Sunday, 26 October 2008

Red Jumper!

I just found one of my old treasure maps from Dublin in the pocket of my jeans. It reminded me of another treasure hunting story; when we found the girl with the red jumper.

To be honest, we'd had a really frustrating day of treasure hunting. No-one we spoke to was interested; our treasure seemed to be very well hidden! We were all gathering together to finish up for the day when I spotted a girl with two of her friends wearing a bright red hoodie. Phil and I decided to make one last attempt at finding some treasure so we approached the girl to explain what we were doing.

As I went through the other clues on my map it turned out that one of the other girls was waiting for a friend called Stephanie and that the girl in the red jumper had an Uncle called Derek and a cousin called Daniel (Derek's son!) We realised we were on to something! The girl in the red jumper also had problems with her right knee ligaments due to a riding accident. Her knee wasn't hurting at that precise moment but she did jokingly ask whether we had bad back written down as hers was causing her some pain. At that point, Phil produced his map with bad back clearly written on it. The girl was blown away!

We got to pray for the girl that God would heal her back. Although nothing changed straight away, when we'd finished praying the girl said that she felt a bit 'wierd'. God's spirit was really tangible. I would have loved to chat to this girl more about what she believed about Jesus, but it was time for us to head back to the bus. Another excellent example of how God can break in even up to the very last minute of hunting.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Driving Under the Influence?!

I don't know if you've ever experienced prayer times in cars when God comes really powerfully. It's happened to me a few times now; once when I was on my way to speak in Tunbridge Wells; last weekend on the way to Kettering; and last night as a team of us drove up to Stamford to train and release the church there in the prophetic.

You have to be careful, especially if you're driving! But I love the fact that God is so keen to meet with His kids that He doesn't restrict His presence to 'suitable' places! As it happens, last night I was a passenger and so I could 'go with the flow'! It turned out that God had some incredible things in store for the Stamford Church. It was such a privilege to be involved in giving away some of the stuff that God has been doing in us (at the King's Arms)

Throughout the course of the evening God came in incredible ways. One guy (who we found out later had been particularly stressed over the past few weeks) spent most of the evening on the floor laughing as God gave Him joy. Many people got emotional as God spoke directly into their specific situations through the prophetic (In my opinion, there's nothing quite like meeting someone for the first time and hearing stuff from God that communicates to them that He knows and He cares!) Some people had dreams called out of them that had been hidden away for years; others got physically healed as God's Kingdom came (2 shoulders, a back and forearms - still to hear about other conditions that couldn't be tested there and then.) The evening was so much more than training and equipping in the prophetic!

Perhaps one of the most exciting things for me was when I was praying for a new believer at the end of the meeting and the word 'nurse' dropped into my head. When I asked the lady if she'd ever been a nurse, to my surprise she said that she had been up until the point that she'd had her children! I've been bringing words of knowledge for years now, but I'm wanting to get better at hearing God 'in the moment' rather than in the prayer meeting before the event or in the worship! This is one of the few times it's happened and I'm excited about it increasing and ultimately about being able to take it onto the streets!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Don't Hear What I'm Not Saying...

I just want to clarify something for those of you who read my last blog entry. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be real about how we're feeling. Emotions are God given and an incredible gift to us and it's so important that we feel free to express them.

Some people wrongly believe that in order to demonstrate their belief that God is good they have to always be strong- hold everything together - stuff down any fear or disappointment or anger they might be feeling. They believe that if they were to really express how they were feeling they would somehow not be trusting God. This is actually a tactic of the enemy to keep us all stuffed up with emotions that then create barriers between us and our Heavenly Dad.

I've felt all sorts of emotions linked to my operation and subsequent check ups; fear, guilt, abandonment, anger, disappointment, confusion. The list could go on and on. And I've cried with God a lot! If we want to be able to effectively hold onto the goodness of God it is hugely important that we allow ourselves to express the stuff we feel. To, like the Psalmists, say it like it is and then only when stuff has been expressed, to come back to the truth of who God is. That He is ALWAYS good!

Monday, 20 October 2008

God is ALWAYS Good!

This blog entry is more for my benefit than anyone elses. I've just had some blood test results that weren't what I hoped they'd be and I thought that reminding myself that God is always good would be a helpful way to respond. Maybe my journey will also be helpful for others reading too. Let me give you some background.

