Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Peter & The Wolf

The Intro
Did God create the universe in six physical days? Was there a world-wide flood? Were there actual giants? Are there such things as demons? Hasn't archaeology disproved the Biblical record of events? What, as Pilate asked, is truth?

Here's a well known story followed by a spoof debate by learned scholars on the text... all rounded off by some provocative thoughts from us both!
The Story
Once, a long time ago there was a boy called Peter. He lived with his family in a log cabin high in the forest. Every day before he went out to play his parents would say to him 'Now Peter, don't forget, if you see a wolf, don't go near it, don't run, just shout as loud as you can "WOLF" and we will come and save you'. Every day Peter played outside in a clearing around the cabin. He never saw a wolf, but he did like the idea of his parents giving him all the attention so one day when he was a little bored he shouted at the top of his voice "WOLF, WOLF". He loved watching his Father come running with his gun, loved the hug he got from his mum when they knew he was safe, loved the extra attention he received during the rest of the day. In fact, it was so good that the rest of the week seemed very ordinary. So on Saturday he did it again. Then on Monday. And Tuesday. And twice on Wednesday. By the end of the following week the attention he was getting wasn't at all what he wanted. Now he was being scolded, being accused of lying, of worrying his parents.

Miserable, Peter went out to play. He was so caught up in his own sorrow that he didn't notice the wolf at first. But there it was. Five foot long and three foot high it looked to Peter as if it could eat him in one bite. He tried to scream, but at first, no sound came. Then, terrified, as it moved in for the kill, he shouted his last words. "WOLF, WOLF".

The Analysis
If this were a biblical text you could imagine the experts poring over it. Here's a sample:

Dr P. Wolf: The use of the word gun dates the story not earlier than the 18th century, however, archaelogical evidnce suggest that log cabins had fallen into disuse by this point, calling into doubt the credilibity of this source. Further, the description of the wolf points to the 'Gray Wolf' which was not known in this region until the 19th century. Finally, the name 'Peter' points to a Russian influence quite contrary to any demographic evidence. All these taken together convince most scholars that the events described are not historically rooted, calling into question the 'truth' supposedly at the heart of this story.

Professor W. Peterson, Wolfsburg University: The story of Peter and the Wolf  is clearly about the journey from adolescence to sexual maturity. The wolf is a metaphor for the fear that the boy has of his emerging sexuality, made worse by his over-bearing parent's instructions to avoid sex (making the analogy of the wolf). They are transferring their own repressed sexuality onto their son who nonetheless experiments with increasing frequency 'on Saturday he did it again..' and finally 'and twice on Wednesday'. In the end he finds sexual liberation symbolised by being devoured by the wolf - and having found this freedom, leaves the shackles of home.

Ms C Blogwriter, It's about not getting eaten by wolves! If you learn from Peter's tragic mistake, you might not get eaten by a wolf! When the teeth sank into the poor boys throat, he wasn't thinking about metaphor, symbolism or historical accuracy. He wasn't even thinking about sex. If he had a last thought it was probably 'oh God, I wish I'd not lied'. I know I'm not a scholar and have no credibility saying such things, but aren't you MISSING THE POINT?

The Truth
Did Peter really exist? Was there a wolf - and did it kill Peter, or as in other versions of the story, merely scare him? Most ordinary people would rapidly conclude that the truth in the story is that dishonesty has consequences that lead to a lack of trust. Ultimately, lack of trust can be fatal.That truth does not depend in any way on the answers to those questions. Practically, it makes no difference to the point, the heart, the meaning, the purpose of the story, whether or not there was a real Peter or a real wolf. Whether this is made up or an historical event makes no difference. The truth remains the same. Lie and you will not be trusted, At some point that might make all the difference in the world.

The point
So here's a thought; people are being eaten by wolves spiritually. What they need is to hear and  heed the truth that is in Scripture. Not the science, not the history, not the originial Greek or Hebrew meanings of obscure words, but the plain, clear as day truth.

Catherine's thoughts: We so often get wound up in the detail, tied up by it, and lose the freedom that the Gospel truth brings, we gain facts and lose the relationship. The bible becomes like a science textbook where precision is everything rather than a living word. I have lived most of my church life like this, needing to try and learn each verse perfectly, rather than allowing the living word to work, to seep into my heart and transform me from the inside out. Reading the bible became like work, a job to do and I kind of missed the point. Like seeing a sunrise in grey instead of vibrant, alive, transforming, colour. It's the problem the Pharisees had: very good at reciting the scripture, very good at using words to argue their point, but hopeless at making a difference. Jesus described some of them as 'whitewashed tombs'.

