Saturday, November 28, 2009


Our church is in the middle of fifty days of prayer. We have a prayer room that is open 24 hours a day, six days a week. Staff and elders are "prayer captains" and we endeavour to fill all of the slots 24/6.

It's a very precious place to go to. There's a bowl representing the prayers of the saints rising to heaven. There's a community wall for scriptures, pictures, prayer requests, cries to heaven. There's a wall for praise and thanksgiving. There's a wall with a world map to focus our prayers outwards across the nations.

There's beanbags, cushions, chairs. There's creative material. There's hankies.
There's (amongst others) my three favourite Rivera CDs.

I just love being there. I am trying to fit more time in there in December.
We have gone together as a family sometimes; something I have encouraged others to do and quite a number of families have been there, which I am thrilled about. I so want these children not just to feel part but to be right at the centre of what God is doing and saying to his church. When I look on the walls in the room I can see the children's words and prophetic pictures and it feels like movement forward is being made.

I am spending many hours in these weeks crying to God about the church, his church, the church I go to. It seems "ineffective" in the world's eyes to be still and not be "do-ing", doesn't it? Just five or six years ago I would only feel useful if I packed as much as possible into one day. Now I don't care. I don't mean I don't care in that I'm going to say it in a moochy voice, I mean I don't care because I am trying to be my Father's child.

Sometimes I spend some daytime hours not "doing" very much, just resting with Him, thinking about the people I am going to see that week and showing him my diary. I love that sense of him being so close, where each breath in is breathing him in. I can tell the weeks I haven't given him my week's plans.

I can honestly say at this moment in time that I would give all my hopes and dreams up just to be closer to Jesus. We had a meeting in our main worship space this week and we were permissioned to spread out over the whole building and pray and be on our own. In the coldest, draughtiest corner I met Jesus as I lay on the floor (bundled in a duffle coat with the hood up it has to be said) and he showed me things. I didn't want to leave his presence. I was freezing but he was warmer! He took me for a walk along some pews and showed me some hearts and talked to me about his hopes for the church. And I cried and cried at what he saw and what he said he wanted to see as he told me that the solution is right there in that room - surrendered hearts, abilities, good though they may be, abandoned for the best, talents sacrificed to him, all for the sake of the cross.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Will Carry You

This has to be one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard about loss - specifically the loss of a child - and the faithfulness and love of Father God.

Please don't read or watch any further if this might be too distressing for you, although Angie has written her story in order that people might be helped. I don't know her but I have read her story extensively and I believe, as one who works with and loves on grandparents, aunties, mums and dads and children, that there is something in this story that ushers in wholeness and healing. She has written a book; about her little daughter's life and death, that can be pre-ordered here on Amazon.

The song was written by Audrey's mum and dad, Angie and Tim, and you can read theirr story here

If you are in the midst of hurt, grief and anger in the face of suffering or bereavement, Angie's words here might help. It's OK to express that. And if you work with or love children, the perception of a child in the last few paragraphs will have you simultaneously laughing and crying!

I Will Carry You

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

People say that I am brave but I'm not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says...

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One Who's chosen Me
To carry you

(c) Angie and Todd Smith, Christa Wells

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Come Holy Spirit

Tonight was the Holy Spirit evening for my family alpha course. There are four guest families and three host families and therefore not a few children. I love, love, love alpha, as you will see if you follow the alpha tag on this blog.

And as usual, after I had given the first talk live and during the DVD version, it is my habit to disappear to the Ladies - for physical necessity you understand,but it also becomes a precious God moment. I have been leading alpha for 8 years, two to three times a year, but on the Holy Spirit evening every single time I shut myself away to pray and listen to God, earlier in the week and earlier in the day (we have the luxury of a gorgeous 24/6 prayer room) but also for 3 minutes before every "come Holy Spirit" session.

My loo conversation tonight went something like this:
Father I have nothing to prove.
You love these people so, so, so much
Holy Spirit, come.
I act only for you.
Fill them, love them, show them your power.
Its all about you Father.

I go into the loo while the "how to receive" dvd plays every single time with butterflies in my stomach. And every time, in a tiny water closet, I genuinely feel no pressure and complete peace and confidence every time I run an alpha course. Holy Spirit, you convict, you draw close, you fill. The beauty of Alpha is that it is all about him. We can't force, browbeat, work up or manipulate. But I do love our guests, very, very much and I hope they know that. I just love being with them. The high point is praying with the children and parents together, just describing it now brings tears (two days running. There I go again!). God touched people very deeply tonight.

Tomorrow I return to my former city to speak twice during the day on my journey of leading children and families into deeper experiences of worship. I heard a really funny thing has been said about me prior to "booking" me but I couldn't possibly repeat it on a public blog. Can I just say I would very much like to behave in the manner with which I was described?? ::::mischeivious grin:::::

I think some lovely people from my former church are going to be there, cheering me on and my good friend from the sidebar is speaking too. LORRAINE - update your blog!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Worship and Children

Last weekend I managed to get some 20 folks together for a time of worship and learning some new songs. It was one of those gatherings that made my heart glad; I felt so moved watching everyone together that I nearly cried. I'm such an emotional creature!

I was moved because I had wanted to host this gathering for some time but now the time is right and it felt good. I think Father God wants us to enjoy moments like this! (my not-so-new church know my heart now! If I had done this the moment I arrived 16 months ago I'd have been forcing something.

