Galatians 5:13: “It is to freedom that you have been called, my brothers. Only be careful that freedom does not become mere opportunity for your lower nature. You should be free to serve each other in love. For after all, the whole Law toward others is summed up by this one command, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.”

Thanks to God there’s freedom. God is a freedom lover. In His realm every creature is free. So in order to explore what freedom is all about, it’s best to look to the source of freedom and go from there.

The first thing I notice, to be free does not necessarily mean we are lawless. Exploring the laws of nature we become aware that the whole universe is fine-tuned. The universe contains organized structures on all different scales, from small systems like the earth and our solar system, to galaxies that contain trillions of stars, and finally extremely large structures that contain billions of galaxies. Planets of any given solar system orbit the Sun. Thanks to the way our home planet Earth orbits the Sun, our terrestrial days fall into 24-hour sequences. Plants use the sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water to produce the lush green pigment chlorophyll generating oxygen as a byproduct, the very oxygen land mammals breathe in. And what do we breathe out? Carbon dioxide! The very carbon dioxide plants use to synthesize foods. What a genius idea to create a partnership like that between vegetation and land mammals! And this is just a little tidbit of the inner workings of nature to illustrate that there is an underlying law to everything we see. Without an underlying law there wouldn’t be a universe to begin with – and no life form to give freedom to.

The inner workings of freedom are based on the law of love. We’re never truly free unless we give love. A freedom lover is a lover of God and people. Just as the laws of nature promote life on Earth, the love law “Love your neighbor as yourself” promotes freedom. It’s a well-known secret: the more love you share, the more love you have. This is contrary to common experience: we spend money and our money dwindles. We spend love and our love increases. Go figure!

Needless to say that the more time we spend in trying to satisfy ourselves rather than to satisfy someone else’s needs, we won’t see the end of it. Catering to our own needs and urges is like a vortex that sucks us in. Our world gets smaller and smaller and we become enslaved to our own ever-growing demands. That’s the opposite to freedom, and it’s hell!

Once we realize how invigorating it is to give something to someone that only unique “you” is capable of giving, we won’t stop sharing. For me it’s the best thing in the world to sing for people with memory challenges. Music plays a key role in these short encounters. Within 60 minutes of playing and singing we are getting to know each other as we dwell in the world of music. What a precious moment in time! I leave there richer than when I came. That’s what happens to everyone who goes out and shares something.

Giving is freeing. Try it and you’ll be amazed!

1 Corinthians 15:55-57: “’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Death is final and brings about futility. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Nobody likes that. We don’t want to be trashed!

So we’ve been fighting back. We’ve been exploring the human body. We’ve been battling against all kinds of diseases with some mild success: people with access to medical services generally live longer. Still, nobody has found a pill to combat mortality.

It has never been a problem for God to change our physical make up. Actually, He thought about that. The story of our creation in the beginning of the Bible talks about that. He could have turned us immortal in a split second, but that’s really no good solution (Genesis 3:22):

“And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ ”

Bailing us out of death would have just placed a band aid on a cancerous situation. In other words, simply removing our physical aging process to give us immortality would have made matters worse.

Imagine everybody – all the way back to Adam and Eve – would have stayed alive in this deeply dysfunctional state that we’re in; can you imagine the resulting chaos? Even though death feels unnatural to us – and it is: we were not meant to die – death helps contain the chaos we’ve created.

Nevertheless, the introduction of death to creation was only a temporary solution. God did intervene and with that the nature of death has forever changed. Instead of being the ultimate end – not unlike a period signifying the end of a sentence – death became a prelude. Again, in terms of punctuation we could compare death to a semicolon.

What happened?

Jesus happened.

To redeem us from death, Jesus had to go to the root cause, the root cause which originally introduced death into God’s creation – our emancipation from the Godhead.

Freedom and independence are words often used interchangeably. In all reality, however, independence is a curse; by no means does independence bring us freedom. Complete independence brings complete isolation without any interaction at all. If we didn’t need anybody – or perhaps I should say: if I didn’t need anybody – because there is no “we” in complete independence – well, then I would be self-sufficient. I would not need to be inspired by any outside source; I would not need access to any sort of help.

I’d be all by myself – utterly alone.

That’s hell.

And that describes the progressing isolation process of the modern world. Family structures loosen. We are interconnected more via virtual reality – our internet and phones – than by physical reality. Our world becomes a little colder every day.

Interestingly, even the Godhead is Three. There is simply no benefit in being alone.

Jesus came to redeem us from isolation. Being reintroduced to communion with the Godhead is the only effective antidote to death. And that’s how freedom is spelled.

Matthew 20:17-19: “Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!’”

Death usually comes unannounced; however, some of us know when they’re going to die. People with terminal illnesses can relate to Jesus’s prediction of His own death. The only difference being: Jesus voluntarily signed up for the way He would die. It was a sacrifice He made.

Jesus didn’t die to prove a point. It was His gift to mankind and the greatest gift to give: the gift of freedom from slavery.

