Monthly Archives: March 2012

Things I've been Reading & Watching

Here are some links to blogs I’ve been reading and some videos I’ve been watching. Hope theyre helpful:



Mission & Missionaries at Bethel


This morning has been a real privilege. I went to the first Service at Bethel and thoroughly enjoyed the worship, one of the main high points of my time here, so much so that I stayed for the worship at the second service as well.

But I was really taken aback by what came next. It started with corporate prayer for the Bethel Ministry School students who are now out on mission. 1,200 students are visiting 57 nations over the coming week to 10 days! Kris Vallaton has just returned from Mozambique and shared the testimony of a boy aged about 5 who was both deaf and dumb and was totally healed!

Bill Johnson then spoke about the absolutely vital importance of mission and the way that the early church stayed in Jerusalem until they were scattered through persecution. The Good News is so great that we mustn’t keep it to ourselves we must share it with others, locally, regionally, nationally and with the nations.

“You can either impact the world or you can have the best party on the Titanic.” Bill Johnson

Each of us was given a booklet detailing the missions and missionaries that Bethel supports. there are seven missionaries who are majorly supported by Bethel (one of whom is in Scotland!), with a total monthly support from Bethel of approximately $10,000. There are another 15 missionaries who are indirectly supported in significant ways by members of Bethel Church and a further 28 missions or missionaries who receive regular support of $100 a month.

We heard the testimony and wisdom of a couple, Mike & Lynne Chandler, who have served as missionaries for 26 years and now serve Bethel and their missionaries as their Missions pastors. They spoke about the changes in missions work from a lifelong calling to a particular place to a calling to mission in a way that raises, trains and empowers local indigenous leaders and then knows how to get out of the way to allow them to lead. Long term missionary commitment going hand I hand with short term missions trips.

We then heard from one of their missionaries who has been supported by Bethel for 30 years. Tracy Evans is in Mozambique with a vision to see the poverty, disease and death that country has experienced reversed. They are reaching thousands of people with holistic community development including a feeding program that daily provides medical care and milk for 900 orphan infants and HIV+/handicapped children.

What so struck me was here is a church that is abundant and extravagant in their support for sharing the Good News both locally and across the world. It is a community of people who are both sent and send others. The intentional pursuit of God’s presence, healing and the miraculous are important parts of the life and ministry of Bethel, but so are feeding the hungry and caring for the needy, both in Redding and across the world.

God – An Idea or A Person?

Is God and idea to you or is he a person? Take a moment and think about that question, what’s your answer?

The story was shared at a Sunday gathering at Bethel of a young person who said worship was boring when God was an idea. When God became a person worship became great. The difference between these two ways of experiencing and understanding the Christian faith is immense and will effect the way we live in every area of our lives.

OK let me ask another question: If God is a person and not an idea have you met him? I’m not asking what you know of or about him. I’m not asking how you understand him. I’m not asking what your picture of God is. I’m asking have YOU met him?

Have You Met Him?

When was the last time you met him, talked to him, heard his voice, felt his breath on you, saw his face, felt his touch? At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus says to his disciples, and to us, “surely I am with you always.” He didn’t say an idea would be with us, or a concept, or a theology. He said HE would be with us. Jesus with us, in person, every moment of every day. When was the last time you experienced his presence with you?

Too many of us relate to God as an ‘idea’ not as a person.

Whilst Jesus is with us, alongside us, every moment, there’s one person in the trinity who is even closer than that! “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

God lives in you – have you met him recently? If Holy Spirit lives in us, if Almighty God has taken up residence within our bodies, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you” (Romans 8:11) then surely we should know that experientially and not just intellectually!

“The presence of God is not the icing on the cake, he is the cake!” Che Ahn

One of the characteristics that I have experienced here is the tangible presence of God. I have been renewed in my experience as well as my understanding and I find both challenging! What I have seen is a community of people who have given themselves to pursuing the presence of God. They give time both personally and corporately to intentionally pursue the manifold presence of God in their personal lives, in their church community and within the community that they serve, minister to and seek to share the Good News with.

