Welcome to the Hand of God!


This is a special welcome to every new member of the Hand of God, especially those personally invited by my new family at the Daily Audio Bible community.  I have made a whole new set of friends on the chat rooms there, and want to shout out AmariNanny, Calico, Dennis, Servant-Ken, Newme, Jai, Southampton and all the others that I’ve started to connect with.

So, if you’re new, you’re wondering what this blog is all about, right?  Right?  Well, according to my About page (didya see that coming? Didya?…):

The purpose of the Hand of God is to chronicle God’s hand in my life, and testify of the things God does when I pray for others.  Here you will see slices of heaven on earth, where the miraculous meets the mundane.  I also share parts of my life and try to be as open online as I am in person.

Here there are several testimonies of God working supernaturally in my life and in the lives of others around me:

My Supernatural Stories series

Here is my series on deliverance teaching – Deliverance Foundations

Here’s another series I’ve done – Life Together series

Ok! That’s a lot!  I’ll post another links page for more forays into the innards of the blog.

Please comment in the blog if you find something you like, or contact me at handofgod.blog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Table Churches


Stumbled onto this blog post Fulcrum Express, and this post,  Improbable Church, where the author starts off with

The church that meets together at my home each Friday evening to share a meal, encounter God and minister one to another is an improbable assembly of believers and even not-yet believers. We cut across races, cultures, nationalities, social status, and so many other lines — producing a rich tapestry of interwoven lives.

I love his explanation of how the church meets in his context – share a meal, encounter God and minister to one another.  That is so simple, yet so profound!  A mottley crew of people of all walks of life – even people who have not yet committed to the faith… that’s so awesome!

It makes me remember my friend Archie, who’s starting a whole new expression of the body of Christ called Fresh Connection.  He told me the first time people are meeting is this Wednesday – I told him I’d love to be there online.. maybe we can see how that can work.  God’s doing some great things!

His post references another post on the same blog site, “Table Church, Podium Church and Facilitating Leadership” which has an interesting ‘twist’ to the New Testament church model, made popular by the proliferation of ‘house based’ or ‘cell based’ churches that are gaining popularity.

The first part of this new post speaks to the author’s having to deal with a controlling pastor and how this experience made him search the Scriptures to find Biblical evidence of leadership.  He says, in part:

“Church” as it’s come to be is now largely pastor led and podium focused, with professional “ministry” and largely passive pew sitters. We have lost the New Testament pattern of a community of believers served by local elders and other leaders, who function in a collegial framework of diverse gifts to sacrificially equip all believers for works of service as we all minister to each other. See Eph. 4:11-12 & 16.

So there’s the challenge of our day: Do we want New Testament leadership that is facilitating rather than controlling, elders who are engaged rather than pastor-centric, and ministry that is diversified rather than centralized? Are we willing to take back our churches and once again be the church?

He coins an interesting term for traditionally styled churches – podium churches.  I don’t want to beat the dead horse of traditonal vs non traditional churches specifically… I want to get to how the church is shaped in his context – what he  calls ‘table churches‘.

The home-based model for the first three centuries of church history was firmly rooted in the New Testament, where believers met, fellowshipped, shared communion and a meal together in each other’s homes. Interestingly, and contrary to our current male dominated “churches” where women are typically excluded from key roles, those home fellowships were often hosted by women such as Mark’s mom in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), Lydia in Philippi (Acts 16:15 & 40), and Priscilla in Ephesus and then Rome (Rom. 16:3-5 and 1 Cor. 16:19).

That’s the beginning of his context.  He mentions that Jesus himself orchestrated the home based model

Jesus himself established this pattern of home-oriented fellowship in Luke 10:1-11. He sent seventy disciples, two by two, to find houses of peace (likely headed by those who were not yet believers) to serve as focal points for bringing the Kingdom of God into a new town or village.

The author says that he focused this text – wrongly – on the disciples, but that the fulcrum was the homes of peace that the disciples were to use to operate from:

For too long, I wrongly focused in this passage on the disciples. After all, they were the ones sent out by Jesus himself and I thought they were the most important element for advancing God’s Kingdom. In reality, however, the key was those homes of peace, where hospitality and blessing could flow forth and draw people in. Absent such households, the disciples could do nothing and were commanded to shake the dust off their feet as they left for the next town.

Again, he says

I don’t think this focus by Jesus, Peter or Paul on using peaceful homes as the foundation for authentic fellowship, discipleship and church growth was an accident. It simply is not possible for people to feel the intimacy and security needed to open up, share with each other, develop their gifts, and minister one to another in larger, podium-focused meetings. Plus, homes of peace are the ideal setting for being the church, because the gift of hospitality naturally draws people in and fosters authentic relationships.

