Tag Archives: freedom

Escaping Captivity (Guest Post)

Escaping Captivity

by Steph Beth Nickel

Because of Jesus... we can escape captivity.Many of us have read books or watched movies in which the main character is taken captive, books such as Janet’s own Heaven’s Prey.

While few (if any) of us have experienced this horror, we have all been held captive at some point. Some such occurrences seem almost too insignificant to mention: that bad dream that leaves us in a funk for the rest of the day for example. Some we seek to keep hidden: that bad habit we can’t seem to shake perhaps.

And what about that careless choice that makes us want to relive even a few seconds that would change the course of our lives for several days, months or even years to come?

Our Response to Captivity

Do we get tied up in knots? Do we obsess over negative feelings or less than stellar choices? Or do we actually believe Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV).

Many Christians have memorized this verse and quote it often. But do we cling to this promise when we’re at a low point?

Do we quote this verse and others like it to reassure ourselves, to pull ourselves out of emotional captivity or simply as a declaration of truth?

Our Response to Truth

If we don’t instantly feel better, will we still cling to the truth?

If God doesn’t “fix” everything in the way we want Him to, as quickly as we want Him to, will we still believe?

Will we allow our captivity to keep us bound in knots, making us ineffective?

Or will we deliberately look for the good in every situation? Will we pray for those involved? Will we see it as one more step on the journey to spiritual maturity, to authentic freedom?

Our Response to Promises

Will we rejoice in the midst of everything? (See 1 Corinthians 5:18.)

How can we, as Christians, escape captivity? We can hold onto 1 Peter 5:6-8 with both hands. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (ESV).

And when we can’t hold on, we can trust that our great God will always, always, always hold onto us.

No matter what happens, whether because of our choices or the choices of others, we can trust God. Even in the midst of apparent captivity, we can live in the freedom there is to be found in a growing relationship with the Lord.


Because of Jesus, we can escape captivity. (click to tweet)

God’s promises believed bring freedom. (click to tweet)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.




The Reason for the Season

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 7:24b-25a, NLT*

This is why we celebrate Christmas, and Easter, and every other day of the year. We had an impossible need, and God, in His love, mercy and grace, sent His own Son to meet it.

To walk among humans and reveal what the Father’s heart and will looked like. To lay down His life to ransom and redeem us and to break sin’s hold on us.

For this, we have Jesus, and a lifetime of thanks is not enough. Let’s walk with Him each day, hearts surrendered to His, in worship, obedience and adoration.

God our Maker, Redeemer and Sustainer, without You we’d be lost and hopeless, marking time and deceiving ourselves. Thank You for setting us free – at such extreme cost. Help us receive Your gift of salvation and live it fully, so that others will see the difference You make.

Casting Crowns‘ version of “Glorious Day” sums it up so well:

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Not Just Going to Heaven

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5, NIV*

“Why should I believe in Jesus?”

“So you can be saved from your sins and go to Heaven when you die.”

As a child, that’s how I thought. But there’s so much more to it than that.

Even “saved from your sins” means more than fire escape. It means freedom from their domination and from the destructive mindsets we’ve accepted. Freedom from ourselves, too!

And healing for our brokenness. Peace for our anxious spirits. Forgiveness… and the strength to forgive.

Most of all it means a relationship with the God who formed the universe and who welcomes us like a longing parent welcomes a long-lost child.

He’s with us. He’s our strength for today and our hope for tomorrow. He won’t leave us, always understands us, and His presence makes the difference in whatever we’re going through.

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet lists some of the facets of this salvation Jesus bought.

Holy and merciful God, we were all damaged goods, without hope of healing. But Jesus came willingly to be our Saviour. Thank You for the grace to believe. Open our spirits to receive the full extent of the healing and restoration You want to work in our lives, and help us to be living examples to those who still need to come to You.

The Newsboys used to do an extended version of their song, “I Am Free,” where Peter Furler (former lead singer) quoted parts of Isaiah 53, ending with today’s verse. This is the Gospel message: for now as well as when we die.

