Hazel Flood's thoughts on life as a Jesus follower.


Personal thoughts…you can listen in if you like.

I listened to my husband speaking at a meeting recently and as I felt stresses and tensions melt away, I pondered the thought: ‘this is my husband, my pastor’. I was grateful.

How peculiar it seemed to label him, yet so accurate, he leads me and guides me, not as some superior being I must follow obediently, but as the kindest person I know outside of the Godhead.

To listen to him is a revelation. He is quiet by nature and so when he does speak, anyone who knows him stops to listen, knowing the worth of what he says. Every time I hear him speak in such a way it does my heart good.

He says he speaks out of his weakness, others would say he is deeply gifted. He won’t hear of it, how wrong he is, but how right.
It is as he serves with an awareness of his need of the Spirit to help him that he best benefits those around him.
He brings the Father heart of God with him. Who wouldn’t listen to such a man?

If he believed he could manage on his own, then the richness and the healing which are conveyed as he speaks from his heart would be diminished and we would all be the poorer for it.

This is the man I have spent the last forty-plus years with, the one I have spent each day and night with for the last twenty two years as he has made our home his workplace.
He is the genuine article. The one I would willingly follow to the ends of the earth. He truly is a gift.

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Autumn Sun

Autumn afternoon sun, lush green playing fields, deep dark woods, dogs happily bounding around strangers, fresh air filling my lungs after too long indoors. Peace.
As I began to walk I’d tried to listen through my earphones, but managed only a short distance before tugging them from my ears in the search for peace and the voice of God.
The crowding recorded voice invading my inner space was too much, I longed for the sound of the air, and leaves, and feet on pathways. A human voice, even reading a prophet’s words to me, was unwelcome.
I returned to my usual manner of walking in silence, all except the whispered prayers telling yet again all that is on my heart, though He knows already. I remind Him of dreams old and new, old prayers, and new imaginings, and I wonder, what is His intent.
For today, it is this, to be present, to see His good work around me, and know He is the Loving Creator, He is Beautiful Mystery, and I am content.

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Love From Home

For all of us who have looked within and thought:

‘Who, me? There must be some mistake!’

I want to remind us of what we already know, but often need to hear again.

His calling and gifting express His love for us and for His broken world, they aren’t merit badges or character credits. No brownie points earned here.

In our certain knowledge of our flaws, we can be even more certain of His love and grace.
He has called us to be His, His very own, and also His messengers to those who though they don’t know it yet, are longing to hear of love from home.

When we say to God, ‘Who, me?!’ and He replies ‘Yes, you, you are the ‘who’ I want use’, then we can know we are those who will be used by Him to accomplish His particular purposes.

We are so aware of our inadequacy, yet He is happy to use us to demonstrate His welcoming kindness.

If we could do it alone, well, we wouldn’t need a saviour in the first place.

If He was happy to do it alone He could get on with the job in hand with the ease of a master.

What does He do?

He chooses to send us, to work through our messiness, and then to enjoy the results with us.

His message is ‘Come home, You are welcome here, there is plenty of love, forgiveness, healing, and wholeness, for you, your family, and friends, what are you waiting for?’

How awesome is He?

Who can we tell?

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Your Father is very fond of you…Winning Christians to Christ

Someone once said they wanted to win Christians to Christ, the statement has stuck with me over the years and I suppose there’s a bit of an echo of it in me. Winning Christians to Christ sounds odd doesn’t it. But wait, before you think I’ve flipped, or am entirely off the wall, let me say more of what I mean.

My desire is to see those who already know God come to know Him more closely, this is what I’ve worked towards with various ones, and groups, for over twenty years.
I want to see people who don’t know Jesus introduced to him and becoming wholehearted followers, of course I do. Yet the drumbeat creating my rhythm is for those who DO believe to go beyond what they’ve learnt and experienced, into areas which until now have been too far off for them.

My heart is for people to know they are loved, more deeply and comprehensively than they can imagine, by the one who would stop at nothing to demonstrate that love.
I’m not content for an intellectual understanding of this to be the stopping place, that may be a good stepping stone, but it isn’t supposed to be our destination.

All too often we imagine a bible study, or a talk, or a book, will satisfy, and these can be great as an appetiser, but the meal which satisfies is to know true close relationship with God as our Father, Jesus as our heroic rescuing elder brother, and the Holy Spirit as our dear friend and helper.
To experience them in these ways is far more than black print on fine white paper, and was always intended to be so.

