‘My children are dying’

Hi, I am James Felix from India. I came to the UK in January for  a work project and was introduced to Hope Church by my friend Harish. I joined The Alpha Course which helped me think & realize many truths which I’ve not tried to understand in my 13 years of born again life. After the Holy Spirit session, I started praying for Holy Spirit anointing, and later that week, I attended a meeting where Pastor David Devenish shared the Word. He preached to ask God to teach us the way He looks at people. So, I prayed about it the next day on the way to Church and was soon filled with a lot of burden for people around, and started to shed tears looking at the people walking by. I kept hearing the words, ‘My children are dying’. This incident helped me identify that the perishing souls are not far away  but right in front of me.

James

James Felix

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The power of the Holy Spirit made me cry for the first time in over ten years

Early childhood trauma had meant that I was unable to cry.  I had previously thought this to be a blessing, until I started to suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder.  I was prescribed various medications which helped me to function, yet rendered me to a state of numbness.  Talking therapies had rationalised my problems, but not brought forth healing.   I had no idea what to expect when, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I went to the front to be prayed for.

I felt a powerful wave pass through me and over me, and in the next instant I was sobbing uncontrollably.  I remember feeling embarrassed, this wasn’t what I had in mind as a blessing from God!

The love of God through the Holy Spirit had enabled me to feel empathy toward myself, and to therefore to release my tears, two things I had not been able to do.    Now whenever I am moved to tears, I cry unashamedly, giving thanks for the healing and cleansing that I am now able to benefit from.

A member of Hope Church

The Aggregation of Marginal Gains

Sir Dave Brailsford has twice been voted BBC sports personality of the year coach, masterminding 14 medals at the Bejing Olympics and 12 at the London Olympics.

Beyond the Olympics he has developed the first ever British win in the Tour De France in its 100 year history.

Sir Dave Brailsford puts much of his success down to finding marginal gains, which his athletes can exploit. When you consider that there is only a 2-3% difference in performance with top-level athletes then its clear that these marginal gains can make a significant difference.

But what is it that we can learn from an elite level coach that trains and develops cyclists?

Small things do count!

Bicycle racing has many elements to it team tactics, endurance, speed, bike handling and aerodynamics.

Dave Brailsford and his team recognised that with a flat course for the 2011 World Championships that aerodynamics would give a considerable advantage. In light of this Brailsford team introduced a small but considerable change, they covered up the vents on the cycling helmet that Mark Cavendish wore. Some cycling helmet manufacturers claim that an aero helmet (no vents) can give a 17 second advantage over a 40km distance. This contributed to Mark Cavendish being the first Briton to win the World Championship Road Race since 1965 and introducing a trend of wearing vent covered helmets in regular road races.

The small things count, marginal gains as Dave Brailsford says. So attending a meeting, listening to worship music or a preach in the car to work, praying on the walk to school or even just thinking about a scripture when your gardening, these are all marginal gains. This is because the little things you do towards developing your spiritual life allow you to stay connected to God. This is important because you need quantity time with God to get to the quality time. The more you communicate with God the more likely you will have that pivotal moment where you connect with Him and have an impactful encounter. So don’t despise the small things and remember God see’s your heart and when you attempt to connect with him however small it feels to you, its important to God.

Focus on the ‘Process’ not the ‘Result’

Another significant detail is that Dave Brailsford would never commit on how many medals his team would win. He would always point to the ‘process’ and explain that his teams had worked hard in their training and if they produced the same results in each race then he would be pleased, whatever the outcome.

This is key to his team’s success, this released athletes from any pressure to win a medal/title or produce a display beyond what they knew they were capable of producing in their training. He always made the teams focus on the process trusting this would take care of the result.

Christians can get obsessed with the ‘result’ be that result being a life partner, a particular job they had worked hard for or a certain lifestyle they feel they deserve.

However its better to focus on the ‘process’ of where you are, continue to do the small things, praying, reading & listening to scripture, being in fellowship, etc. We need to trust God with the result and focus on the ‘process’ that God has put us in. The best example of this is the story of Joseph, he is given a vision of greatness but then seems to stumble through a series of misfortunes over a number of years in search of the ‘result’ God promised him. The morale of the story is summed up in Genesis 50:20  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”

Joseph perceived his trials as evil against him but we can look with hindsight and see it was a ‘process’ that God put him through requiring him to be faithful in each aspect of his journey to come to the ‘result’ he was promised and the effect it had on others.

