- During the week
- About us
8th November 2016
I love that God speaks to us. It's an amazing thing when you think about it: the God who made everything, sustains everything and controls everything loves to talk to us! It's so amazing that when it happens I'm eager to listen and respond.
A few weeks ago, Sarah Burgess brought a prophetic word for the church in our morning meeting. It was exciting and challenging at the time, and I feel it's even more meaningful for us following all that God has said to us and done among us over the weekend with Angela Kemm.
Sarah has written a brief summary of what she felt God saying. Let's hear it again and ask God to help us resond to it rightly.
'Earlier on in the year, I was standing at the back of church during the worship and the Lord said to me: “Go into the kitchen, grab some pans and wooden spoons, and run around the church banging them, shouting ‘Wake up’”.
I argued with Him saying I loved the church, that they would feel judged, it would be disruptive, and a bunch of other reasons why I shouldn’t do it. I didn’t feel Holy Spirit grab my hand and run so I thought I’d got away with it. During the following weeks everything I read and did began pointing like a big flashing arrow to the words ‘wake up’, and I realised that God had given me something to do; he was just beginning to prepare my heart to do it. I wasn't sure why the pans, but all I knew was that He said that He was going to shift and crack open a spiritual atmosphere in the church and He would tell me when.
For the last few weeks I have been wandering around at church like a bag lady, carrying a big rattling bag of pans and tucking it under my seat waiting for Holy Spirit to say go. Well the Sunday came when Father whispered to me in the morning ‘It’s frying pan day’.
It’s funny how God does it his way. The music was quiet, not noisy as I had thought it would be, and as I checked with Him to make sure, He reminded me that sometimes I used to wake my children up with a gentle stroke of the face, sometimes a wet flannel and in some instances I have even used a saucepan and spoon. He knows his children and He knows what He is doing.
This is a little of what I felt Father wanted to say to the church…
“This is not a judgement call; it’s a wake up call. He loves the church and wants the best for us and just like we set our alarm clock in the morning if there is something important we need to get to that we don’t want to miss, this is our alarm call because there is something about to happen in the church that he doesn’t want us to miss... so wake up.”
So as the music played I did what I needed to do; others joined in with spare pans I had brought with me and Father God did what he wanted to do – waking up his children.'
Posted by Andrew Bunt
31st October 2016
Have you ever wondered what God’s love language is? Love languages is a concept which argues that different people experience and express love in different ways. I think the concept has some merit, but I’d never before thought about it in relation to God. That is until I listened to a talk from this year’s Newday by Stef Liston.
Stef talked first about God’s love language to us: grace. God’s grace is his love and favour shown to those who are utterly underserving. It’s God’s love which seeks us out and saves us and does us good, even though we have no claim to it based on our own merits. And it’s when we understand and experience God’s love through the grace that he has shown us that it causes us to want to express our love to him.
But how does God want us to express our love to him? What love language should we use for God? Stef suggests that the love language God wants us to use to him is obedience, because obedience expresses trust that he is good. Jesus said this all the time. He said things like ‘Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me’ (John 14:15), and ‘Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and keep it!’ (Luke 11:27). He even redefines family and declares, ‘Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother’ (Mark 3:35).
This made me think about something God has been speaking to me about for a while: what it means to be a child of God. Parents want their children to be obedient to them. They know what’s best for them and they love it when their child is obedient because it shows that they trust them. Obedience is a big part of being a good child.
And the same is true of being a child of God. Often when we think about our identity as children of God we can focus only on God’s love to us. This is good and so important – we need to really know and experience our identity as God’s children and the unchanging love he has for us. But we should also want to express our love to him, and the primary way in which we do this is by being obedient to him.
God first started highlighting this to me as I read Matthew’s Gospel. Matthew wrote his Gospel in order to show that Jesus is the Son of God, and the primarily way in which he does this is to show that Jesus was obedient to God the Father.
We see this when Jesus is baptised and tells John the Baptist that his baptism is necessary to do all that is right (Matthew 3:15), and we see it in the temptation where Jesus is obedient to the Father when tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). We also see Jesus’ obedience to the Father when he is heading for the cross (Matthew 26:39, 42). And the theme also comes through in Jesus’ teaching: The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is all about heart obedience to God and talks about God as the father of obedient disciples (e.g. Matthew 5:45; 6:1; 7:11). The Gospel ends with the commission to make disciples of every nation. Jesus says that two things are to mark out these disciples: they are to be baptised (an act of obedience to God) and they are to obey all that Jesus has taught his followers (Matthew 28:20). Jesus defines discipleship – and so sonship – as obedience to God.
