Sunday, 16 February 2014
What We're Experiencing In Bethel
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.
Monday, 30 September 2013
Satisfaction in Hunger
So we are called to fast in church again, again. I have never managed it and don’t know much about it. This has been my response to these calls all down through the years until one year ago. I laughed in agreement with our Sunday morning speaker recently when he spoke about fasting, he said once the body comes under threat it responds and fights. This I know full well, but I also know now the fight then dies and surrenders, and fasting becomes easier.
My story? For my first 27 years as a believer I had not been able to complete one full days fasting, but this time last year I have had breakthrough in this aspect of obedience to the Word of God. I was preparing to have a SOZO (Greek word meaning “saved / healed / delivered”) and was encouraged by the SOZO ministry team to fast from something for a week before the SOZO. I was determined to fast in some way and determined to fast in a way that I would be able to complete and not have to abandon my plans and feel like I had failed. I wanted to be real with God and wanted to see real, measurable breakthrough in my life. I fasted for that week from tea and coffee as my girls were on my case as they said I was addicted to both. For five days my body fought and reminded me each moment by manifesting a dull headache for the duration of those five days. After those days I started to feel much more alert as if a fog had moved from my head, the headache now was completely gone and I was still fasting. After the SOZO I said I can fast unto God like this longer and have been so doing now for 11 months without coffee or tea.
A friend who noticed I was not drinking tea or coffee asked me was I fasting and why. I told them I was and, being slightly embarrassed that I was only fasting from tea and coffee, I told her in 27 years I had not managed to fast for one day as a believer. Instantly she prophesied over me that I would have breakthrough in fasting from food. I instantly stepped into that prophetic word and before I knew it I had fasted a full day. Did I have any amazing revelation from God while I fasted? No, none. All I had was the knowledge that I had now fasted for one full day and I was happy with this. The same day the following week I did likewise and the same again the next week. As time went by I started spending more time in the secret place (of prayer) on those days, the time I would have spent eating I was now spending in the secret place on top of my usual times in the secret place.
In January, three months after my break-through in fasting, I shared a prophetic word about break-through in Church from Micah 2:13 “One who breaks open the way will go up before them, they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the Lord at their head.” In these days I have learned of the connection with the prophetic and intentionality. Intentionally stepping into the word and seeing that word manifest, imitating Jesus in allowing the word become flesh in my body. I have since fasted for 2 full day periods and have built on that and completed three day periods without taking food. We grow into Him when we combine our intention and will and apply it to the written and spoken word. An obvious change for me day-to-day is not just learning more from Him, but learning how to release Him as I learn. In these days of break-through I am manifesting Jesus in my life; He brings the breakthrough. Can I state clearly that this has all to do with me fasting? No – but I can say there has been a marked change in me since this time last year. Was it the SOZO? Was it the prophetic word? Was it the intentionality? No, I can’t say, but I can clearly say it was the Heart of God responding to a heart that is learning to yield. In all these changes the common ground has been a willingness to “step in” to walk in intimacy.
I am currently feeling the call of the Holy Spirit to fast for 7 days, one day each to step into each of the Seven Spirits of the Lord as mentioned in Isaiah 11:2 and have that nature of the Spirit manifest in my body. Now this is something that excites me, the pain in the fasting is nothing compared to the possibility of encountering Him in these days. What if I experience nothing of Him in these 7 days? I now know that’s not possible.
The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev. 19:10) and I know by ministering unto the Lord in this way He will release a greater manifestation of Him in my life and a greater blessing on the world around me. This excites me.
Take the prophetic word that was given to me and claim it as your own and intentionally set in motion an encounter with Him.
Monday, 8 July 2013
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? Part 3
Jesus laid aside His deity to show us that it was possible to live a holy life as human by being completely clothed in the Holy Spirit. Jesus showed us how to wear the Spirit. God’s plan is for fullness in the clothing of the Spirit, anointed in Presence. Our walk in Him is a matter of deciding whether to dress in the clothes he has provided or not.
Monday, 1 July 2013
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? Part 2
Saturday, 22 June 2013
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING? Part 1
Friday, 24 May 2013
Joshua: Following In Big Footsteps.
When we look around, it's easy to see that there are many people who have been exceptional in their particular arena. In sport, there have been many legends through the years.
Michael Jordan is quite possibly the greatest basketball player of all time, to such an extent that he still earns more from the sport and his endorsements than any other basketball player currently in the game, and Jordan is now 50 years old!
Alex Ferguson, is one of the most successful managers in football and he's just retired, leaving David Moyes massive shoes to fill in Manchester United.
Jack Nicklaus is still regarded as the greatest golfer of all time, although Tiger Woods seems to be catching him once again.
Muhammed Ali famously said "I am the greatest" and he's still seen to be one of the best of all time.
So imagine how Joshua must have felt.