David's thoughts: I like Catherine's take on this - let me give you a concrete example. The truth revealed in Genesis 1-3 includes: God is a loving relationship passionate about communicating with the significant creatures He has made. He loves them enough to give them the freedom to hurt themselves and Him. He gives then real and genuine authority, He makes male and female utterly equal before Him and both are culpable in rejecting God's love. Nonetheless he loves enough to plan a redemptive future in which we today can participate such that the original mandate to 'go, increase, bring the world into beautiful submission to my kingship' can be accomplished 'go into all the world and make disciples...' Which of these extraordinary, life giving, life changing truths is changed one iota whether the process of creation is a metaphor, a conveient device for sharing these truths, or a scientific treatise? Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth, the life...' Let's live it!

The True Word
Your word is like a sword not passive like a stone
It doesn't look for nit pickers or for some mistake to moan
It is there to build up love, and break in to people lives
to cut our calloused hearts and transform us as your bride
Its there to help reveal the heart of you my God,
the beauty and the purity of your unending love

Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Interactive One!

For those of you who weren't at SBC on Sunday, a word of explanation: The following are sermon notes from the message preached on the 25th. Half way through the service, this blog was displayed live on screen and people were invited to add their comments. Great fun - another first for Thinking Allowed!

Balance is a word that should be banned in Christian circles. It too often translates as inertia, compromise, lowest common denominator, lack of zeal, half-heartedness, double-mindedness. Away with it!

Replace 'balance' with 'Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, all of your strength'

Excuses you won't want to deliver on the day of account: 'I took a balanced approach to life', 'There were too many obstacles to whole-heartedness', 'I didn't know', 'It made me uncomfortable', 'I wasn't qualified'

Just Do It! Pray for healing, cast out demons, bring new life. Be good news. Love your neighbour. Today, right now. Let's see God smash through our false ceilings. I don't want him to live up to my expectations, I want him to drive a coach through my expectations!

Friday, 24 September 2010


Catherine says -  I have just read Davids latest blog draft and said to him YOU REALLY CAN'T PUBLISH THAT!!

so here, instead is a tongue-in-cheek excerpt from Luke 25

The funny bit
There was a long queue of people waiting for Jesus and his disciples, the sick, the paralysed, those overcome by paint fumes (like the authors as they write- will the decorating ever be finished!).  But because church has now been established there are one or two procedures to adhere to along the way...

Jesus: 'let the little children come to me'
Leader: 'er, can we just see your full disclosure CRB first'
Jesus: 'My what? I only want to have them come and sit on my knee and talk to them'
Leader: 'Ooh, we can't have any of that even if you have got your CRB - no affection to be shown whatever!'
Jesus: 'Alright - anyone here with long-term issues from the past?'
Mary: 'Well, I've always had problems with...'
Leader: 'Sorry to interupt, but as a single man, we really don't advise you to deal with this young woman..'
Jesus: 'But all I need to do is pray for her and she will be free..'
Mary: 'Just pray? Oh I don't think so, I've already been in counselling for two years, there's no way you're going to fob me off with a quick prayer'
Leader: 'Well, if you're going to get into counselling people I will have to see your accreditation'
Jesus: 'Accreditation, thought doing the fathers will was all that was needed'
Leader:  'You are a joker, trying to do something without the correct qualifications, do you realise the trouble you could be in! You can't do a job like that, we need the certificate before you can do anything - just because your father did it isn't enough!!'
Jesus to the disciples: 'look guys you're going to have to do stuff too, the queue is getting longer because of these rules and regulations'
Peter:  'right I will go and set up a Bible school, so that we can all be properly trained away from all these difficulties - do you reckon 3 or 4 years should do it?'
John:  'great I could run the church planting conference with you'
Nicodemus:  'well I am a professional, reckon I could do a bit of business planning for you'
Joanna:  'For goodness sake there are all these people here now, we have God with us, why can't we just get on with things'
Crowd:  'Don't be so unwise', 'I don't know how to talk to people', 'it could be dangerous', 'we can't just go round praying for people, might do more harm than good', 'we are not professionals', 'my diary is full till easter'

Jesus: Exit stage right, head in hands, weeping...

David says - Catherine's getting Josh to sleep whilst Becky watches 'Little Mermaid', so here's a slightly edited version of the forbidden blog - don't tell her...

