Calling – by Mark Reid

I’m so excited to have a guest post from Mark Reid on the prophetic inspiration behind his worship album ‘Calling’. Mark has agreed to be one of the prophetic writers of our community ‘Prophetic Roadhouse’ and this is his first piece! Mark comes from a rich prophetic heritage and his voice is one that I believe we’re in need of hearing. His honesty and pure hearted desire to worship God resounds the cry of a forerunner in today’s complex world. Please give him lots of facebook love (likes&shares) and if you resonate with what he says, go buy his album!

Calling

Writing ‘Calling’ was very significant for me, as I’ve journeyed with and written these songs over the past five years. They reflect a season in my life where the Lord was specifically telling me what He thinks about me. As you listen to this album, you’ll come across the theme of ‘identity.’ So, as I write this short piece describing the album I’m also opening up to some of my journey, specifically how the Holy Spirit prophetically established my core being.

For myself, and (I believe) many others alike, the cry of the heart is to be influential and to be significant. We see big time ministries and people speaking or leading thousands and we say ‘I want that.’ I remember in my late teens I often prayed that I will be an influence to people and I believe that it’s a good prayer to pray. But, God knows the position of the human heart and in my own youth and immaturity I had much to learn, especially about the love of God, so when the trials and tests came I could stand on firm ground.

During this season I was led to the life of David, and much of this album is influenced from studying his journey with the Lord.

The life of David is a profoundly moving section of Scripture to read. First and Second Samuel show the events of David’s life, but the Psalms reflect the movements of David’s heart. David was a man who knew God, knew God’s love and was firmly established in it. So, I will walk through two significant themes, which give insight into some of what the Lord is saying in this short 6 track EP.

1. Success is knowing our identity in God

“Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” 1 Samuel 16:1 ESV

The way we define our success is generally where we build our identity. For many, success is measured by how big the bank account is, or the position in the workplace, or followers on Instagram. These things aren’t necessarily bad, but we cannot afford to make them our primary identity, otherwise we’re building our houses on sand (Matthew 7:24-27). 1 Samuel 16:1 is beautiful for one simple reason – we are primarily called to love God and to enjoy His love in return.

If we analyze this, we notice that this passage points out to us that before title, ministry, influence, job or whatever – our primary calling in life is to be God’s, to simply love God and be loved in return. It is in this that we are successful.

The title track “Calling” speaks this very message. It was written during a confusing season where I encountered a lot of bitterness and envy toward others. The point of the song is to recognize that I am His before anything else. I don’t need to strive to be somebody ‘for God’ – He loves me already and He is calling me to be His own, His beloved!

This is the word that people in this generation need to hear. If we can live our lives from the perspective that we are unconditionally loved by God, and that when we choose to love Him in return (even if our love is weak and distracted) we are already successful in His eyes, that makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter how I get on when I lead worship, or a service or the prayer meeting. It doesn’t matter how ‘anointed’ I come across, and it certainly doesn’t matter how many albums I sell – He is already impressed with me!

2. His presence is the substance that brings life.

“One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV

I have made this verse the statement of my life and I will always come back to it. To pursue and long for the presence of the Lord. His presence is the substance that brings life. It gives me joy and it sustains me through all the various testing’s that life throws at me.

Christianity in the 21st Century can be difficult to keep feeling ‘fresh’. I believe this is partly due to the increase in accessibility and usability of technology. With an iPhone, iPad or Mac never too far away it makes it hard to switch off and be ‘off the grid’. Although technology and social media can be great, even toward proclaiming the gospel message, they also present the ability to busy our minds and draw us into an isolated world, which can distract us from what the Father is saying. Andrew Sullivan confesses that the greatest threat toward the Christian faith is not hedonism but simply distraction. Technology and social media have an ability to distract us in such a way that we lose intimacy with God and become numb to His voice. It is too easy to ‘check-out’ in front of Netflix for a whole day instead of reading, praying or even going outside. I’m not intending to be a ‘law junkie’ but this speaks of our generation needing wisdom in this area, and He is the source of all wisdom. Proverbs conveys numerous times that wisdom is more valuable than any gold, silver or precious ruby. We must cherish it and diligently search for it. The song ‘One Thing I Ask’ simply says this, it’s a confession of a hungry heart yearning for more of God but also longing for His wisdom!

The intention of this album is to bring the listener into a place of stillness and prayer, with the hope that they begin to realize the love that God has for them, and choose to love Him in return – enjoy.

