Full Circle.

 

Ever found yourself back in a familiar Place. After my job ending in Wales Dec 2016, I prayed that prayer, God lead me from here, I will not seek work but pray and trust day to day for you to lead. Not easy as choosing not to work, but to patiently trust that the right Job will come up at the right time in the right way for the right reasons. After a 3 month spell at a bible training college in Wales, suddenly it all lined up. A job offer in Norway, back at my old School Vestborg, after 9 years away. It is great to be back in the same place realising you are a different person, that Your character has changed, matured and that is far more important than chasing a job that will give you a big pay check but not develope you as a person. Having a very rewarding job, with great managers and awesome students to work with, brings the best out of you. Living in one of the worlds most stunning areas, fjords and mountains, Fish and ski slopes. Wild beauty and Wild dangers. Of course family, friends and familiarity of UK life are missed and that’s where the job has to balance out those sacrifices. Worth waiting for? You bet.Skule Trip & Molde UEFA sept 06 052

 

Coming Out of the Wilderness

Coming Out of the Wilderness

If you asked me to describe the passage of scripture that best summarises the last 17 years of my life it would have to be Matthew 4:11.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
First let me say, that in now way am I saying I am Jesus. He was unique in that He came as God and put on human flesh, totally divine, always eternal, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, a glorious revealed mystery. There has been and neither will there ever be anyone who can come close to matching the uniqueness of Jesus. But for those who follow Him and are called His disciples, we should expect to see some of the principles that shaped His life, in our life. Jesus himself said to his disciples, “ as the Father is sending me, so I am sending you” (John 20:21).
So why does Matthew 4:11 capture exactly where I am in life today? In this verse we see Jesus having just come out of an intense 40 day wilderness bombardment and test of all of his human and divine senses. Hungry and weak, His spiritual strength was tested by Satan’s subtle and desirable triune temptations. Jesus character was being tested and after 40 days he came through, yet was in need of rest and Divine strengthening. This was in readiness for the start of His short yet world changing 3 year ministry. Looking at His life we could say that there are three key stages that shaped His ministry and therefore should shape ours. Call, wilderness testing and ministry realities. After his Baptism by John the Baptist, it is really important to note that before any miracles, signs and wonders were done, the Holy Spirit led him into the desert to be tested by Satan. That same Spirit led Him out and now restores Jesus in readiness for the real battle of front line Ministry.
I sense that this is where I am in life. My short 3 month course at the BCW, is a time of God restoring me after a long and frustrating 17 year wilderness testing. Before stepping back into full time ministry, I need three things, 1) Restoration. 2) Joy of Salvation, 3) The Power for Service. Why do I need them and how can I be sure this is the season of my life? I have been a Christian for 17 years. Saved and baptised in the year 2000. God called me to study at Moorlands Bible College for three years and gain my degree in ‘ Applied Theology’. Three years in Norway as a missionary to the youth followed and invites to speak at youth conferences around Norway grew. In 2008, I sensed God was calling be back to Wales to come aside and rest, then I moved to England to work in Christian homeless hostels and a modern secular school.
On the move again in 2015, I came home to Wales and worked in an international college for one year, before suddenly, the job ended along with the flat I lived in. After 17 years as a Christian it seemed that nothing was permanent. Jobs came and went and I had moved over 17 times. Even though God had used me to save souls, I was left confused and frustrated with regards to short term jobs and homes. Until, God spoke and showed me that from the time I was baptised, the same Holy Spirit that had led Jesus into and out of the wilderness, had led me into and out of my own God shaped testing ground.
Up until God speaking, I had felt a failure and sensed other Christians saw my life as having failed for Jesus. After 17 years of following, I now stood as a 47 year old man who had no wife, job or home. Just a car, a suitcase and a bible. A failure in the world’s eyes maybe, but in God’s eye a person who by God’s grace and strength alone had passed the wilderness tests and was ready to see God’s call to ministry rise up. Knowing that God had planned the last 17 years blew away the sadness and confusion of many shattered hopes, dream jobs and homes. When you are in the desert trails, nothing is permanent. The trails are God’s way of proving ‘ character before calling’. He keeps us in the refiners fire until the character needed to stay the test of long term ministry is established. In the wilderness it may seem God is distant and does not care, or that you are failing and crushed by Satan’s temptations, until God almighty brings you out and starts to bring revelation and strength to you again by the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing the season you are in with God can make all the difference to your walk with Him. Often you do not know you are in the wilderness until He brings you out, helps you to look back and see His hand, before restoring you and pointing you forward with a vision for the future. Wilderness tests produce deep rooted character. In the wilderness you are tested before taking hold of the realities of calling and ministry. This was what Jesus went through, baptised, wilderness and ministry. You could say there are three stages to Christian discipleship and a period in the desert is the second stage. This pattern is seen all the way through the bible.

