- Written by Callie Neff
Romans 6:17-19 (MSG)
What Is True Freedom?
15-18 So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!
19 I’m using this freedom language because it’s easy to picture. You can readily recall, can’t you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing—not caring about others, not caring about God—the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God’s freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?
I am FREE TO respond to doubt with a quiet and gentle resolve: I am FREE TO rest when things appear overwhelming: I am FREE TO engage in another's pain and release it to Jesus: I am FREE TO admit my weakness and failure and know the Lord is my rear guard: I am FREE TO receive and to give Love...I am FREE to live out TRUE FREEDOM living no longer to serve my needs but to live out the call to love and live as Christ!
May you be set FREE TO love and live as Christ ! May you be set FREE FROM the lies of the enemy ! May you know healing and the expansive holiness of God's freedom!
- Written by Callie Neff
Psalm 42:5-8 (NIV)
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
How often have I quoted these strains...echoing the refrains through the day. I feel the pull of the needs and demands around me. I give in to the weight and pressure from the unseen. I tend to walk beyond the grace given for today. I find myself looking for an easier path. I try to wall off my heart to the demands of extending grace and love. I avoid and defend. I argue and resist.
I insist on completing tasks instead of trusting and waiting in rhythm with the Holy Spirit.
When my eyes are downcast...when my spirit is disturbed ...I am moved to REMEMBER
REMEMBER ...who I am ...where I am ...what I have been given
Romans 5:2-5 (CJB)
2 Also through him and on the ground of our trust, we have gained access to this grace in which we stand; so let us boast about the hope of experiencing God’s glory. 3 But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4 endurance produces character, and character produces hope; 5 and this hope does not let us down, because God’s love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the Ruach HaKodesh who has been given to us.
May you experience the deep love of the Lord! May you be able to boast about the hope of experiencing God's glory!
May you know and remember this hope will not let you down!
- Written by Callie Neff
Psalm 121 (CJB)
121 (0) A song of ascents:
(1) If I raise my eyes to the hills,
from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from Adonai,
the maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip —
your guardian is not asleep.
4 No, the guardian of Isra’el
never slumbers or sleeps.
5 Adonai is your guardian; at your right hand
Adonai provides you with shade —
6 the sun can’t strike you during the day
or even the moon at night.
7 Adonai will guard you against all harm;
he will guard your life.
8 Adonai will guard your coming and going
from now on and forever.
The past months as I have journeyed into the world of restoration housing for women coming out of sex trafficking and left "base camp" to make the climb with a newly forming team and the clients coming to us for support it has been hard work. In recent weeks I felt like our team had reached it's first pinnacle: communication in place, a client well served moving on and a new client added to the home. One night as I went to bed it was as if I looked up to see where we had come from but caught a glimpse of the mountain range ahead. [Unending need, unending work, limited time, limited workers, sensing a coming storm]
It was an overwhelming moment, knowing and understanding the lose and sacrifice that had come to this point and the hard work and time it would take to keep going. Each client, each team member takes an investment and a piece of me and sometimes counting the cost it can seem too high a price. The truth is however, that I love mountain climbing. My husband reminded me of that and that is partly why I do what I do. It is not a marathon, it is not a race, it is not a sprint...it is a journey that takes you on ascents and descents, that you need others to accomplish especially when your journey is equivalent to hiking the Appalachian trail or Pacific Northwest...trails I have dreamed of facing.
There is a preparation stage...what to pack, what to wear, marking the trail and the stops, adjusting for the needs of those you are traveling with...times you stay longer in camp, times you extend your days hike. You do not often see how far you are going or realize how far you have come. You take one day, one step at a time. You gain strength on the journey and wise hikers start in the low hills before getting to the more steep ascents that require extra equipment, extra muscle and the adjustment to the environment. This is my life...this is each day walking with those the Lord has sent us to serve and with those serving with me.
There are those moments when you look out and you catch a glimpse of the next mountain and perhaps those with you are far enough behind or ahead it feels like you are alone, but always, in all moments Adonai is with you. His promises are definitive and eternal. He provides and proves a willing and able guide. He is the expert mountaineer and He will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.
May you lift your eyes and see the Lord! May your courage not fail as you catch a glimpse of the mountain ahead!
May you know the promises of the Lord's protection and move forward with new resolve!
- Written by Callie Neff
Psalm 86:5 (CJB)
5 Adonai, you are kind and forgiving,
full of grace toward all who call on you.