Check out ‘Calling’ here

Mark Reid

Prophetic Integrity in a Political World

I’ve been procrastinating for months on writing this article because quite frankly I wasn’t sure I should write it. When is it right to speak? And more importantly what motivates us to speak up? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind. I’ve wrestled with the moments (there have been many) where I’ve wanted to rant ‘No—-what–are–you–doing!’ But thankfully I refrained from sharing until now. The reason I’m writing this now is because I sense God wants to encourage all of us who love prophecy to hang in there, learn and lead by example.

Just to be clear this article is not about Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. Phew.

It’s a response to what I believe has been an abandonment of prophetic integrity during this political season. Just as the political world has gone ‘off the edge crazy’, so too have parts of the prophetic world.

So below I’ve written about three areas that can help us retain prophetic credibility. It’s not an exhaustive list but ones I believe are crucial. They’re reminders of the foundational stakes that keep the integrity of prophecy in tact. These span all the aspects of life that we prophesy into but are particularly relevant to the heated political sphere we currently find ourselves in today.

 

1. Remember that we prophesy in part.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be restrained; where there is knowledge, it will be dismissed. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 NIV

It’s important to remember when we get a prophetic word around anything political that we prophesy in part. We don’t get to see everything – we see a piece. And even when we get this piece it’s subject to our predispositions. Treasuring this understanding is vital because ultimately it keeps us open instead of closed. Open to interpretation, accountability and most importantly open to others. When we forget this and present prophesies as unchallengeable conclusions, it brings division and confusion, polarizing people who discern differently.

Divided contradictory prophetic messages devalue and ridicule the gift of prophecy to the secular world. This is a sorry state of affairs as prophecy can be used powerfully to show people that Jesus is real.

The measuring stick of whether we’ve lost our integrity in prophecy or not is how it’s building up the church. Prophecy is the Holy Spirits gift to the church intent on edifying the whole body of believers. If our prophesies are causing division then something is wrong! It takes maturity for us to stop at that point and let go of prophecy in favor of love.

 

2. Avoid prophetic manipulation.

We need to be careful when we’re prophesying ‘what we believe God is saying‘ when it involves other peoples choices. Choice is sacred to God. Our choices as followers of Christ involve spiritually exercising our wisdom, knowledge and understanding of Christ in us. This is the journey to maturity. When we prophesy in a way that supersedes choice we are simply falling into prophetic manipulation.

In our Western World, politics along with relationships are founded upon the choices of individuals. God isn’t directive in these areas because there’s choice involved of multiple people. He does speak to us about these things, often giving us His advice but this honors the process that choice takes.

Wisdom says that a prophetic inclination on politics or relationships should be petitioned in the secret place rather than the public arena. This avoids unintentionally manipulating people’s choices through prophecy or the influence/platform that prophecy has given you.

 

3. Living and learning through accountability.

If you share a prophetic word, according to scripture it then enters a place where it’s publicly discerned. If you wish to keep the discernment part to yourself, according to the apostle Paul you need to keep the prophecy to yourself also. (1 Corinthians 14:29)

This is because by very nature the prophetic gift belongs to the body of Christian’s not just to one particular individual. And with that joint ownership comes accountability. One person doesn’t get to decide what it means.

Prophecy is a team sport so to speak. If we want to harness prophetic integrity it’s wise to understand this reality. There’s nothing worse in a team sport where one individual is not playing with others or doesn’t pass the ball! It disrupts the synergy of the team and usually makes the team lose.

But learning the prophetic gift underpinned with the humility and grounding that accountable community brings is one of the greatest adventures one can go on. It guards love, protects us from our own blind spots and presents the world with the valuable testifying Word of God.

_

If you’ve been confused or disillusioned by what’s been happening in the prophetic movement during this election I hope you can join with me and use it as a way of strengthening our resolve to have prophetic integrity. Let’s learn from it and apply those lessons to our own life’s ministry. We cannot change how others use the prophetic gift, only lead by example. As we lead in this way – the way of love,  I’m convinced that the goodness of God will shine through.

Heavens operator of finance!

Last night I had a dream. A dream, I believe God imparted some insight to me. I was in heaven and I got introduced to the operator of finance there. Now just an aside, I don’t often have dreams where I’m in heaven and I’ve also never ever met an operator of finance who lives there until now.

In the dream I started talking to this person, who they called the operator of finance, and he began to reveal a couple of key facts. The first thing he said to me was “Do you know Ruth that you can request that your debts can be forgiven?” He was talking about actual financial debt that we incur here on earth not a spiritual analogy. He told me that many don’t request this but that there was a place in the courts of heaven where he could request it for me. It wasn’t a guarantee but more a grace gift that was assigned from time to time. He then gave me a form to fill out and said that he would put the request in for me.