When God met Adam in the garden it was real, not abstract. Adam felt his bare feet on cool grass, he heard the sound of God in the garden and drew near to hear His voice to know what He would say. Not discussions about hypothetical situations, but more like:
How did it go today? Thought of any good names for the last of the animals yet?

All levity aside though.

This God is beautiful and so is His gospel, and not only for those who haven’t heard it yet, but also for those to whom it really is the old, old story, those who might be tempted to think they’ve heard it all before, and feel they’ll simply pass on by as there’s nothing new, and in a way they are right, there isn’t anything strictly new, but aspects of it which perhaps aren’t familiar, or aren’t lived in the good of, can appear new, these could even turn their lives around.

What if you knew, really knew, deep down, that you are loved, just as you are, no waiting or striving to become more loveable, clean, or acceptable, because you have been made just that, loveable, clean, and acceptable because of Jesus, what if it had sunk into you that you are affectionately and fondly loved by the Father, the Redeemer, the Comforter?

Why would Jesus have lived the life He did if it wasn’t necessary?

Why would He give up so much if you and I could manage to be even just a bit lovely on our own?

Our Father God loved us before we knew Him, and He still does. He chased us down through all of our years, pursuing us with tender love and mercy until we turned and gave in to His loving embrace.

He doesn’t love us less now because we know Him and should know better.

Do you think He backs off from us? No, He pursues us still. He presses into us to make our hearts burn with longing to be more than we have been, not to clean ourselves up, but to live in the heat of His close gaze, letting Him look and see and burn off whatever doesn’t fit with the reflection of Jesus, drawing us to eagerly leave behind the rubbish we discover in our quest to respond and be close to Him, to learn to enjoy walking in step with Him, in step with the Spirit.

Do we want to miss out on this?

Let’s allow that gaze of His to provoke us to shed our rubbish, knowing all the while we are welcome to come to Him, absolutely welcome, because His plan to save and to redeem is so effective, so deeply transforming, we can know both the desire and the willing ability to walk with Him.
Close proximity is what enables this, not just study and information gathering, we DO need to know the truth and so we DO need to be people of the word, but it is in His warm presence as The Truth and The Word that we discover the desire and ability to become what He’s made us to be.

Our heart’s cry has to be ‘More, of you Lord!’

Here are some words to take with you as you go with The Word today.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
1 John 3:1

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.
Proverbs 8:17

God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.
And God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us. Furthermore, we have seen with our own eyes and now testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Saviour of the world. All who confess that Jesus is the Son of God have God living in them, and they live in God. We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in His love.
1 John 4:9-16

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.
Jeremiah 31:3

The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
John 17:22-24

But God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of His grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all He has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. For our God is a devouring fire.
Hebrews 12:28-29

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Worship Changes The World

We know worship is important, but why is this so?

First, and most importantly, it is directed to God and it pleases Him more than we can imagine.

Second, we get to encounter Him as we realise we are truly in His presence and are welcome there.

Third, it has an effect on the world around us because as we worship we are transformed, and as we worship we sense His heart, then we carry this out into the world we live in, gradually bringing about change.

Eugene Peterson, in his introduction to the book of the prophet Micah, said that prophets remake the world with their words.
Under the old covenant only a few people were prophets, but in the new covenant and since the coming of the Holy Spirit, all believers are able to hear the voice of God, we can all communicate the heart of God to those around us and so change the world little by little.

As we worship let’s make sure we engage with Him, and not be like a lazy married couple who say loving words but don’t connect deeply anymore.

Make ‘eye contact’ with Him, take a moment to be quiet, gather your thoughts, know you are in the presence of the Almighty, Holy, God, and yet you are welcomed with open arms and with kind eyes.

Know that you are involved in the most important activity ever conceived of.

Worship Him, be transformed, change the world.

‘Mission exists because worship doesn’t.’ John Piper.

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Tell them the dream, Martin

Once upon a time a woman in a crowd called out to a faltering preacher. She cried out ‘Tell them the dream, Martin, tell them the dream!’

I wonder if she hadn’t, would we know the theme that pounded through Martin Luther King’s heart?

Would we be so familiar with the rhythms of the speech so ably and beautifully delivered?

