Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I'm going to assume before we start that you are aware that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity that make up the Godhead, along with the Father and the Son (Jesus). For some verses to think over with regard to this look at:
Genesis 1:26 and Matthew 28:19
As with my other short question and answer sessions, this is by no means a complete work. The Holy Spirit is such a huge topic I feel a bit out of my depth even at the start, but if I can convey a little of what He does here, that is my goal.
1: Why do we need to be baptised in the Spirit?
First, it's a command of Jesus:
4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, you heard from me;
5 for John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.
Second, without Jesus walking the Earth, after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven, there would be no Jesus on Earth in the flesh. God had a great plan for this though, it was to have multi Jesus's on Earth, this would be accomplished through the Spirit:
7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.
We will see later just how the Spirit accomplishes this 'Jesus making' process. The point is Christians were never intended to live without the Spirit.
In Acts 19, Paul finds some followers who have never even heard of the Spirit:
2 And he said to them, Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? And they said, No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.
There is only one outcome for these believers; to be baptised in the Spirit.
If you are coming at this question from the view of 'I've given my life to Jesus, don't I already have the Spirit?'
I believe that when you are born again, the Spirit does enter into you, and will have an influence on you, speaking to your conscience, leading you to Jesus, but until you are baptised in the Spirit, you are missing a dynamic of power.
In Romans 15 Paul talks about being used by God in a powerful way:
19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God
This is a level of life in God not experienced outside of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Another example is to look at the disciples before and after Pentecost, and what a transformation took place in them all from that day.
2: What does He do in you?
Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as a Helper:
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.
So, the Spirit first is a Helper to teach you about Jesus and help you remember the Word. He is then a Helper to witness for Jesus.
It's important to note quickly that the Spirit also makes His home inside you.
1 Corinthians 6 says:
19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,.
What does He do in you? He lives in you, and He has not come to be silent or timid. He has come for war!
17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
He has come to wage war in you against the flesh. Flesh is everything opposed to His will. Every natural desire, both good and bad, because they are not Supernatural and of Him. The Spirit wants you to do only what He tells you to do. nothing more, nothing less, and to be just as Jesus, who said in John 5:
19 So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
It's not that Jesus had no will, and was like a robot, performing functions programmed into Him by the Father, rather Jesus made a decision of will. He would do nothing but what the Father was doing. And this He did by the power of the Spirit.
3: How does he communicate with you?
I recently heard a preacher talking about how much God shouts and only once the word talks about God whispering:
From 1 Kings 19:
11 And he said, Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD. And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.
12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, What are you doing here, Elijah?
My opinion, and you can disagree if you want to, is that the Spirit does indeed whisper to us. He whispers for us to come after God, to come into His presence. Unfortunately we are pretty dull and miss these promptings far too often.
David in Psalm 27 said:
8 You have said, Seek my face.
My heart says to you,
Your face, LORD, do I seek.
This is pretty much how I think of the Spirits workings in us regarding speaking. He calls to us, 'seek My face', and if we hear, and if we're not too busy or are not missing our favourite TV show, we may just reply 'Your face, lord, do I seek'.
Realistically, how do we hear this voice, is it audible?
Again, in my experience, it is a conscience voice, a voice of the conscience, and as we learn to listen and respond, the path of listening will become trod over time into a well worn path that is no longer like a whisper but the loud command that it is.
I will just add 'the Word' here too. The Spirit will communicate through the Bible, for it was He who inspired the writers. It is Him who will lead us into ALL truth, and so He can open the Bible's truth's to us.
4: What else is the Spirit called/likened too?
I don't think I'll get them all but here are some, and when you see them mentioned in the Bible take note:
Oil. Also a symbol for healing.
Fire. Remember the tongues of fire?
And names! There's tones:
The Spirit of God, The Spirit of the Lord, The Spirit of Christ, Spirit of Fire, Spirit of Judgment, Spirit of Holiness, Spirit of Truth, Spirit of Life, Spirit of Wisdom, Spirit of Understanding, Spirit of Counsel, Spirit of Power, Spirit of Knowledge, Spirit of the Fear of the Lord, Eternal Spirit.
Why are all these names important? You will learn something about His character, and His dealings with people from these names.
5: What are tongues?
The Holy Spirit doesn't come into your life empty handed. He has brought gifts with Him. Some gifts are for everybody, some are more selective. Some gifts are occasional, some are permanent. For instance, someone may have a gift of prophecy without being a Prophet.
Tounges is mentioned as a gift received via baptism in the Spirit:
Acts 2. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 19. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying.
Can everyone filled by the Spirit speak in tongues? Yes.
Does everyone? No.
Why is Tongues so important?
Paul described it as one of the lesser gifts and yet it is very powerful for day to day living.
First it is a means to build yourself up. (1 Corinthians 14v4), it is because of this first attribute that I believe it is for everyone. God would not let such a gift be for a special few.
There does seem to be some contradiction in the Word regarding tongues, Paul asks in I Corinthians 12:30, Do all speak in tongues, implying that perhaps all don't, but again in I Corinthians 14:5 he urges us ALL to speak in tongues.
The gift of tongues is also a means for the Spirit to communicate in a pure way to God. What I mean by that is He is not limited by our language and understanding of anything, but can commune only as the Godhead can. This means that the Spirit can pray on our behalf or intercede for others in a way we just can't do.
Tongues is also a gift to be used in Christian gatherings of the Church, though only with an accompanying interpretation, which is another gift of the Spirit.
Over the years I've seen the gift of tongues cause problems with Christians. They just don't get it. They don't know why it wont work with them? Why is it just not happening?
I've come to a conclusion the answer is a simple one.
The gateway to tongues, as with any gift of the Spirit, is to step out and do it. God will not physically take hold of your jaw and start making you speak. You do it in faith. And as you start speaking in tongues your mind will immediately start to rebel.
This is actually very encouraging if you just see this simple truth now.
You are speaking in a Heavenly language and thinking at the same time 'this is me, this is daft, is this it?' YES!
And the simple truth is you just can't do that yourself. Have you ever tried to speak to someone and be thinking something completely different? I'm sure you could with practice, but the fact you are doing it now with tongues is a good proof that it is God.
At this point it is a good idea to move on and accept you are speaking in tongues and enjoy it. You should do it every day. It will refresh you, it will act as a river of water to your mind, washing and washing it with heavenly words. It will change your prayer life and will give you new dimensions in worship as you now find another language ready to take over when your natural one has become lost for words to express your heart towards God.
It is a very encouraging practice to start to ask God for interpretations to your tongues as well.
I will just make a few more points on tongues. Over the years I have heard people saying what you can and can't do with tongues.
Can you think in tongues? Well, I've done it, so I will say yes.
Can you write in tongues? I've heard of at least one person doing this in a powerful way, and I know of a few people who have tried it, myself included, so again, I'd have to say Yes but it's not very common in my experience and has not much point to it.