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

New Places I’ve Found on the Web

Here are some of the new or new-to-me places I’ve found on the Internet:

My Utmost for His Highest provides daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers

Under the Cover of Prayer shares insights, revelations and stories that will show the power of prayer.

Kyria is an online, subscription-based magazine for Christian women. You can check out a free sample here: Kyria: December 2009: Rest.

Listening to My Hair Grow is a new blog from Rose McCormick Brandon with posts on various topics that arise from “a search to regain quietness in my life”.

Live Green, Live Better is a garden-related blog by Kim Burgsma, offering “tips, tricks and true confessions from a landscape designer”.

Heartfelt Devotionals offers a variety of “Thoughts for Common Sense Living” from Brenda Wood.

Return Home and Tell is a new blog from Kimberley Payne, acting on Jesus’ words in Luke 8:39, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Free2soar offers flight-themed poetry and Scripture.

Talk on the Way is a website “dedicated to helping our generation know more than just facts about Jesus–to know Him personally” with articles and conversations to deepen personal spiritual growth and relationships.

Maureen’s Musings is the art-and-words blog of Nova Scotia folk artist and writer Maureen Newman. Maureen’s Rural Moments site will let you see all of her paintings.

Dreaming Big shares “reflections about identity, freedom and dreaming with God” from Christian speaker Heather Boersma.

And a hearty thank-you to Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience, whose blog is not new to me but whose Write! Canada workshop on blogging challenged Christian writers to remember Jesus’ upside-down definition of success and to serve with our words.

Free to Do it God’s Way

Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. 1 Peter 4:1-2, MSG*

I’m not suffering right now, and I’m glad of it. But I’m also glad God is working to free me from being tyrannized by self: my will, my opinions, my perspective.

Self-focus comes naturally and we can spend our lives encouraging it, but really it’s a prison. And the jailer, self, gets harsher over time.

There’s a reason God asks us to trust Him wholeheartedly and not rely on our own limited, darkened perceptions. His way is life everlasting and we miss it by keeping to our rigid, self-imposed choices.

“Free to pursue what God wants instead of … what you want.” At first glance this looks backward. Aren’t I free when I don’t have anyone telling me what to do, when I can do my own thing?

Maybe, but… life has shown me I’m not a kind taskmaster to myself. And relationship with God has shown me that I can trust Him.

“Free to pursue what God wants….” Well, what does the Bible say He wants? Cruel dominion over all people, wars, suffering?

What did Jesus say?

God’s Spirit is on me;
he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”
Luke 4:18-19, MSG*

He came to save us from our brokenness and to reconcile us with God. He asks us to receive what He gives and to pass it on.

Sounds more liberating than fighting with the universe to get my own way. Especially when my own way, like too much chocolate, is not a good thing.

Jesus came to set us free… sounds like the Christmas message and that of Easter. Here’s Third Day’s encouraging song, “Cry Out to Jesus”.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Healed and Free

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25, NIV*

Peter’s words echo Isaiah 53, and to me they speak of a spiritual healing: from sin into righteousness, from our transgressions and iniquities and sorrows into peace.

I have no insights about physical healing, but spiritual hurts go even deeper—and they are clearly promised to be  healed.

The Apostle Paul tells us to count ourselves dead to sin and alive to God, and he doesn’t mean to ignore our failings and pretend they don’t exist. I think he means to walk in the truth of God’s Word and not give in to the old ways.

To take Jesus’ promises as true and trust Him to be at work in us. To believe that His power is greater than our pain. To cooperate with Him as He changes us into what He designed us to be.

Father, there are so many things You want to heal and change in each of us. So much pain in the world. You are the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. The Message says You have named us and keep us for good. Help me love, trust and obey You.

I know I referred to this song last week, but I can’t read these verses without hearing Peter Furler’s impassioned recitation of parts of Isaiah 53 in the newsboys’ song (extended version), “I Am Free.” What I’d really like to share with you is the 7-minute version on the special edition Go CD, but this is at least more of it than you’d usually hear on the radio. It’s loud, but take the words to heart. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Holy Week

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.’ Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him.

