Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Supernatural Shopping

I had been praying in the morning before my weekly trip to town, about doing more for God and what was it all about etc, you know the type of thing! I think I even said the words 'Please use me!', a scary prayer to pray but I felt the urge so went with it.  I didn't think too much about it once I had left the house and went on my merry way.

I was darting around doing bits and bobs, and was just going into Wilkinson's when I saw an elderly lady I knew.  I had heard that she had broken her shoulder recently so I stopped to have a chat with her.  She was telling me about how she was in terrible pain and couldn't lift her arm up, so everyday tasks were a real problem.  She told me all about how the NHS weren't moving very quick to get her sorted and the Physio had done more harm than good, and then I heard the Holy Spirit say to pray for her.  Now I don't like praying for people in shops as it seems strange to me, don't know why, and we were right by the door so probably in lots of peoples way, but when she drew breathe I asked her if I could pray for her and she said 'Oh yes please',  So I put my hand on her shoulder and began to speak to her muscle that had been torn to repair, for the pain to go and any tendons or ligaments to be as they should be.  She said thank you and was about to go, but I asked her to check it out and she looked very surprised as her arm went up higher than it had before.  So I offered to pray again,which she accepted.  This time I put my hand on her shoulder and it was boiling!! So I did the same again and thanked Father God for what he had already done, and then got her to check it again and she, again, could lift it higher and the pain was a lot less.  I prayed once more because the heat was still there and I wanted her to be completely healed, and again there was an increase in movement and a decrease in pain.  She was thrilled and gave me a big hug and we thanked Father for what he had done, and she went on her way home.  I was so excited!! But then things got a little surreal.

I headed out onto the High Street and I saw a man in white robes, standing outside the bank I was going into, with a 6ft high wooden crucifix!! I was a little taken aback, but he was chatting to someone so I went in the bank and thought if he is still there when I come out I would have a chat!  He was, so I did!  I said to him 'You look very interesting!', he laughed, thankfully! When I looked at the Cross there were names of cities and dates all over it, so I asked him what he was doing.  He began to tell me that he had been in the C of E as Clergy for 30 years and had retired a few years ago, and for the last couple of years he had been praying and asking God what he wanted him to do and he said that he didn't hear anything for quite a while and then God started to speak to him about taking a message to every Cathedral city and to deliver the message to the head of the Cathedral (sorry, I cant remember the title).  He said he was quite reticent to begin with and thought that he couldn't possible do it, but God kept asking him, so in the end he decided to do it.  For the last couple of years he has visited every Cathedral  city in the UK and did a Walk of Witness around the city, in his white robes and with the cross and taken the message that God had given him to every Cathedral and left it for the Head of the church to read.  He said that he really didn't know what good he was doing, but we began to talk about praying for blessings on people as he went and how just bringing God and the Holy Spirit into a situation can change the atmosphere of a place and that he may never really know what effect he is having but he would most definitely be having an effect.  He said that he prayed for people as he passed them and that he would make a note of people that he had stopped to talk to and then when he got home, he would journal about his day and pray specifically for those people.  I thought he was amazing!! That was some obedience and so brave of him.  Funnily, he said at the beginning that despite having been in the Clergy for 30 years he had never really spoken to people about his faith!! He was definitely making up for it now!

So I watched as Brother Cuthbert picked up his cross and walked up the high street, stopping briefly to write in his note book; my name I suspect.  As I am writing this, I have just noticed the similarities in our stories.  Only that morning I had been praying about what to do and for Father to use me, and there was Brother Cuthbert who had prayed the same thing and was on this amazing adventure.  I am sort of glad that my obedience didn't entail me dressing in white robes and carrying a cross, but that is the joy of being loved by a Father who knows you intimately and individually and has a path set before you to walk in.   We aren't all called to do the same things, we are all different and when the Father asks us to do something, it is individually suited to us, that's not to say that you wont be taken out of your comfort zone, but it is something that, with Gods help, you can do.  As when the Father asks you to do something, you aren't alone, he is doing it with you and through you.

