From the pastor’s pen: New strategies
“…and when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (1Chronicles 14:15)
One of the most striking truths about our God is that, although he himself is absolutely unchanging, his ways are always changing. Even though he is the sure rock on which we can build our lives, knowing that it will never shift or shake, his movement is ever new and evolving. Despite the fact that his purposes and plans have been fixed before time began, our God is always on the move, never doing the same thing twice.
This is nowhere clearer in the Bible than in 1Chronicles 14. King Saul had just died in battle and David had been crowned as new King. The Philistines, galvanised by Israel’s recent defeat in battle and probably overconfident in the fact that they had just killed their king, took the opportunity to strike again. However, David was no Saul and the first thing he did was to enquire of God, who gave him a strategy to defeat their raid. However, after their defeat, the Philistines quickly regrouped and got ready for a second raid – same type of attack, in the same valley within the same month. Most of us would have probably “recycled” God’s previous strategy since it worked the first time, but David knew better and enquired of God a second time for fresh directions. I’m pretty sure he was happy he did, because God’s instructions were radically different from the previous: “You shall not go up after them; go around and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then go out to battle, for God has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines” (vv.14-15)
Needless to say that David defeated the Philistines and gave them the battering of their lives – “And the fame of David went out into all lands, and the Lord brought the fear of him upon all nations”
This short warfare account carries lessons that are of vital importance for all of us, both at a personal level and corporate level.
Personally speaking, this account shows just how important it is for all of us to never assume with our God, but rather seek constantly his directions and strategies in a relationship of intimacy and closeness to him. David was able to receive God’s strategy because he was close enough to hear him. Whether it is buying a house, changing a job, picking a school for the kids, asking your girlfriend in marriage or preparing for the next youth meeting, never assume. Develop a strong and intimate relationship with your God and, from that place, enquire of him for his will and strategy.
Corporately speaking, this account shows that . In fact, you can be sure that he will not! For his ways are never the same. The reason why so many Churches nowadays are “lagging behind” is because they are still operating on previously successful but now obsolete strategies. God is moving ahead of them, but they are “following” him somewhere else. How vital it is for local Churches to be ever listening to the voice of God and ever willing to shift and change according to his ever changing strategies.
I find this thought particularly relevant for us as a Church with regards to our Church-planting efforts. Recently the Lord has been revealing to us his plans to plant a second campus in Darwen and the temptation would be to move according to the same strategy he gave us for Shadsworth. The truth is that, if we want to succeed in his ways, we need to constantly draw near to him and enquire of his will for fresh strategy and direction, without ever assuming anything.
This is true not only at a local level, but globally as well. For the way God led his global Church and his people in previous generations will not be the same in this one. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is leading his Kingdom through a major shift in dynamics and shape, realigning his people and his Church to their apostolic nature and mandate to fulfil his great commission ahead of his return.
Our God is on the move, he always has and he always will. Will you be close enough to hear his voice and follow the sound of his marching?
The Beacon Shadsworth (and Darwen!)
Our first ever campus in Shadsworth will open on Sunday 22nd of September at 4pm at the Hub (Community Centre). However, on Sunday 15th of September we will meet up there at 4pm to dedicate the services, pray over the building and intercede over the estate. I cannot stress enough how much we have accomplished this year through prayer and intercession. The fact that Sunday 15th of September will be 12 months to the day since God spoke to us about branching out there is proof! Isn’t our God amazing?!
Yet, our church-planting efforts are far from over! On Pentecost Sunday, on our last day of prayer and fasting, God began to reveal to me his plans to open another campus in Darwen, just as he did with Shadsworth. Not only that, he also began to give me revelation of who will be leading that new branch. As my head started spinning and my heart racing at the thought of stretching further (with all the practical challenges that come with such a projects) the Holy Spirit whispered a verse from the last chapter in Amos – “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when the sower shall overtake the reaper”. All of these things are already being tested in prayer at our intercession nights – “for on the witness of two or three a matter shall be established”, so let me encourage you all to keep on praying about this, particularly for God to bring further revelation and confirmation, as well as raise people to serve and lead these new campuses and their ministries.
RISE united night of prayer
The next RISE united night of prayer will be on Wednesday 10th of July at 7.30pm at Blackburn Baptist Church (Shakespeare Way, Blackburn BB2 1XL). The theme for the night will be “Secondary education in the Borough”, brought to us by Jonathan Hands, Head of Christian Spirituality at St. Wilfrid’s. Come along as local Churches from across denominations come together to stand in the gap for our beloved BwD.
July Alpha dates
Given the RISE prayer night, the July dates for Alpha have changed slightly:
3rd July: Who Is The Holy Spirit?
10th July: BREAK
17th July: What Does The Holy Spirit Do?
24th July: How Can I Be Filled with the Holy Spirit?
31st July: How Can I Make The Most Of The Rest of My Life?
Leadership Academy Graduation meal – Thursday 11th of July at 7pm at The Willows
Church plant strategy meeting – Monday 22nd of July at 7.30pm at Church
Fun Day debrief meeting – Thursday 25th of July at 7pm at The Willows