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

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Sometimes a little quiet…..

It’s been so long since I wrote regularly I feel stiff and clumsy, I guess I need to stretch and warm up my writing muscles and get back into it. I’m not entirely sure why I have slowed down and come almost to a halt, though life has been a bit of a surprise one way and another lately, in many good ways as well as some sad.
The best of these is that God has broken in and taken my breath away at times, leaving me changed, surprised, and a little bit nervous, whatever will he do next, and where?
I don’t feel I want to write about what he has done in a detailed way, and as it has been so significant to me I find myself as though I have nothing to say, because usually I’m open about pretty much everything.
The sad happenings also make me feel I want to be quiet. Life is made of all of these, happy and sad, without them life would be smoother but emptier, these things often come through the others in our life, they are part of those peoples’ experience of their own life, these people are precious to me.
Thankfully the people involved know the one who holds them, they know him, his ways, and that they are safe in his care. They have hope. They trust him.

Life is a complicated mixture..but this is where we get to choose how we will live, how we will love.
One day all this will be over and done with, we will be forever home, and then we won’t have the choices open to us now.
As we see friends move away, others return, dear ones suffer dreadful diseases, we can know for sure the one who loves them best is overshadowing it all, limiting some things and extending others.
I know he looks on with kind eyes and I am thankful..but sometimes a little quiet.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:22-26

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If the Spirit isn’t moving…I’ll move him Pt 2

If the Spirit wasn’t moving, Smith Wigglesworth would move the Spirit. What a statement. But is it really so outside of what we do? Maybe we don’t recognise it as the same, and he was probably a bit of a whiz at it, but why shouldn’t we be too?

I’ve written on this previously.

I found this comment on him somewhere recently, unfortunately, I dont remember where, so I can’t link to it, if I find it again I will.

...’Truth be told, Smith just never seemed to feel the need to be polite when chasing out sickness, disease, and other works of the devil. His sentiment was also that if the Spirit were not moving, then he would move the Spirit. This was not arrogance, but confidence in the work God wanted done on the earth. Smith would create an atmosphere of uncompromising faith in the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit would never fail to show up.’

We know God loves to have us following hard after him, to be nipping at his heels, and that he loves to hear from us, so we know he is going to be responsive to us when we cry to him for more, perhaps to move in healing, or in salvation, or deliverance, or to pour out his Spirit. He isn’t unaffected by us, either by the situations we find ourselves in or the dire straits we see around us sometimes, so to stir ourselves to seek him, to ask him to do the things which he has quite likely put in our hearts to ask for, isn’t arrogance, it is the heart of one who senses the heart of their Dad and who wants to be part of the answer, not simply an onlooker. This is part of our birthright, to be able to be one who makes a difference when all seems lost, to press God for his intervention, and to see it too.

Remember this scripture…?
James 5:16-18 Amplified Version
Pray also for one another, that you may be healed and restored to a spiritual tone of mind and heart…
The earnest…heartfelt…continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available, dynamic in its working. Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have, with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours…and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months (1 Kings 17:1)
And then he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops as usual. (1 Kings 18:42-45)

We can be at least part of the answer…if we stir ourselves and move God.

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What will Jesus do?

Sovereignty of God, now there’s a light and fluffy topic to ponder.

Muddled thinking on the topic of the sovereignty of God is easy to fall prey to and I doubt very much that my thinking is all it should be, but if I took some writers seriously on this subject I would never move a muscle because they clamp down so firmly there isn’t any room to move. After reading one author’s book I felt so flattened and discouraged it took an age to recover.

I’m sure this attitude affects some of us in one way or another, don’t we sometimes have a suspicion deep down that our prayers won’t make much difference, after all he will accomplish his will, whatever, won’t he?
Well, yes he will, but it may not be through me or in my generation if I don’t bother to care and act. If I want to be included in this, then I have to get and involve myself by praying and acting on his word and in his ways. If I don’t, and simply remain passive, then he won’t force himself on me or those around me, he will wait until someone else will involve themselves in his purpose and his kingdom, then he will allow them to partner with him to accomplish those purposes of his.