I thank Father God for using me to help my elderly friend and I also thank him for Brother Cuthbert and I pray that he will be an amazing blessing where ever he goes and that God uses him greatly.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Power of Encouragement

I don't know about you but I have loved the 2012 Olympic Games!!  You could feel the excitement everywhere you went and the thrill of watching Team GB winning medals was fantastic!  But the main thing I loved about the fortnight was the positivity; our country is renowned for being cynical and negative which aren't good characteristics for a country to have.  The cynicism and negativity probably showed themselves a lot in the build up to the Games, what with programs like 2012 (which was very funny), and the 'fiasco' of GS4 not having all the security that was needed for the Olympics, the worries about travel in London and the way the Media portrayed all this.  Even I was worried that the opening ceremony would be a disaster and that we really couldn't pull this all off - but we did, and in great style as well! It was amazing, such a show - and what can I say about the Queen and James Bond? It was sooooo good, she was a real star!

Then once the Games began I felt that we were in an 'Olympic Bubble' which was where people succeeded, and good things were said about them and all other news paled into insignificance.  Actually there were times when I really forgot that there was anything else in the world going on, other than the Olympics.  It was amazing just to see the Newscasters with big beaming smiles talking about the medals that Team GB had won and how amazing they all were.  The TV just seemed to be shining with sunshine blessed sports and Team GB on a winning spree with Golds coming at us left, right and centre.  It felt amazing, it felt so good to be in that positive and encouraging atmosphere, where you felt that these athletes could really go all the way and win and that this was being done for our country and that in some way the country was winning as well! Wouldn't it be amazing to live like that all the time, to live in a country that encouraged, was positive, had faith in it's people and believed  that they could do it! What could we achieve?

I would love to live in a world where all the News Reports were like they were during the Olympics but not just about Athletics and sports but about normal people and, dare I say it, even Politicians.  I know there is bad news and horrible things happen, but because that is what we are bombarded with all the time we can begin to believe that this these things are happening all the time to everybody and it makes us see the world in a dark and fearful way.  But what if those things were reported just as facts and only mentioned once on the day it happened, but the rest of the time it was about the amazing achievements of everyday people, people who had done incredible things.  As much as bad things happen, good things happen too and probably more frequently but we never hear about them.  What would this world look like if they were the headlining stories and the others were just the tag ons at the end that nobody took much notice off.  It sounds like bliss to me.

How much of the Athletes success was due to the encouragement they got?  Im not saying they didnt work hard but the term 'Home Advantage' was banded about a lot.  Did they achieve so much because we were giving them huge support and encouraging them round the track or down the river, or did we encourage them more because they were achieving?  I think it is both - quite a few of the athletes 'Over Achieved' and you could hear the commentators saying things like 'The crowds cheers are carrying them round the track'.  Oh to cheer like that for the common man, to cheer like that for your child, for your friends, for teachers, nurses, the Police, the Armed Forces, the Independent Shop owner, the newspaper delivery person, the dustbin men, the cleaners of public loos, our Politicians.  I wonder what more they would achieve in their everyday lives and how different this country would feel.  You would feel that you were able to do so much and that everybody was behind you and were with you to the finishing line of whatever it was you were trying to achieve.  It would be amazing.

I am a huge believer in the power of words and in the power of encouragement and positivity.  One of my aims in life is to be an encourager of people and to use my words carefully to build up and not pull down - I do believe that our words have power over our lives, to bless and to curse ourselves and other people so we should use them wisely at all times.  A positive and encouraging word goes along way and achieves much and helps people to achieve their destiny.  I want to achieve my destiny, don't you?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Dreams Really Do Come True

I am a bit of a dreamer or a ponderer, not sure which, maybe they are very similar to each other.  But I do love to day dream, I dream about revival, I dream about praying for people to be healed, I dream about seeing peoples legs grow out from stumps, I dream about receiving huge lumps of money and giving it away, but I also dream of other things like getting a bigger house, seeing the world, being able to eat and not get fat (come on girls, we all dream about that!), Tele Transportation Star Trek style and being able to go to Disney World Florida as many times as possible.  Now some of those dreams seem quite reasonable, some of them seem a bit far fetched but some of them also seem a bit frivolous. But I believe that all our dreams are important to our Father God and he doesn't distinguish between those that are, in our eyes, far fetched or frivolous.  He loves for us to dream, he loves to hear all about our dreams and he loves to full fill our dreams.