The second thing he talked about was how my heavenly bank account had been placed on hold. Heavenly bank accounts, he explained were the unique personal vaults of our inheritance, potential and purpose. I asked him why this had happened and he replied by saying there had been a false accusation filed about me! Because this hadn’t been contested, my bank account was frozen. He told me that all I needed to do was to contest it through Jesus and the hold would be released. He went onto say that this happens a lot! Apparently many people’s heavenly bank accounts are frozen due to uncontested false accusations. He explained heaven’s legal system to me, how a false accusation, even though false, had to be brought to court and contested in order for it to be thrown out.

I woke this morning with this dream urgently on my mind. I decided to pray. Here’s what I prayed.

Jesus, if there’s a grace gift available at the moment where my debts can be forgiven please can you put my name down for it. Also, thank you that you’re my defender and legal representation in heaven. I ask that you will contend and throw out any false accusation that’s been brought against me, anything that’s placed my heavenly bank account on hold. Today let my heavenly bank account be released, let me live in all the resources I’ve rightfully inherited, all the potential I have in you, so that I can fulfill the purpose that’s assigned for my life. Thank you Jesus – you’re awesome.

I went for a walk later on and began to un-pack this. I strongly felt that I should share it with you guys!

I believe that God cares about our whole life – our relationships, our wellbeing and our finances. There’s loads of us out there who feel stuck (financially and in our sense of purpose) – like something has been placed on hold. It’s a feeling of never seeming to get breakthrough. A going round and round in circles.

God reminded me this morning of the importance and simplicity of spiritual warfare – recognizing when the accuser of the brethren (satan) has brought an attack/accusation against you and responding appropriately with all the legal rights we have as sons and daughters of God Himself.

So for any of you out there who feel stuck in finances or other, I’d encourage you to pray today that Jesus will contend for you in the court rooms of heaven. That He disputes any false accusations that satan has placed on your life and releases you from any subsequent limitations.

 

The Weary Traveler and the Energy of Longing

Two weeks ago, I was cradling my Starbucks coffee in Philadelphia airport. I had 4 hours layover and I already regretted my choice to save some dollars by booking a complicated trip back home from England.

Within a week I’d travelled from Denver to London Heathrow, Heathrow to Cheltenham England, Cheltenham to Birmingham, Birmingham to Glasgow and back, Birmingham to Cheltenham, Cheltenham to Bristol, Bristol to Wales, Wales to London Heathrow, Heathrow to Manchester, Manchester to Philadelphia and here I was waiting for my last leg of the journey, Philadelphia to Denver. It was truly a case of planes, trains and automobiles – that is without the humor and drama.

I was weary to say the least. Not only with the insane amount of traveling but the journey I’d taken spiritually and emotionally that week. I’d gone back to the UK to say goodbye to my dear mum. Her funeral was held in Glasgow on Tuesday. This is something that nothing really in life can prepare you for. As I went from day to day that week, my mind was flooded with memories, questions and thoughts. I’d talked through this grief very pragmatically with friends over a glass of wine, agreeing that she was “in a better place” but then I uncontrollably sobbed watching “Mothers Day” rom com on the plane back to the US. My minute by minute emotional state seemed to fluctuate with no prior warning.

I knew I was weary – my Starbucks wasn’t cutting it. Philadelphia airport had good shops and I had no energy to take advantage! I was clearly at the end of my reserves. I picked up my phone and decided to look through my photos. I started going through all the crazy cute photos of my kids, Titus (5) and Penny (3) . They’d obviously got hold of my phone at some point and taken a LOAD of silly photos of themselves. This made me laugh. Within a few minutes, I found myself full of energy and refocused. These images of them made me realize how much I longed to see them and this longing filled me with joyful energy. I felt rerouted, full of purpose and hopeful of my journeys end.

Since I’ve been home, this little moment in the airport has been on my mind. I’ve felt God speak to me through it, using it as an analogy for some spiritual truths. Often God speaks through life’s little moments and I believe this was one of them. So here’s what I sense God is saying about the weary traveler and the energy of longing.

The Weary Traveler

First off, God started speaking to me about the weary traveler. How there are many, many, many of them in His church. They don’t necessarily look bedraggled cynics either. Some are pastors, some worship leaders, some are the best attendees, others had opted out of church completely.