Why does he look for those who are fully committed to him, or for those who will worship him in Spirit and in truth? Why does he look for a response?

Because it matters to him.

It makes a difference.

We make a difference.

Even simple things such as responding to him when there is a word of knowledge brought, can make a world of difference in our lives. If, for example, there is a word from God regarding a healing he wants to give, and we refuse to respond, then we may exclude ourselves from what he wants to do, I’m not saying this is a definite, after all, I’ve known him heal me when I have been reluctant to respond publicly. It seems to me it is a heart thing, if our attitude is one of trust it pleases his heart. So although the external inactivity might suggest no response to him, the inner being is all ‘Yes, Lord!’, our hearts are where the real action is going on and thankfully he sees within.
It’s easy to believe that if he wants to do so and so, he can and will, but we forget that it is he who has said we are his body, and that we need each other. We do, too, we need the one who will listen, be vulnerable, and offer to pray, and we need the one who is sick to respond, Jesus said to a man, ‘Do you want to be healed?’
It mattered then what the hearer’s response was, it does now.

We need to get to grips with this, our heart, our response, our obedience, all matter…because he has made it so. We are not insignificant beings, we are those he loves and has given himself for, so let’s not be passive, but respond wholeheartedly to the one who has given us the ability to choose to walk in step with him.
Who knows what might happen…

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I love your presence… Please….More, Lord…?

A little while ago…less than a month ago in fact. This…I don’t want to be too detailed, too specific, it would feel a bit out of order to me, but I don’t want to keep too quiet about it either, so here is a little of what has been going on…but only a little.

The last, oh I don’t know how long, has been full of yearning for a greater experience of God. I’ve been surrounded by a growing group of people who feel the same. We have been to meetings where the heart’s cry has been ‘Please, let us have more of your presence’. We have met in tiny groups, and pairs, and cried out for the same.
It becomes something so familiar, welcome in one way, because who doesn’t want to be hungry for more of God, after all, hunger is a sign of health, and yet it is also an ache which by its very presence reminds of a kind of lack at least as yet.
What to do then, when he decides, now, today, is the time to make a move.
This time, now.
What did we do? Not a lot.
Why was it then and there? Probably no reason we will know about, we did nothing more or less than any other time, but this time he made his presence felt in ways which stretched our experience and brought a sense of awe at the weight of his presence.
What did we do? We didn’t know what to do. We could barely speak….barely stand.
What to do now? We will press in for more, of course.

We loved him for his kindness. We knew greater awe at the heft of his presence. We knew his presence more real than before, it’s not made the hunger leave, of course it hasn’t, why would he satisfy us with such a brief taste of his presence?
However much he comes and manifests himself amongst us, we will never be content until we see him face to face. The sort of ‘face to face’ we can have here is only ever going to stimulate our appetite, and that is his purpose, to make us long for more of him.
I think all who are hungry will continue to pray for him to make his presence known in ways beyond our present understanding, we haven’t quite got to a place where others are nervous to join us yet like they were nervous of the early church, and to know the reality of ‘Surely God is among you’, is something we want to see increase, and not solely for our benefit, though it is important to us, but for those who don’t know him yet, when they know this too, we will be delighted.

So, again, our cry will continue to be ‘More, Lord’.

And then….

When you’ve been crying out for the presence and power of God, at least in the ache of your heart, for a long time, it can seem as if nothing will ever happen. But lately, oh my word, lately, things have been happening. As I’ve met together with others, and met God with them, I’ve seen them change, and known change in me too. As we have gathered again I’ve been bowled over by their responsiveness to God, the changes in them are startling. We have known the presence of God in the room with us in such a heavy way as to make us incapable of easy speech or steady standing.