So how does he express the meeting of the believers? These are the points in his article that are expanded on:

New Testament churches typically met in homes where people shared communion and fellowship over a meal.

When New Testament Christians gathered together, they each were to come with something to contribute so they could minister one to another.

Table churches are not supplements or tack-on’s for podium churches. If anything, it should be the other way around!

Jesus told us to go out into the world to gather the harvest, and that’s what New Testament Christians did.

I will encourage you to read the article, but basically I will end with one more quote from this author:

Go! Find a household of peace or, if there are no households, then a person of peace — even if they are not yet believers. Bless them by asking what they need Jesus to do for them, then pray for them. If the Lord confirms his blessing by meeting them in their needs, you don’t have to “organize” things. They, instead, will call their friends and neighbors to come and share a meal at their house as they exclaim what the Lord has done for them. They will be excited and God will use their natural gift of hospitality and peace to attract people into the Kingdom.

From there, it’s easy — ask those who come (even if they are not yet Christians!) to share with each other what God is saying to them as he draws them to himself. They just sort of naturally become Christians without needing to be pushed!

In fact, I’m seeing on average about two to three people testify each week, sitting around various tables, that God met them over the prior week and they committed their lives to Jesus. Others in that fellowship will quickly come beside them to help them to find their own gifts, teach them to expect that God will continue to speak to them, and to lean that God will give them whatever is needed to minister one to another. Sometimes I jump in, but mostly I just sit back and watch ‘em take off!

Calling for a Counter Culture


I’ve had a message the Lord gave me about 3 weeks ago that has shaken me up – again.  God has been speaking to me about the fact that he wants to create what he called a ‘counter culture’ of Christianity – which is not the same thing as the religious culture of having Christian music, Christian apparel and stuff… but really, really impacting society by bringing in Kingdom thinking and Kingdom principles.  I emailed it out to a couple friends (okay, about 20) asking for input, and Archie put it straight on his blog – go to it here –  http://wp.me/pwYvw-w.   I am also attempting to attach the document itself here – until I do get it done sucessfully, you can get it from the above link.  (Update: Here is the link to the Counter Culture document itself. Finally figured out how to get it done!)

Disclaimer – For those who read the text of the email on Archie’s website I wasn’t thinking at the time I sent my original email that it would go beyond the Caribbean – at least not yet …. so the original wording is specific to that region.  (“Yeah, right,” I can hear some of you saying. “You didn’t think it would get out?”)  The other thing is that the wording seems to single out my Christian experience at my tertiary institutions, but underneath God is really speaking to the fact that he wants to interact with society in a real way, in a new way.

The other thing I want to say about this you will not get from either the email or the article.  The words God actually told me were, “Counter culture is dangerous!”  Then he showed me that Jesus was into counter culture – he interacted with society where it was at – without the religious body of his day – and the religious people killed him. As the article shows, Jesus’ followers continued to radicalize the faith and were killed as well!
What God was telling me – and what I’m passing on to you – is that this direction is where his heart is, but that whoever decides to seek the new thing God is doing will be at least questioned by the more traditionalistic thinkers … and, in the worst case scenario, you will be persecuted for it.
However, this is what God is saying in this time.  It’s not like God is saying, “This is too dangerous for you.”  He is saying, “This is dangerous – but this is where I am.  Follow me in spite of the danger.
Please comment.  This is not about stats for me. This is about getting God’s word into as much hearts as possible – and finding out what God is doing to extend his Kingdom.

Statistics Show Spiritaual Searching


I realized with a shock while looking at my blog stats that the most searched term on WordPress that gets people to my blog this week (and last week too, I think!) is ‘demon stories’.  Interesting….

I realize that a lot of people read these stories a lot:

The most popular post on my blog for all time is still The True Meaning of the Cross.

For those interested, here is the post linking to my entire deliverance series: Deliverance Questions Revisited.

These statistics show me one thing.  There are a lot of people in the world who are searching for a spiritual connection, a spiritual experience.  Many of them may have questions about whether demons exist or if Christians can be demonized. Maybe they’ve gone through some unexplained things, or maybe they are questioning one of the things they were taught.  Whatever the reason, I realize that many many people still need to be touched by the power of our risen Saviour!

I encourage all of you reading this right now to send a prayer to the Lord, praying for everyone who is going to be impacted by the words they read.  And then go out and do something!

