Saturday, 21 February 2009

Blue Whale & Dolphin!!!

Another day another hunt!

Laura & Adam came along to 'Treasure Hunters' at MFC this morning. We spent a while getting into the presence of God, praying for each other to be inspired and filled with Holy Spirit and then set about getting our clues - Some of which were very odd and random and made us smile a bit as we read them out (all will be revealed).

Both Adam & Laura had boats on their maps so we headed off for the Dockside Outlet place in Chatham. We drove round the marina section and all of a sudden there was a man with a red dog and he was crossing the road right in front of us!!! Well, the dog wasn't red but the smart little jacket it was wearing was very red!!! I leaped out of the car and ran after the man that was walking it. It turns out his name was Daniel and he also had a tattoo on his back! I explained the treasure hunt to him, he was ok though and didn't really want any prayer and looked like he wanted to move on so we blessed him where he was and went back to Adams car.

We parked in the car park that was full of cars (an easy clue to tick I know!) and went into the Dockside shopping centre. I saw a lime green top in the 1st window in front of me and then would you believe it, another red dog!!! This one was one of those coin operated ones that small kids ride, but I've never seen a red dog one before! We wandered around the centre, Laura noticed a young man limping (left limp) but we didn't approach him. She then saw a man with a walking stick so she approached him and his daughter who were sitting on the bench. She shared her map and it turned out that the man had recently suffered a death in the family. His wife had passed away very recently and it moved him to tears. The door closed quickly as his daughter explained it was still a very emotional time for him so we blessed them and left them explaining that God is looking out for them. This was really difficult to deal with and we really felt we should have been able to do more in the situation but it just closed up - So we left it with God and we trust Him with them. It's our responsibility to freely give what God has given us but it's not our responsibility to worry about the outcome or how others receive it - As the Bible says it is God alone who makes the seeds grow!
We prayed for them as we moved on and saw the young man with the left limp going up the escalator so Adam & Laura followed him and approached him as I looked for a lady with a shawl on her head that had gone into Burger King. I didn't approach her as she & her son were buying their lunch, but as I turned back round to see how Adam & Laura were getting on with the young man he had transfigured himself into a security guard!!! So I kept my distance and once the security guard had gone I went up to them to find out he had interrupted their conversation with the young man with the limp. Apparently he had received a report from a shopkeeper or two about our actions in the centre and he didn't want us selling people stuff or giving out any leaflets. Adam explained we weren't selling or giving away leaflets, but that we were on a treasure hunt. This confused the security guard, but Adam offered us to leave if he was unhappy with us 'Treasure Hunting' in the centre. So we left!

Back out in the car park and we saw Pizza Hut, which wasn't on our list but margarita pizza was so we approached the 3 members of staff that were outside smoking as one of them had a ponytail and another had on a black coat (which was close enough to Laura's black cloth coat).
Our conversation with them didn't really go anywhere so after a few minutes we left them to their cigarettes. We were now starting to feel like the hunt was going a little cold so as we were roaming around the car park we realised that our options had closed up after leaving the store so we left and drove to The Strand as there is a park there and also some tall trees.

We wandered around for a bit, the park was quite busy and there were lots of families out. Adam & Laura approached a young mum who had a bob cut hairstyle, her daughter had a long blonde hair in a ponytail and also had a wheelchair/pram and a cuddly toy. They shared their treasure maps with her, she didn't want prayer for anything but was open to conversation and did respond a little when encouraged that God had sent them to bless her and let her know that He knows her and loves her. They blessed her and we walked a bit further up the path.

