Posted by: philw0410 | April 5, 2011

Highlights of the Term!

Ok, I have been a terrible blogger this past term. Apologies all. But, the term itself has actually been full of some amazing highlights and God moments, so here is my attempt to pull out a few of them to give you a flavour of whats been going on!

Jan: Relational Mission Team, East England: I had the privilege of spending 2 days in Ipswich, UK, where we gathered prophetic folk from across the Churches that are working with Mike Betts, within newfrontiers. What a cracking bunch of people they are. I loved hanging out with Mike, Maurice Nightingale and Grantley Watkins.

Jan: Visit of Ian Andrews to Kings Arms: My Christian world was turned upside down at the age of 10 when I went to one of Ian’s meetings. I saw for the first time the raw, untamed healing power of God as a mans leg grew out by many inches, right in front of my eyes!  Having Ian at KA was a great personal highlight, and here is a surprise – God healed many people again!

Jan: Teaching, TSM: Teaching on our Training for Supernatural Ministry ( TSM ) course is always a thrill. This time around, I taught on the Incommunicable Attributes of God and it was very special! I don’t think I have ever taught such weighty truth in such a weighty anointing! The air was thick.

Feb: J John Sunday: The wonderful J John came to speak at a special guest event at KA, with around 50 responding to the Gospel at the conclusion – such a moving moment! Many lives impacted by Jesus.

Feb: Auckland, New Zealand. Much of Feb was taken up with a ministry trip to see my good friends Simon and Sanna Finch and the wonderful Grace Church in Auckland.  I travelled with the mighty Dom Llewellyn, and together we had a fantastic time where God again was very very good!  We saw some wonderful encouragements as people stepped forward in the prophetic, had personal breakthroughs, encountered Gods Father heart and heard His voice. I love Grace Church. They are a special community.

March: Prophetic Forum, Bedford. We held our second Prophetic Forum conference, which this time had doubled in size. 90 prophetic delegates gathered for teaching and impartation, with special guests Ginny Burgin ( Sheffield ), Keith Hazel and Raymond Bergin ( Lethbridge, Canada ) and Julian Adams ( Bedford, UK ). It was a great two days. God is raising up a prophetic army, and in some way, it felt that we contributed towards equipping them for greater exploits!

March: Daughters Birthday! Lauren turned 12 in March, which felt like another milestone in all our lives. I cannot quite believe I have such a wonderful, beautiful and grown-up daughter as Lauren! She is a treasure.

March:  KA Leaders Weekend: Our annual leaders weekend was again great fun, and this was our first year as proper ‘punters’, as opposed to guests! It felt great! Personal highlight was singing out in a strange new tongue, in a half-rap, half-calypso style!

March: Free Life 2011, Durham: I travelled to Durham to participate as one of the guest speakers at a region-wide conference, along-side Marc Dupont, Canada. It was a great privilege to meet Marc, and to team up again with good friends as we saw God do some fantastic things and also to make some great promises to Emmanuel Church, Durham. Watch out – a prophetic eagle is about to be launched in that region.

April: City Church, Cambridge: Had a great time with my old school chum Nick Green, who leads City Church in Cambridge. I took a highly gifted team of prophetic people with me, and together had a blessed time, encouraging the Church in building a supernatural culture that hosts the presence of God!

April: Seagulls! Of course, I must also mention that as of today, the mighty Brighton and Hove Albion sit 11 points clear at the top of the table in League One. Come on the Albion!

Its been a great term. Bring on the next!

Posted by: philw0410 | December 21, 2010

Emotional Buckets – How Full is Yours?

I wonder how you would characterise the year just gone? How has it been for you? I was reflecting on this very question with my wife last night. Our conclusion? For us, it is has been a year full of emotion.

While emotions may be an alien concept to Mr Spock and an un-necessary evil to be eradicated by the cyber-men, emotions are part of what make up humanity. And this year has been full of them, highs and lows. As Christmas approaches, I am perhaps only now calculating the emotional cost of the past 12-18 months, which has seen us move house, family, Church, jobs and friends, to start a new life in Bedford.