Two years ago in January I had a major operation to remove a large cyst from my ovary. The cyst was at risk of being cancerous and I had to sign a form that said I was ok with the surgeon giving me a full hysterectomy if he felt that was necessary during surgery! It was not a nice time to put it politely.

Anyway, I had the surgery and all was fine. Both ovaries were left in tact and after two weeks of waiting for results they came back clear of cancer - praise God! God had actually told me when I was having intial investigations at the hospital that everything was going to be fine. I hoped that meant I would be healed miraculously and so not need the operation, but it didn't. I did have to go through surgery which was very traumatic and still now God is healing me from unexpressed emotions from that time (As an aside, I love that God is so interested in bringing us thorough emotional healing if we'll let Him. He loves us too much to leave us as we are)

So since the operation I've been having check ups every few months with the consultant and they've been going well, except that in the last 6 months the levels that they're testing in my blood have been slowly increasing. At my last check up my consultant told me that he wasn't too concerned, that if anything was growing back he'd expect the numbers to be doubling rapidly. That was good to hear.

This morning I got my latest blood test back and the level is higher again - not doubled, not huge but higher. Not lower as I had been hoping for. Lower would have been good; lower would have been great. The same would have been fine. Higher makes me feel unsettled. I don't understand why the level is slowly rising - I don't know what that means and so if I'm not careful I'll start to imagine all the things that could be going wrong. The only problem with that is I know from past experience, it does no good. So what do I do?

I remind myself that God is ALWAYS good. The minute I start questioning God's goodness I'm on a slippery slope (I know that because I've been there) God can't be anything but good! I remind myself that God is in charge of my life, that He's always faithful and that He always wants the best for me because He's my perfect heavenly Father. I use thanksgiving as a way of fighting fear and allowing the peace of God that goes beyond my understanding to guard my heart and my mind. Bottom line - I choose to trust Him. (I may be sounding brave, but as I said at the beginning I'm writing all this to remind myself!)

I'll see my consultant again next week, but until then I have an opportunity to get to know my perfect Dad more intimately and to trust Him more fully. Can't be a bad thing...

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Green Coat and Boots (The Shop!)

In the afternoon (of 'Hit the Streets' in Kettering) I went out with another team. One team member had Boots (the shop) on their map. As we approached the shop I spotted a lady wearing a green coat heading towards us. She was walking with a friend who was wearing a green jumper. 2x green tops...this must be the treasure!

We approached the young women and explained what we were doing. None of our other clues made any sense to them, but when we asked if there was anything atall we could pray for, one of the girls said that we could pray for 'her whole life' if we wanted. (Not much then!) She went on to explain that she'd just been chatting to her friend about how hard her life is at the moment and about some of the different struggles she's having. That's when we'd interrupted them (or rather God interrupted!) Both girls agreed that this girl must be our treasure (I love it when that happens; when the people you speak to recognise that God has picked them out!)

We got to pray for these girls; that God would bless them and draw near to them and help them with their lives. You could really sense God's presence as we asked Him to love on His daughters. Fortunately sorting out 'whole lives' is what our God specialises in!

The Number 73!

I love seeing people treasure hunt for the first time. I particularly love their complete and utter amazement when they find the 'random' clues that God gave them. It's so much fun.

Yesterday I was involved in training 150 people in the 'art' of treasure hunting. People were so up for it and we had some incredible encounters throughout the course of the day including seeing about 5 people healed (See some of the testimonies on Simon Holley's Blog)

I took 3 friends out in the morning and we had a great time seeing God work things out to lead us to our treasure. One clue however, the number 73, was not so easy to find. We thought it might be the number of a shop but as we walked up and down the town, shop 73 was nowhere to be seen.

As we came towards the end of our time on the streets, one of our team spotted a shop with numbers in the window and on an advertising board. Among the numbers were six 73's! The elusive 73 had been found - this is where we were supposed to be! We wondered if we should speak to the shop owner, but he was busy with customers and even when we prayed that God would empty the shop more customers came.

A guy with a cane then walked past the shop and and we began to wonder if it wasn't the shopkeeper we needed to speak to, but someone outside the shop. Just as we were discussing this, the guy with the cane walked back past the shop right in front of us. God was clearly speaking so two people from the team went to speak to him and his wife.

It turned out that the couple had been to the Open Door Church in Kettering two years ago (this is the church that had organised the 'Hit the Streets' event) My friends got to pray for the guys bad back and although it wasn't healed on the spot the couple left knowing that God was interested in them. Significant treasure found after a truely thorough hunt!!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Surf's Up!