Can you have more than one tongue? Yes, definitely. I have recognised over the years tongues that sound quite different coming from me. I have known people speak in tongues and actually be speaking Italian or Hebrew.
What is the difference between speaking in tongues and giving a tongue in Church?
Again, over the years I have known times when I can speak and speak in tongues and it is an uplifting experience and of great benefit. I have also known times when it has felt supercharged, and a level of passion and purpose is there that is not normal. I believe it is these supercharged times that the gift is to be shared in a gathering along with the interpretation. And remember, if no one brings that interpretation it is your job to.
6: What other gifts are there?
The other gifts mentioned in I Corinthians 12 are:
utterance of wisdom
utterance of knowledge
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
Now the Bible commends us to seek the gifts of the Spirit, especially Prophecy (I Corinthians 14:39), but I will just add one thing, over the years I have seen in myself desires to seek gifts to the extent where it was more a heavy burden. I am now at a point in life where I do not seek these gifts. I seek the Giver. What this means is, that I do not turn my nose up at the gifts, I just have a view that if I am in fellowship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, any thing He wants to do through me is just a command away, and the nearer I am to him the louder I will hear that command. As said earlier, this is my view, and it's for you to use or ignore as you wish.
And let's not forget Fruit:
From Galatians 5:
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control;
These are not gifts, but rather 'effects' that the Spirit will have in you. All these fruits you can start to see being developed the moment you are baptised.
Have you been a stressful person? Expect to see Peace being developed in you more and more.
Have you had problems with addictions? Expect to see the fruit of self control being developed in you. These fruit will grow and grow killing off fleshly desires and fruit if you nurture them in obedience.
7: What do I do now?
I added this question for a few reasons.
First, if you have not been baptised in the Holy Spirit, then He is just a prayer away. You can seek Him yourself or ask for some one to lay hands on you.
Acts 8 shows us
18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands,.
The Baptism of the Spirit can be given in such a way. But remember it is a gift and must be received with faith in the same way you received salvation. When you have been baptised that is the time to open your mouth and speak your first words in your new language.
Second, if you have been filled with the Spirit, and have become complacent and dry, do not delay. Start to speak in tongues again. Allow the Spirit to flow freely through your life again, sweeping away through repentance everything that would hinder His flow.
Third, I would say be obedient. The Spirit is alive and active. He will want to work through you. He has no interest in helping you with your life and projects but every interest in helping you become like Jesus. When he whispers to you, determine now that you will treat it as the command it is. When he calls you to come aside and sit and listen, be obedient, do as your told.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
It's getting cold now. Christmas is approaching and most of us are waiting for the time we can stop work for the year, put our feet up and enjoy a well earned break before next year.
But, how many of us take a break from God at that time. How many Bible's go unread, how many prayers unsaid?
I'm no super saint, I want to be a normal Christian. One tip I want to give, is that to help you keep going when you want to take a break, is to have a daily devotional. They are books that have a short message based on Bible verses for you to read every day. Some have one reading for the morning and one for the evening. They are a great habit to start. And remember a habit is hard to get rid of.
Habit: Take away the H and you have a-bit
Take away the a and you still have bit
Take away the b and you still have it!
I read the one at the top, Oswald Chambers: My Utmost For His Highest.
There are loads out there, find a good one and give it a go.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The chocolates were poisoned.
Even as a kid I remember the chocolates being there.
They looked so good, some had shiny wrappers.
We all knew they were poisoned though.
I remember being in the Baptist church youth group, I was around 10 years old. Even then I remember some of the older kids, some of my friends, discussing the chocolates.
One day, my friend Phillip said he'd had eaten one.
We were all a bit stunned, after all, he was still alive?
He told us he knew he shouldn't have eaten it, but it hadn't been that bad.
A couple of weeks later he wasn't there.
I've not seen him since.
Then I joined another church when I was around 13.
There was a girl there called Dawn. She took one of the chocolates too.
It was very quick working on here, I never saw her again.
Then a friend of mine, also called Chris. He took one.
He was around just long enough to tell us he'd done it.
We all knew they were poisoned. It was tough though. You see them there day after day. As soon as one is taken, it's replaced by another. Day after day after day they are there.
A couple of times I was tempted to take one.
I even had one in my hand one time until I dropped it.
I'm still alive. Not down to me though, as I had it in my hand one of the leaders of the church warned me to drop it, and I did.
I'm not in a youth group any more - too old now.
Thing is, I was speaking at one the other day and the next week I dreamed about the chocolates.
I could see that this young group knew about them.
They knew they were poisoned.
I knew as well that each of the girls were going to try one, maybe some of the boys.
It's strange, but everyone thinks the same thing just before they pick one up.
They always think they will be strong enough to withstand the poison.
They know others can't take it, but they think maybe they can.
Then, when they do, they tell there friends about it, warning them; "I know I shouldn't have eaten it, and I'm telling you it was wrong and you shouldn't do it, I'll be all right though".
And then they're gone.
Do you know what the chocolates are?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
I've just finished reading this. It is true, you could read this in 60 minutes, but it took me twice as long. Mainly because I kept stopping to cry.
Never has a book just taken me apart piece by piece. This book is devestating. In it's little stories, funny anecdotes and life lessons you see where your going wrong, and more importantly, where to go right.
Every father should read this and be turned into something that is worth his calling.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
A few years ago now I was looking through my bank account, trying to figure out just how much was in there. At the end of the exercise I reckoned there was about £600 I couldn't account for? I said, Praise God and promptly spent it. I took it as a blessing from God. Who wouldn't?
OK, flash forward from there about 1 month.
I'm in church and the speaker is talking about paying our debts to God, which I fully agree with. Thing is I start to get an uncomfortable feeling. A long, long time ago I had signed up to a church charity to help the poor. It consisted of a standing order for X amount of pounds a month. When I checked over this I realized the standing order hadn't been set up. That was the £600 I'd spent!
I just didn't have that kind of money to pay it back either, but knew it was a debt I had to pay.
What I did, was set the standing order up again but for double the amount.
I've been paying it now for a few years and have cleared the debt and some. But this isn't really the point of this story.
I recently read something about how people who give to the poor can expect God to do some amazing things in their lives. I can't remember exactly what it said, but the gist of it was that. I felt a rise of faith in me as I read it as you do when you read something true. I thought, Aha!, I give to the poor, I'll increase the payment again. Which I did, now to treble the original payment.
Thing is, I'm in the car telling Nicky what I've done (we are in this together), and as soon as I said the words the Holy Spirit said, up it again.
It's funny, when you hear these stories about people trying to make deals with God: If you do this for me Lord, I'll go to church on Sunday! I'll go every week. I'll give to the poor. I'll do this, and I'll do that etc.
Like God's interested in that!
He want's you. All of you.
When He's got that He can tell you to do what He likes without the bargaining.
He knows what he's doing there!
So, I did it. How am I going to argue or say no?
I now pay quadruple the original amount. I figure I can afford it, just as God figures the same.