In the grand scheme of history, my cost seems fairly minimal. I have not been imprisoned like John Bunyan, stoned like Stephen, shipwrecked like Paul or burnt at the stake like Tynedale or Ridley. Yet, it is true that every step and journey of faith has an emotional cost, and we ignore it at our peril.

We each have a certain God-given capacity, be it spiritual, physical, mental or emotional.  Mark Driscoll helpfully talks in terms of ‘buckets’. Its your  job to understand how much you are carrying in your bucket, at any given time, and to understand how you replenish your supply.

Personally, I have realised my emotional bucket is pretty empty. A year of emotional battles has meant spillage! The signs of it in my life can be things like withdrawal from people, poor communication with my wife, lack of emotional connection with those close to me, self-absorption and introspection, laziness, being easily irritated. Do any of these ring true?

If you do not take measures to fill-up, you can end up in serious trouble. Men of God, take action!

The Gospel answer to this issue is always Christ. He is the supplier, provider, redeemer, healer and saviour. One of the most precious promises to me in this regard, is that at the end of Isaiah 40:

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

How does the emotional bucket get filled up? By proximity to Jesus. Those who hope in Him, or as some versions translate, those who wait upon Him, shall renew their strength.

This season, my aim is to be with Jesus as much as I can. In solitude, in scripture, through song, in silence, in earnest seeking and in worshipful surrender.

Do whatever you must to be with Jesus. Consider anything that stops you from being with Him, your sworn enemy, and go to war with it. My hope as a Christian man, as a husband, Father and friend, is solely in the everlasting God, whose emotional bucket is never empty, yet who sympathises with my weaknesses. I have a perfect mediator. He is Christ the Lord.

Worship Him. Fill up your bucket. And then worship Him some more! But do not settle for emptiness. Do not become acquainted with poverty of soul. Do not allow drift. Hope in the Lord. Fix your heart on things above, where Christ is seated in glory.

I hope you all have a truly blessed Christmas time, and may all your buckets be full and running over!

Posted by: philw0410 | November 5, 2010

Mission part 1

I was with a friend in Kettering yesterday, where the father of the modern missions movement William Carey hailed from. You can still go and see the plinth erected in his honour, with his most famous epigram ” Expect great things of God. Attempt great things for God!” In honour of  William Carey, from whom so much advance for the gospel came, here are some other great quotes on mission to stir and provoke us!

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” – John Keith Falconer

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply” – Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

“If I had 1,000 lives, I’d give them all for China” – Hudson Taylor

“God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.” – Hudson Taylor.

“The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” – Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” – Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador

“Sympathy is no substitute for action.” – David Livingstone, missionary to Africa

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered a honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?” — David Livingstone

“Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” – CT Studd

“If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.” – C.T. Studd

“No reserves. No retreats. No regrets” – William Borden

“The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” – Mike Stachura

 

Posted by: philw0410 | October 8, 2010

Glory and Pain

Apologies for not blogging much in the last month. As you can imagine, settling into a new life takes time! One thing I have been freshly aware of in these days of change for us as a family, is the amazing cohabitation of suffering and resurrection that make up our lives. Some things come in pairs. Laurel and Hardy. Crackers and cheese. Wallace and Gromit. Suffering and Resurrection.

Times of experiencing amazing resurrection power, do not mean the cancellation of suffering in this life. Neither do times of suffering, cancel out being able to know resurrection power.

It has always been an interesting historical observation that times and season of spiritual Revival and awakening are also times of great hardship and persecution. Dear John Wesley and George Whitfield are now heralded as great heroes of the faith for what they did during their lifetime, and yet these same men were pilloried by many of their contemporaries at the time, even having dead cats and dogs thrown at them on occasions! The great Revival in China is another example. What stories we hear – the dead being raised, millions converted, incredible miracles, massive missionary passion for Jesus. But alongside this we hear of pastors imprisoned for 20 years or more. Men who have been in hiding and not seen their wives of families for decades, due to the threat on their lives. Resurrection and suffering.

The change of moving our life to Bedford has been one of challenge and breakthrough. There is evidence of both in my life! The challenges for us are obvious – kids finding school very tough, making new friends, the cost of leaving people and a place we loved, many tears and insecurities. It is honestly painful.