I sensed that God was sad. Not at the weary traveler but at a Christian culture whose frustration and disdain for the weary traveler had silenced this vital voice. A voice that brings more questions than answers, a voice that searches for meaning and authenticity, a voice that takes time to listen to. I think it’s been silenced because it’s an uncomfortable voice, one which examines truth and asks the hard questions.

In John Bunyan’s famous book “Pilgrims progress”, life is likened to a spiritual journey from this world to the heavenly world. There are many stops along the way and many stories told. The further you go the more understanding you gain, the more questions you have and the more people you meet. There are times when the traveler can feel weary on that journey, especially emotionally and spiritually. Weariness can cause us to go round and round in circles losing our sense of direction (which is wise to be aware of) but it can also cause us to dig deep and rise above the trivial drives of our culture.

Weariness is a real part of the spiritual journey we’re on. There’s a reason for weariness for the Christian and it’s not because someone’s out of sync with God! It’s because there are times of our journey where we’ve visited multiple stops and seen them multiple times. When this happens you can see things from a different perspective, a more broad more complicated world unfolds and the spiritual eye candy that used to energize you doesn’t do it anymore. I believe it’s a mature part of our journey, one that can refine you if you understand God purposes within it. It has the ability, if surrounded by love to bring us to a place of truth and revelation.

I believe God wants us to re-think our approach to the weary traveler. We need to know that wisdom is crouching at the door when a weary traveler is present. And, if you’re the weary traveler, God wants you to know you’re on a divine journey, where your dissatisfaction with the status quo can bring renewal to not only you but many others.

The Children of Promise

Saying that, no-one ( I know) wants to stay in a perpetual state of weariness. It’s supposed to serve a purpose for a season. The problem though, is when you’ve reached that place of weariness, the spiritual comfort foods that used to lift you up don’t do it anymore. The motivational preach, other people’s vision, the books, podcasts, worship CDs lose their edge. It’s not to say that they lose their place all together but any weary traveler knows the truth that these alone are not YOUR faith. The only thing that will set you alive again will be pure true vision that God has intertwined with your unique DNA. You hit a point where the only thing that counts is the real thing – it has to be your faith, your vision, your passion and no-one else’s.

So here’s where I interject with a prophetic intuition. I sense that vision is going to be imparted in this season to the many spiritual weary travelers. I believe that God is going to reveal the ‘children of promise’ to these individuals through prophetic gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The children of promise, is my way of saying, the dreams and legacy for an individual. They are as real and authentic as the blood ties of family. These are the unique purposes for each person that aren’t influenced by popularity or trend. This is the real deal – what you were made for.

For some of you’ve been on a journey where you’ve had to sift through your beliefs and your world view. You’ve had to reject what’s not real, in order to reach a place that is. A path that’s not always good for popularity! But I believe that Gods divine timing is hovering over this subject. Maybe your one stop away from finding what home is? What real is for you.

The sign of authenticity is the energy of longing

Intuitiveness is key to the weary traveler. They cannot be coerced into passion. The ‘world shaker’ dreams, ‘drive to be special’ mandates are like distant cousins, fondly remembered but not part of their real world.

Most weary travelers have tried to buy into passion more than once. But the trying itself is the haunting reminder that this passion belongs to someone else.

But I believe when the ‘children of promise’ are revealed, authenticity will be proved. You see, when God Himself shows you your children of promise, in that same split second you will receive the energy of longing.

When I was sat in Philadelphia airport looking at the photos of my kids, I instantly wanted to see them. This longing was accompanied by energy and joy, not frustration or travail. I knew they were mine, I knew they weren’t far and this energized me.

I believe a vision is coming, to show you your children of promise. Some of these prophetic signs will remind you of what’s already yours, some prophetic photos will show you the children to come. Either way, the test of authencity will be how it effects you – if you receive the energy of longing I believe this is the bona fide partnership of God working in and through you.

So look up weary traveler. You’re a treasure to this world. And so are your children.

Prophecy in the fog

I was on a morning walk a few days ago and I began to ask God to give me some insight into what was happening in our world right now. I immediately saw a vision (with my physical sight) of a thick billowing fog rolling across the earth.

The Holy Spirit didn’t elaborate on the fog itself at first, but I instinctively knew it represented the spiritual, emotional and mental climate that’s resting on earth right now.

Before I had chance to dwell on the fog, I sensed that the Holy Spirit was excited – strange I know! He wasn’t excited about the fog, more how the fog would make His people rise up. He began revealing to me how this specific environment was going to be a training ground for a super colossal impartation of the prophetic gift.

