Freedom Thinking

Freedom Thinking

“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

What a powerful message in the lead up to Christmas. A fundamental core of our Christ message is the freedom that Jesus brings to us morally, socially, spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally.


Freedom Thinking

Chapter 4 of Galatians gives us the wonderful context for this powerful statement that ‘God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.’ (Galatians 4:3-7) With the major battlefield each Christian faces being in our minds, Satan wants to spoil our freedom with lies such as:

  • we are unloved rather than loved
  • we are ugly and ordinary rather than beautiful and wonderfully made
  • we have nothing to offer or contribute rather we can make a difference with our abilities and involvement
  • ‘no one cares about me’ rather than ‘we are cherished by God and part of a loving community of God’s people’?

The enemy is committed to ‘steal kill and destroy’, but the Word of God promises us freedom. Wrong thinking can place us in slavery, even after we become Christians. One of our key values in Church of the Nations is – Hebrew rather than a Greek mentality. This speaks of a biblical way of thinking (represented by ancient Hebrew or Hebraic) that brings freedom, in contrast to a worldly way of thinking (represented by ancient Greek). Here is a quick explanation of the differences between Greek and Hebraic thought.

Ancient Greek Thought

Alexander the Great conquered many of the great civilisations of the world around 323BC. He wanted to civilise or ‘Greek-ify’ the world – called Hellenisation. This way of thinking was human-centred ( not God-centred) and very different to the Ancient Hebraic thought found in the Bible (I elaborate further on) – and it still affects us today. Greek thought is about handling things in a legal way, as if you were in a court of law. As an example, my time at school was relatively functional and cold. We sang some fantastic hymns in assembly but, what I was presented with, was a version of God who was distant – if he/she or it even existed at all. Very much, ‘you are up there, and I am down here’.

Law Courts are behind the thinking of our large church buildings and cathedrals – often presenting God as someone who is distant and far off (reflected in their architecture and rituals) – giving you a sense that you can ‘taste a bit of heaven’ that awaits only when you leave this slightly ‘rubbish life’. One of worst extremes of Law Court mentality is children calling dad ‘sir’ – some generations may have experienced this in their relationship with their own fathers. Greek thought deals with philosophy, abstract thought, debating and theory. The word academic can mean ‘not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest.’

“Greek thought deals with philosophy, abstract thought, debating and theory. The word academic can mean ‘not of practical relevance; of only theoretical interest.'”

Our surrounding culture has become filled with aspects of Greek mindset present in  Post Modern thinking.

  • Existentialism – you are a sum of your experiences.
  • Pluralism – we can hold many conflicting truths at the same time ‘You tell me your truth and I’ll tell you mine.’
  • Relativism – there are no absolutes, everything is relative.
    Disconnection with our past can weaken identity. The question is, can we truly formulate British values without reference to the influence, foundation and impact of our Christian past?

Ancient Hebraic thought

Hebraic thought starts with, and revolves around, Father and family. God reveals Himself as Father – the ‘source and sustainer’ or all-round-provider of everything we could ever need. The bible starts with Genesis – God who made us, who gave us a reason why we were made, and tells us our purpose on earth. God places us in families, a primary place of connection. Why? to learn from the example and life modelled to us by parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and siblings.

When it comes to our responsibility for the world around us, for education, social care and care for the vulnerable, it should start with family. Schools and hospitals and welfare are a blessing and a support, but responsibility should not primarily lie with the state – it should come from family. Personally speaking, the understanding of God as Father with me as His son has set me free from viewing God in a ritualistic and legalistic way. The result is a life of relationship, not of duty. It has been a journey of discovery and I still have much to learn. Ancient Hebrew thought is characterised by reality, what is concrete, the experiential and engaging with life.

“You may believe God is love – but do you believe God really loves you and wants to engage with your life? Not just the people next to you?”

You may believe God is love – but do you believe God really loves you and wants to engage with your life? Not just the people next to you? This has changed my thinking. God is not simply an ‘opinion’ to be pondered about, He is a real, living, breathing, and fantastic loving Dad who wants to live life alongside us.

Dangers for the Western Church

Adopting a Greek mind-set can result in the following:

  • church can become a spectator sport
  • chairs are arranged theatre-style facing a stage where the ‘hired holy man’ entertains the crowd
  • churchgoers receive their weekly input but their lives remain largely prayer-less, biblically illiterate and lacking outreach to others

For the hebrew mind, everything is theological (relating to the study of God). Kingdom thinking makes no distinction between the sacred and the secular areas of life. All of life is spiritual, known as ‘holistic living’. God is interested and part of every part of life – our trials and joys. ‘I have set the LORD always before me’ (Ps. 16:8).

