True Church


For all who want to see the Church of God in action – go here.

That is all.

(Shortest post on record!)

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.

Gestation


Coming off of my last post and the thought of being hidden away in the secret place, I found a chapter in this book I’m reading that resonates along that line.  The book is “Living Water” by Brother Yun – the second book from this author.  He is a Chinese Christian who detailed his testimony of being persecuted in his home country in his first book “The Heavenly Man”.  This, his second book, is a collection of his own teachings which, as the book says, “have evolved from his life experiences of persecution and revival in China.”

This book is deep. So much so that I can only take it in small doses!  In fact, I’ve gotten this book as a gift (thanks Phillip!) since January 13th this year, and I’ve only just gotten to chapter 6.

I have been stuck for a while on chapter 5 – “The Pregnancy of the Holy Spirit”.  Yun starts off with the account of Jesus’ incarnation – of him taking on human form to be our example.  He comments how God the Father orchestrated this event and protected his Son from the evil Satan was throwing at him in Herod’s murder of thousands of baby boys to get rid of him.  Yun mentions the shepherds on one end of the social scale  and the Magi on the other – all come to worship Jesus.  Next, he recounts the meeting of Mary with the angel Gabriel.

After this account, he states this:

Do you realize that God wants all Christians to be pregnant with the Holy Spirit today? He wants to give you a vision of His kingdom that originates from heaven, not from yourself.  He desires that all of His children would be overshadowed by His presence in such a way that they are changed and give birth to something in their lives that brings many into His kingdom.

He also comments that, “The message I want to share with you is that you must be willing to become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. When a heavenly vision comes to dwell inside your innermost being, the entire direction of your life will be changed.”

This is the season I am in.  I am crying out to the Lord for his birthing in me as I stay in his secret place.  I’m in a period of gestation.  I am seeking God to be formed in me, so that I can express his life through mine!

Brother Yun next speaks to the effect of people allowing themselves to be pregnant by the Spirit.  He starts of by speaking of the persecution of the Chinese Christians after the Revolution in 1949, where churches were destroyed or turned into “gymnasiums, granaries or government offices” and where all of the foreign missionaries were expelled.  The Christian church was forced underground.

Then God started to move in the 1970’s.  Yun used the analogy of seeds scattered on the ground and growing into thousands of trees as a few believers became many.  He said, “Thousands of believers became millions as revival swept our nation, and millions turned into tens of millions, and now even 100,000,000!”

He comments that, “This great revival happened after God found people who were willing to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  They were available and willing to preach the Gospel to every part of China.”

He complains that much Christian activity “seems to originate with our human plans, and it is then carried out in human strength, with human results.”  He mentions that “God is only interested  in His work, not our work. He oversees and empowers those things that originate in His heart.”

This is why I have come to a place of peace concerning this season in my life. Where I was champing at the bit like an over-eager stallion, now I am learning to rest in him and let him do the work in me.  I am not wanting another thing to spring up that is “our work.”  I’m only interested in “God’s work.”  I’m seeking his rest, as he builds me and forms me in the secret place.

I like what he says here:

If you become pregnant by the Holy Spirit, it is very important that you go and visit someone else who is also pregnant by the Holy Spirit.  Only people who are going through this experience can provide encouragement and comfort when others are attacking you.

Mary visited Elizabeth, who was also pregnant.  And what happened? Elizabeth blessed her, and the unborn John the Baptist leapt in the womb at the sound of her voice!

He continues:

When you become pregnant with a vision from the Holy Spirit, seek out your Elizabeth.  Such a person will not mock or condemn you for obeying God’s call on your life…. Spend as much time with others who are pregnant by the Holy Spirit. I know that each time you see them, something will jump in your spirit!

Brother Yun warns next that birth is a very painful process, but he encourages us not to be afraid, for “God will sustain you and complete the birth of that which is inside of you.”  He says that for the “joy of being pregnant by the Holy Spirit, I have been called to endure persecution and torture for the sake of the gospel”, but “[a]ll of this was worth it for the great joy of seeing God glorified as he blessed and saved people through that which He placed inside of me.”

This gives me encouragement, and I am ready to go forward – whatever the cost.

He ends his chapter with a challenge:

Our loving heavenly Father is looking for people who are willing to become pregnant with His presence, vision and power.

Are you willing to surrender control of your life into the hands of God?

Will you be like Mary, and pray, “I am the Lord’s servant; may it be to me as you have said”?

You will never regret such a prayer.