The forbidden bit...
Ok, so let’s be clear from the outset, when you’re taking big risks, you need to be careful. The risk itself is, well, risky. You don’t want to add unnecessarily to the risk by being stupid. So I’m all for being wise, all for thinking ahead, all for avoiding pitfalls and the enemy’s traps.

But, and I say this with all due respect, TAKE SOME ******* RISKS. Let's stop sitting on our backsides shouting words of caution from the sidelines! There are people dying out there – some literally of course, but many more who are dying inside. Lots of them look ok - just like you on the outside - but if you look into their eyes, if you spend a few minutes really asking, you’ll find out that they are dying inside.

Janet & I used to work in Relief  & Development. Classic dilemma; young child dying of dehydration, all you have to hand is unclean, contaminated water. What do you do? YOU GIVE THE CHILD THE WATER!!!! If you don’t it will die. If you do it might die from water-borne diseases, but if you don’t IT WILL DIE.

The person in front of you is dying inside. If you invite them into your life it might be messy - who knows where it will end? You’ve never handled this kind of thing before, there are probably others more competent. You’re frightened of screwing up, of making it worse. You don’t really have the time, the resources.

Jesus reinforced the command – ‘love your neighbour as yourself’. So to avoid it they asked ‘Who is my neighbour?’ I mean, if it’s the nice, same culture, same class, same point-of-view person from my church / club / work / neighbourhood then great! If it’s a person I believe I can help – that would actually make me feel good and valued – it would hardly feel like helping at all.... But Jesus doesn't let them get away with that! Instead he tells a story of the religious bigot from the feared part of town. He makes the point that your neighbour is whoever God brings across your path with a need. But they deflect it again by arguing they don't have what it takes to fill the need. So the gospel tells of the time the disciples are surrounded by an impossible need – around 10,000 men, women and children without food. He makes it clear – 'Right now, these are your neighbours, get on and sort it'. They moan ‘We don’t have the resources’. But if God has defined someone as your neighbour. He has the resources, you need to trust Him for them. The little boy did.

The person in front of you is dying inside. You feel grossly uncomfortable, getting involved might wreck your plans. Worse, it seems to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Shouldn’t you wait to get other people involved, until you’ve had the training, until the kids have grown up, until we have the resources? What if it goes wrong and you end up hurting them, what if you don’t have what it takes? WAKE UP, THEY’RE DYING, THEY ARE YOUR NEIGHBOUR.

Please, don’t have a prayer meeting about it, don’t email everyone saying how worried you are about those who are actually getting their hands dirty, don’t write a policy on it. DO SOMETHING, THEY ARE DYING.

Of course, as you are rescuing, seek advice, be accountable, follow or write the policy, pray like crazy. BUT ACT, DO IT, DO IT NOW. THEY ARE DYING. Tomorrow may be too late.

Jesus showed them time and again.  Ultimately He showed us all.

Sorry for the shouting, for the graphic  language. Truth is, the cross was ******* inconvenient. But God thought that we as neighbours were worth it.

Let’s prove Him right.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Painting's Painting

'Sand it first' I said to David. But short cut was too tempting. Why waste time sanding, the surface looks nice and flat, should be ok? So, gloss paint put on over the top of shiny gloss paint. Following day David rang up: 'there are lots of runs, it looks awful'. 'Did you sand it like I said?', 'No' he confessed. 'Oops' I said (resisting the urge to giggle and say I told you so) So a couple of  days peeling off paint, stripping it back down, ready to sand and start again. What seemed like a shortcut that would help get things done quicker, turned out to be something which caused lots of mess and needed redoing.

Catherine happens to be a Research Chemist  with an MChem, (last published paper 'Nuclear motion effects on the 13C, 19F and 1H shielding in methyl fluoride - although I recommend her most recent book 'Thinking Allowed') One of her last jobs was making coatings for aircraft windows where the main difficulty was getting the coatings to stick. There is no-one I know with more credibility and authority to speak on the subject! Adhesion is important!! Yet, I glibly ignored the advice, tripped over the unused sander she had brought round and went ahead, confident in my own ignorance!

I was impressed by Catherine's response to my foolishness. She could have been angry or at least exasperated. She could have shrugged and left us to it. She might easily have lectured and been self-righteous. She did laugh, but with us, not at us. Then she rolled up her sleeves and spent the next couple of days working with us side by side, good-humouredly redeeming the situation. That spoke loudly to me about how God works: He has absolutely the credibility and authority to advise. He has provided the tools necessary to do the best job possible. Yet when I ignore His advice, when I confess my foolishness, He too rolls up His sleeve, laughs with me and gets on with co-working to see the situation redeemed.