Firstly Joseph, who had a God given destiny given to him in a dream. A destiny that would see him save his family by being placed above his family as a ruler of a nation. Yet, a wilderness testing in the form of a pit, slavery, and prison shaped his character in readiness to rise up and manage a worldwide drought, thus saving his family as they came and bowed before him in Egypt. Therefore Joseph was called, tested for 17 years and finally established. Moses who had a call to help the Jews escape from Egyptian slavery, blew it and run for his life into wilderness obscurity for 40 years. God however, at the right time restored Moses and used him to help the Israelites escape from Egypt and defeat the mighty Egyptian army. In his own strength Moses defeated one Egyptian. In God’s strength Moses looked victoriously over an entirely defeated Egyptian army ( Exodus 2). Moses, called, tested for 40 years and finally established.
The Jewish nation that had escaped Egypt, now went through it’s own baptism in the Jordan and crossed over into the wilderness tests. These tests were to prepare the nation for the permanent blessing of the promised land ( Exodus). Israel, called, tested for 40 years and established. Think of David, who as a young lad was anointed by God to be King over Israel, yet spent many years on the run from Saul. David lived and slept in caves as his life was continually in danger for the pursuit of Saul. Rejected by Saul, the Philistines and His own people David strengthened himself in God (1 Samuel 30:6),and after 20 years he was anointed for the third time and finally became King over Israel and Judah. Called, tested for 20 years before being established.
These three stages continue into the New testament. As mentioned Jesus modelled this and recapitulated Israel’s history by being Baptised, tested in the wilderness,before starting His three year ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, baptised, tested for 40 days and finally established in ministry. Finally, let us look at the disciples. Jesus called them with the 1st follow (Matthew 4:19).
They thought they were being established to reign and rule with Jesus, yet Jesus was leading them around the wilderness, putting things to death with temporary trails and a birds eye view of His ministry and how it should be done. Jesus dies, the disciples flee, yet after the resurrection Jesus comes to these failed disciples and restores them, and recomissions them. It seems the 3 year ministry of Jesus also served as a three year wilderness test for the disciples. The 2nd ‘ Follow Me’ to his disciples was the start of the real ministry. A group of disciples who had no strength left in themselves but were now filled by the Holy Spirit for service.

In conclusion, it seems all three stages are set by God’s own initiative and timing. His gracious initiative to call us from our sins to the call of the cross and the Gospel. Followed by the wilderness trails that break our own self efforts and bring us to the end of ourselves. Finally as God restores you and strengthens you, you are ready for long term promised land ministry, in which only wilderness tested character will do, along with the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. It is key to know the season you are in with God. I write this article one month into my 3 month course at the BCW. By God’s oversight and care, He called me in the year 2000, led me into a 17 year wilderness, and now His angels restore me through a loving Christian community, incredible teaching that spiritually feeds my soul, as the main event of the ministry call hovers in the Horizon. Much like Rees Howells, I know I am saved and the joy that comes with it, yet I seek and wait for that which is never given in the wilderness, the Infilling and power of the Holy Spirit for service. I am out of the wilderness and being readied for the promised land of ministry. What season are you in? Remember God goes before you.

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Prayer or Intercession ? Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance but laying hold of His willingness ( Martin Luther)

Praying  prayers devotionally with quick 2 minute chats with God, hoping that sometime in the future you might get the answer no,maybe or yes.These are our normal prayers in the busy world of modern life. Yet,for Rees Howells,who bought four estates with only 2 shillings,  the key was intercessor prayer. Spending long periods in prayer, 2 weeks or 5 weeks until he had gained the victory and God’s confirmation that the request made in prayer was secure. He prayed for a certain lost soul whom he knew about for a specific time, without letting  that person know. After weeks of praying for her to God and finally getting the assurance Rees had prevailed,  she suddenly turned up at church. A few weeks later the women broke in a meeting and surrendered her life to God. So do we care enough for lost souls, if so our short prayers should be replaced by longer prayers where we get the victory first.20170302_220436

In the beginning …….

