Friday, 27 February 2009

Reflections on Bethel #1 - A week on!

I've been back from Bethel for almost a week now. My life really has changed from soaking up the atmosphere there. Three people in the space of a few hours yesterday said that I actually look physically different! I feel so encouraged by that. It just confirms for me what I feel on the inside - changed by God.

How do I feel different? It's difficult to put into words, but in a nutshell I feel so much more in love with God as my Papa, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. I feel like my perspective of God has completely changed and that I know His love in a deeper place than I knew it before I went. I went for a walk along the river with Jesus this morning and I felt that He was playing hide and seek with me! I feel so much more intimate with Him now - He has answered the longing of my heart and I know there is still so much more!

I wanted to take some time to write about some of the things I feel like I picked up from Bethel and have brought back with me to Bedford. I'm sure there is more God did that I'm not even aware of yet, but these things will do for starters:

1) Worship is key - God spoke to me during a worship session about my relationship with Him being all about love. Him loving me, me loving Him and then me loving other people. Love is the fuel that spreads the fire of God. Love is the fuel that attracts God's presence. It's all about love and worship is all about love. Worship is the main place where we get to express our love to God. It can't be an add on to our lives because that's what Christians do. It's got to be time where we fully engage with the one who is totally worthy of everything - the one who is head over heels in love with us and who we're head over heels in love with. And it can't be a quick fix. We must learn to linger for longer. I used to get really distracted when I worshipped. I'm expecting it to be different now!

2) Expect God's Kindness - I talked about this in my last post, but it's been such a profound revelation for me that I want to talk about it again here. Before I went to Bethel I thought I believed that God was good. I didn't! Something has shifted in my thinking and deep in my gut that convinces me that God is ridiculously good; that He's incredibly kind and that because of that His favour rests on me. Even this evening He's been so kind to me. I've borrowed a projector for a youth day away we're running tomorrow, but for some reason it came without a power lead. God gave me the idea of heading to the church offices to find the right kind of lead, which I did and the lead was duly found! He's always working for my good!

During the 3 worship sessions I attended while at Bethel we didn't once sing a classic 'up-beat celebratory jumpy song'. Since I've been back I've reflected on that. We generally always sing songs like that at the beginning of our worship at church - why didn't they, and yet the presence of God was so tangible and the worship so intimate. My theory (rightly or wrongly) is this; people at Bethel know that God is good and they live in that reality. They don't have to try and stir this belief up in themselves by singing celebratory songs at the beginning of a worship set because it's just part of who they are. For some reason this truth hasn't got hold of us so deeply so we have to remind ourselves of God's goodness through celebration at the beginning of our worship times. Don't hear what I'm not saying; I think it's important that we celebrate God - I also think that we need a much greater revelation of how lavish His kindness is (It's really lavish!!)

Monday, 23 February 2009

God is so kind!

I'm now back in my wonderful home of Bedford having survived the 30 seater Turboprop and the 9 hours long haul from San Fransisco to Heathrow. One thing I noticed when I was in Redding and around people at Bethel was their constant expectation that God would be kind to them. That has certainly been my experience today. I'm going to keep it my expectation too from now on.

When I arrived at Redding airport the flight I was supposed to be getting had been cancelled because of bad weather. Amazingly, the flight that was due to depart before mine had been delayed for 3 hours so it still hadn't left the airport. I was able to get on that flight and as I was checking in and getting my tickets changed, the lady behind the desk upgraded me to Economy Plus on the long haul flight for no apparent reason (Economy Plus gives you about 5 inches extra leg room which when you're my height is a real blessing)

The Turboprop from Redding to San Fransisco was pretty bumpy, but God kindly sat me next to a very friendly Canadian man who talked to me throughout most of the journey to distract me. At one point he asked me if I was royalty because I had a kind of Queen look about me! (We laughed and joked about this, but deep down I knew that God was demonstrating His kindness to me again; I am actually royalty and in my Sozo session one of the ladies prophesied over me about being a Queen!)

On the long haul, the guy who I was supposed to be sitting next to was upgraded to first class so I got two seats to myself. This meant I was able to stretch out during the sleeping part of the trip to get some good rest before heading back to work tomorrow. I'm beginning to realise that the favour of God rests upon me because I'm His Daughter and that that means I should expect His kindness all the time.