Easy to see the parallel between the decorating debacle and our faith walk. In missing the preparation, the developing of godly character, the sanding off of rough bits, the learning to stand on truth, and wearing full armour, we are left weak and vulnerable in the battle. Like David's paint, the coating is not tough or durable, but easy to peel and break off. We nead to ready ourselves, to prepare in order to engage in the battle and live as light. So what rough bits need sanding? In what areas is God's truth slipping off, because there are things there which are stopping it sticking?

Let's not gloss over stuff and issues in our lives rather than dealing with them, even if it takes a bit of time! Even if it takes a bit of effort in the short term, let's listen to the voice of authority - it saves lots of effort in the long term! And when we do mess up, let's be quick to confess and enjoy the fellowship that comes from co-working with God to redeem.

And don't forget to buy the book....

Sunday, 12 September 2010


If you read the Bible (and we recommend it!) you cannot avoid the fact that it presents a view of the world which has at its heart a supernatural battle. Of course this is at odds with our scientific worldview where everything by definition is based on what is visible, known and testable.

So when it comes to gospel accounts of demons and deliverance, there is a tendency to fall into one of two camps. Either we throw out a scientific worldview completely, turn away from medical solutions and see the demonic behind every event. Or we assume that the biblical worldview was presented simply because they didn't understand anything else and that our scientific view supercedes it - thus denying any battle / demonic dimension altogether.

There's a lot to say on this (and we want you to say it!) - so we're providing you with options! Below are links to two blogs - one covering some theology on spiritual warfare and looking at Biblical terms such as strongholds, possession, deliverance and so on and taking the mystique and fear out of them. It describes the what and the how in general terms. The second blog covers the same ground but from a very personal and practical point of view as Catherine, David & Janet describe the journey they have been on over the last few months.

Of course, we think it would be great to read both - so don't be afraid to come back and look at the one you didn't read first time round!

This is such an important topic - don't shy away from it - we're all called to be involved and the freedom it bring is indescribable in any blog!

The Practical one

The Personal one

Strongholds - The Theology One

God is love and love does not insist on its own way, doesn't seek to control. Biblically this is the opposite of witchcraft and the occult, which seeks to dominate, control and insist on its own way. So, when God created the universe he built choice into the foundations. Right at the start we see a God who gives choice in the story of the two trees in the garden. But for choice to be real, it has to have consequences. Choosing the tree of life has to have a different outcome to choosing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God defines the consequences - life in all its fullness or something dying.

There's this spiritual principle then. If we make choices that are unloving towards ourselves, others, the world or God (let’s call it sin for short) two things happen. First something dies (the day you eat of that fruit, you shall surely die). Not because God in a fit of pique throws down a thunderbolt on us - but because that's the inevitable consequence. Secondly, just as in that Genesis story, we give authority away. Remember, God had given mankind authority over the natural order of things (Go forth and multiply and have dominion over...). When the choice was made to go our own way in isolation from God's love, we gave up that authority to the one who tempted us, making him 'The prince of this world'. The authority, the power to be the ruler of ‘this present darkness' was given to Satan by us.

What was true then is true today. When we sin, something dies and we empower the enemy to act against us.

Of course we live in a complex world where 'no man is an island complete unto himself'. The choices others make affect us, just as the choices we make affect others. Where someone has spiritual authority in our life (for example; a parent, a church leader, a sexual partner) the choices they make have a spiritual impact on us, even if we would not have made that choice ourselves. So if any of these relationships has been in any way abusive, there will be spiritual damage as well as physical and emotional wounds. 

If we persistently make ungodly choices in an area of our life we quickly develop a habit (which is simply a choice made to act in a particular way without going through a conscious decision making process). The Bible describes this stage as us having 'seared our conscience' - we are no longer conscious of the choice. Very often, God will provide circumstances, people, words that turn the light back on. Suddenly we become aware again that there is choice to be made and what a loving choice would be. If at that point, in full knowledge of what we are doing, deliberately choose against God, something significant dies - our right to choose for ourselves in that area of our life. The enemy effectively padlocks the door to other choices in that area.

This is true for anyone, whether or not they are a believer - it is the simple consequence of a God who loves us giving us the choice to love or not.