Jesus replied, ‘Friend, do what you came for.’

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’

Matthew 26:47-54, NIV*

Holy Week.

We count down to tragedy… and triumph. We remember the events that led to our Saviour’s cruel death on a rough-hewn cross, disfigured and despised.

For us.

Sunday’s coming, and we’ll celebrate His glorious resurrection, perhaps the pinnacle moment in God’s mind-boggling plan.

But first comes Thursday: the Last Supper, Gethsemane’s agony, the betrayal. Friday: the mockery, the abuse, the physical torture of crucifixion. Saturday: the quiet before the storm nobody knew was coming.

It’s tempting to skip all the hard stuff, move right into the celebration. But look what Jesus did for us.

I’ll never be able to wrap my head around it, but He gave Himself intentionally, the perfect Lamb of God foreshadowed in the Old Testament sacrifices, despite the unimaginable agony of body and spirit. Because He loves us.




Hallelujah, what a Saviour.

Have a blessed Holy Week. Our song is an extended version of the Newsboys‘ “I Am Free.” Listen to the Scriptures about ¾ of the way through. This is the Gospel. He came to set us free.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

God and Idols

Bel bows down, Nebo stoops low; their idols are borne by beasts of burden. The images that are carried about are burdensome, a burden for the weary. They stoop and bow down together; unable to rescue the burden, they themselves go off into captivity.

‘Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all you who remain of the house of Israel, you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth. Even to your old age and grey hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’
Isaiah 46:1-4, NIV*

The gods made by the Babylonians are burdens: not only are they powerless to help the people who made them, but those people expend energy trying to care for and protect them, to the point where they get carried into captivity.

What a contrast with God: He carries us, sustains us. Where the Babylonians end in captivity, Israel (and us) who have been in captivity for a time because of not cooperating with God, will be rescued.

God goes on in this chapter to say that nothing will thwart His purposes, and that He will do what He planned: including “I will grant salvation to Zion, my splendour to Israel.” (Isaiah 46:13b)

Idols burden the people; God’s people are a burden He faithfully carries. People can’t even keep their idols safe; God keeps His people safe. Idols come to a bad end and the people get dragged along; God promises a good end for His people, guaranteed by His own integrity and power.

Now… how many lifeless things have I poured my treasure into and tried to bring to life and lug around? Plans, attitudes, dreams that aren’t from God or for this time?

Father, please forgive my wayward spirit. I get distracted, or I pick up junk to carry. Please help me recognize anything I need to take out of my pockets and dump at the side of the road. Help me rest in You as You sustain me. Help me trust Your leading and value You. Thank You for valuing me.

Our song for this week is “To the Only God“, from the Glory Revealed CD, lyrics by Chris Tomlin, lead vocals by David Crowder and Shane & Shane.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

He Loves Me

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Galatians 5:1, NIV*

Funny how the LORD can take a verse that clearly means one thing and use it to speak something personal as well.

Paul is pleading with the believers not to go back to trying to earn justification through the Law, but to “live by the Spirit” (v. 16) and “serve one another in love,” (v. 13) which will bring righteousness without legalism.

The past week and a half has been hectic, and low-level aches have kept me from getting good rest at night. My thoughts are fragmented, and I’m not doing well at being still in God’s presence. I just get there, and I skitter away.

Since Friday, I open my Bible for morning quiet time and my eyes catch on Paul’s words: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…do not let yourselves be burdened again…”

I know what I have to do: Be still. Know He is God. Rest in Him. Abide.

The verse calls me with no sense of rebuke. It’s a gentle pull to return to closeness. But the more my thoughts scatter, the more tense I get trying to centre on God.

When I can’t focus to pray, I can still pray through worship music. Monday I took my MP3 player to Curves, and one of the songs wrapped me in a reminder of God’s love.

He loves me. Even when I’m going in a million different directions, His love is unchanging and strong.

He loves me.

And He loves you too.

The song that blessed me was “Only One Thing,” by Todd Agnew.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.