Steve and Philippa Wilson met me at the airport and when we got back to my house I prayed for them that God would give them everything that I got. The presense of God was so thick. It felt so easy. God really has done a deep work in me and changed me over the past week. More evidence of His amazing kindness to me that never fails.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Adventure #4 - Sozo!

So Joy and I had our Sozo sessions last night. For those of you who don't know, Sozo is the Greek word for wholeness - salvation, healing and deliverance. It's the Bethel equivalant to our healing prayer at the King's Arms. We thought while we were out here that it would be a good thing to experience and I'm always up for more freedom so we booked in. In summary; It was amazing, but let me try to bulk the experience out for you.

I have to be honest - I was nervous before the session began. It was the part of the trip that I was most apprehensive about. I'm happy to be open and honest with people about where I'm at but it's important to me that I know these people really love me. When you're praying through stuff with strangers this can't be guaranteed in advance. I had to make a choice to trust my prayer team so that I didn't hold anything back. I'm glad God helped me to do that. When I say prayer team, I really mean prayer team. My nerves weren't helped when I realised that I'd actually have 5 ladies in the room with me - yes, I did say 5! It made me laugh a little on the outside at God's sense of humour while on the inside I was quite keen to run away! (Just to clarify - I had a lady leading the session with a seconder and thirder. Then I had two other ladies who were just sitting in to learn about how to do Sozo! At one point the 5th lady was taken out to another room but it wouldn't have mattered if she'd stayed!)

So what did we do for the 2 hour session? Well, as I've already said it's difficult to put it all into words as it felt like we covered so much ground in that time. I spent quite a big bulk of the time praying through my relationship with God as Papa, God as Jesus and God as the Holy Spirit. The principle behind this praying is that our relationhip with Papa God is affected my our relationship with our earthly Dad; our relationship with Jesus is affected by our relationship with our siblings and our relationship with the Holy Spirit is affected by our relationhip with our Mum. In the past I've prayed through a lot of stuff to do with my Dad and how that has affected how I relate to God as Father, but I'd never really addressed stuff to do with my Mum or brother in this way. Suffice to say, it was incredibly powerful and I genuinely feel like a different person becasue of it. I feel like it's possible for me to relate to Jesus and the Holy Spirit with a new depth that I've not known before. They also feel more real to me now and I'm really excited about learning how to relate to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in new ways from this point onwards.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Adventure #3 - A Feather from Heaven!

Day 2 at school was amazing! We had brilliant teaching from Kevin Dedmon on the topic of pre-destination. Loads to think about! And then Kris Vallatton spoke about the prophetic - specifically dreams and visions. He was excellent. Really easy to listen to and lots of fun. We all laughed a lot.

Perhaps one of the most fun things for me was seeing a tiny feather floating just above the heads of the people in front of me. Bethel see lots of feathers fall in their sanctuary that appear out of nowhere. A sign to make you wonder! Simon almost caught the feather but it remained just out of reach and then it floated back up towards the ceiling! It felt like another precious gift from my Dad - a further fulfillment of the prophetic promise over my time here - that God is going to bless my socks off!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Adventure #2 - First day at School

Today has been a really good day! Joy and I spent most of the morning (after eating far too much breakfast - including a rather huge waffle with maple syrup) in Simpson University Cafe. It feels wierd to have so much time on my hands. Usually I have several things on the go at once and I carry a fair amount of responsibility, which in itself isn't a bad thing. But one thing I'm quickly realising while I'm out here is how much identity I get from what I do - from my position in the church - rather than what my heavenly Dad says about me. I really want that to change.

So this afternoon we had our first day at school. We started with about an hour of worship. Worship is clearly important to the leaders at Bethel - I guess that makes a whole lot of sense seeing as worship is what we've all been created for! God's presence as we sang our love songs to Him was just immense. So thick and quick to come. It's the way I want to meet with Him all the time.

I was challenged afresh as Bill Johnson spoke, about the importance of me loving Jesus and worshipping Him simply for the purpose of loving Him and worshipping Him. Let me clarify what I mean. There are times when I spend time with God because I want to receive from Him all that I need to do all that I'm called to do. What I'm realising is that I want to spend time with Him just because I want to spend time with Him. I want to spend time with Him because I'm completely in love with Him and I can't stand being without Him. I'm pretty sure that everything else will flow out of this place; that all I need to do all I'm called to do will flow out of having a love relationship with Him!