I was reading John 4 this morning… and Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman was an unusual mission opportunity!

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) Jn 4:9

And Jesus’ challenge – to his disciples and to us – the fields are ripe to harvest.

34“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

The Internet – a ripe mission field!  Get involved!  God is speaking to us to find the unusual circumstances where he can speak into lives.  God does not deal with being boxed in!

I pray for everyone reading this.  I ask you, Father God, to speak into their lives.  Let them hear your voice, and prompt them in unusual ways to extend your kingdom.  I pray that the power of the Lord be upon them!  In Jesus’ name!  MAY YOUR KINGDOM BE EXTENDED! AMEN!

The Shape of the Church


For those who don’t know, I’m a part of what some would call a ‘house church.’ We meet in each other’s homes and exist with a paradigm that tries to break ‘Christianity’ down to its essentials – relationship with God, and man. (See Matthew 22:36-39)

Some members of the Body of Christ have been recently making house church as the ‘new thing’, the best thing since slice bread, and crying down the more ‘traditional’ types of church assembly (where ‘traditional’ in this context isn’t just whether you meet and sing hymns, or meet and sing contemporary songs.) 🙂 (Gentle jab to one of my new blog acquaintances and her blog post on modern vs contemporary church services – Hi Lynese!)

I used to be one of them.

But I’ve come to realize that the container doesn’t matter as much as the commitment to the purpose, if you get what I mean. Whether the church meets on Sunday morning, or Tuesday night, whether we sing hymns or just sit in a circle and discuss life – the main purpose for the church is put pretty succinctly in the Scriptures (Matthew 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-19. )

And now I see a blog post that gives me what I’ve heard recently is an ‘Aha!’ moment!

In Discipling Viral Disciplers, the author had me at the first line: “I no longer try to start house churches.” Wha…. Interesting. Let’s continue.

The post says:

Jesus invited us to join him, organically, in the reproduction of life. (my emphasis) His church is a living, thriving, reproducing organism (Mark 4) that allows life-in-the-Spirit to spread virally from one disciple to the next. His church is alive as illustrated by a seed (Mark 4) that brings forth 30, 60, or 100-fold reproduction. That is the life of the kingdom. His life in me is passed on to the life of another (2-fold) which is passed to the life of another (4-fold) which is passed to the life of another (8-fold), etc. That is the way of organic/viral life and this is what the kingdom IS. This is ultimately what Jesus invited us to become part of: discipling viral disciplers.

I’ve been a part of a house church for over ten years. When the Lord first called me to join it, I turned away from everything that was, in my view, ‘rigid’ and ‘structured.’ It took a couple of years for the Lord to finally get into my skull that even an amoeba (a one celled organism that flows into any shape and reproduces by splitting in half) had a structure.

Amoeba

So I came to realize that house church, in itself isn’t “it” – the author puts it beautifully when he said that:

When I have made house churches the end game, I have discovered that they do not naturally reproduce nor become movements. In fact, house churches have a shelf life. They may serve a purpose for a season, but when that season ends (and it will) the “movement” is over. The influence of a house church is temporary.

He says had commented earlier that “Kingdom life is viral, organic, and, by nature, a movement.” and he expounds on this by continuing:

This explains why Jesus did not ask us to go and “make gatherings or churches.” He did not ask us to go and “make house churches.” He said, “go and make disciples.” This shift from starting gatherings to making disciples (who go and make disciples) goes to the very heart of the matter. Discipling viral disciplers is the end game. This places us squarely in the midst of reproductive life that the kingdom is intrinsically about. We become movement-starters not church-starters. We release disciples who will influence the world throughout their lifetime and beyond as those they disciple disciple still others.

WOW. I couldn’t have put it better myself. This is the missing link in my thinking. But does this mean that we have to look for another container to house the church in? Not according to him – but house churches themselves are not the goal, they are the means to the end of spreading the gospel….

Now, not to confuse the issue, but often in the work of discipling viral disciplers I will be gathering people together in a manner that looks an awful lot like a simple/house church. Absolutely! But the underlying DNA makes all the difference. When I reach and disciple a viral discipler, that person is going to gather with other viral disciplers for encouragement, and then, as each of them reaches others, still more gatherings will take place. So, along the way, house churches are started. But, but rather than being the end game, they become a means to support the life that is being reproduced from one disciple to the next.

Just like the amoeba, “[the] house church gatherings themselves will shift, change, morph, end, and re-establish themselves in new forms but the movement of disciples who are reproducing disciples will continue.”