There was a man with a massive mastiff. It was a very reddy/brown colour. Close enough for my 3rd red dog of the day. I had earlier turned away from approaching the man but ran after him as he left the park. His name was Eddie, he was in his 70's and was hugely encouraged by my approaching him. Just last week his own animal died, his dog. It turned out that the big mastiff with a boxers nose was his friends that he used to walk it together with his own dog who he missed a lot. The conversation opened up easily and he told me of how he had problems with the valves in his heart, but that an operation had seemed to sort it all out but he still had concerns. He was also concerned for the birth of a grandson that is due imminently and recognised God as being the answer to the worlds problems (and indeed his own!). We spoke for about 5-10 mins and I offered to pray for him, to which he agreed instantly and I asked for the love of God to flood his life, to restore his heart, provide his family with happiness in a healthy grandson and also to ease his pain at losing his canine companion. He was visibly moved and thanked me afterwards for my sincerity. I was just as encouraged by our divine appointment as he was and we both felt soo blessed!

I looked for Adam & Laura and saw that they were also praying for a couple next to the park. The wife had previous heart problems but was ok now, but she was a bit down on her perspective on life, quite negative so Adam spoke some prophetic words over her that spoke into her compassionate heart. The husband explained that she had previously cared for special needs children. God had spoken right into her circumstances - Amazing! The couple then went back to their blue car and then Adam pointed out to me that there was a blue whale and a dolphin painted as a murel on the park wall!!! - The truly amazing thing being that Adam had the clue dolphin and I had blue whale, we had even laughed before the hunt that we had no chance of getting those!!!

We went back to MFC and were hugely encouraged by the way that God had moved and displayed Himself through the treasure maps - It is amazing that God would choose to use little old us in reaching out into peoples lives with His clues to unearth His treasure - God is truly awesome!!!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Hunting Off-Duty

I went along to the 'Supernatural School of Ministry' (SSM) at NKCC today. There wasn't many there (10 in total) due to the school holidays and many of us weren't overly enamoured with going out hunting, perhaps we were low on faith, just as we were low on numbers? But Dave Webster gave us a rousing lift as he answered questions and lifted our eyes up to God away from all our fears and self doubt (as they say at Bethel - Look at the solution not the problem!)

We split into our teams after worshipping God and getting full of the Holy Spirit - We had Claire, Jonathon & Dave and straight away figured out we were off to Bluewater as Dave had 2 clues John Lewis & the name Anne.

On the way there Jon mentioned that he had the clue horse and that the emblem of Bluewater is a horse! We got parked right outside John Lewis and as we walked into the store we started ticking off clues pretty rapidly. We saw lots of pink umbrellas on separate shelves and wandered around as Jon had seen a man in a white and black striped top but the man lost us and we eventually ventured out of the shop and into the centre.

Claire noticed a man in a bright yellow top so I approached him and introduced ourselves and set about showing him the treasure map, but we didn't really get anywhere and blessed the man as we moved on upstairs.

Claire had a clue about a playdough, so we headed for the Early Learning Centre. I was amazed as right next door was a shop called 'David & Goliath', but again we found no more treasure in either store. So we headed off in another direction. We went past a shop that had denim jacket's for sale and also had 2x yellow tops in the window and I felt like we were heading in the right direction. We went into Weatherstones as Claire had books as a clue. As soon as we went in I noticed a little old lady with a yellow top on, but I didn't approach her. She was with her granddaughter and her husband and basically I bottled it! We wandered around the store for a bit and then the little old lady walked passed us again and Claire pointed her out again. I mentioned she was with her husband and bottled it a 2nd time! Then I noticed a lady in a disability buggy right by the till (that had a few people queued up!) and again I bottled approaching her. This was probably my biggest disappointment of the day. Crutches, disability vehicles or plaster casts are a clear sign that God wants to step in and do some healing, but that's when we are most out on a limb, and I'm afraid my fear of man got the better of me - But not next time!!!

Claire mentioned that there was a pizza shop downstairs right opposite so we went there and then noticed that the little old lady had followed us - This was too much of a coincidence so we approached her and asked her a few questions. She was trying to rush to the toilet and was all but 10 metres away when we interrupted her and she seemed rather puzzled. But she had a yellow top on and that was enough for us. Her name wasn't on the list, but then when I asked her granddaughters name it was Ann-ie which was pretty close to Anne!!! But the conversation didn't move any further. And she slipped away and went into the toilets!