I also figure God is able to supply anything to me that I need.
One of the biggest 'rubber hits the road' moments for us as Christians is when God asks us to open our wallet. That's when we really get a look at how much God has our lives.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Top Trumps is a card game, based on facts. I used to have a set of tank cards when I was a kid. If I had a tank that could go 30MPH and someone else had a tank that could go 50MPH, I'd lose.
Their are facts in our lives. We don't imagine them. Facts like sickness, depression, needs in our lives. These are facts.
However, the word of God is a Top Trump. It too is filled with facts. And these facts beat any other facts you can throw at them.
But! If you are going to play a Word of God Top Trump, you really need to know what it says in black and white. Guessing won't accomplish much.
If you are sick, a Top Trump card to play is James 5:14
14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.
Follow through on the verse: Call for the Elders, don't wait around for an appeal. They will annoint you with oil, a symbol of the Holy Spirit (if they don't, ask them to get some), and they will pray for you a prayer of faith. Don't be embarasses to ask if it was a prayer of faith. You need to know for your faith in the Word.
There is then no other outcome except being raised up-made well. And amazingly, if youv'e got in that state through sin, it will also be forgiven you.
Play Word of God Top Trumps. And be a winner every time. Don't let the Word stay between those dusty covers. it wants OUT! it wants to be released to change everything in your environment. Starting with you.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I've seen this song written down in both Brother Yun's books now and it's a chilling, sobering reminder of what happened to those first disciples, and what could be our calling if we accept Christ.
Martyrs for the Lord
To be a martyr for the Lord, to be a martyr for the Lord.
I am willing to die gloriously for the Lord.
Those apostles who loved the Lord to the end
Willingly followed the Lord down the path of suffering.
John was exiled to the lonely isle of Patmos.
Stephen was stoned to death by an angry crowd.
Matthew was stabbed to death in Persia by a mob.
Mark died as horses pulled his two legs apart.
Doctor Luke was cruelly hanged.
Peter, Philip and Simon were crucified on a cross.
Bartholomew was skinned alive by the heathen.
Thomas died in India as five horses pulled his body apart.
The apostle James was beheaded by King Herod.
Little James was cut in half by a sharp saw.
James the brother of the Lord was stoned to death.
Judas was tied to a pillar and shot by arrows.
Matthias had his head cut off in Jerusalem.
Paul was a martyr under Emperor Nero.
I am willing to take up the cross and go forward
To follow the apostles down the road to sacrifice
That tens of thousands of precious souls can be saved
I am willing to leave all and be a martyr for the Lord.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I've been thinking a lot about the Holy Spirit recently.
We have ideas that we think would be good and please God, but in actual fact, if they are our ideas, God will be appalled at them.
Surely God would want me to put the chairs out every Sunday morning? I'm doing a good work for Him?
I think it's difficult to hear, but also I believe it's the truth, any, and I mean ANY, work that is not of the Spirit is of the Flesh, and as such God cannot tolerate it. It must die.
So, I want to give a little example of one of the events I've had happen to me recently. This isn't to blow my own trumpet, but more as an example of how the Spirit is working in my life and to encourage you in this life. Just as I need to encourage myself.
I was walking to town recently on the weekend to do a bit of Xmas shopping. I was just talking to the Spirit, telling Him how much I need Him and how much I need to keep up with his stride.
I was in town about an hour and ended up in a charity shop buying some books for myself. There was a small old lady in front of me at the till, I reckon at least 65 years old. She was buying some crockery and put her money on the counter. I looked at her and thought that the 4-5 pounds she was spending was probably a very large amount of money to her. The Spirit said to me 'You pay for her things'.
I stood there watching the cups and saucers being wrapped and thinking 'What!'
I was very self conscious, there were others in the shop behind me in the queue, there was another lady who had just knocked something off a shelf and smashed it, the lady behind the till thought I was bringing the books in as a donation and not buying it, but my heart was burning. I get a burning in my heart every time God tells me to prophecy. I know it's Him, it's pretty easy to tell as prophecies have a tendency to come true if they are from God. Anyway, I had this burning and knew I would just have to get on with it.
So I said to the cashier, 'I would like to pay for this ladies items', which I did, bought my books and left the shop. I didn't speak to the lady, I had no 'witness' inside me that was what I should do, so I didn't.
When I got home and told Nicky about it, I was pretty confused as to why the Spirit wanted me to do that, but as Nicky pointed out:
1: I don't need to know that, just be obedient, and
2: God knows that lady, knows what she needed, knows her intimately, and knows that that was a miracle for her.
I want more and more of these 'Spirit Adventures', in fact. I'd like a lifetime of them. In fact again, I need to have a lifetime of them or I'm missing the point.
Friday, September 25, 2009
I think I've mentioned it before, but I was at one time on a Gospel Outreach Team (GO Team) back in 1989-90. When the team finished and normal life returned I thought I would walk into a job and life would be pretty much a walk in the park with things falling into place one after another as I needed them. After all, I had just given up a year of my life to serve God, I was due some blessing.
It's not what happened at all though. I spent the first 6 months unemployed, living in a room of a house where I was hated by one of the owners. I eventually gave up my room when I was offered a sofa to sleep on at another house. For weeks I lived there eating potatoes and sleeping on that sofa. My life, instead of getting bigger and better was pruned back again and again. I eventually got a job working in a hotel but soon after had appendicitis and after an operation and recovery period I had to give up work.
All this went on whilst I had no family or friends around me. My days were spent on my own, no one to talk to,traveling to the Jobcenter , usually twice a day to look at the same jobs that I had no qualifications for. I was 22 and life was closing in on me on a daily basis. I'd get back to the sofa, sit down, wonder what on earth I was doing and slowly start to die inside.
I just couldn't understand what God was doing with me. Why was this happening to me. Rather than having life more abundantly I was having life more despairingly. If you've ever experienced the same as me you will also know how soul destroying it is to see those around you achieving everything you want to and at the same time try and encourage you with platitudes like 'everything will be OK', 'God bless you'.
After a while I did manage to finally get a part time Christmas job as a security guard in Toys R Us. Even this was touch and go, as just before I was due to start I had chicken pox and was laid up in bed. I did start on time though 11 days later. I knew that the job would only last for a short while and so was under a huge amount of pressure to get a full time job. My boss there kept promising me if I did well he would see what I could do, but after a while I realised this guy had no real authority in the company and to hope on him would be a big mistake. I was also now married, in the October just gone, and although this was one of the happiest days of my life it's difficult to explain, but being in the position I was there was a deep sadness in me that only God could fix.
