Last year, at the prompting of my daughter and son-in-law, I attended "Freedom Session" at their church. Freedom Session is a Bible-based twelve-step program, aimed at freeing us from our addictions, compulsive behaviours, and tendency to do the wrong things. The goal is to find healing and freedom through Jesus Christ. (Website: www.freedomsession.com)
What follows is my testimony on graduating from the program.
The main reason that I went to Freedom Session was to support my wife in her need to attend in order to deal with painful depressing memories from her youth. I also wanted to evaluate the program to possibly take it back to our home church. I also thought that, just maybe, I could also learn something on the way.
The most meaningful breakthrough for me during the 26-week program was, surprisingly, what I learned about myself and what I needed to do to break the grip that Satan had on me, and then doing it to obtain freedom.
What I have learned is that:
- I needed to forgive those in the past who have hurt me.
- I needed to take responsibility for my own life and the hurt that I've caused others.
- I needed to confess my sins and hurts to myself and to God and to others. "Therefore confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16a).
- God has shown me that I needed to make amends to those whom I have hurt.
- I had to admit that I was wrong and had no right to hurt them in that way.
- What I do, now, after the fact, cannot undo what I have done or remove the hurt I have caused. I have no excuse for why I hurt others as I have. They did not deserve that.
In the future:
- I need to recognize my errors as they happen, admit them, and make amends right away.
- I need to train myself in humility and godliness, through filling my mind with godly things, like the holy Scriptures, the Bible.
I have set in motion a strategy to prevent myself from again slipping into Satan's power but continuing to live with the Holy Spirit, in freedom from Satan's power. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out, so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV).
And yes, I plan, as the Lord allows, to take Freedom Session to our home church. Also, as the Lord allows, I plan to take steps to incorporate Freedom Session into the renewal activities of our whole denomination.
Praise the Lord for loving us and caring for each of us. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9 NIV).
Now, ninety days afterwards, I am still praising the Lord and still reading the Scriptures daily, which I had gotten away from over the years and slipped into some other bad habits. In effect, Satan had quietly grabbed hold of my life, subtly, and made me an ineffective Christian, despite all the good things that I was doing, or thought that I was doing. Now, I am reading a short passage of Scripture daily, marking it, and writing down how it is meaningful and applies to me. I am talking and praying with my wife daily, which we had also gotten away from. I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me with my compulsive behaviour, to keep me from being dragged back down by Satan. Yes, I am trying to walk with God, and loving it! It is great to be free.
Many of us, both in the church and out of it, have hurts and abuses from our past, as well as broken relationships. People are living in states of addiction, compulsive behaviour, envy, bitter jealousy, greed, anger, and other things that are keeping us from living the life of freedom that God has designed for us. This program, Freedom Session, can help us, as it has me, if we take Scripture seriously and really want to get closer to God. It is the first step for renewal in our lives and thus renewal in the church.