new resource for youth groups!

Live Free Journey - Small Group Study CoverJust released this month is a new Live Free resource–a small group study for teens/young adults.

LIVE FREE JOURNEY–SMALL GROUP STUDY

Summary from Standard’s July-October 2009 catalog:
Live Free Journey : Small Group Study, the first of the new series of Live Free resources, will help create a safe place for teens to work through their struggles together. It sets up a vibrant discussion base for students to discover, in a deeply personal way, what Jesus meant when he said, “If the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36 NLT).

This small group study is for any church, any group. Not only can it be a study used in a small group setting for those who are deeply struggling, it is also a great way to get the dialogue going with your youth about the tough topics teens and young adults face today. It’s a resource and small group study that is easy to incorporate into your existing plans and programs.

More information: product image and description

Available now through ChristianBook.com or Amazon (or contact Standard Publishing)

moving days . . .

The www.choose2livefree.com site has now completely moved to this site, but with a few changes.  Some old pages didn’t make the move since they weren’t needed, but new pages are included–hopefully with resources that will be helpful for you.

I’m considering how best to tackle this blog and make it useful (and primarily as a transition to a full site eventually). If you stop by, please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me and let me know what topics and issues you’re interested in or any other thoughts you have.

In the meantime, for more on the topics and issues of the Live Free series, you can also check out my author blog at www.jankern.com.

live free ‘determination’

I love that it’s God’s work in us that transforms us–gives us what we need to go deep with him to live powerfully in the face of the big stuff that shakes up our life. Even the smaller stuff that messes up our day.

So do I sit back and just let him carry it all for me? Well, yes . . . and no. He is our burden bearer who has a history of stepping into the messiness of each of our lives and working in ways that leave us in awe. He doesn’t need anyone to complete who he is or what he wants to do.

But in relationship with him, I can be willing, even better, determined, to join him in all he’s doing.

I like life verses. One of mine is the Philippians 3:10-11 in the Amplified version. Take the first part:

For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly.

God doesn’t force me to be in a relationship with him. And once I am in a relationship with him, my connection to him doesn’t just happen passively. I need to, or rather I want to, actively pursue knowing who is. More strongly, clearly.

It’s my determined purpose.

A determination that spills over into other thoughts and choices and ways I choose to live.

live free ‘forgiveness’

Forgiveness is hard. But God knows that. He knows it doesn’t immediately erase years of pain. He also knows that my letting go in forgiveness is just as important for me as it is for those I need to forgive. Here’s a quote from Scars That Wound, Scars That Heal–A Journey Out of Self-Injury:

God is all about forgiveness and relationship.

As we grasp how much he has forgiven us, forgiveness of those who have hurt us seems more and more possible. In living out our relationship with him, one that is grounded in forgiveness, we are able to begin the difficult but freeing work of forgiving both others and ourselves.

Scars That Wound, Scars That Heal
A Journey Out of Self-Injury
p. 174

That’s where I want to go with God daily. Toward that difficult but freeing work of forgiving . . . myself . . . others.

Even when it feels impossible.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted,
forgiving each other just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:32 NIV

live free ‘boldness’

Boldness.

What is it? Is it acting strong and standing up to anything we don’t like or agree with? Stepping out and doing something on a dare to prove ourselves? Toughing it out and not letting anyone know the fears that really shake us up? For some these ideas might define boldness.

As usual—and this is a good thing—God has a different take than how we might naturally see it.

“Since we have such hope, we are very bold.” A man named Paul wrote that, just after he had written about how the enduring Spirit of the living God can be written on our hearts—hearts that grow to recognize that our confidence and boldness is beyond anything we have and becomes a part of who we are through our personal connection to God (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, 12).

That’s boldness formed out of a solid hope in something and a dependency on Someone else.

Two guys named Peter and John stood in front of a bunch of highly educated and respected men who weren’t exactly willing to listen to what they had to say. This crowd saw the two as uneducated, common people and looked down on them, but then what they heard amazed them. The words following that part of the story say, “They (the educated guys) recognized that these men (Peter and John) had been with Jesus.” (parenthetical words added, story from Acts 3 & 4)

That’s boldness formed out of spending time with Jesus.

Life is challenging. I need boldness every day. I have it by spending time connecting with God, letting his words and ways settle into my mind and heart and become a part of the way I choose to live, part of the way I hope.

stirring things up

OK . . . Getting into this blog now and hoping to stir up some conversation. Really don’t want to do this alone. So as you stop by, feel free to read through new posts and old posts and share what you’re thinking. For this one, I’m wondering . . . What causes you to want to scream and kick a wall? What about your relationship with God do you love or do you question? What in life throws you or strengthens you?

I’ll start.

I have a passion to do something (what it is isn’t so important for this post), and I really think that I could possibly do it well . . . eventually. (Wow, look how those adverbs show my uncertainty!) With encouragement from a couple friends, I’ve even gone after this passion a few times, but when I do I get a face plant in a brick wall. Okay, not literally—that would hurt. Continue reading

in reach

Words in black on white pages. Aren’t those that are found in the Bible much more than that? Living words—that’s what Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, called them. And yet, I read them, and too often treat them, like other ordinary words. They roll right on by in my mind. Sometimes, with God’s help, I catch a glimpse of their life, their depth. I want them to mean more to me than mere words on a page. I want to get them down into my life, live them out. The problem is, doing that isn’t all that automatic . . . or easy.

For instance, take Jesus’ words that are the inspiration for the title of this site.

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36 (NLT)

Living free.

That freedom Jesus has for each of us can feel far out of reach, especially when:

. . . you walk down the hall at school, come up behind your friends, and overhear them talking about how they want to ditch you Continue reading