Friday, September 7, 2012

OnFire #285 Free At Last

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #285 Free At Last

Hi Folks:

The big news is that Ian is settling into life at college in Fredericton - the Maritime College of Forest Technology. This is a big change for our family, harder for his parents than for him, I suspect. But he is doing well, enjoying his classes.

This week we kick off our Sunday school at church with a gospel illusionist at 9:30. I’ll lead some songs, and we’ll honour one of our classes for their 100th anniversary. If you are in the Moncton area, come visit Highfield Baptist. I think we’re going to have a great morning.

Blessings for your week.
“Free, free at last!” This is what I thought as I watched my mother’s car pull away from the university. It was 1985, and while she was shedding tears of sadness, I was shedding tears of joy that I was free to test my wings. I was 17 and ready to explore the world on my own, no longer under the watchful eyes of my family.

These memories were all too fresh the other day as we left Ian at his college. What a conflicting ball of emotions I felt. I was sad that a chapter in our lives was drawing to a close. Routines that included Ian at home would change, and I can’t walk this part of the journey with him. “Suck it up,” I told myself. “You’re not the first parent to go through this.” So, there was sadness.

Strangely, a small bit of jealousy was part of the mix. Here were all these young kids just starting out on their adventures. All their hopes and dreams are so fresh. Why is the beginning of the adventure always the most exciting part? I like where my adventure has taken me thus far, but there is something exciting about being at the beginning. Ah, but I digress...

I was, and am, nervous for Ian. Is he ready for the stress and pressure of student life? And, how will he handle his new-found freedom? The issue here is one of character. Who, really, is he? I am confident in him, but yet the answers to these questions can only be found in time, and in the context of his new freedom. We will only discover his true nature as we see how he handles himself.

Students are not the only ones who demonstrate their character by how they handle freedom. Indeed, it is the same for all of us. The apostle Paul wrote about freedom in Galatians. Freedom is not meant to be about just doing “what I want,” which leads to all sorts of selfish behaviour. Rather, the Christian demonstrates freedom in Christ differently. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23*)

Freedom is a test of character. We can use freedom (freedom from others watching, freedom to spend our time or money as we want) simply to indulge our own desires and pleasures, or we can use our freedom to honour Jesus Christ. The choice is ours, and how we use our freedom shows who we really are, the true nature of our character. We expect to find apples on apple trees. Likewise, these are behaviours which people ought to find in us as followers of Jesus Christ.

These verses are on my “top ten” list because they are reminders to me, a kind of inventory to see how I’m doing. At times I slip toward selfishness, but this group of character traits calls me back.

Hope this helps. Be on fire.

OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Sept 7, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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