Carrying On a Legacy

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My dad died on July 9, 2014, at the age of 62. I loved him dearly. In the weeks immediately following his death, I felt compelled to carry on the legacy my father left, to focus on the good things he did and strive to make those things part of my daily life.

To extend a helping hand to those in need.

To stand by my family through good times and bad.

To spend time enjoying nature.

To share the love of Jesus.

To encourage the underdog.

To be silly and create a home filled with laughter.

To work hard at everything I do.

Every story or quote about my dad I share is shared to keep his spirit alive on earth. Every positive character trait of his I model allows others to experience his goodness and love.

As I carry on my dad’s legacy, I realize this is essence of the Christian life. In the purest sense, a Christian is a person who loves Jesus Christ dearly and lives to carry on His legacy of truth, faith, and love.

Every Bible story or quote I share is shared to keep His spirit alive on earth. Every character trait of Jesus I model allows others to experience His goodness and love.

We humans are prone to complicate the Christian life, making it about rules and preferences and politics. It’s none of those things. It’s simply a relationship with a perfect man who lived, died, and came back to life 2,000 years ago, a man who was and is The Son of God. It’s so beautifully simple a 4-year-old can understand and experience this relationship.

May we live to speak Jesus’ words, embrace the hurting, and encourage the broken as we carry on His legacy.

 

 

*This post is dedicated to my father and to the family of Sarah Harmening who recently shared Sarah’s last written words including this quote: “We are like a wisp of smoke. We are only here for a moment and it’s not about us. Life is not about us. It’s about God, who is eternal, so I want to dedicate the one moment I’m here completely and entirely to him.” Thank you, Harmening family, for carrying on the legacy of your daughter and of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Photo credit: Monte Wyatt

Freedom!

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Are you in bondage? That’s a question you don’t usually hear on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Some could say they have never been asked that question. Is it even possible for a born-again follower of Jesus Christ to be in bondage (enslaved, imprisoned, or held captive by lies, addictions, fear, etc.) Some would say, “Of course!” while others would disagree. The Bible says it is possible: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) The author Paul wrote this sentence to Christian believers.

Beth Moore used this truth to introduce her Bible study Breaking Free. God brought this study into my life in the spring of 2016, and it is undoubtedly the best, most powerful Bible study I have ever done. It changed my life.

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According to Beth, “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for her.”

Do you love your life? Would you say you are living an abundant life, or do you feel like you are just trying to get through the day or week? Or maybe you are happy but feel there is something missing in your life. Is your life effective for Christ? Are you bearing the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), or is your life characterized by hate, discontentment, anxiety, impatience, and selfishness?

For many years I lived in bondage to fear, anxiety, anger, pride, and insecurity. I was addicted to pleasing people, and I did not love my life. All while I was walking with Jesus. I definitely received many blessings from God and had many happy moments, but deep down, I knew something was wrong. No matter how hard I tried, I could not break free from these sins. I was imprisoned by them.

I have always been an emotional “stuffer.” My default reaction to any negative emotion was to push it way down, ignore it, and hope it would go away with time. Those emotions never went away. They were stored in my mind and body, and they didn’t go away until I  dug them up, dealt with them, and released them by laying them at the feet of Jesus. This was my first step toward freedom.

Forgiveness was my second step. I made a list of all the people who had harmed me with their words or actions since I was born. There were 30 people on the list! I forgave each and every person on that list. I found tremendous freedom in forgiveness. I didn’t realize it, but before I forgave them, I was actually in a prison of bitterness and resentment. When I was a slave to bitterness, it was impossible to love the people who harmed me. The moment I forgave them, the prison was door was opened, and I was free to love those people with Christ’s love.

The third step in receiving freedom was knowing my identity and worth in Christ. For almost 40 years I believed the lie that my identity and worth comes from my accomplishments and people’s opinions of me. I had heard many teachers say our identity and worth as Christians comes from Christ alone. He created us, adopted us into His family, and called us His children. That’s our identity: a child of the Most High God, a prince or princess. Our worth is priceless, not because of our accomplishments or accolades but only because we are treasured children of God. I knew that in my head, but I did not believe it in my heart. I wanted to believe it, but I did not have the faith to believe it. I asked God many times to give me the faith to truly believe I am a treasured princess. God took me on a very difficult journey where He stripped away all I was clinging to until all I had left was Him. Through that journey God gave me the faith to believe that my worth comes from being a princess of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

After Jesus healed my emotions, freed me from a prison of lies, and gave me the faith to know my identity in Him, I thought I was good to go. I thought I was totally free. But God had a few more things He wanted to teach me. Enter Breaking Free. Jesus walked with me through that study and helped me understand more of His truth about freedom from the lies of our Enemy. It was an amazing journey, and by the end of the ten weeks, I knew I was completely set free. I have never been so happy in my life. I am at peace with my past, present, and future.

My prayer for every person reading this is that by God’s grace and power you will break free from whatever prison is holding you back from the abundant life God has for you (John 10:10). May you experience total freedom!

“He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” Isaiah 61:1

“There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.” Jesus Culture

I would love to hear your story. How has God set you free?

 

 

 

Photo credit: Christian Wallpapers (Psalm 107:14)