We went back to NKCC a little disappointed that we hadn't seen God move in power and then realised just how many clues we had ticked off - We were definately hearing from God, that's for sure, but no one was visibly moved or touched, but we were still encouraged.

I went back from NKCC to MFC and our over 60's Cameo Club. I was sitting talking to Elsie, a 93 year old widow. I asked how she was doing and she suddenly blurted out that she was having a bad week - I asked why and she explained how she had fallen up her stairs and bashed her head and badly bruised her knee. I suddenly remembered my treasure map and checked it (it was in my back pocket!) and asked her if it was her right knee??? And guess what??? It was!!!
She was bowled over as I explained to her the events of the day and how it had led me to her to pray for her bad right knee. As we spoke more it turned out that she also has glaucoma and she was smiling from ear to ear as I told her of Gods desire to set her free and meet with her. She is already a Christian but was so encouraged by our time together and prayers. I loved it as she said "Oh yes, God does move in mysterious ways!"

It's crazy how God can use us even when we aren't actively looking for the treasure - This one was when I'd clocked off for the day - Very bizarre, but hugely encouraging!

Monday, 16 February 2009

True Freedom (from ourselves???)

I found it really interesting listening to Adam's sermon on Sunday about how we can experience the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven right now, that we don't have to wait and struggle through this life being bound up with different things until we pass on and get our new bodies but that it's accessible now and we need to live out of that place of faith and freedom that Jesus has already 'ransomed' us into with His blood (Hebrews 9:15).

Then it got me thinking - How free am I?

True freedom with human eyes is to be able to do what you want, when you want, however you want with whoever want... no matter what the consequences. God made us with our own free will but we are born into a world that is full of sin, a world that is built around structures that manipulate us, that restrict us with boundaries and suggest to us the way in which we should live and how we should make decisions.
My rambling thoughts got me wondering what I truly see freedom as in my own life (it's all very deep I know!)

God gives us freedom on a plate, we don't have to earn it or struggle for it, all we have to do is ask for it by accepting Jesus into our lives and then we are bought out of slavery and released into freedom in the Kingdom. In the world people have fought and strived for freedom of different people groups, nations, individuals and principles since the day that man was cast out of Eden. The devil has a cunning way of ensnaring people with his devious ways and we soon become our own worst enemies as we become deceived and slowly walk the way that leads us further away from our true freedom and into slavery through sin (the wages of which are death - Romans 6:23) more and more each day.

So what's the big deal with experiencing this 'true freedom' that comes direct from the Kingdom that we have access to now through our position in Christ? (Ephesians 2:6) Surely we just receive it and that's it, God's happy, we're happy, and as a result everyone else around us starts to become happy as they encounter the true freedom of heaven that is with us - The kingdom of heaven is near (Matthew 4:17) & The kingdom of heaven is within (Luke 17:21).

I've had tastes of this wonderful experience of freedom (at least I think I have), but those experiences have been very much moments of glory that end up getting covered up with things of this world like the shine on Moses face when he stepped down off the mountain after encountering God (Exodus 34:29-34) - In my case it stays with me for a while and then becomes more and more difficult to see and hold onto than when it first came, and eventually the memory of the radiance of God's glory and the freedom that it brings can become so distant that I sometimes wonder if I even experienced it at all!

My experience of the Holy Spirit is very similar, I get 'whacked', God impacts me on a deep level and I'm on top of the world for a week and then slowly the world gets its hooks back in and I start to back off from the relationship and I start to lose that intimacy with Him again, just like the last time, and the last time, and the time before that, and the time before that... getting the picture!!!

