Monday, 25 February 2013

Are you Sinking?

Over the past few months God has been speaking to me a lot about His grace. What I'm realising is that although I've been a Christian for around 16 years my understanding of the grace of God is minimal. God's grace is vast and not something that can be understood in our minds. Instead we need a revelation from God that goes directly into our hearts. That's what I'm praying for in this season, a fresh revelation of the indescribable riches of God's grace. Here's some of the stuff that God has been showing me already:

1) In the vast majority of letters the apostle Paul writes to the early churches he starts them off with the greeting, 'Grace and Peace to you,' and regularly ends them in the same way (why not have a look) I wonder if Paul knew that our main temptation as churches would be to fall into works and stress/ anxiety? Paul had such a revelation of the grace of God and knew how important it was for living the Christian life. His desire for the churches He Fathered - more grace and more peace! (I love that Paul puts the words in this order. Once you get a revelation of the grace of God it's inevitable that peace will follow)

2) We are totally forgiven, washed clean, holy and blameless, spotless, without blemish and free from accusation! WOW! It's all because of God's grace. God's forgiveness is immediate whether it's our first time of sinning or our 100th time and He removes our sin as far as the East is from the West! It's remembered no more! It's so easy to fall into believing the lie that we're saved by grace but stay saved by works. That when we've been a Christian for a while, and particularly if we're in leadership, we should know better when it comes to sin; that it's not ok to mess up or be weak and if we do mess up we need to somehow sort it out ourselves. Wrong! We're saved by grace and we stay saved by grace. When was the last time you stopped to receive grace from God?

3) We have a brand new identity in Christ. Our identity as beloved sons and daughters, co-heirs with Christ, Ambassadors, royalty, seated in heavenly places, free from accusation is all true because of the grace of God. We didn't do anything to earn our identity, it's all because of what Jesus achieved for us on the cross. And because we didn't do anything to earn it, we can't do anything to change it. Are you believing any lies about yourself at the moment? Speak them out to expose them and then declare the truth. God's grace means that what the Bible says about us is true, it's as simple as that!

4) There are good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do. Why would God prepare good works for us to do? Because of His grace. How can we do these good works prepared for us? His grace. How releasing is that. Ephesians 2 tells us that we aren't saved by works so that no-one can boast but then a few verses later we're told that there are works for us to do. There are works for us to do, but these works don't save us! We're saved by grace, we stay saved by grace and we do the works prepared in advance for us to do by grace. Are you getting this?

5) God's grace is incredibly powerful! Grace empowers us to be all we're called to be and to do all we're called to do. Grace covers our sin (Thank you Jesus) but it also empowers us to say no to sin. I wonder if some of the reason so many people give in to sin is because they're looking to themselves to resist temptation rather than drawing on the empowering grace of God? Grace enables us to say no to sin and yes to godliness. Grace also empowers us to do all God calls us to do. God loves to call us to stuff that is way beyond our natural capabilities, that's how it's meant to be. Why? because it means we have to call on His resources and depend on His grace, and when we succeed He is made famous. I love that. What are you saying yes to that is way beyond your natural capabilities?

There's a great line in a song I love to sing that goes like this, 'If grace is an ocean we're all sinking.' My contention is that many of us are actually only standing in a puddle when it comes to accessing God's grace because of our limited revelation. God's grace is so vast we're meant to sink in it. Are you sinking?

Friday, 18 January 2013

How God likes to get our attention #2

My last blog post looked at the different ways God likes to get our attention when He wants us to go and speak to people when we're out and about. This post is about how He gets our attention by bringing people to us. I've tuned into the fact that God loves to do this over the last little while and it really is a lot of fun. He's got such a great sense of humour! Here are some of the ways God sometimes brings people to us.

1) Someone starts to speak to you 'out of the blue' - If someone starts a conversation with you for no apparent reason be aware that God might be setting you up for an encounter. Engage in the conversation while at the same time asking God if there's anything He'd like to say to the person that will encourage them or open them up to Him.

This once happened to me in Costa. The lady on the next table to me said hello as she was getting up to leave because she recognised me from church. She'd only been along once and had been a Jehovah's Witness for many years. She was with her daughter and seemed very open to chat. Throughout the course of the conversation I was able to share a word of knowledge with the daughter and her mum and had the opportunity to pray for the daughter for some breakthrough in her life. The following Sunday at church the same lady came up to me and told me that she'd given her life to Jesus that week! She has an incredible story of life change and freedom which I'll try and get her to write up so I can post it here sometime. All of this came out of her initiating conversation with me!

