Christianity

Watch your words…

When I was a child, on my first day at a new school, a teacher asked the class what we wanted to do when we grew up.  When it was my turn, I told her I wanted to be a surgeon and she laughed. She said, ‘do you realise David, that is a lot of studying?  I can’t see you doing it, I can see you emptying bins’.

For many years, those words stayed with me and sometimes informed the decisions I made.  Was there any point in trying, if I wasn’t capable of achieving much?  However, when I rededicated my life to the Lord when I was 18, everything changed!  I discovered what God thought about me and I discovered that His Word could delete the past and delete all the harmful words that had impacted my life.  Although I had no educational qualifications, the Word of God showed me that man’s labels do not matter.  The only labels I should be concerned with are God’s labels!

Over the years I have discovered that while God’s words are the most important, the words we use and what we choose to believe, as a result, can also have an impact on our lives.  Proverbs 23:7 says, ‘as a man thinks in his heart, so is he’ and I believe it’s important to be aware of the reality of our words and our thoughts.

Our thoughts will affect what we say and our words will affect who we are.  Proverbs 18:21 says, ‘death and life are in the power of the tongue’ and so we should never underestimate the power of our thoughts and our words, to shape destinies and our own future.  Words can kill marriages and relationships and destroy churches and ministries.  But words can also bring life, hope, healing and reconciliation.

In a world which seems to be more divided than ever before (especially on social media), we need peacemakers and reconcilers, believers who will use their words to reflect the life and peace that is found through Jesus.  Luke 6:45 says, ‘a good man produces good deeds from a good heart. And an evil man produces evil deeds from his hidden wickedness. Whatever is in the heart overflows into speech.’

I want my heart to be full of God’s Word, full of praise to him, for what is in my heart will flow out into my words and then out into my actions.

Can I challenge you today?  What are you thinking about?  What are you saying? What are you believing?  Are they words of life and hope that reflect what God says about you and the situations you are facing? Or are they words of death and despondency?

As a young man,  another person’s negative words could have shaped my whole life, but I am thankful for the revelation of God’s Word which showed me the truth.

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope

When church is difficult…

There is a well-known saying, ‘Going to church no more makes you a Christian, than sitting in a garage, makes you a car’.  How true that is!  And yet often we are surprised when we are disappointed by people we meet in church or if we feel our leaders have let us down.

The church is God’s idea and we, as His people, are the ‘living stones’ of the church.  And regardless of the circumstances, I believe it is important for each of us to be part of a church and to be part of the ‘assembly’ (as it says in Hebrews 10).  No man is an island and we all need that sense of community and accountability.  However, it is not always easy.  In a perfect world, church should leave us feeling fulfilled and built up.  Church should be a place where we go to meet with other like-minded believers, where we are free to worship and where we can hear from God and be made strong in His word. For me, personally, it is not about the style of the church or the type of worship, it is about the connection we make with God when we are there.  Church should be a place where we become aware of God’s presence, where we can get encouraged and also corrected, if that is what we need.

But for many, church is not like that and many people struggle within their church communities.

So how can we respond when church life is difficult?

The first thing to remember is that every church has a variety of personalities.  We all worship and connect with God in different ways and we also each respond to situations in different ways too.  However, when dealing with difficult situations, here are a few ways we can respond:

Deal with the issue, not the person

Personally, when dealing with difficult people and situations within church, I have always found it helpful to not point out flaws in the person, but to address the real issue, or in some cases, the spirit which is motivating the negative behaviour.  For example in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were being followed by a woman who kept shouting, ‘these are men of God, they will show you the way to salvation’.  That might not sound like a bad thing, but Paul identified there was a spirit at work.  Instead of addressing the woman or the personality, he addressed the spirit of fortune-telling which was motivating this woman and commanded it to leave.   He saw the situation through his spiritual eyes, not his natural eyes.

Commit to prayer

It can be easy to react to negativity, but we should always first of all, commit to prayer. Sometimes, there are no ‘quick fixes’ for awkward situations or conflict, but we should always commit to covering the whole situation (for however long it takes) in prayer.

God’s Word has the answers

I was in situation many years ago and a pastor approached me about a difficult couple in his church. ‘What should we do, David? he asked.  It would have been very easy to give my opinion, but the truth is, it is not my opinion which counts, but the opinion of the Word of God.   What does God’s Word say?  I believe if we ask God for a revelation and an answer, He will always give us a strategy or shine a light on a piece of Scripture which will give us hope for the future.