I heard Him say (in an inner voice) to me;
“I’m going to teach countless people how to prophesy in the fog. The specific boundaries/restrictions of this environment will catapult the prophetic ministry into a new levels – it will go higher (accuracy), wider (involve more people) and deeper (jealously carrying the authentic heart of the Father as the only standard).

I began to ask God lots of questions about the fog and what this prophetic movement would look like.

Here’s what I got:

The Fog
I didn’t get any insight on why the fog was here or how long it would stay but I did sense God reveal how this fog impacts people. Unfortunately it has many detrimental consequences for people living their lives within it. The three things that God highlighted to me were;

1. In the fog people loose sight of people.
2. In the fog things appear more fearful than they actually are.
3. In the fog confusion leads to wrong choices.

In this strange environment, the need of the prophetic ministry has never been higher. People everywhere (of all faiths and walks of life) will need a Godly spiritual breakthrough in seeing and hearing. This is because what we’ve heavily relied on (our physical senses) have now been distorted with what’s resting on the earth. I sense that people will be crying out for prophetic truth, wisdom and guidance. I also see prophetic people saving people from making terrible choices through powerful prophetic words.

The Holy Spirit showed me that the prophetic gift would be lavishly given out to those who want it with the condition that they hold onto God’s sure foundations. These are;

1. The gift will be grounded with a love for people. It will be used to connect people, heal people and bring people together. Unity is at the heart of this prophetic movement.

2. The gift will be used to dispel fear. Hope is the gift that people will be giving.

If these two foundations are in place, God will give us a new level of power in the prophetic. He will hand us the prophetic word that comes in the form of the sword (Hebrews 4:12), that cuts through the most dense confusion, revealing truth.

The Sword will enable highly accurate prophetic words, used to bring clarity and vision. These words will bring diagnosis to perplexing situations, and will empower people to make good choices in the fog.

This is no time to kick back and relax in the prophetic gift. It’s time to push in. Take risks. Be proactive. Pick up the pace.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it. Matthew 13: 16-17 NIV

Dot To Dot Jesus

Just over a month ago, while I was visiting England, I had a prophetic image come to my mind. I saw in my mind’s eye a map of the world and on top of it was an elaborate Dot To Dot image of the face of Jesus. I’m assuming most of you know what I mean by Dot To Dot ? The children’s puzzle, where you connect the numbered dots in order to draw a picture. It was such a striking picture and it immediately sent me into a place of deep questioning with God.

Here’s what I felt the Holy Spirit say about it;

I believe that God is issuing a huge worldwide commission for unity right now. This is more than churches working together, big conferences and big ministries; it’s about the mobilization of a movement of people who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. These are the nameless and faceless population of the globe, God’s secret army, who has in their reach the fulfillment of the great commission – to make visible the face of Jesus across the world.

You see, in the picture I saw there were trillions of dots, all needing to be connected. I believe these represented individual people. The fulfillment of making Jesus visible to the world rests on ordinary folks who follow Him. Christians that reach out to each other in love, crossing the cultural, denominational and theological barriers that have fragmented how we’ve represented Christ to the World. It’s an epic movement of love, a great coming together and it involves every – single – Christian.

So what’s to be done?

I believe God wants us individually to take responsibility for our place in this movement. We’ve got to move away from the mindset that church pastors/staff are there to do the job He’s given us to do. Their job is to make us great at ours – and I bless them for that. We need to figure out where we’re at in this. Believing that we’re vital.

So it’s time, right now, to take your place. Who have you got to reach out to? Look ahead of you, look behind you. Reach out and connect your dots – the ones only you can connect. Choose love. Over every bit of preference and doctrine, choose love. And while you think all your doing is living out your life, doing your small bit, know this – you are part of a great reveal, a time in history where people of every tribe and every tongue will see Him – the Saviour of the world.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35 NLT

Guest post – The Dark Side of Leadership

David Mitchell is the best pastor I know. He’s been the senior pastor of Woodlands Church, Bristol for over 15 years and has been ministering for many years before that. It’s an absolute privilege to have a guest post written by him. Here’s some of the wisdom he carries for people who are in leadership or church ministry. 

The Dark Side of Leadership – by David Mitchell

The dark side of leadership is not so much what you do, or what is done to you, but what you can do to others or who you can become. Here are some dangers, and some remedies against colluding with the dark!

The Dangers

Ego identification with ministry?