I wish I had a camera to catch the beauty before me. As I stood on the beach of Swansea bay the day was giving way to night and the ocean was slowly at it’s fullest. My eyes moves right from the city lights peering into the distant valley’s, from there towards the pillow like clouds and flickering fires of the now saved Port Talbot steel works. Above all this a swollen orange tinted moon floated just above the hills. It’s orange light reached out across the bay, making a narrow shimering carpet that rolled out across the bay towards my feet. This was not a carpet that was inviting me to walk to the moon, but sensed God had already walked down it and now he stood with me. At one with nature some words filled my mind, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). This was beauty at it’s best.

Then as day gave way to night and land lights gave way to sky lights, various stars also hung in nothingness, orions 3 stars stealing the show, billions of miles away yet impacting my life here on this tiny blue planet. I was reminded of God’s words to Job,’can you bind the cluster of Plieades or loose the belt of Orion’. Like Job I sensed the vastness of God and His creation and to steal a famous quote, my heart was ‘strangely warmed’. I sensed God and all was well in my heart and mind for that moment. Challengely, creation itself declares there is a Creator behind it all, yet his truth surpressed by humanity.

A God wanting and waiting to be know. The problem is not on God’s side but ours. Yet tonight, a simple walk on the beach and the handing over of time resluted in wonder touching my life. This stunning creation and it’s creatures only surpassed by the icing on the cake, you and me, community. Humanity the crowning glory of it all, made in His image, male and female who become one flesh and told to be fruitful and multiply. Knowing you Jesus, knowing you, there is no greater thing. No wonder God looked at His creation and said , ” it is very good”.

Community Challenged

Only five days gone and sharing your personal space with others has come with challenges and rewards. 1st night sleep and woken at 5am as top bunk buddy gets up with lights on for his devotional,  amazingly instead of anger there came a  challenge  to not lay in bed but get up, pray and start the day with God. 2nd night at 3am top bunk buddy’s phone drops through the gap onto my pillow and under the bed, again no anger, but helped him to find it. In lectures that same day a story was told about traveller who had lost his phone in a tribal community.. word got around and soon the whole village searched for his phone until it was found.

My room mates early rising caused me to reflect on how lazy I had become, the last four days getting up around 5.30 pm have been wonderful, seeing the sun rise red as a backround for jet black tree branches, while the birds and owls sing in the new day is so calming. Giving God that extra time has energized my days and my community time with others.  These last few days have been so rich, choosing to share dorms challenging but so rewarding. To be the best person I can be will happen in community. God sees that it is not good for man to be alone. Hearing how a  church raised over 6 million pounds to buy and renovate this college is incredible. Even more so when that church is in Singapore and some members downgraded cars in order to raise the money so that Wales could keep it’s bible college. Only just started,,,,blown away already…….

Derwyn Fawr – Mighty Oak

Remember I told you that since my job had finished suddenly last December,I decided to trust God and only do what I saw Him doing. So far, I have enjoyed time with friends in the Greenhouse retreat in Poole and most recently time in Porthcawl with family. I have not had a place to stay for longer than 3 weeks but tomorrow I move to the famous ‘Rees Howells’ bible college in Wales to start a 3 month course that preps for ministry. I have decided to not have my own room in order to share a dorm with three others. I am all about community at the moment and making decisions that take me out of my private comfort zone in order to get challenged and hand more and more of my life over to God and his people. Community before time alone. It takes courage to let go of control, trust God and just let life unfold itself day by day. Follow my site for updates and I would value your prayers and support. Tomorrow I have a place to live for 3 months and I can unpack my suitcase into draws and cupboards, oh the luxury of it all.

Culture Vulture

People are more insecure now than ever. Magazines like these have drip fed people the lie that they are not thin enough, that teeth are not white enough, that ageing is unnatural and fashion trends have sent many rushing to get their insecurities fixed by cosmetic surgeons. What ever happened to inner happiness and contentment.

Blessed to be a blessing.

I will only do what I see my Father doing. Two days ago a stranger came to buy my kitchen table from me as I raise funds to go to a local bible college in preperation for a ministry job later in the year. I blessed him with a fair price and he blessed me by allowing me to pray for him as he seeks to recover from a divorce. Today God moved me in order to move a heartbroken man closer to Himself. Encouraged.  How is God working in your daily life?