I’ve seen powerful expressions of the presence of God in other places, but to see it in your own home church is very lovely indeed. In our meeting last night there was such a powerful outpouring of the presence of God that many were impacted in ways uncommon to us. At least as yet.
It seems we are very close to something special…..will we press in for more?

Will we? Will you?

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The Kindness of God…Healing Experiences Pt 2

I wrote recently about some experiences of healing I’d had. I mentioned that I might write more, well, here I am, writing more.
Sometimes I just don’t get God, why on earth would he bother to heal me of some of the things he has? Then I remember that it’s about him and his nature, his love. But it’s also about others who might love me and might think to pray for me, others who might be brave enough to say out loud..’Can I pray for you?’
Such a courageous question.

Anyway, one Sunday a very long time ago we were at church and one of the leaders asked if anyone had any back pain. For years I had had a problem with my back suddenly becoming agonisingly painful, so much so, I could do very little, if anything, until the pain subsided.
Given this opportunity for prayer I grabbed it.
Our leader friends asked if I had ever had my leg length checked, and of course I hadn’t (who checks their leg length?), so they sat me down and looked to see if my legs were equal in length, they weren’t. I was surprised to say the least, I’d not come across this sort of thing before.
Then they told me they were going to let my feet rest in their hands and would ask God to make them the same length. So I’m sitting there, husband sat next to me, friends knelt in front, hands held out, my feet just resting in their hands… Not a common situation for me, nor you, I imagine.
But nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. These friends prayed and I watched as my leg grew, I even watched a freckle on my leg move as the leg became longer. What on earth?!
We’d never heard of such a thing happening. There was no funny business, no tugging or tweaking by well meaning friends, just honest caring prayers and an honest caring answer to those prayers. Woah.
Did it heal my back pain? You bet it did. I could even walk on slippy surfaces and not feel unsteady, I didn’t have to be so cautious anymore, it was wonderful! It still is!

Since then, I’ve seen and heard of this sort of thing happening often, an especially lovely experience was one Sunday a few years ago when Terry Virgo came to our church which was meeting in the old B&Q building in Bournemouth at the time. He spent an age after the meeting, knelt praying for dozens of people for healing of various complaints, I shamelessly stood behind him and watched for as long as it took (if he felt he had a shadow he was right, it was me), I watched and waited and saw God work through him time after time as many people’s legs grew, other things were being healed too, but this was the most memorable as it is so clear and measurable.
The humility of the man as he just quietly prayed and moved on to the next person once he saw that one was healed, it was a joy to see, no hype, no ‘ra ra’, just asking and trusting Jesus to do what he says he’ll do.
Why do I mention Terry? It’s this thing of people being willing to make themselves vulnerable by offering to pray for others for healing. It’s a risk isn’t it, we may see nothing, but even if we don’t we have shown the love we have for them.

We don’t see as much healing as we’d wish, but we see nothing if we ask for nothing, we see more if we ask, so let’s ask, we lose nothing by asking, and we may see Jesus do the stuff he promised we would see. If Jesus was here now in the flesh he would heal anyone who came to him, just as he did before, so if I don’t see healing, it is me…not him. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

How much more would we see if we asked? Ask, seek, knock… We know who told us to do this..let’s take him at his word.

You might want to check out what is happening in Northern Ireland at the moment with Mark Marx and Alan Scott, many many stories of healing on the streets and dozens of people coming to faith, as of yesterday morning it was 183 people coming to faith in 20 days and dozens before then.
Alan Scott and Mark Marx are from Causeway Coast Vineyard Church, Coleraine. They are on Twitter and have websites…Google them.


Take courage….Stay Hungry

Are you hungry for God? You’re in good company.
Jesus said blessed are those who are poor in spirit.
I guess we all know what it is to put ourselves in that category, instinctively we know we are made for more. We long for richness of spirit, both in our character as we live out this salvation, and in the world around us as we see injustice and suffering played out in the lives of those near to us as well as those far away.

