Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Jesus: Saviour, Healer and Deliverer

Preaching the gospel, laying hands on the sick and casting out demons - this is the work of the Christian. When Jesus sent the 12 he sent them to do these things in the villages that they came to. When he sent out the 72 he got them to do the same. He now also sends us, how do we know - because of the great commission found in Matthew 28. We also read this in John 14:12-14:

"I tell you the truth, anyone who who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. They will see even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

When he says these things he is saying, I preached the good news, laid hands on the sick and I cast out demons - go and do these things - yes do this with love and compassion, without compromising or watering anything down, but go and do what I have been doing. Why? So he can continue doing what he has been doing, but all over the place by the power of his Holy Spirit as we step out in faith.

This weekend, I had the privilege of speaking at Sutton Family Church. On the morning there were 5 responses to the good news - 3 recommitments and two unsure whether it was the first time or not. Whatever the details were, 5 people stood and aligned themselves with Jesus asking them to be Lord of their lives and to relinquish the hold they have on their own lives.

On that same morning several people were prayed for for healing. One lady's neck was healed even before hands were laid on or a prayer was answered. Another lady sent this testimony to the leader of the church in Sutton on Monday morning:

"I felt very strongly that I was going to be healed on Sunday morning. In fact I quickly realised that I could stand with very little pain during the worship. I was leading the Whiz kids class so I’d asked Colin and Mary to come and collect me when the time came. I went to the front and Mary, Pete and Scott all prayed for me. At the time I cannot say that I felt totally pain free but immediately I walked away I realised that for the first time in months I wasn’t limping or dragging my foot.

During the rest of the day I was fine – I was climbing stairs without relying heavily on the banister rail and even ran up the top flight of four. By bedtime I made a deliberate decision not to take my nightly dose of painkillers. I did not wake up in pain during the night and when I got up this morning I was pain free and mobile! I still am! I have told three people at work so far.

Praise God - I am so elated I can’t stop smiling! "

There were other stories of an older lady who could march on the spot where before Arthritis had subdued her movement. Another lady was overwhelmed by the Spirit and we are awaiting news as to whether her thyroid problem has been rectified.

I tell these stories because Jesus is still doing his work through his people by the power of his Holy Spirit. At his name, people are saved, they are healed and at his name demons do flee. We truly have an amazing God and as we build up now for Alpha starting next week and our healing meeting on May 17th, let's be praying that our God will do extraordinary things here in Reading.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Husband lessons learned!

So I have finished "For Men Only" by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn. Out of all the helpful insights in the book I found 2 particularly helpful in my own marriage. (This is a longer post than usual but I wanted to share these things!)

The first was around 'windows'. The fact that women work with many different windows open, a bit like a computer, was in many ways revelatory to me. I knew that my wife multi tasked but hadn't thought about why. I know for me, that I have one thought processing at the fore of my mind at a time and will get to a place where I will close that window before having another one opened. It helped me to understand why B always has so many things to talk to me about at the end of the day - she is simply going through her windows. Also, when I haven't yet done something which she asked me to do, she will find it necessary to remind me because the window is still not closed for her.

The other useful thing on this was pop-ups. Another computer analogy (probably because as men we understand this terminology!!!) Just as computers have pop-ups (both helpful and unhelpful) so do women. Things can just pop up and that can affect how my wife feels at that particular moment. Since reading this, I have been able understand why my wife wants to talk to me about many things in the first 10 minutes that I get in and I have been able to ready myself for that in order to be a husband who is endeavouring to display my love for her. I have also been able to say 'was that a pop-up?' and have been able to help her close some windows just by doing the things she had expected me to actually do rather than procrastinate about!

The second thing was in the last chapter. The reminder to me that my wife needs to be affirmed of my love for her often. I know that I tell my wife I love her lots. There are even times when I will say it too many times and she will say that she knows that I don't have to keep saying it!!! After reading this chapter I will keep saying it, but I also realise that affirming my love for my wife is done in different ways and not just in words. I must keep helping around the house and with our baby daughter. n I must keep taking a lead spiritually and I must keep on tracking our budget, because I know these are all ways that she feels loved. I must also keep having conversation with her. I know she doesn't want that to be the same as when she meets up with her girl friends, but good time when she feels that she has my attention and that she feels heard and listened to. This helps her to know that she is the the only girl for me.

