People regularly refer to “the Judaeo-Christian culture” in conversation; but many of them, when questioned, are unable to say exactly what it is.
I think it is important that we have a coherent story if we are going to defend our way of living. I thought I would outline my own ideas as a contribution towards an account we can all agree on.
Rather than give a formal account, I will present my views by way of testimony. I know we should not build doctrine from experience, but here goes!
JOHN AND JUDY POTTER — A SHORT HISTORY
Our parents: ordinary, decent people!
John Potter and Judy Solomon were raised in Methodist households located in South Australia, where they were introduced by their parents to the way that seven generations of Cornish Bible Christians had conducted an ordered life in their homes, in their business activities and in their community life following the Wesleyan Revival.
The cultural norms presented were:
- The husband went to work to fund the family operation. (Judy’s dad was a banker; mine was a printer.)
- The wife managed the family operation: purchasing goods, ordering the home, and caring for the children’s education.
- Old people were cared for by family members and mostly died at home.
- Saturdays were reserved for family outings and sport.
- The whole family attended Chapel on Sundays at 11am and 7pm and the children went to Sunday School at 2pm.
When Judy was 15 years old, her family moved to the suburb of Adelaide where I lived and began attending the chapel that I had attended since birth.
The church youth group was our main site of social interaction. Most of us met our life partners there. Around the time we were married in 1958, thirty or so other marriages were solemnised.
Sixty years later, most of these people are still alive. All of them have run successful households
and none of them have divorced.
There was only one problem with our early life as far as I was concerned. Nobody that I knew seemed to have the intimate connection with the Lord that the Bible speaks about.
Each Sunday the Holy Ghost was mentioned in the benediction, but we had no idea who such a personage could be.
In 1951, at age 17, I began a serious search for a more vital Christian experience.
I read the Bible from cover to cover, but this did not result in a close connection with the Creator.
Over the next 15 years I maintained a persistent prayer life. I am talking about proseuche, the constant state of wishing for the Lord’s presence and intervention in your life.
When Judy and I married, it was a simple matter to set up our household operation. We had eaten the same ‘show-bread’ given to us by our parents.
The only point of conflict turned out to be, who cleaned the shoes? In Judy’s childhood home, her dad cleaned the shoes. In my parent’s home, my mother did it! It was a shock to both of us when Judy put out her shoes for me to clean. We resolved the matter by agreeing to each clean our own shoes!
For the first nine years of our married life, we were blessed to live in rural towns in South Australia. I worked as an Officer of the Department of Agriculture and Judy ran the house, enjoying tennis and bridge in her spare time.
The lads around 1968.
In due time, children came along, Three boys, at two-year intervals.
Thus, began our time of ministry*! The key element of which was passing on to our children the ‘show-bread’ which we had received from our parents. The way ‘we’ do things!
[*When Paul referred to the diakonos
in I Timothy 3:8-13, he was speaking about people who operate in households, not in some meeting place on Sundays. The translation ‘deacon’ is a meaningless word; better to use the word minister
— we all know what that means.]
In 1966 I had a breakthrough. The Lord manifested himself to me in my home one evening. His
presence filled the room in which I was sitting.
I was immersed (baptised) in the Holy Spirit. The Lord was letting me know that He was in my life!
In 1969, I felt it was time to be baptised in water by immersion. That night, the Holy Spirit bubbled up within me continually as I tried to sleep.
This was the washing of regeneration (Titus 3:5). Now I knew that the Holy Spirit was not only with me externally, but also within me!! (John 14:17)
I remember walking up a city street to my office feeling totally clean inside, singing ‘Washed in the Blood of the Crucified One’.
In 1972 I was delivered of a familiar spirit, spoke in tongues for the first time and was immediately filled to bursting point by the Holy Ghost.
This led to a season of ‘renewing of the mind’ over three years (Titus 3:5 again). A time of Holy Spirit-led Bible reading, leading to an understanding of the Kingdom of God and its operation.
A Kingdom Household
Throughout these early years, I was successful in my employment and Judy and I were having success in raising our three young men to be responsible citizens and have faith in God.
Following my release in the Holy Ghost, Judy and the three boys (aged 13, 11 and 9) individually made a public commitment to serve the Lord.
Then, in late 1973, Judy was led to take herself and the three boys to a meeting where, over two nights, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost. Our home was at last Spirit-filled and had become a Judaeo-Christian Kingdom household!
Jesus was on the bridge; I was the helmsman strapped to the wheel under orders, and Judy was released to minister to the needs of the household community in her competent manner.
A key event was that Judy was led to minister to the Lord ‘at the altar of incense’; having conversations with the Lord about things that mattered to our household (enteuxis = intercession).
I was led to minister at the ‘lampstand’ — seeking revelation for direction and understanding with regard to the Lord’s purposes in our times.
Thus, we added to our joint feeding on the Methodist showbread, a ministry at the altar of incense and a ministry at the lampstand. Ministry in the household soul life was complete and comprehensive!
We had recently moved to a place called Coromandel Valley, a semi-rural community in the Adelaide hills.
Many of the families in the Valley were Methodists. We joined with them in the Methodist chapel on Sunday mornings for traditional worship.
The early 1970s was a time in the height of the Charismatic Movement in Australia. A significant number of the believers in the Valley had entered into an intimate walk with the Lord.