At some point in history people came up with a system that puts one group of humans above another group. Part of the human race was then considered subhuman. This mindset has never entirely left the human race, and it made the world a much colder place. One of the major dehumanization aspects of mankind is slavery. Slavery is a curse, a cancer that lashes back and grows tumors all over human society.
Disrespect reaps a bitter harvest!

How do we eliminate cancerous ulcers? Surgeons use the knife to cut out the cancer cells. More cancer treatments are applied to ensure those cancer cells won’t return. However, even the most radical approach cannot give us any guarantees that dormant cancer cells won’t reactivate.

Jesus died to remove the cancerous ulcers of slavery from humanity. He came to redeem us from ourselves and to reestablish human-kindness. And it worked. Nothing is impossible for God, except for one thing: God cannot betray His own values and enslave us to Him. God will never be a slave owner. God creates. In all creative pursuit freedom is mandatory. That’s why there is free press and free arts. It’s the freedom of expression that makes each art work unique. God gave us artistic license, and He will never take that back.

In the same fashion, even though Jesus died to set us free, God will never force freedom down our throat. By doing so we would no longer be free.

Freedom is a gift that keeps on giving, once we’re on board with God. Freedom redeems an unhealthy mindset. Freedom teaches us to respect other people’s boundaries. Freedom creates life, love, and laughter. Freedom awakes creativity. As much as slavery dehumanizes us, freedom makes us human. Freedom makes us thankful looking back. What a nightmare to be trapped! What a glorious awakening of our soul once we’re on the side of freedom.

Freedom of choice is where freedom starts. Choose life!

2 Corinthians 5:21: “For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness into us!”

The human spirit is unfettered and free. Try to subjugate humans, eventually they will shake off the shackles and move on. That is why all dictatorships have an expiration date. I call dictatorship “Law on steroids”. In a dictatorship the dictator is the Law. Everything he or she says is to be followed. Discussions or different viewpoints are strongly discouraged; agreeing to disagree is not an option. There is no free press, there is no free thinking; consequently, there is no room for creativity, spontaneity and ingenuity.

Dictatorships are not meant to be. People were created by God to be free.

Initially we were created free from the Law. Then there was this tree that we were not supposed to touch, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yeah, that tree! I call that tree “The Tree of the do’s and don’ts” – in other words – it’s the tree of the Law. God never wanted us to go down that road because He knew we would get lost in the Law. And so it happened! We ate from that Tree and we have never been the same; we became strangers to God, strangers to freedom.

Meanwhile, God has never abandoned us. He helped us out. He worked with us. He even gave us the Ten Commandments so that we could see firsthand that even the best of all laws with the best of intentions cannot bring peace to the world or to the human soul.

We have learnt the hard way. So when we learnt our lesson, God sent His Son to restore us back to the way things used to be, which is the life we can’t remember anymore – the life we had before we touched that Tree. So in a passage of rites, Jesus lets Himself get nailed by the Law, completely and utterly nailed – as in nailed to the tree – and dies – which is all the Law can do. There is no life in the Law.

The Law will outlive its usefulness. The age of the Law has expired with the arrival of the Son of God. Jesus’s death and subsequent resurrection started a whole new era; Jesus brought us the Kingdom of God, which is goodness on steroids – God’s goodness poured into us. We don’t become good by not sinning but by accepting Jesus’s wonderful gift. Plain and simple! Unless of course we don’t want it plain and simple, which puts us right back under that Tree.

I am a tree huger. I love trees, but I certainly don’t like the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree has brought us nothing but grief! However, I realize, old habits die hard, and there are die-hard fans of the Law out there. They emerge anywhere regardless of nationality. They especially emerge in various religious pursuits. I strongly discourage this approach. Religious doctrine is not what Jesus had in mind for us. He came to save us from the Law and all its repercussions. He came to free us – and indeed He did.

Let freedom ring!


Oh, freedom, Oh, freedom
Oh freedom over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’d be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”

Attending a women’s retreat, one day our speaker invited us to paint a picture while listening to her story. I painted a cross with the Sun rising in the background and a bunch of birds soaring in the skies. My drawing was about freedom. It was the first artwork I’ve done in three decades and I remember how good it felt.

I’ve always been artistic. At age 11 I picked up my first instrument. At school I majored in fine art. My art teacher encouraged me to do something with my talent. I couldn’t see how.

My life’s journey has a lot to do with getting out from underneath a pile of rubbish. The first ten years of my adulthood I basically went undercover. I hid behind the walls of a religious community that dictated every aspect of my life and separated me from family and friends. After 12 years behind walls I was fed up and got out.

Here I was, 35 years old with no professional degree or experience. I didn’t want to be a starving artist. So instead of pursuing the arts I became an administrative assistant and worked myself up to payroll management. That’s as far away from the arts as I could get. In my private life I found happiness when I married the love of my life, but professionally I felt miserable. Three heart surgeries later, I am no longer a payroll manager; I am now a self-employed artist.

Looking back, I can say that major life decisions, especially in my early adulthood, were fear-driven. A fear-driven world is extremely small. It’s a world full of limitations. I don’t believe that anybody wants to live in such a world. We are created for so much more! Our world has a lot more potential when we are connected to the Creator of the universe.