Lord I am willing.  Make me pregnant by your Holy Spirit.  May it be unto me as you have said.  Hear my heart’s cry, Lord JESUS! As you have hidden me, I submit to your hand upon my life.  I pray for all those reading this as well, that they will be moved to cry out in the same manner – Be it unto me, according to your word!!!!! May those that read this also become contagious, so that the revival fires will continue to rage, and many more will know the Saviour of the World!  AMEN

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!

Infusion: The Parable of the Tea Bag


Yesterday morning God spoke to me as I was making my wife’s cup of green tea.

I noticed how the tea, in its nice pyramid shaped bag, started to quickly colour the hot water I had poured into the mug.  As it sat in the water steeping,  I suddenly had a flash of insight.

On Saturday, I heard a teaching on being filled with/ being full of  the Spirit.  The teacher was Roger Forster, the leader of Ichthus Christian Fellowship. He was in Barbados at the invitation of a couple who lead one of the house churches that I link with. In his teaching he mentioned that there are two Greek words in the New Testament translated “fill”.  The first one is always in verb form and is used at the time of an event, when something happens.  He went on to say that the ‘event’ in this context was the exercising of a particular spiritual gift.  These were the examples of Scriptures he used –

  1. Luke 1:15 – John the Baptist “filled with the Spirit from his mother’s womb”
  2. Luke 1:41 – Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit, John leapt in her womb (arguing that this was the event where the baby was filled with the Spirit.)
  3. Luke 1:57 – Zacharias filled with the Holy Spirit
  4. Acts 2:3 – Believers filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues
  5. Acts 4:8 -Peter: word of wisdom
  6. Acts 4:31 – Believers empowered with spirit of boldness for evangelism
  7. Acts 9:17 – Ananais: “Receive your sight and receive the Holy Spirit” (miracle of healing)
  8. Acts 13:9-11 – Filled with the Spirit (miracle)

The other word translated ‘filled’ from the original language has the connotation of being continuously filled – happening all the time. The word was either a verb or an adjective. The examples used in the session were:

  1. Luke 4:1 (Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit)
  2. Acts 6:3 (choose men full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom)
  3. Acts 6:5 (Full of faith and the Spirit)
  4. Acts 7:55 (Full of the Holy Spirit, saw the glory of God)
  5. Acts 11:24 (Full of the Holy Spirit and of faith)
  6. Acts 13:52 (Filled with joy and the Holy Spirit)
  7. Acts 2:2 (the sound of wind filled the house – the speaker made the point that this image was a type of the Holy Spirit continuously filling the Body of Christ, as this was the precedent – the first time the believers were being filled)
  8. Eph 5:18 (not filled with wine, but be filled with the Spirit)

What the speaker mentioned was that the event of filling brings with it spiritual gifts, but the act of being continuously filled helps grow the fruit of the Spirit.

He mentioned that every time you overcome the devil, a little bit of power is released into your life.  He encouraged us to stay in the act of being continuously filled, as it speaks to living in the character of Jesus.

When I was filling my wife’s cup with hot water, and as I watched the tea bag infuse with the tea, I realized that the cup would represent me as a believer, and the tea bag represented my spirit.  The act of pouring in the water into the cup would represent the act of baptism in the Spirit (the event), and the fact that the water acted on the tea bag to release the aroma, scent and flavour of the tea was the process of completely being filled with the Spirit.

All of this in one act of pouring a simple cup of tea!

Even this morning I felt the presence of the Lord as I poured another cup… I may never see a tea bag the same way again!

Lord, may we be infused totally with the complete filling of your Spirit, and not just be dipped into the water from time to time on an event-by-event basis!

Guest Posts Wanted: The Hand of God


I’m thinking of doing a series of guest posts on my blog.  I wanted to have several different perspectives on people’s definitions and experiences with the hand of God – however you felt like elaborating on it.

Is anyone interested?  How has the hand of the Lord been moving in your life?  I know this blog almost has a ‘niche’ for the supernatural and testimonies, but I had this idea and wondered how it would ‘fly’.  I’m thinking of writing having the posts under the main heading “The Hand of God” with whatever you want to title it as the sub-title. “The Hand of God: My experience with God” or something like that.

I was thinking of doing it starting in two weeks time – give you all time to come up with something in the spirit (or should that be Spirit 😉 ) of the blog. Respond if you are interested! I’ll add every single one I get, so it might go beyond a week , but in the spirit of community, it will get more people who visit here to interact more – and we will all learn about God and each other!

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.