Would our hearts beat so hard when we heard the phrase ‘I have a dream’?

Or would we have forgotten the preacher who longed for more but stumbled over his words and went home feeling he’d failed? I think it’s highly likely.

The brave woman, the singer Mahalia Jackson, made a world of difference in a world that needed to be different, she called out the dream in the person she believed carried such vision within him that he must not keep it hidden, he must not keep it quiet.
Because she did this, now we know his dream and now to some extent we see the dream come true..

What’s my point?

My point is without a dream nothing happens and without people who know us and know our dreams they may not get called out from us to make the difference in the world they were given to accomplish.

We need to dream the dreams God plants in our hearts, we need good, close, faithful friends who will provoke us to be a voice to change nations, to see the kingdom extending into the world.

What can you do?

Seek God, dream your dreams, and make your friends. The world needs you to change it. Now.

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Soaking Prayer…..Some Practical Stuff

Before we start to look at the details of how to do soaking prayer there is a question to be answered:

‘Is this something we can imagine Jesus doing?’

Do the gospels give us any clues?

Let’s just take a moment to think about this, Jesus spent whole nights of prayer with His Father, I don’t think He would have been talking for all of the time, a fair amount of it could have been spent resting, looking at the stars, listening to the sounds of the night, and giving consideration to all He was going to have to do for those around Him.
Plenty of the time could have been spent enjoying the truth that He was entirely and utterly loved by His Father and that in the not too distant future He would be going back to be with Him.

Sounds a lot like soaking to me.

If we want to soak what does it look like and how do we do it?

Is it something we can just ‘do’ or is it something which happens to us with no initiative on our part?

We are told to wait on God, to rest in Him, to find our strength and our joy in Him.
Soaking is one way we can do this, and yes, we can ‘just do it’, the same way as we can just choose to ‘do’ worship.
As Spirit born and Spirit indwelt believers know we come into worship or prayer of any sort by our own decision, and as we engage our hearts we find we enter into a different level of awareness, at least we do if not we’re not simply going through the motions much as if we spoke to our husband or wife with seemingly loving words but with no inner connection.

There are various forms of prayer. We can pray in whatever way we find most comfortable, talking to God about whatever is on our hearts and minds. We can pray in tongues. We can intercede, this is my fierce praying, I put worship music on and join in and worship for a while then I start to pray for those big things which are on my mind and stirring my heart. I will walk around as I pray hard and I find God often speaks to me for other people during these times.
I daresay you can think of other methods of prayer, but my main focus today is to look at the practical details of soaking prayer.

First of all, it isn’t difficult, nor is it hard work.
You might say it’s a bit of a sabbath rest, a place of trusting Him with our time, our busyness, our to-do list.

When we soak we position ourselves in a place of conscious rest before God, knowing we are loved and accepted in Jesus, and we make ourselves deliberately available to Him.
When we spend time doing this we find our minds and hearts becoming filled with love for Him as we consider Him who has loved us and shown us such extravagant mercy and grace.

I find having some worship music playing is good for me, if I tried silence I think I would find my mind wandering, but when I use familiar worship songs I find I resonate with some of the lyrics and they provoke me to prayer as well as worship.

As you begin it is helpful to make sure you bring anything that you are aware of which is in the way between you and God and deal with it. There’s no point trying to ignore it He will only bring it up while you soak anyway, so you might as well get it out in the open with Him and sort it.

I guess the easiest thing is to tell you what I do when I soak.

Right, the worship music is on, I start to worship God and if there is anything on my mind I talk to Him about it, whether it is sin in me, or something I’m carrying around with me praying for on and off through the day.
When I’m ready I start to worship and enjoy Him. At some point, probably a couple of songs in, I find a comfortable spot to sit or lie down.

I continue to engage with Him by focussing on Him, knowing His eye is on me and He loves me, it’s like we make eye contact.
I want Him to know I love Him and am utterly given over to Him and His will.
I respond inwardly to the worship lyrics when they are particularly appropriate for that moment.

An album I enjoy soaking to is Still Believe by Kim Walker Smith, by the time I get to the track ‘The King is Here’ I have usually settled myself down and I listen to those lyrics and rest in the truth of them, He IS here.
Pondering this for a while is enough to begin a change in my interior landscape, if I’ve been stressed then this will help me to know His peace as I start to realise He is there in the room with me.
As I continue in this way the quiet peace that comes is lovely.

