Every Woman a Theologian
— For [True] Freedom Christ Set Us Free —
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Dear friend,
In the United States the 4th of July is a celebration of our independence from Great Britain. Here in northern Michigan we celebrate with a parade - the high school band plays down Mitchell Street and local businesses decorate floats - cook outs, candy, and fireworks over the bay. While Americans differ in their view of the Fourth (especially given the fact that not every resident of the U.S. was free until after emancipation, as Juneteenth reminds us) for me it is a reminder to be grateful for the country in which I live and to use the privileges I have to make life better for every person who comes to these shores. As a descendent of immigrants (not too far in the past) I am highly aware of the blessings I enjoy as an American.
When we speak of freedom on the Fourth, most people mean “freedom to do what I want without intervention”. But someone else spoke of freedom, and He spoke of it in a culture that actually wasn't free:
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)
What did Jesus mean? He didn't mean freedom from the Roman overlords. Jesus died, was resurrected and ascended all while Rome remained in power. He didn't mean freedom from legalistic religious leaders because these not only killed Him, they covered up His resurrection and perpetuated lies about His ministry after He was gone (Matthew 28:15).
Freedom, to Jesus, wasn't just a physical reality. Sometimes it wasn't a physical reality at all. Freedom was, and is, a spiritual reality – and not just freedom to do what we want but freedom FROM the consequences of a life separate from God.
Freedom to do whatever we want, when we want, how we want sounds like true freedom. But freedom without boundaries inevitably leads to abuse. This point was illustrated on Sunday when my friend Johnny Whitcomb preached a sermon on the Parable of the Tenants. He noted there are two kinds of lives: encumbered lives and unencumbered lives. Unencumbered lives, unencumbered freedom is freedom without boundaries, without limits. Every person who has ever abused another person did so because he was interested in freedom without limits: an unencumbered life. 
But true freedom is the “encumbered life”. It is freedom within limits, limits set by a God who knows the human tendency to selfishness and hedges us in for our own good (and the good of others). God does not give us freedom to do whatever we want because God is love. God is safe. God is protecting us from the consequences of an unencumbered life.
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That's why Jesus could say both “If I set you free, you are free indeed” and also preach the Sermon on the Mount condemning sexual sin, unjustified divorce, hatred, hypocrisy and murder. The freedom Jesus came to give is not the freedom of the spineless and selfish, nor the freedom of the brash and “Let's Go Brandon”. The freedom of Christ is not a freedom from but a freedom to. 
You are freed, not from limits and boundaries, but to love the Lord you God with all your being.
You are freed, not from using your words responsibly, but to exalt God and lift up His people.
You are freed, not from the consequences of sexual sin, but to honor sex as the divine-human, life-giving covenant act that it is.
You are freed, not from the law of love, but to love others as God has loved you.
You are free to do things you were incapable of doing before Christ. And that is why Jesus could say you are free indeed
Paul built on this with a warning in Galatians 6: 
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 6:1)
It is very tempting, once you've been free for a while, to go back to the slavery you've forgotten. Israel did this constantly! They even envied their former enslaved position, forgetting the misery of a life in bondage. We have short memories. We need an eternal perspective to understand our freedom well and steward it rightly. 
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What does it look like to walk in freedom?
We've established that freedom is not licentiousness. But neither is it a fearful trepidation of falling into sin. This is where the power of the Spirit is our gift and advocate! He will convict us of areas in which we need more restraint as we need it. If He were to sanctify us all at once, it would be overwhelming. Instead He slowly brings to mind the areas in which we need more holiness.
Sometimes things we were previously free to do we find less helpful as we grow. Things we used to watch, listen to, drink, or participate in no longer honor the freedom Christ has given. Other times things that were “off limits” in legalistic environments become free to us as we understand the difference between Holy Spirit conviction and manmade rules.
Here's an example: When I was living in legalism, I believed wearing spaghetti strap dresses was “immodest”. I liked them, but the voices of people in authority and books I read made me think these dresses were sinful. As I grew in my knowledge of Scripture and God's character, I learned that these dresses could be worn in a classy and honorable way - they weren't in themselves sinful! What was once off limits became free to me even as I continue to consider if the place I'm wearing one is the appropriate setting. 
On the other hand, Josh and I really enjoyed a certain show together for a few seasons. We even watched it “cleaned up” with VidAngel. But after a couple seasons we were convicted that we had to clean up too much of it and it wasn't worth our time. We stopped watching it to honor our freedom.
In both of these cases - one from abstention to participation and one from participation to abstention - we were walking by the Spirit of God. 
It might be easier if God gave us a list of do's and don'ts, but He would have to give one for every century, every culture, every city, and every person. So instead, He gives us His Spirit - which is ten times better because He loves us. 
Friend, stop seeking the list and rely on the Spirit. Walk in your freedom and you won't give into either legalism or the desires of the flesh. And there you'll find that Jesus is good for His word: who the Son sets free is free indeed. 
Bestsellers this week:
Ask Anything Q/A