It can happen that your ministry becomes an extension of your own ego and that critical self-awareness becomes diminished in the process. It’s more ‘your thing’ even though you say it’s God’s thing. And of course my thing is the best thing in town, so I become small-minded.

What is your Secret History? Your devotional life?

The danger of professional Christian service is that the ‘above the waterline’ activities of public devotions are not balanced by a private spirituality for an audience of one. Indeed one’s secret life, the inner life of the soul can be consumed with escapism or destructive thoughts.

What about Control? A religious spirit? Spiritual manipulation.

I find the desire to control, for things to be done my way ‘because it’s the right way’ are things to battle with. I recognise I can control people and use people for my cause by making them feel guilty. I can celebrate my (relatively recent) traditions because I’ve established certain practices which are not the same as eternal values.

Mistaking my will (for you) with God’s will.

I can impose my ambitions on you, or conversely restrict you because I don’t believe in your potential as much as God does!

What is the unique danger of being put in a position of being on a pedestal? What about being accountable?

We can put leaders on pedestals to their detriment. It’s not good for people to be idolised. And we can put ourselves (or be put) above contradiction, and not really have anyone speaking into our lives.

What about your sexuality? Alpha Male /Alpha female?

There are attractional undercurrents between men and women in collegiate leadership or ministry roles with one another. Good friendships may feel great but have inherent vulnerabilities if they conflict with spousal loyalties. Beware of the power of sexual energy (via porn or other routes) to provide a quick fix to depression or tiredness.

Is ministry the validation of my need or impulse to rescue others?

Many church leaders are rescuers and we can enjoy dependent relationships and feel validated by them instead of empowering people or being strategic about (or delegating) pastoral care.

The cult of business – justifying our existence.

If people are watching me, or paying me do I need to look busy all the time? Do I celebrate a martyr spirit, sacrificing myself on the altar of the Church?

Fear of evaluation – including self-knowledge.

We can avoid really asking the hard questions about the fruitfulness of our ministry, or whether we are still on track. We can avoid asking the hard questions about our own motivations.

Hype (and the need for success).

The need for success can cause us to exaggerate what’s actually happening (in terms of conversions, healings, growth etc.). Ultimately claiming more than we are delivering breeds disillusionment for our congregations and a hollowness about our ministry style.

Competition (toward those inside and outside of your church).

It’s so easy to compare yourself and compete with other churches and ministries locally. We can feel diminished by other’s success, we can worry that we are not as popular or gifted as another colleague. We can envy other Churches especially if they are attracting people in our target group (or congregation). We can fail to celebrate what God is doing in others.

Cynicism.

Hardness towards the flock or individuals. ‘Those people’. Can we keep childlike in our willingness to believe that God really does work in amazing ways. Can we choose to interpret people’s motivations in the best (not worst) possible light?

Too many late nights.

We need to look after our bodies and not get into the habit of working late or lonely late night times, especially when married.

Some Remedies

1. Church & Ministry. Hold it precious, hold it lightly
2. Cultivate a positive Spiritual history.
3. Positively listen to other people’s Church stories and bless them
4. Care for the poor. It’s good for you. It softens our hearts
5. Find a spiritual parent. Find true, not just ‘structural’ accountability.
6. Take a good day off and regular retreat times.
7. Never behave with someone of the opposite sex in a way your partner would be uncomfortable with.
8. Flee controlling behaviour. Ask why it’s there and be ruthless with it.
9. Be confrontable and seek 360 review.
10. Jesus said ‘learn this. I desire mercy not sacrifice’

 

Forts and Bridges

I’ve just launched my book ‘simply word and spirit’ at a conference in Bristol, UK called ‘Release2016‘. It was a real honor to do this as the charity behind the conference lovebristol are dear friends of mine. As I was preparing to lead my session to talk about the inspiration of the book, God reminded me of a prophetic dream I had a number of years ago.

In the dream I was in a line of people to get a book signed by the famous prophet and writer James Goll. As I reached the table where he sat the scene changed and instead of a table of books, there were two big buckets of blue paint, and a large blank sheet of paper. He asked me to put my hands into the buckets of paint and then onto the blank paper. He looked at my blue handprints and said ‘ah yes, clear as a day, forts and bridges.’ I looked at him baffled. So he said ‘ok let’s try this one more time.’ I repeated the process, and he said ‘I’m absolutely certain, forts and bridges.’ Then I woke up.

That dream has always had a sense of mystery about it for me. The color blue is prophetically likened to healing and handprints can be seen as someone’s ministry or work. But the term forts and bridges has continued to perplex me. Sometimes there can be many interpretations for a prophetic dream or a continued unfolding of meaning.