I would encourage you to trust God for the ‘result’ or outcome you desire be what that may and continue to be faithful in giving, being part of your church, living a life of integrity and God will take care of the rest.

Mark Cavendish world champ

MARK CAVENDISH

Sir Dave Brailsford

SIR DAVE BRAILSFORD

WRITTEN BY HENRY MASSEY

Henry is a member of Hope Church, has his own business www.healthwellbeing.myflpbiz.com

And also has a blog about cycling www.bikefoolish.com

People are more spiritual than we think!

In previous blogs I have spoken about the challenge facing churches within the UK of communicating to the people around us for whom Christianity is a foreign language and church is an alien culture. Recently I came across some academic research which may give us some clues as to how we can approach this challenge.

A team from the University of Nottingham looked at the spiritual experiences of people who don’t go to church.[1]

They found that a large number of people claimed to have had a spiritual experience and that number has been growing. The raw data from 1987 and 2000 is shown below.

                                                                        1987                                                                        2000

A patterning of events                                 29%                                                                        55%

Awareness of presence of God                  27%                                                                        38%

Prayer being answered                                25%                                                                        37%

Sacred presence in nature                           16%                                                                        29%

Presence of the dead                                    18%                                                                        25%

Evil presence                                                  12%                                                                        25%

Cumulative total                                            48%                                                                        76%

Patterning of events = providence, a sense that these things were meant to happen.

i.e. in 2000 over three quarters of people who do not attend church claimed to have had a spiritual experience, this had grown from less than half when equivalent research was done thirteen years previously.

The researchers were unable to be certain what caused the increase, was there really an increase in such experiences or was there an increase in people’s sense of social permission for such experiences?

Examples of the type of spiritual experiences are included, e.g. this as an example of someone who was aware of the presence of God – His father became seriously ill and Tom had to take him to hospital in the middle of the night. Tom was sat in the hospital corridor waiting for news of his father’s condition when he experienced a sudden rush of warmth and a sense that someone was telling him not to worry, that everything was going to be all right.

The researchers also found a strong desire for belief and yet the inability to believe, coupled with the sense that belonging to the institutional church means that you have to believe with certainty, there is no room for doubt. This meant that having a spiritual experience caused people to want to start a spiritual journey but that it didn’t lead people to view the church as playing an important role in that journey.

The researchers also found a tension between how to maintain one’s integrity as a member of a highly rational, logical, scientific culture and yet at the same time allow one’s spiritual awareness to flourish.

I am convinced that God is at work in the lives of the people we meet every day of our lives, yet they are not aware that it is God or that the church has a contribution to make to the spiritual lives. We therefore need to get alongside them and help them see that we and the church have a role to play in helping them on their spiritual journey; helping them see that we can help them understand the spiritual side of their lives. To do this we need to win peoples trust that we will respect them as individuals and are spiritual people ourselves who are able to live and flourish with this tension.

WRITTEN BY TONY THOMPSON

tonyt

Tony is an Elder at Hope Church Luton and part of the Leadership team.

He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.

Bible passages that have changed my life: Luke 14:33

 I’ve recently been challenged by the verse Luke 14:33:

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”

On the face of it, it seems to suggest that unless we relinquish all possessions we cannot be God’s disciples. However, this seems to be a very impractical command – how can we continue to live if we own absolutely nothing?!

What about verses like 1 Tim 6:17 – ‘Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.’?  Sometimes it’s helpful to look at what a verse DOESN’T say, rather than what it DOES!  This verse doesn’t say that the rich must relinquish all wealth, but rather not put their hope in it.  You may not feel you come under the description of ‘rich’ in terms of this world, although to many millions of people in this world, we in the UK are virtually all rich.

It seems to me that what Jesus is saying is that possessions in and of themselves are ok – even a lot of possessions can be ok.  But it’s our attitude to them that’s really important.  If we are seeking God’s kingdom, we should seek His Name to be honoured in how we use our possessions, and to hold all things loosely.  I believe that this attitude is very liberating, and helps us to become more generous to others around us.

John Rose