“If there is no laughter, Jesus has gone somewhere else. If there is no joy and freedom, it is not a church: it is simply a crowd of melancholy people basking in a religious neurosis. If there is no celebration, there is no real worship.” ― Steve Brown, Approaching God: Accepting the Invitation to Stand in the Presence of God
On Freedom and Being Free…
Independence Day 2020 is upon us. Each year I give a LOT of thought to what it means to be free, what makes us free, and what gives me the right to use this freedom as I do.
This year, I thought I would go a little deeper into what freedom means — to me and others — so you will find some very interesting quotes to anchor my observations.
I highly recommend you do this for yourself sometime in the next few days, as discovering what the truth about what this word means to you… will give you meaning for the rest of your life. And as the Bible says, “The truth will set you free.”
Freedom is my number one personal value.
It guides every choice I make and every action I take. Freedom, to me, is the opportunity to derive happiness each day from using my God-given talents and skills to overcome life’s growing challenges. It is the joy of knowing that each day, I glorify God by being the best me possible… and He is happy with his little creation named Eric.
Freedom and Hope springs from a set of universal principles that embraces free will and responsibility. To me, being free means that it is I who must look at all my choices, and make the RIGHT decisions. This takes skill, faith and the use of all the tools God has made available to me. He expects me to be the best I can be, so I have the duty to live up to that Divine Expectation… while being human… knowing that many times I will fall short.
Thus the need for Faith and Hope.
“To have Christian hope means to know about evil and yet to go to meet the future with confidence. The core of faith rests upon accepting being loved by God, and therefore to believe is to say Yes, not only to him, but to creation, to creatures, above all, to men, to try to see the image of God in each person and thereby to become a lover. That’s not easy, but the basic Yes, the conviction that God has created men, that he stands behind them, that they aren’t simply negative, gives love a reference point that enables it to ground hope on the basis of faith.” ― Pope Benedict XVI
As I grow older, I see the relationships between Freedom, Hope and Faith with great clarity. By being free to live ANY set of values, I choose to live MINE and mine alone… not to try to live somebody else’s values… to try to live inside somebody else’s constructs… but mine completely and authentically.
Only a fool would even attempt to adopt another man or woman’s core values without challenge. This is the prescription for a life of hell on earth. Being YOU gives you Divine FREEDOM and the opportunity to live in the Hope promised.
May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. Romans 15: 13 NIV
Yes, Clarity of Values… Clarity of Vision… and Clarity of Roles leads you to a sense of passion and purpose you cannot find by ignorantly accepting “your lot in life.” That is not freedom, it is the prescription for Desolation and Death.
Think about it. We are not getting out of this life, alive. What I am telling you is a life and death matter.
If you are not living YOUR life to the fullest, you are simply committing slow motion suicide.
You are alive, but you do not live out of your Convictions.
Remember, brilliant CLARITY leads to unwavering CONVICTION… which leads to your unconditional COMMITMENT and the COURAGE to take bold actions.
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry. I say that to myself every morning. It all works out in the end. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley
You have the freedom to ACT. If you are not acting with a bold sense of purpose and mission… acting out of true CONVICTION… then the problem is that you lack the clarity necessary to move your life forward.
Freedom can only be examined in the light of our true Convictions.
We are FREE to do the RIGHT Things… in the RIGHT Way… at the RIGHT Time… for the RIGHT Reasons.
True success emanates from using your Divine Freedom to employ your 4 R’s each day — to promote your life in His service — making your life a testament to His plan. No question, you already have success written in your DNA. The truth is, you will release your full potential in your D)o it N)ow A)actions.
“Remind thyself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment. ” ― Og Mandino
This is a very big deal.
Everything you will ever BE, DO or HAVE in life is dependent upon your choices and actions. Do more of the RIGHT things right, you succeed.
Do more of the WRONG things, for the WRONG reasons, you fail.
Again, you have the FREEDOM to choose WHAT you do… HOW you do it… and more importantly… WHY. The freedom to succeed. The freedom to fail.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” ― Steve Jobs
This is critical to the discussion to Hope and Freedom, and neither word can be discussed in a vacuum. You are FREE to choose. You MUST make smart choices… or what you take for freedom will be the tightening bonds of intellectual, spiritual and personal slavery. Success, not slavery, is what every human craves.
Be smart. Choose Wisely.
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does. It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre
True freedom is in YOUR hands. Do not abdicate your choices to others. When you do, you are, little by little, transferring all your POWER and all your FREEDOM to others — who don’t really have your best interests at heart — and getting little if anything in return.