About a month ago I put on Facebook that I would love to go to the Star Wars Weekend in Disney World, mainly because I knew the kids would soooooooo enjoy it, but I also knew we would all have so much fun! I thought it was impossible and it was just another day dream, but somebody commented on the status and said 'Why don't you go in Half Term?'.  This set me thinking, and thinking and thinking - a bit like Pooh Bear 'Think, think, think'.  I started to think, why don't we go in Half Term, is that even possible?  So I say to Steve 'Wouldn't it be amazing if we could find a really cheap deal and go to the Star Wars Weekend during Half Term - but it would have to be really cheap which I don't expect is possible!'  There it was, I had thrown down the gauntlet to Father God, Steve and to myself, was this possible?! For the next few days there was an awful lot of internet searching and investigating, I didn't really hold up a lot of hope as it is half term and when I was saying cheap, I was meaning really cheap (in Disney terms anyhow).  We found out about a budget airline (Monarch for those interested) and we started to put in dates and see what came out.  Half Term was, as you would expect, very expensive but amazingly the week either side of it was half the price and possibly affordable.  More research was done, more figures calculated, more day dreaming! Before I knew it Steve had produced a spreadsheet with how much it would cost to the penny.  There was quite a large deficit between what was saved and what we needed, but I started to look through the budget spreadsheet and pull together money from all the little corners we have, and low and behold, we had the money!  We couldn't quite believe it, we checked our figures a few times, we checked the prices with the airline quite a few times to make sure there weren't any hidden costs we didn't know about and then we came to the conclusion, we could go!!!!

Sadly then we started to have a crisis of confidence - just because we can afford to go, should we spend all this money on one week! This is a slightly mad and frivolous idea - we could do so much else with that money.  I have to admit I felt embarrassed that we might go and spend lots of money on another holiday having only just been to Rome and what would people think! But then I started to remember my dream of being able to take the kids to the Star Wars Weekend, and of being able to go to Disney World many times and knew how excited the kids would be and I wanted to be able to give them this amazing gift of going for one mad week to do something that they will remember for ever! I began to get an inkling of what the Father must feel when he gives great gifts, we couldn't wait to see the kids faces when we told them, that not only were we going to Disney for the best weekend ever, but we were going in two weeks time!! As I thought about the joy that this was going to give us, I began to realise how much joy it must be giving the Father to be able to give this gift to us as a family.  I could feel his smile and love shining down on us so we hit the 'Book it' button!

I have to say we had the best fun ever!!!! It was such a blessed week and despite coming back completely shattered, it was definitely the right decision.  Making memories with your kids is so important, full filling their dreams is so amazing and letting God flood your life with blessings and full filling your own dreams, however frivolous they may seem, is fantastic.  So looking in from the outside it must have seemed like madness to go for one week, but from our perspective it was the hugest blessing from our Father, heaped on us with all his love and a fullfillment of dreams, because,as they say in Disney, dreams really do come true!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Soooooo, I prayed for a Slow Worm today!

Ok no laughing, it is true I prayed for an injured Slow Worm today, (well, you can giggle a little - I did, when I felt a prompting to pray for it!).  You may be wondering why I would do such a strange thing, well it is all perfectly reasonable really, and I shall explain why.  A while ago I made a list of dreams that I want to see fulfilled, I listed 20 things and actually to date a few of them have already been achieved!  But one of my dreams is to pray for someone without a leg (or arm, I'm not fussy) and see it grow back from nothing.  I can't wait to see the joints form and then the foot (or hand) and then down to the toes and fingers! I cannot even begin to comprehend what that would be like, I just really hope I have the presence of mind to take a 'before and after' photo or video the whole event!! But for this to happen I am going to have to pray for people without limbs and this is quite a scary prospect.

