Thursday, 20 November 2008

3) Treasure on Campus: God Pursues Us!

So the last lady we spoke to left knowing that God was on her case. I find it incredible that he never ceases to pursue us, even when we've turned our backs on Him.

Cat went and spoke to her because she was wearing a short blue coat. She was sat on her own in the corner of the cafe area on campus and as we started speaking to her it soon became clear that she was our treasure. We explained what we were doing and went through our clues. When I got to bad knees she seemed a little freaked out (a fairly regular response to treasure hunting!) She has a floating knee cap in one of her knees that causes her pain from time to time.

At this point I would normally offer to pray for the person for healing, but this time conversation was swiftly diverted on to other things. It turns out that this girl used to be a Christian. She'd turned her back on God because of all the tough stuff that had gone in her life - not being able to reconcile God being good and there being so much suffering in the world. She then went on to tell us that she had actually been thinking about God over the past couple of weeks and that she'd even caught herself singing a Christian song recently, quite out of the blue! God was pursuing her!

When Cat felt led to share a clue from Matt's map about a relationship breakdown with parents, especially with Dad, the girl got up to leave as it all got a bit too much. God had clearly just put His finger on another area of pain to show the girl that this really was Him and that He really did care. Before she left I got to talk to her about the fact that her Heavenly Father was pursuing her. That He loves her and that although she might have given up on Him, He will never give up on her. We gave her a card about the church, which she'd heard lots about from a girl on the same course as her who happens to go the King's Arms and we're hoping that she'll come along at some point to check us out.

The amazing thing about this encounter is that God isn't only pursuing this lady. He's pursuing all of us all the time. Try and get your head round that!

2) Treasure on Campus: The Lady in the Laundry Room!

So one of the girls on my team had the clue laundry area. She felt that we should look for treasure on the grass outside the laundry room, but when we got there no-one was around. There was however one lady actually in the room doing her washing. It turns out that this lady also had curly brown hair so we decided to venture in to see if she was our treasure.

As we explained what we were doing and went through the other clues on our maps, it was clear that God had picked this lady out. She'd had an accident a while ago that had injured her right knee; she'd also broken her collar bone in the past causing her problems in her shoulder; and recently she's been having random pains in her stomach; the doctors are at a loss as to what the problem is. She matched 3 out of 4 of the ailments on my map!

We offered to pray that God would break in and specifically deal with the pain in her stomach (she said that her knee and shoulder didn't really trouble her anymore) and she agreed. It turns out that she'd actually been raised as a Muslim, but she wasn't practising her faith. So Cat and I prayed that Jesus would break in and heal her. She couldn't tell if she'd been healed straight away as the pain hadn't been there at the time, but we asked her to contact us at the church to let us know how she gets on. Who says doing laundry has to be boring!

1) Treasure on Campus: Clues are not always what they seem!

It turns out that the University Campus is a great place to find treasure. Students are generally very open - that's certainly what we discovered this afternoon. Three treasure hunting newbies hit the streets with four of us who'd done it before. When we did feedback after an hour and a half of hunting we'd had about 12 encounters between us! I'll share some of the encounters in my next few blogs...

The whole point of a treasure hunt is to search out treasure. Sometimes the clues God gives us aren't what they seem at first; they require some creativity in deciding where to look. That was definitely the case with the tennis clue. When you get the clue tennis what do you immediately think of? Someone playing tennis? Someone carrying a tennis racket? A tennis court? Or even someone with something to do with tennis on an item of clothing? The trouble today was that there wasn't a tennis court on the campus, there was no-one around carrying a tennis racket; in fact there was nothing to be seen that had any obvious links to tennis atall. Where else could this treasure be?

The girls ended up in the library at one point and as they were walking round had the sudden realisation that in the sports section there may actually be books about tennis. Excited by this new lead, they head to the sports section where they found a plaque with the word tennis written on it. Even more incredible was that there was one lady in the same aisle; one of the librarians stacking the shelves (I love it when God makes it that clear - when there's only one person at your location!)

So the girls spoke to the librarian and found out that she'd actually been having trouble sleeping over the past couple of nights. My friends were able to pray for this lady that God would intervene and bless her sleep. What did we learn from this encounter? That treasure hunting really is about a hunt; clues are not always found in the most obvious places. In other words - if you don't find your treasure straight away, don't give up on the search. You never know what could be just round the corner!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

God Speaks!

