Not bound

Sometimes life feels small—our view restricted to four walls. It buries us under the weight of crammed schedules and piled-up expectations. Instead of being where we want to be, waist-deep waters resist the force of forward movement.

For the Apostle Paul, incarceration for the cause of Christ changed his approach to mission, but not the mission itself. Instead of going out into the world to share the Gospel, his letters traveled for him. He sent others in his place, while he sat in chains.

In his last letter, Paul encourages Timothy, his son in the faith, to focus, endure and remember the power of Jesus Christ.

Keep your attention on Jesus Christ as risen from the dead and descended from David. This is according to my gospel. I suffer for it to the point of being bound like a criminal, but God’s message is not bound.

– 2 Timothy 2:8-9

God’s message is not bound.

Even though Paul was suffering in prison, tied up for the sake of the Gospel, bound, He knew God’s message wasn’t.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, can stop God’s message of hope, forgiveness, redemption and love. It cannot be contained—no matter how the world tries. Soldiers may have killed Jesus, but there was nothing that could stop Him from coming up out of that grave!!

Today, no matter how small you feel or how constraining your circumstances, keep your attention on Jesus. Find your freedom in the unbound Gospel. Jesus is alive, and His grace is enough for you and for me!

New year, New life

Last night I rang in the New Year driving home from the hospital, where I had spent most of the day supporting good friends as they welcomed a son into the world.

Life is such a miracle, and to hold and snuggle a precious newborn baby is to know the tenderness and loving-kindness of the God who created him.

What a way to begin a new year, witnessing new life!

New life in the new year!

New life in the new year!

As I kept the new mom company and watched as she talked with and loved on her sweet child, my mind was drawn to the Scripture passage found in John 3.

Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

“But how can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked Him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you: Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit…”

January 1 brings hope each year, for us to be able to leave the past behind and have a fresh start. We crave that innocence and purity we have lost. Just like a newborn baby, we seek to be cradled securely in loving arms. We look within ourselves, to our relationships and from our livelihood to find the satisfaction and purpose we so deeply desire. And, every year we watch the Times Square ball tumble down, just like all of our independent efforts, and wish this next year would be different.

We have the same questions Nicodemus had.

And, Jesus has the same answer: we must be born again, born of God’s Spirit, and become His son or daughter. We need to be made completely new, just like a newborn baby.

Whatever you are facing in 2013, no matter the obstacles already looming and the mistakes you may be running from, new life is only possible through Jesus Christ.

Your eternal life with God can begin today. Jesus reminds Nicodemus in the same conversation that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. In the same fashion, those of us who have received that wonderfully precious gift need to fully possess it. We must live in God’s power, receive His forgiveness, extend His mercy and proclaim the Good News.

This is how I want to spend the new year.