When all else fails

You might be in a situation where you feel you have tried everything but there is no clear way forward.  If that is the case, perhaps God has a different church community for you to be part of?  If you feel it is time to move on, then it is important to ‘leave well’. Pastoring a church is a difficult job and for many ministers, it can be a lonely experience.

When a person leaves a church, as a pastor, it is difficult to not take it personally.  So, if you are leaving, try to take everyone’s feelings into consideration and don’t slam the door on your way out.  Instead, do all you can to leave with a right attitude and on good terms.   If you are looking for a new spiritual home, the key questions to ask yourself are; ‘Do I fit in here?’ ‘Do I feel at home?’  What is their vision? Is it something I can give my heart, time and talents to?  Are the leaders really called to the mission/vision of the church?  Can I support their vision?  And finally, is it a place where I can grow?

It’s important for all of us, to be part of a church community which enables us to grow spiritually and practically, but also to be encouraged and strengthened in God’s Word.  Ask God to guide you to the right church home.  He won’t let you down.

DavidBlog-July2017

 

 

Christian Media, Christian Radio, Christianity, Devotional, Evangelism, Faith, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

God will get you through it…

I would like to tell you about my grandson Emile. Emile is 8 years old and is so loving and caring (especially with his new baby sister) and I believe God has a great purpose for his life.

My daughter Natalie had a normal pregnancy with Emile and as a family we had no idea there was anything wrong. Emile surprised everyone by arriving two months early and at first the doctor thought he might have a blockage in one of the tubes leading to his stomach.

However, as the doctors did many more investigations, they discovered that Emile actually had Vacterl Syndrome, a genetic condition which affects multiple areas of the body. Emile had a hole in his heart, problems with his spine, his oesophagus was fused to his lung (instead of his stomach) and he had only one kidney. In addition, he had a problem with the thumb on his hand and one of his eyes remained shut, as there was no nerve in the eyelid.


At the beginning of his journey, when we were first told of Emile’s diagnosis, our family was devastated. Having lost a child of our own, my wife Jackie and I did not want to see Natalie and Antoine go through a similar heartache. I remember spending a lot of time with God and I felt Him tell me clearly that He would not lift us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it. All around the world, other ministries and friends were praying for Emile and his parents and we felt so lifted by their prayers, knowing that we were not alone.

Emile was finally released from hospital and Natalie and Antoine had a wonderful first day as a family at home with him. For the first time, they felt like real parents but that evening, Emile choked and had to be resuscitated and rushed back to hospital. It felt as though we were facing yet another setback, and yet through it all, we sensed that victory was coming. 

Emile remained in hospital till he was four months old and had many operations during that time and over the following years.


The doctors said that Emile would probably never sit unaided, and if he did, he would probably never stand. And if he was ever able to stand, he would never be able to walk or run. And yet, Emile has done all of those things and much more. 

We wondered if he would ever be able to eat normally. At the time he had a button fitted in his stomach to allow tube feeding. When he was five years old, Emile started to eat and finally this year he had his button removed, as he is now eating enough on his own. I remember the weekend that Emile came to stay with us and ate a whole plate of spaghetti. For Jackie and I, it was an incredible event and even now when I sit at the table and see him eat, there is a silent cry of thanks that wells up inside me. Thank you God, thank you Father for ALL you have done in his life.

God has been so faithful and although Emile faces many challenges, we know that God has been true to His word when He said he would not take us out of the situation, but He would lead us through it.  

Did I ever doubt? I can honestly say I do not think I did. However, there have been times that have been overwhelming. Seeing someone you love in so much pain is devastating and stressful and yet even through pain, God has been there.  

On one occasion I felt God tell me to ‘talk to the mountain’ and so sitting with Emile as he was in his hospital bed, I asked if he could feel any pain. He said yes and I told him that in Jesus’ name, he could tell the pain to go. As we prayed and Emile told the pain to leave his body, I wish I could have taken a photograph, as a huge smile lit up his face. Even now, several years later, our daughter tells us that Emile will shout out, ‘Pain, go, in Jesus name!’

His simple faith has been such a blessing to us and God has spoken to us so many times.

