This semester we had the pleasure of hearing from two former SWU students Matt and Deborah Rhodes. God used them to pour into us as SWU students, and I am grateful for what they did here at SWU. We learned that you do not have to live bound by fear and that there is freedom in Christ. Numerous students received prayer and guidance from SWU staff, faculty, and student leaders. Lives were changed and freedom in Christ was found this past week! Here are some of my top takeaways:
We don’t have to live bound by fear
Deborah spoke first on Monday and focused on how we were created to be free. She gave us three things that are pivotal in how to do just that. First, we need to trust God. Our circumstances and perspectives may change, but it does not change who God is.
Second, obey Him. “We’ve gotten really good at making excuses, and really bad at obeying the word.” We’ve got to make up our minds and obey the word of God. God wants our obedient heart.
Third, we must surrender. God writes a better story than we could ever try to orchestrate, but you have to surrender.
You are not defined by the things that happen to you
Matt spoke about forgiving others. “You’ve been hurt, and God understands that. Forgiving someone that hurt you doesn’t mean you have to allow those people to keep hurting you.” Forgiveness is a process. It also must be complete and unconditional. God is just as pleased when you’re working on it as when you have accomplished it.
“The pain doesn’t go away, but it can forge a path to freedom.”
The people who you are surrounding yourself with are the people you are becoming
Tuesday morning Matt spoke to us about having a purpose. He taught us that no matter where we are, there is a reason. God is trying His best to show you why you are in the season you are in. We looked at the story of Samuel and how he was surrounded by faith and submitted himself to leadership.
“The people who you are yourself with are the people you are becoming.” We must surround ourselves with people who hear from God. We must be obedient and teachable even when things get hard. Everyone can be taught by someone. Samuel was teachable and Samuel obeyed. Matt left us with this question, “Do you think it is possible that Samuel's story can help your own?”
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice..."
1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)
Love people even if you disagree with them
In the final service, both Matt and Deborah spoke about how free people set others free. We can set others free by celebrating them. Despite what we hear, there is still plenty in this world to celebrate and there is still plenty of good! "Your celebrations should be louder than your criticism." We are to love people even if we disagree with them. We must never choose issues over people.
“It is not my job to change the people I have leadership over. It is my job to love and speak truth into them.” Love is the bricks we use to build with. Jesus builds bridges with us and calls us to build bridges with others here.
“What if we lived in the freedom that Christ came for?”