Sometimes the choice we make may be made entirely freely, or they may be made as a result of the abusive choices of others – making us feel as if there is no real choice. Where that is the case, the abuser will suffer the consequences of their sin as described above and will also be accountable to God’s justice in the longer term. Choices though, no matter how made, must have consequences - the mitigating circumstances lessen the power that is given up and make them easier to break, but nonetheless, strongholds will still be established. 

In rare instances, where a person has persistently and deliberately chosen against a loving God in multiple areas, the bible describes these individuals as being 'possessed'. In effect. They have chosen to become unknowing puppets in the hands of the one to whom they have become slaves - owned by the enemy. The general advice would be 'if you are worried that you are possessed, you almost certainly aren't - the last thing the enemy would allow in someone he controlled would be the knowledge that this was the case - he doesn't want them seeking freedom... 

What do I do?
First, remember, breaking strongholds, releasing captives, raising to life areas of death is normal Christian, everyday activity for believers! So come openly with faith and hope!

How do you know if there is a stronghold in your life? The first thing to ask would be whether you recognise in your life any of the processes described above that might have led to one being established. Secondly, in the area concerned, have you struggled and tried many times to be free, to choose differently, but somehow keep falling? If these are true, then have a trusted friend pray for discernment, for revelation as to whether this is the case or not. If you both believe this is what God is saying, then the most important thing is not to be frightened! All the words surrounding this stuff now have a load of baggage with them - we've all read horror stories seen films, heard of odd practices etc. Don't panic! Remember, this is basic, normal Christian stuff! 

The enemy is a deceiver so it may take time to build relationship, trust and the right to gain discernment. When the disciples couldn't deal with one situation, Jesus told them that it required prayer & fasting, in other words a level of persistent determined effort. Because this is all about authority, if you want to help someone in this, you have to earn the right... It's often step by step as opposed to one dramatic event, don't be afraid to take the time it needs, peeling one layer of truth after another. A bit like the Israelites walking round the stronghold of Jericho - it took time! 

Breaking the stronghold
Eventually though there will come a point where the underlying issue has been identified, the stronghold understood. Now is the time to confront it. My advice, keep it simple, scriptural and respect the dignity of the person you are praying for. Remember, behind the stronghold is a spiritual being. They don't like being dislodged, but provided the person you are praying for has made it clear (in whatever form they can) that they reject it, it has no right to remain. So pray the truth - 'when we resist the enemy, he must flee', that under the authority that Christ has won back, we declare the power of the enemy broken in this area, that we claim the forgiveness and cleansing that comes from acknowledgement and confession. And we command in Jesus name that the enemy leaves now. Don’t get involved in conversations with the enemy, don’t listen to lies or accusations, don’t allow the enemy to put on any kind of attention seeking show. Simply command peace and repeat calmly the requirement to leave.
Good to then pray for a filling of the Spirit and for the person to pray in their own words a renouncing of the enemy in this specific area of life. 

Continue to encourage and pray with your friend. From time to time encourage them with what has been accomplished and help them remain accountable to a free lifestyle. A few days after the battle, spend time to debrief and explain what happened, take the mystique out of it.

Strongholds - The Personal One

Some Background

In the ‘theory’ stuff  we talked about the difficulty of approaching this subject because of all the baggage associated with it. What was your experience of this?

A year and a half ago I would have seen things differently in terms of God working like this – I didn’t understand it and so would have been fearful. As a result I would have dismissed a lot of the things described as being people overreacting. Or put those views down to differences in  personality – some people are ‘into’ that kind of thing – I’m not.  Would have dismissed on some level the work of the holy spirit, and the fact of there being a spiritual battle.

Deep down of course I knew there was a problem – I was used to staying in control (though sweating madly from the energy needed), out of fear.  Would use strength to resist entering the battle, mainly because didn’t want to lose control, and what was happening seemed to be out of control and therefore didn’t see it as good, I saw controlling things as good, and a lot safer, but that meant that I couldn’t be free from anything.

That gives us glimpse, but can you describe what it was like?

Ultimately we discovered that the stronghold was about my choice to speak truth about myself and especially God’s love for me. But this had seeped into other areas so that when I wanted to speak, suddenly I would discover that there were no words there. Or if I had words, they were stopped before they could be spoken.

