It was wonderful to have Ellie Hart with us last Sunday as she launched her new book ‘Postcards from heaven’ a collection of her own paintings linked to short, thought-provoking reflections, aiming to help people wanting to hear more clearly from God, especially when going through change and uncertainty. You can find out more about Ellie here.
It has also been exciting to hear from those who have started our latest prophetic course this week which is designed to help us hear from God more clearly - when we hear a word from the Lord it brings us life, encouragement and energy!
A ‘good idea’ is not necessarily a ‘God idea’!
As a church, there are plenty of things that we could be involved in, plenty of needs to be met across the city and East Midlands and yet the thing we want to continually keep coming back to two key questions: ‘what is God saying to us?’ and ‘how are we going to respond?’
The beginning of a new calendar year provides us with a great opportunity to refocus and reset daily rhythms in line with God’s will for us and so during the month of January we have been listening to God about what he is saying to us as a church for the coming year and there are a number of encouraging themes emerging:
Doubling on our existing foundations
“For a couple of weeks now God has been speaking to me about extension sometimes when you extend you have to dig new foundations sometimes if the foundations are good enough you can extend on existing and God spoke to me saying he is going to extend is kingdom on our existing good foundations by doubling our size. I asked God how this is going to happen as in my simple mind I can't see it! He again spoke to me and showing me a picture of an overloaded electric extension socket and said at the moment we are like this but when he extends he will put more proper sockets so that extension sockets can be plug in all over and get filled up themselves and so the cycle goes on I am taking the sockets to mean connection points and us to be the extension sockets and as we connect into proper/different connection points others will connect to our extension and so the growth comes and Gods kingdom is doubled” (Andrew Moorley)
Setting our sails
“As I asked God that he wanted to share with the church I felt he gave me the picture of a boat. No-one who has experienced the joy and exhilaration of sailing would choose to pick up heavy oars instead. And yet when we are tired then we are most inclined to do things by ourselves. When things are working as we might hope we can be tempted to try and make something happen and start rowing out of our own strength or human effort. However God wants us to hoist our sails so that we catch the wind of his Spirit and allow him to carry us to where he wants us to go” (Ellie Hart)
Going deeper into the river
“At the beginning of the year I felt God invite us to go deeper with him and learn how to get deeper.
The verses he laid on my heart were the verses in Ezekiel 47:3-6:
“As the man went eastward with a measuring line in his hand, he measured off a thousand cubits and then led me through water that was ankle-deep. He measured off another thousand cubits and led me through water that was knee-deep. He measured off another thousand and led me through water that was up to the waist. He measured off another thousand, but now it was a river that I could not cross, because the water had risen and was deep enough to swim in—a river that no one could cross. He asked me, “Son of man, do you see this?”
I’ve experienced times where I have felt God take me out on the water and call me to step out of the boat, but this passage calls Ezekiel out from land and he journeys deeper himself – and as he goes deeper the waters double around him. Each 1000 cubits is approximately 1/2km, so by the time he has gone ankle, knee, waist and then submerged, Ezekiel has had to walk through 2km of water – which is a fair distance. It can sometimes be a struggle to journey short distances in water, let alone walk 2km. It took time and personal effort.
I once lived in a house that had a flooded quarry at the bottom of the garden, and was a beautiful man made lake. It was a glorious place to be on a hot summers day and I really loved it – getting home from work and going for a swim. Then one day I was told that it had ben stocked with pike and other fish for fishing. As things brushed past my legs I then became keen to get out onto dry land. My joy had been robbed because of my fear. Sometimes being in clear water can be worse – you can see things in the shallows that distract and cloud the process of getting into deeper water. And we either stay in the safety of the shallows, or pad our feet on the shore.
I felt for us as a community, it would be a year of walking into the good things of God, getting deeper into him, getting deeper into his presence – being a people who practise the presence of Christ – who long to feel the Holy Spirit and welcome him tangibly in our midst. It’s not a year of walk on water moments, where it’s good, but then you get back in the boat again and sail on with life. God wants to train us to walk deeper with him, to walk purposefully to pursue him – experiencing him as we go, but practising being presence carriers, until we are utterly abandoned to him, in the deep and out of our own control.
There’s a Bethel worship song with the verses:
Further and further my heart moves away from the shore
Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am Yours
Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head
- So are we ready for that invitation from God this year?
- Are we ready to leave the banks of safety along the river?
- Are we willing to lay distractions aside?
- Are we willing to stay focussed? Focussing on joy, not on fear
- Are we willing to wade deeper till we’re so deep we depend utterly on God?
- Just as rising waters change the landscape forever – Are we willing to have the landscape of our lives changed forever?
- Are we ready to experience Him deeper, and go where he’ll lead us?