A month or so into my security job I got a break with a full time job, again as security, for a clothing store. You might think I start to sound like a spoiled brat now, but 2 days into this job I realised I hated it. It seemed God was just destroying me a bit at a time. I'd gone from desperate, lonely unemployment to desperate married employment. The job was 6 days a week with Sunday off. My boss didn't like me taking Saturdays off as holiday so I couldn't really have any holiday. This meant I went for 14 months working 6 days a week with no break. The wages were poor, so poor that after payday and our bills there were pennies left. I lived on potatoes still, eating a jacket potato with butter every day I worked there. The job itself entailed me walking round the small store for hour after hour after hour. My mind was near snapping with boredom. Conversation was frowned upon, the job was to basically be a menacing threat to shoplifters. I found the only way I could survive mentally was to split the day into blocks of 15mins at a time. Any more than that and I just couldn't cope.
Where is all this leading?
Remember the title, chipping away the rubbish? That's what was happening to me. Everything was being chipped of me. My character, personality, ideas, hopes, dreams, all ere being ruthlessly put through the oven of affliction. I really had no idea if I would survive.
During those 14 months I applied for so many other jobs, sending letters to firms and stores etc. You name it I applied for it. What could be worse that having no replies to these letters? Having your hope destroyed.
Proverbs 13:12 says Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. And that was me. My heart was sick.
I had 2 interviews in those months, one at a jewelers that went very well. I was told I would hear soon favorably, but the next time I walked past the shop it had closed! I put a lot of hope in getting that job. You start to dream that a door is finally opening for your escape, you think what direction your career might take, only to see it shot down at the first move.
The second interview, months later, was with the Co-Op store. That also went well. The manager said to me he would do what he could to get me a position in the company. I waited with hope for my letter, but it never came. I eventually went back to the store to speak to the manager and was told he had left and no one knew anything about my interview. It was another crushing blow. I don't know how I kept going. To have failed yet again, having to go back to work with still no light at the end of the tunnel.
And then came Gethsemane where I died.
It happened after seeing a job advertised in the paper for a trainee in a printers. They wanted a school leaver. I knew I was to old, but I had stopped caring about that, sending applications off for any job that might give me hope, even when I knew I wouldn't get it. This was the same. I applied for the trainee job and actually got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview. Not for the trainee job but for another position, a much better one, that was going to become available. The Printers apparently had my CV already. It was one of the companies I'd blitzed.
I went for the interview and was very pleased. It went very well, seemed a great place to work with a workforce in similar age to me that actually looked pretty happy with their work life. Something which was very foreign to me. The interview ended with the HR Manager promising to ring me later with a result.
That day I let my hopes rise again. I couldn't stop them. I dared to hope what might happen. When I got home I waited for the phone call. And waited. And waited. I was looking at the clock thinking perhaps they work to 5.30, then perhaps he's staying to 7. Then it was a case of wondering if he'd forgotten my number etc at around 7.30.
I couldn't leave it and rang the printers. I was told the HR manager had gone home for the evening.
It's very difficult to describe how I felt. It was the culmination of years of being pressured and disappointed. My wife came and took my hand, and I knelt to the floor crying. The prayer I prayed was one of my heart breaking, knowing yet again I had to go back to that job failed again. I prayed 'Jesus, today I loved you, and tomorrow I will love you'. It was all I had.
It was all that mattered. Everything else in me had gone. The very core of me was all that was left and all I could say was no matter what happened I would love Jesus.
Whilst still on my knees the phone rang. I picked it up. It was the HR Manager, from his car, offering me the job. I said 'Yes please' still with tears in my eyes.
The letter of confirmation came a couple of days later, and I immediately handed in my notice.
When I left I was very surprised to find a huge pay packet containing weeks of extra holiday pay that they'd never let me take.
It's a beautiful story from my life, but a story I almost didn't make it through. It took years to see that happy ending, which was really only another stepping stone in my life to become more like Jesus.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
The reason for this small list of questions, is that I wanted to have clear in my mind the important points that would not only help me, but others, get to grips with simple foundation stones of the faith. After all, it tells us in Philippians 2:12: work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. When I became a Christian, there was so much I didn’t understand, and it took many years to hear all these things, and many more to be able to write them down like this in a simple to understand way (which I hope this will be).
This list is definitely not exhaustive or contains everything about each point, but I hope it’s enough for you to see the truth and if needed go on and find out more.
1: Why do we believe the Bible?
This is the most important of all the basic truths, because all subsequent revelations and truths hinge on this one. If you don't believe the Bible is the written word of God how will you believe anything written in it?
II Timothy 3:16 says:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Peter, one of Jesus disciples says in II Peter 1:20, talking about scripture (The Bible) and also the Prophetic words spoken of by those recorded in the Bible:
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
And just to labour the point, Jesus Himself used scripture and believed in it:
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.
The only way you can believe this is through Faith, and that is a gift from God. So if you do believe, thank God for his goodness to you.
2: Why are we sinners?
OK, now we have our platform for the rest of these points, i.e. I’m saying that you either do believe the Bible as the true word of God, or you don’t.
So, what does the Bible/God have to say about us?
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
How did this happen? Well, in Genesis (the first book of 66 that make up the Bible), we see the story of Adam & Eve. God made them so he could have friendship with them, he put them in a garden , gave them work and gave them complete freedom except for one rule, not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil:
From Genesis 2:
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
Well, it wasn’t long before Adam & Eve had both eaten from the tree after being tricked by Satan, the Devil. And that is how Sin came about. Sin is basically doing anything that displeases God.
So, how does that affect you? Because you are offspring of Adam. Go back far enough in the family tree and it all comes down to one man. Adam. I know it’s not your fault that Adam sinned, but because of him, we pay. If you find this hard to stomach, I’ll have to take you back to point 1. Let’s face it, you just have to see children to know it’s true. Do you have to teach kids to be good or naughty? One of them seems to come automatically. It’s no good, your born that way. A sinner. And because your a sinner, you commit sins. So there are 2 things to sort out, the sins you've made and the actual fact of you being a sinner that makes them.
3: Who is Jesus?
This is a toughy, I still don't understand it, but just accept it. Jesus is the Son of God, but he is also God along with the Holy Spirit, who is also God, and God the Father. Confused? Together they are the Trinity, the Godhead 3 in 1.
Genesis 1 gives a small example of this as God says:
Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
So God is talking to Himself as a plural. We also see in Matthew 28:19 that in Baptism the Godhead is mentioned:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
So, Jesus is God. The Son of God. He has many other names which is something to study, but for now lets just look at 2:
John 1 says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
and a bit further on:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There was a time when Jesus was not a man. He was God, all seeing, all knowing, all powerful. But when sin entered the World through Adam, as we’ve seen in point 2, God already had a plan to deal with it. It involved Jesus, and for the plan to work Jesus would have to give up his Spiritual being and become a human being. Phillipians 2 says:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The LORD said to me, You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
Here we see prophetically Jesus telling us He has become God’s Son. He was the first. That is His place, to be first, first among all the children that the Father would adopt through His work.
I chose to emphasise these 2 names, because The Word will help us know the Bible is His Word, and The Son will help us know He is God, but also a human being.
4: How did Jesus pay for our sins?
