Midwives of the Spirit

As a father, awaiting the birth of our 3rd child, I was naturally surprised by the importance of the midwives in Exodus chapter 1.

Many of you will know the story of how the Jewish nation was exploding in population within the confines of slavery and suffering. Their growth was so epic that the Pharaoh was scared. He ordered the death of all of the Hebrew sons. But the midwives took a stand. They loved God more than they wished to obey the command of a tyrent.

It struck me in this story that it was the midwives Pharaoh spoke to. What about the elders? Where’s the chain of command here? It turns out that in ancient Egyptian culture birth was seen as a supernatural event. An interaction between the spirit world and the natural world. And so the role of the midwives was of the utmost importance. They were seen as spirit aids.

It occurred to me that, as followers of Jesus, our role is similar to those Hebrew midwives. We are called to make disciples, aiding people into a new birth experience, (born again as Jesus says). Our role is to hear what the Spirit is saying, convey that message, so that those receiving the good news will be born into their true identity as children of God. Remember it is the Holy Spirit who is the evangelist. We are the midwives. There to support the Holy Spirit bring about new birth. We simply encourage, pray and teach the message of Jesus and the Holy Spirit brings about the new birth.

Who has God laid on your heart that you are spiritually midwiving towards the Kingdom of God today?

God bless you

Oliver

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The Colour of Glory

In January I felt God was laying on my heart a calling to be creative. We are all created by God. He is a Creator. We are made in His image and therefore, we too, are creators.

The call to be creative (not necessarily arty!) is a call designed to bring colour and beauty, not just to our lives, but to those around us also. A life lived out as a life of blessing.

The above painting originally began as an idea or a phrase from Hebrews Ch.1. ‘The Son reflects the Father’s glory.’ When you read the gospels you see Jesus living a life in FULL colour. It’s a life of creativity, healing, love and, ultimately, a true representation of what God is really like.

Often we get the impression from law keeping Christianity, or ‘don’t do that’ Christianity, that life is drab and, to live it out properly, you need to tow the line and live out the right rules…

But God’s glory, revealed in His Son, expressed in grace is vibrant and filled with beauty and colour. It’s like a wild party (without the hedonism!) filled with party streamers, carnival parades and exuberant praise!

The wonder of Gods glory, revealed in Jesus, is FULL of colour.

Ask God today how you are called to be creative: at work, with a paintbrush, in the kitchen, at school… Or wherever else His feet, in yours, takes you!

Blessings Oliver

Invitation into the deep

Into the Deep

Above is a painting I felt led to paint earlier this year. These are the words I felt Abba Father gave me to go with it…

I stand on the shoreline of God’s grace. Before me stretches the vastness of God’s reckless, raging, furious love. Mercy calling out to me, ‘Come deeper my child, come deeper.’ The gentle shoreline is lapped by inviting waves of mercy. I hesitate – too afraid to launch out. It’s so enticing. It’s intriguing. It’s energetic. His mercy calling out again and again, with each wave gently lapping at my feet. I breathe in deep, resolved to launch out into the deep. There I will find my Father. There I will increase my capacity to experience love and give love. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale… let go. I dive forward into the vast ocean of grace, mercy and love. Conquered by a tender love, a love I have never known. It soothes me, refreshes me, calms me, drives fear away until I realise, I have become one with the sea and the sea is one with me… like I had never been paralysed on the shoreline but as though I was made for the waters of grace. Mercy is my position. Love is my life vest. Grace is the deep… my Father’s delight, my Father’s pleasure.

Is the deep of God’s mercy, grace and reckless, raging, furious love calling out to you today? Why not dive in and see where the current takes you?

Blessings

Oliver

Discipleship as Invitation and Challenge

Discipleship is a key ingredient to life with Jesus. In fact, it was His last command to his followers – ‘Go and make disciples…’ (See Matthew 28:19). The trouble is that our discipleship looks more like a training programme for a business. We have strategies, bible studies, and highlight right doctrine but that’s not how Jesus did discipleship.

His strategy was this: Invitation and challenge.