When I finally look at it I've decided that my experience of Kingdom freedom and of the Holy Spirit are intimately connected - Without the Spirit resting upon me 24/7 I can never expect to truly experience true freedom - It's me that gets in the way of this intimate relationship with the Spirit, it's definately not Him! It's me that makes it complicated, and all I need to do is freely receive and then 'freely give' to others that God brings my way (Matthew 10:7-8).

So I'm off now to go and get close to God, because without that intimate relationship I'm just trying to work it all out myself and denying His Holy Spirit the 'true freedom' it desires and deserves in my life for the outworking of God's love in and around me!

Be blessed!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

The Bright Blue Coat

Met up with Andrew today to venture out on a little 'Treasure Hunt'.

We met at 9.30am and had a brief chat. We ushered in the presence of God and asked for the Holy Spirit to guide us and lead us and then set about filling up our clues in the alloted 3 minutes!

It was strange. Andrew had Chatham High Street as a clue and although I hadn't put it down I felt that we would end up there when I was driving to our meeting!

We bumped into Susie as we left MFC and we mentioned some of the clues we had. We both had piercings as appearance clues and she mentioned that there was a tattoo and piercing shop on the main drag into Chatham.

As we drove into Chatham we realised we had a big problem - parking!!! - I only had 26p and Andrew had a £20 note, so we spent the next 15 minutes driving here and there before settling at Staples where we duly noted the Customers Only sign and set a timer on my phone to let us know when our 1 hours stay would be up so we could avoid the inevitable clamp!

We headed up to a tattoo parlour and ventured inside (nervously) and met a lady named Kim who looked us up and down like we were nut-jobs and after a brief look at our treasure map she suggested we go down to another tattoo place down the road - We did and it was closed!

After stopping a couple of random passers by in the hope they may be able to open some things up for us we ventured into Chatham High Street. We popped into a blue shop that was a paper shop but didn't get anywhere with the rather confused lady behind the counter.

Andrew really felt we should venture up towards the Debenhams superstore, he had a picture of it in his mind and was aware that it had cobbled streets. We made our way there and sat on a bench outside a fish shop. We stopped a couple of people that passed by but again no doors of opportunity opened.

We walked up a bit further and saw a leather coat shop and as we had suede sheepskin coat we felt this place was a must so we made our way inside... but after 5 or so minutes of Andrew very politely trying to explain what we were up to the owner glazed over and we moved on. 2 shops down and there was a lovely bloke called Ahmed in another leather coat shop who had suede sheepskin coats for sale. He tried to be helpful and was very open but we had to cut our time with him short as my alarm on my phone went off telling us we had 10 minutes to make it back to the car before the clamping man could get his hands on it.

We were walking back, rather disappointed that we hadn't had the opportunity to really introduce God to someone. We were discussing the good and bad things we felt we had learned from our time out and all of a sudden we spotted a lady wearing a bright blue coat and she had red hair and a push chair. We wasted no time in accosting her in the name of Jesus and introduced ourselves and our treasure map. I explained briefly that I felt she was our treasure and how God had given us the clues that led us to her. She was very open and seemed to find it all rather interesting, and as she scanned the list for anything that she may need prayer for her mum all of a sudden pointed out that she had back pain and a bad elbow and a bad shoulder. At that point it was apparent that she was the one that God wanted to impact - I asked if we could pray for her, right there in the middle of Chatham High Street. She agreed, we prayed a simple 1 minute prayer, releasing the healing power and love of God.
I asked her how she felt and to try and do something she couldn't do before. Her faced changed as she described the pain that was there in the morning had now gone - Praise God!!!

She then mentioned that she had diabetes, and I explained how that was also on the list and that for sure God had specifically equipped us to meet her there in the street.
She was bowled over and greatly blessed - We explained who we were and what we believed and then remembered the blessed car - So we left, telling her that God loves her and that's why we were there!

We dashed back to the car and there was no clamp and we realised that God's timing in all of our failed parking attempts, tattoo shop visits and wandering around was perfect in us bumping into Doreen so He could display His love in her life - What a great and amazing God!!!