I like his comment here: “When we start house churches, our focus tends to be on the gathering—what to do, how to do it, what it looks like, etc. We say to ourselves that we are learning to “be” the church 24/7 (and we may even go do missional things), but often our priority remains on developing the structure/form of simple house church gatherings.” I dare say, that this is also the priority of those who gather in more ‘traditional’ settings as well. He contrasts this way of thinking – “church starters” – with being “movement starters” by saying

When following Jesus and inviting others to follow him becomes our focus (discipling viral disciples), we will have to shift from the “gathering” mentality to the “lifestyle-going” mentality. This shift changes the processes we walk out from top to bottom. And, this shift will propel us from being church-starters to movement starters (where churches spring up along the way).

I love this comment in his conclusion: “Jesus, the adventurous, undomesticated, on-the-move God invites us to join him daily where He is working.” He challenges that this change of thinking calls us to ‘examine our own “followership” as a starting point.’ (his words)

I will echo his concluding questions: What does this mean for us, to really be the church in the world? I am not calling out those who gather in church buildings on Sunday and saying they’re wrong – they are not. I am asking – what does it really mean to be the church? If we move from starting churches to releasing viral disciplers, how does this change our paradigm? What will it look like?

Thoughts?

Divine Connections!


Below is a slightly edited version of a prophetic essay I was led to write recently.  With people’s natural tendency to try to put things into comfortable ‘boxes’, I thought it was time to question what makes a genuine community – was it location, people of like minds, or what?  Read and comment…

Divine Connections (2008.12.20)

“…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7b)

There is much debate about the shape of the church, and many labels – “emergent”, “missional” and “apostolic” being the latest key phrases these days. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with man trying to understand and come to grips with what is happening in the Spirit, but these labels sometimes have the effect of garrisoning – people ‘camp out’ in one of these ‘streams’ of Christianity and are effectively shutting themselves off from the whole move of God. It has the effect of splitting the church into these different, seemingly opposing groups, who take pot shots at one another, splitting hairs over doctrinal differences. But how does God see his church?

To the question asked of Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?” Jesus said, “’You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all your strength,’ and the second command is like the first, ‘you should love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matt 22:36, para.)

I have gotten the distinct impression that we as believers think too much about the Church’s overall shape, whereas the Lord is looking at something completely different. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.” Man is looking at structure, and organization, and hierarchy, rigidity or fluidity … but God is looking at something else in relation to his church.

The Lord dropped the words ‘divine connection’ into my spirit tonight as I talked about the Kingdom expansion going on within one of Barbados’ parishes with a friend, who has asked me to be a resource in her evangelistic efforts.  I have been feeling an increasing pull towards helping with what is going on there, making myself available to minister deliverance and prophecy, but also to teach and to help to baptize those seriously considering making a life change towards Christ. Carol has been seeking for a team of people to partner with to extend the Kingdom where she lives, and I have felt prophetically that the people are coming, and that God is doing something within her area.

I felt that we had a divine connection between us, and that God had linked us together for this time and this season to see his will accomplished. The Scripture I referenced when speaking to her was Eccl. 4:10-12, and verse 12 says, ‘Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves, and a three fold cord is not easily broken.’

As we think about community, the temptation to do it exactly as was done in times past is strong: move house and live in a physical location and embody the Church in a physical location. If things are not done in this way, we may feel that we are missing the mark and missing our opportunity. However, I feel that this is more of the same – the ‘how’ being more important than the ‘what’. I feel that instead the Lord is emphasizing the divine connections between us: our relationships. He puts the lonely together in families, the Scripture says, and he binds people’s hearts and lives together for his purposes. The Lord has always been placing emphasis on the relationship. Jesus, for example, prayed that the believers would be one ‘as I and the Father are one’, and that ‘the world would know that [we] are his disciples because of our love for one another.’

Relationship is the divine connection that is important. Whether separated by physical time and space, the bond of love and commitment far outweighs the ‘shape’ or ‘form’ of community we adopt. Let us be free to explore different forms of community, different shapes for our local expression of the Body of Christ, but without losing the power of relationship. Let us explore the divine connections formed and forming in our lives. Let us see what God is weaving together from these different strings to ultimately display the majestic tapestry of his divine purpose! Let us also be free from fear of ‘missing it’ because the shape is not what we expect; God’s will is for us to have faith in the fact that HE is building his church, and obey his leadings concerning our part in it.

Have anyone felt drawn to another for divine purposes – and knew it was God’s doing?