Jesus lived by Invitation and challenge. He invited people into relationship with him and a challenge to live a Kingdom life. (As a Kingdom people thinking about discipleship and mission… we can recognise that they both hinge on these two things) Our discipleship and discipling of others is based on the invitation to be a part of the family followed by a challenge to live out those family values, characteristics and actions. Invitation and challenge… Be a part of the family but observe how we live and imitate that… Hopefully, we will be living authentic Jesus lives! It’s less about right doctrine and ticking the church programme box and more about being a community!

Here is a reminder of some invitations and challenges that Jesus offered..

Matthew 4:17 – Repent, the Kingdom of Heaven is near.

Matthew 4:19 – Follow me and fish for people

Matthew 5:13-16 – You are the salt of the earth and light of the world … don’t hide, don’t loose your flavour! People will see your good deeds.

Matthew 10:1 – Jesus gathered the disciples and gave them authority to continue the works He had been doing!

Matthew 11:28-30 – Come to me and learn from me.

Matthew 13:44-46 – Kingdom like a pearl/treasure … sell everything to enter it!

John 20:21-22 – Receive my peace – I am sending you!

Remember discipleship is about following Jesus. Its about learning what Jesus did and doing the same. As a family of God on mission we are called to continue Jesus’ ministry – heal, deliver, resurrect!

He is speaking to us all the time. Where is Jesus giving you an invitation today? Where is He challenging you?

Blessings

Oliver

ps… if you want to read more about this get yourself a copy of The Passionate Life or The Passionate Church by Mike Breen

 

Church or Kingdom? So what of church…?

Previously, we talked about Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus came to bring a Kingdom and His Kingdom leads to the building of a church, which is of course, His Body.

So, if Jesus didn’t preach the Kingdom of the church, what does that mean for us as churchgoers? Jesus said that whenever 2 or 3 are gathered together, He would be there in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20). Coffee morning in Weatherspoons, Sunday gatherings, worship practices, lunch out together, are all gatherings of Church. Essentially, its when the Body of Christ get together in Jesus’ Name. It is not primarily a Sunday morning gathering but it includes that. It’s whenever brothers or sisters meet and fellowship together. For a believer in a hostile environment, this may mean a chance meeting in a wood or a coffee shop, where all you can do is silently express praise to God and encouragement to one another.

Sunday mornings are essentially a gathering when we get to together with the intention to worship God, celebrate (testimony) what God has been doing in the week as we have been advancing the Kingdom. It’s also a time to intentionally encourage one another and build each other up so that we are empowered to continue the Kingdom mission set before us.

In this sense, Sunday gatherings should refocus us to be Jesus centred and Kingdom minded – in our workplaces, coffee shops, toddler groups, hospital appointments, etc. etc. Essentially, Jesus spent one day a week teaching in the synagogue but 6 days a week in the market place, walking through the desert streets, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons and announcing the reign of God.

Unfortunately, we can blur the lines. We can place church at the centre rather than a life giving relationship with Jesus, that spills over into a life giving relationship with one another.

If we think Kingdom above Church, we become less worried about our patch and more aware of the bigger picture. We become more concerned with blessing those around us and more determined to see God’s reign in our communities, towns, workplaces and daily routines.

Jesus said ‘… I will build my Church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.’ (Matthew 16:18) If Jesus is responsible for building the Church, we have been given the responsibility of announcing God’s reign and making disciples of those who respond.

Let’s be Kingdom minded people, making the most of our relationships with one another.

Blessings

Oliver

Church or Kingdom?

Have you ever been in the situation where you have been chatting with someone and in that discussion ‘church’ is mentioned? You often get one of two responses:

  1. ‘Oh that’s nice.’
  2. a blank expression with an uncomfortable twinge in the shoulders followed by a grimace on the face!

It’s easy for us to talk about Church. It’s something we do, something we are a part of. We have close friends there, have some kind of gathering that we like to invite people to, a mid week program… But the good news is NOT church centred.

It may not have occurred to you but in Matthews gospel the word church is mentioned 3 times! That’s 3 Times by Jesus! Once, when Jesus declares ‘I will build my church…’ (Matthew 16:18 emphasis mine) and secondly, where the word is mentioned twice, in the instruction on how to deal with trouble makers (Matthew 18:17).

