By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“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).

To most Americans, the word freedom connotes images of the American flag. We associate July 4 with the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. american-flag-and-christConstitution. We celebrate our country’s independence with fireworks and parades.

According to dictionary.com, freedom means “the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.”

Physical freedom is denied those locked behind prison walls. But those who have discovered a relationship with Jesus while in prison will tell you they are; indeed, now free, in spite of the iron bars they peer through each day.

Found throughout the Bible, the word, “freedom,” is familiar to those who’ve read God’s Holy Word. John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In an article by Roger Olson, he writes, “Unfortunately, two very different ideas of freedom get confused in many people’s minds. The biblical idea of freedom is different from, but easily confused with, the cultural value of the same name. And neither one is the same as “free will.” It can be confusing to the average Christian who wants to know what “real freedom” is. Is it having choices? Is it lack of coercion and constraint? Is it being able to do whatever you want? In what sense does Christ set us free, and how is that different from what Madison Avenue and Hollywood promise?

“At the very heart of the Christian gospel is the strange truth,” he continues, “that real freedom is found only in giving up everything secular culture touts as freedom. The gospel, it turns out, requires a distinction between the enjoyment of true freedom and the mere possession of ‘free will.’ Not that free will or independence from tyranny is a bad thing; they’re just not true freedom. True freedom, the gospel tells us, is trusting obedience, the obedience of faith. That’s not exactly the image one finds portrayed in popular culture.”

So, what does true freedom mean for those who choose to follow Christ? According to St. Augustine, true freedom is not choice or lack of constraint, but being what you are meant to be.

For too many years of my adult life, I was a slave—a slave to other’s opinions, a slave to the false image I portrayed as someone who had her life together, a slave to the identities I slipped into because of cultural demands. I wasn’t experiencing true freedom. I wasn’t completely free until I embraced the woman God has created me to be.

“Humans were created in the image of God. True freedom, then,” writes Olson, “is not found in moving away from that image but only in living it out. The closer we conform to the true image of God, Jesus Christ, the freer we become. The farther we drift from it, the more our freedom shrinks.”

Only Christ can set us free.

Photos courtesy of Carol Round and Anglican Pastor

Need a speaker or workshop leader? Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well”—3 John 2(NIV).

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

A New Year has arrived and with it the usual resolutions to lose weight, get in shape and quit smoking. Some look for quick fixes through crash diets, new exercise crazes or so-called “magical” pills while others seek a solution through surgery, bringing with it a host of possible complications and side effects.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s, I don’t recall seeing as many overweight people as is prevalent today. I also don’t remember seeing a fast-food restaurant on almost every corner. MyCarol Round mother was a stay-at-home mom who cooked healthy meals. When we did eat out, it was a treat. Today, eating out seems to be the norm as the choice of restaurants and fast-food places have grown as fast as our waistlines and hips.

Instead of setting ourselves up for failure by making resolutions each January, what if we turned to scripture for a permanent solution to our health problems?  What if we chose to do the following?

Make wise choices concerning our health. Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what the wisest choices are when we get conflicting information via the media. We must educate ourselves through reliable sources, including those from reputable organizations. (see Proverbs 2:6)

Practice self-control.  With an abundance of food choices in our country comes stress. How is that possible? Just walk down a supermarket aisle and check out the options available. It can be overwhelming. Too many choices can lead us to make hasty decisions. We don’t take time to study labels nor educate ourselves about the best food for our bodies. (see Proverbs 25:28)

Honor God with our bodies. How do we do this? By choosing wisely what we eat and drink and letting go of bad habits that lead to disease and early death. (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Ask for accountability. If you’re trying to make healthier choices, seek an accountability partner who will help you stay on track until your new lifestyle becomes a daily habit. (see 1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Rely on God’s power rather than our own strength. A new year brings resolve to do better for most of us, hence the word ‘resolution.’ However, we usually set out to accomplish them in our own power. That’s why most people fail. (see Philippians 4:13)

Choose to exercise our bodies. Say the word “exercise” and most people run in the opposite direction. Why is that? Do we equate it with hard work? Is it because we don’t want to make the time, instead preferring to vegetate in front of the TV? Exercise should be fun. Fun? Choose something that interests you and will keep you motivated. (see Romans 12:1)

Quit making excuses. Just do it! (Luke 14:17-18)

Start your New Year right. Commit all of your goals and plans to the Lord. Ask for His direction and guidance for the coming year. Make the most of 2016.

Carol Round is an author, a columnist, and a speaker. To learn more about Carol and her ministry, visit  her website or connect on Facebook or Twitter.

 

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate” (Mark 15:1 NRSV).

What if you knew tomorrow would be your final day on earth? How would you prepare? Would you spend time eating a meal—or maybeCarol Round two—with those you love? Would you prepare them for your death? What would you say?

During Jesus’ final day on earth, beginning with the last meal He ate with His disciples and ending with His death and burial, those 24 hours changed our world.

Jesus had been betrayed by Judas, deserted by the rest of His disciples, denied by Peter—not once, but three times—and put on trial by the Sanhedrin. Jesus knew what was ahead. But did that make it any easier?

When the chief priests handed Jesus over to Pontius Pilate, he asked Him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” How did Jesus answer? “You say so.”

And when those chief priests continued to accuse Jesus of many things, Pilate asked Him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.”

Mark tells us in his gospel that “Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed (15:5).

In Adam Hamilton’s book, “24 Hours That Changed the World: 40 Days of Reflection,” he tells us more about Pilate. “Philo of Alexandria described Pilate as cruel, corrupt and violent.”