So this brings me back to the Slow Worm, I was in the garden and there was an injured Slow Worm on the path, he wasn't moving at all and the end of his tail was missing, it still looked red raw so I can only assume it was a recent injury.  I watched him for a while thinking he was dying and not sure what to do!  So I did what all sensible people do and went and hung out my washing.  But as I was hanging out the washing I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to pray for it, and yes I did laugh!  Me being the obedient sort of person I am, I carried on hanging out the washing and went to go back inside but I had to step over the Slow Worm on the way, so I stopped again to see how he was doing.  He still hadn't moved and he didn't look too well, so before I knew it, my hand was out and I was commanding life and health back into the creature!! I declared everything I would have done over a person - no more pain, complete healing, life and a new tail plus a few other things more Slow Worm related.  As I watched he started to move and his tounge started flicking about and before I knew it he was trying to get back down between the pathing slabs.  I would love to tell you that his tail grew back, but sadly it didn't (this time), but he obviously felt better after a bit of a touch from the Creator!

So why pray for the Slow Worm, other than being prompted too - because it was practice!  It is definitely easier to pray for a Slow Worm in my back garden where nobody knows anything about it (until now, of course!), and the Slow Worm is none the wiser as to what I was praying about, than it is to pray for somebody in public without a limb who does know what you are praying about!  I have heard people who are all fired up about raising the dead, saying that you should go and practice on Road Kill, so this was my take on that!  I expect it brought a smile to Father God's face as well - it did to mine.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

2012 - what is to come.....

Since stepping out of structured church we have noticed many things that we took for granted about being in a church.  When a church is functioning well, there is a great sense of community and purpose, as well as a wonderful sense of belonging and knowing that there is a large group of people who will help and support you when needed. There is also a trusting in the Elders to tell you which way the church is going and what the plans are for the year ahead.  These are things that when you are in church, and maybe have been all your life, you may well take as a given.

This is our first New Year not having our year mapped out for us, we dont have any lists of dates of House Group Leaders meetings, or Weekends Away or prayer meetings etc.  Our year is wide open!!!  It is a very strange time for us but also very invigorating as well!  There is a great freedom in seeing an empty year ahead and watching and waiting to see what God is going to do and being ready to move when there is some clarity.  I can't say we have a lot of clarity at the moment but from what other people are saying who are in a similar situation, this isnt unusual.  Structured church has a wide path and a clear heading, you follow or go with flow, depending on what sort of person you are, and that's great.  We feel we are on a much smaller path with lots of corners and no clear view, but as we take each step along the path, things seem to fall in to place around us.  I sometimes get a glimpse of what it is we are going to be doing, but it is always just outside my peripheral vision and when I try to look directly at it, it just seems to disappear.  I know it is to do with new church, and community and breaking down old ideas but as to how this is going to look or be like, we don't really know.  We will just keep doing what we are doing until God moves us round the next corner and we see the next little bit of the path before us.  But until then our calender is wide open, and that is a wonderful thing to behold!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Church and Revival

I have been part of a local church for most of my life and have been very active in New Frontiers Churches since marrying my Husband in 1994.  We have run Housegroups, Alphas, Student Groups, led worship, been Trustees, been involved with Kids work - you name it we have done it! And for the most part have enjoyed it. But there came a point before we left our church there were more and more things that just didn't sit right with us, not because they were wrong but because we just didn't feel this was where our heart was anymore.  We weren't interested in having a church building, and being a big church in the city.  This whole ethos has never sat well with me particularly, but I thought that was the way to do it so went along with it, but really I don't think this option works for everybody.

I can see that there is a huge need for the local church and the work that they do, especially working into communities and the such like, but what about 'Joe Blogs' off the street, where does he fit into this.  However hard we try, churches seem to be middle class, academic, youth and student based organisations, not that this is wrong but there are a lot of people who don't fit into these criteria, how do they cope with a church where they don't have a 'place'.  There is coming a day when we are going to see a huge revival and I really don't think that the only people who are going to come to know Jesus in this revival will be middle class or students! How will 'Joe Blogs' or 'Josephine Blogs' cope with this alien set up of 45 minutes of worship, followed by some notices and then 45 minutes of an academically based exegesis of a bible passage?  I don't think that it is unfair to say that they probably won't cope!  So there has to be an alternative, but what is that?

This is difficult to answer at the moment, but I know that God is opening a way up for a new type of church or better still a whole new way of doing church. Have you ever given much thought to why we do church the way we do?  How much of it is tradition and dare I say religion?  What would it be like to do it completely different?  What could it look like?  These are the questions that we are pondering and asking Father God to help us with.

