Freedom Rising Ministries is about just what the name says – rising out of enslavement and into freedom.
My own story is one of sin, brokenness, guilt, shame, disappointment, hurt, and offenses against God and against man. As a pastor, I had carried long past sins and more recent struggles into the ministry, and the revealing of them nearly undid me.
I don’t exaggerate when I say that I have been through the valley. I don’t deny it was ultimately a valley of my own creation. Nonetheless – and maybe because of that – it proved to be a dark, frightening, disparaging place. But the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) was there with me the entire time. Also with me were my wife and daughters, other family, and some terrific Christian brothers and sisters, all of whom refused to stop believing in me. I think of the chorus in the song “To Whom It May Concern” by MercyMe:
Oh oh, We’re not throwing stones.
Hey hey, You are not your shame.
Oh oh, You can’t go alone.
Hey hey, We won’t go away.
That’s what these people were to me. They refused to let me go and leave me to wallow in my shame.
Now, at the other end of that valley, God has spoken into my heart the words of Jesus to Peter in Luke 22:32 – “…and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (NASB). I feel called by God to minister now as much as ever. And I feel called to tell people that chains are not the norm, that bondage is not acceptable, that enslavement is not God’s plan for His children. My desire is to pay forward the grace that I’ve experienced.
I don’t claim to have ‘arrived’ or to be equipped to do this. I honestly don’t have any idea how I’m supposed to accomplish it. The darkness still presses in at times, and this acute awareness of my complete unworthiness and inadequacy nags at me. But, as God has said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9) and so, like Paul, I take that verse at face value and conclude: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
The bottom line is this: I am nothing special. Like all of us, I am a constant ‘work in progress’. Just a guy who has seen the valley from the bottom, and who has lived to tell about it thanks to a God who is faithful and always present. My desire is to be a guide to those in the depths of that valley. To show others how an awesome Savior is willing to take them by the hand, obliterate whatever shame, guilt or pain is keeping them down, and lead them to freedom.
So welcome. Thanks for checking out my blog. Please feel free to join in on the conversation. All of our stories are important, and each one represents another contribution to this complex and beautiful mosaic we call life. That’s what makes the dialogue so valuable. And that’s why I appreciate you being a part of it.
And most of all, keep an eye open for that freedom that rises out of the depths of the valley every day.