There is lots more that I have seen and experienced in my four weeks at Bethel, some of which I will share through this blog and at our church gatherings when I’m back. But the conclusion I’ve come to is that the foundation for everything else is the intentional pursuit of God’s presence.

Bethel Quotes Pt3 & Things I've been Reading

More quotes that I’ve extracted from my notes at Bethel over the past week. Once again some encourage me, some challenge me and some make me think!

  • “The spiritually minded person does not differ from the materially minded person chiefly in thinking about different things, but in thinking about the same things differently. It is possible to think materially about God and materially about food.” Archbishop William Temple
  • The best definition of evangelism for me is overflow – Che Ahn
  • The key is not to do your own thing and ask God to bless you. The key is to see what the Father is doing and join him. Recognise not organise. Che Ahn
  • We need a daily soaking with the Holy Spirit and his love. Che Ahn
  • You need to give expression to the impressions that the Holy Spirit gives you. Che Ahn
  • The presence of God is not the icing on the cake, it is the cake! Che Ahn
  • Faith is revelation plus personal conviction plus action. Che Ahn
  • God is constantly speaking the problem is we’re not listening. Che Ahn
  • You have, living inside you, the DNA of heaven. Paul Manwaring
  • There is no greater revival than someone who comes to faith in Christ. Paul Manwaring
  • There is no church growth without souls being saved. It’s time for he church to grow. Paul Manwaring
  • We’re not just going to celebrate our salvation from sin we’re going to celebrate our salvation to abundant life. Paul Manwaring
  • We’re not just saved from sin, we’re saved unto glory, a glorious way of life here and now not just when we die. Paul Manwaring
  • If we lived in OT times we would have such awareness of the supernatural power needed to forgive our sins that we would have no trouble believing that he could heal diseases. Ps 103:3 Paul Manwaring

Things I’ve been Reading/Watching this week:, Marriage & Things I've been reading

I posted a few days ago about following the worship and talks at Bethel church on what I hadn’t remembered is that you need to create an account in order to view more than a 5min preview of each session. You need to go to and follow the link to set up a free account which will give you a basic quality video stream of one worship event and one sermon each week as well as options to download audio podcasts.

If however you have an iPad or iPhone then the iBethel App is a great, and free, way to access the content.

The Governments Plans to Redefine Marriage

This past week the government launched what they called a consultation on the redefinition of marriage from being between one man and one woman to being between two people of whatever gender. This is a profound change to our society and is deeply troubling to all who hold the traditional view of marriage. I have included below links to some of the recent information and comments on this proposal including the official statement from the Church of England.

Other interresting things I’ve been reading:

Happy Mothering Sunday to all mothers.

P.S. If you are a member of St Paul’s please remember that Bella has ‘given up her husband’ for Lent and for your benefit! Please give her a break on Sundays and don’t expect her to know what’s happening, where things are or to answer your questions on the life of St Paul’s! Ask the Leadership Team or the Churchwardens instead.


Temptation and fridges

Lent is a time for preparing our hearts and lives to meet our risen and victorious Saviour anew at Easter. It is a time of seeking greater depths of God in our lives and of seeking to align ourselves with the greatness of his love for us both corporately and individually.

In this context I thought I’d share two keys that I have found in resisting and overcoming temptation, these two keys have helped me find greater victory over temptation and the resultant sin when I give in to the temptation.

The first is one that is well known by many at St Paul’s. Every now and then (not very often for me so far) a sermon illustration takes on a life of its own and that happened at St Paul’s a number of years ago with an illustration I used which ended with the words ‘Get your head out of the fridge!” Here’s the full illustration and it is a real, helpful and powerful way of overcoming temptation:

Willie likes chocolate. He LOVES chocolate and in the summer his mother keeps the chocolate in the fridge to prevent it from melting. Early one morning she hears Willie creeping down the stairs and follows him to see what he’s up to. She finds him in the kitchen standing in front of the fridge with the door open and his head just inside. She surprises him and asks ‘What are you doing?’ Willie replies ‘I’m resisting temptation!’ Mum replies ‘Then GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE FRIDGE!’