On another occasion, I was with Emile at a physiotherapy appointment, to help correct a malformation in his thumb. The physiotherapist explained that in order to get the thumb into the right position, they would need to ‘stretch and pull’. This would be a repeated process until eventually the thumb stayed in a more natural position. It would not be pleasant but as the physiotherapist explained, ‘when the thumb stays in the right position, we will know we have won’.  

It spoke to me so clearly of how God works in our lives. Sometimes our lives and purposes need to be realigned and we need divine physiotherapy to put us into the right position. It is rarely a pleasant experience, but God uses this stretching and pulling, to shape us into the people he wants us to be.

Today, as we look back on all God has done in Emile’s life so far, we are overwhelmed and so very grateful. There is much physical healing still to be done in Emile’s life, but we know that the God who has brought us this far, will continue to see us through.  

     

#EUReferendum, Christianity

Looking ahead to God’s future…

I woke up this morning, like many others, to surprising news about the #EUReferendum.  What a night!

The political campaigns have dominated our headlines for many months and today, both inside and outside of the church, some will be rejoicing and some will be very disappointed.

As a nation, we need time to evaluate the choice that has been made and when we have processed the decision, we need to look forward to the future.

When we are reading the newspapers or looking at bad reports on Social Media, it can be easy to be fearful and feel concerned about the future.    However, even  in the middle of turmoil, we can experience God’s rest and have His peace guard our hearts and minds.

In uncertain times like these, we need to remain focused on who we are in God.  As believers, we are in this world but we are really citizens of the Kingdom of God.  God’s Word says that we are ambassadors to this world, and it is our job as believers and as the Church to be salt and light to the world around us.

I believe that in the days to come, the Church is being presented with a wonderful opportunity. If we stand together, united and work hard to preserve the bond of unity, we could see an unprecedented change in our country.

I believe there is a much bigger picture and God often does not reveal the whole plan to us immediately. He shows us step by step and as the saying goes, ‘the opportunity of a lifetime has to be taken in the lifetime of the opportunity’.

What if we were to dream and begin to see a field of opportunity?  What if we could see a Church which rises up in unity to bring truth and salt and light to our world?  God could be positioning and appointing His people for a far greater plan than anything we could have ever imagined.

Despite how we each might be feeling today, whether we are disappointed or rejoicing, let us still keep our focus on God and what He is doing.  With the prospect of a new Government being formed, let us also pray ‘in the gap’ for Godly leaders to be raised up.  Let’s pray that God’s man or woman will be appointed for the job ahead.

If you are unsure of how to pray, then why don’t we join together and pray as Jesus said we should;  Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

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When trouble comes, will you stay the course?

I am very pleased to hand the blog over to my friend Bruno Kondabéka this week. Bruno and his wife Joanne are great friends of our family and are also the pastors of Chichester Family Church.

Some years ago, their son (who was then 7 years old) was struck by a terrible illness, but God did something remarkable.

It’s an incredible story of God’s power at work.  Bruno will share what happened next.

Bruno writes…

My wife Joanne and I have three boys and as pastors of a church in Chichester, our lives are often busy.   About two years ago, I was preaching a sermon series on the issue of suffering.  I remember asking our church, when trouble comes, will you stay the course?  We didn’t know then, that soon ‘trouble’ would visit our home and put our family to the test.

It began without any warning, when one day our youngest son Samuel started to feel unwell.   He had a slight fever but didn’t seem too ill, so we gave him Calpol and he stayed home from school for a few days to recover.

Five days later Samuel started to get visibly worse, his temperature went up and he was complaining his head and neck were hurting, so we rang NHS Direct who advised we take him to the emergency Doctor.  On Sunday the hospital checked him over but they felt satisfied that it was probably a virus and in time it would pass.   However, by the middle of the week, Samuel was still not any better, so we took him to our GP and that’s when things became very worrying.   Samuel was very agitated that day, which was not like his usual cooperative self, and he seemed to be in pain and was very confused.  The GP rang the paediatric unit at the hospital and the Consultant suggested we take him straight there.

We were greeted at the hospital by the Consultant and his team, and we started to realise that this was maybe very serious indeed.  Again Samuel was very agitated and confused and had become light sensitive, so he was sedated in order to calm him down so he could be examined and given a CT scan.

After the scan, our son’s condition deteriorated rapidly. He was finding it hard to wake up, his heart beat was erratic and he was not responsive to anything we said to him. The results of his CT scan were passed onto the specialists in Southampton Hospital and because they were concerned with what they saw, they arranged for Samuel to be transferred by ambulance to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit in Southampton. To stabilise him he was put in a drug induced coma and he was quickly taken to Intensive Care.