This could get complicated, but i’ll try and keep it easy. Easy is best.
Because of Sin, God couldn't accept us. A price needed to be paid to make things better. Just as we see in the Old Testament that animals had to be sacrificed and their blood sprinkled to pay for the sins of the people. Only, they had to keep doing it, because the blood of animals couldn't permanently take away sins, and the root issue of people being sinners wasn't dealt with at all.
Hebrews 10 tells us:
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
But there was a sacrifice that could take away our sins, for ever. The blood of a perfect human, knowing no sin:
I John 1:7:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
So, sins dealt with! But what about us, the person, the one that makes sins? The bullets have been taken away, but what about the gun that fires them. How is that deactivated?
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
God handled it with a master stroke. To stop you being a sinner, He had you die. There’s not much of anything you can do when your dead, and being a sinner is one of them.
But He didn't leave things there.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
That’s right, just as you believe you died with Him, that is exactly how you believe you now live in Him.
I John 4:15
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
When you are born again you take your place living in Jesus, and He in you through the Holy Spirit.
I John 4:13:
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
5: Why do we get baptised?
Hopefully this is an easy one if you have grasped the previous point.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
Baptism is a physical testimony of what we believe Jesus has done for us. It’s also part of the process of salvation.
Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Baptism means that as you are fully submersed in water, that is your identifying with Jesus death and burial, and as you come once again out of the water you are identifying with Jesus resurrection, and also, your resurrection in Him.
having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.
Grasping this truth is so important to life as a Christian. Your old self is dead. The old you is not fighting for life, it lost. DEAD. And now you are a completely new creation, alive by the power of the Holy Spirit.
II Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
6: What about the Holy Spirit?
This question has stumped me for a long time. I’m not a great theologian (a professor of Bible stuff), I’m just a regular guy. I believe that all the foundation stones of our walk with Jesus should be easy to follow. You shouldn’t need a degree to understand these truths, so I will tell you my simple understanding of the Holy Spirit. it’s a twofold happening.
I Corinthians 3:16:
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you?
That’s right, when you believed in Jesus, the Holy Spirit came and lived inside you. The Holy Spirit is inside you, guiding you and making you become more and more like Jesus Himself as He reveals Jesus to you.
‘Twas not for deeds that we had done,
But by his steadfast love alone,
He saved us through a second birth,
Renewed us by the Spirit's work,
And remember this point:
I John 4:13:
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you
while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
To see just what miracles and gifts of the Spirit can do, read from Acts onwards in the New Testament.
This second happening of the Spirit is the Baptism of the Spirit.
And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John baptised with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.
The baptism of the Spirit, given by the laying on of hands, though, not the only way;...
Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.
...is for our empowering. To give us the power to do just as Jesus had done, and greater things.
From John 16:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
And John 14:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
The Bible shows us, that after baptism in the Holy Spirit, a dynamic Jesus life should be the norm.
7: Why do we still sin?
I mean, if our sins are paid for, our old man dead, what can go wrong? Nothing? And yet we have all known sin since being born again.
The truth of point 4 hasn’t changed. Our sins are paid for, our old lives dead, the Holy Spirit in residence. but He hasn’t come to put his feet up and watch TV, he’s come for war.
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
This is not a slight inner turmoil, it’s all out war, the result of which will either show your usefulness to God or your uselessness.
I John 2:16:
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world.
We are still in our human fleshly bodies, and as such we are still subjected to fleshly temptations. These temptations and desires are warring against the desires of the Spirit. The way to deal with them is to put those desires on a daily basis in their proper place. That is, nailed to the cross of Christ.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
It’s very important to remember we have died with Christ, all those temptations, wrong feelings that surface, bad thoughts, need to be cold bloodedly reminded that they are dead. Don't allow them any life, but rather remind yourself that the job has been done, they are taken care of. In our own strength and ability we will fail to do this, but by letting go of our own strength and letting God take care of it we not only see those fleshly areas die but we allow God to do what He wants. It’s win-win.
I will labour this point just with one more example, imagine you come across a person who is very rude to you. You know that you should love such people but instead your anger flares at being abused like this and you want to retaliate. In the flesh you cannot triumph. The flesh will want it’s own way and to retaliate. But, remember, the flesh has been crucified with Christ. Stop. Allow those feelings to die as they should. You can’t handle this situation as it needs to be handled, but you are in Jesus, so let Him handle it. it’s a corny saying but one that sums this up perfectly: let go and let God.
8: How do we live as Christians?
The Christian life is the easiest thing in the world, and can be summed up in one phrase: Just do everything God tells you to.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
This verse in Galatians tells us that we have been made alive by the Holy Spirit, but we Don't stop there. We need to live also by the Spirit. Again, simplicity itself, just do everything the Spirit tells you to do. In practice this can be an interesting experience and a steep learning curve for us as we naturally want to do so much for Jesus. But He isn’t interested in what we can do for Him, He’s only interested in what he wants to do through us. No more. No less. Learning to hear and see what Jesus wants to do through the Spirit is the Christian life. Desires, no matter how spiritual they seem, have to take second place and even die to the utmost goal of us knowing Jesus. Jesus Himself lived that way.
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
How did Jesus please God so much? By ONLY doing what God wanted. Consider the paralysed man outside the Temple that Peter & John walked by and said silver & gold I Don't have... Think, how many times had Jesus walked by that very man? And many other needy people? Why didn’t he heal him? It would have been a good thing to do, but no matter what we think of as our good ideas, without the prompting of the Spirit it is of the flesh. And that must die.
So, the Christian life is all about relationship, the doing part just comes naturally from that relationship as we hear and then do. We have a relationship with the Godhead, we approach the Father through the Son, we know the Son through the Spirit. We pray in Jesus name to the Father. We talk to Jesus, sharing our thoughts and concerns. We walk with the Spirit letting him be our guide in life and helper.
9: What happens when we die?
And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.
I haven’t quoted the whole story Jesus told in Matthew 25, please look it up yourself, but the end verse is the clincher. There is a Heaven and a Hell. Heaven is a place where God dwells and where we those who have been born again and received eternal life will join Him, hell is for those who have not accepted Jesus as Lord. Hell is written of as a terrible place of suffering.matthew 13:
So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Heaven is a place of rejoicing, peace and joy because God is there. And God is love.
From Revelation 21:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.
Going back to point 8 though I will end this series of question with what I think of as one of the scariest verses in the Bible.
From Matthew 7:
“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?
And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
Remember if you remember nothing else, it’s your relationship with Jesus that matters above all else. Not healing the sick, prophesying, casting out demons, doing miracles. They Don't count. What counts is, do you know Jesus?
Friday, September 18, 2009
This is a story from my teenage years and probably one of the most significant events from my past.
It was just after New Year and I was in a Church Youth Group meeting in Newport at the house of the church leader. There was a guest speaker, he was the leader of the church musicians and he started telling us about how he and his friend who played piano, had over the New Year, rededicated their lives to Jesus.