2) Someone starts to tell you about their sickness or a particular pain in their body - A friend of mine was on a tube once travelling to a conference, when a guy she'd never met came and sat next to her and started complaining very loudly about the arthritic pain in his knees. My friend knew that this was a set up, but she was on a tube! Surely she couldn't offer to pray for someone on a tube! I guess God really wanted her to pray, because the knee guy kept complaining more and more loudly as the journey progressed. My friend finally plucked up enough courage to offer to pray (I have huge amounts of respect for her!) If someone around you starts to complain about a sickness or pain in their body, the likelihood is that you are being set up by God. Ask Him for courage to offer to pray and then see what the Father will do

3) 'Backed into a corner' encounters - Sometimes God likes to make it so clear that He's about to do something, it's literally like He backs us into a corner. We then have little choice but to offer to pray. These are my very favourite encounters. God is so funny sometimes!

A friend of mine, Caroline, was at the gym cooling down with friends after a work out. She'd previously prayed for a lady there and her ankle had been completely healed. Mid cool down this lady, who'd been healed before, came up to Caroline (she'd been working out in a different part of the gym) and said to her. 'You know that thing you did with my ankle...can you do the same thing with my knee?' Caroline was pretty stumped. She was cooling down with friends who didn't have any concept of God healing and wondered if the lady meant for her to pray straight away. 'Caroline...that thing you did with my ankle, can you do it with my knee, it's in quite a bit of pain. Go ahead and put your hand on it.' Caroline had little choice but to pray! After a short prayer, the lady tested her knee and all the pain was gone so she went back to her work out. Caroline then turned round to her now wide-eyed friends with a bit of explaining to do. A 'backed into a corner' encounter. Ever had one of those?

I'm sure there are other ways that God can bring people to us. These are just a few that I've experienced personally. What have I learned about God in the process? He's much more eager than I am for people to encounter Him. If we increasingly learn to open our eyes to what He's doing we'll see that He's setting us up for supernatural breakthrough all over the place. Happy encountering!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

How God likes to get our attention #1

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. This is going to be a two parter (hope the suspense isn't too unbearable for you!) When I started this blog in 2008 we were at the beginning of a journey as a church of taking the Kingdom of God onto the streets. We were having a go at something called treasure hunting which was such a helpful tool for me as an introvert. Speaking to a stranger on the streets was way out of my comfort zone so having clues to direct me to specific individuals really helped.

What's been interesting for me as I've gone on this journey is that now when I'm looking to take the Kingdom of God onto the streets I'd actually rather not do treasure hunting. Taking clues on a map now feels much more unnatural to me than just going out to see what God opens up in the moment (this should be an encouragement to other introverts out there. I can't believe I'm writing this but God has done an incredible work in my heart!) What I've learnt over the years is that God is always wanting His Kingdom to advance and I'm learning as His daughter that there are different ways He likes to get my attention when He wants to do something.

I like to split the way God likes to get our attention into two main categories: 1) Recognising when God wants us to approach people 2) Recognising when God brings people to us (this will be covered in Part 2.) General principles I bear in mind when doing stuff on the streets are that the person/people aren't in a hurry and that they smile/respond to me when I say hi to them (that they're likely to be friendly) Other than these general principles, how else does God like to get our attention when He wants us to approach someone?

1) Feeling compassion for a person - When you feel God's compassion for someone ask God how He wants to bless them, what He wants to say to them. Jesus was regularly moved with compassion. God loves to move us in the same way
2) Seeing someone more than once during your time out and about - If you see someone in one part of town and then see the same person sometime later somewhere else in town take note! It could be that God is putting this person in your path because He wants to bless them.
3) Seeing someone who reminds you of someone else - If you see someone who reminds you of someone else don't just think 'that person reminds me of so and so' It could be that God wants to speak to this person through what you know of the person they remind you of!
4) Getting a 'random' pain in your body as you walk past a particular person - That's called a word of knowledge :) If you get a pain in your body ask the person God points out to you how their leg, arm, foot or whatever is. If it's fine you haven't lost anything. If it hurts you have an amazing opportunity to offer to pray.

Recognise any of these? These are just some of the ways I'm learning that God likes to get my attention when He wants me to approach people to chat to them. I'm not obedient all of the time but I'm trying to respond as best I can. What's most fun for me are the times God brings people to me to speak to. More of that in Part 2.

Monday, 3 December 2012

New Levels

I had a text last week from one of my friends saying that during a cover lesson she was taking on Philosophy in a local middle school 15 of the kids had got healed and about 17 responded to give their lives to Jesus for the first time! I thought she was joking, 'that kind of stuff doesn't happen in schools in the UK!' But she wasn't!

