Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Many of you, My people, have been trying to rescue things of the past that are no longer working or relevant to your life. It’s been like trying to rescue a drowning man tied to an anchor; it is not going to work, and has the possibility of taking you down as well. Don’t be afraid to let go and be released from things that represent bondage to you, says the Lord. It is time for you to be free and to celebrate liberty!
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Here are the things really worth caring about in your 20s.
Editor’s note: This week, we’re taking a look at some of the “Best of RELEVANTMagazine.com” from 2010. This article is our most read ever. Period. End of story. It clearly hit many of you (and us) right where you’re at—approaching, at, or just past your late 20s, trying to figure out what it’s all meant and where you go from here. Most of you really resonated with Shauna’s thoughts, though some of you had quibbles with some of her emphases. But read it over again, and chime in below. The year might be almost over, but the conversation can keep going.
When you’re 25-ish, you’re old enough to know what kind of music you love, regardless of what your last boyfriend or roommate always used to play. You know how to walk in heels, how to tie a necktie, how to give a good toast at a wedding and how to make something for dinner. You don’t have to think much about skin care, home ownership or your retirement plan. Your life can look a lot of different ways when you’re 25: single, dating, engaged, married. You are working in dream jobs, pay-the-bills jobs and downright horrible jobs. You are young enough to believe that anything is possible, and you are old enough to make that belief a reality.Job
Now is the time to figure out what kind of work you love to do. What are you good at? What makes you feel alive? What do you dream about? You can go back to school now, switch directions entirely. You can work for almost nothing, or live in another country, or volunteer long hours for something that moves you. There will be a time when finances and schedules make this a little trickier, so do it now. Try it, apply for it, get up and do it.
When I was 25, I was in my third job in as many years—all in the same area at a church, but the responsibilities were different each time. I was frustrated at the end of the third year because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do next. I didn’t feel like I’d found my place yet. I met with my boss, who was in his 50s. I told him how anxious I was about finding the one perfect job for me, and quick. He asked me how old I was, and when I told him I was 25, he told me that I couldn’t complain to him about finding the right job until I was 32. In his opinion, it takes about 10 years after college to find the right fit, and anyone who finds it earlier than that is just plain lucky. So use every bit of your 10 years: try things, take classes, start over.Relationships
Now is also the time to get serious about relationships. And “serious” might mean walking away from the ones that don’t give you everything you need. Some of the most life-shaping decisions you make in this season will be about walking away from good-enough, in search of can’t-live-without. One of the only truly devastating mistakes you can make in this season is staying with the wrong person even though you know he or she is the wrong person. It’s not fair to that person, and it’s not fair to you.Counseling
Twenty-five is also a great time to start counseling, if you haven’t already, and it might be a good round two of counseling if it’s been a while. You might have just enough space from your parents to start digging around your childhood a little bit. Unravel the knots that keep you from living a healthy whole life, and do it now, before any more time passes.Church
Twenty-five is the perfect time to get involved in a church you love, no matter how different it is from the one you were a part of growing up. Be patient and prayerful, and decide that you’re going to be a person who grows, who seeks your own faith, who lives with intention. Set your alarm on Sunday mornings, no matter how late you were out on Saturday night. It will be dreadful at first, and then after a few weeks, you’ll find that you like it, that the pattern of it fills up something inside you.Don’t get stuck
This is the thing: when you start to hit 28 or 30, everything starts to divide, and you can see very clearly two kinds of people: on one side, people who have used their 20s to learn and grow, to find God and themselves and their deep dreams, people who know what works and what doesn’t, who have pushed through to become real live adults. And then there’s the other kind, who are hanging onto college, or high school even, with all their might. They’ve stayed in jobs they hate, because they’re too scared to get another one. They’ve stayed with men or women who are good but not great, because they don’t want to be lonely. They mean to find a church, they mean to develop honest, intimate friendships, they mean to stop drinking like life is one big frat party. But they don’t do those things, so they live in kind of an extended adolescence, no closer to adulthood than they were when they graduated college.
Don’t be like that. Don’t get stuck. Move, travel, take a class, take a risk. Walk away, try something new. There is a season for wildness and a season for settledness, and this is neither. This season is about becoming. Don’t lose yourself at happy hour, but don’t lose yourself on the corporate ladder either. Stop every once in a while and go out to coffee or climb in bed with your journal. Ask yourself some good questions like: “Am I proud of the life I’m living? What have I tried this month? What have I learned about God this year? What parts of my childhood faith am I leaving behind, and what parts am I choosing to keep with me for this leg of the journey? Do the people I’m spending time with give me life, or make me feel small? Is there any brokenness in my life that’s keeping me from moving forward?”