And yet, there is breakthrough and blessing at the same time. New friends whom we are growing to love already, a fantastic Church community that is passionate for the  poor, the lost, the broken. A supernatural culture in which miracles are expected. On my second weekend here I saw 3 people healed, one of whom was my daughter, who was instantly healed of a neck spasm! Last week 2 more backs healed, just during the worship time! 49 guests signed up for Alpha. It is glorious.

Glory and pain. Paul says in Philippians 3:10 that he longs to know Christ, and to share in the power of the resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings. My hope in this life is that i will know shafts of resurrection glory breaking in more and more – that cancers shrivel up, that demons flee, that the oppressed get set free, that the Kingdom comes in power.

But my hope is also, and at the same time, that I would know Christ’s fellowship in suffering. That trials and tests would prove my faith genuine, and of greater worth than gold. That trials lead me towards Jesus, not away from him.

The truth is that both resurrection and suffering have the capacity to reveal Jesus, and that is what really counts! Paul’s over-riding passion was this ” I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord ” ( Phil 3:8 )

Friends, do not let trials rob you of expecting Resurrection power. Equally, do not let great breakthrough, rob you of the opportunity for fellowship with Jesus when times are tough. What counts is this – hold onto Jesus!

Posted by: philw0410 | August 16, 2010

Arrival and the Blessing of Community

Well, we have landed – touched down in bedford at our new home. Please come and visit us, we would love to see you! I start my new job at the mighty Kings Arms on 1st September, and already have all of the excited and nervous emotions that go hand-in-hand with starting a new job. There is something about new arrivals that connects you so strongly to your sense of need, and therefore connects you to God in a new way. There is special grace from God in times of need. Whether the new arrival is a wife, a baby, a new friendship, a job, a house, a strange new circumstance or a challenge – arrivals connect you to the weakness of your humanity, yet the mighty, enduring strength of Jesus.

What I have also been reminded of this week is the incalcucable glory of being in a community called the Church! How foolish it is when we succumb to the lie that we do not need one another and can live out our Christian faith on our own. What utter nonsense that is! As we arrived in our new rental home, it was not the cleanest evironment we had ever experienced! In fact, lets face it, it was downright nasty….caked on grease, cobwebs galore, mountains of dust, unearthly smells….you get the picture! But in our moment of need, in trooped the Church, terrible as an army with banners, equipped with all of the tools of warfare for such an occassion – i.e. rubber gloves, bleach and toilet cleaner. Hours were spent cleaning, unpacking and generally making our lives a joy, in a moment that could have been so daunting and lonely. I love the Church!

I am part of a body ( 1 Cor 12 ) . I cannot say to the hand I do not need you. I am in-grafted with brothers and sisters, because each of us is ingrafted into Christ, the head of the Church, which is His body. I am so thankful I am in a community called the Church. I have always loved Paul Billheimers quote from his magnificent book Destined for the Throne, where he says: ” Despite all of her appaling failures, indefensible short-comings and lamentable weaknesses, the Church is still the mightiest force for civilisation in the world today. ”

You don’t go to Church. We are the Church.

Posted by: philw0410 | August 3, 2010

Treasure Your History with God

I move house next week. Moving on to pastures new inevitably causes you to look back and remember the pastures of old. 15 years in the great city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the magnificent City Church, have given me so many significant and treasured memories. Marrying my sweetheart, Carole. Getting a first in Social Policy at Newcastle Uni. Working with some truly outstanding people at Blyth Valley Council in the ‘drugs capital of the North East’! Youth work in City Church, discipling boys who became young men and leading dear friends to Christ. The birth of my wonderful children, Lauren Louise and Samuel Zachary. Becoming an Elder and staff member at City Church in 2002. The friendships, the homes, the battles, the breakthroughs, the joys and the tears. I treasure them all.

