Craig Marsh

So last week we had healing evangelist Craig Marsh and his wife Jenny, with us in our local churches for a week. I have to admit I wasn’t hugely looking forward to his visit. He came last year and I just didn’t ‘get him’ (wrote partly about his visit here). Plus the fact that our church community has just lost a dear friend, who we really felt God would heal. So you can see I wasn’t really in the mood for a week of healing mission…

So there I was Saturday morning heading off to help set up for his first engagement, a teaching session of how to pray for healing. I spent the entire car journey repenting of my ill-feeling towards him and asking God to fill me with faith, an open-mind and a heap of joy. Thankfully He did (love God like that, so faithful :) ). And what’s more, Craig Marsh was brilliant.

Not only was the teaching good and sound, but he was humble too. He talked about how God had spoken to him about how to pray, but that was just what he was taught, not the only way or necessarily the best way. He talked about God using doctors and medicine and that he would never tell people to come off medicine without being medically checked first.
He gave some great testimonies of people that had been healed, including pictures. (For the cynnical of course there was no proof, these could be pictures of anyone, but I cannot counteract that, except to say that I found him totally genuine.) At the end of the session, he prayed for a healing annointing on everyone present. Personally I found this very powerful, even after he had let go of my hands it felt like someone was physically holding them for quite some time. So much so, that I had to open my eyes to check they weren’t ! and yet I still felt it afterwards.

On Sunday morning he preached at our church and gave a great talk, especially in light of what our church is going through, about perplexity and not undertsanidng why God doesn’t appear to act in some situations. He had a great line: ‘perplexity is an ingredient for maturity’.

On every occasion I have seen him speak he prays for everyone. Even if that means staying for hours, he still stays and he prays. In fact last year we were even supposed to be out of the hall we had hired and all the clearing had been done and he was still there praying for people in an empty hall!

Half way through the week he did a session for our church staff in the office which again was very powerful. Again at the end he wanted to pray for us all. I clearly felt God telling me to repent in front of everyone about the way I had felt about him. That was hard but it was one of those moments where you just know God is telling you to do something. He was perfectly lovely about it, and then when he prayed I felt a real touch fromnt he Holy Spirit, I personally felt that if I hadnt been obedient that wouldnt have happened for me. Like I had a choice to be obedient to God and in doing so I opened the door to the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t go to all the sessions last week so I don’t know if there were lots of people healed. I heard a few testimonies from people who had had minor healings and I certainly prayed for people who felt better after prayer. It’s fair to say I don’t think it was the huge outpouring we were hoping for, and turn out was not as high as hoped for, but it has had an impact on our local churches and I pray that will be something that continues.

People have accused Craig Marsh of being rude and arrogant and of being untruthful. All I can say to those people is that I didn’t experience anything like that. I found him both funny and engaging, and he spoke with passion, humility and honesty. No, I didn’t see hundreds healed, but plenty came forward to give their life to the Lord or to recommit themselves
to him. His preaching and teaching were great, biblically based, profound at times and he clearly understood where we were at as a church.

Cystic Fybrosis & Hope

A while back I came across the blog ‘Coughing Angel’ written by Daniela who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. I have been meaning to write about it for a while, and I totally recommend it as an insight into what life is like with this condition.

At school there was a girl in my year with CF. I remember walking into the classroom one lunch time and finding her being pummelled on the back by her mum and thinking what on earth was going on? The reality for her at that time was that several times a day she had to have someone come and do this to her to try and loosen the excess mucus in her lungs. It was not plesant to watch and I am sure it was far more unpleasant for her. But it was keeping her alive. Sadly she passed away last year. She must have been 37.

Daniela writes on her blog about her experiences with CF. It is at the same time both heart-breaking and uplifting. Although she desperately needs a lung transplant and spends most of her time in hopsital she also has hope and is not just waiting to die. She writes in 3 languages and is a total inspiration.

The last few weeks I have been struggling with the sovereignty of God. If He is sovereign why did he not heal Nix? But when I read Daniela’s blog it gives me hope. There is hope even in the face of terminal illness or death. His ways are not our ways, but we know that he uses all things for good, for his purposes. Through Daniela’s illness, her blog is giving hope and encouragement to people around the world. It is giving people a real life account of what is like to live with CF. In Nix’s death, we are broken, but we still know that God is good, that He will use this for His glory. I don’t know how or why, his ways are not mine to understand, but his name will be glorified.

discernment and beyond…

So, it’s official I have told the DDO that I would like to wait a year until I begin studying. Has to be formally okayed by the Bishop and Ministry Division, but he didn’t think it would be a problem.

We have decided this for several reasons, one of which is that there are still so many things I would like to do, or to explore before being tied down, and let’s face it once I start studying it will be 10 years minimum before I can get any extended time off and it’s unlikely I would have time to explore other ideas outside of studying or ministry.

So here’s a few of the things I would like to do, and I would really love to hear any other suggestions of things to do or people to see!

