| |

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.

Similar Posts


  1. I love the theme of this book! As a recovering people-pleaser, I have to be watchful and make sure I’m not allowing the opinions of others to define me. My worth comes from Him and Him alone! I’d love to read this book for help in remembering that!

  2. I hate to admit it, but the opinions of others keeps me from feeling free in Christ. I worry what they think of me, the way I live, the way I raise my kids…I could go on and on. This is a constant struggle for me. This looks like a great book, I can’t wait to read it!

  3. What keeps me “living free” is the opinions of others but especially PERFORMANCE. I don’t pray enough and I don’t read my Bible enough and I don’t spend enough quiet time with the Lord. Thank you for this devotional today. I would LOVE to read the book!

  4. Past mistakes keep me from being free. I “know” that God forgives, but I can’t seem to feel forgiven and just keep living with the shame of my past.

  5. Downloading chapter 1 right now. This sounds like a great read. I too often let my fear of how others with see and judge me hold me back.

  6. Perfectionism is where my chains are. Needing it for me and needing it to give the illusion to others that everything is always perfect.

  7. What a topic we all need to pray on and work on! We’re studying this in my Bible study right now. Something I need to daily work on with Christ!

  8. Oh, where to begin. I didn’t grow up Christian. I have been on my faith journey since 2012. I have faltered away a few times. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well as struggle with alcoholism. I allow myself to let the opinion of others to hold me back as well as my own opinion of myself. I have felt not good enough for a lot of things lately. I feel as though my life has turned upside down. I don’t allow people close for fear had me bound. I’d like to know what it feels like to be free in Christ. I’d also like to know how to live for Jesus and like him. I’d like to better myself to be the person that I’m meant to be.

  9. I think the biggest obstacle to living truly free in Christ is me. The inadequacy I feel, past things that can’t be changed but have defined me for so long. I really need to read this book as I know God is calling me to deeper water and I want to go without any hesitation.

  10. This book sounds great. Right now I feel chained to many bad thoughts. All the negativity in the world is breaking my heart. I find myself angry and in my mind confused at moments. I’m fighting to keep my eyes on Jesus who is in the throne.

  11. This book looks awesome!! So much legalism among Christians today yet I don’t think we realize we are doing it. My young adult son deals with this w his roommates and I think I’m going to purchase this for him. Thanks for sharing!!

  12. So many chains hold me down. Mainly my own unrealistic expectations and tendency to play the comparison game. I’m struggling hard with breastfeeding my three month old son. I’ve done everything you can think of, sought out multiple sources of help and support. I’m praying for this to be easier. This chain of struggle is almost choking at times.

  13. People around me keep me from being free. Have to watch what I do and say etc. I’m a Christian who loves people not racism. I love all people cause Christ loves us all. Some of the people just don’t know how to love everyone. Its a shame too. That’s not how we are supposed to be.

  14. Ah guilt and shame. They’ve imprisoned and chained me for so long – for so many things. But then … Jesus! When I think of guilt and shame – I think of Judas and Peter. We can learn a lot by studying how they reacted to their sin and shame so differently – and the results for each. For Judas, he ran from Jesus and all of his friends, too. He let the sin and shame of betraying Jesus overwhelm him – to the point of despair, hopelessness, and eventually – taking his very life. How tragic. But Peter? He betrayed Jesus, too – denying him THREE TIMES – and possibly even blaspheming His name the third time — just as Jesus looked to him, and the rooster crowed. Can you imagine the guilt and shame? But how did Peter react? Well, he ran and hid for a while … but then he ran into the arms of Jesus. He accepted the forgiveness Jesus offered. He threw off the old, and put on the new. Both were guilty – both felt the deep shame of their sin. Both Judas refused to ask for or receive forgiveness. Peter did just the opposite. One received death. One received life. So I always try to remind myself of that when I’m sinking into the depths of shame and sin. Jesus has forgiven me – and stands with arms wide open. All I need to do is confess, and receive the freedom of forgiveness. This book will fill such a desperate need for this world! I can’t wait to read it, and to pass it along!

  15. Oh my gosh this book sounds amazing and so very timely but isn’t that how our Heavenly Father is.. I’m chained perhaps because I think I need to not make any mistakes/sin

  16. Interested in reading this book. I struggle with anxiety- have since I was very young- and it really is only when my eyes are on Jesus I feel free.

  17. I think I’m my worse enemy. I struggle to be completely free in Christ because I get it in my head that I’m not good enough or not doing enough, I compare myself to other women and wonder why I can’t be as gentle, kind, giving,( just fill in the blank ) as they are. I am getting better at living in freedom, but still need to work on this issue.

  18. I’m such a people pleaser. I’m always worried about what others will think or say about me….or how they will react to things. Over thinking everything I say, I’m the one that reads a text message about 50 times before I hit send sometimes. It’s something God has been trying to get me to work through and get over and yet…it’s still a constant struggle to truly soak in the fact that He is all we need. The only person that we should be worried about and yet we don’t have to worry about at the same time because His love is unconditional. This book sounds incredible!

  19. Unfortunately as my children were growing up we attended very legalistic churches and imposed many shackeling “extra” rules. Just in the last 4 years have I surrendered all the “I have to dos” for seeking to live intentionally and with freedom in Christ!!

    Actually our youngest daughter who is 24 and walked away from the church for a few years became connected to Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids. She then realized that it was a relationship not rules that gave peace, joy and life abundant!!! She is now back home and preparing to go on the World Race (11 countries In 11 months) to share the love of Jesus!!!

    I would love a copy!!

  20. The expectations of others tend to weigh heavily on me at times….. the things “they” think I should be doing, because they are good things, but they aren’t always what *I* feel the Lord wants me to do. It’s the whole “it’s a good cause” or “it’s a valuable program to be involved in” and those sorts of things.

  21. My biggest struggles are with perfectionism and people-pleasing. God is working in these areas with me and this book seems like it would be another great tool in finding true freedom!

  22. It sounds like this book was written for me! I will be ordering my copy now! Thank you for writing a book on this topic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *