As 2007 comes to a close, I reflected a bit yesterday and decided that this certainly has been an eventful year in blogging - for good and for bad. I was wondering about summarising my year and the posts I have written, but I don't want to do that. For starters you are perfectly able to use the contents page and go back and look for yourselves. And secondly the whole reason why I am blogging is due to a prophetic word that Pete Day brought many years ago when I was living with my parents in Bristol. I don't see this blog as a means to exalt myself or to draw attention to myself and I don't like blogs that do. But during 2007 I have met many wonderful people through blogging who I am grateful to God for and I DO want to draw attention to them and the things they are writing!
Pete Day - How can I not mention this greatest friend of mine? He blogs here on "The Best is Yet to Come" - a mark of triumphant optimism in a generally depressing blogging world. He has also started a new blog up here designed solely to begin to counteract the hyper-chavinistic teaching that is raising men up to become .... not godly. That blog is called; "After God's Own Heart". Pete also partners "Spirit of God!" with me and has posted a wonderful blog on the prophetic. All this and this and he is the only full time pastor of a church I see myself as part of here in West Norwood. What a guy! What a friend! Go read him - it will do you the world of good.
Scott - He doesn't blog regularly. This is quite characteristic of Scott. Scott's a quiet reflective kind of guy but when he speaks - you know that he really means it. I often laugh at him and tell him he is so laid back he is horizontal - so when Scott becomes angry, you know that it must be serious. Well sadly Mark Driscoll had just such an effect on him and he posted a catalyst blog post here; "Mark Driscoll: The reason I'm not going to Brighton 2008!". I am saddened by this because I took Scott to Brighton when he wasn't a Christian and he received Christ as His Saviour and Lord there in 2005. He then got baptised in the Spirit in 2006 in the power of Rob Rufus's visit and I've never seen someone upset Scott as much as Mark Driscoll has.
But he posted some excellent posts on our being at "Together on A Mission 2007" and they are well worth the read. Furthermore I was tremendously excited by this post - it is the evidence to me of the stirring of the prophetic within him. He is well worth keeping an eye on because when he posts - you know it's important!
Julie Morris - I've never "met" someone I so felt was a true sister in Christ! Julie and her husband Aaron have just moved to Canada and have planted what Rob Rufus would call "a first generation true grace church"! She blogs here and our walks in Christ have so many similarities. We've both come out of legalistic oppressive situations and by God's true grace are being exposed to the glory and the dangerous radical nature of what grace really is. I learn so much from her and I love her focussed view - nothing less than true grace will do anymore! The mixture of law and grace just isn't acceptable!
Jesse Phillips - Wow ... what to say about this incredible guy? I only met Jesse relatively recently through Don - a father in the faith to me. Yet it feels much longer! Jesse is part of a family of churches I used to belong to a couple of years back so we have much in common, but I love his passion for the Presence of God and the Holy Spirit. Technically he is younger than me but spiritually I have been so challenged by the deposit of wisdom that God has given him and I have learnt much from him - even how to speak in person over the internet! An exciting day!
I really do urge all to follow what he has to say. At present he is an intern in the Metro Life church in Florida, but I sense God has got some exciting plans for him in the future. He is going to father many spiritual children (I really sense that prophetically) - such is his care and love and passion for God - and I am looking forward to being an observer in where God takes him and hopefully get to visit him often and sit under his preaching.
Terry Virgo - Confused as I am at present with his invitation to Mark Driscoll, Terry remains on the shortlist of men who have changed my life and opened my eyes to the lavish grace (the TRUE grace) of God. I still remember his visit to Bristol where he stood on the platform and described my life and situation after I had just left SGM. Truly Terry preached prophetically and the secrets of my heart were disclosed!