Now lets contrast that with what Jesus actually preached about… Namely, the Kingdom of God, His Father’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven… At a quick count in my NIV study bible concordance, I have counted at least 45 times in Matthew alone that Jesus speaks about the Kingdom/ Kingdom of God/ Kingdom of Heaven.

Jesus came announcing the reign of God. That’s what the Kingdom is. God’s Kingdom, God’s reign, expressed through lives repenting – turning around and following Jesus. It’s both an inward reality – The Kingdom is within – Jesus reigns in my life and also an external reality – God’s reign breaking in through the announcing of the good news of Jesus and confirmed with signs and wonders.

The Kingdom is also both a present and a future reality. It’s present here and now amongst those whom Jesus has become King and over the Body of Christ. It’s a future reality because Jesus will return to complete His work and bring in a Kingdom that is eternal.

I wonder… Do we need to get back to a Kingdom centred gospel? After all, Jesus is the King whom we follow and pledge our allegiance to and it’s His reign we are ushering in. I sincerely believe that when we announce that the Kingdom of God is near we will see lives transformed and I have confidence that building church is Jesus’ work that follows our faithfulness in ushering in the Kingdom of God. Let’s not be concerned with bums on seats in church but in lives entering the Kingdom of God.

May His Kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Blessings … Oliver

Signs of the Kingdom pt.2

In the first part of this blog we considered the signs of God’s Kingdom – healing, deliverance, resurrection, Good News preached to the poor… The signs are not what we expect. And they certainly weren’t the evidence most people were looking forward in the 1st Century Israel…

In the same way that the signs of the Kingdom aren’t what we expect, neither was Jesus’ discipleship program! Our discipleship program often consists of a 12 step course or various opportunities to serve in the local church. It consists of a good old fashioned Bible study, excruciatingly examining every doctrine of the Church. And yet when we read the gospel accounts of how Jesus taught the disciples it was a very different picture.

Luke 9 starts off with Jesus calling the 12 disciples together and then giving them power and authority to announce the nearness of God’s Kingdom and the signs that Jesus had been doing! They were thrown in at the deep end and sent out in two’s to have a go at the things they had observed Jesus doing. They were expected to come up with creative ways of feeding 5,000 people, they were thrown to the extremes of experience with horrendous storms and miraculous catches. They did the things Jesus did… They observed, had a go, and, eventually took those signs of the Kingdom to the Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

Jesus said: ‘These miraculous signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in my Name, and they will speak in new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick, and they will be healed.’ (Mark 16:17-18)

Discipleship looks a whole lot different to what we think it should. Discipleship means to follow Jesus … to live a daily life with Him and to observe what He does … and do it ourselves. And then the process starts all over again with us… We invite people into relationship with us. Show them how we follow Jesus and challenge them to do the same.

Where is Jesus inviting you to follow him today? What is the challenge to you?

These Signs of the Kingdom will accompany us as we follow Him. We are His hands and feet now…

Blessings Oliver

Signs of the Kingdom Pt.1

Recently, I have been thinking about the passage in Luke 7, where John the Baptist is in prison…

He sends two of his disciples to Jesus with a question: ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’ (Luke 7:19) WHAT?! This is the same guy who stood in the river Jordan and pointed to Jesus saying, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!’ (John 1:29) The same guy who said ‘I am a voice crying out in the wilderness, “prepare the way for the LORD!”‘ and here he is asking Jesus if he was the Messiah…

I wonder, don’t we all ask Jesus that question when we are sat in some prison in our minds, or behaviour… Let’s be honest. I fluctuate from great faith to great doubt! Sometimes in the space of a morning! And yet, there is something deep within that keeps us pursuing God, even when we feel like we are just hanging on.

Look at Jesus’ response… ‘Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor.’ (v.22)

John knew the signs of the coming King. He knew the prophecies of old, he knew what to expect when the Messiah came. And this is Jesus’ appeal to Him. Check out the evidence!