And yet, as I walked and prayed yesterday evening near my home in Wallsend, there was one aspect of my 15 years that I was most profoundly thankful for – my history with the Lord. As I prayed on streets that I have prayed on many times before, I began to remember with the Lord, all of the ordinary, yet hallowed places, that He and I have walked and talked together through the years. He has been so faithful and so good to me in every season of life. In my confusion, intoxicating joy, disappointment, heartache, passion, hope, desperation, peace, maturity and immaturity, longing and lethargy – He has remained faithful and true in it all. I have waxed and waned. He has remained eternally and steadfastly strong. I have needed Him every day. He has graciously met me in every way.

I could take you to so many places where He has shown Himself my provider and saviour. There was the field of cows near Henderson Hall. There was my box-bedroom in tenth avenue. There was the park at the end of Rokeby Terrace. Saltwell Park where I cried out to God for a job! My car journeys to Seaton Delaval on misty weekday mornings. The well-trod streets of Walker and Wallsend. Tynemouth beachfront, Wallsend Sports Centre and so many other places! I truly treasure my history with the Lord. They have been the most precious and most important moments I have spent these last 15 years. Every word He has spoken. Every glimpse I have seen of Him. Every revelation and every encouragement. Apart from Him, Ican do nothing. Life only makes sense when Jesus is at the centre.

Lord, for all your faithfulness, I thankyou. I will enter your courts with thanksgiving. I will enter your gates with praise, for you are good and your love endures forever. Your faithfulness endures throuhout all generations ( Psalm 100:4-5).

 He is the wellspring of life.  Treasure your history with God.

Posted by: philw0410 | July 22, 2010

Moving On!

Many of you may already be aware of this, but after 15 years in Newcastle, my family and I are finally on the move. ‘Where are you going?’ , I hear you cry – Vancouver?  Rotterdam? Timbuktu? No, none of the above – we are, in fact, moving to Bedford, UK!

Our current destination date is 10th August when we move into a rental property and start the next chapter of our lives together. The story is far too long to tell here, but suffice to say we have spent several years seeking God about the next step for us, and after a long search we are very confident about the will of God for us in this move. We will be joining the wonderful Kings Arms Church, led by my good friends Simon Holley, Paul Johnson and Roydon Lovely, and I will be coming on the Church staff team to help lead in all that God is doing in that Church.

I had one remarkable dream in the lead up to making this decision, where I dreamt I was in John Wimber’s home in California (!) and he was showing me around his house asking me to make myself at home. He pointed out a river outside his house, which I knew represented a greater measure of the anointing of the Spirit, and said to me, ‘that’s yours if you want it….”. I then walked into his living room, where various friends were sitting around. One of them wasa a friend who leads a Church in London, who looked directly at me and said “ Phil, there is a lot of talk about moving to strategic cities, but God wants you to know that Bedford is an incredibly strategic place for you to be. Its where God wants you!”

There are a number of strategic centres being raised up around the UK, and I do believe the Kings Arms in Bedford is one of those. I feel so privilidged to be joining a company of people, on whom so much of God’s favour rests. My family and I have already been hugely impacted by the Kings Arms – prophetic words that have shaped our lives, a culture of honour and compassion that has touched us deeply, a passionate faith that has brought personal breakthrough and deliverance. It will be an honour to be with such a people and call it our home. Bring it on!

Posted by: philw0410 | June 16, 2010

John Piper on ‘Faith Glorifies God’

“Your daddy is standing in a swimming pool out a little bit from the edge. You are, let’s say, three years old and standing on the edge of the pool. Daddy holds out his arms to you and says, “Jump, I’ll catch you. I promise.” Now, how do you make your daddy look good at that moment? Answer: trust him and jump. Have faith in him and jump. That makes him look strong and wise and loving. But if you won’t jump, if you shake your head and run away from the edge, you make your daddy look bad. It looks like you are saying, “he can’t catch me” or “he won’t catch me” or “it’s not a good idea to do what he tells me to do.” And all three of those make your dad look bad.

But you don’t want to make God look bad. So you trust him. Then you make him look good–which he really is. And that is what we mean when we say, “Faith glorifies God” or “Faith gives God glory.” It makes him look as good as he really is. So trusting God is really important.