There was no official church meeting on Sunday evenings, so we used to meet in our home for
Tabernacle of David style worship. Up to seventy people would gather in our lounge room each Sunday evening.
The presence of God was palpable. Spontaneous healings were common and children as young as seven years old were filled with the Holy Spirit just walking around the room.
It seemed that God was happy with this set up!
Our Calling to Extended Service
Several significant things happened to us in 1975:
Firstly, the Lord instructed me to resign from the Methodist Church! I found this troubling and it took some time for me to ‘test the spirits’ and pluck up the courage necessary to carry out this instruction.
I eventually posted my resignation in the city with a trembling hand.
When I arrived home that evening, the phone rang. It was an ordained Methodist Minister from a nearby Parish. He asked me if I would preach regularly for him in his churches as he was desperately short of lay preachers!
The irony of this was that as a Church Member, I could not preach because I did not have lay credentials. Once I was a non-member, it was legitimate for me to preach!
Liz with friends in Africa
Secondly, we welcomed a new member into our family. At age 40 Judy was delivered of a ‘late lamb’, a baby girl we called Elizabeth.
Liz, as she is called these days, was a God-intervention in our lives. She has been an incredible consolation for us over the past 45 years.
Thirdly, when I was 42 and Judy was 41, we had a clear instruction to ‘enlarge our tent… (to) lengthen the cords and strengthen the stays’ of our household (Is.54:2) — with a first appointment in Africa.
As we sought the Lord for clear instructions with regard to our calling to Africa, we were directed to Deuteronomy 16:9-11 which speaks of the Pentecostal offering:
‘A freewill offering according to how the Lord had blessed us’!
We thought about this separately for three days. When we came together to discuss the offering, we found ourselves in complete agreement
The Lord had given us His Son; we needed to give Him what we had: our lives, our children and our worldly goods. We did so and found it a key to the world of God’s economics.
NB: We did not give our worldly goods to a church or some other institution. Everything remained under our care, but we administered it as the Lord’s stewards, referencing Him on its use.
When we asked Him about our house as we were heading to Africa, He said: “Sell it!” We did so and found ourselves with money in the bank, no mortgage and the funds we needed for our first missionary journey.
This is the way we funded our whole time of ministry over the next forty-two years. We ran churches in Africa and Australia but never once took up a collection.
The Deuteronomy scripture gave me the timing (7 weeks) for me to resign from my employment.
On the 6th of August 1976, Judy and I stepped out of our dependence on the world system into the care of our Heavenly Father, to serve Him in whatever way He chose to use us.
This did not mean that we neglected our sons. They had their own intimacy with the Holy Spirit to lead them, but we continued to monitor their education and general well-being until they married and entered the economy.
They have all done well.
Tim is currently a Director and Chief Engineer for the Motheo Construction Group in South Africa. He is also an Elder (overseer) in a vibrant church in Johannesburg, overseeing homegroups.
Mike and his wife Dani spent 12 years teaching in Kenya before Mike was appointed Principal of Tyndale Christian Schools (3 campuses) in Adelaide, a post he has held for the past twenty years.
Steve started out as an electronics technician and a small business man before he and his wife Ilona were led to pioneer a church with a sovereign calling to Indonesia. Presently he manages a training operation in Adelaide interspersed with times of professional bird-guiding for international tourists.
Ministry to the Wider World
Our first full-time term in Africa was from 1977-1979. I have reported on some of this elsewhere.
After that, we were led to head up a Christian Community that gathered around us spontaneously at Blackwood in South Australia from 1981 to 1987.
In late 1987, we were sent to South Africa to stand against the persuasive voices (missio/apostolos) and spend eleven years working in the field of education.
In 1998 we returned to Adelaide. Since then, amongst other things, I have occupied the Chair of the Executive Committee and acted as Director for International Projects for the Paraclete Institute.
But all of that is another story. What I need to do here is close off my account of the Judaeo-Christian culture.
The End Game
We closed off our Africa work in September 2015.
By this time, Liz, who has a Bachelor Degree in Physical Education, and her husband Dave were
operating a broiler farm at Beerburrum in Queensland..
Having lived in places with an excellent climate in Africa, I said to Judy, “I am sick of Adelaide
winters — let us move to Queensland and be close to Dave and Liz and the grandchildren.”
After an extended time of ministry in Africa, we had no money, so Tim and Dave and Liz bought a 3-bed/2-bathroom house with a small garden in a closed gate complex in Morayfield, Queensland, both as an investment and a place for us to live.
We pay them rent and are exemplary tenants. In return, Dave and Liz are outstanding landlords and bless us with their considerable care.
Dave and Liz’s children, Jonty and Jade, are brilliant young people whom we enjoy immensely.
Jonty is matriculating as I write, but he already has his own ABN and film-making business. He
walks with the Lord and was baptised two weeks ago.
Jade is a straight-A student. She is going well spiritually also.
Enjoying the good life in Queensland.
We had four children. Each of them has a married partner. The couples had thirteen children between them, five of whom are now married. All of them are going well in the Lord.
Two of the grandchildren have married and have two children each, so we have four great grand-children.
We end our days full of faith and eternally grateful for the grace that the Lord has shown to us over a lifetime of challenges and valuable learning experiences.
[Photo by Rodnae Productions