Samuel

After further tests, we were told Samuel had Meningoencephalitis – a very rare and potentially deadly infection on the brain, caused by mycoplasma, a cross between a virus and bacteria, which causes the brain to swell. As parents, our hearts were broken and the tears flowed as we watched what was happening to our little boy, but we did what we could to hold on to God and to trust Him to take us through this.

I remembered that just a short time previously, I had asked our church family if they were able to ‘stay the course’ when suffering came and now we were facing that exact situation ourselves. We felt all the emotions you could expect – we wept and we worried, but we were also encouraged by remembering words spoken over Samuel’s life when he was dedicated as a baby, by our friend Pastor Brian Downward from Bournemouth.   The words at that time were that God had a purpose for his life and it was a good purpose.  He was to be a man of God.

I was also aware that our friends in Angers, France, were holding a week of mission at their church that week.  I lived in France for some years and the church there had helped to sponsor me in my theology studies in South Africa.  I had a phone call from David L’Herroux who told us that the church wanted to pray for Samuel.   David felt it was important that the church prayed together during one of their services and so that night at 8.30pm at the hospital in Southampton, we connected by phone with the church in France (as David paused in the middle of his preach). We laid hands on Samuel as David prayed, and then because we were in the ICU and couldn’t make too much noise, I went outside the ward and continued to pray (with my arm outstretched toward my son’s bed) while the church prayed that God would heal Samuel.   That day had been particularly hard as we watched the nurses struggling to get Samuel to wake up out of the coma and they were not succeeding.   So, we were encouraged by this prayer and support and it gave us courage to believe for a miracle.

I walked back to the ward and we continued to sit beside Samuel’s bed and literally just 30 minutes later, we had the biggest surprise of our lives when Samuel just opened his eyes. He had been unconscious for 3 days.   The nurses rushed to see him and confirmed he was conscious – they removed his breathing tube and from that moment, he started to make a full recovery.

Samuel2

The next day he was moved from the ICU and 14 days later, he was discharged from the hospital.  The neurosurgeon who had worked with Samuel took us to one side and said that although she was amazed at his recovery, we should also expect the worst, as there could be long term damage.

But just over two weeks later, Samuel was back at school part-time, and the following week, he went back to school full time.  He will soon be celebrating his tenth birthday and has suffered no ill effects whatsoever.

Samuel3

We thank God every day for the amazing miracle he gave us for our son.

Family

David concludes…

Bruno’s story is a wonderful reminder to us that God is very much at work in the world around us.  At UCB, I encourage the team to keep being expectant and believing for the impossible. We live in a world which is bound by fear but I believe God wants to set us free in every area of our lives.   I trust Bruno’s story has encouraged you to believe for more.  We serve a mighty God!

 

David-Blog9

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Faith is like a muscle – it has to be exercised.

Last week, I shared some stories of the incredible miracles which have been happening at my brother’s church in France.   We felt that God started to move in the church about two years ago during our first missions week. A lady came asking for prayer for pain in her hips, which was caused by deformed bones.  She was completely healed and this opened up a door for God to do more.

Over the last two years we have heard many more incredible testimonies;  a man healed of complete deafness, a woman healed of paralysis in her leg, another lady who had severe pain and even discharged herself from hospital for an hour to come to the service. She was completely set free and later declared free of disease.   Others have been restored from tumours, depression, restless leg syndrome, chronic insomnia and addictions.   There are so many stories I could share and in the future, I hope that some of these people will write guest blogs and tell you their stories themselves.  There is so much to thank God for!

I have been asked a question which is close to many people’s hearts – why are some people healed and others not?  I do not have all the answers but I can share from my own experience what I believe is true.  I wrote last week about the need for expectancy and how we should approach God believing that He will do something.

To give you an illustration; if one of us was sick, we would go to the doctors for a check-up. Often, we will not know the doctor, but we will take their advice and when they give us a prescription for medication, we will then take that to a chemist.  At every stage, we usually trust the doctor we do not know, we trust the chemist we do not know, and we trust the pills, even when we do not understand how they work.   But when it comes to trusting God, we often struggle and we question if He is capable of giving us what we ask.   We have no trouble believing that He could die for us, save us and give us eternal life, but we do struggle to believe that He could do the miraculous.