What answer can we provide to counter this weakness of the Western mind-set in church context? We can get rid of the compartmentalised Western thinking of ‘Religion is a system of ethics, a code of conduct, an ideology, or creed’ by viewing our faith as a daily journey or walk with God (Gen. 5:24; 6:9). If a person knows God, he is daily at God’s disposal and walks in close relationship with him, along the road of life.

God invites us to live a life of true freedom. He shouts,

‘I am your loving Father. I want to walk with you in life. Will you walk with me?’

Let’s get our thinking right and walk in the freedom Christ has won for us.

– Article by Neil Pattison

 

Pod Article

POD 2018

POD has kicked off the New Year with many new and exciting developments. The first being the launch of Seedlings for 2 to 4 year olds (see Anni’s article for info).

All our children are now included for the beginning of Celebration – a new approach to Children’s Ministry with an emphasis on being together as FAMILY and an opportunity for our young ones to grow in their faith through the example of their parents and church family.

Sprout (Years R to 3) and Thrive (Years 4 to 6) have started Term 2 with our new curriculum. This curriculum endeavours to teach Biblical truths in engaging and age appropriate ways. It also helps us to support families at home by providing children with weekly devotionals that relate to the lesson, along with information for parents about what we have been learning so you can carry on the conversation at home.

We hope that you will enjoy all of these new developments!

– Mel Lewis, POD Leader

 

 

“The greatest encouragement you can give your child for life has little to do with material security, but it is the confidence that GOD is GOOD and is HIS FATHER.”

For a long time now I had it on my heart to work with the little ones. Seeing how my own 3 year old son engages with the Bible stories we read at home reminded me that this age is so precious and we can’t miss the opportunity to start teaching our little ones how great God is, from early on.

Seedlings will be run alternate weeks at 10:30am for ages 2 – 4 (2 year old’s need to be with a parent). We will sing songs and listen to a Bible story, and there will be time for a lot of playing and painting. Oh, and by the way – no more biscuits and squash, our snack time is fruit and water! I am really excited about what God wants to do with our little ones and I’ll see you upstairs.

 

– Anni Garcia, Seedlings Leader

build a place for me to dwell

Build a place for me to dwell

So. We are moving to a new location in Parkwood/Langley Park. At the moment the land is pretty desolate and barren – a footprint, a shell of what it will be. But it is ours. God has given it to us.

We own the land.

He has miraculously provided the place. After years of temporary housing, we are about to embark on making home, putting down roots and cultivating the land. Over the last year I have been asking Jesus, “what do you want us to build? What’s it meant to look like?” He whispered into my heart, “build a place for my Glory to dwell.”

Looking back in the Old Testament there were places built for His Glory – temples, sanctuaries etc. But now His Glory no longer dwells in physical places, through Christ He dwells in us, in our hearts as His bride, His church. I sense God is saying that although we physically journey up the road to Parkwood/Langley Park, it’s actually a spiritual journey that we are embarking on. He is preparing our hearts to be a ‘place for His Glory to dwell.’ He’s not looking for a beautiful building with all the ‘bells and whistles’ to reflect His Glory, He is looking for hearts fully surrendered and devoted to Him; a people ready to invade a space on the earth, allowing His light to shine, His manifold wisdom to be manifest; a beacon to the lost, carrying a message of hope to the broken. The world is desperate for the truth of the gospel message. It is desperate to hear the Good News of the Gospel! Are we ready to shout it?

Tony Fitzgerald, when he visited us recently, shared his observation of our times and it resonated with me. He felt that last time, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was primarily for the building up of the Church – signs, wonders and the charismatic movement; but this time he believes it will be an outpouring on the unsaved, and it will not happen inside our church buildings but outside amongst the lost, for the lost.

Father God is calling us to be a people set apart. Ready to serve Him unreservedly. Am I willing to pray for His Holy Spirit to cause an uncomfortable prodding in my heart and spirit? Can I, like David pray,

“Search me oh God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts? See if there is any offensive way in me?” – Psalm 139.

Am I willing to be weighed and measured by Jesus? Willing to give things up for the sake of gaining Christ? (Philippians 3:8).

“How will anyone know that You look favourably upon me, on me and Your people, if You don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all the other people on the earth.”- Exodus 33:16

Call to holiness

We are your leaders’, we are not the Holy Spirit. We encourage, but only the Holy Spirit convicts. He does not condemn us, but He convicts us, prods us and lovingly challenges us to get our lives right with Him and one another.

He is the radical fire who purges and removes the dross. We as your leaders are not called to put heavy, ungodly yokes on you, but to cheer you on in your pursuit of the things of God. We invite you to join us in consecrating our hearts and setting ourselves apart afresh for God’s purposes this year. Let me leave you with this beautiful promise from His word,

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” – Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

Come Lord Jesus, give us tender, responsive hearts toward you and one another.
Amen

– Hazel Pattison