So we had 'surf's up' in the offices this morning. For the uninitiated among you this is when the Holy Spirit comes on a particular person and they then shout 'Surf's Up' to the rest of the office staff who all come running to get more of God! It's so much fun! We hadn't had it for quite a while so it was nice to put work on hold once again in order to know more of Him. This is how I think we'll get more done by accident than on purpose.

How did it all come about? Well, Simon was spending time with Jesus and God came (funny that!) As he walked past my office I happened to comment that I noticed surf was up (it's difficult not to notice when the wall dividing your offices is paper thin!) and should I call the other staff, to which he replied, 'yes.' So all 6 of us eagerly ran to an empty office where we got completely blasted by God. We were laughing and then being delivered. I got greater freedom from the fear of man, self-reliance and rejection as God met with me. It all kicked off!

One of our staff who is currently suffering with a very bad back had to be lowered to the floor as God met with her in such a powerful way leaving her leaning backwards against a desk at a very precarious angle. I think perhaps my favourite bit of the surf was when one of the desks in the room collapsed sprawling all that was on it (including a computer) across the floor. We just carried on asking for 'more Lord!' Surf time is completely unpredictable. I highly recommend it!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Seeing Double (Ctd)

Just as we were about to finish treasure hunting for the afternoon we saw another set of twins. I was really tired and so probably wouldn't have stopped if the twins hadn't been located just a few metres away from an ice cream van and if they hadn't had a child's scooter on the floor next to them.

The twins were very cute - just 4 months old and all wrapped up in their double buggy. Dad was looking after them while Mum and other son (Joshua) were getting ice cream. We stopped and spoke to Dad who was very open and readily offered conversation (a good sign!). It turns that he was also a twin! As we explained what we were doing and showed him our treasure maps he told us that his oldest son had problems with his ears and specifically his left ear. When Mum and son returned, Mum explained that Joshua's left ear regularly bleeds due to problems he was having. Joshua didn't want us to pray for him so I prayed for his Mum instead on his behalf, asking God to break in and heal Joshua's ears and stop the bleeding.

This was an incredible encounter where 4 clues came together to take us to one family right at the end of our treasure hunt. (Note to self - often treasure can be found right up to the last minute of hunting and even after you've 'officially' finished!)

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Seeing Double!

I don't think I've ever seen so many twins in one place before - or maybe I'm just better at looking now. I had twins on my treasure map and in the space of one and a half hours we must have seen about 4 sets. If God hadn't been involved it would have been completetly unbelievable. But He was, and so anything is possible right?!

We spoke to one really lovely lady who had very cute ginger haired sons - she had one either side of her holding her hands. When we explained what we were doing and went through the clues it turned out that one of her sons was called Jamie and that her husband was called James. When we asked if there was anything we could pray for her about she openly talked about the fact that she was having marriage problems. What an incredible thing to admit to two perfect strangers! She was on her way to meet her husband who was just along the road and so we didn't want to hold her up. We said we'd pray for her and we gave her a card about the church encouraging her to get in touch if she ever needed any support.

As I walked away from this lady and her difficult situation I felt really sad that we couldn't have done more. I remembered a story from the book 'The Ultimate Treasure Hunt' where one treasure hunt team actually saw a marriage restored after an encounter on the streets. Should we have gone to speak to the husband aswell seeing as he was on my map? I don't know the answer to that. What I do know is that when we left this lady we prayed with great conviction that the God of restoration, for whom nothing is impossible, would intervene in this marriage.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Elephant, Yellow and Right Ankle.

You might think that getting the clue elephant is a little bit bizarre and you'd be right! As it turned out my team was going to a massive park not far from the Vincents house that actually has a zoo in it!!! No points for guessing where we were headed!

When we got to the members entrance of the zoo (Chris has a special ticket we were able to get in free on) we were met by a guy dressed in an elephant costume! God is so funny! After we'd composed ourselves from laughing hysterically at what we'd found, we spoke to the guy but none of our clues seemed to make sense (it was a slightly bizarre experience speaking to someone you couldn't see and who could hardly see you - definitely a first) So, we decided to make our way to the elephant enclosure.

When we got to the narow path that overlooked the elephants we saw two ladies who both had bright yellow jackets on. We decided to go after one of them who was just leaving, but when we caught up with her none of the other clues seemed to make sense.

