Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: TAG

Autumn Church Plant Updates

Hired Help

Paul & Georgie with Caleb

We are thrilled to announce the hiring of Paul McDonald to a half-time position where he will oversee ministries relating to evangelism and discipleship. Far from being a hired-gun evangelist, we’re desirous of putting Paul to work equipping the saints for the work of the ministry, creating a culture of evangelism and discipleship within the body.

Some of his work will include:

  • Training for evangelism and leading evangelistic efforts
  • Some one-on-one discipleship and mentoring
  • Small group studies
  • Preaching and teaching various series as appropriate
  • Labouring for the church in prayer
  • Providing the church with global missions vision & awareness

I’m so excited to work with Paul! In God’s providence we attended seminary together and have laboured together for a number of years at GFC Rexdale before the church plant. He is a man of unquestionable character, by God’s grace, and is, as Titus says, ‘zealous for good works.’ I can’t wait to see the impact of his ministry in our local body.

A Meeting Place

We continue to meet at Greenland Public School. We are so thankful to God for the renewal of the permit which just came through last week. God has provided for us in great ways! With this permit we have been granted the use of two rooms we were previously denied access to—and they are great! They will facilitate better ministries to children and families, so we are thankful for that.

From Mark to Peter

We have finished working our way through our first book studied together on Sunday mornings: Mark’s Gospel. From there we will launch into 1 Peter on September 18. Please pray for me as I study and plan out that series in the coming weeks.

A Full Fall

This autumn we launch our full ministry schedule for the first time. We’ll be meeting for corporate worship Sunday mornings, doing group studies and children’s ministry on Sunday nights, and our small groups (Truth Application Groups) midweek in various homes. One thing I’m really excited about is the prospect of having all of our small groups led by members of the church rather than pastoral staff. What a blessing to have the congregation ministering to each other! I’m so thankful to God for giving us so many mature men & women from the start.

A Big Sunday

This past Sunday we ran out of chairs and bulletins. The gym where we meet felt full. In reality there was a lot of room to grow, but compared to previous summer weeks, this felt like a big change. It was an anomaly in the sense that many of the visitors from this past week were only visiting for one week, but it gave us a taste of great things to come.

A Week of Prayer

Beginning programs and ministries and beginning to see growth, far from making us feel strong, makes us feel our weakness, inadequacy and dependence more than ever. As a church we’re dedicating ourselves to prayer this week as we launch into our new fall schedule. Would you please join us in prayer? Ask our God and Father to strengthen us and equip us for the work he has called us to. Ask that we might be granted strength through his Spirit to comprehend the magnitude of the love of Christ, so that as a church, we might be built up to maturity, and that we might be increasingly conformed to Jesus, made a suitable dwelling place for our Lord.

Some More Thoughts on Delight

Over the next couple of days, I’m hoping to toss out some snippets of thoughts that I’ve been reflecting on lately. I’d been hoping to develop each of them more, but time has not allowed. If any of them seem interesting to you, you can develop them on your own a little more.

Our pastor has been preaching on delight as a core value of our church these past two weeks. Last night at TAG I heard from several of our people again, just how revolutionary this has been to them, to think about delighting in God–and how important that it be a core value for us! 

Here are some of the things that stuck out to me as I’ve reflected on the sermons these past few weeks. I’ll give the first two today and then hopefully follow up with some more tomorrow.

 

Delight is Central to Conversion
Here’s how Augustine described his conversion experience:

During all those years [of rebellion], where was my free will? What was the hidden, secret place from which it was summoned in a moment, so that I might bend my neck to your easy yoke? … How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! … You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place, you who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, you who outshine all light, yet are hidden deeper than any secret in our hearts, you who surpass all honour, though not in the eyes of men who see all honour in themselves…. O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation’ (Confessions, trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin, 181; emphasis my own).

For Augustine, delight was the essence of God’s converting grace. Which means, then, that…

 

Delight Displays Grace
Augustine wrote: ‘Without exception we all long for happiness. … All agree that they want to be happy, just as, if they were asked, they would all agree that they desired joy.’ Augustine knew that the will was free–but free only insofar as it would pursue what would bring it joy. In other words, the will is bound only by this rule: it will always seek its pleasure. We all desire true happiness (which is found only in God), but our wills are unable to choose to delight in God, because that would require a change of nature; that is, a change in the object of our heart’s affections.

How can any man’s heart change? Only by God’s grace, changing his nature. Hence, ‘[s]aving grace, converting grace, in Augustine’s view, is God’s giving us a sovereign joy in God that triumphs over all other joys and therefore sways the will’ (John Piper, Legacy of Sovereign Joy, 59; emphasis original). Grace, then, is God’s active changing of our heart’s desires so that we can truly desire him above all else, freely choose him, and as we love him, find in him our true soul’s joy. Our wills are always free to choose to do those things in which we delight, but they are never free to choose what our wills will delight in. That is why we need God’s grace; and that is why delighting in God displays God’s grace. 

The heart that delights in God is not a natural heart–it is a heart that has been supernaturally transformed.

Fellowship

When our TAG (‘Truth Application Group’) finished up last week we were sharing with each other what we had learned through the group and during the time period of the group. For me, the answer had several parts, but one of the main things that I’ve been thinking about since we started meeting (and one of the things that’s been the greatest blessing to my heart!) is the topic of fellowship.

Too many people use the word and never think about what it means. ‘Fellowship’ is roughly synonymous with ‘participation’; in fact, one Greek word is translated as either ‘fellowship’ or ‘participation’ throughout the NT. To have fellowship, then, means something like ‘to participate in something along with another person who is also participating in the same thing.

Christian fellowship is even more specific, though. 1 John teaches that because we’re in Christ, we have fellowship with God (within the life of the Triune God himself). We have fellowship with one another, then, when we each participate in the life of God and share that experience with each other so that each of us can better experience the life of God (by sharing the other’s experience of the life of God).

That’s all really wordy and convoluted, so I asked my cousin and really cool graphic designer, Josh Rivers, to do a little graphic for me. It’s below.

What I want to highlight from the above picture is this: shared life experiences does not equal fellowship. Just having things in common in this life (ie. being the same age, same marital status, same life stage, etc.) is not fellowship. Fellowship is sharing in each other’s experience of the life of God. It is necessarily God-centred and God-focused.

The lesson from that is this: If we choose our Christian friends the same way the world chooses their non-Christian friends (ie. how are you like me? what earthly things do we have in common? are we the same age / gender? do you have the same interests?) we’re missing out on more than just fellowship with each other. We’re missing out on wonderful, new experiences in the life of God. What a shame!

Below is another graphic from Josh. This one simply shows how as each one grows closer to God and experiences more of his life, it increases the true fellowship that each person can have with each other.

Do you want to be a good friend to a brother or sister? Grow closer to God and you will be inviting them into the life of God, revealing God to them. This is the essence of friendship.

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