And the harder it seems for him to fulfill his promise, the better he looks when you trust him. Suppose that you are at the deep end of a pool by the diving board. You are four years old and can’t swim, and your daddy is at the other end of the pool. Suddenly a big, mean dog crawls under the fence and shows his teeth and growls at you and starts coming toward you to bite you. You crawl up on the diving board and walk toward the end to get away from him. The dog puts his front paws up on the diving board. Just then, your daddy sees what’s happening and calls out, “Johnny, jump in the water. I’ll get you.”

Now, you have never jumped from one meter high and you can’t swim and your daddy is not underneath you and this water is way over your head. How do you make your daddy look good in that moment? You jump. And almost as soon as you hit the water, you feel his hands under your arms and he treads water holding you safely while someone chases the dog away. Then he takes you to the side of the pool.

We give glory to God when we trust him to do what he has promised to do–especially when all human possibilities are exhausted. Faith glorifies God. That is why God planned for faith to be the way we are justified.”
— John Piper

Posted by: philw0410 | June 15, 2010

Wine and Wineskins

We have often talked about Jesus words in Mark 2:22 where he says: ” And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

It has occured to me, as a Church leader, how much of our attention is placed on the ‘wineskins’ aspect of this instruction. So much of a leaders time and energy can be focused on getting the wineskin right – the structures, the programmes, the values, the leadership shape, the strategies and vision and theology. So much of my time can be devoted to this kind of activity. New wine does require an appropriate vessel to sit in! Not having a wineskin is just not an option! Working on the wineskin is important and vital business. The Church community is meant to be set up in such a way that Gods empowering presence is welcomed and nurtured.

But heres the thing that I have realised we can subtely, but vitally, miss in our pursuit of the right looking wineskin – the Wine! A Wineskin is of very little value unless it is filled with wine. Wine is frequently the image used of scripture to speak of the Holy Spirit’s intoxicating presence and power. The New Wine of the Kingdom is the very dwelling of God among His people by His Spirit – it is His nearness, His anointing, His working. How sad it would be if we built fantastic structures and programmes, only to find that we had forgotten how to drink! How disappointing it would be to have awesome leadership strategy but find we had missed out on relating to the person of the Holy Spirit in a dynamic and living way.

Even in our current wave of passion for making our Churches missional communities, I worry that we will forget the reason that we are on mission. As John Piper says, we cannot commend to others what we do not cherish ourselves. In other words, my invitation to others has to be on the basis that I am enjoying God myself! We forget the wine at our peril. The wineskin must not just be functional, but devotional!

There is a reason that Christian leaders build new communities here on the earth – that they might enjoy the presence of the Spirit! I pray that my attention on wineskins does not cause me to de-prioiritse the drinking of wine.

Posted by: philw0410 | May 20, 2010

The Goodness of God Part 2

I love the story Bill Johnson tells of a time a few years ago when God spoke to him and simply said ” Bill, I want to thankyou for telling the world that I am good”. The Gospel is good news because of the one that it originates from, the one that it speaks of, the one that it directs us towards. When the angels sang their joyful song to the Shepherds, announcing the coming of Jesus, they proclaim ” Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests” ( Luke 2:14 ). The coming of Christ was the ultimate announcement of the character and heart of God – that He is in essence, utterly, indescribably, wonderfully good. When He arrives on the scene and men open their hearts to Him, he brings peace and favour. “God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all “( 1 Jn 1:5 ). This is just what He is like! It’s no surprise then, that when God’s Kingdom comes, it comes with all the demonstrations of His good nature – blind eyes open, dead hearts come alive, the oppressed go free! The Gospel is the Gospel of God.

Thomas Manton says this:

” He is originally good, good of Himself, which nothing else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality, in God it is His essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s good is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean or gathering together of good. He is eternally and immutably good, for He cannot be less good than He is; as there can be no addition made to Him, so no subtraction from Him.

“The original Saxon meaning of our English word “God” is “The Good.” God is not only the Greatest of all beings, but the Best. All the goodness there is in any creature has been imparted from the Creator, but God’s goodness is underived, for it is the essence of His eternal nature. “

I want to tell the world that He is a very very good God. He is goodness itself.

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