This would often lead me to panic if I thought I might be in a situation where this might happen. Every time it did happen it reinforced the nightmare and I kept going round in circles, confidence ebbing each time.  It wasn’t  through lack of trying...  I just couldn’t do it myself, nothing improved the situation, it seemed completely hopeless, and that it couldn’t change.

We’ve not talked about it in detail, but as you’ve written in previous blogs, the stronghold became established through the abusive choices of the assault you suffered and the choices you felt you had to make as a result of that. Practically, how has it affected you in daily life?

It took way too long to prepare to talk – even a sentence in response to a question. Social interaction was becoming more and more difficult. If I had to speak publicly at all I would spend hours preparing for even the briefest comment. I would then learn by rote what I was going to say in order to stay in control – to enable detachment. All of this led to frustration – for  others when I seemed incapable of following through on ideas – and then of course for myself....

So, talk us through the general process that led to becoming free in this area?

It’s important to say at the start that everything was based on an understanding that God is good and that He wants you to be free – and that it is possible! To be honest that took time but eventually was able to come with a mustard seed of faith that something could change. That led me to having the confidence to invite others in who could support and stand with me. Then I came to a point where I was able to acknowledge  that there is a problem, even though I did not understand the detail. Finally, as understanding grew, I made a decision to engage in the battle.

The battle itself took a number of rounds to gain full insight and for the truth to be revealed. It wasn’t a quick rushed process – I found that it happened within God’s grace and at His pace .  Alongside it there were other significant issues that got peeled away  – but each round of the battle took a similar form. It took time – it wasn’t  a five minute thing!

I recognise all those elements – I know you’re keen to open the windows on this as with other areas you have addressed – so let’s look together at the detail:
To start with, as the three of us spent time together (Janet, David & Catherine) we came to recognise a look, or other non-verbal indicators that there was something going on! At that point we’d either have some divine insight into what it was or often we’d just ask! The answer may not always have been directly related, but we’d start from there and prayerfully work from that. We’d talk about it with you or pray with you based on what we’d learned. As we did this we’d stay alert to words or themes that provoked the more pronounced response. In the early days, this simply triggered a response that had no words but was characterised by waves of overwhelming emotion that had no means of expression. As time went by – as the stronghold was shaken, there were more words available to help point to the heart of the problem. 

Early on there was confusion for Catherine as to what was being stirred by God – and therefore good to allow, and what was the enemy that needed resisting. Because of this the times often looked like a battle! Waves of emotion, physical tensing,  both resulting in pain that doubled over. As the ‘round’ continued it would often culminate in a physical sensation of being choked, of wanting to be sick. Finally a level of release as we prayed leading to a kind of ‘virtual throwing up’. A bit messy and dangerous for furniture! It was physically and emotionally draining, but joyful to see a new measure of freedom being gained each time – and a more detailed understanding of what we were fighting.

From Catherine’s perspective:
Yeah, you do need to be able to trust the people you are working with and to get to the point where you are more determined to see breakthrough than you are with what it looks like! Very well worth it!

In the end, met up with you and Janet and was just chatting about stuff, life, having a giggle about photos, and in the middle of that had another moment of being overwhelmed. Have a feeling we were catching up about the fact that I had been struggling to read out some statements of truth about who I was in Christ, and how God saw me. Realised that every time I looked at you (who kept telling me truth about myself) I had to look away and I couldn’t speak. 

I remember  you praying for my tongue to be freed and I realised that I had been the one stopping my tongue, because I was afraid of what was in control of it and what might happen if I let go. I became determined to stop fighting  and allow whatever was in control of my tongue to become visible. You kept encouraging me to speak the truth – that God loves me. My heart and mind knew it was true and my will wanted to say it, but when I opened my mouth (barely) it turned to spitting and saying stuff to you, that sounded bad!  Then I tried to stop the speaking so that I didn't say such awful stuff, but then realising that wasn't helping.  Remember then almost like a direct confrontation between you and the enemy, and then the problem was gone! I had to learn to actually speak what before I couldn't speak, whispering to begin with, then being able to say God loves me, and being rather exhausted :)

The following day we all went to Barton Hills and not only did I speak the words with my eyes open, but I learned to shout them with a freedom that literally knocked me off my feet!

From all our perspective:
In case people thnk 'oh my goodness I couldn't be involved in that', we're including the following ‘chat’ which we had almost a week later to remind ourselves of what God had done. You'll see that although it was a battle, there was a lot of humour and normality - and above all God's presence!