I was asking God what I should share at Release2016, specifically concerning the core message of my book – the coming together of the Word and the Spirit, and He dropped this dream in my mind.

So after questioning and praying, this is what I believe God is saying. About the Word and the Spirit but perhaps other things also.

Forts and bridges represent a certain mentality. God want us to move from the fort mentality to the bridge mentality.

The fort mentality is all about defending what we have from attack. We build walls around what we believe or how we behave because we don’t want it stolen or lost. The fort mentality creates ‘you’re either in or you’re out’ reality for people. Our need to defend costs us inclusion, diversity and unity.

Reading the history of military forts it’s interesting to see why they were deemed inefficient in modern warfare. As military technology advanced the fort that at one time was a stronghold against attack, actually seemed to draw attention to itself for attack. Also, they found that military tactics needed to be moveable, and forts are immovable.

I believe God is highlighting the fact that we have a fort mentality in the church today. Whether our forts are built around our need to defend ‘the Word’, or whether they are built to protect ‘the Spirit’, or the other thousands of other territories we feel the need to defend. I sense God is wanting us to remember that He is our Great Defender, and the role of us being a defender is something He doesn’t want us to take on. We’ve assumed the responsibility to defend God and His church, as a result we’ve built spiritual forts that have immobilized us. Maintaining a spiritual fort halts us from advancing the kingdom of heaven to become actualized on earth. God’s encouraging us to let go of the fort mentality, to take down our walls, to realize this way of defending the faith is outdated for such a time as this. The fort mentality has made us stuck, and God wants us to be on the move.

This doesn’t mean we let go of truth, and it doesn’t mean that anything’s up for grabs. It’s about choosing to trust God to defend and protect His church, so that we get released to be bridge builders.

The bridge mentality is what I believe God is asking us to embrace. The bridge mentality is about reaching out to mend rifts. It’s forging new ground and stepping into other people’s worlds before we expect them to understand our own worldview. The bridge mentality brings advancement in the most unusual way. God is calling His people to become bridge builders. Will you be one?

I know if we’re going to see the coming together of people with a leaning on the Word, and people with a leaning of the Spirit, bridges will have to be built. This will take a movement founded on love and humility. It will take people who will choose the bridge over the fort at every turn for the sake of love and representing Jesus to a world that needs to see Him.

Prophetic Delay

The Prophetic Delay
Sunny but still cold

The other morning my son Titus came bursting into my room saying “Mommy its sunny, its sunny.” I found it sweet that such things excited him. I got up and got everyone ready for the pre-school run. I looked out the window and he was right it was a beautiful sunny day.

As we went to get in the car I felt the chill of the wind. Titus words to me that morning sent me into automatically dressing us all for a warm sunny day. It wasn’t until we got outside that I realised that it wasn’t as warm as it looked. Because it was still early morning I ignored this fact and assumed that it would warm up. A few hours into the morning routine I realised that it was freezing. Sunny yes but still cold outside.

After we warmed up inside with a hot cup of tea I felt God speak to me about this funny chain of events.

God started sharing with me how there’s a delay from the prophetic word given and the actual reality people experience. So many people have been told prophetically “it’s sunny” or in other words “hope is here” or in biblical language “winter is over” but as they step out into their reality it feels as if nothing’s changed. Others have been prophetically given a vision or a calling that seems to have not taken effect – yet. There’s a discrepancy between what’s been said and what’s experienced.

So I asked God what should we do about this.

I felt Him say three things are key and I hope these are helpful to you as they are with me:

1. Understanding that this timing issue is part of the way the prophetic works is helpful. Some people can get disillusioned when the word and their circumstances don’t match up. But actually the truth is that the prophetic operates in the future not the now. There will always be a time delay of some sort.

2. Knowledge of what’s actually taking place is helpful. And what’s actually taking place is change. Once a true prophetic word is released about the future, the wheels have been set in motion – and that’s a good thing! Like the story of Daniel’s prayer – his first utterances of need set the heavenly resources into action. But it took 21 days for the angel Gabriel to reach his reality (Daniel10: 10-13). We need to accept that there will be a time delay from the prophetic word spoken to it impacting our reality. But we must also be fuelled by the knowledge that all sorts of spiritual fireworks are going off on our behalf to bring that future into the now. There’s no passivity with the prophetic word and all heavenly efforts are in full effect.

