- 2017Oct 04
- In the 15th century, European settlers began taking the land of Native Americans here in theU.S. It was 3 centuries before Native Americans finally gained specific rights & freedoms in our country that gave them freedom to fully function as native tribes.
- In the 18th century, slavery among African Americans peaked at 4 million. 4 million people in our country were desperate for their freedom.
- In 1848, the first women’s rights convention was held in New York. Women were desperate for the freedom to vote.
- Today, there are 27 million people across the world who are considered modern-day slaves and suffering unspeakable sexual abuse through human trafficking.
You see, freedom through the years has always been a hot topic – something that people have desperately sought out & fought for. And each of those people groups were enslaved through no choice of their own.
And those are some sad statistics, huh?
Do you know what’s even sadder? That millions within the body of Christ are living enslaved in an entirely different way. If we are going to find true freedom in Christ…..we must first learn the things that we are bound to:
Our job. – Our successes & failures there begin to define us.
Our marital status.
A new business or ministry opportunity.
Our perception of our physical beauty.
And the list can go on and on. We are constantly looking at other "things" in our lives and the bind us, consume us, and keep us from living in complete freedom. We wrap it in Christianese and pretend not to be enslaved, but often --- too often -- we aren’t walking in freedom to Christ.
We begin to put our hope in things that will never fulfill us. We tie our identity into what we do. We live enslaved to those things and allow them to define us. Parenthood. Position at your church. Your job. Relationships. Bank account size. Those things are part of your life. They are not your life.
Fear becomes that thing we hold on too tightly to – that thing we won’t trust God with – our children, our marriage, our control. Marriages unfortunately fail. Children leave. Churches sometimes fall apart. Beauty fades. But one things remains….one thing.
Until we learn to live in complete freedom in Christ Jesus, finding our value in Him alone, we will continue to live, enslaved, bound, exhausting lives.
The first step in embracing Christ's freedom are to accept him as your savior. For many of you reading, you have already done that. If you haven't, I pray, right now, where you are, that you would truly turn your heart over to Jesus. Accept him. Understand your need for him, as a sinner, and the eternal cost of separation from him for your sins. Then, ask him into your heart. It's a decision you won't ever regret. But what about all of you reading who have accepted Christ, and yet, you still struggle to find freedom? In order for you to find freedom, you must first understand what keeps you from living free:
Our mouth – Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue can bring death or life;” Speak life. Some of us would rather complain about how much harder our lives are than the sister sitting next to us. Some of us would rather ask God why we have to go thru this challenging thing we are walking thru. We’d rather camp out in Verbal Suicide than begin to speak to our mountain and demand that it move. Too often we’re comfortable in bondage. We don’t necessarily like it there, but at least we know what to expect. And so….we set up a tent and we camp out there. And then we get mad at our sisters in Christ who are walking in joy….smiling, praising. We get mad at them and accuse them of being “fake”. But we never consider that maybe, just maybe, they are choosing pushing through in spite of...they are speaking life to their mountains.
Our past – 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that “whoever belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; the new life has begun.”
We are not called to keep our heads faced backwards. Whatever our pasts, it was washed away, when we became Christians. We walk with our heads faced fwd, free from our past. Look at Hebrews 11. I love this book in the Bible – our big Chapter on Faith – the heroes of our faith.
Abraham was a liar. Noah was a drunk. David was a murdered and adulterer. Moses was a murderer. Rahab was a prostitute. The heroes of our faith accomplished great things with their faith in God, but God chose to tell us the story behind the story – what happened in their pasts. Why? I’m convinced its so that we can know that our past doesn’t count us out!
We can either live bound up by our past mistakes and failures or we can take our place in the Kingdom! We can choose to walk as a grace-filled, hopeful, forgiven, courageous, strong, warrior for the King each day.
Our Choice – Don’t believe me? Look at Exodus 13:17-18 “When Pharoah finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though it was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “if the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led them in a round about way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea.”
God knew that the Israelites who had been desperate for their freedom from slavery for years….would go back to what he’d just set them free from, if they ran into difficult.