David : We were in the conservatory at that point, and realised you could only say ‘God loves me’ with your eyes closed. You kept trying to but as soon as you looked at someone who was telling you the truth about God, you just couldn’t do it.

Catherine:  yep , it was hard with my eyes shut, but with my eyes open it was impossible

David : As you struggled you were getting exhausted and pretty much lying on the table - which didn't seem very comfortable, or safe!

Catherine : lol yeah the funny thing is I really wasn't noticing how uncomfortable the position I was in would normally be :)

 David : ... also when the waves of stuff happened the chairs didn't seem entirely safe :)

Catherine : lol, was worried about breaking them at one point  the creaking didn't sound altogether good :)

David : At that point we offered to stop but also said we would see it through. There was a real determination on all parts to get the job done.

Catherine : I figured the battle would be won, there was no point stopping

David : yay :) By then you hardly had energy to move - the effort had also made you breathless.  
Janet & I 'helped' you to the sofa... ie half dragged you :)

Catherine : see really didn't notice that!!  lol  could have stopped breathing and I would not really have realised

David : ... I was concerned you might at some points

Catherine: lol

 David: By this point I had a pretty clear idea what was going on but I didn't want to impose so when we got you vaguely sat up, I asked again if you wanted to continue... you said yes

Catherine :)  love the fact you were so calm, helped me a lot

David : I can do calm :)

David : ...That gave me the permission I needed.   So I spoke firmly for you to look at me and for whatever was behind the control of your tongue to identify itself..  That's when the spitting and words that weren't yours happened

Catherine:)  they came out a little bit before that too

David :  Yep. I remember at one point before that touching your tongue and praying for it to be set free...  I was on familiar territory at this point :) and simply told the enemy that I would be judged by God not it (as ever it was accusing) and commanded it to go - because you had never given it permission to be there and had exercised your will against it...

Catherine :) and it went :)

David: Immediately. Had no choice :)

 Catherine :) was very determined inside after so long being kept not able to talk, I wasn't going to stop till the battle was won :)  it was really annoying me.

 David: A key I think is all the time we have spent making our home, and us collectively, a place of safety, physically, spiritually, emotionally.

 Catherine: yeah I think that is so true :)  would have tried to keep controlling my tongue with massive amounts of energy if didn't feel safe on all those levels because would have felt insane sharing what I shared without feeling safe :)   perfect love casts out all fear - a lot of it also had to do with breaking down fear :)

You Are My Child
I see someone struggling to be free
the chains are too strong for you to cut and flee
But what I know is you will someday see
My strength and power will reveal the beauty

For I am your God, know you by name,
and though you are fragile and broken inside,
I will build from the pieces my beautiful bride

My heart is breaking at what I see,
the pain and the hurt that's weighing down thee
the things that have hidden my signature mark
the butterfly that is hiding scared in the dark

For you are my child I know you by name
and though you are fragile and broken inside
I'm building from the pieces my beautiful bride

Your hammer and chisel, try chipping away,
but the chains that are holding only I can now slay
For tied up you've been by the enemies schemes
but my power can work to break open the chains

For you are my child I know you by name
Before you could talk I knew your frame
and though you are fragile and broken inside
what I see emerging is a beautiful bride

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Aping around

On holiday we had a great morning doing a rope course in the trees. Swinging, climbing and zip-wiring around the high ropes course. I started to enjoy it after a while. Funny thing was as got higher it got easier. After a little while I realised the rope was going to hold me. I wasn't going to fall, the difficulties were able to be faced and I wouldn't hurt myself by falling from a great height. The course started off low, little steps in trusting and faith in the ropes, and gradually got higher, bigger steps, more trust needed in the ropes.

With God I think it is the same, we start stepping out, little steps of trust and faith, then gradually the steps get bigger, we need more trust and faith in God to provide, to work in a situation, to give strength needed.

I find it incredible looking back on the year how God has worked. It started off with a little step (which just seemed so huge) writing a 1 page e-mail over the course of 3 weeks explaining as I understood things what I was struggling with. My husband didn't get why it took me so long and was so difficult to write a single page. I knew it was hard, but didn't really get it either. When we step out it is not like there will be no opposition but God gives strength to do things. God spoke to me at a christian event telling me one step at a time, and so thats been the way forward.

