of these incidents. After a while she was afraid to go outside because she couldn’t bear the thought of miles of atmosphere pressing down on her.
Yes, and she knew it was irrational. But the feeling was undeniable and overpowering.
After trying to figure this out on our own for a while, we went to the doctor. He gave these episodes a name: “Panic attacks.” And he gave her medication.
The medication helped. But when she forgot to take it for a few days, things spiraled out of control. The panic was 24/7. She could think of no good reason to live. She wanted to die.
In the midst of all of this, I was trying to help her the only way I knew how. “Here,” I said, “memorize these verses on fear. Say them aloud. Look in the mirror when you say them, and say them like you mean them.”
Lucky for me, she didn’t shoot me.
Some time later, around the time of the 9/11 attacks, we went to visit a guy named Steve. He prayed with my wife for a half hour.
The next morning, Kim set her medication aside, and she lived panic free for the next 18 months.
What happened during that half hour prayer?
To adequately answer that question, I would need to spend many hours with you explaining the dynamics of how God transforms a life. It took me 35 years to fully grasp these dynamics myself, and, of course, I would hate to see you needing to spend three and a half decades figuring them out on your own.