3. Wisdom is needed to know what to do and how to be during a time delay. We mustn’t be stupid and dress up for the sun when it’s still cold outside. This will just make us grumpy. Selah. But we need to choose to believe more in what we ‘see’ over what we ‘feel’. If God has spoken, He has gifted us a vision that is more powerful and real than anything we feel day to day. It’s a vigourous force loaded with heaven’s resources that will come into being – in it’s timing. We need to fix our mind on what we know will happen and let it energise us. We need to allow ourselves to dream of what it’ll be like and be lavish in how we immerse ourselves in this vision. We need to sit outside all wrapped up in our cold environment and let our face soak in that sunshine. And when we do – a warm glow enters our hearts that keeps us going.

Prophetic Hope – Advent

“And His name will be the hope of all the world.”

Prophecy is supposed to have a positive effect upon us as Christians. The bible teaches that it injects life into our church, it encourages and builds up the individual. A prophetic word can also help us walk into our destiny. However, one of the most interesting impacts of prophecy is it’s ability to establish and solidify hope. According to Hebrews our faith is made up of ‘hope that is certain’. Therefore it’s vital that we have help understanding and believing what our hope is. What’s prophecy’s role? Prophecy brings visibility, colour and a vibrancy to the christian hope – it creates a little window into the future and allows us to peer inside giving us enough vision for that hope to become real.

The prophetic writings of the old testament can be known for their doom and gloom. However it’s important to note that there’s a beautiful song sung widely among them  – it’s a song of hope. It’s a song that emphasises our ultimate long term hope of restored nations and re-established world. It’s a grand hope centred on a great messianic figure – Jesus, who is the key to fulfilling the redemptive plan of God and is the hope for all humanity.

This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning him: “Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, and I am very pleased with him. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout; he will not raise his voice in public. He will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory. And His name will be the hope of all the world.Matthew 12: 17 -21 

Isaiah Chapter 9

Isaiah chapter 9 loudly proclaims the wonder of this hope;

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government will rest on His shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the LORD Almighty will guarantee this!  Isaiah 9: 6&7

When this prophecy was written, the hope of the messiah’s first coming felt just as far off to people as His second coming may feel for us today. As we approach Christmas in 2012 we’re in a wonderful position of celebrating the fulfilment of part one of the prophetic hope that Isaiah shares whilst also eagerly anticipating the second part – Christ’s return and the hope of our eternal life on a renewed earth.

What is our Hope?

As we enter advent let’s reflect on the hope that we have.

The hope of Jesus is very present for life here today. Healing from sickness, restoration for relationships, provision for jobs and finances, freedom from fear, peace in the storm. All these things and more are available to the faith filled believer. It’s a hope that we have to pull on in faith and wrestle with while living in a fallen world.

However the apostle Paul says something very interesting and challenging in his writings to the people at Corinth about hope;

And if we have hope in Christ only for this life, we are the most miserable people in the world.  1 Corinthians 15:19 

Was he saying that present hope that Jesus can bring isn’t important? No. What he was saying was that present hope alone is incomplete – what’s needed is a thorough, detailed, rock solid hope in what is to come. As well as us having a firm grip on the hope we have today it is vital that we attain a grasp of the whole picture of hope that spans eternity.

The consequences of Christ’s birth, his life, death and resurrection are huge and ripple throughout eternity. He established and secured our redemption and resurrection. I am sure we will continue to marvel at as we live out our eternal life in the age to come.

Hope gives us permission to live freely

Do you ever wonder how the apostles could live with such abandonment and courage? How Paul could endure 3 shipwrecks, prison sentences and countless beatings? How Peter continued to preach even when his life was on the line? And Stephen, how did he hold such composure as he was being stoned to death?

You will have courage because you will have hope. Job 11:18

The common theme among the apostles was that their hope was secured. It wasn’t some ethereal wishy washy dream – to them it was more real than their lives on earth. It was so concrete that they were torn between longing to live here and longing to go and be with Jesus. And it set them free.

Free from restriction, fear, small mindedness. Free to live courageously, generously and full of joy.

Our hope is important. It anchors us into eternity giving us liberty here on earth.

As we approach Christmas let’s ask the Holy Spirit to impart even greater depths of understanding of the hope we have in Christ. Let’s read the prophetic writings of scripture with an eager eye and see the detailed picture they paint of life to come.

My prayer for you in this season, is the prayer the apostle Paul prayed to the Roman church.

I pray that God, who gives you hope, will keep you happy and full of peace as you believe in him. May you overflow with hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.       Romans 15:13