If you want to resist and overcome temptation and the resultant sin then ‘Get Your Head Out Of The Fridge!’ If you’re tempted by chocolate (especially during Lent!) then don’t buy it and when you go shopping don’t walk down the sweets aisle in Tesco’s. If you’re tempted by negativity and depression then don’t read depressing books and watch depressing TV programs. If you’re tempted by magazines on the top shelf then avoid the newsagents or if it’s pornography on the computer then get a broadband with ISP filtering on it. If you’re tempted to overspend at the shops then restrict your shopping to what is necessary. Etc. etc. you get the idea. This is not about avoiding the temptation that jumps out at us as we go about our daily lives; it is about not putting ourselves in this situation where we know we will be tempted.

You know what your own areas of weakness to temptation are, one key to overcoming it is:


The second key is one that I have come to recognise over the past few years and that I have become aware of again whilst here in Redding. It is simply this, the closer you are to God the less power temptation has over your mind.

The more your mind is set on God the less room there is for temptation.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…” And Romans 12:2 says: “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Prevention is far better than cure. When we’re tempted we can call on the emergency services using arrow prayers, calling scripture to mind etc. But far better to put in preventative measures so that the temptations can’t actually get to us in the first place. Hebrews 12 doesn’t say to look to Jesus when we’re in trouble (although we can and should do that), we are to ‘fix our eyes’ or ‘keep our eyes’ on Jesus. We are to do that, and keep doing that as an active intentional part of our lifestyle. In the life of Jesus we see this right from the beginning of his ministry. The temptations were at the end of a 40 day fast. Jesus had spent 40 days alone in the wilderness with his Father and then he was tempted and had the strength to overcome temptation. Time and again in the gospels we read that he took time out to be with his Father.

In one of my recent blog posts I commented on the awareness of God’s presence that has struck me while I have been here at Bethel. That awareness of His presence isn’t an accident or a coincidence; it is the result of years, probably decades, of the intentional pursuit of God’s presence by the leadership and community of Bethel Church. It pervades the services, the meetings, the healing rooms the housegroup and the people. And, contrary to some of what I have seen and experienced in the past, it is in no way a culture where the people simply want to be blessed for themselves. They are seeking God’s presence so that they can give away what he is giving them. Over this coming two weeks over 1,000 people from Bethel will be going on over 50 mission trips to over 30 nations across the world! The testimonies that I have heard of from the last set of mission trips are amazing in conversions, healings and miracles. They pursue God’s presence firstly to honour, bless and magnify God. But then so that through them he would transform a community, a city, a nation and the nations of the world. In fact one of the things that has surprised me is that almost every person outside the church who I have spoken to here has heard of Bethel Church! The cop at the Shasta Dam, the Ranger at Whiskytown Lake, the shop assistants at Sears and Maceys, and the checkout person at Costco had been to the Bethel Healing Rooms and was very positive about the experience.

So what, you may say, I’m not part of that church and I’m not there with you? The same principles apply for all of us. If we will intentionally pursue God, fix our eyes, our attention, our focus on him, then temptation will have less access to our hearts and minds and we will experience his love, grace and power for ourselves and the overflow will transform those around us.

How? may be the next question? Well, an hour on a Sunday morning isn’t what this is about! This is about a lifestyle committed to growing in relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So what will that look like?

Starting on Sundays it means “not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some” Heb 10:25. It seems to have become the habit of many these days to see gathering with other Christians for corporate worship as something that competes with family, recreation, shopping and sport. There is no competition if we want to intentionally pursue God and his presence. Sunday gatherings and small group meetings will simply come first unless we are on holiday or unable to physically get there! And it means that we’re there not because we have to be but because we want to be.

It takes time. It also looks like regular times alone with God. Time spent in His word and in prayer, listening as much as speaking, after all this is meant to be a two way relationship! Time spent in worship (not just on Sundays), and an expression of worship that feeds your relationship with God whatever that looks like for you.

It looks like a person who spends their money to support their love of God in buying (and reading!) books that help, in buying and regularly listening to worship music (whether that is New Wine worship or Handle’s Messiah), in spending money and time on conferences and other events that help them to know God better. It is a commitment of our time, or money and all of ourselves.

