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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. Hi.
    I’m a recently born again Christian and
    have started knowing Jesus since this
    My problem is that I’m addicted to some
    sins that I’ve been practicing since the
    past 10 or more years. Now that I want
    to be out of it and intially I tried to
    get out of them, I realised that I
    Now According to the Bible,I should just
    trust Jesus for help. But does that mean
    I continue to sin and enjoy it? Because
    I cannot help but,enjoy while sinning
    and regeret/ feel bad after sinning.
    Should I do nothing except asking for
    forgiveness and praying and continue to
    read the Bible and forget about the sin?

    1. Just pray to him about it, let him know how you feel. A reason why a lot of people don’t pray is because they feel they can’t say to God what they feel. They thing they will be punished, but no! Be honest with him, ask him for help. And, try your best to not commit that certain sin. When you feel the urge, pray to him, and ask him to help you resist this temptation. A verse I repeat a lot when my mind starts to wonder about sin, and bad things is (Isaiah23:6)-The Lord shall keep in perfect peace all whose minds are on him, for they trust in him. So maybe when you feel the urge to sin, pray to him and repeat that verse!

  2. I think for me it is the reoccurring type of sin. I feel that i should be doing better and know better instead of falling into traps all over again. I consciously try to mature as a Christian, but when I commit the same kind of mistake I made let’s say 10 yrs ago, I simply cannot believe it and feel even more guilty. And then of course the memories of past sins come over my mind and I have to work up all over again convincing myself that God has forgiven me for those already, instead of beating myself up mentally for them all over again.

    1. Yea, don’t beat yourself up over sin, that’s what the devil wants you to do, you are forgiven, of all your sins, Past present and future! And, when you sin, and you feel convicted, that’s a sign that you are being changed by him, because you no longer rejoice in sin.

  3. I think it’s fear , judgement ,and comparison in today’s world, that sometimes I remind myself there’s still beauty in the broken , beauty in every day messy day of motherhood, IEPs therapy, PTSD, navigating through raising a teenager . I fear I am messing everything up some days the days that the bedtime battle is exhausting you just want to hide , or the fear of other people not giving my children a chance but setting labels and standards that hinder people to really seeing the amazing little humans they are . The world sometimes is not so nice and I just want to be a place where my children , my husband , my friends and family are loved for who they are and to know that we are all in this together .

  4. My anger and perfectionism hold me back time and again. I feel my anger is driven mostly out of caring too much. When I can’t handle hurting anymore anger takes over as a means of protection I think.

  5. I think I am why I don’t feel free. My comparisons of others and the rules I think I must follow (thatI don’t always keep). This sounds like a great book.

  6. This book really hit the issue of Freedom right on the head. I have never felt free. I went from a abusive father to an abusive husband. Now my addiction to food and sweets prevents me from feeling free. I’ve gained so much weight that I don’t feel loved or free. I’m depressed with anxiety and no energy to do any of the things I used to go. I sleep too much. Don’t have much discipline in my life. I just don’t know how to overcome any of it. If Jesus came to set me free and love me I’m really disappointing him to. I’m hurting but where do I go for help. I’m very compulsive. I want to fix me and then overdo and burn myself out. HELP!

  7. I think what holds me back is fear. Fear of never being good enough, of being rejected and of being abandoned. In my head I know better but my emotions remember my younger years far too well. While I do so much better now, this old fear still seems to lurk.

  8. I never have given much thought about what makes me not totally free. I’d say it’s plain old insecurity about what others might think of me. I’m a huge people pleaser. I avoid confrontation and never want people to be mad at me. I know as an adult I should be past all of this portion of my life, but in some ways it’s worse than when I was a child or teen I worry about being judged as a mom, if I’m doing enough for them, am I home enough, am I checking in on them enough, do I let them be themselves enough? It gets to be a little overwhelming. I hope that my insecurities about my parenting skills are not passed on to my kiddos as insecurities they should have about themselves as people. I think my kids are some of the coolest people I know.

  9. One thing, that I allow to hold me back from the freedom I have in Christ, is being what I think others think I should be. I grew up a PK and often felt that we lived under a microscope. Many times, I think this has held me in chains for too many years. My heart knows that I have only my Savior to please, but then my head convinces me that I need to be a people pleaser.

  10. The things that keep me from living free are a couple things. I get caught up in what others think especially when they don’t understand. I have some health issues and can’t always get to events I plan on attending and they are critical more than understanding. I also have anxiety issues that prevent me from doing things I would like to do especially traveling. I grew up in a very legalistic church but I think those issues have been resolved.

  11. Most definitely, it is the opinionated words and unachievable expectations of others that keeps me tangled in the chains most often. Too often I forget that what God says holds all the weight, and what others think or say is worthless if it doesn’t line up with what God has already said about me. I’m looking forward to adding this book to my beside reading pile!

  12. much needed message,, would love to have the book, do we have to tweet to win, I don’t know anything about that but I am on Facebook.

  13. I would say I keep myself from being truly free by not letting things go. I have terrible tendencies to hang on to things I want to be in control of- my time, finances etc. I need to let God be in control, allowing myself the freedom I long for so badly in Christ. Looking forward to this book.

  14. I’m so excited about this book!! “Free” is my word for the year, and I can’t wait to dive in and get a better understanding. So pumped!

  15. I grew up in extreme legalism and judgement. I don’t feel as free as I should because I keep hearing those messages of “you aren’t good enough”, “you don’t do enough”, etc. I think this book will help a lot of people. .Thank you for sharing it with us.

  16. I’m sure I would really benefit from and by blessed by reading “Unchained.” I feel like the Lord is wanting to do a work of healing and freedom in my life. Some areas that I have felt stuck in or in bondage to for most of my life include fears, anxiety, worry, wounds, hurts, emotional issues, comparison, jealousy, envy, insecurity, body images issues, food issues, identity issues, sins, selfishness, the opinions of others, depression, feeling spiritually stagnant etc. I have also lived with chronic pain for over 15 years and I feel like my life is always on hold and I missed out on my prime years of life. I’m trying to trust through all of this and bring glory to Him, but I am so weary and it’s hard to know how I can honor and be effective for God in the midst of all this. Some of the areas where I’m not experiencing freedom are related to everything that comes along with living in chronic pain. I certainly could use Pastor Noel’s wisdom and insight about truly living free in Christ and experiencing His presence, peace, victory and the abundant life. Thank you so much for doing this great giveaway! Also, thank you for taking the time to read this and for introducing me to Pastor Noel. I really appreciate it!

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