I find myself asking: ‘are they the signs I would have expected?!’ Maybe a conqueror on a Shire Horse. Or in churchy terms… a nice service for an hour on a Sunday morning or an extensive church program offering nice activities to help us feel comfortable with our lives. We often miss the coming of God because we are busy looking elsewhere or caught up in needless tradition.

Jesus’ coming was with power and was found in amongst the drop outs, drug addicts, thieves, tax collectors, prostitutes and the down trodden of society. It was found in acts of compassion and mercy. The evidence points to who He is… The Messiah. The King promised of God.

Where are you seeing the signs of God’s Kingdom today? How are you joining in?

Blessings Oliver

The Coming New Glory

Dear all,

I have been reflecting on our prophetic sense about structures to contain what God is about to do. As part of that there are the changes to our leadership structures but I also know some of you have had to face many trials over these past few months. Some of you have struggled with anxieties, health problems, confusion, spiritual battles. Peter writes that these struggles and trials are necessary to prove that our faith is genuine… like gold refined in fire… when Jesus returns.  (1 Peter 1:7)

Interesting this term ‘greater worth than gold that perishes, even though its refined by fire’. Yesterday (5/11/17), as we were praying before the service, we just sensed that God was talking about a refining happening… why? To prove our faith is genuine when Jesus comes back. Paul in his letter to the Romans says that ‘suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope…’ (Romans 5:1-5)

In this sense we have refining for both a genuine faith in Jesus but also our characters. Why our characters? That’s the most painful bit! Why?! Because God wants us to contain His glory. Restructuring our hearts, (and our leadership on a practical level!), is a process designed to contain God’s glory in an even greater way… it can feel painful, confusing, bring up feelings of loneliness, despair and fear but ultimately, if we learn to persevere in faith through the process, holding tight to His promises, we can see a glory far greater than we can even imagine now.

Remember Haggai? (If you don’t… read it.. it’s only 2 chapters long!) He spoke of a time when the heavens and the earth would be shaken but the glory of the present house will be greater than the former! (Haggai 2:6-9). The shaking is the trials we have/will have to face but if we stick with the process and have faith and allow God to shape our characters to be more like Jesus, our hearts and our household (all of us together – the Church), will contain a greater glory than we have ever done! And this is His desire ‘to make a dwelling place for my Name!’.

Structures are important – whether its the character of our hearts or our organisational structures – to contain and maintain that which God is about to do and has already begun among us! Continue therefore in faith and encourage one another.

Ollie

The Gift of Faith

Dear all,

We seem to be gaining momentum again. Things are happening that are miraculous to say the least. We have had some healing’s. Many of you are becoming more courageous. Things are being shaken! God is on the move! In the words of Carmen, ‘God’s got an army!’ and that’s what it feels like we are becoming… an Army of the Holy Spirit and God’s reckless love!

As I was pondering the different gifts of the Spirit, both relating to Sunday mornings and life, I was considering the role of faith in all of them. Paul, specifically, talks about a ‘Gift of Faith’, which we shall explore deeper in a Sunday service in November. But the Bible is full of references to faith! And its an absolute necessity for us as followers of Jesus. In fact, the writer of Hebrews says ‘…it is impossible to please God without faith…’ (11:6) Paul says that even faith relating to our salvation is a ‘gift’ through His grace. (Ephesians 2:8)

When it comes to the gifts of the Spirit. None of us can naturally heal someone. None of us can naturally speak in a supernatural language. None of us can prophesy. None of us can lead by the Spirit. None of us can be generous. None of us can have faith to move mountains! It’s simply something we cannot do. (Incidentally the danger comes when we access spiritual things without being connected to Jesus. Without Jesus as Lord it becomes occult and spiritually dangerous!) So with the gifts of the Spirit, as long as we are acting out of faith we shall please God. We may not get it right all the time but God responds to our faith… not whether we get it all 100% right. Lets be a culture like John Wimber referred to ‘everyone gets to play!’ In this way, we can learn together how to move, live and have faith in the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Be still Church. Know that He is God. Depend on Him and respond to Him by faith and you will see God do extraordinary things. As you respond to the things God is saying to us about the gifts allow yourself to step out in faith. Continue to desire the greater things.

Blessings

Ollie

Pressing forward to a sure infrastructure

Dear all,

It has been sometime since I posted here. Apologies if you have been waiting!

