A spacious place

imageLast Monday I had just returned from Delhi and Dubai and today I’m just back from Wales. I’d only got the case unpacked when it was time to fill it again only with slightly warmer clothes! Andy was leading worship at a women’s retreat(!) at Ffald-y-Brenin in Wales (http://www.ffald-y-brenin.org/) and I got to go too!

“The blessing of God continues to be poured out at Ffald-y-Brenin, a remote Christian House of Prayer and Retreat Centre in South West Wales, UK. People are pouring in from the nations and many are being blessed and healed. The deaf hear, the lame walk, and joy arises to heaven! Increasingly we are seeing people make a commitment to follow Jesus Christ. Hundreds are launching into local prayer-based mission-shaped discipleship in Wales and the nations.”

Last summer I read “Grace Outpouring” detailing the stories of what God has been doing at Ffald-y-Brenin and I’d wanted to visit ever since so it was with great delight I accepted the generous invitation to accompany Andy and be part of a group of very special ladies. Some I had only met once before but most of them I was meeting for the first time and I hope it won’t be the last!

I was humbled, encouraged, challenged and inspired as God in His mercy and generous ‘grace outpouring’ brought each of us into a spacious place with Him (Psalm 18:19). Ffald-y-Brenin “has often been called “a thin place” where the veil between heaven and earth has been pulled back. It is easy to pray, to be still, to listen, to worship. It is also a place of joy, of creativity and of learning, a place of encounter.” The rhythm of daily prayers, the remote location and stunning landscape and the lack of wifi or phone signal create space to be more intentional in asking God ‘What are you saying? What are you doing?’, hearing His still small voice and seeing His beauty revealed in creation.

Aaron Keyes song ‘Sovereign over us’ touched many hearts and God gently yet powerfully spoke to each one of us in different ways. I just ‘happened to’ start a book I had downloaded for free ages ago and many words from it found their way into my journal expressing what I felt God was saying to me.

“The Lord is about to bring you out into a new place where everything is freedom and spring and life and joy, a place where you can live, literally abide in a permanent springtime, in the beauty of who He is, in a place with 12 months a year of fruitfulness. With eyes fixed on the beauty of Jesus, you are strong in God.”

“As the mediator of grace, He pours grace over you, and when you come to Him and lie in His presence, the blood of Christ covers you and everything becomes new.”

“Do you understand that Jesus left glory so that He could understand and relate to you, a flesh and blood child of the Father and show you what it is to live a life fully filled with the Holy Spirit.”

I prayed “Father, please give me a heart transplant, change the rhythm, the way blood pumps into my veins, sync my heart with yours” and “Let the Shalom (peace) of Heaven, the peace that passes all understanding, that of ‘completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfection, fullness, rest, harmony, and the absence of agitation or discord’ come to me in Jesus’ name.”

I am so very grateful for my time at Ffald-y-Brenin. It was “time with God, more than just reading the Bible and uttering a quick prayer, but storing up a well, a perpetual reserve of intimacy, to draw on.”

I might not be back at Ffald-y-Brenin soon but I do need to keep returning to “the secret place, where we soak in His presence. As desperate as you may be for His tangible presence, striving is not rest, so just rest in Him. Relax, breathe in His Holy Spirit and let everything out. Our answers for the impossible are in that incredible realm of the secret place of His love where God has an answer for everything.” And the Father is beckoning us all to this secret place, a thin place of intimacy with Him.

PS this little cottage in the picture is where Andy and I got to stay!

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#encounterindia2014

imageI last posted 2 weeks ago when I was somewhere in the air between Dublin and Delhi and now I’m home 13 days, 6 flights, 2 continents, 2 nations, 21 salvations, 41 healed, and a few too many bathroom runs later!!

But my head is still somewhere in the air. I’m finding it hard to believe I’ve actually been to India and the Middle East and even harder still to find words to justifiably capture all I’ve seen and experienced there but here are a few snapshots …

– playing with children who have been rescued from living in brothels, witnessing their mothers ‘work’ and being beaten if they cried and disturbed the customers. It was an honour to witness the difference their new home had made in them and my highlight was having one of the kids fall asleep on my knee and hearing the youngest one recite Psalm 23, his favourite, and pray for us as a team, at the age of 3!!

– seeing 16 women and girls come to faith when we visited the slums and getting to pray with several others including a lady who reported that her eyesight was better after I prayed. She invited us into her home, a room no bigger than 8 foot by 8 foot, so we could pray God’s blessing over it.

– visiting village church plants and arriving in a remote mountain village to find over 100 people waiting for us to take a service, including 20 pastors, some of whom had taken almost 3 hours to get there for 10.30 in the morning.

– taking part in a church service in Palakonda and seeing 5 people come to faith and 26 people healed and hanging out with 43 amazing kids in the church orphanage.

And these would be amazing stories if that was where it ended ….