Is people pleasing the same as fear of man? Where to start with this?
People pleasing is the FRUIT of fear of man. When we are captive to the approval of people, you will do anything to please them. While there are practical things you can do to help with this, the core solution is fear of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” Proverbs tells us, and this is true. If you want the wisdom to know what to say yes to and when to set a boundary with someone, it begins with loving God MORE than you fear people. A few books on this: When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch and When Making Other People Happy is Making You Miserable by Karen Ehman.
What do you do for quiet time when kids drop their nap?
Once our kiddos no longer nap (averaging around 4 years old. But I had one that napped until 6 and another that dropped her nap at 2.5) we switch to “quiet time”. They get to pick out books, toys, and quiet activities and have to stay in their beds or at least their rooms for that period of time, usually about 2 hours. Our girls loved it because it was a nice reset for their day. In summer, they can choose to go outside for quiet time or in their rooms. For kids that room share, we put one down for their nap and the other can go in our room for quiet time. 
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My Five Faves

  • Metal detector date night: Hear me out on this one. Josh and I were running out of date ideas (we go out once a week). We did a restaurant tour of our hometown but THIS time we drove to one of our favorites about 40 minutes away (Legs Inn, if you're in NoMi) followed by a beach walk… with a metal detector! It was so out of the box and fun. We only found a penny but… worth it.
  • The Curse of Oak Island: I understand that this makes Josh and I the equivalent of a 55 year old man (cough cough my dad) but we love this show. It combines my love of history with Josh's love for science. This could be the cause of the metal detector date.
  • This outdoor speaker for our patio. I love to play instrumental music while the kids play outside or play my literary podcast while laying in the sun.
  • Looking at this for my yard lounging: it feels like a sin to hang out in the yard when we are 7 minutes from the beach, but sometimes packing up the kids is a hassle! You can put water in this so it acts as a pool and a “tanning bed” all at once.
  • If you're in Michigan you probably know Meijer grocery stores. This is your reminder to check the 90% off racks in the clothing aisle! I snagged three beautiful shirts and dresses for $5 total. One of the dresses was originally $48.
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At Home with Phylicia

A little glimpse of what's bringing us joy at home: routines, books, kitchen and home life.
  • As a reminder, I'm off social media in July! I take two sabbaticals a year - July and December - so during the month this newsletter is the place to be!
  • Our homeschool schedule in July is 3 days a week, and I'm starting Ivan on 3-4 days of Memoria Press preschool. This is my favorite preschool curriculum because it's so light (15 minutes) and easy to use. Because it's longer than Classical Conversations by 10 weeks I'll work on it through the summer and we can finish during the school year. 
  • I am ALMOST DONE with War and Peace. This is bittersweet for me because it's been a 6 month journey and honestly - I love this book and the podcast (How to Eat an Elephant). But I am also relieved to start reading something new! I'm deciding between another classic and a super light fiction read to come up for air. 
  • I made my goals list for July and it includes a fresh workout schedule (Pilates, strength training and running), some farm projects, new podcast episodes and getting the July cohort of Bible in a Year off the ground. But we are starting the month with our annual family camping trip - for the first time in five years ALL five of my siblings will be there! So much joy.
for the awakening,