Have you ever played hide and seek with a toddler? You close your eyes and start counting. One, two, three, four…. You reach ten, open your eyes and say “Ready or not, here I come!” You take a quick look around and notice that half of your hide-and-seek partner is sticking out from behind their chosen hiding spot. Even if they weren’t so clearly visible, they probably started giggling the moment you stopped counting, so finding them would not have been much of a challenge either way. Still, you play along, rummaging around the room in all the wrong places, wondering loudly where they could possibly be, until you either “find” them, or they burst out laughing and just tell you where they are.

Better Together

I have heard many people say something along these lines: “I love Jesus, but I don’t love the Church,” or, “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.” Typically the people saying things like this have had an experience with Christians that has put a bad taste in their mouth. Unfortunately, that kind of experience is not all that uncommon. After all, we are all sinful, fallen people in need of grace. 

Helping By Not Helping


Recently, a lady named Tracy approached me and said, “Thank you for your help.” I said, “You’re welcome; what did I do?” She said, “I attended one of your workshops a few years ago. You all empowered me to help my brother by no longer helping him.” I was a little confused at first until she shared her story. 

One Sunday, I was sitting in our normal Sunday service at Woodland Park Baptist Church. Dr. Brian Kinlaw was preaching as he typically does, but this Sunday happened to be a sermon on the church in Acts. Though a passage preached by many, Dr. Kinlaw was able to present it  in a different light. He brought up four priorities that had created the community of the early church:


  1. Learning the Word
  2. Loving each other
  3. Worshiping God
  4. Reaching the world 


Through this sermon, God truly spoke to my heart to remind me that sometimes the community that you need is much more than what you personally want out of a group of individuals. 

The power to help

A woman is on the phone with her brother-in-law. There is a need for assistance to help pay their electric bill. The woman explains why she doesn’t have the money to pay the bill this month. The brother-in-law, realizing that his nieces will be affected by his decision, decides to pay the electric bill for his sister-in-law.


A father and mother sit in their living room and begin praying for their son. He has just been arrested for drug possession…again. Their son calls them to ask for assistance in getting him out of jail. The parents then must decide, “Do we bail him out again?” The son gives a long story of how he was wrongly accused, and the parents once again rescue their son. 


Be Present and Eat Pizza


Question: What is your favorite kind of pizza? Chicago deep dish? New York style? Detroit style pizza? Maybe all three?!? Or do you like keeping it simple with only cheese? You could be like my kiddos…PEPPERONI ALL THE WAY! For me, I’m a pizza connoisseur. If it has crust and pizza sauce, I’m going to eat it. In fact, last night my family and I had pizza at one of our favorite places in downtown Chattanooga. It was delicious and there were no leftovers!


“There simply isn’t enough time.”

“That’s just not the way I am.” 

“I’m too tired to get to that today.”

No doubt you’ve heard someone make statements like this. You’ve probably said them yourself. Though we all know excuse-making is a slippery slope, we still engage in it with alarming regularity. According to a New York Post study, the average American makes 2,190 excuses each year. That’s six excuses a day made to justify our behavior and choices. 

Do you hear Him?


Did you know it’s possible to miss God’s voice?  Often we get so busy with life that we may not recognize the voice of God. It’s not a bad thing to have a full schedule. Maybe we spend much of our time supporting our families or serving others.  When we become too caught up in our routines, however, and no longer actively seek to hear God speak, we risk missing it when He does.


New Year’s Hope


It’s a new year and with every new year comes a sense of expectation. Many of you enter this year with a sense of hope, or at least with some wishful thinking, that perhaps this will be the year. The year you get into shape, find that elusive relationship you’ve been searching for, or get that job you will actually enjoy. This year you will eat better, spend more time with loved ones, maybe read more books. Whatever your personal aspiration, many of us follow a new year’s tradition of making resolutions as a way to cement our often abstract hopes for change. These resolutions are meant to confirm our commitment to making a change for the better in the year to come. Anyone of us who have actually gone through the process of defining a new year’s resolution, though, knows it is pretty unlikely that those goals will actually be realized. In fact, going into 2023 it is thought that only about 38% of people will make resolutions. Of that 38%, only 9% will be successful in keeping them. About 25% of people will quit within a week, and 65% within a month. Humorously, over 40% of people who make resolutions do so expecting to quit within two months. 


Whether you find these statistics amusing or just sad, they point to the reality of the human condition. We are marked by a consistent pattern of trying, but failing. We get spurts of hope inspired by things as arbitrary as a new calendar, decide it’s time to get our lives together and become the people we have always wanted to be, try to wrestle ourselves and everything else in our lives into submission, and then inevitably become exhausted and give up when the it becomes clear we can’t create or sustain the kind of change we wanted. After we have gone through this a few times, many of us just give up. We accept that things are just the way they are, and decide there is nothing we can really do about it, so we stop trying and we stop hoping.


Many have asked about Living Free’s online groups and often the questions are the same, is this really a group? Are group members really connecting? Are most group members consistent in meeting together on Zoom?

It was easy to be skeptical until we had no choice. Because of COVID, we started offering online groups to meet the need during the pandemic. Would people be just going through the motions on a screen, with no real connection? 

Kristina, a facilitator of the online Understanding Depression group had this to say; “You know I’m not a fan of Zoom, and it does present a couple of challenges but I’m a fan of embracing the challenges and difficulties and making the best of them! It required a little extra work, but that’s ok.” Kristina provided additional visuals with YouTube, sent encouraging worship songs via e-mail, and offered diagrams to help the group.

It is exciting to offer our newest publication to all of our Living Free family here in the United States and around the world; Road to Freedom! It’s not really all that new, as we have been using parts of this booklet in our corrections ministries and the Living Free Plan has been offered to group members as a tool to help set goals and to know the Lord has a purpose for each life and to know the purpose of our Living Free groups.

Our leadership team decided it was time to officially offer Road to Freedom to everyone, as many of our teams are working with inmates in corrections, new Christians, and those dealing with substance abuse.

In 2019 Dan Strickland, President of Living Free had the vision to offer the Living Free seminar in a format that would be more comprehensive,
more opportunity for interaction among participants, and long enough to absorb the vast amount of information compacted into just one 6 hour session presented in a live event.  With the help of Barbara Dodridge, online training was developed and introduced in February of 2019 called Living Free Academy.

About 12 months later, all live training came to a halt due to COVID 19.

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