I want to know and experience the identity God has given me. That’s why I regularly pray that I would experience his love for me – both through recognising his grace to me and through the internal witness of the Holy Spirit. But now I’m also praying that I would grow in obedience so that I can better express my love to God and grow as an obedient child of God.
You can listen to Stef's talk here. Talks from Newday are always worth listening to, no matter what your age! You can find lots from recent years here.
Posted by Andrew Bunt
25th October 2016
It’s not just adults getting involved in our 40 days of hungering after God. A couple of weeks ago, our teenagers gathered for a night of prayer at our youth prayground. A prayground is an interactive prayer space with different stations designed to help people pray in different ways and for different things. The youth prayground had stations ranging from a Thank You Station, where the youth thanked God for all sorts of things, to a Listening Station, which provided an opportunity to take a few minutes to listen to God, and a Mission Station, where the youth prayed for their friends who don’t yet know Jesus and the coming move to multi-venue.
There were lots of great stories which emerged from the evening. The youth filled a big flipchart sheet with declarations of who God is and created a colourful web of thank you prayers by pegging up lots of post-it notes with prayers on them. Lots of young people asked for prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit at the Filling Station and many felt the Holy Spirit filling them. In each group that came to the Listening Station there were young people who heard God speaking to them. In several groups God said very similar things to multiple people.
One great story came from our Fusion team, a team who work with young people with additional needs and who might otherwise struggle to engage with the activities going on. One of the young people in the Fusion group, a young guy who has no church background, was experiencing pain from an injury. The team prayed for him, and the pain completely stopped. When the young person realised what had happened a few minutes later, he burst into a great prayer of thanks and praise.
This coming Saturday we’re running another prayground, this time for families with children aged 0-12. As in the youth prayground there’ll be a range of different prayer stations and activities to help families engage with God together, and we’re sure that they’ll be more great stories on the back of the family prayground.
If you’re a family with children aged 0-12 come along to The Hastings Centre next Saturday (29th October), between 2-4pm for the family prayground.
Posted by Andrew Bunt
20th October 2016
The other day I read this quote on Pinterest, and it stopped me in my tracks:
"If you’re not hungry for God – then you’re too full of yourself."
Flip! At that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit’s loving but firm conviction: "Give me all your heart. You’re filling up areas of your life with other things; I want all of you."
Psalm 63 is one of my favourite psalms: "O God you are my God, earnestly I seek you, my souls thirsts for you, my body longs for you. In a dry and weary land where there is no water. For I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory, for your love is better than life, so my lips will glorify you. I will bless you as long as I live and in your name I will lift my hands." Psalm 63:1-4
In the natural, the longer you haven’t eaten the hungrier you become. But with God, the more we see of Him and fill our time and hearts with Him, the more we want Him. In Psalm 63, after David has seen God he uses intense language to describe his desperate need for more of Him.
If I’m honest, I can let days slip past without truly spending quality time with God. I know this starves me spiritually, but I find that the more this happens the more I think I don't need Him. Other things I give my time to aren’t bad, but they eat away at my time with God.
When I was a teenager, one of the youth leaders challenged me about whether us girls can spend more time each day straightening our hair than being with God. Now I know we can take this to the extreme – of course we’re going to sleep or be at work for more hours each day than we give to dedicated time with God, and of course I need to shower, eat, and see friends and family, but the point really struck me, even at the tender age of 15! As I read that Pinterest quote, I felt convicted of this again. So often I waste time trawling through Facebook, daydreaming, faffing around the house and straightening my hair so that whole mornings and evenings go past where I have wasted time I could have spent with Him.
This isn’t about beating myself up and getting all legalistic; it’s about my heart longing to be filled with the one it was made to be filled with. It’s about joining David and crying out: "Earnestly I seek you, my soul thirsts for you." I don't want my life to be full of me.
I don't want my gravestone to say: "Joanna had nice hair and a good knowledge of films!" I want to pour my time into knowing and loving Jesus more, to spend the mornings delving into treasures and truth from the Bible, to pray and talk to Him throughout the day, and to: "Bless His name as long as I live." This week I’ve needed to be real with God, to list out the things that I’m full of and to repent and re-order some stuff in my life.
So let me ask you: What are you full of? What’s filling your thoughts, your time, your days? I believe God is waiting for you to bring Him your whole heart, however that looks for you, whatever large or small amount of time that means you can give Him. Jesus gave us all of himself. I wonder how hungry we can be for Him?
Posted by Joanna Mutu