Yet, Pilate saw through the Jewish ruling council’s apparent interest in attempting to uphold Rome’s authority. Hamilton says, “There they presented Him to the governor, charging Him with the capital offense of claiming to be a king—a crime tantamount to treason and insurrection.”live streaming film Life 2017

Hamilton adds, “He knew they tolerated Rome’s authority and accommodated to it, but their presentation of Jesus to him was not out of a concern for Rome. Pilate knew they were jealous of this man who had challenged not Rome’s authority, but their own.”

Why did Jesus remain silent when questioned by Pilate? Why didn’t He defend Himself against the accusations? Hamilton says, “Some see His silence as another occasion when Jesus was intentionally fulfilling the words of the prophets, in this case Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

Hamilton asks his readers to picture the expressions that might have crossed Jesus’ face as He listened to the charges against Him?

Hamilton says, “I picture dignity; resolve; a certain righteous disdain for the high priest; and an awareness that the trial will end in His own death, regardless of what He says, and that God will use His death to change the world forever.”

Born in a stable, sought out by shepherds from the fields and wise men from the east, Jesus was born for just this moment. That’s why He remained silent.

Email carolaround@yahoo.com for information about speaking at your next event.

 

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By Carol Round
Special to ASSIST News Service

CLAREMORE, OK – “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well“-Matthew 6:33 (NRSV).

We humans are a selfish bunch. We want everything our way. We want God’s blessings but we don’t want to surrender anything, includingRound Gods Will our time, talent and treasure.

We want to know God’s will for our lives-at least some of us do-but we don’t want to take the time to discover what His will is. That would mean sacrifice on our part.

Recently, our pastor’s sermon series was titled, “How to Know the Will of God for your Life.” Although I’d read articles and books on this topic, I needed a reminder. We easily become distracted by busyness and the chatter of life. Pastor Ray’s five-part series included the following:

First, we have to seek God’s kingdom, remembering we are coming on His terms, not ours. Matthew 6:33 says, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Second, we need a plan that offers better reception, meaning if we can’t hear t hat still, small voice we need to examine our Christian practices like prayer, meditation and worship. These three are like phone plans designed to help us stay connected and communicate more clearly with God. Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”

Third, we have to invest ourselves in God’s kingdom. This takes a commitment. Pastor Charles Swindoll reminds us that “More than onceCarol Round Jesus deliberately addressed certain issues that quickly diminished the number of onlookers. It was commitment that thinned the ranks.”

Don’t run ahead of God. This is where my patience is tested. Remember Abraham and Sarah who didn’t want to wait for God’s promise of a son? The couple took things into their own hands and what a mess they created. While waiting, we need to seek Godly counsel, meditate, pray and read the Bible. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let you r heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Don’t lag behind. Although we are urged to wait on God, we must not lag behind either. When God told Abraham to go, he did. Moses argued with God about returning to Egypt, but he obeyed. It requires taking that first step and trusting God even when what He is calling us to do might be scary. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Another Swindoll quote says, “Your call will become clear as your mind is transformed by the reading of Scripture and the internal work of God’s Spirit. The Lord never hides His will from us. In time, as you obey the call first to follow, your destiny will unfold before you. The difficulty will lie in keeping other concerns from diverting your attention.”

What is God calling you to do?

Round is available to speak at women’s events or to lead prayer journaling workshops. Email carolaround@yahoo.com

 

By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it”—Proverbs 22:6 (NIV).

Did you know the recent school shooting at Reynolds High School inFei Wilkening leaves flowers at a growing memorial at the entrance to Reynolds High School on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, in Troutdale, Ore. (Statesman Journal) Troutdale, Ore., marked the 74th one since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012? In 2014, so far, there have been 37 school shootings and as of February, about half of the incidents were fatal.

In the latest shooting, at least one student was killed and a teacher was injured by a lone gunman who later took his own life. According to police the teenage gunman had an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun and nine loaded magazines in his possession.

Have school shootings become the norm in our country? According to press reports, each gunman, including the ones involved in the Columbine High School massacre, occurring in 1999 were outsiders – loners who didn’t fit in or who had been influenced by our culture of movie and video violence.

In the case of the Columbine massacre, 12 students and one teacher were murdered by two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. Although Harris and Klebold’s motives still remain unclear, their personal journals reveal they wanted their actions to rival the Oklahoma City bombing. USA Today referred to the Columbine massacre as a “suicidal attack [which was] planned as a grand—if badly implemented—terrorist bombing.” The two had also been influenced by violent movie and video games, according to the press.

School shootings have sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms in our country and gun violence involving youths. Discussion has also revolved around the nature of high school cliques and bullying as well as mental illness.

Why has no one stopped to consider that ultimate responsibility not only lies with the parents of the shooters but our society as well? Government cannot fix our broken country. We can’t enact enough laws to stop the madness.

What can we do? As Christians, we have a responsibility—several actually—to not only make sure our own actions reflect our Carol Roundmorals but to help others who are struggling. Can one person make a difference? Yes!

Reflect on these choices:

  • Do your values reflect God’s Word or do you allow culture to define who you are?
  • Do you allow your children to watch television shows or movies or play video games depicting violence or behavior that society deems acceptable?
  • Do you read and study the Bible and pray with your children? Do you attend church regularly?
  • Do you teach your children the value of human life, including accepting others who might be different? Do you tell your children it is wrong to bully others?
  • Do you spend quality time with your children in wholesome activities?
  • Do you teach your children about peer pressure? Do you emphasize the importance of following godly principles instead of the crowd?
  • Are your life choices the ones you want your children to emulate?

This list is only the beginning.  I urge you to reflect on your life and help stop the madness.

Need a speaker for your women’s event? Email carolaround@yahoo.com.