Jefferson said it best, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” If you want true financial freedom, you must pay the price in the form of EXTREME financial vigilance. If you want to become spiritually free, you must honor your duty to God and remain eternally vigilant in your choices and actions.
Otherwise, you will be neither, free nor happy.
“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” ― Thomas Jefferson, Founder USA
As the CEO of a global training company, I sometimes wish there were a shorter path to success than what we offer. But there isn’t.
To find freedom and happiness… to feel alive and be alive… you simply must work at it until you get it right. Sure, we made it a simple 3-step process, but, for most people, it is anything but easy. Take the Believer’s TQ Test to see where YOU stand…
You may want to be free… to be happy… but if you are unwilling to do the work and pay the price, you will discover that you are left on the outside looking in. Sort of like Adam and Eve once ousted from the Garden.
One bad choice that affected us all. The key to the kingdom is not only hidden, but guarded by a flaming, whirling sword that guarantees we are on the out, and that it is up to us to make free will work. A huge responsibility that must be taken seriously… or we collectively move one step closer to extinction, and the heartbreak of failed hopes and dreams.
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” ― Ronald Reagan
Liberty is not free. Freedom is not free. The price must be paid.
“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” ― Patrick Henry
I am a “war baby-boomer”! My parents and grandparents served to free the world from tyranny. I had two uncles who paid the ultimate price, both having been shot down over Burma.
I remember when, around each Fourth of July, we would go to church and the sermon was on death and resurrection… on what it means to be given life here and now… by someone who was ready, willing and able to die for us and our sins.
To die such that we might live.
Pastor Zimmerman had a ritual where his sermon would always make the connection between the rainbow as a symbol of hope and promise… and the Cross as a symbol of total conviction, commitment and courage. He reminded us to think of these symbols, and look for them when we gazed upon the nighttime sky each time we enjoyed a fireworks show.
He also asked each member of the congregation who lost a loved one in the service, to bring a picture to remember them by. When I was about 7 or 8, I was given the picture of my Uncle Ray Koppelman to walk to the altar, and place his picture among the others.
He died for my freedom.
He died for me was the message on the frame. He died with a strong sense of duty… a passionate sense of purpose… the courage of his convictions as his plane flew in front of a bomber, saving the lives of the 40 other men on the mission that day.
When the bugler played Taps, the message resonated through the hearts, minds and souls — and memories — of every man, woman, boy and girl there at St John’s.
It was a powerful testament to life over death in our hopes and dreams.
You have been died for.
Someone has paid the price such that you may live. So live.
You have the promise of peace, and the freedom to pursue it. Pursue it.
You have the responsibility to use your freedom to the Glory of God. Do it.
You have the God-given gifts that make you a one-of-a-kind creation.
Rejoice in this creation.
We are truly a miracle of creation.
We have hope.
We have freedom.
Some of you might be thinking, “How naive this man is. He doesn’t understand my problems. He is talking about lofty principles that I have no power to experience. I am in debt up to my eyeballs. I am in a dead-end career. The drama in my life is so extreme that I could win an Academy Award for just going through the motions!”
“I am not free… I owe my soul to the company store… Chase and everybody in between.”
Not true. You are free to choose the status quo or solve your problems. So often we look elsewhere to solve life’s great mysteries when all we need to do is look within.
In doing the lookups for this article, I found this short and sweet set of instructions by Elizabeth Gilbert, a woman Time Magazine dubbed one of the most influential people of 2011.
“Instructions for Freedom”:
1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.
2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.
3. The day is ending, it’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. Your being here is God’s response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.
5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.
6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.
7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.
8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.
9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It’s safe, let go.
10. When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
Message: It is impossible to be free until you make peace with the past.
This Fourth of July — Independence Day here in America — think about who died for YOUR freedom… for your right to choose your course over time. Who gave up THEIR life so that you have the opportunity to find true and lasting success… to become a Spirit-Led Success?
Without question, this freedom comes at the price of personal responsibility. The responsibility to LOVE with greater passion… to SERVE with a heightened capacity… and to GLORIFY God by becoming the best you possible.
Joy. Hope. Freedom. Success.
It is always within grasp if you simply extend your reach.
E. R. Haas
“True freedom is not advanced in the permissive society, which confuses freedom with license to do anything whatever and which in the name of freedom proclaims a kind of general amorality. It is a caricature of freedom to claim that people are free to organize their lives with no reference to moral values, and to say that society does not have to ensure the protection and advancement of ethical values. Such an attitude is destructive of freedom and peace.” ― Pope John Paul II
P.S. Remember that there can be no testament without the TEST…
Remember those in your life who have given their lives so that you have the freedom to live in Grace. Write them here on the wall so all of us might regale in your great fortune… and ours.