When I got home after hearing the full story from her (it is an outstanding story!) I was really troubled by the level of unbelief that was clearly in my heart. As I was praying and asking God to forgive me He gently reminded me, 'you used to believe this stuff was possible' I used to be a teacher myself and on many occasions as I drove up the drive of the school I taught at I dreamed about God invading my workplace believing that He could transform every child and colleague in an instant. 

I struggled to go to sleep immediately that night and chose instead to read a chapter of my new God's Generals book and to read through story after story recorded in this very blog of breakthroughs I've experienced in God. I needed something to stir again in my spirit. I realised that I had become satisfied with lack over the last little while. That even though I have the privilege of leading a supernatural training school I had taken my foot off the gas when it came to intentionally pressing in for more breakthrough. I was thoroughly provoked and thanks to God's grace stirred to make a change.

I was able to repent at TSM the following day. First to my team and then to the students. I repented for not doing an amazing job at modelling pressing in for breakthrough, for being satisfied with lack and in certain areas being lazy with the gifts God has given me. I asked them to keep me accountable this Sunday to start my preach with specific words of knowledge. They did; I went for it; God spoke!

I brought a word of knowledge about someone who'd recently had a dream with a wolf in. A lady responded who'd had a dream about a wolf in the last week and God really blessed her as I shared prophetically what I felt God wanted to say. I also felt God give me a street address (something God has said I will get prophetically - I'm learning that in order to get them you have to ask!) Eagle Gardens. It turned out that a lady in the congregation had been visiting someone in Eagle Gardens that afternoon. God really met with her as I prophesied about an increase coming to her in the prophetic. God is so kind!

At the end of my preach a guy came up to me and asked 'what do I do to get rid of my sins?' This has never happened before, I really loved it. I wonder if it was a little gift from my Dad because of my decision to be intentional again with the gifts He's given me, to be obedient to His promptings. He loves it when His kids are obedient. How are you doing at being intentional? 

Monday, 19 November 2012

TSM Blog

Some of my amazing TSM team have recently set up a TSM blog. The idea behind it? To keep you up to date with all the amazing things God is doing in and through our current students and to give you some insight into some of the lessons we've learnt along the way and are still learning.

For those of you who haven't heard of TSM, it stands for Training for Supernatural Ministry and is a training school based out of the King's Arms Church, Bedford. I have the privilege of leading the school with an outstanding team and we are currently in our fourth year with 42 students. The vision of the school is to train and equip believers to live what we believe is the normal Christian life - seeing the Kingdom of God break out wherever we go. We are on a journey together of understanding who God is as our Father, who we are as His children and what it is we can expect to see happen when God's Kingdom breaks in.

The plan for the TSM blog is to have a new post every Thursday and for the focus of the posts to rotate over the course of a month. One week will be a post about TSM outreach - what we're seeing God do out on the streets as we look to walk through fear with opportunities He opens up to us. One week will be from a past/current student telling you of their experiences of the course and how their life has been impacted. One week will be from a guest blogger - either a member of the TSM team, leaders in our church - sharing their thoughts on anything they feel God speaking to them about at that time (I get to be the guest blogger in December!) And one week will be based on the stuff that's been going on during our TSM sessions, what God's been saying/doing, to let you in on something of our week by week journey.

The TSM blog will be well worth subscribing to. Check it out here and be part of the TSM adventure.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Tackling Loneliness

I've learnt over the years that when the same thing comes up in conversation regularly in a short space of time God is often speaking. I've had numerous conversations over the past couple of weeks with people who've talked about feeling lonely. Married people, single people, older and younger; It's come up time and time again.

Personally I've had to battle recently with feelings of incredible loneliness. Feeling unprotected, isolated, misunderstood and basically on my own. When I take a step back and assess my situation all of these feelings are rooted in stinking lies! I have the most amazing friends who love me unconditionally and champion me, I have an amazing family and I have incredible leaders in the church covering me. More than all of that I have my perfect heavenly Father who never leaves me or forsakes me. And yet, the feelings are there and feel very real. What's going on?

I'm still processing and getting to the bottom of things but here are a few of my immediate thoughts:
1) I think what I've been feeling over the last few weeks is at least on one level prophetic. I think God is revealing that there are actually many in the church who are feeling lonely at the moment - not to mention the many who aren't yet in the relationship with God they've been created for. There are many in this nation who are living in a state of constant loneliness

2) I think that there is a fresh invitation for us in this season to press into relationship with God - relationship being the crucial word here. It's so easy for those of us who've been Christians for a while to do life simply going through the motions rather than really connecting. Ask yourself this question - do I actually have a relationship with God? I feel like I'm learning afresh what a relationship with Him actually looks like.

