One of our friends in Portland, Oregon recently sent out a letter that I wanted to pass on to you…
FREEDOM IN JESUS
In the second film of The Lord of the Rings trilogy-The Two Towers-there is a king who is reluctant to go to war. Theoden is fearful and timid. But an army is marching through his lands, an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men. Villages are falling all around him; women and children are being slain. Still Theoden balks: “I will not risk open war.” “Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not,” Aragon replies.*
When I (Rich) first heard these words, I almost exploded out of my seat. “That’s it,” I thought, because they perfectly describe so many of us. Believers and unbelievers alike, who unknowingly are living in the midst of a brutal and vicious battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, and yet will not go to war. Why this deception? Because either we don’t know there is a battle, or have been told we don’t have to fight for our freedom in Christ. It’s both sad and chilling.
Yet into the midst of this war-torn, fallen world, the Father sent His Son, our Savior Jesus declaring:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-20).
The Father has been graciously leading Kimberly and me into an increasingly deeper understanding of what Jesus meant by this “Good News.” He wasn’t just proclaiming these words to the masses. His mission was to incarnate them experientially into His needy follower’s lives, as we see throughout the gospels.
To us, this Good News recognizes our need for intimacy with Jesus (discipleship), life-transformation, healing, and deliverance. We are seeking to allow Jesus to do His work in and through us, as we minister to those who so desperately need the life-changing power of the Gospel. Let us describe the fallen-world pattern we’ve seen unfolding among those the Father is sending to us in our church planting ministry.
Frequently, we are meeting with people who have life-dominating problems. Food, drugs, sex, alcohol, sickness, idolatry, fear and anxiety, abuse, co-dependency, perfectionism, stress, compulsivity, passivity, broken marriages and relationships, unforgiveness and bitterness, hopelessness, and despair, to name a few. At base level, these are people like you and me, broken from the battle to varying degrees.
But in the fallen-world pattern we are seeing time and again, these presenting problems are symptoms of even deeper, crippling wounds from their past. Damaging life events, sometimes chronic in nature, that have led to wounds of rejection, abandonment, betrayal, abuse, and neglect, often inflicted from their family-of-origin or other close bonds.
Left unaddressed, these wounds give rise to faulty belief systems, as people struggle with lies about themselves, other people, and God. Lies like “God doesn’t care about me,” “I’m no good,” “No one could love someone like me,” etc.
From lies like these, vows are made. For example, “/’// never trust anyone again,” “I’m so dirty, that I will never be free,” “I’ll be so perfect on the outside, that no one can question what’s on the inside.” The apostle Paul calls these broken places “strongholds or footholds” (Ephesians 4:26-27), that give Satan and his demons a measure of influence, bringing oppression and affliction into our lives (Romans 6:16).
The results are damaged, broken people. And it’s because of these dark, unhealed places from our past that we develop reactive sin patterns and dysfunctional coping skills to dull and medicate the pain. And it’s here that the life-dominating problems we noted above come into play.
But amid all this darkness, there is hope! The Good News is that Jesus came to “heal the brokenhearted and set the prisoners free!” But to gain this freedom and life offered to all of us by Christ, we must learn to fight for it, with and through Him (Mt 11:12, 12:29; Jn 10:10; 2 Cor 10:3-5; Eph 6:11-12; James 4:7).
Along these lines, a good buddy and I recently had the privilege of ministering this freedom in Jesus to a mutual friend whose life and marriage was experiencing the fallen-world pattern we described above. Below is a portion of his email response to us, after our weekend together and a week back home with his wife and family:
“… WOW, GOD IS STILL WORKING MIRACLES! PRAISE TO HIS NAME! THIS WEEK HAS BEEN SIMILAR TO A NEW HONEYMOON. MAN, WHERE HAVE I BEEN ALL THESE YEARS?! My prayer as we start life over is that I can remain steadfast to the task of living from my heart and laying my life down for my BEAUTY. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME AS I PRAY FOR YOU BOTH. MAYBE WE SHOULD MEET EVERY WEEKEND?!”
Our Father is so good! Thank you for your prayers and partnership in mission which makes this ministry possible.
Rich and Kimberly Hagler
* Paraphrased from John Eldredge’s book, Waking the Dead, which is an excellent resource on the subject of Freedom in Jesus
Thanks Rich & Kimberly for your lives and ministry. They are a part of Summit Fellowships and you can check out more here