Now is your time. Become, believe, try. Walk closely with people you love, and with other people who believe that God is very good and life is a grand adventure. Don’t spend time with people who make you feel like less than you are. Don’t get stuck in the past, and don’t try to fast-forward yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned. Give today all the love and intensity and courage you can, and keep traveling honestly along life’s path.
Taken from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist Copyright © 2010. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com
Dennis P. Hollinger
In this classic text of the Christmas season, we are given an intimate glimpse of a key moment in salvation history. This is in many respects what we should expect from a story about an angelic announcement of a birth, as such stories frequently occur in the Old Testament before divinely appointed leaders are born. In this story however, the miracle is amplified by Mary’s simple question in verse 34, “How will this be… since I am a virgin?” The angel’s answer provides the basis for one of the most profound and important mysteries of God’s revelation in Jesus. God will become a human being. And Mary is to give him a name that will sum up his mission and person-hood with perfect clarity: Jesus, “The Lord Saves.”
The magnitude of this great revelation to Mary is contrasted with Mary’s own station. She is but a young woman, still unmarried, from a small backwater part of a backwater province of the Roman Empire. And yet God has chosen the small things of the world to bring about a great salvation. Mary is herself quite cognizant of this contrast, and her response is a model to all of us, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (vs. 38). In this simple expression of faith, Mary models a proper response to God’s gift in Jesus. May we respond likewise this Advent season.
Allow your light to shine. Refuse to allow discouragement and gloominess to overtake you, for I have given you power to rule over darkness. Illuminate your atmosphere by allowing My glory to clothe you. You have the light of My Spirit dwelling in you to radiate outwardly and touch all that surrounds you, says the Lord. Overcome evil with good.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John the Baptist challenged his hearers to the most essential aspect of preparation for the coming of the Christ: that of repentance. The Christmas story begins with an announcement of the birth of this forerunner of the Messiah, the one who was to make ready the path before him.
When Jesus of Nazareth had come to him for baptism, he had identified him as the Christ; but since that time, Jesus had established no political system, raised no army, shown no interest in cultivating the rich and powerful. Within the dungeon, John began to wonder and sent his disciples to inquire whether the identification had indeed been correct. Implicit in his question is also John’s uncertainty about his own identity. If he had failed to identify the true Messiah, was he himself an authentic prophet?
Jesus answered the inquirers by a concrete demonstration of precisely those works which the Scriptures had promised would accompany the coming of the Christ. The blind saw; the lame walked; the marginalized rejoiced in the good news of God’s love. After the disciples’ departure, Jesus took on the more delicate task of vindicating John’s own identity. He had come “in the spirit and power” of the promised Elijah, as the last and greatest of God’s prophets.
During Advent, we ask again “who is Jesus”; and in his identity as Son of God and redeemer and Lord, we find ourselves. It is his coming that brings meaning to our lives and enables us to find our own true identity.
You say: It’s impossible
God says: All things are possible (Luke 18:27)
You say: I’m too tired
God says: I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
You say: Nobody really loves me
God says: I love you (John 3:16 & John 13:34)
You say: I can’t go on
God says: My grace is sufficient (II Corinthians 12:9 & Psalms.91:15)
You say: I can’t figure things out
God says: I will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)
You say: I can’t do it
God says: You can do all things (Philippians 4:13)
You say: I’m not able
God says: I am able (II Corinthians 9:8)
You say: It’s not worth it
God says: It will be worth it (Romans 8:28)
You say: I can’t forgive myself
God says: I FORGIVE YOU (I John 1:9 & Romans 8:1)
You say: I can’t manage
God says: I will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19)
You say: I’m afraid
God says: I have not given you a spirit of fear (II Timothy 1:7)
You say: I’m always worried and frustrated
God says: Cast all your cares on ME (I Peter 5:7)
You say: I don’t have enough faith
God says: I’ve given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3)
You say: I’m not smart enough
God says: I give you wisdom (I Corinthians 1:30)
You say: I feel all alone
God says: I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)
Most of us are too busy to slow down. Kind of odd, huh? Our lives move at such a pace that we can barely remember what’s actually important any longer. If our lives are a story, the story seems to have too much filler and too little real plot. It probably wouldn’t make a good novel, would it? By contrast, the story of Jesus moves with the feel of an epic drama. It is almost too grand to keep fully in view. Here in Mark 1, we learn that the epic drama of Jesus doesn’t begin with his birth. John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, tells us that the story of Jesus goes back even to Isaiah, and representatively in Isaiah to the whole of the Old Testament. And what John the Baptist tells us about that story here in the first chapter of Mark, as the whole of the Old Testament tells us, is that the Messiah will give us the breath of life itself. Jesus’ mark on the ages will be the gift of life, which is nothing less than the gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a story too good to be too busy to miss. May your life slow down long enough to savor the Savior’s story.
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Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
Giovanni di Bernardone (Francis of Assisi)