This richness of spirit we long for isn’t about spiritual jollies, it is about living life as intended by God.
We are in need of fullness, we can’t manage on our own, we know this. We know we are not able to live the Jesus life without a full measure of the Holy Spirit.
Oh how we know this.
God has given us an appetite for things of himself which nothing else can fill, no matter how long we attempt to satisfy our hunger for him with anything else, we can’t get to the brim, we never see an overflowing.
The only one who can bring us to that, is the one who said come to me…We feel the heart’s need of an infilling from the one who can overflow a soul in a moment…if we don’t try to fill up on other things but allow ourselves to know what it is to long for him.
This takes courage, we don’t like to be conscious of lack, we want to be content. To be full. But the hunger which he has given us is meant to drive us to search for more of him.
We can sometimes feel we have done so for such a length of time that we wonder whether ‘more’ will ever come.
Then one day we see a glimmer of light so slight we can wonder whether we saw anything at all, but we know we did, we caught a greater glimpse of him, and maybe it was only the slightest bit more of a glimpse, but it stirs our heart to hope for even more and to keep on keeping on.
We want to be like John, to be close to Jesus, to be one of those he is happy to ask to do the work because he knows we want to please him in any way we can.
Jesus made the comment, and I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be dismissed, that those who love him will obey him, and those who do this will find that he reveals himself to them…I wonder, how much more can we see and know?…I want to find out.


The Kindness of God…Healing experiences

I thought I might write about my experience of healing, of being healed that is, not my praying for others to be healed, that could be for another time.
I have a lifelong history of God healing me when I’ve been suffering from one condition or another. I have taken a while to get around to writing about it, because some of it makes me feel rather vulnerable. I’m sure you’ll understand why when you’ve read my story.

God first healed me when I was a baby, I had a skin condition which was very painful which he sorted out in a moment, my mum had taken me forward for prayer at the end of a meeting and when she got me home from church it was all gone, my skin was restored to normal. I heard the dramatic story (more detail than I’m going to give here!) from my mum as I grew up, it gave me a sense of God being interested and involved, not simply someone distant I was supposed to believe in.

My most important healing was later. At 11 years old I had a cycling accident which resulted in a serious skull fracture.

A strange part of the incident is how my mum heard of it. I was about two or three roads away from home and while laying in the road drifting in and out of consciousness I called out for her, the weird thing is, she heard me.
She ran, knowing something was desperately wrong, only to find me with blood coming from my ear, nose, and mouth, clearly in a bad way. She was terrified, but handled the gathering crowd and looked after me. I think only the parent of an injured child will understand the fierce emotions she must have had to deal with as she waited for the ambulance and then watched and waited until we arrived in the hospital.

I remember little of this time thankfully, though I do recall waking in the corridor as I was rushed from one place to another. My only other memory from that first week is stirring into vague awareness and seeing my dad leaning over the side of the bed.
I was unconscious for the best part of a week and in hospital for three weeks.

When I was discharged I discovered to my distress and embarrassment that I had been left with epilepsy, I know there is nothing to be ashamed of in any condition like this, but for some reason this is what I felt. I was eleven, my family was already split apart, and now I had a condition which made me feel even more different from my friends, I felt wretched. It meant I withdrew from life, I tended to stay home where I felt safe, loved, and known.

Fast forward to when I was 22 years old, my husband and I had been married five years and our eldest son was one year old. We belonged to a small Baptist church, we hadn’t heard much, if any, teaching in church about healing, but as is often the case, we learnt from books and cassette tapes (remember those?) that there was more to this Christian life than we were hearing about on a Sunday.

We went along to an outreach and worship event which was happening locally and loved what we heard and saw. As the week went on there were often times for prayer and healing during the meetings.
One evening as they spoke of coming for prayer if it was needed, I felt God ask me if I wanted him to heal me of the epilepsy. I was surprised, I’d have asked him to heal me of a cold, who wouldn’t, there’s not much faith risk…after all, I would have been fairly sure I’d improve in time anyway, but the thought of praying for healing of such a condition had never occurred to me. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, not for me, and probably not for anyone else either. It wasn’t a personal thing, I just didn’t think he did that sort of thing anymore. It wasn’t anything I’d heard of except in books and then only in other countries, and so my faith for that was undeveloped.

