Slavery You Own

The word slavery causes people to shutter as they think of people bound in chains, beaten, forced into labor. Anti-slavery activists have their hands full in these modern times with a reported 27 million people enslaved. As I read some of the details of this modern day evil; I realized slavery wasn’t a dark part of history, it is alive and well on planet Earth. Sadly, much of this slavery is within our own borders; in the inner-cities, young men and women kept against their will, held as prostitutes. How we need to pray for their liberation.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr

Friday night, the Celebrate Recovery meeting was a reminder to me how that slavery goes far beyond individuals being kept against their will. The 27 million is dwarfed in number when we consider the masses enslaved by their past hurts; abused from childhood, hung-up from being bullied and belittled, and those given to self-will, owning habits that are chains not easily broken. Many are the slave owners, self is enslaved to addictions that are destructive. In the final analysis, our ownership must be admitted, we cannot blame and point our finger at anyone for our remaining chained to any hurt, habit, or hang-up. Freedom is in sight the moment we find our way to recovery, by God’s grace. So why do so many stay in their personal slavery?

That question has many answers. Some aren’t ready to surrender because they have not experienced enough pain. Some have a fear that freedom is enslavement. Really? Yes, they feel they will never enjoy parties, lose old friends, have to live a morbid existence and follow rules…they find this boring. Others that struggle with depression, past abuse, work-a-holism, etc., are still in denial, “I drink everyday, but never get out of control,” they think. Some think because they have tried and failed over and over, it won’t ever work. these enjoy times of freedom, but like the dog returning to eat his own vomit, they return to their enslavement. Everyone, yes, everyone has something that binds them. We all need to be liberated. Do not think that worry, pride, gossip, and lying are not enslaving, or that you do not need help to be free of…they are just as deadly. These will kill you spiritually.

Of everything I mentioned above, there is another evil that transcends all of the others, and goes relatively unnoticed. It is the one thing we must be very wary of, once we have accepted truth, and now live in freedom; Selfishness. It is so easy to enjoy release from our bondage that we forget it is a gift that you and I must give. Complacency is the beginning of a whole new way of dying. Not sharing your freedom by giving that freedom away is terribly self-serving. Not wanting to, not feeling like it, too tired, are all mostly love of self deception, keeping you from the real joi de vivre, joy of life. We who have this wonderful gift from God, given from others, can stifle spiritual growth, and replace the chains of past addictions, hurts, habits, and hang-ups, to serve self, the worst of slave owners.

“The time is always right to do the right thing.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are liberators, emancipators, we have a gift to give. We may not be able to walk into the inner-city house of prostitution and demand the freedom of the enslaved. We may not be able to go into the third-world countries and tell them to let the slaves go free. We can pray. We can pray en-masse, and in agreement in Jesus name. We must, once free from our chains, free others, serve in some capacity even if it is praying continually. But do not put yourself back into slavery. Joy, peace, love, and freedom awaits you.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all.

Advent…Hope Realized

Hope, is the forgotten virtue of the alcoholic, addict, over-eater, the couch potato, the individual fixed in their dead-end job, etc. Hope is used by so many of us in an off-handed way that when we say to another, “I hope you have a nice Holiday Season, and it is forgotten as fast as it was heard. I am guilty of passing conversation like that. In reality, I really want those I converse with to have a good day or a great holiday, I hope they do, I’m sure you do as well.

Hope is missing in so many people’s lives today. Why? Many reasons, sickness, jobless without prospect, broken relationships, to name a few. I have mentioned this before, and feel it worth repeating. The happiest children in the world is in, of all places, Nigeria. These children face danger daily, possible genocide of the Christians from the Islamic groups that say convert or die. These children are happy because they have hope of a better tomorrow. The most unhappy children in the world are right here in the USA. They seem to have everything, why are they unhappy? Because they have nothing to look forward to…everything they want is within reach, even for most of our poor, but certainly not all.

“Hope deferred, (unrelenting disappointment), makes the heart-sick, but when desire comes, (a longing comes true), it is a tree of life.” Prov.13:12
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Attend recovery meetings and observe the broken entering for their first few meetings. These people are hopeless, beaten down, and walked on, by their own doing. Nobody loves them, none care, even God…there is no hope for them, so they think. But by showing up and at least giving recovery a try, the lights come on for them and they get a small glimpse of hope, and suddenly, that light is in their eyes, hope has been re-discovered! Desiring to live, accomplish, and to become someone who can make a difference is indeed a tree of life. You do not have to have addictions, or overwhelming problems of any kind to be hopeless. Having no purpose, no ambition, and failures have left you totally defeated. You need that tree of life. That tree is the tree of death that Jesus died on, but life for anyone and looks to Him in hope.

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. HOPE means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” G.K. Chesterton

Prior to the first advent of Christ, the people of God looked forward to the “Hope of Israel,” the promised One who would appear. Their hope appeared in Jesus, but that wasn’t what they expected. We still look at Him for hope today as we look back at what He accomplished through his death, burial, and resurrection. By our believing on Him, and inviting Him into our heart for a personal advent, He arrives and our hope is realized, a real tree of life living and changing us continually. This is a mystery to the unbeliever that is hopeless, but certainly not unattainable. HOPE is found in Him. Just ask Him, he will come to you too, and then we can together look for to the second advent, the “blessed hope!”

“Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all, Merry Christmas!