My top tip for this at the moment - Be really honest with God in your times with Him about how you're doing - out loud! He already knows anyway! I've realised that if I'm not honest with Him when I'm with Him - particularly about the stuff I'm finding hard - I won't be able to experience Him really loving me in that place. When I experience Him loving me in my place of weakness and in my struggles, I receive His comfort and relationship is deepened.

3) I feel like there's a fresh focus in this season on our hearts getting connected with His. Do you know that God is so protective of your heart? Do you trust Him with your heart? I'm increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of connection I experience in my heart when it comes to the things of God. I want to be fully connected to Him. To know the love He has for me in a deeper way and to increasingly connect with His heart for those around me. It's likely to be more painful at times, but I'd much rather that than feel dead on the inside. How do we get more connected? Two things I'm trying at the moment - pray in tongues often (it seems to stir stuff up on the inside) Pray one line prayers asking God to connect your heart to His whenever you think about it.

The song 'Closer' by Steffany Frizzell-Gretzinger is really helping me in this season:
Pull me a little closer
Take me a little deeper
I wanna know your heart, I wanna know your heart
Your love is so much sweeter
Than anything I've tasted
I wanna know your heart, I wanna know your heart.

The truth, if you're a Christian, is that loneliness is a lie because we're never alone. Why don't you join me in a journey of rediscovering what it looks like to really connect with the one we've been made to be in intimate, life giving relationship with. Happy reconnecting!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Breakthrough at Newday!

Newday is a New Frontiers youth event where thousands of teenagers gather to worship Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him.  This year I had the privilege of leading seminars that equipped the young people to be used by God to see His Kingdom break out on the streets of Norfolk.  Below is a remarkable story from one of the teams!
'Last week at Newday I took a team of teenagers out treasure hunting in Lowestoft. As we were praying on the coach on the way there God gave me a picture of a high street with a tunnel of fire down it. I thought that meant God was gonna really pour out His spirit in Lowestoft. When we arrived our host, Tim, said he’d had a dream that night. In this dream the front page of a newspaper was titled “God Heals in Lowestoft”. Before we left I prayed that we wouldn’t have to go up to anyone that day but instead people would come to us.
So off we went down the street to the centre of town. When we got there I noticed the high street was exactly the same as the one God had shown in the picture on the bus! A few of us were stood in the middle of the street looking at our treasure maps when two teenagers (a boy and a girl) crossed over to us from the other side and asked us if we were lost (apparently we looked confused). We took this as an opportunity to explain treasure hunting and tell them of the miracles that had happened earlier on in the week. They were completely blown away and said that they kept getting tingles over their bodies as we spoke. We got to share with them the gospel message and both of them were lead to the Lord and filled with the Holy Spirit!! At this point another 2 teenagers (boy and girl) entered the circle and asked what was happening, to which the first teenage boy replied “tell them the miracles, tell them the miracles!” so we got to share healing stories again and in response both wanted to invite Jesus into their lives and received prayer for the Holy Spirit!!!!
THEN another boy entered the circle asking again what was going on! We had another opportunity to share healing stories and he told us that he hadn’t been able to lift his right arm above 90 degrees for over year and that he’d had MRI scans but they didn’t know why his shoulder was crunching. We asked if we could pray for him to which he responded “yes”! (with the other teenagers still watching). We simply commanded the illness to go in Jesus' name and instantly he lifted his arm the full 180 degrees with NO pain and NO crunching!!!!! He aswell gave his life to Jesus and got filled with the Holy Spirit!! He and the other teenagers all said they felt like they were on a trip... haha God is GOOD!
At this point there was a crowd of about 20 around us and some of the teenagers asked us to pray for their friend, standing amongst them, who had “snapped” his ligaments, couldn’t do sport and was in a lot of pain. We commanded the illness to go in Jesus' name and instantly ALL THE PAIN WAS GONE he started jumping up and down in the street!!!!
Another guy saw this and asked us to pray for his headache. Again we commanded it to go to which he said “No way!” in unbelief!! His headache had instantly left and he gave his life to Jesus aswell and got filled with the Holy Spirit!!! As we were praying for him I felt very strongly a spirit of death over him and command it to leave. Later I found out that He’s going into the army in a few weeks! Praise Jesus for incredible timing!!
6 saved!!! 3 healed!! All praise and glory to our amazing God who loves us sooooo much!!!!!'

(Feeling at all provoked?)