How many times have we ran back to bondage that Christ paid for us to be free from?
When Christ was on the cross, he said, “it is finished.” He didn’t say, it MAY be finished. Or it’s GOING to be finished. Or SOME OF IT is finished.” He said, it is finished. What’s finished? The price for our salvation was bought, and then paid for that day……. What did Christ say just a few chapters before that? I came so that you may have the abundant life. Christ came so you may be free.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13, “I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively.
There are people in your lives DESPERATE to see Christ in you. They are hopeful that you will live free. If you don’t live free, then what do you have that the world would want? Every obstacle cannot cause us to stumble, questioning our faith and who we are in Christ. An entire world is watching and we're their only hope.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.
- 2017Sep 20
I met my friend, Sarah, about seven years ago, when we were volunteering at an inner city clothes closet. She has three children, and they were all serving with her. I could tell immediately that she was that mom. You know that mom – the mom who carries a backpack with healthy, organic snacks for her children, the one who doesn’t raise her voice, she cleans with chemical-free cleaning supplies, and her children don’t watch much television. Through the years we became close friends, and I began to truly admire her as a friend and mom. She is such a pillar of strength and dignity for her children. She homeschools and cooks two to three meals on most days. She stays at home and reads to her children, goes on nature hikes, and organizes Bible studies.
As we spent time together, I fell into a dangerous trap of comparison. You see, I am not anything like her. I work 40-50 hours during a good week. We do take-out more than we should. My career has taken me away from my children on some nights, when traveling. And I could never homeschool. Occasionally, I even raise my voice to my children simply from sheer exhaustion. I began to wonder if my children were worse-off than hers, because of my choice to work. I’ve never stayed at home with my kids. When I gave birth to my son, I was a single mom and went to work 10 days after he was born. When I had my first daughter, again, I was a single mom, and went to work 2 days after she was born. I had no choice. My children were depending on me, and if I didn’t work, my kids didn’t eat. Through the years of single parenting, I worked long hours during the day, went to college at night, and often didn’t see my children until they were nearing bedtime. I carried an extreme amount of guilt.
When I gave birth to my last child, I stayed home with her almost a year. I was no longer a single mom, and I thoroughly enjoyed that luxury of seeing all her “firsts”, holding her as I quietly sipped coffee and read my Bible, and strolling through my neighborhood on long walks. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything. However, during that time, I discovered something about myself. I could never do that for eighteen years! I enjoy the interaction and stimulation that work outside the home gives. I enjoy the challenge of solving problems at my desk, lunches with co-workers, and business meetings with steno pads and manila folders. I greatly admire my friend, Sarah, and the many women who are just like her with their unbelievable ability to homeschool and sew and craft and whisper and raise amazing children. But I’ve also learned to equally respect my role on this earth. And guess what? I have some pretty amazing children, too. My son is almost twenty, entering his sophomore year of college, and is a collegiate athlete. My daughter, now 18, is a graduating high school honor student who is enrolled in college to become a physical therapist. My sweet last-born is thriving, friendly, and a joy in her own right. And Sarah could say similar things about her children.
Working moms, you are okay. You are great moms who endure long days and parenting challenges, just like stay-at-home moms. You are not less than or greater than. You are equal to. For stay-at-home moms who are doing it all – cooking, cleaning, groceries, organizing – understand that you are in this season for a reason, and it’s beautiful and admirable. But working moms, just because you aren’t in the home full-time doesn’t mean your children can’t thrive and that you are somehow a less-than mom.
Ladies, can we just give each other (and ourselves) a break and a little grace?! Many stay-at-home moms sometimes feel their role is not significant, no one notices them, and they aren’t making much of an impact on the world. Working moms struggle in a different way. We sometimes worry that we haven’t spent enough time with our children, or we carry guilt that we choose to (or have to) work outside the home. Satan is masterful at roaming the earth and seeking what he may destroy. Moms, he wants you to feel this way. He wants you to feel insignificant, insecure, and replaceable. If you do, then you are no threat in the Kingdom. You’re too busy focusing on your inadequacies.