Although Bethel is a great place to be (yes I’m enjoying my time here and especially the worship), God is not restricted to any time or place, he can meet you wherever you are today. I met a lady this week who has recently retired from working in the health services here. Her intentional time with God was in her breaks every morning and afternoon. There was a lot of pressure on her to forego them because of the work that needed to be done but they were so precious to her that she absolutely insisted on taking them and everyone knew and respected it. When a new member of staff joined and asked where she was someone replied ‘Oh that’s her time with God.’

Do you want help with resisting and overcoming temptation? Here are two keys:

  • Get Your Head Out Of The Fridge
  • Intentionally pursue God and his presence

Then look to see what God does in and through you.


Photo by clevercupcakes

Bethel One-liners Pt2

Here are more quotes from Bethel that I’ve extracted from my notes over the past week. Some of them encourage me, some challenge me and some make me ponder:

  • Seriousness is not a gift of the Holy Spirit, Joy is.
  • Focus on what God is doing not what God isn’t doing.
  • God is so good at his job that his name is healer.
  • I don’t need to pray that God would come, he’s already here, I just need to let him out.
  • It’s not about hard or long prayers, it’s about how much we trust God.
  • I don’t want to become good at my job, I just want to hang out with someone who is good at his – the Holy Spirit.
  • Some people go on about how much they love Jesus but know little of how much Jesus loves them.
  • Don’t work for love, work from love.
  • Grace is not a theology, grace is a person.
  • We need people in the healing rooms who know that they are loved by God who is extravagant, he is a good God in a good mood.
  • We’ve created a gospel to match our experience instead of lifting our experience to match the gospel.
  • We live with the conviction that its impossible to pray and nothing happen.
  • If you don’t think it’s Gods will to heal you why go to the doctor?
  • Most of the time it’s obedience that attracts revelation.
  • Sometimes when your willing to do what your not qualified to do that’s what qualifies you.
  • Something happens to the person who feeds himself on what God is doing.
  • 1 Cor 13 – love believes all things – some of us need to become gullible to God again, to simply believe.
  • I’d rather die in faith than live in unbelief.
  • God wants to reveal his goodness not only to us but through us.
  • All of heaven supports those who give themselves to reveal Gods goodness.
  • Much of the church knows God as saviour but not as a father who is deeply and profoundly good.
  • Discipleship does not happen from the pulpit it happens life on life.








Bethel One-Liners

Below are a series of one-liners that I’ve extracted from my notes of meetings at Bethel over the last week. Hope you enjoy them and find them helpful:

    • What’s important is what happens out there as a result of what you catch in here.


  • God doesn’t want great people to come to church He wants great people to come from the church.



  • Heaven is our destiny, but Heaven on earth is our ministry.



  • Fear is faith in the wrong kingdom.



  • Our eschatology is wrecking our ecology – if you think the world will get worse and worse why try to fix it?



  • Speaking the truth in love isn’t loving to speak the truth.



  • The goal of the fivefold ministries is to equip others for the ministry so that they don’t need you, to work yourself out of a job! The goal is for the body to take care of the body.



  • When the impossible looks logical you know you have the mind of Christ.



  • Do you live from earth towards heaven or from heaven towards earth?



  • Jesus never said go and make Christians, he said go and make disciples, and the root of discipleship is discipline.



  • You die to live and not live to die!



  • When I came to Jesus I came because I wanted a relationship with Father and I get to go to heaven because that where he lives.



  • People will do for money what they won’t do for love.



  • In the OT the word Father is used 613 times and only 4 for God. in the NT the word Father is used 311 times and 249 times for God.



  • We have reduced the Christian faith to a set of doctrines and creeds that pushes to the edges the experience of God.



  • The Father says I don’t want you to claim your wounds are more powerful than my Sons are.



  • Sometimes it is the things we don’t see that keep us from seeing the things that God wants us to see.



  • Hope means – God has written the end of your story before you started and it’s better than you can ever imagine.



  • Jesus never taught on how to deal with unanswered prayer because he never intended for there to be unanswered prayer!



  • There is nothing missing from the worlds awareness of God more than the goodness of God.



  • Religion is so boring and deadening that it strips you of your dreams.



