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Freedom or Limitation?

18 is the age of freedom. But the question we should ask ourselves is are we really ready for this freedom? Everyone grows up differently with different boundaries and limitations placed on them. So for the person who has always been able to do everything 18 is less of a big deal but still extremely important. For the person who grew up not able to do anything 18 is so great but so horrible at the same time. We think freedom is great because the limitations are finally taken off, and we have the autonomy to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. When 18 hits boundaries are taken off but the purpose of those boundaries may not be fully realized until it is too late. Boundaries protect us in order to protect our freedoms. It sounds like a clear contradiction that boundaries protect freedom? Oh, but they do.

Boundaries exist to keep us in a place of safety and security where we can enjoy all that life has to offer. Sometimes our parents may have told us not to stay out past dark. That boundary protects us from getting hurt. Other parents may have told us not to have sex. That boundary protects our health and independence. Some may have been restricted to not drink or do drugs. Those boundaries allow us to continuing living life in this free world.

We may think we can handle living a life of no limits but with no limits also comes limitless consequences for our actions. When we can finally can start hanging out late we may find that out of no where many of our friends and family members are turning up dead. When we start having sex we might be scared because we got an STD or realizing we can’t afford to go to school or work a job and raise a child on our own, and the future we had planned goes out the window. Or when we finally start drinking and doing drugs and then mix those things with driving and going out in public we could find ourselves in jail for years. With freedom comes responsibility. When we step into freedom we also step directly into the consequences of that freedom.

18:21 is not a group or organization that wants to control or dictate what to do or not to do. 18:21 is dedicated to helping develop those stepping into freedom to be prepared and equipped to handle the responsibilities and consequences that come along with it. 18:21 is here to guide young adults towards the abundant life, a life of eternal freedom, and away from a false freedom that could result in even more limitations. God instructs us to live within His guidelines now, only because He knows that is how we will get to experience freedom forever.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

Matthew 7:13-14

So many believe that they can find the riches of life by following the ways of this world but that is not true. Full and abundant life comes by Jesus alone. In John 10:7-10 Jesus tells us ” Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.'” God does not want our life to be snatched out of our hands because we refused to listen to Him and instead followed the ways of the world. We are His sheep and He cares for us. He set a path out before us which is good and leads to goodness for all the days of our life. That does not mean life is guaranteed to be easy, because parts of it will be hard, but it does guarantee that we will have an eternal future that is secure in Christ.

So how do we life life on this narrow road? How do we do the things that please God? It all starts here in Romans 10:9-10

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

We don’t have to be perfect to come to God, instead when we come to God he will begin to perfect us as we develop true relationship with Him and allow our hearts to be changed and molded to look more like His. God will teach us how to live in His guidelines, and the Holy Spirit will direct our steps along the way. We should be grateful and thankful that God has established a path of limitations that leads to our ultimate freedom and even more so glad that He sent His son to suffer the consequences of our sin and missteps so that He could welcome us into his love and grace with open arms! Remember that in Christ there is HOPE, FREEDOM, and ABUNDANT LIFE!

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Why 18:21 ?

The 18 through 21 years are those difficult years that entail your transition into adulthood. You are finally free. You can legally be responsible for yourself. You can do what you want to do. But, many of us are unprepared for this freedom. We take it and we misuse it. These are the years where we try to live our best life while just being introduced to a new phase of life.

18:21 is here to help 18 through 21 years olds through that transitional time, all while helping them grow in their relationship with Christ. Although 18-21 year olds may not want to be a part of a group or they may not want to have a support system 18:21 is here nonetheless. It isn’t until the latter of those years that so many people look back and wish they had more support, more guidance, and more help.

We know what it is like to try to live life thinking you have all the answers. We know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed as life is changing so rapidly. We know what it’s like to feel lost or confused as you try to enjoy life and figure life out at the same time. 18:21 is all about one generation reaching down to show another generation the way. The way to peace. The way to life. The way to purpose and fulfillment. The way is not by chasing the pleasures of this world. The way is not toiling for success. The way is through Jesus Christ, who saves who, who created you, who knows your purpose, who loves you, who wants to be in relationship with you, and who wants you to be ALL that He created you to be. It’s when you find God, and grow in God that life takes on its true form. Challenges and trials will start to make sense. Your efforts will lead to your fulfillment. You will find grace and mercy along the way. You will find yourself safe in the midst of chaos. In God’s hands there’s peace, joy, and love.

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“For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”

This scripture summarizes Psalm 18. It is a rather long Psalm for someone who doesn’t read their Bible but it tells a beautiful story about the character of God and the place of His people. Psalm 18 is written by David, one of the greatest kings and God’s servant. To be God’s servant means that you live for God and do what He asks you to do. David was not perfect but he admitted his wrongdoing and turned from his wicked ways to live a life in full submission to God.

Psalm 18 begins talking about how faithful God is to David. David views God as his rock, his refuge, his fortress, his strength, his deliverer, his shield, his stronghold. God is all of these things to David and to us. We are not alone, and whether we believe in God or not, God created all of us and He loves each and every one of us. God does not want us to do life without Him, so He is willing to become for us whatever we need Him to be. Sometimes we are weak, so we need God to be our strength. Sometimes we are confused, so we need God to be our voice of reason and clarity. God wants us to know that we don’t have to be and do it all when we choose to walk with Him. Whatever our shortcomings and weaknesses are God will be there for us to be our strength.

” ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ‘”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

David then talks about all of the trouble he has gone through, how death surrounded him, and destruction pursued him, how traps were before him waiting to catch him and make him fall. But through it all and in every hardship David cried out to God and God heard him. God is with us. He wants to rescue us. Life will never be perfect and free of struggle, but when things get hard God wants us to cry out to Him and call out to Him to come to save us. God wants to be in relationship with us, He wants to be the one we run to, the one we call, the one we cry out for. God is the only one capable of saving us from everything and anything we could go through.

David talks about how God came down and made himself known and rescued David from every enemy, from every high water, and every difficult situation. We don’t have to rescue ourselves, we don’t have to figure everything out, we don’t have to chart our own course. God is our rescuer, He already has all of the answers, and He already knows the absolute best path we could take.

David realized that through it all he did his part by being a good servant of God by keeping His word, being obedient to God, asking for forgiveness, and turning from the mistakes he made along the way. God knows that we aren’t going to be perfect, God knows that we will mess up, and fall off. All God asks of us is that we don’t give up in doing what’s right, that we remain humble by admitting our faults, and that we also remain righteous by turning away from wickedness and towards God. God’s way is perfect, and it’s by staying in God’s will and His way that each of us will be equipped to live the best and most fulfilling life possible. God will enable us to do things we never could have imagined, despite all of our shortcomings and mistakes, he will exalt us as much as we humble ourselves before Him. He will do things in and through us that only He has the power to do. We live our lives thinking we know what’s best and we know how to live the best life possible but we lie to ourselves every day, because only God knows the way to the best life, to eternal life, and we have to seek Him in order to find it! But it all starts with knowing His way.