This summer has been a bit of a roller coaster time, I am leaving work to start my theology training for ordination in September, so have been on count down at work, and then enjoying some time with the family, before gearing up for the next challenge. Summer holidays are always a mix of things I think, it’s time to get to know each other again, time to notice each other’s annoying habits and time to grow together through shared experiences. (even queuing for rides at Legoland!)
This summer I took the kids camping with church to New Wine at Thirsk which felt pretty risky without my right hand man with me. It was really tiring sorting things out and doing the camp-stove cooking with the kids, but we all slept well and they loved sleeping in one big area together. The main reason for going was the teaching, and I loved being refreshed and renewed with up to date worship songs, powerful singers, and fresh new speakers.
Being back at Hollybush farm was a revelation! I went there in the 80’s whilst at primary school with a local farmer’s daughter and her family and it had an impression on me, as when I arrived back to sign-in at the office I felt ridiculously calm, happy and at peace. Hollybush is a special place, and has been a centre of worship since the 1950’s. The sense I had there though was more of being welcomed back, and remembered by a community who had met me before, and prayed for me back in the 1980’s. I know most of the elders who were there then may have not attended this particular worship meeting, but during prayer in the “hungry tent” there was a sense of being cheered on, spotted in the crowd, and encouraged by saints who were happy to see me as an adult, having met me before as a child.
During our time at Inspire, we saw lots of people receive the Holy Spirit some were trembling and shaking, like the early “Quakers” some were talking in tongues, I nearly always receive a word, or a picture, and this time was no different, in one powerful session I saw a row of slaves in chains step freely out of their bondage, and run down the hill to freedom. The kids loved their “Ground Breakers” session, seeing them grow in confidence and faith was really special. Something to do with drenching their leaders in slime?
I experienced some physical healing for the first time, and received the gift of prophetic prayer, so hopefully will now be able to confidently pray for anyone who needs a sign or word from God in his spirit.
The main thing I learnt though is that all the people who have ever prayed for me are part of my spiritual inheritance, and that God is only really interested in a bigger and better family. He’s not exclusively carving out a role for me as a leader rather using me to extend the reach of Jesus heart and hugs. God’s not keen on us using excuses for our actions, he sees us in our whole totality as perfect. That’s why, if you say “I’m rubbish at that, can you ask someone else?” he doesn’t listen! He also sees us in the totality of our christian family. Some of the longest passages in the bible we skip over as they are just a list of names and relatives, but really this inheritance from previous generations of Christians is one of the best gifts any child (grown up or small) can receive.
A special thank you has to go to my “kin” at Clifton Church, who invited me to come along, and to David and Hazel Crosby who regularly pray with me, and this weekend were on hand at a crucial time.. when I had to get the tent back in the bag..! In their retirement years, they put the rest of us to shame, positively embracing the camping experience!