But moms, oh sweet moms, when you rise up and take your place in the Kingdom, whether working mom or stay-at-home, when you understand that your place, in this moment, this season, is God’s perfect plan for your life and it is significant ministry… oh my Lord! When you rise up and become the confident, spirit-filled, strong, hopeful woman of God you were created to be, no demon in hell and no lie from Satan could ever stand in your way of fulfilling God’s plans for your life.
And I am convinced that our children, when raised up in the way they should go, whther by an amazing stay-at-home mom or a working mom, will fulfill the following verse:
Her children stand and bless her.. Proverbs 31:28a NLT
Jennifer Maggio is an award-winning author and speaker who has a passion to see the body of Christ live life in total freedom. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and Overwhelmed: The Single Moms Magazine. She has been featured in hundreds of media venues. For more information, visit http://www.jennifermaggio.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/DGLimages
** Article first appeared on iBelieve.com.
- 2017Sep 06
It was Christmas Day and my first Christmas alone. Well, I guess I wasn’t alone. I had my 11-month old with me. It was the darkest of days. I woke up to the inevitable – no money, no family, and a baby who toddled around, not knowing the difference. I cried most of the day. I eventually went to a friend’s home for a couple of hours, but I ultimately finished the day on the sofa in tears, alone.
Perhaps one of the biggest struggles for any single parent is loneliness. It is easy to compare families who are shopping together on weekends or strolling their precious toddler on a bright Sunday afternoon. It is easy to imagine our lives much different than they are, hence feeding into the loneliness that endlessly lingers.
Loneliness is dangerous. It can assuredly lead to compromise. How many times have I sat holding the hand of a mom who was regretful of a decision that stemmed from a lonely night? How many times did I stumble in my single parenting years for that very same reason? Loneliness can lead to further isolation and even depression or alcohol and drug use. It can attribute to bitterness and anger and a myriad of other not-so-positive emotions. So how do we fight it?
One of the first keys is to recognize you are never alone. God promises that he will never leave you. “Yeah, that sounds great, but I want human interaction!” You may be thinking. The Lord created you for relationship – relationship with each other and relationship with Him. However, the latter is the most important part of our life. The development of our relationship with the Lord is our strength, our comfort, and our peace. It is where our joy is found. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 7 about how his singleness has allowed him to serve God better. Next time you feel loneliness creeping in, consider serving someone else. How can you use your time and talents to serve God by serving others? Can you volunteer at a local soup kitchen or babysit for a fellow single parent? Can you offer dinner at your house for some neighborhood friends and make it a game night, helping others who may be battling loneliness?
Be certain to stay connected to a local church. I am a huge proponent of this one! If single parents can stay connected in a local church, they are better equipped to battle loneliness. Support groups and Sunday School classes help us to get perspective. It helps for us to hear others’ problems or to hear wisdom from someone who has been where we are. Satan’s plan is one of a divide-and-conquer strategy. If he can isolate us from church and loving Godly friends, we begin to see the glass as half-empty. No one will ever love me. I will always be alone. How could the church treat me that way? I don’t need God anyway. On and on the negative thoughts will go, if we aren’t careful. If Satan can steal our joy, kill our hope, and destroy our plans for the future, he’s one. We are no longer a threat to him. We are no longer focused on what we can do in the Kingdom of God, but rather what we can’t do.
Single moms, you are not alone. There are support groups blossoming all over the country to see that you are encouraged and equipped in the body of Christ. I leave you with one of my all-time favorite Scriptures:
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. ~ Is. 43:2 NLT
Jennifer Maggio is the founder and CEO of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, a nonprofit that has planted more than 1,500 single parent support groups in churches globally. Maggio’s story of homelessness, severe abuse, and years of parenting alone has been featured in The New York Times, The 700 Club, Power Women and others. She is author to several books and has a passion to encourage single mothers and hurting women. For more information, visit www.thelifeofasinglemom.com
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/m-gucci