Faith – Hope – Love

Faith – Hope – Love

Emma Wilson | 28 June 2020 | Sunday Celebration Testimony

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” – 2 Cor. 3:17

During this time in lockdown, I came across a song called “Be kind to yourself” by Andrew Peterson. I would really recommend listening to it if you struggle to cut yourself some slack every once in a while.
A little while ago, we heard a lot about kindness and the need to be kind to others, because we often have no idea what they are going through, what their story is. In this life we can often feel heavy and pressured, so let’s be on one another’s side, show each other kindness.
But I want to take that a step further and encourage each of us to show that kindness to ourselves, too. Often, we are our own worst critics, the least loving voice in our own minds.

But, before I go further in this train of thought, let me paint you a different picture of my mind and experience, particularly over the last few months.

As lockdown began, I felt quite shaken in many ways. A lot of uncertainties and a lack of point of reference quickly led me down a spiral of feeling pressured, incapable of balancing different things without a feeling of failing or coming short in one area or another – or all at the same time. As well as that, I felt this weight of expectation for this time of lockdown to be such a God-given gift of time for Him to speak, to reset priorities, to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to do a new work. It felt like all around me, there were people who now had this extra time on their hands to fix their house, their garden, resurrect new passions, invest in godly disciplines, and more. Having a 2-year old and being 6 months pregnant, I didn’t feel like I found myself there at all. And that was eating me from the inside. This comparison and feeling of not doing enough to see God do something in this time.

On a different page, I was being confronted with parts of my heart and mind that were not very pretty at all – parts that pointed fingers, parts that fear, hurts and insecurities, parts that were driven by performance and comparison, parts that felt so overwhelmed and anxious. Having less time to be distracted by or busy with other things left space for lies to sow seeds and my emotions to water them. In my head I was desperate to put things into place to see God do something, to do the “right things” to become closer to Jesus and more like Him in this time. There was this striving to stand pleasing before God in how well I spent my time or how much I did to pursue Him. But in that, there was no space for grace. No space for kindness towards myself. No space for love for myself.

A couple of weeks in, in various circles, we looked at the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” I knew that was what my heart was longing for, but didn’t know how to get there (once again…). Each day, I woke up saying, “Holy Spirit, I can’t do this myself. I want more of You. I know You have more for me and for my life than this. Fill me. Help me.”

And He did. Bit by bit, I could see how these heavy weights were taken out of my backpack, as it were, and replaced with freedom:

  • Freedom to do what I can and not push myself silly; to give myself grace and time to rest.
  • Freedom in knowing that God will complete the work He has started in me – Phil. 1:6. It is His desire and His doing and He won’t let me miss out when my HEART is postured towards Him.
  • Freedom that this season is not a reflection of me as a whole person nor will it last forever.
  • Freedom in knowing that God is not finished; and He is not finished with me.

Freedom on the other side of FAITH, not works.

From different platforms, the Holy Spirit highlighted all the ways He brings freedom. He showed me the Father’s heart that cares for me, that desires to carry my burdens, that abounds in grace and kindness and LOVE. Because of what Jesus has done on the cross, I don’t have to earn my standing before Him each day; I don’t have to prove myself to anyone, including God actually. He sees my heart; He made it and knows what beats within. In Jesus, there is rest and freedom to learn from Him each day, to walk each day by His side, in His power, in His finished work.

So, in conclusion I want to encourage you:
When we look around us, it is easy to feel burdened by how we perceive others’ lives to be and how far our own is removed from that.
When we look within ourselves, we can feel the need to sort things out ourselves and make a plan to ease the feeling of guilt or fear or failing by doing “the right things”.
But when we look to God, we inherit a freedom on the other side of FAITH – faith in the work that Jesus has completed for us; faith in the Father who fully sees, fully knows and fully loves us; faith in the Spirit who searches the heart of man and desires to draw it closer to a gracious God.

My prayer for you is that you find this freedom that truly does set free from all heavy things and that brings life to the full instead.

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Words of life | For who is God, but the Lord?

Words of life | For who is God, but the Lord?

2 Samuel 22:32-33 (ESV)

“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? This God is my strong refuge and has made my way blameless.”


I don’t know about you, but I feel like this time of lockdown has been quite a revealer of my limitations, both in terms of how easily I am restricted by circumstances and external (lack of) freedom as well as a personal inability to be in control. It has highlighted my utter need for dependence on Christ. It has magnified an understanding that, outside of God, nothing can be 100% certain.