  • Papa is in the secret place not in the applause of men. If you want to connect with the Father he’s waiting for you when no one is looking. But he will reward you in public.



  • The earth is missing the fulfilling of your dreams, because in the fulfilling of your dreams is the revelation to the world of the Father.



P.S. The photo is one I took of Greenland from the plane on the way here.




Reflections from Bethel

Yesterday morning I attended the Diamond Fellowship at Bethel Church. This is their ‘seniors’ group and the first time I’ve ever been to an OAP meeting as a participant! I was asked by a lovely lady, who must have been in her late 80’s, what my impressions of Bethel Church were, and I replied that the thing that had struck me most was the sense of the presence of God. She immediately corrected me by saying it’s not a sense of God’s presence it IS God’s presence!

Looking back over the past week I have felt a greater awareness of God’s presence than I think I have ever done before. It’s not been a physical sensation in any way, I haven’t shaken, rattled or rolled (as some do), it has been a simple inner awareness that God is here and his presence is passionately pursued by the people of the church. That awareness permeated the conference I attended last week, the pre-service prayer times, the visits to the 24-7 prayer house (from where I’m writing this), my visit to the Bethel Healing Rooms, the Drum Circle time of prayer last Saturday evening, both services on Sunday, my visit to the Diamond Fellowship, the Healing Rooms training and the staff meeting I was at this morning.

When I visited the Healing Rooms the first part was what they call the POP room, standing for the Power of his Presence. For 30 mins they spoke simply of the goodness, love, grace and power of God and encouraged us to enjoy God’s presence. At the end of those 30 mins some already testified to receiving healing. We moved from there to the main sanctuary where there were lots of people to greet us, most of whom were there to pursue and express God’s presence in different ways. There were musicians singing worship songs, there were dancers (young and old), there were artists painting and drawing, there were folk worshipping and praying and amongst them were the ‘prayer servants’ offering prayer ministry. There was individual prayer for healing, but all within the context of the passionate pursuing of God’s presence.

But there is absolutely no sense of this being a ‘bless me’ culture. The importance of God’s presence is so that the city and the nations are reached with the love of Christ. On Sunday morning Bill Johnson started with saying “What’s important is what happens out there as a result of what you catch in here.” The staff meeting this morning was primarily a time of sharing stories of what God is doing. There were stories of miraculous physical healings, of God’s miraculous intervention through a student to prevent a suicide, of deep emotional healing for a lady whose son died 13 years ago aged 2, and of a recent mission led by one staff member where they had seen 40 people give their lives to Jesus.

It’s hard to summarise what I have experienced in the past week in so few words, especially as I’m still trying to process things myself, but I’ll try to post more in the coming days. Another post will follow this one which is a collection of one liners I’ve pulled out from my notes, hope they’re helpful.

Thank you to everyone who has made it possible for me to be here. To Phil, Janet and our Churchwardens who have taken on extra stuff whilst I’m away. But especially to Bella whose Lenten sacrifice is allowing me to be away for this time. It’s a HUGH sacrifice for her, lots of TLC needed which is tough from the other side of the ocean!


Join me at Bethel and some interesting things I've been reading

Good afternoon from America, well at least it’s afternoon here. Whilst you’ve had snow today I’m sitting on a veranda enjoying the sunshine (and before you even think it NO this is NOT a holiday!). I’ll post separately on my thoughts and reflections from Bethel Church but thought I’d let you know that you can join me here! Well – virtually if not in person. Bethel stream all their services live and they are then on their website for later viewing. Some of it is free and some you have to pay for. If your interested take a look at If your into iPhones and iPads there’s even an app which allows you to access some of the audio and video material! And most of the talks are podcast on iTunes (just search for Bethel Church Sermon of the week).

If you watch the video over the next few weeks see if you can spot me!


I thought I’d also share some links to stuff I’ve been reading online recently:

The comprehensive victory we share in as those who belong to Christ

Notes on Discipleship from a conversation with Mike Breen

Eternal life has already begun, life in the Kingdom, as a disciple, is eternal life.

Churches looking for a Silver Bullet in a microwave culture

Why A Porsche And Wet Cement Don’t Mix!