I must have been about 15, and I sat there thinking 'what a great idea, why didn't I think of that'.
So, it wasn't long after I decided to do the same thing.
I went to my downstairs bedroom (everyone else in the house slept upstairs), sat on the edge of my bed and said something along the lines of: 'Jesus, I just give my life to you afresh, use me how you want'. I then sat back and waited to feel God's big smile and a nice pat on the back for doing so well.
Thing was, nothing happened.
So I said it again and waited.
And then started to get the first itch of doubt and worry.
One of the scariest verses in the Bible has to be the this one from Matthew 7:
21 “Not everyone who keeps saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will get into the kingdom of heaven, but only the person who keeps doing the will of my Father in heaven.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name, drove out demons in your name, and performed many miracles in your name, didn't we?’
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you evildoers!’”
The message here is frighteningly clear, it's not what you do for God that has any bearing at all on entering Heaven, it rests on one matter alone, do you know Jesus?
Your prophesying, great, doesn't count.
Your healing the sick, great, doesn't count.
Your raising the dead, great, doesn't count.
Sober stuff. And as I sat on my bed I knew that if I didn't know Jesus I was in the worst position imaginable.
However, I was determined to put things right, scared as I was, I laid on the floor and cried to God that he would be merciful to me, that he would forgive me.
It's a terrible feeling to be alone in a room all by yourself when you hope God will speak to you, but as I said, I was determined to stay on the floor until God spoke to me.
And I don't know how long I was there for, but eventually I did hear God.
What he said was: 'Chris, you've been taking me for granted'.
It was true. How could it not be?
I put myself right with God, and from that day I have never, ever wanted to be in that position again.
The message here is this: Do you see people moving in leaps and bounds ahead of you? Who seem to get chosen for all the 'good jobs' in the Church or who seem to just be blessed and blessed where you don't get anything? Do you feel left out, unnoticed, passed by?
It doesn't matter one bit. ALL that matters, and I say it again, ALL! that matters is that you can say I know Jesus. I speak to Him and He speaks to me. We have a 'relationship'.
If you can't say that my friend, be worried.
And put it right.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Regrets...I have just one
Not a few, as the song goes, but just one.
Sure I've made lots of mistakes in my life, but if you learn from them and move on they are not regrets but stepping stones. Regrets are when you wish you could have done something differently.
Secondary school was not a good time for me. I was separated from all my friends from junior school and put in a class where I didn't know anyone. I don't know why they did this, but it was a desperate time for me.
I remember break times, looking around and not knowing anyone. Just standing there like a lemon wondering which click I should approach. I wasn't the most confident person in the world, far from it, I was pretty shy and introverted.
In the end I approached the 'swatty' guys and sat with them. I was the outsider in their conversations, and remember sitting there listening to them and not having a clue what they were talking about.
The weekends I would cycle down the road to see my best friend. We'd known each other since play group and were as thick as thieves. I don't really know what had happened to me, I was probably under great psychological stress, but at school one day as I was waiting for the bus he came up to chat to me and I pushed him away. Forcibly. I suppose I was falling to bits inside, but it's no excuse. I pushed away the one friend I had who was trying to reach me.
That's my one regret.
If I could go back and change just one thing, that would be it.
Recently I've got to know that friend again through Facebook, and we attended each other's 40th birthday parties.
This last weekend I invited him, his brother and families up for lunch.
We've been renewing our friendship, but this time I had the opportunity to talk privately to him face to face. Which I took, and asked him to forgive me.
Sorry doesn't cut it. Sorry is such a meaningless word. It's only the act of forgiveness that involves the other party, allowing them to have their say, and as the Americans say 'closure'.
It went well. It's a very humbling experience to admit your faults and sins and seek reconciliation, but I'm through fighting the promptings of The Holy Spirit.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Back in the 80's , I came under heavy conviction about the music I listened too as a teenager. It came to the point of me getting rid of all my albums and tapes. Something that pretty much the whole school heard about and even lead to the RE teacher questioning me on whether I'd heard God speak to me or not. He seemed to find the fact that God had incredible to believe.
Anyway, as usual, I digress.
I didn't really know much about Christian music and didn't have a lot of success with what I found. I remember listening to a group called Barrett Band that was good, Paul Fields, Graham Kendrick and of course Keith Green.
I didn't know much about Keith, I heard he gave his albums away for free. I didn't even know he was dead in those days until i attended a Keith green concert hosted by Melody green and it was all explained. His life story: No Compromise, is a challenging read and will explain a lot about a man who was wonderfully saved.
There was no where near the same level of quality of music there is for teenagers these days and I admit I struggled.
Recently I dug out my old Keith Green CD's and put them on my iPod. I'm amazed how sharp his words are, and how they're getting under my skin and into my spirit.
This song has been on my mind for a week or so, I just can't get it out of my head. I dare you to read the lyrics and not be stirred, listening to Keith sing it with his passion is another thing altogether!
Asleep in The Light
Do you see, do you see
All the people sinking down
Dont you care, dont you care
Are you gonna let them drown
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the jobs done
Oh bless me lord, bless me lord
You know its all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts
No one even sheds one tear
But he cries, he weeps, he bleeds
And he cares for you needs
And you just lay back
And keep soaking it in
Oh cant you see its such a sin
Cause he brings people to your door
And you turn them away
As you smile and say
God bless you, be at peace
And all heaven just weeps
cause jesus came to you door
Youve left him out on the streets
Open up open up
And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries
So how can you delay
Gods calling and youre the one
But like Jonah you run
Hes told you to speak
But you keep holding it in
Of cant you see its such a sin
The world is sleeping in the dark
That the church just cant fight
cause its asleep in the light
How can you be so dead
When youve been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you cant even get out of bed
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead
Come on get out of your bed
How can you be so numb
Not to care if they come
You close your eyes
And pretend the jobs done
You close your eyes
And pretend the jobs done
Dont close your eyes
Dont pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with me my love
Come away, come away, come away with me my love
Monday, August 24, 2009
Sometimes it seems people are getting visions 24/7. You hear people saying how they were reading the paper and had a vision, or watching Eastenders and had a vision. They were walking down the street and had a vision.
I do wonder at all this envisioning going on, mainly because in my 40 years I've only ever had 1.
I've had dreams, and pictures and daydreams but only once have I ever had what I would call a vision.
For a start I found it was memorable. Even now almost 20 years on I remember it in great detail. It was different to a picture or daydream too, I was awake and yet all my senses were involved.
Let me tell you about it.
I was on Go Team (a Gospel Outreach team) and we were sort of having a sabbatical in Northumberland at a place called Otterburn Hall back in 1990.
We were having a time of worship and I remember I was sort of on the edges of things quietly worshipping when it seemed I was no longer in the hall. I was in a wheat field. The wheat was tall so only the top of my body was visible. All my senses were tingling, there was a magic in the air, like there is just before a storm, everything was so quiet, not even the birds were singing.