When we got back to the elephants the other lady was still there so we approached her to tell her what we were doing. As we talked through our list of clues she told us that she had a bad right ankle. She'd broken it in April and it had never fully recovered. She still gets pain and it was uncomfortable as we were speaking. We offered to pray for her which she was up for and so we asked God to come and heal her ankle. The presence of God came in such an intimate way and when we'd finished praying the lady's ankle felt comfortable.

We spent a bit more time chatting to the lady who was very obviously moved by the whole experience. She had encountered God and it had done something in her heart. We found out later that the lady's husband, who was somewhere else in the zoo, had called his wife earlier and encouraged her to come and look at the elephants. The way God orchestrates these encounters is incredible!

Monday, 6 October 2008

We Found David!

We were planning to go treasure hunting in the City centre with some of the Dublin church plant peeps but when we loaded up the 3 cars we were 2 spaces short. Anna and I offered to stay at the house.

I had been sobbing during the worship time as God gave me a glimpse of His heart for the lost and so I was keen to do some processing. Anna and I spent some extended time in God's presence and then decided that we'd head out to Pheonix Park (a park near the Vincent's house that is absolutely huge) for a walk - maybe we'd find some treasure on the way.

We took our treasure maps with us and had a great time walking and generally catching up. While in the park we saw a guy cleaning the lamposts that lined both sides of the road (they looked like the lamposts in Narnia - which we later found out Phil had as a clue on his map!) We talked about chatting to this guy and decided we would on our way back to the house. In the meantime we spoke to 3 or 4 people who matched some of our clues but no-one wanted prayer and nothing came out of these encounters.

As we made our way back to the Vincents, Anna spoke about God giving her the name David before she'd got to Dublin. She'd had it on her map everyday but hadn't found him yet. 'God, give me David.' she said as we laughed together. We contemplated going up to the lantern guy and asking him outright, 'Is your name David.' and we talked about how amazing it would be if it was. Guess what?! His name was David and we had an amazing encounter with him...

We approached him and explained what we were doing (we were gutted because we chickened out of starting with his name!) We then found out that he was the David we'd been looking for. He had a bad neck and back which we got to pray for; after prayer the pain had gone! We got to give him the gospel and explain to him that Jesus was seeking him out. He asked us how knowing Jesus had changed our lives and he talked about how maybe Jesus was what was missing from his! It was an incredible time and was the nearest I've been to seeing someone give their life to Jesus on the streets. We prayed for David a second time, asking Jesus to reveal Himself to him so that he'd know what we spoke about is real and then we walked back to the house.

Obviously Anna and I were not meant to go into the City centre with the others - David needed to be found!

Initial Reflections on Dublin

I got back from Dublin in the early hours of this morning. A team of 12 of us had gone to serve Chris and Rachel Vincent as part of a 'Let's Go' team. The purpose of the weekend? To recieve training in treasure hunting and hearing God's voice; to spend lots of time in God's presence; and to do multiple treasure hunts that would connect us with people who might be interesed in joining the church.

God took me on quite a significant personal journey throughout the weekend. I feel like He broke my heart again for the lost and showed me that finding the clues on my treasure map wasn't enough anymore. Let me explain...

We had some incredible times over the weekend of seeing 3 or 4 and sometimes even 5 different clues all coming together to lead us to the treasure we were looking for. How that happens is still mindblowing to me. If we'd arrived at the specified location 30 seconds earlier or 30 seconds later our treasure would have been nowhere to be seen. God puts the right people in the right place at the right time wearing the right clothes and with the right ailments...How He works it out is just wild!

When I first started treasure hunting (and up until quite recently) finding my clues in this remarkable way was what it was all about. The fact that God had spoken to me and I had found my treasure was enough for me - it was so exciting and so fulfilling. This weekend I've realised that simply finding my clues is not enough - the people God leads us to must have an encounter with Jesus. That's what this is all about and anything less just doesn't satisfy me anymore.

I don't say this in a heavy way - treasure hunting is still meant to be loads of fun because we're on an adventure with our Dad. But, what I've learnt over the weekend is that treasure hunting is not about me - finding the clues on my map, but all about the person I meet - how can I leave them having communicated that Jesus loves them and longs for relationship with them?

We had some amazing encounters in Dublin and some frustrating ones and we still have a lot to learn in order to most effectively love people when we meet them. I will be writing about some of the stuff that went on over the next few days. I hope that you continue to find our experiences encouraging and stirring.