I have known Him to show me areas where He wants to see change, whether that is me learning to deal with something differently or seeing something from another point of view. I’ve had both of these in the last couple of weeks and found them powerfully releasing.

Do I always get revelation? No, definitely not, sometimes it is simply a time of resting in His presence, making myself aware of Him, practising His presence, and telling Him that I am available and for Him to do whatever He wishes with me, but even when there is no great shift in my understanding, I do know a greater level of peace, I know He has restored my soul, He has made me welcome as I have approached Him, taking Him at His word when He says ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.’

When I feel He is showing me His heart about someone or a situation I stop to write in my journal whatever it is He is revealing.
If it is something in me I need to deal with I will do that in whatever way is appropriate. Sometimes it’s just a case of holding on to a new way of seeing a situation and making sure that changes the way I respond to anything similar in the future. I record this in my journal too, then I get back to soaking in His presence.

This really isn’t just a soft and fluffy way of spending time, it can be radical in dealing with issues, radical in the true sense of the word, getting to the root of something which has grown up over time.
Perhaps strongholds in thinking and reactions to life can be exposed as having begun through a particular event which He then shows you how to look at from His perspective. This isn’t always a cosy moment, but even if it is uncomfortable it communicates His deep kindness and brings release or the beginning of freedom.
It also brings responsibility as once we can see His point of view then we have to make the choice, will we engage with Him fully on this or not?

I could spend a long time recounting the ways He can meet with us to heal, change, deliver and bless, but I think the best thing is for you to find some time to experience this for yourself. He says He rewards those who diligently seek Him, and He means it. Seeking Him, and finding Him, is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.

It really is as simple (and as difficult) as finding time, space, and a comfortable spot, putting on some worship music, and making yourself available to Him.

I’ve learnt to experience more of His heart for me and for others. I’ve learnt that even I can meet with Him like this, yes even me. All I can say in response to this is ‘Thank you Jesus.’

Consider yourself invited to experience Him in this way too.

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Soaking Prayer: A Life Changer

What is prayer? Wouldn’t you say it is communicating with God, sometimes in great swathes of words and sometimes just with a whisper, and of course, sometimes simply listening?

What would you say if I told you I had found a powerfully effective way of prayer, what if I told you it was life changing?
Would you be interested?
I bet you wouldn’t really believe me, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t, because I know what I felt like before I tried it for myself. And, yes I know I sound like some lunatic salesman with a truck load of snake oil to get rid of.

When someone you know well, someone you know has a great relationship with God, says this is the way they have become the way they are then you tend to listen. That’s what happened to me. A friend of mine who loves God more than many, and hears from Him with extraordinary ease, told me she did this every day, even with a toddler, I knew then I wanted to learn what she had learnt.

Soaking prayer has been a big discovery for me. I’d heard of it a long time ago, but dismissed it as a waste of time, all that lying around listening to wifty wafty music didn’t appeal to me at all. In fact at a conference we went to many years back, a person who shall remain nameless didn’t like the look of any of the other seminars, so he chose instead to go to a soaking session so he could have a sleep, you know how it is with self employed business men, night times aren’t the best for sleeping, too many thoughts about work, so an opportunity for a power nap was too good to miss.
The thing was, God didn’t seem to think soaking was a waste of time and so He nudged someone to give him a prophetic word, it was spot on, It seemed God’s sense of humour to me that he should receive such a word while doing his best to get some sleep.

Anyway, back to my discovery, it so happened that I was preparing to give a weekend’s talks, as I did this I spoke with a friend who told me she had found soaking prayer a powerful influence in her life.
I did some research and after a while thought I’d give it a try. When I told another friend of mine, the first one I mentioned above, the one with the toddler, she said ‘But that’s how I am the way I am!’ So of course I decided to embark on a journey to see whether it would be beneficial for me too.

(I’ll give some practical details in another post.)

No one could have been more surprised than me at what happened. I found it brought breakthrough in areas of my life which even though I’d addressed them thoroughly I still found a nuisance at times.
I met with Jesus in ways I’d never imagined I would, ways I felt confident other people might, but not me.
Isn’t that often the case though? We believe another person’s experience of God is more likely to be authentic or life changing than our own.
God loves to dispel this lie, and He did that for me. As I soaked, Jesus came to me and healed me of old wounds which I had dealt with as well as any believer knows how, all the forgiving and re-forgiving, etc., but the day Jesus came to me and healed me made the world of difference.