I looked up and saw that the clouds had lined up in a row, just as they do sometimes when the weather will change dramatically over a 24hr period. And there, in the middle was Jesus, standing on the cloud. And also, as if I'd not noticed them at first was thousands of others standing with him to his left and right on the cloud.
I came too and found I was on my knees. I had no idea how long I had been there like that, seconds or hours.
I shared what I had seen, but after I kept it to myself.
It was like I'd been given a precious jewel, something just for me.
Friday, August 21, 2009
If you have a Mac you can download this great free software. Once you have it just download some 'modules' or books to be read with it from The Sword Project.
For instance I have a King James Bible (amongst others) that has Strongs reference numbers attached, plust the Strongs dictionaries to cross reference. I have Spurgeons morning & evening devotional as well as Pilgrims Progress.
For free this is outstanding material.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I've been praying that this year would be a year of hearing God afresh, in a dynamic way, that I would be walking in The Holy Spirit, hearing Him speak who I am to speak to, who I am to pray for.
Sunday afternoon I was sitting on my bed praying. I looked out of the window and saw a man painting his house, further down the street. I thought 'he's working hard' only to staight away hear a voice say 'go and tell him I love him'. I sat there thinking 'oh'. I heard the voice again 'go and tell him I love him'. It's what I've been waiting and praying for, so I dont know why it was so hard for me to go down the stairs, find the door locked, think of giving up, unlock the door and slowly make my way down the street to the man painting. I did it though, and told him God loved him.
We talked for about 10mins. He was a nice guy, probably thinks I'm a little strange, but I'm so thankful for this small chance to do what I'd been told to do.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Phillipians 2 v 12
And so, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I am absent, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
This is a bit of a strange story, but, nonetheless, it's true.
I reckon I was about 10 and doing my best to live a life in the Fear of God, trying to please the all seeing God. I knew a bit about Jesus now and what He had done for me, but probably like a lot of young believers would have had a hard time actually giving a concise and clear reason for my faith. I mean, I was only 10.
I remember clearly I started having a recurring dream.
It was very strange. I was in something similar to an interview room. In the room was a table with 2 chairs, 1 either side of the table.
I sat on one side of the table, and on the other was a Werewolf!
In the dream the Werewolf had one purpose to it's life and one only, to reach across, grab me and tear me to pieces.
But, I would be able to stop the Werewolf, not by might or power but by simply finding the reason why it couldn't do that.
The debate went something like this:
Me: You can't touch me because I'm a Christian.
WW: So what, what does that mean?
Me: It means I believe in Jesus.
WW: So do I. So what?
Me: I believe He died for my sins.
WW: Says who?
Me: The Bible.
WW: Who cares what the Bible says?
This would go on and on, it felt like for hours. But things would eventually come to a head, and it was always on the last point, the Bible.
I learned at that early age, working out my salvation with fear and trembling, that everything hinged on the Word. All the promises in the Bible, all the good things you know, or think you know hinge on whether the Bible is true or not, whether it's God's word or not.
It's the final card on the table that will show you surviving or being torn to pieces.
You can't prove it's true. You believe it is. By faith.
I play the card and the Werewolf is stopped.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
So, we made it to the Bible Week. It was hosted by a man called Arthur Wallis, all I can remember of him and the meetings I saw him at was that he would prophecy so long! it seemed instead of preaching the word he prophesied for about 30mins at a time! I later come to really love Arthurs' books and have learnt so much from them. All these meetings took place in a big tent. It was such a weird time looking back at it. I remember one day there the Police were called as a coven of witches had been broken up in the woods the night previously and arrested, they were all barking like dogs!?
Another time I saw a white haired man that someone said had been raised from the dead!
At these tent meetings I would sometimes just go off fo a walk as it all went a lot over my head. I dont know if there were youth meetings or not but I never got wind of them if there were.
One day I was walking across one of the fields and a man followed me. He introduced himself as Burt, he had a 'old sailor' look to him and said that he couldn't read or write. We got talking, which was very unusual as I was like a clam in those days, very shy and introverted. He said God had been speaking to him about me for the last 3 days.
I was very unhappy with life in those days, being a Christan at school had won me 0 friends. Literally. None. As we got talking he explained I needed the Holy Spirit, of whom I now knew a little. He told me to lie on the floor and prayed for me. it was bizarre, as there were other people walking around, but I did and started to speak in tounges. I ran back to the tent to tell everyone I could 'do it' and felt like I could take on the world. And win.
Which was just as well really because when I did get back home with my new Christian t-shirt on and went to see the boys playing football they told me to 'get lost'.
I walked away from the field and brushed the dust off my feet, because I'd read about this in the Bible.
I had some extremely lonely times as a child and teen, spending what was probably a very unhealthy amount of time on my own walking the hills around my home. I spent a lot of time praying and talking to God as well which was a healthy thing to do.
I do feel tearful thinking back at some of the trials I had, but thank God I came through them undamaged.
Want to hear something weird? Years after this event, when I was in a church in Risca and doing an outreach in Newport, I was standing in John Frost Square packing up some P.A. equipment. i stopped, looked up and there was Burt, standing there watching me. I know this sounds too weird, but it's 100% true. I've never seen him since.
Living a life to please Jesus has not always been easy. Especially when I was young.
I've mentioned before that in the small village I grew up in there were only 2 boys my age. There was also 2 younger than me and 1 older. They would all get together (except for the boy my age who didn't play with the other boy my age...how complicated for 3 kids!). I would join in and play with them on the Junior School playing field after school or on the weekend. Sometimes we went camping together in a local farmers field.
One year my parents decided to go to something called a 'Bible Week', it was going to be in the New Forest. I think it was around 1979, which would make me 11 years old.
I'd now been baptised in water at the Baptist Church at the top of the road. me and another boy called Phillip Wild, who was one of the sons of the Sunday School teacher. I didn't have a lot of idea what was happening, even though it was explained very thouroughly to me by the Minister. I was only about 9, and just knew God wanted it to happen, so I did it. That was really the level of my understanding.
I think it was the following year that the Church hosted something called a Youth For Christ team. This was a bunch of teens and twenty somethings who had given up a year of their life to come and help our snall village be evangelised. It sounded interesting so pleaded with my Mum if we could put one of them up. What was amazing was she said yes and we ended up for a year with the leader of the team, Hugh, staying with us.
It was a very incredible year.
As the year progressed and we had some really fun times with Hugh and the team, who started a youth club in the holidays and took us on midnight hikes with soup at the end, and took us into Newport to play funny disguise games. Hugh also started taking us into Cardiff where we'd heard there was some amazing meetings being held in the Park Hotel. We started going along and found people a lot different to the Baptist Church.
Please hear me on this. The Baptist Church had some good people in it. They tried to walk a Godly life, though it was a very somber one. It fell apart though shortly after the events I'm describing.
