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Why Christians Don’t Feel Free (giveaway of Unchained by Pastor Noel Jesse Heikkinen)

If you are a Christian, let me ask you a question. Do you feel free? Or do you feel that you are in a way chained to something?

A sinful habit you can’t seem to shake.

The opinions of others, especially other believers.

A set of unspoken rules there is in your Christian circle–things you can’t do, wear, watch, or think?

These things–among many others–often leave us feeling defeated and stuck; bound and baffled as to why, when it comes to how we live our life with Christ, the word “free” isn’t even on our radar.

Most Christians can rattle off a laundry list of reasons that Jesus came; to live a sinless life, die, and rise again. Eternal life and forgiveness of sins sit right at the top of the list in most people’s minds. However, one reason is often conspicuously missing: freedom.

Apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free.” Jesus did something that made us free, and the reason he made us free was so that we would….wait for it….actually be free.

Our churches are filled with people who don’t feel free…not in the slightest. Sinful urges dog them every day. Other Christians and even pastors (sometimes unknowingly) shame and guilt them into a standard of living that is utterly unreachable.  Just mention the word “prayer” to most Christians and they can feel the chains of guilt shackle around their consciences.

If you long to understand what it truly means to live in the fullness of the freedom Christ offers, I want to tell you about a book by Pastor Noel Jesse Heikkinen. I knew Noel when he was a high school student back when my husband was a youth pastor and I was a substitute teacher fresh out of college. Today, he is a gifted teaching pastor at Riverview Church, a rapidly growing, multi-site church in the Lansing, Michigan area. His book entitled Unchained: If Jesus Has Set Us Free, Why Don’t We Feel Free?  releases  TODAY! (I’d say “cue the confetti” but he’d much prefer I say “fire up the skillet and fry up the bacon”. Noel loves bacon almost as much as he loves Jesus.) 

This book will enable you to discover how to live a life serving Jesus that isn’t defined by rules and guilt, but instead is saturated with the freedom that comes from loving and obeying God as you live out the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Psst…You can get chapter one for free by clicking here.)

I’m giving away a copy of this helpful resource today to three of you who leave a comment on this post answering this question:

What is it that keeps you from living free? The opinions of people around you? A sin you can’t seem to shake? Perfectionism? Performance? Comparisons to those you see on social media? Rules and legalism imposed on you by others–or by yourself?

Please weigh in and join the conversation. Also, would you do me a favor and give Pastor Noel a “Like” on Facebook, a follow on Twitter or on Instagram? (I’m not sure if he has Pinterest, but if he does I’m sure it is just one board pinned with nothing but bacon) Or sign up to receive his new blog posts automatically–he posts no more than once a week. (Yep. too busy eating bacon to blog)

Ok….tell us…..what keeps you from feeling and living free in Christ? 


Noel Jesse Heikkinen serves as one of the pastors at Riverview Church, a rapidly growing, multi-site church in the Lansing, Michigan area. He likes to refer to himself as a recovering hypocrite, which is particularly uncomfortable because of his chosen profession. This makes him something akin to an alcoholic bartender. Week in and week out, he stands in front of his church and puts his weaknesses on display. Even worse, he grew up in the Lansing area so his church attracts a lot of people who “knew him when…”

Noel has heard that preachers aren’t supposed to talk about how screwed up they are, but he can’t help himself because that is the core of his story, the story of his church, and the story of the Gospel. Because of what Jesus has done for him, he is doggedly committed to the Word of God and fiercely committed to understanding culture, so he can make connections between the two to anyone who will listen.

Noel also serves as the US Midwest Network Director for Acts 29 and as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Reliant Mission, an organization that mobilizes missionaries to work with local, missional churches globally. He and his wife, Grace, met as students at Michigan State University (GO GREEN!) They have four children and are huge Chicago Cubs fans.

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  1. What an awesome book at the perfect time !
    I would love to read this! I come from a family with completely different views of Christianity, yet we all claim to be Christian. It makes you feel held back even talking to believers. There are so many grey areas that it is difficult sharing the gospel at times even to Christian family members !

  2. My head knowledge gets in the way of me being free. I want the heart knowledge.
    I also often compare myself to others.
    Hoping I am fortunate to win a copy of this book. My husband, would also benefit from reading.
    Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.
    God bless you:)

  3. This sounds like a good book on a very important topic, living a like in freedom. We all need these lessons. And from a former MSU Spartan and a Cubs fan, I’m sure it is full of intelligent information.