The gathering included the worship pastors (greatly overdue with child but they were still there!), lots of worship leaders from a variety of styles and preferences, at least two professional musicians, some of my wonderful students who have a heart to lead worship with the kids, a teenager and three children. Because everyone is part of a very large church, we took some time to introduce ourselves to each other and eat pizza and Tunnocks tea cakes. Always helpful!

There was a wonderful atmosphere as we shared some songs that are (a) great fun and (b) contain succinct biblical truth that set the worshipper free and herald the kingdom!

While we do use a lot of Matt Redman and Tim Hughes songs (SUCH good worship songs for kids; great theology, catchy tunes, opens up the way to spend time in the presence of God) we wanted to teach some songs written by friends like Darrin Clark in TACF and Nick or Chris Jackson of Powerpack.

My final thoughts about teaching children (or adults) about worship or new worship songs is that I've always found it necessary to teach into WHY we worship and in particular about the significance of worship in the new covenant. We need to move our kids on from "Jesus died for me" into "Jesus died for me and this means that I have access to approach the throne of grace. I can trust my life with him and want to spend time listening to him and talking with him".

Here's some excerpt from my take home and go over with parent leaflet on worship given to each child. I teach on this twice a year. I guess what you can't see here is that there are lots of pictures on the leaflet.

(Psalm 95:1-7 is typed out in different colours first)
There are different kinds of worship
The brown bits of the psalm show thanksgiving and praise. There’s lots of joy and happiness in this part of the psalm.

The orange bits of the psalm show awe and wonder – it’s like saying “wow, God, you are so powerful.” Sometimes thinking about all the things he has made help us to worship him with awe and wonder. Remember to have respect for God for everything he is and for everything he has done.

The blue bits show what it’s like to be very close to God because we love him so much. This is called intimacy. It’s like when you pull very close to your mum or dad. You feel safe and warm. You feel loved. We should be able to trust God like this and worship him because we love him so much.

I know Jesus died for my sins. Why is that important for me when I come to worship God?
In the Old Testament, although God’s special people (the Israelites) loved him, they couldn’t get close to him in worship. Only a specially chosen priest could do that. The priest entered a part of the temple called “The Holy of Holies”. There was a thick curtain across the entrance to this place.

When Jesus died on the cross, the curtain in the temple in Jerusalem was torn in two from top to bottom. This had a special meaning. It meant that from that moment on, anyone who loves and serves the Lord Jesus can draw very close to God.
So when you think about worship, remember that you are a special child who is close to God because of Jesus. Listen to him!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Missing Link

I haven't posted for a wee while. Been busy, as they say.

This past week, I took part in an International Leaders School of Ministry (ILSOM) with John and Carol Arnott and Alyn and AJ Jones. I've been wanting to go on this school for a number of years. Over the past couple of years they have been held in Lytham St Annes, Chorleywood and Sunderland - but these were all quite far away for me to go to (given childcare constraints)

It's been great for quite anumber of us who work together/alongside one another on staff or eldership to go and be in this atmosphere, dealing with "our stuff" together. Aside from the corporate dimension, for me personally it's been great to re-connect with values that have been incredibly significant for me over the last fifteen years or so - ok, ok, I did get to a conference in TACF not that long ago!) I was pretty broken on Tuesday too, realising how much I operate out of the desire for justice and not grace. Not pretty. To say nothing of a fair number of UGBs....further action required this week.

I had been part-way in organising a second Families conference, following on from this one, when God moved us and now so many things are now coming to my mind for the future as the testimonies from that conference live with me in a bulky folder full of individual written recollections.

Lots of thoughts and dreams have started to re-occur and now I need some time to process and to get writing!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Minute for Madeleine

Please watch this and post it widely on your blogs/social networking sites/Twitter etc

Sent to me by

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Weekend Reflections

It's been a good but pretty tiring few days but I am very glad for the recent holiday.

I spent a few days at a national denominational assembly and particularly enjoyed catching up with some friends from my YF days who are now pastors as well as my fellow children's champion Lorraine. And I got to spend two nights with my dear friends so we stayed up watching Michael McIntyre clips on youtube :-)

I had an opportunity to lead some corporate repentance using this and was pretty deluged at the break time with people asking where the thoughts came from and how they could get them to their congregations so that they too could repent. We had talked about having group discussions in our planning meetings some months ago but I felt we needed to repent if we were going to see change happen.

I was very moved when an older woman (who looked like she might have been about 96!)walking with sticks came up to me with tears in her eyes saying that she knew she had harboured critical thoughts and ungodly beliefs about children in her mind and she wanted rid of them.

Man, that's pretty significant. I didn't write anything that I, too, haven't felt in the past. I'm guilty of every one of those things at times - which is why I was able to write them! I am LONGING for the floodgates to open wide for a move of God in our nation like we have never seen before. People, get ready. God's deconstructing a lot of our false beliefs in the church in Scotland so that they can be replaced by truth.
Bring it on - it's painful and uncomfortable but we so need it.

My SP preached an absolute stormer today from James 2 verse 14 to the end of the chapter.
I knew a lot of what he was going to say as he had talked a little about it during the week but that didn't stop the tears rolling down my cheeks as I counted yet again the cost of what it means to have true faith. When we consider what we have to give up we often revert to measuring how much we have to give up compared to *them over there who need to give up more*. Why do we indulge in such self-centred reflection?

So it's been a pretty raw weekend.
Staff day away tomorrow. Wonder what that will hold?
As long as I don't have to build a raft out of oil drums and timber planks..........