1: Visit somewhere the Holy Spirit is really moving (and I mean really… hugely, massivley, undeniably)

2: Visit and spend time in some other ‘pioneering’ ministries, to see what/how/why etc

3: Spend some time with women doing pioneering stuff in the CofE

4: There are a couple of people who I have read about/heard of who I would like to do some work shadowing with (won’t name them yet as have not been in touch with them yet, but will do so in due course!)

5: Be a bit (more) crazy for God, spend time getting out there, praying for people, in Tesco, in the street, in the dentists… spreading some crazy love!

6: Do a mission trip abroad (and not just a one off but potentially something I could form a relationship with)

Any other ideas….?

I choose God

Loving this song at the mo. Well the whole album is ace actually, totally recommend it.This song though, I just love. There is a line in it:  ‘And when I don’t understand
I will choose You. And when I don’t understand I will choose to love You, God’

With all that’s happened recently, it really feels like I need to actively choose God. And I do have a choice. I am angry with God, I am frustrated and sad. But I do have a choice and I am stepping into it… 

Mission & Evangelism for the modern day…

Just reflecting a bit more on BAP with a friend this morning. When you go to BAP one of the things that has to be done in advance is a written piece about an aspect of mission & evangelism. I had 2 options. One I felt was the easy option which was about youthwork and the harder option, but far more me was about getting out there among Joe Public and asking God for words of prophecy and offering to pray for healing… this was my piece, in case anyone is interested…

Mission
and Evangelism: Meeting people at their
point of need.

(In
relation to aspects H3 & H6 on the Criteria for Selection)

Like it or not, we live
in an increasingly secular nation. Our government does not openly declare any
one faith, the media is not ‘Christianity friendly’ and church attendance is continuing
to fall. This is the age of ‘the haves’ rather than ‘the have nots’; the era of
knowledge – where we can find out pretty much everything we want to at the
click of a button; the age of consumerism, selfish choice and demand.

 And yet amidst all of
this, increasing numbers of people are realising that wealth and possessions
are not an answer to happiness. Research in the last decade has shown that the
majority of people in the UK have a belief in a divine being and that they do pray. Various beliefs and religions
are on the rise and ‘spirituality’ has come to be ‘cool’. So there seems to be
a dichotomy between these two: People are seeking a spiritual encounter but in
many cases their first choice appears not to be the Church. I long to see this
turned on its head!
 My own experience has
been that by enabling the Kingdom of God to come into people’s lives at their point of need, hearts are softened
and minds are far more open to hearing the Word of God. Inspired by the early
church I believe God has given us all as believers, power and authority in His
name and that in working within that, the church can have a far greater impact
on those around us. Talking to someone about going to church can often be a
conversation killer, however an offer to pray for an injury or an encouraging
word can be a great opener into a conversation on the Kingdom of God. In some
circles this is a controversial approach but St Paul tells us to ‘eagerly
desire’ the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 14:1) and that prophecy specifically
is to: ‘strengthen, encourage and comfort’.
 In my own walk with
Christ I try to model this wherever I can, both in my own time and also
corporately at church. I have had some wonderful conversations with people
after giving them a word, or by offering to pray. One particular example is of
a man who came to clean our carpets. When he arrived he was obviously limping
and apologised for struggling with his equipment due to a painful foot
condition. I offered to pray for his foot and the pain was largely reduced (so
much that he stopped limping). He was happily amazed and it enabled us to have
a more detailed conversation about my faith, the gospel and our next Alpha
course, which he said he was going home to share with his wife! Another recent
example is of a prophetic word I shared with a chap who works at our local
station. Having been initially a bit reluctant to talk to me, he said that the
word meant something to him and again there followed further discussion about
Jesus. This was particularly interesting as he is a Muslim. What a great way to
proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God, by offering people something at
their point of need, first.
 This kind of spirit-led
ministry reflects the work of the early church that can be seen specifically in
the book of Acts and the Letters of St Paul, and is something that I am passionate
about seeing more of within the modern Church. In Acts 9 for example we see the
power of a healing in evangelising, when a paralytic is healed and a woman
raised from the dead after Peter has prayed for them:
 Acts 9:35:  All
those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
Acts 9:42: This became known all over Joppa, and many
people believed in the Lord
 Using the spiritual gifts
that God has given to us is enormously helpful in proclaiming the Good news to
non believers but also to encourage and nurture new or existing believers. I
long for the day when an entire town turns to Jesus because someone is healed
as we see above. The Kingdom of God promises us so much, as we say in the
Lord’s Prayer, ‘on earth as it is in heaven…’  and I would love to see that, in all its glory,
right across the church and across our nation. 
I want to see the church as a true centre of each and every community,
people being met at their point of need, to see communities transformed by the
power of God. To see people healed, encouraged, lives turned around and The
Church being an absolute beacon of God’s power and glory in this broken nation.
Jules Middleton
March 2012