It was an exciting day therefore when he joined the blogging world - and although his international ministry prohibits regular blogging here are some of my personal favourites. In "Spirit-inspired Preaching" Terry said;
"In teaching the nations God’s requirement, it is vital that we do not simply impose new rules and regulations but bring God’s people to a new stance of grace and faith. This requires Spirit-inspired and empowered preaching and teaching that calls for and ignites a response in the hearers. Holy Spirit-inspired preaching brings about an encounter with God that demands a verdict and produces a changed life based on revelation, faith and love, not cold obedience to external rules".
Oh yes! It made me realise with tears that the majority of preaching I have heard over the years has been legalistic in the extreme, demanding results rather than reminding us of our position in Christ. Preaching the Cross as a model of legalism - a Romish symbol - rather than the Person of the Son of God who was "constained by love" to go to ensure that the veil would be rend in two!
Terry has taught much on the presence of apostles today and it is key to seeing the Church go to the uttermost parts of the earth. Some church groups cling on to "apostles today" and exalt men who are not really fathers truly - in order to establish further positions of authority between the people and God Himself in His manifest glory. That's missing the point of apostles. Terry defines Ephesians 4 Ministries as being present for this cause;
"I believe that when Jesus ascended he gave gifts to his church. Exalted to the right hand of God, he received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out not only the Pentecostal blessing described in Acts 2:33 but also gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Ephesians 4:11) to help equip his church and bring it to maturity".
I was walking in a precious time with my dad on Boxing Day and we were discussing Mark Driscoll's impending visit to Brighton. He said; "I am concerned that you are writing Terry Virgo off". I hope this plug for his blog proves I am doing no such thing. Fathers - earthly and spiritual - do much to confuse and sometimes hurt us (only God the TRUE Father never does that). Surely maturity is sitting back and waiting to see what the fathers are up to and hoping that their experience and maturity and relationship with God will have a cause that we can't always see in our immaturity and our inexperience. I pray that is the case with Terry's inviting Mark Driscoll.
SGM ... Uncensored - Have you ever wondered what characterises a cult? Or are you interested in what goes on behind the scenes in SGM? What's under the laughing and joking and tears of C J Mahaney? Well this dear couple are ex-SGM'ers and have set up a blog to voice their concerns about some issues that are going on. They are not writing in a spirit of gossip or slander - these concerns are genuine and it is a real safe haven to share and discuss. I think there is far more issues here than just a focus on SGM. I have a fear that these abuse issues go across the entire church and there are people out there who are hurting and fearful and damaged by church leaders. I recommend a visit with an open-mind. This isn't concept - these are real testimonies of real hurting people and the fact that their hit counter has rocketed to 10, 000 hits in 2 months suggests the level of interest in what's being addressed.
Rob RUFUS!! - What better way to close this post and to close 2007 than mentioning this incredible man of God. Even as I am blogging, I have Rob on in the background speaking and preaching and his words are making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I set up the "Rob Rufus - Grace and Glory!" blog in October as an attempt to make my sermon notes available for those fellow Rob fans out there.
At present City Church International sermons are free to download. They get 40, 000 downloads A MONTH! Surely we can all figure out how much revenue that would bring in if they begin to charge for such downloads as many Christian ministries do. It would be criminal to not benefit from the freedom and grace in the available resources on their website. Even better let us bless City Church by sending them gifts when we can. Rob and Glenda and Ryan Rufus and the church are blessing the world - why not make 2008 a year for the world to bless them in Hong Kong?
Well it is no surprise that the highlight of my encounter with Rob Rufus and indeed the highlight of my year was my visit to Hong Kong that was a surprise to me, my friends and my family! I wasn't expecting to go - merely looking forward to hearing the CDs but God spoke clearly to me and told me; "I want you in Hong Kong". Somehow He provided the money and the means and the guy I could stay with - and what a trip, what an encounter, what a God.
So what's to come in 2008? Rob Rufus prophesied it is to be a year of "POSSESSING". May it be so! To all the friends I mentioned above - I am more grateful to God than I will ever be able to express for your love, your care, your willingness to disagree when I'm wrong, but above all your passion for more, more, MORE of the Spirit of God and His Presence and power upon His people. Thank you one thousand times!
Happy New Year!