Okay, back to the moment I hear him ask me if I want him to heal me, it seemed almost like a challenge, a sort of ‘Well, do you?’ I said yes, and wondered what would happen next…if anything.
Nothing happened there and then, I didn’t even respond to the invitation to receive prayer, I just had this brief conversation with God, the meeting finished, my husband and I chatted with people and then went home.
I know, you’d think it would be a bit more dramatic wouldn’t you!

Stories I had heard of people being healed (as I say, in other countries, and probably at other times), told that they had often thrown away their medication, but I thought this was foolish and wasn’t going to risk it, so I said to God, that if he was able to heal me he was also able to tell me when to stop taking my tablets, (I really didn’t fancy having an epileptic seizure while I was out shopping, so I wasn’t going to rush into anything without good reason).
As I said this, I heard him say ’21 days’, so I marked off the length of time on the calendar and carried on taking the meds until then. I stopped taking them on the 21st day and nothing dramatic happened, not then, nor since. I never had a seizure again. And that is a rather…ahem….long time ago.
My doctor rang some months later and asked why I hadn’t requested anymore prescriptions, I told him why, his comment made me laugh, he said, ‘Well, I haven’t the authority of the person you mention, but I’d have liked to have known what was going on.’ It was apparent he was in an office full of people and so he wasn’t going to mention God!

I have other stories of being healed, but this post is already long, so I’ll keep those for another day, maybe.

I suppose what I would like is for you to know that he does heal, he does speak, even today, even here, and even to me and you.
It doesn’t have to be dramatic, it can be quite quiet, almost a nonevent to the onlooker, but that ‘nonevent’ can be life changing.
Don’t let the lack of experiencing this sort of thing so far stop you asking him for things you would love him to for you, or for those you long to see impacted by God.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

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A Journey of Discipleship

When we first start out on this trek together we find each other responsive and the one being discipled, eager for change.
As time goes on though it changes and it can appear that the relationship between the two has become less productive. In some ways it has, and it should, we are in trouble if our discipling relationship stays the same, the two of us relating as we did at the beginning is not quite the plan. This isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, if we examine what it is that has changed, we may find encouragement after all.
The one who used to listen avidly, now has increasingly well formed ideas of their own and is able to hold their own in life, their habits and character have become such that they don’t need someone to help them make their decisions so often, as they have grown in wisdom.

The aim of discipling another is for them to be self governing under God. Just as we raise our children to make our role as parent of little ones redundant, so we aim for this with those we spend time with in a discipling setting.

The one being discipled can find they feel irritation with the one who is discipling them, they can feel unhappy about this, thinking they have an attitude problem, but it may simply be they are growing out of needing this level of involvement, it’s a great sign your discipling has done at least a half decent job. It might also be a sign that you need to be more sensitive to their growth, and the way you are involved in their life needs to shift.
Often, as time goes on, you find you spend more of your times together catching up with each other, enjoying being together in a less structured way. Again, good signs of growth. Many times the relationship which started as a desire to help them grow, has transformed into a friendship of deep authenticity.
If this is your experience, then enjoy it….and go and do the same with someone else all over again, you’ll grow a great set of friends this way!

The discipling spectrum is broad and over time we will probably find we have an area we prefer to specialise in. Some like to concentrate on helping the newest of believers, others, on those who are further on and have different needs, some will love being alongside those who know better what they are made of and need help and encouragement to grow in particular areas of their developing set of skills and gifts.
One thing is for sure, discipling doesn’t need to be dull, it can at times be stressful and disheartening, but more often than not it is fruitful and encouraging, and the ones being discipled aren’t the only ones who learn from it, the discipler does too.
Why not think and pray about where you might fit in the whole process of discipling? You could ask someone who knows you well where they think you’d be most use and see most fruit, and then see if there’s someone who comes to mind when you pray about this over a little time.

