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