Jonah 4:1-2 (CJB)
4 But this was very displeasing to Yonah, and he became angry. 2 He prayed to Adonai, “Now, Adonai, didn’t I say this would happen, when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to get away to Tarshish ahead of time! I knew you were a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace, and that you relent from inflicting punishment.
As we walk with others do we have the heart of Jonah? Even as we bring a message of forgiveness only limited by the receivers choice to cry out, to heed the warning, to change their course....Do we realize this applies not only to the one hurting in front of us...but extends to every perpetrator, every abuser, every one who has participated in their hurt? Do we consider this as we teach the principles of forgiveness and walk it out in our day to day lives. Do we consider that as Adonai is willing to forgive you He extends this same grace and mercy to all men, at all time and if they choose to turn they too can know this grace and forgiveness.
I was with a young woman walking through the princples of forgiveness struggling at this point. She played out all the scenarios of what forgiving her abuser would mean...releasing the debt, releasing the offense, releasing the judgement, relasing the right to the anger and holding the other accountable...trusting a Good, Just and Loving God to see Justice done...How can that be if there is a remote possibility that this same offer can be extended and granted to the one who caused so much pain? There is a risk in shifting the blame and being released from holding the other accountable. If I do not hold them accountable, if I do not pass judgement, if....then who will and where is the justice in that? Forgiveness is not the same as restored relationship but it is a prerequisite for walking in freedom.
Helping another unwrap and unravel the heart of the matter is trying and pressing and not always an easy path. Just as this young woman has to wrestle and seek the Lord on this matter for herself I too need to do a heart check. If I am going to spread a message of grace, compassion and mercy does it truly extend to "all"? Am I willing to forgive with open hands and open heart
May the Lord grow in us a heart of compassion that extends beyond our limited grace and mercy! May we be able to pray for those who have wronged us and release them from their debt!
May we carry this message of mercy and compassion into these hard places!
- Written by Callie Neff
2 Corinthians 7:1-7 (CJB)
7 Therefore, my dear friends, since we have these promises, let us purify ourselves from everything that can defile either body or spirit, and strive to be completely holy, out of reverence for God.
2 Make room for us in your hearts — we haven’t wronged anyone, we haven’t corrupted anyone, we haven’t exploited anyone. 3 I am not saying this to put blame on you, for I have already said that you have a place in our hearts, whether we live together or die together; 4 that I am very confident in you; that I am very proud of you; that you have filled me with encouragement; and that in spite of all our troubles, I am overflowing with joy.
5 For indeed when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest. On the contrary, we faced all kinds of troubles — altercations without, apprehensions within. 6 But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us with the arrival of Titus! 7 However, it was not only his arrival which encouraged us, but also how encouraged he was about you, as he told us how you long to see me, how distressed you are over my situation, how zealous you are in my defense — this news made me even happier!
The reality of the day to day that makes up the work of restoration housing...is the ongoing experience of "altercations without, apprehensions within". Ironically most times those altercations come from those working with us, those making up the team of care [board, donors, volunteers, staff] and the apprehensions within from self-doubt, misplaced focus, unresolved personal hurt, personal agenda and need for control. People, however, those we are working to serve and those working together to serve are in fact messy, unpredictable and responsible to the Lord individually.
Our Father knows this...He knows our limitations and short comings. He sets before us missions of love that can seem daunting especially when it feels all we do is fight, however, just as in 2 Corinthians 7 He never fails to encourage. He gives us grace to walk through the messy and the hurts...He calls us to face our internal condition and to put aside our need for control to take our eyes off of the messy, daunting, seemingly overwhelming and to serve as unto the Lord. He puts before us each day the question " whom this day will you serve?"
When we come with our eyes fixed on our Master (and we can only truly serve one) then the overflow will be love, grace, and room for the messy, the hurt, and ultimatly trust this trusting faithfullness will make the way through all altercations and apprehensions.
May you serve today as unto the Lord taking your eyes off the messy, the hurt, the uncontrollable! May your trusting faithfullness grow and push aside your doubt and fear! May you be willing to allow the Lord to purify you to grow you into a faithful, loving, and teachable servant!
Colossians 3:23-25 (CJB)
23 Whatever work you do, put yourself into it, as those who are serving not merely other people, but the Lord. 24 Remember that as your reward, you will receive the inheritance from the Lord. You are slaving for the Lord, for the Messiah. 25 Don’t worry — whoever is doing wrong will be paid in kind for his wrong, and there is no favoritism shown.