Later this afternoon Joy and I spent some time in the Bethel Prayer Room. WOW! We really need to get us one of those when we get our church building. I just soaked in God's presence for about 20 mins and heard Him telling me over and over again that He loves me. I'm believing that if I hear it often enough I'll really get it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Adventure #1 - Getting to Redding!

So we arrived in Redding yesterday safe and well. It was pouring down with rain and hasn't stopped since! We feel right at home! The journey over was good. The long haul from Heathrow to San Fransisco was long but fine. I was sat next to a lovely man called Kumar who was coming back from visiting family in Sri Lanka. At one point in the flight he spoke to Joy and I about being single and wondered why we hadn't got married yet. He asked if we did arranged marriages in the UK. What was slightly disconcerting was when he took a photo of me towards the end of the 11 hour flight. I'm hoping that I don't come across it at some point on the internet telling potential husbands to get in touch!

The one hour flight from San Fransisco to Redding was our travelling adventure. They had to downsize the plane due to bad weather and lots of flights being delayed and cancelled. So we travelled to Redding in a 30 seater plane with 2 propellers and 1 steward!! It was a sight to see. Fortunately Joy and I were pretty tired at this point and so we were a bit too delerious to worry. Perhaps the 'funniest' thing was the fact that the two older ladies sat behind us spent a lot of the flight talking to each other about their worst aeroplane experiences! Suffice to say; Joy and I were praying quite a bit as we were in the air!

So now we're here and are having a day to recover until school starts tomorrow. We've spent time with Simon asking about all his experiences. It sounds amazing and we both feel incredibly privileged to be visiting Bethel. I'll keep you posted with more adventures as the week goes on!

(Just an aside for all of you who prayed for me against being fearful of flying - it felt totally different to be on a plane this time round. God is so good!)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

What about John the Baptist?

A few weeks ago I wrote my second blog entry entitled Who am I? In it I talked about feeling a check in my spirit when I was singing a fairly common refrain at a recent leaders meeting, 'More of you and less of me.' God had been speaking to me a lot about my identity in Him as His daughter and as royalty and because of that it didn't seem right any more to pray for less of me. Instead I wanted to ask God for more of Him and more of me as He's made me to be.

But what about John the Baptist I hear you cry. He came declaring that Jesus must increase and he must increase. Surely this kind of thinking is Biblical? Bill Johnson's response to this thinking in his book 'Dreaming with God' is just brilliant:

'Look at the context; he (John the Baptist) was passing the baton to Jesus. His job was to prepare the way for the Messiah. It was important for him to be out of the way, as he closed out the Old Testament prophetic ministry. Jesus would bring about the fulfillment of all the prophets had announced and initiate God's manifest dominion on the planet. John the Baptist passed the baton to Jesus, who has passed the baton on to us that we might increase.'

Get your head round that!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Favour at Pizza Express!

My friends went for a 'prophetic meal' at Pizza Express quite a while ago now. The point of the evening? To hear from God for people in the restaurant. As it happens they got a whole load of stuff for the lady who was serving them.

As the evening drew to a close they started speaking to their waitress about what God had been saying. The lady sat with them for about 40 minutes as my friends spoke God's heart into her life. It was incredibly powerful and accurate and the lady commented on the fact that she knew there was something different about these guys because she had sensed their aura!

Perhaps even more fun was when they went in for another 'prophetic meal' a few months later. The waitress they'd prophesied over previously was the first person they met when they walked in the restaurant and she was quick to tell them that she'd recently been promoted to Manager. As the evening progressed my friends felt that they had some stuff to share with a waiter who wasn't actually serving them. They spoke to their manager friend and she encouraged the waiter to come and sit at their table. Apparently she'd told her colleagues that this table of people might get stuff from God for them!

So my friends prophesied over this guy and then they prophesied over the guy waiting on them. The amazing thing was that instead of experiencing oppositon from the manager because her staff weren't working when they were being prophesied over, she was actively encouraging them to go and sit at my friends' table! God has clearly given us favour at Pizza Express. We must go back soon!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Heaven Touches Earth!

A conference NOT to be missed!! I spoke to Julian Adams this weekend and he's so excited to be coming to Bedford in June. This is a man who hears from God with incredible accuracy and who lives with the constant expectation that God will do amazing things because He's always in a good mood! Perhaps the thing that inspires me the most though is Julian's absolute security in knowing he's a son of the King! A powerful combination! Julian's thoughts about the weekend, 'I'm really expectant that God is going to do some big things.' So are we! Book your place here.