Israel had had an amazing experience, Moses had led them out of Egypt and they had seen miracles that defeated every deity the Egyptians had, just so that they would know how great their God was. Moses was an old man, and he led the Israelites out of Egypt, and as they left, God completely destroyed their enemies. The nation that had been enslaved, were now free. They crossed the Red Sea and were faced with a new land that God was going to give them.
But they turned their backs on God and decided that they couldn't possibly defeat these enemies, so God made them wander for 40 years in the desert.
During that time, God fed them every day, He never left them wanting. He provided for all of their needs, He gave them laws on how they were to live and their clothes and shoes never wore out. He did everything for them, and then as their time of wandering was almost over, Moses went up onto the mountain top and that was the last the Israelites saw of him.
Joshua had big shoes to fill. He was now in his 80's, but he had spent so much time in the Lord's presence he was the ideal person to take over as leader of the nation and this was confirmed to the people when Joshua's first public miracle was to cross the Jordan on dry land.
But how did Joshua become a great man of God?
So Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, one of his choice men, answered and said, “Moses my lord, forbid them!” Numbers 11:28 (NKJV)
Firstly, Joshua was Moses assistant from when he was a young man. He spent his time learning how to lead as Moses did and he watched him, learning to understand his though processes. Basically, he modeled how to learn from a rabbi, by doing as the rabbi did, and this was and has been taught by Jews ever since, even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, because they wanted to pray as He did.
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” Luke 11:1 (NKJV)
So Joshua's learning taught generations after him how to learn, by spending time with the master.
Yet in Exodus 33, we find out how Joshua became a great man of God:
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting. And it came to pass that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp. 8 So it was, whenever Moses went out to the tabernacle, that all the people rose, and each man stood at his tent door and watched Moses until he had gone into the tabernacle. 9 And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and theLord talked with Moses. 10 All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. 11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. (Exodus 33 NKJV)
Joshua went into the presence of God whenever Moses did and he remained there when Moses left. Joshua spent his time learning from Moses and when he wasn't learning from him, he spent his time in the presence of God. It's not difficult to see how he managed to become a great leader. He had a servant heart because it was his job to help Moses, and this taught him how to be a great leader. Joshua stayed where the Lord was and the Lord gave him a nation.
So when Moses died, God spoke to Joshua and told him that He was with him, so he had no reason to fear:
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 (NKJV)
So what happened when Joshua became the leader of a nation? He stepped straight into the word that God gave him 40 years ago. God told him and Caleb that they could conquer the land of Canaan (Numbers 13v30) and Joshua wanted to act on the Word God gave him.
You see, when God speaks a word into your life, you get to decide if you want to accept it and run with it, ignore it, or hang on to it until it comes to fruition.
To make this happen, God parted the river Jordan so that the Israelites crossed on dry land, showing them that He was with Joshua and showing the Canaanites that they were up against a nation that had a God far greater than any. On a personal note, I love how it says:
"...and the people crossed over opposite Jericho." (Joshua 3v17)
It's great how God demonstrates His power to us by building us up and unsettling the enemy at the same time!
Joshua also demonstrated the heart of Jesus in this. The spies he sent out, were obviously men who knew their master as they told Rahab and her family they would be safe, no matter what happened. In a place of judgement, God's mercy was being revealed. The spies didn't even know how the city was going to be attacked, yet when they spoke life instead of judgement into someone, God upheld their word and saved her and her family. (Joshua 2)
In other words, mercy triumphed over judgement.
The Israelites crossed the Jordan by Joshua telling the priests to go into the Jordan before the people and to carry the Ark of the Covenant. They were then to stop in the middle of the river until all the people had crossed and then were to follow the people across. This demonstrated to the people that God was going before them, that He was in the middle of the miracle with them and that He was going behind them. God had shown to the Israelites that He was still able to make the water stop on His command, and that He could still do miracles. He also showed those in Jericho that He was greater than their gods of water and land, in the same way He had demonstrated this to the Egyptians.
It showed that the stories they had heard of the Israelites crossing the Red sea were true, and that this nation, led by this God, were different to everything else they'd experienced!
Jesus is revealed all through the Bible. He is the one who shows us the heart of God. He goes before us, He stands with us and He goes behind us in everything we do. He constantly demonstrates mercy over judgement. He even went so far as to do this when Peter chopped off a soldiers ear as He was being arrested. He didn't say "Serves you right!" and He didn't leave the man to bleed, or leave him with one ear, He showed mercy, He healed him and went with His captors, knowing what was ahead of Him.
Joshua stepped into a place of being under the law, because he followed the leader who represented and still represents the law to Israel, yet he demonstrated the heart of Jesus. The reason he was able to do this is because he had learned to spend time in the presence of God.
Muhammed Ali said that he was the greatest, Moses was the greatest and Joshua was too.
To be great in God's kingdom, you have to be a servant, after all, If Jesus Himself said it, it has to be true!
43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43,44 NKJV)