Discipling is such an important part of church growth, both when we receive it and when we attempt to help another, it would be a shame to miss out on such a valuable part of the life of following Jesus, it wasn’t a mild mannered suggestion when he said, ‘Go and make disciples.’ he meant us to do it. Let’s do it well.

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Vulnerability..True Truth, and Unfailing Love.

It was one of those mornings…I wonder if you ever have them, when loving, merciful, true truth is hard to find and yet the ‘truth’ of your own nature is all too clearly visible, at least to yourself.
If you know what this is like, then maybe you’ll find this helpful as I did.

The Small Verse
Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see. Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear. Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand. So shall I turn to you and be healed.

The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who cares for us: Preserve me from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from me the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

These prayers are from the Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle, they were particularly apt for me today. You know those days when you wake, believing you are vividly aware of knowing yourself, but in reality, you are only engaging with those parts of yourself that you want to be rid of?
That was me this morning.

As I took refuge in the words of ancient prayers, this first prayer echoed round my heart and made me long even more for growth and healing in myself. My sin needs repentance and my weakness needs encounter with God or I will return to this place again.
Where is this place? Oh…just the same old place of fear and insecurity. We all have our old haunts and the enemy knows this is a good place to come hunting in me for a foothold. I know, or I should by now, that if I’m vulnerable because I’m more visible than usual then he can tell me I’m rubbish and a fake and sometimes he finds I will listen.

As I read the second prayer I’ve posted here, ‘The Prayer Appointed for the Week’, it too hit home. I need fear nothing, he loves me and will take good care of me….or more accurately, it hit home that I was dealing in ‘faithless fears and worldly anxieties’, my heart only slowly received warmth from the fact that he loves me and I need fear nothing.

Then, of course, there is the beauty of the concluding morning prayer, which I love, and especially engage with more often than many others.
Here it is again:
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day: Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

I spent a fair amount of time with my husband, listening to what he had to say, because the truth needs to come from those closest to us as well as from spending time with God. Both are vital for a healthy life, he is good at this stuff, he’s had a lot of practice, we’ve been together since I was fourteen…

Jenn Johnson sings ‘Lord, I look to you, I won’t be overwhelmed’ a song she grew into when she was finding the challenge of everyday life…well, challenging.

Many have found this ‘looking to God’ by spending time sitting in his presence, is the best way to deal with those aspects of our nature we long to be free from, to address them directly isn’t always the most fruitful way, but go indirectly, via the presence of God, and a freedom can be discovered which is not possible elsewhere.

To be like Jesus, we don’t ‘go direct’ and try hard to behave like he did, we can’t make ourselves fearless, gentle, or humble, we can’t strain and urge until we are able to discern what the Father wants us to do. We need to engage in the habits Jesus had, the rhythm of life he walked in was to often be quiet with his Father, restoring his soul and hearing what he had to say.

Do I know this? Yes. Do I still need to remind myself? Yes.

I thought you might like to be reminded too.

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Gravitational Pull

We know, don’t we, that he pulls on our heartstrings. We might not necessarily always respond, but we have all felt those nudges and pulls of his Spirit on ours. Those whispers of ‘Come away with me..’

He doesn’t tend to make a big deal or a lot of noise, he speaks in the quiet place within and occasionally says ‘Do you want to know what is in my heart?’
Not always in so many words, but in a rising consciousness that he is speaking, of a sense of wanting to know, to respond to him, in a stirring of our heart in care for another person and their situation.
We pray for those he puts on our hearts and sometimes a little later….or a lot later, we discover he has done what we asked, what he caused us to be stirred enough to pray for, he has intervened and done what we could never do alone.
Prayer is seriously weird….and weirdly serious. Where would we be without it?


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