There have been blips along the way, the points where I have paused, regained courage to step again, like having a slip on the rope course whilst 30ft up - adrenaline pumping, taking time to regain composure, remind myself the ropes will hold me, step out again in that truth. The times when others have spoken truth and encouraged too. Same with stepping out, reminding ourselves of the truth, how God sees us, what God says and then stepping again. Like a boxing match, first and second round lost, third round is a knockout. Truth is we are on the winning side even if it takes a few rounds :)

So, do you need to start stepping? Are there little steps God is prompting you to take, or is God wanting you to stride a bit more, or to take a jump or maybe just to trust the rope. Or have you stopped stepping or had a slip, and lost courage to step out.Maybe it's time to remind yourself of truth and step out again. Or you are so petrified you can't see truth through the fear? Maybe it's time to allow others to help encourage and speak truth to you.

The rope course was exhiliarating - a real highlight of the week. Don't miss out for whatever reason! That next scary step may just be the key to a wonderful adventure and experience of God's love and grace. I am asking God what the next step is for me :)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Too many rolls of sellotape!!

Moving house, makes you realise how much stuff you actually have. Over the last 3 months we have been sorting through the stuff from our old house. We have moved to a place without an attic, and we don't want to end up using the spare rooms for storing boxes and stuff we don't use, but rather for people to come, and stay for a period of time. It's hard to get rid of things, I work on the philosophy that if something might be useful and is still working shouldn't throw it away. But too much stuff means more tidying, more shifting stuff to get to the thing you actually need, and in our case, buying stuff, particularly sellotape, because we can't find what we know we have somewhere and need to wrap a present or something.

My house in a tip, the stuff just mutates,
and jumps on the floor, a mess it creates,
and then I spend time just picking up mess,
I'm starting to think that that I need much less
And when something is lost the problem I find
is I can't seem to see what its hiding behind
so I tip more stuff out to search in vain
and then have to pick up the things once again

So what are we doing as a family on the reducing stuff front? Taken loads of stuff to charity shops, some to the tip that couldn't be used, given some away, and had a friend help question whether we really need all the stuff we have and allowed him to ask us challenging questions about specifics :)

Which is making a big difference on the house front, but we're trying to apply the same principles to our lives...

Yeah, you're right... we can't find the sellotape that holds our life together, so we go out and buy a new one. The clutter and noise that we invite into our life means we can't see clearly so we keep praying for a new roll of guidance. We're too busy to really apply last week's sermon, so we rush out to God Channel for a new pack. We've never found the real problem because of all the stuff piled on top, so we keep tripping up over the same sin and asking for a new roll of forgiveness. We're too busy to put roots into a relationship so it keeps coming unstuck so we go out and look for another one...

Love your solutions to the practical problem - made me think about the life-equivalents...

The Charity Shop
Charity is just an old-fashioned word for the kind of love God has. So maybe there are others who could make much better use of some of the stuff we have; resources, gifts, time. Instead of us hoarding it for our own use, creating clutter in our lives, how about we find others for whom it wouldn't be clutter, but life-changingly important? What about that gift of mentoring that's lain on the shelf for year? That money for the rainy day that despite many rainy days, is still just sitting in a bank account? What do you have that you aren't using - who can you give it to?

The Tip
Some of the stuff in our life that we treat as precious is actually worse than just clutter. It's sin or the remnants of it. Memories, hurt, long-ago consequences. They've become part of who we now are and therefore hard to part with, even though deep down we know they simply hold us back or chain us. It may not be the result of our choices, our sin, it maybe the consequence of other people's choices. Nonetheless, it's there, cluttering, hindering, paralysing. It needs ruthlessly taking to the tip - the cross. Amazing who you meet there. Often there'll be someone you know. 'Ooh, didn't think they'd ever need the tip'. There'll be people like you, there'll be rich people, poor people, folk from every background. All with one intent - maybe with a little embarassment 'don't want others to know I had that in the house'. But all with the same smile as they leave. 'Finally got rid of that!' Strangely, it's a place of joy and peace - a place of new and unlikely friendships. We should go there more...

It takes trust and friendship, but we've all accumulated clutter in our lives that has become the norm. We no longer see it for what it is. That's the time to invite friends in to help us. They won't know everything, it's not them making the decisions, they're there to encourage and ask the difficult questions. They don't make judgments about what you then choose to keep - they're friends and friends don't judge. But they do encourage - pour in courage to help you decide: give to others, take to the tip, keep for a while, treasure forever.

I've seen your loft and I know you well enough to know you guys need help too!

So on the house front and I guess in our lives there's a bit of a way to go, but way better than it was :)

Sellotape. Roll on less stuff :)