I've been asked by the leadership team to post an update on the blog about what it's been like, living in Redding, California for the last (almost) 7 months.
As some of you know, my wife Liv, and I felt that God was calling us to move to California for a time for me to go to the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) during the summer of 2012.
Our process in coming here started with a spark which many good friends kept fanning into a flame, telling us that this was the right thing for us to do.
We'd prayed about it and God seemed to keep saying yes, every time we asked Him.
So, He'd given us a good year or so to get our things in order, and everything fell into place.
The whole process was well oiled and in July 2013, we said our goodbyes and got on a plane.
The following weeks were incredible. God kept opening up doors for us over and over again.
We got a house in the area we wanted. This meant we got the kids into the school we wanted.
On the first Sunday we were in Church, our eldest, Zoe, met an English girl who had prayed the night before for a friend to go to school with. Of course, they ended up in the same class, in the same school!
Actually starting in BSSM revealed to me that God had a lot more in store for me than I had been expecting. I was given a prophecy somebody had written the previous May for me. It was incredibly accurate.
So began a process that has had me changing my understanding of my 'normal' every couple of weeks.
Some of you will be wondering what actually happens in BSSM and what it is.
It's a school that has come out of Bethel Church in Redding, which has been running for 17 years now. Every year, the number of students has increased and there are currently over 2000 in the school this year, split into 3 years. I'm in 1st year.
A typical week involves school from Monday to Thursday, the start time varies but is usually between 9 and 10:30 for me and it usually ends around 4pm.
Monday mornings are our Revival Group morning. There are around 65 in mine and my Revival Group Pastor's name is Ben Armstrong.
Our RG meeting will typically involve us sharing testimonies of what God has done in us in the previous week. These can be financial testimonies, testimonies of people getting healed, what they've been learning, something that may have happened to them, etc.
After this, Ben will usually lead us into a time of teaching and this will often end up in us praying for specific people in the group, or for visitors who are in the group.
At 12, we go into the main area in the school and there is worship/prayer until 12:30.
Next, there's Bible teaching, followed by dedicated worship for around an hour and our final teaching session of the day is a member of staff- Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Mark Brookes or there may be a guest speaker in for the week.
The rest of the week follows a similar format, apart from the morning session.
Tuesdays, we have our Advanced Ministry Training (AMT), which allows us to focus on a topic we are interested in. This can range from anything like understanding dreams to photography!
Wednesdays are our Small Group time. These are groups of 5, either all male or all female, which meet every week, and each person in the group is from the same Revival Group.
Thursdays are our City Service day. Mine have been split into two halves. The first half of the year, I went treasure hunting. This is where you sit and ask God for clues about people, then go onto the streets and look for those people. It is the most effective way of bringing the kingdom into the street that I've ever been involved in. We have prayed with so many people on these treasure hunts, have seen some people healed and others had their business blessed. We had the honour of leading one man to Jesus and afterwards, someone prayed for his knees and they were completely healed!
For the second part of the year, I'm on City Project. This is when a group of over 100 students go out into the city and maintain parks, clean places up, trim hedges, cut down trees, sweep up leaves etc.
Doing this allows the students to serve the city, and enables the city to benefit from many people who they can trust to do tasks every week.
It has saved the city millions of dollars in the few years it has been running and allows the students to speak to those around them while they are working.
Church services are in a few locations every Sunday, at 8am, 10:30am, 1pm and 6pm. There are also full kids church meetings during each service, so the kids get taught throughout the morning. One thing they are taught is that there is no junior Holy Spirit, and it's such an encouragement to see what the kids are learning and experiencing while they are there.
They see God do things that I've been wanting all my life!
They see people healed every week, get visions from God, prophetic words etc. One of the best parts of the week is asking them what they've been doing that day!
Zoe also goes to Kingdom Kids every Wednesday evening which is a club for her age group. She loves it and is always eager to tell the stories of what she's experienced or heard that night.
I usually wait downstairs while this is happening, and catch up on my homework, but the older age group has been coming down and giving prophetic words over the adults, treasure hunting them!
Liv has been going to a women's group every Tuesday night called 'The Nest'. It was started up to enable women to connect more with each other and they have small groups and guest speakers most weeks.
She loves it and has made friends outside of mine from BSSM, which is a real blessing.
So, after telling you all of this, what have I actually learned while I've been here?
Probably that my most amazing times have been this year when it's been me and God.
We've had many well known speakers to the school this year who have spoken messages that I'll listen to again and again, yet my most incredible times have been when I've been on my own with God.
Any of the people I'd heard of before coming here, who I've met, have been some of the most genuine, humble people. They aren't superstars, they are just people who have given up everything for God.
You see, when you give everything to God, He is the only one you can rely on. He is the only one and the only thing you have left! Putting God first is the most important thing that anyone can do in their life.
He is the high everyone is trying to get, He's the solid foundation that everyone is looking for to build their life on, He's the only one who can satisfy the deepest cravings of our souls.
Matthew wrote in his gospel in chapter 6:33:
"Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well"
Jesus spoke these words because He knew that the biggest need of mankind was to know God the way God intended us to. When we have God in the right place in our lives, everything else will fall into place, not because life becomes much easier, but because our focus is on the One who enables us to get through anything thats in front of us.
God asked me and my family to give up everything and it involved us going thousands of miles away to spend time with Him.
He is asking you something right now:
"What are you willing to give Me so that I can be first in your life?"
It might be 20 minutes in the morning. It might be fasting coffee. It might be your favourite TV show or your Monday night to go out onto the streets with the Mustard Seed Team.
It might be something much bigger than any of those but I can promise you this, when you get serious with God and decide to put Him first, it will be the most fulfilling and joyful thing you've ever done!
Rog, Liv & family.