Thursday, June 9, 2011


Greg Haswell, pastor of  Northlands Church in Atlanta, Georgia, shares a powerful truth to adoptive and foster parents as we partner with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. You will hear more from Greg at HOPE AT HOME 2011, September 23-24 in Atlanta, Ga. Register now!


I heard a story of a zoo that sought to free one of the eagles that had been brought to them injured some years earlier. When released from its cage, the bird merely sat huddled up on the wind-swept mountainside without unfurling her wings to the breeze  plucking at her feathers.  Months of cage dwelling had created a cage in her mind as strong as the bars of iron that had imprisoned her.  Despite the call of her nature, the desire of the keepers and her innate ability to fly away, she remained a captive bird till her death.   The cage had taken root in her mind. Similarly it seems that so much of human behavior is determined by mental boundaries rather than actual ability. There are examples of ‘mind manacles’ all around us; the gifted musician too shy to play in public, the skillful writer inactive and persuaded that no one will read their book, the innovative church member while unwilling to step forward is desperate for someone to recognize their as yet undisplayed potential, the orphan convinced that they are unloved and unlovable, the child with scolding and contempt still ringing in their ears drowning out encouragement and praise. People from all walks of life are held prisoner to lies that bind. Even when peoples circumstances change, their inner voices keep them constrained in old realities. 


The answer to this malady is to change the way we think. This is not just a choice to think differently, rather it is a decision to believe what God says is true. His truth, fully embraced, will deliver us from these bondages. This is because the things that we believe have great power to affect our lives. Here is a secret, we choose what we believe. We know we have an enemy who would love the right to define us. His desire is to steal, kill, damage and destroy our lives, and his words offered to us as “truth” will only diminish us. Jesus’ truth in turn, delivers us from fears, establishes us in God’s love, and brings lasting freedom. We choose whose voice we answer to. People who embrace Jesus’ words live in truth, peace, and blessing. 


Understanding this motivates us to be careful to hear, believe and declare God’s truth over our lives. In fact, for broken and bound people, this should be a top priority. The biblical teaching we expose ourselves and our families to is of great importance  Jesus calls us all to repentance, which in the original language, literally means that we “take a new mind” on the subject or that we “rethink it”. This kind of repentance means that whenever a thought, a feeling, or a perception is not in line with God’s nature or truth, we must resist it. We need to declare the lie to be a lie and embrace the freedom of God’s   truth. Often, this heightened focus is needed to pinpoint the lies that surreptitiously form the bars of our mental cages. We must seek out Truth, repenting (re-thinking) and conforming our minds to His words. 


Next, we must learn to deliberately declare that truth about ourselves and others. This will probably need constant repetition for it to sink in. Amazing fruit is produced when people in bondage start to declare and believe clear Biblical truths like; “I am a much loved child of my heavenly Father!” or “God dreams great dreams for me!” or “I have a valuable and unique contribution to make!” What freedom there is when orphans understand that God loved them that much, that He stirred someone’s heart to the extent that they sacrificed a great deal to secure a better future for them. So much changes when they realize that God’s dream for them is to know family life and love, and that He has planned an extraordinary future for them with a built in cheering section.


The desire to be loved, completely and relentlessly, is a deep need of the human heart. We all earnestly seek love, our eyes restlessly searching for any hint of it in people around us. Our hope in God’s love is no different. Can it be true that we are invited to experience His love, with its depth, height, and width beyond comprehension? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. His love never fails; it is unending and is available to all who ask. However, in ministry I have met many Christians whose “mind manacles’ keep them from experiencing His great love even though He urges us to cry out with intimacy “Daddy, Father!” Similarly, I have seen orphans surrounded by love and care, continue to feel unloved because they remain in mental bondage. Many adopted children remain broken and unwanted in their own thinking for years.


It’s time for us to decide who we will allow to define us. We will all either be defined by the enemy, our experiences, our past, our feelings and the perceptions of others, or by what Jesus says to us. Surely the One who created us and then redeemed us by paying for all our sin, shame, brokenness and poverty, has the greatest right to define us. The decision to agree and co-operate with Him in the destruction of the manacles of our minds is ours to make. There is a giant of a God in us who dreams great dreams for us, and it’s our job to believe in His words above all others. I hope that when its your turn to spread your wings, the cages that might have been in your mind, no longer exist.

Romans 12: 1
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed (transfigured, metamorphasized) by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

How have you been able to help your child break free of the mind manacles of the orphan spirit? Share your victories with us!

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