  4. I get in the way of living free. Lots of mama guilt if I put something for myself first. I let the perceived opinions of others hold me back. Guilt and feeling undeserving seem to rule.

  5. Not feeling like I’m doing all I can do to live God’s plan for me keeps me chained down. I’m not even sure if I know what God’s plan for my life is. I see others having a passion for an area of service, but I don’t know how to discover my passion.

    1. Linda, I often ask God what my purpose or talent is. I have served in many areas of my church and am yet to find my calling. There came a point I even stopped serving. We may never know Gods plan for our lives, but I do want it to be known and seen I loved Jesus from the inside out. Maybe just spreading Gods love, hugs and warmth. I pray you find this some comforting. Praying for you my sister in Christ. Love you, Shelly

  6. This will be a great read. I put so much pressure on myself I cause more rules than I need in my life.

  7. Rules and legalism heaped on me as a child and teenager by my immediate family. I tend to do much better when I do not spend so much time with my grandmother, aunts, and especially my mother (it seems she receives joy from hurting me).

  8. I guess what keeps me from feeling free is ME! I just never feel as if I am doing enough – i.e., reading my Bible, studying, praying, etc. I want so badly to just be myself and to know I’m OK.

  9. I think my attitudes and judgments. I don’t feel supported in our hometown mission by our main church, that no one cares more than limited support. I know if I can get past the hurt of asking and rarely getting responses and wait on God, I’d feel freer to be and do the calling God has for us. But I get overwhelmed by the hurting mess people have gotten themselves into and no place to send them for help and limited answers. I need to free myself of trying to do God and the Holy Spirit’s work and enjoy and be thankful for the blessings we do have.

  10. This topic on being free has caused me to put some thought into do I fill truly free? I know Christ has set me free but I still worry about pleasing or not upsetting my husband. Therefore I have not been completely set free. I’m sure I could benefit from this book and topic of being set free by God.

  11. Too often I try to follow Jesus by submitting to the demands of others. I’m a recovering co-dependent person and any suggestion that I am lacking in some area leads me into a sense of failure. I need to be free in Christ and to trust Him to make me into the person He desires to use. This book sounds it will lead me to freedom in my spirit, giving me strength to trust the Lord for His continuing work in my life.

  12. I’m always having to quote ….there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”, life verse since I deal with guilt for some reason. I’d love this book right now!

  13. This is really a blessing today. I always have to deal with the worry of what others think about me. Thank God, he is dealing with me on this very issue. When I was younger, I had a parent always telling me I was not as smart as their children. I was not dressed good enough, I was ugly. My weight was as their weight even though I was maybe 11-13 years old. So now, in my forties, God is really dealing with me on this! I am to look to Him! He created me. I am not to let anyone else become my “god”, and that is really what it is. I really don’t like to go to church because I feel they get their “rules”. You can’t do this you can’t do that. I am now seeking churches out, and I know God will help me. I will get strong enough thru Christ and the Holy Spirit to not let what anyone says or thinks about me takes my eyes of of Him and on their rules instead. I will become stronger thru Christ to break the chains of others opinions about me. More of Christ less of me! Thank you Lord!

  14. I’d say rules and legalism imposed on me by yourself. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home so when I became a Christian in my 30’s I didn’t know what it looked like so I adopted a bunch of rules and legalisms to “cover me” until I understood more. Unfortunately I’m so attached to them I’ve imposed them on my kids and now my oldest has walked away from his faith because he feels like there’s too many rules and wants to have fun.

  15. What a full question! I notice how often I hesitate to let my opinions be known on social media. I don’t want to rock the boat, but feel firm in my convictions. Freedom tempered with grace is what I want!

  16. What is it that keeps me from living free?
    Three main things come right away to my mind:
    1. My depression. It is an ongoing struggle to lean on God to overcome it.
    2. My jealousy. I keep catching myself being particularly jealous of a family in our church that just seems to be so blessed, good at everything, so loved by everyone, and have everything put together.
    3. My anger. I have to keep that little spark simmered down. I need to respond instead of react.

  17. My anxiety and depression are holding me back. As soon as I think things are better and “I can do this!” I slip backwards. I’m thankful for my husband who always catches me when I’m about to fall. ?

    1. Megan,

      I just stopped and prayed for you now. May Jesus draw you in close and let you know how very much you are loved. Sounds like you have a wonderful husband!

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