What an amazing night! My small group went to Alpha last night to sort out the food and then to see if God had anything he wanted to say to people there. God always has stuff to say! I used to get really worked up about hearing from God for people - like there was this pressure on me to tune in and somehow get on the right wave length. Recently I've realised that hearing from God for other people is simply about sharing His heart with them. The more I'm undersanding and experiencing God's heart from me, the better I'm getting at it. There really is no pressure!

So last night we shared God's heart with people and it was just incredible. A couple of my friends prophesied over a guy about singing and song writing - at the time he didn't really respond (never hugely encouraging when you're trying to gague if you're on the right lines!) But at the end of the evening he revealed that he's actually been writing songs for the last 14 years and has never told anyone about it! Wow! God knows, and now this guy knows that God exists and is interested in His life.

There were tears with some of the truths we spoke over people as God came and restored hope and gave encouragement. Our God is passionate about bringing healing to people's hearts and that was so evident last night. Some we spoke to had been carrying pain for such a long time and last night God started them on a journey of receiving their freedom. It was such a privilege to be involved in communicating the heart of our perfect and loving heavenly Father. When God turns up people change. Here's to much more of it!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Treasure at the Betting Shop!

Another of my clues on Sunday was betting shop. The one I pictured was the one kind of opposite Costa. Towards the end of our hunt we made our way there and peered through the window to see if anyone in the shop matched anything on our maps. They didn't!

Just as we were trying to shelter from the rain and decide where to head next a lady from inside the shop came out to have a cigarette. We got chatting to her about general stuff; she was very friendly and she seemed very open. Suddenly I clicked that this lady could actually be our treasure; that God had brought her to us at just the right time. So I decided to tell her what we were doing lingering outside the betting shop.

As I went through the rest of the clues on my map, nothing made sense so I asked her if there was anything atall we could pray for her about. She went on to tell us that she'd just lost a good friend of hers to cancer. Then she told us that both her parents had also died of cancer at a young age. I felt led to ask her if she was afraid that she might also die young with cancer. She said that she was afraid; that she was in a high insurance bracket because she wasn't expected to live to a ripe old age (what a horrible thing to have to live under!)

So I told her that our church hates cancer and that we're going after it. I asked her if she'd be up for us praying for her that she wouldn't ever get cancer and that she would live for a really long time. She was up for it and so we prayed our best prayers. I am so excited that we got to put a spanner in the works of the devil in this encounter. I can't wait for the day that we see cancer bow the knee to Jesus!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Someone Sweeping!

I went Treasure Hunting on Sunday afternoon with 9 friends. We spent some time getting filled up with God and listening to Him for clues. Then we split in to 3 groups and head out. It was not good Treasure Hunting weather but we braved it anyway and we were not disappointed!

One of the girls in my team from out of town had the clue cheese counter. I didn't know of a cheese counter in the town, but then others told me of a new one that had just opened in the Harpur Centre. Anything to be indoors out of the rain! That's where we went first.

After a false alarm, tracking a lady wearing red and black checks who wasn't interested in chatting, we head back towards the cheese counter. Two of my team went to speak to the girls in the shop while I waited outside. There was another girl outside the shop who was tidying up ready for the shop to shut. I noticed that she had a broom ready to do some sweeping. Ding, Ding, Ding! One of my clues was someone sweeping. I asked the girl if she was about to use the broom and when she said she was, I went on to explain what I was doing.

She was so open to chatting (I love meeting people like that) As I went through the rest of my clues, it turned out that she had a close friend called Michael and that she had stiffness in her shoulders and slightly blocked sinuses. I had found some precious treasure. When I offered to pray she was happy for me to do so. Putting my hand on her shoulder I simply commanded her shoulders to be healed and her sinuses to be cleared. As I finished praying and asked her what was going on she was surprised to find that her shoulders felt a lot looser. Her response, 'That's really wierd!'

I asked her what she thought about God picking her out by sending me to her. She didn't really know what to say. Hopefully she'll be intrigued enough to come and check us out one Sunday!

Friday, 7 November 2008

God HATES sickness!

I'm doing some training next week on Evangelism and Youth Work with two friends of mine. I've been asked to talk about healing in one of the sections (I love speaking about healing) so I did some prep today. As I was writing about God's heart for healing and Jesus' example I felt faith stir in my heart again. I so need that.