This is important to her. Just like when she was a little girl wanting her daddy's undivided attention, she now wants to know that she has my undivided love and attention. The second part of the chapter talks about the hammer that men hold that can shatter our wives; that being roving eyes. The whole thing around men and watching where their eyes go on a summers day walking through Reading, can destroy any of the words or even the gestures that have helped your wife feel she is number 1. This is sobering and has lead me to double my efforts in this area. I want to be like the basketball player who Jeff cites on page 174!

"In the mid-90's, Sports Illustrated did a cover feature, entitled, "St. David," on David Robinson, the MVP centre for the San Antonio Spurs. One segment described how Robinson, as a professing Christian, husband and father, in the midst of the NBA's intense temptations. For example, during television breaks, he would sit on the bench and stare studiously at the floor in order to avoid looking at the gyrating cheerleaders out on the court.

The article also mentioned that like all NBA players, Robinson was constantly approached by attractive women who wanted to talk to him...and were probably offering more than just witty conversation. Apparently, he would rather brusquely brush them off. When asked to comment on that seemingly "rude" practice, he said something like this: 'If any woman is going to get her feelings hurt, it's not going to be my wife.' A protector and hero in action!"

I want to see Robinson as an inspiration in my own marriage and make sure my eyes are only for my darling wife and I'm going to let her know often that that is the case!!! Now, with my marriage invested in, I turn my attention to Spurgeon's 'The Soul Winner," in an effort to not just be a man endeavouring to win his wife's heart day after day, but also to be a man that sees lost people won for Jesus.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

A week of stories!!!

One of the things that is important in life is to be inspired. There are many things that can inspire us, but I am someone who becomes particularly inspired by others. This week I have been totally motivated by the stories I have been sent on facebook, text and email. I shall outline a few of them below. If you are anything like me you will hopefully read this and hopefully feel that speaking to people about our faith or inviting people to meet Jesus is quite a natural thing to do.

Stuart works in a multi national company. He speaks to people around the world in the course of a day. He has acquaintances as a result in India. One of those got into an instant message conversation. The upshot of which gave Stuart the opportunity to share the reason for the hope that he has. He pointed the lady toward passages in the bible which surprised her but also enabled her to say that she had been to church when she was younger but had 'drifted away'. He writes this to conclude his mail:

"We have since prayed for her in our Life Group that she would find calm, patience, and peacefulness and although she had a very difficult weekend (28th/29th March), she was able to find strength through praying which is something she never would have done before."

Carol and Mike are a couple who have just joined our church. They are a fantastic pair and have really started to get their sleeves rolled up. At the end of last week, Carol sent me this:

"This is just to tell you that this morning I have had a long talk with someone who has some extremely complex and difficult circumstances in which she lives. I have invited her to Alpha. At present she's not sure she could really even fit Alpha into life (as she has lots of responsibility for others). I talked about her needs being met and that she needs God to take on her burden and see her through!

I know her well and we have had talks over a couple of years ... but today's was the most direct, with reference to God in my life! "

What a great email to receive!!! Carol is also going to be serving on the Alpha course!

Lawrence has been prolific this week. I have had three texts from him telling me of his exploits. The first of which was inspired by Karen's story that I told during my preach on Sunday morning (link here). He was sitting in the barbers chair and was able to tell his story to her. His second opportunity was to tell his geography admin lady (he's a student) what his mission trip to Poland was all about. He wrote this:

"The opportunities are there even though we think we don't make the most of them!"

Since those first two texts, he has also been able to share his story with a waitress and a ceroc dance instructor. He's on the front foot and loving it!!!

I share these with you as they have encouraged me to action this week. I made my first invite to Alpha in years on Monday night. There was no resounding "yes" but my good friend did say he would think about it. I am praying that he will come.