Thanks to God I am where I am today. I know He is the reason for the hope I have. Without Him I’d still be stuck under a pile of rubbish. Inspired by His Spirit, the sky is the limit, and I am free to thrive.

God’s world is so much bigger than ours ever could be … “and I think to myself: What a wonderful world!”

2 Timothy 1:7: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

What is holding you back? There is always something, isn’t there? Issues! We’ve all got issues. Paul wrote Timothy a letter and practically gave him carte blanche. His advice was: No holding back! Go for it! Reason being: The Spirit of God makes us bold. There is no timidity in God’s Spirit. One of the famous lines in the beginning of the Bible gives us a snapshot of the Spirit of God in action (Genesis 1:2):

“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

If the Holy Spirit wasn’t bold I cannot imagine how He could have taken on the mighty task of bringing order into chaos. As a result, rising out of the ashes, a brand-new universe was born!

It requires boldness to be creative and do something new. It requires boldness to go to places where we’ve never been or to do things that we have never done before. It requires boldness to be a trendsetter. It requires boldness to redefine life. It requires boldness to defy the status quo. Last but not least, it requires boldness to become the person we are meant to be.

For very good reasons do we need boldness. Here is one in particular: It requires boldness to take advantage of the freedom God has given to you and me.

Freedom is a big word in the North American conscience. We have freedom written on our banners for as long as we can remember. Without standing up and fighting for freedom many of the refugees who came to the United States wouldn’t be here. The Statue of Liberty historically used to be the first thing immigrants saw before they entered the country. It goes without saying that without standing up and fighting for freedom the United States as we know it today wouldn’t exist.

Quality of life stands and falls with freedom of choice. Freedom is often misinterpreted as freedom to dominate, as in “uninhibited by any foreign power”. I don’t believe that this is the defining feature of freedom. Freedom of choice on the other hand is the original empowerment coming from the Trinity. God gave us the tools to make up our minds and choose. However, from Day One our freedom has been challenged.

Mankind was but a few minutes old, so it seems, when the Snake encroached on our freedom insinuating (Genesis 3:4):

“You certainly will not die!”

Unfortunately, we ended up losing Paradise believing a lie. And with it went the freedom we took for granted. Outside of Eden we are surrounded by bullies. Now we have to stand up for ourselves and fight for freedom. On the bright side though, outside of Eden we can learn to be bold. And the Spirit of God rising up inside of us will show us the way, the truth, and the life. He gives us the wherewithal to step on virgin ground. And in our lifetime we will go to places where we have never been, and we can become the person we are meant to be.

Isaiah 43:16, 18-19: “I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea. “But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

In a time of need, Jacob (one of the many descendants of Abraham) had to move his entire family to Egypt. There he was received with open arms. One of his sons – Joseph – was an influential man in Egypt. That is why Jacob’s family was treated with utter respect and admiration.

Nevertheless, 400 years later all of this was distant memory. Feeling threatened by Israel’s explosive population growth, the Egyptian government sought to wipe them out by enslaving them.

Now it was definitely time to leave Egypt!

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was no minor event. In order to arrive at their destination – a region southeast from the Mediterranean Sea – they had to go through treacherous desert terrain and get past the Red Sea. With their former Egyptian slave-masters on their heels, the Red Sea quickly became a death trap. With their back against the wall, there was simply no way to go!

And Israel cried out to God.

All of a sudden, right before their very eyes, the waters began to recede. Bit by bit water levels decreased until they were able to safely cross over to the other side with their children, their flocks and herds. All of Israel passed through the Red Sea on dry ground! Well, so did the Egyptians, in hot pursuit of the Israelites, but they didn’t get very far. Soon after the last Israelite had set foot on the other shore, the waves of the Red Sea came crashing down; and as the water levels rose, the Egyptian soldiers drowned.

This was the day when the nation of Israel was born. A pivotal point in history for sure and an extraordinary miracle!

And yet, now the Lord says: “Forget this miracle at the Red Sea! This is nothing compared to the miracle about to happen.”

Can you see it?  Sometimes we can’t see the forest from the trees. If every piece of information was a tree, we’d have a forest of information out there; thanks to internet access, all these pieces of information are at our fingertips.  That’s great, but at the same time, that’s a ton of information to sort through.

To cut through this sea of data, I think it’s helpful to remember that there is one tree out there that matters most to humanity: the tree Jesus was nailed to. Looking to this one tree, Jesus’s death and resurrection pulls us all together and draws every human being to Him.

Regardless who we are and where we are from, we all seek our way through the wilderness of life, and in the end, we all die.  The good news is that Jesus has passed through the impassable, and conquered the impossible: death – a crucial turning point for all people, since death enslaves us all! The tree Jesus was nailed to stands for victory over death and offers the fruit of Eternal Life.

In all the good times I find myself longing for change and in the bad times I fear myself.
I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in
I’ll never meet the ground
Crash through the surface, where they can’t hurt us
We’re far from the shallow now!