This verse brings me great comfort to those thoughts, because “Who is God, but the Lord?” and “Who is a rock, except our God?” You see, these limitations bring a freedom from needing to be in control of everything around us or needing to be ‘the strong one’; there is only one God and He is the Lord. He is the One who is our strength, our refuge, our rock, our salvation. Our need of Him is by His design and His desire; a need which brings freedom, grace and empowerment. When everything else seems out of control – sometimes including our thoughts and inner emotions – we can trust that God is still the Lord and He is still the rock.

Prayer outline:

Father, I thank You for Your grace and patience. I thank You for Your desire to be all that I need. You alone are God, the Lord, and I find security in that. I choose today to surrender afresh into Your capable hands and look to You as the One who is in control. I place You on Your eternal throne in my own life and let go of those expectations of myself (or others) to be what only You can be. Jesus, be magnified and glorified, lifted high as the steadfast rock and our salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Find the whole Words of Life series here

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


Entering His Courts with Praise – My Journey

Entering His Courts with Praise – My Journey

I just love it when any event involves a group of women getting together. Put Jesus at the centre of it and it makes the perfect combination. When Hazel approached me to be part of the core team of ‘Enter His Courts’ ladies day, I was uncertain. I had been feeling really disconnected from God, an apathy and lacking the passion to connect with Him. I doubted if I was in the right place to be involved.

At the first meeting, we prayed about the theme and for the ladies we wanted to invite. The theme touched my heart and I could hear Him gently whispering to me to enter His courts. “Come my precious daughter, come and be with Me”. I realised He wasn’t disconnected from me but there were barriers of pain and fear that were stopping Me from coming to Him.

Hazel asked us to think about what we wanted to contribute. Something had been stirring in me since I heard a testimony about gifting. God whispered “Dance with Me”. This was a challenge as my dancing had been about constant comparison, never feeling good enough, criticism, and from a very young age horrendous stage fright that would have me shake uncontrollably and then despise myself afterwards.

I had a relatively short but successful career as a dance teacher. I loved giving confidence to children where I lacked so much. However personally and emotionally I was a mess. I never completed my training and when I got married, I stopped and I felt relieved. For money reasons five years ago I went back to it. I completed a very gruelling year of training to get back in shape in order to get my teaching exams.  This was following three miscarriages and a traumatic pregnancy. I stepped back into an environment where I hadn’t healed and looking back it wasn’t God’s will. It ended by becoming bed-bound and relying on everybody for help. I felt God had permanently shut the door on dancing.


Slowly God filled the loss with joy. I realised that my identity is not in my dancing. When it was taken away I found a new identity, one that is found in Christ alone. In this time I have had several words about my dancing. Even at Jump in just the week before it was mentioned again. Even at that point I didn’t see it as I would literally be dancing again.

Slowly God filled the loss with joy. I realised that my identity is not in my dancing.

Hazel suggested I dance in the Spirit if I felt God ask me too. The thought of doing something unprepared and spontaneous made me feel sick. She reminded me that there was no pressure, I hadn’t committed to anything and I wasn’t letting anybody down. I knew that if God wanted me to do it then He would have to give me the courage and strength to move. In my own strength I wouldn’t have the guts to stand up and do it.

During worship my heart was racing the whole time. I felt like I was standing on the edge of a mountain and knowing that He wanted me to take a leap. I was absolutely terrified. The first couple of steps I could barely breathe. Once I did I realised it wasn’t fear… it was adrenaline. I was worshipping Him with everything I had, marching into battle for Him, following Him wherever He asked me to go. It was all for Him!


Afterwards I just felt how proud of me He was. No critism, no comparison, no regret, Just joy. That was the ultimate blessing. So when people started approaching me I could not believe the impact it had had on them. He took my sacrifice, my willingness to obey Him and it didn’t just bless me. Ladies came up to me saying it shifted something in the Spirit, it changed how they were feeling, it made them worship Him more, it encouraged them to lay down their fears. He gave me a gift to give to others.

For the day God gave me a picture of a beautiful doorway and behind this doorway was His courts. The doorway had been barricaded up to the top. You couldn’t climb over it but He was inviting us to enter and be with Him. To enter we needed to smash through them. Smash through insecurities, comparisons, deep fears, lies, the things that stop us in life, stop us from living our God-given destiny.

I stepped forward and I smashed mine to pieces and throughout the day I saw one lady after another smash through their barricades whether it be by coming forward to wash their hands, standing up and receiving prayer or talking to somebody that they’ve not talked to before. Victory was had by so many beautiful ladies and each one standing and glorifying His name! A day I shall never forget.

– An article by Deb Jensen