At times, soaking is like sitting with Jesus and letting Him bring up the topics He wants to address. Sometimes I’ve found He will show me ways to deal with problems, other times He has shown me a situation from another person’s point of view which has brought me a greater level of understanding and so a greater level of breakthrough too.

To be in the presence of God, knowing yourself to be safe and loved is a privilege in every way we can imagine, but it is also our birthright. We are His and He wants to shelter us close to Him as Psalm 91:1 indicates:
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
He loves to let us know what He wants for us, maybe on a particular day it will be that He reminds us of His love for the poor, another day it might be that He reminds us of our hardening heart to a friend and asks that we address this soon.
Sometimes our time in His presence will simply be spent revelling in the knowledge that we are perfectly loved, even though not perfectly loveable.

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More of His Presence?

Is it nonsense to say we want more of God’s presence? Is it ridiculous to sing of our desire for more of Him? Is it sentimental to invite Him to come to meet with us?

Some say this is so.

The bible doesn’t agree.

‘Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’

Hebrews 11:6

To say we long for more of Him demonstrates the heart of the psalmist, the same heart as the one of whom God could say:

I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’

Acts 13:22

David, the great lover of God.

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
With singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.’

Psalm 63:1-8

David prayed this:

You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.’

Psalm 16:11

We aren’t ignorant enough to believe God is absent if we don’t invite His presence, we know He is closer than the air we breathe even though we may often be unconscious of the fact.
What we also know is that He loves to be wanted, invited, and welcomed, He doesn’t want us to hide from Him.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”‘

Genesis 3:8-10

We love God and have the deepest awe-filled respect for Him and we most certainly don’t wish to take His presence for granted. We want to know His heart, and to obey Him with all of ours.

So we cry out for Him to come and meet with us. To make His presence felt in ways which will please Him on that particular occasion.

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.’

John 14:21-24

When we gather we can genuinely ask ourselves the question ‘What will Jesus do?’ because if we are willing to admit we need His presence and that we aren’t able to do more than organise a framework of a meeting, (why do we call it a meeting if we don’t want to meet Him?) then we have to allow for the fact that His presence could, really, make a difference.
If we won’t allow for this fact, then we protect ourselves from disappointment in some ways as we have no expectation of more, but if we permit ourselves to be vulnerable and admit we long for more, and that our ‘this’ is nowhere near enough without Him making His presence felt, then we give room for Him to come and take down our barriers and dismantle our confining structures.

Will we be like David in Psalm 63 and cry for more? Or will we be like Adam and hide when we hear Him coming?

Come on, let’s make ourselves vulnerable, let’s admit we haven’t had nearly enough of Him yet, after all, He loves to reward those who seek for Him.

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Feels Like Coming Home

Recently I watched as a young woman I know well brought a prophetic contribution in a meeting and I was struck by how much she had grown in the gifting. She was confident, comfortable, and entirely at home in what she was doing.

I thought of the stress we can sometimes put ourselves under as we try to discover ‘What has God got for me to do?’ or ‘What are my gifts?’.

It isn’t so necessary. If we will get and do the stuff around as and serve well, paying attention to what He says and shows us, we can find our God shaped gifting and calling as we go.

It isn’t rocket science. Funnily enough He does know we aren’t always amazingly bright and can easily be side tracked, so He draws us to where He wants us, makes us good at what He wants us to do, or at least lets a glimmer of ability in the area show through, and so almost by accident we come across what we are shaped for.

Maybe when we first attempt to speak in public we can barely string two words together, but if someone takes a risk with us we might just become good at it and find ourselves on the way to a future unimagined at first. I’ve seen this come about too.
It is deeply satisfying to see people who have no sense of ‘I can do this’, but who do have a creeping sense of God nudging them to try, becoming not just fairly able, but sharply, edgily, dynamically gifted. What a thrill that is.

To see another become entirely at home in their sphere of gifting, or to find yourself comfortable at the front edge of the as yet unknown is exhilarating and not to be missed.

Don’t settle or dawdle.

Take a risk. Be the first. Make a change. You don’t know what you will discover.


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