I believe that faith is a muscle and just like any other muscle in our bodies, if we do not use it, it will eventually become  weak and useless.  As believers, we are children of God’s kingdom and just like being a citizen of the United Kingdom, we have certain citizenship rights.  If something was wrong in our country, we would have the right to take a petition to 10 Downing Street and in the same way, we can take our petitions to God.

As citizens of God’s kingdom, we have a constitution (God’s Word) and we can stand on that and petition God to do what no one else can do. Just as with politics,  we don’t always see answers right away, but we should keep standing on God’s word, believing His promises and asking Him to bring about a miracle.  God’s Word is the instruction manual for life.   If you or I bought a new mobile phone, we would go home and start reading the instructions, to make sure that we got the best use from the phone.  If we pay that much care and attention to our phones, how much more attention should we give to our lives. God’s Word is the instruction manual – without understanding it, our lives do not work properly.

Now it is true to say that not everyone does get healed but I believe that God is sovereign and we are not here to dictate to him, how He should do things, but just be obedient to His Word.  However, I have also seen great things happen when a person didn’t get healed.

Last year, a lady came to a meeting during the mission in France. That very day she gave her life to Christ and asked us to pray she would be healed from terminal cancer.   We prayed for her but sadly just five days later she died.   When the church went to visit her family (they were not Christians), her husband said that in the days before she passed away, he had never seen his wife so happy and peaceful since he had known her.

He said;  She spent her final days praising her Jesus and she left this world in total peace, knowing that she would soon see him face to face.   So although she did not see physical healing in this life, she was healed when she stood before Jesus and was given a new body, free of disease.   There is no sickness or ill-health or cancer in Heaven.  Praise God!

If you are trusting God to heal or set you free, can I encourage you to persevere?  Stand on His word, trust Him and practice exercising your faith muscle.  Whatever happens, you can be sure of one thing, your life will be changed for the better.  I have never met a person who wasn’t changed by spending time with God.  Follow God’s instructions and wait to see what He can do in your life.

David-Blog7

 

 

 

Christianity, Evangelism, Healing, Hope, Miracles, Spiritual healing

God is still in the miracle-working business.

A few weeks ago, our wonderful friend  RT Kendall came to speak at UCB’s Foundation event.   It was such a privilege to spend time with RT and his wife Louise – they are being used powerfully to help others understand God’s Word.   RT has a great knowledge of the Bible, but he also lives what he preaches and isn’t afraid to be honest about the tough times they have  experienced in full time ministry. It was such a blessing to have them here to speak to some key leaders from around the UK. The talks will be on UCB TV soon and will also be available on UCB Player.

DavidandRT

A few days after hosting RT and Louise, I went home to France to spend time with my brother Daniel again at their church’s evangelistic mission which took place in three locations.

I am always amazed at the level of expectancy in the churches, not just from all the churches’ members but also from people (often non- Christians) who have been invited.  To me, expectancy, coming and fully expecting that God will do something, is a fertile ground for God to move in and transform lives.

We have once again been overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, grace and mercy.   Over 50 people stood to receive Christ and many more came forward to request prayer.  They were facing many terrible situations; physical, emotional, domestic, addictions and more, but all came ready and expectant to receive a breakthrough. We have been doing these mission for two years now and every time we receive testimonies of transformed lives and incredible healing.  We also encourage people to seek and bring medical evidence of what has happened, wherever possible.  Angers

There are so many stories I could share, of people who have been set free from cancer, alcoholism and who have received Jesus, but it was particularly great to talk to Dominque. Six months ago after prayer, Dominque recovered full sight in both eyes.

She has just been given her driving licence back and is now able to drive to church. She is also being trained for a new job and is looking forward to going to work! Dominque

I had the incredible privilege of baptising her last Saturday during a special evangelistic event.

I am again reminded of Hebrews 13 where the writer reminds us that God will never leave us nor forsake us and that Jesus is the same, yesterday, today and forever.   More than 2000 years have passed since Jesus was physically here, but He hasn’t changed.  He is still in the business of changing lives, healing broken bodies and bringing freedom to souls.

If you are trusting God today for your own miracle, can I encourage you to approach Him with expectancy, knowing that God loved you so much that He gave his one and only Son, so that if you believe in Him you can have eternal life.   Just as a child approaches their Dad with an expectation that they will be given what they have asked for, we can approach our Heavenly Father in the same way.

Keep believing!