So we are looking at the bare bones of what church is, which is to gather with people who love God to spend time together and focus on him.  For the last couple of months we have been gathering people we know on a Friday or Saturday evening once a month, to have a meal together and have a time of worship or something along those lines.  It has been a really fantastic experience and really encouraging for us.  One of our prayers has always been that the Father blesses us with every heavenly blessing so that we can be a blessing to others and I would love our house to be a place of blessing.  One where people come in for a good meal, good company and some great worship and go off refreshed and blessed to go about their daily lives in their churches and homes. We don't want to start a church, but we want to live a life where we are the church. rather than going to a church.  I think opening up our homes is going to be an amazing way to cope with the numbers of people who will come to know God in a revival.  It wont be for everyone, as with 'Big Church', but it will definitely suit people who maybe don't fit into the other option.

How will this look as time goes on?  Well to be honest we don't really know, we are walking a path where we can't see round the corner, but we are trusting in God and know that he is leading us and that he is good all the time.  We said when we left our church that we were on an adventure to see what God was doing out there in the big wide world, we didn't know at the time that it would mean not being in a church! God moves in mysterious ways:-).

Monday, 12 September 2011

Its Church, but not as we know it!

Since officially leaving our church and finding ourselves 'between churches', we have been on a bit of a journey - cue X Factor style music! We aren't sure exactly what we are looking for, or even if we are looking for anything in particular, but we just know that there is a shift in the spirit when it comes to churches and how they run and what it means to be part of the church.  We can't really put our finger on what it is God has for us yet, but it is coming. 

With all this in mind, the other Saturday I suddenly announced that I thought we should go to the Sunday  service at Exeter Cathedral!  My lovely Husband is used to me making these sudden 'odd' announcements and made a sort of non-committal noise.  But not easily deterred on these things, I said again later that it might be really interesting to go.  So we checked times and began to learn a whole new language straight away; things like Mattins, Sung Eucharist and Mass.  I have been to many churches in my childhood, including Catholic and Church Of England but my Husband and children, who became Christians in a New Frontiers church, had never experienced the whole liturgy type thing!!  But we set off thinking a little more about what we were wearing than we might usually for a church meeting and secretly hoping it wasn't Communion as we didn't know how to do it formally!  On entering the Cathedral we were handed a lot of information and went and found some seats.  We decided sitting in the middle was good, so we could follow the people in front.  Exeter Cathedral is a really beautiful building so sitting there and looking around was a real pleasure and the first thing I read was how the Cathedral had been used for worship for 900 years!!  I was really taken aback by this and suddenly realised what a heritage we had in this place, I wondered what had taken place in the cathedral over the years and how the stones must resonate with worship after that length of time. 

The Service began and it is a little odd to repeat set words back in response to what the person at the front is saying, but the amazing thing about it was that the words were truly wonderful! We found the whole thing an amazing experience, the service covered every part of the Christian faith and when the words, which could be seen as religious, are read with the right heart and you truly mean what you are saying, it didn't matter that we were reading words from a page, as they were coming right from our hearts.  It was fantastic to hear them pray for the Monarchy and the Government and for the sick and it was excellent to read The Creed which is a fantastic declaration of who we are and what we believe! The other thing that I loved about the service and it being in the Cathedral was the reverence of it, I think with Charismatic churches we have 'thrown the baby out with the bath water' some what when it comes to reverence as I think the fear is that it will come across as religious and that is a label that we try to steer clear of.  But there was something amazing and almost heavenly being in this grand and amazing building with a feeling of holiness and grandeur that we don't usually experience.  God reminded me of the Throne Room and how this was akin, on a very small scale, to the regalness and all the ceremony which takes place there, a fantastic experience.

I should also say that taking communion wasn't as scary as we thought it would be, we just followed the people in front and held our hands out at the appropriate moment.  It was all quite user friendly really and both our kids enjoyed it, actually our Daughter loved it, I think she just really liked taking part in the service without pressure and being in such a historic building and enjoying the beauty of it all. 

I don't think I would like to go every week, but for an experience it was definitely up there with some of the best and an eye opener to the fact that being religious, or not being religious, is a matter of the heart - if you really mean with all your heart the words you are saying then it doesn't matter if you have said those same words over and over before; God sees your heart and that is the most important thing.