At the Park Hotel, there were lots of happy people, they played tamborines, danced! and spoke the Word in a very different way to what I was used to. they would all sing in different languages as well, which apparently was the gift of tounges from The Holy Spirit.
My Dad was particularly taken with all that was going on, and it wasn't long before he was baptised in The Spirit, then a couple of others were from the Church until there was about 10 of us all filled with the Spirit (not me yet though).
After that Dad had real problems at the Baptist Church. They did not like him raising his hands in worship, and pretty much rejected what he had experienced of The Spirit. So, unfortunatley we all left and started a house church.
I'm not sure how we ended up at the New Forest bible Week, but we did.
And this post has gone on a lot longer than I was expecting so I'll pick up the story later.
I've not been listening to Christian music for long. Probably about a year. I keep finding the more I listen to and read Spiritual media the more I'm being changed. It's really weird. It's happening so quickly. It's like suddenly finding you no longer like chocolate or can eat burgers when you only had one yesterday.
Yesterday I sat down to read Ben Elton's Chart Throb, I've enjoyed a lot of his books, but I couldn't read it! Same with music, i'm finding that Spiritual music is hitting me on a completeley different level to 'normal' music.
As said at the beginning, I've not been listening to Christian music for long, but Casting Crowns are one group that really inspire me. Read these lyrics from the song 'WHAT IF HIS PEOPLE PRAYED'
What if the armies of the Lord
Picked up and dusted off their swords
Vowed to set the captive free
And not let satan have one more
What if the Church, for heaven's sake
Finally stepped up to the plate
Took a stand upon God's promise
And stormed hell's rusty gates
What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His faith, yeah
And turn from their old ways
And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day
What if the life that we pursue
Came from a hunger for the truth
What if the family turned to Jesus
Stopped asking Oprah what to do
What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His face yeah
And turn from their own way
He said that He would hear
His promise has been made
He'll answer loud and clear, yeah
If only we would pray
If My people called by My name
If they'll humble themselves and pray
If My people called by My name
If they'll humble themselves and pray
What if His people prayed
And those who bear His name
Would humbly seek His face, yeah
And turn from their old ways
He said that He would hear
His promise has been made
He'll answer loud and clear yeaah
If only we would pray
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Like a lot of people's reviews I've read on this film, I'll echo one sentiment. I did'nt know they made movies like this! It's not often you can watch a movie and feel better for having done so, but this is one of those. Facing The Giants is a "Christian Film", it has at it's central core the belief that God can change lives and events. From different reviews I've read this point seems to be hotly debated, maybe because when He does it does'nt make the news.
The story follows A High School football coach, Grant Taylor, who's life is just full of those little upsets that piled together can bring someone to their knees. His car is a piece of junk, he only earns enough to tick over, not enough to go out and buy another car or commit to that kind of a loan. His house smells terrible, something has died in the floorboards somewhere! The cooker is on the blink. His job is'nt going anywhere, the team are losing games and he might be replaced and lose his job. And to top it off he has some condition that is preventing him and his wife from having children. Some mountains he has in his life, probably easier to deal with in small doses but brought together are a tsunami for him and he is literally brought to his knees where he asks God for help. Grant is then used by God as a fulcrum for a revival in the high school as he makes a stand and brings Christian standards into the football code. The team has a complete turnaround and starts winning, enabling them to finally meet the biggest team in the State, the Giants. Before going further I must point out, that though this is a Hollywood quality film with high production values, the cast are not actors. Most of them are apparently members of the church where writer/director/star Alex Kendrick goes. Does this make a big difference? from my viewing I'd say no. It took me a bit of time to get used to the accents but after that you soon found that these 'real' people are acting very 'real'. You really feel for Grant and his wife. It's not common to see men cry on film, but in the situation he is in I think most would.
So, a good film? Real enough? Insiring? Yes, yes and yes. If you want to watch something that could genuinely lift your spirits as well as maybe just show you an answer to life then watch this movie. Me, I'm looking forward to getting the first film from this group "Flywheel" and also seeing there most recent one "Fireproof" too.
I've just finished reading The Heavenly Man, the true story of a Christian Leader, Brother Yun, in China.
Lots has been said about this book, the incredible tortures he endured after being captured by the Chinese authorities for his 'crime' of Christianity, or of the miraculous escape from a maximum security prison as he just walked out the front gates.
What hit me hardest though was the 'wake up call' in this book.
Do you take Jesus seriously?
If your a believer you would probably answer 'yes', after reading this book I had to answer 'not nearly as much as I need to'.
I should explain something else to you at this point, I've not read any Christian book other than The Bible for about 20 years.
One day I just stopped.
I was getting tired of reading other peoples revelation, other peoples miracles. I wanted to get it for myself, first hand, from The Bible myself. And that's what I have been doing for those 20 years.
Recently I was at a Bible Week in Stafford, England, and believed God was speaking to me to 'widen' the sphere of influence he has on me. What I mean by that is, to allow God more chances to speak to me. Part of that is to start reading books where God will speak to me. I know He can speak to me through any means, but realisticaly there's more chance through a book like The Heavenly Man than Tom Clancy's Rainbow 6.
So, to conclude, I recommend this book. It is a serious book that will challenge you to take your walk with Jesus a lot more seriously than I expect you are.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I've heard people talk about how they 'saw the light', 'met God', 'will never forget the day that...', but for me it wasn't like that.
I must have been about 5 or 6 years old. I had a tiny box room in the house I grew up in in a small village called Castleton. It was a small village with only 2 other boys in the neighbourhood my age. And they didn't play together.
I was taken by my God fearing parents to a small Baptist Church at the top of the road where every Sunday I learned to either draw strange aliens in my dad's diary or sketch the stained glass window. We went twice on Sunday. Sunday school in the morning with my teacher Mrs Wild and then in the evening where guaranteed I would fall asleep at the first prayer and wake up in time for the last hymn.
Anyway, I was about 5 or 6... I was in bed and having a cracker of a nightmare. In my dream I knew, as only a kid knows...I mean really know, that one day I would die and either go to Heaven or Hell. I knew that it was one of them and it wouldn't be Heaven. Dont ask me how I knew this. I had no idea about Jesus, the Holy Spirit or even much about the Bible. I just knew this was true.
I woke up crying and mum came in to ask what was wrong.
'I dont want to go to Hell' I cried and mum said we'd talk about it in the morning.
We never did.
From that moment on though I changed. Maybe not 100% straight away, but gradually, like a boat that moves a rudder 1° only to find out a few miles along that it's on a different course.
From that moment on I knew 100% that there was a God. he was everywhere. He knew everything. He knew all I said, all I thought, everything. There would be no hiding. So from that moment on I tried to live in a way that would please Him and not make Him angry.
Maybe I'd just learned The Fear Of The Lord at that early age?
After about 4 or 5 years I was baptised, and years later again baptised in The Holy Spirit.
But, all those years ago now, in that small room, on the bed my dad built as the room was too small for a 'proper' bed I started life.