I've been praying for the sick now on and off for about 11 years. I've seen some amazing healings as God's Kingdom has come in people's lives and I thank God for that. But what I've seen is nothing compared to what is possible with God. I've really only been scratching the surface.

More recently I've been aware of the importance of getting my theology on healing 'sorted' in order to pray with increased faith against sickness. In order to be more sure of what God's heart is everytime I pray. So that I won't lower scripture to fit my experience, but instead I will cry out to God again and again, that my experience would come into line with what the Bible teaches. So what have I learnt?

1) God loves to heal. In Exodus He calls Himself 'the Lord who is forever the healer.' Healing is at the very core of who God is. It's what He does and what he loves to do.

2) Sickness is not God's plan. There wasn't sickness in the Garden of Eden and there won't be sickness in heaven. Sickness is a sign of the enemy's kingdom not the Kingdom of God. I really believe that God wants everyone to be healed.

Some people believe that God gives us sickness to teach us stuff. That just doesn't sit right with me. Of course God can teach us stuff through sickness - He always brings good stuff out of difficult circumstances - but I can't believe that He actually gives it to us. What earthly parent (though they are evil) would do such a thing? How much less our perfect Heavenly Father! If you really believe God gives sickness to teach us stuff then you should never go to the doctor or the hospital or take medication!

3) Jesus is our role model. He is the image of the invisible God - if you want to know God's heart for healing look at Jesus. Jesus healed the sick all the time; everywhere He went. He never told anyone that they needed to remain sick a bit longer as they had more stuff to learn. Everyone who came to Him for healing He healed! I'm longing for the day when everyone I pray for is healed too. That's the standard Jesus sets and so that's what I'm going after.

What about Job? As Bill Johnson says, 'I'm not a disciple of Job, I'm a discple of Jesus Christ.' If you base your theology of healing on the story of Job then you are elevating that truth above the truth of Jesus.

What about Paul's thorn? I don't believe it was sickness. When Paul lists in detail all the hardships he's been through in his life (shipwreck, flogging, prison etc) he doesn't mention sickness once?!

My current experience is no-where near the standard of scripture. I have two choices: I either give up praying for the sick, defeated. Or I cry out to God for more of His presence and more of His power. Actually, there's only really one option!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

I Bottled It!

I went to visit my folks a few days ago and decided to go on the train so as to avoid the beloved M25! As I left my house I said a throw away comment to my housemates about whether I might have a divine encounter on the train. God must have been listening!

I sat down on my own initially and then a family joined me. A middle aged Mum and her teenager daughter and then the Mum's Dad (the girl's Grandad) They were a friendly family and we spoke a bit now and again. At one point, while reading my book, I heard the Grandad talking about his tinitus (we've seen tinitus healed at the King's Arms!); about how bad it was and had his daughter looked up some treatment for him to try yet. Remembering the comment I'd made to my housemates only minutes before I knew this was it and so I started doing battle with myself about what I should do.

Could I butt into this conversation and so admit to the family that I'd been listening in while pretending to read? How would I start the conversation? What about if they responded badly? I'd have to keep sitting with them until one of us got off the train...at least when you're on the streets you can run away if it doesn't all work out! What would they think of a random woman offering to pray? Questions like this and others went round and round in my head as I battled internally over what to do.

A friend prophesied over me not so long ago about seeing the Kingdom of God come being a lifestyle for me (in other words, not just on 'planned' treasure hunts, but in my everyday life -like maybe on the train travelling to see my parents for example?!) So I decided to stop reading my book and I made a deal with God - If the Grandad directed conversation towards me that was anything to do with his tinitus I would offer to pray. As it happens, he mentioned it once more to his daughter and then not again before they got off the train in London.

I kicked myself once they'd left. I knew that this was a missed opportunity - that the only reason I'd made the deal with God was because I wasn't brave enough to begin the conversation myself. I'd bottled it! I believe that these kind of opportunities will start to come up more and more in my everyday life as God teaches me to live a lifestyle of bringing His Kingdom. Things that I learnt this time round? That God's grace means I don't have to beat myself up when I bottle it and that God has more freedom for me from the fear of man. Here's to everyday Kingdom encounters!