Over these past few months, God has been leading us on a journey to being a Body growing to maturity in Jesus. In reality, this has worked out with changing the Sunday services to make space to reflect how that maturity comes about. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:26 that when we operate in the gifts of the Spirit we are building one another up. In other words encouraging each other to maturity. Our Sunday services, have changed to create space in order that we may begin to allow space for the gifts of the Spirit as listed in Pauls letter. Sometimes, this may have felt like chaos. But many of you have courageously stepped up bringing revelations, prophecies, testimonies. There is always much more and I encourage you to press into God and keep asking for the greater gifts. To keep listening and asking the question, ‘What is the Spirit saying to the Churches?’

One of the prophetic senses we have had since we joined the church in 2016 is that the Father is wanting us to sure up the structure in order to be that people God has called to ‘Host His Presence.’ This has been happening in the physical. The Father’s Living Room, the re ordering of the back meeting room. We have other physical structural changes coming up to prepare us for growth and to be a dwelling place for God.

In the spiritual, we have also been seeing structural strength being brought… The Midday prayers for a year or so was the powerhouse of church and brought a stirring to the water. However, its always important to follow the Spirit, and so when the Spirit nudged us to show us that it had run its course we needed to listen. There will be other prayer events coming up!

We have now held two Schools of the Holy Spirit, No Longer Slaves and Sunday night Father’s Presence. All of these things have been stirring us in the spiritual realm. From September we shall be training up a Prayer Ministry team and having some exciting events. These are all to stir the waters and to provide space for God to move in and amongst us to make us a people ready to Host the Presence and to receive the harvest God has for us.

Please continue to remain faithful in prayer, the gifts of the Spirit and meeting together so we may spur one another on to maturity in Jesus.

Blessings

Oliver

Twofold Ministry of the Spirit Pt.2

In our first blog concerning the Twofold Ministry of the Spirit we looked at the Indwelling work of the Spirit in a believers life. In this second part we are considering the Outward work of the Holy Spirit, which is for those around me…

Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit, that is the Indwelling presence of God. But His instructions were specific to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit’s power to be His witnesses. The Spirit comes upon us in order that we may be witnesses and for the building up of other believers’ .

  1. Called to be witnesses… Jesus called His followers (and still does) to make disciples, teaching them all that He has commanded. (Matthew 28:18-20) This witness includes the preaching of good news, healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, baptising them in the Holy Spirit, speaking in new tongues. (Isa 61 & Mark 16:17-18) ) The anointing of the Holy Spirit is activated when we preach good news and is confirmed by works of power as detailed above. This is a demonstration of the Kingdom of God breaking into lives revealing the truth of who Jesus is… the King! The teaching of disciples and assisting them, to not only be hearers of God’s Word, but to also live out God’s Word is the process of discipleship (included in this is baptism and repentance). This is the first outward working of the Holy Spirit.
  2. Mutual edification of the Body of Christ is the second outward working of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 12 & 14 and Romans 12 Paul explains the importance of desiring the spiritual gifts. Included in these gifts are speaking in tongues & interpretation, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, revelation, acts of service, hospitality, administration etc. These gifts are for the building up of the Body of Christ and not for the glory of those bringing them! Paul also talks about the 5 fold ministry in Ephesians 4:11… Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers.* These callings and giftings, activated by the power of the Holy Spirit, are again for the building up and maturity of the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit equips us to be a blessing to the Body of Christ in our worship gatherings, small groups and daily meetings in the town.

We come into maturity when we begin to believe and walk in our inheritance as children of God, namely the Twofold ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes to bring the Father’s work through our lives. As we grow in our understanding of the Spirits work both within us and upon us, we can then start to grow to maturity as the Body of Christ.

I encourage you to ponder these things prayerfully and allow the Spirit to reveal more of the Father’s grace bought for us by Jesus in order that we may grow into maturity, not lacking in anything, to see the world transformed by the love of God.

*Please note the Five Fold Ministries are not our ‘Identity’ but are our callings. Our ‘Identity’ is found only in Christ and not what we are gifted to ‘do’.