But we had the privilege of meeting people who believed that one person could make a difference and are courageously changing their cities and communities. I know that as I write a few of my stories here, they too are writing many new stories there …

– to rescue many more children from a life in brothels and introduce them to the love of the Father

– to start an open air school for kids from nearby slums to have the chance of an education

– to build a bigger church in Palakonda with a school and hospital for the community in the grounds

– to give many more orphans a home and an education

– to plant many more village churches

I feel so grateful, privileged, humbled and inspired to have seen all that God is doing and to hear the stories of those serving him so faithfully. I pray that #encounterindia2014 doesn’t end there but is the beginning of a new story for my life, a launch pad to see God do even more amazing things both in me and through me to rewrite the stories of those who have not yet encountered his incredible love and boundless mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

A Right Royal Talking To

pointing finger

Transformation Is An Inside Job…

By the time you are reading this I will be traveling on a mission team to India from 10-23 March and should be in Dubai awaiting my connecting flight to Delhi.

We will be working in the red light district of Delhi alongside a couple who have set up a project there to rescue young women and children (from as young as 3) who are victims of the sex industry in the city. We will also be going into one of the 40 slums in a nearby region of Delhi to bring food and hope to families living there. Finally we will travel to south India to work alongside a church who have 2 large ministries looking after widows and orphans and to take part in services in some church plants.

Our arrival in New Delhi on Tuesday morning coincides with a significant date for me. It will be exactly two years since I had to leave work because of Post Viral Fatigue. I’m grateful that God has now made this date memorable for another reason!

It’s been no surprise that the team has met with some ‘resistance’. Three of us have been ill this week. I’ve had to rest most of the week and had to resist the resistance most of the week too!

I’ve had to give myself ‘a right royal talking to’ – remind myself who I am and whose I am with some verses and quotes I’ve read or received from friends and some I felt God speak.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Josh 1:9

“You regulate the climate of your heart. Nothing around you can actually transform you, you get the choice. Transformation is an inside job. I am the gatekeeper of my heart, that’s why the Bible says ‘above all else guard your heart’ , determine what goes in, more than what goes out. You get the choice, whether it’s encouragement or discouragement, faith or doubt, none of that comes from the outside. I set the climate of my own heart.”

“You can never enter an environment that you don’t have authority in. So you never have to fight for authority.”

“And that’s not all. You will have complete and free access to God’s kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19 MSG)

“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength” (2 Timothy 4:17)

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV)

“We can tell the quality of someone’s inner life by the amount of opposition it takes to discourage them.” G Cooke

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backwards. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus and keep aiming.”

I pray that some of these words will also help you to ‘resist resistance’, to just focus and keep aiming.

I would so appreciate your prayers for us as a team for peace, protection and perfect health throughout our trip and that we would make His presence and power known wherever we go.

“The Kingdom is breaking out all over the place!”

imageI already had suspicions that this week’s post might be shorter than others as today was set aside to write a talk for one of the churches we plan to visit on our Encounter India trip* leaving next Monday. My suspicions have been confirmed as this afternoon I succumbed to practice run for Delhi belly!!! I’m believing that today’s ‘gastric upheaval’ means immunity from any similar experiences while I’m away!

Coincidentally I was already confined to the couch. Yesterday afternoon my heel decided to go in another direction than I had planned and I sprained my ankle. I’m very grateful that the swelling now only bulges out half as much as did yesterday and it is nowhere near as painful. Thankful for answered prayers 🙂

It’s interesting that this happened a week after I had a dream where I saw a lady go over on her ankle and, in the dream as I prayed over the swollen lump on her foot, it completely disappeared. Instead of feeling discouraged about what has happened to me, I feel encouraged that I’m going to see God heal ankles and feet especially when I’m away in India.

I’ve already seen him to do that this week. At our small group, we prayed for a friend whose leg had been twisted ever since she damaged her calf muscle at the age of 14. The doctors couldn’t explain why this was the case but it meant that her left foot always stayed at a 45 degree angle to her right foot. She couldn’t stand with them together. She can now!!! God miraculously straightened her leg and she was able to stand with all ten toes pointing in the same direction 🙂 Lovely legs!!

He is so good 🙂 I’ve just received an email saying “What an incredible time it has been over the past couple of weeks at Causeway Coast Vineyard! Over 85 folk have begun a journey with Jesus across our environments whether it be in schools, workplaces or out on the streets.”

Last Tuesday our Encounter class left the building and headed into town. In the course of an hour we saw 5 people come to faith. I had the joy and privilege of praying with a lady as she opened the door of her heart to Jesus. I love that she came into town for a few messages and went home with Jesus!!

In 1859 a revival started in Coleraine in a local school and the Kingdom is breaking out in schools again. I love these tweets from our children’s pastor …

“Eight children in school on Friday decide to open their hearts to the Lord. The Kingdom is breaking out all over the place!”

“Ten year old gets told off for talking in class. Truth is, he’s leading his little friend to Jesus.”

And it’s also happening amongst the young at heart!

Another tweet said “This week an 85 year old gave his life to Jesus for the first time and an 83 year old led two people to faith :)”

I write this to celebrate all God is doing in the lives of our community and in my own life. But the song in my head and on my heart for the past week has been

I need you more, more than yesterday,
I need you more, more than words can say
I need you more, than ever before,
I need you Lord, I need you Lord
(Lyndell Cooley/Bruce Haynes) http://youtu.be/i-66KeF1LQ4

No matter what I’ve seen Him do in the past week, I’m pressing in to see Him do MORE, more than yesterday.

*Find out more about our India trip https://www.facebook.com/events/1425882527639873/?ref=ts&fref=ts