Showing posts with label Roy Godwin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roy Godwin. Show all posts

09 May 2013

Blessings at Ffald-y-Brenin

Three of us spent two days in south-west Wales at a Ffald-y-Brenin Blessings Conference. We heard a great deal about the biblical basis for blessing, in particular how we are responsible for blessing the people and places where we live out our daily lives.

Meeting in Caersalem Chapel
Ffald-y-Brenin is the little place in Wales that's become the epicentre of a worldwide movement of blessing.

I was there with my friends Sean and Jim for the Blessings Conference where Roy Godwin presented a series of sessions on blessing people and places.

They have been learning to do this from the retreat centre at Ffald-y-Brenin and now they want to share what the Holy Spirit has been showing them.

Roy provided extensive biblical context and backup for everything he said, and all of this material was presented in written form too. I also took my own notes and I'll share some thoughts that really stood out for me.

Highlights from my notebook

The mercy and grace of Yahweh are paramount and are foundational for our lives as followers of Jesus.

Much truth about blessing has been lost and is being rediscovered.

We are to stand in his presence (Deuteronomy 10:8, Numbers 6:22-27). The priests are responsible for blessing the people. (And we are all priests under Jesus, our Great High Priest.)

Blessing is about life (it's not merely a formula).

We can only bless because we have been blessed. Out of a place of blessing, we can bless others.

We shouldn't get caught up in lifeless religiosity, instead we engage with what brings life.

The Father says 'I like you' as well as 'I love you'. He knows us intimately and yet he is still for us.

We are appointed under blessing to a place, a relationship and a role (Genesis 1:26).

Entering the place of his blessing is to come back home to the place where we were always meant to be.

Deuteronomy 28:1-14 is clear that we have blessing in every place, over everything, in all we do - but we have to listen and obey.

John 8:56 - Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham (Acts 3:25, Gal 3:7).

We can start with a blessing and look for a person to give it to; or we can start with a person and look for a blessing to suit them.

Roy suggests a helpful form of words, 'I bless you in Jesus name that ...' (Replace the three dots with something specific.) It's not a prayer request, it's much more a proclamation of Father's love and grace, mercy and peace.

The work at Ffald-y-Brenin - This has touched individuals, groups of people, places, businesses, farms, countryside, towns, cities, villages, farm animals, grass, homes, families - you name it.

You can read more in the form of extracts from the book, 'The Grace Outpouring'. Better yet, get a copy of the book and read it in its entirety.

We weren't exactly visiting Ffald-y-Brenin this time (we did that two years ago). The Blessings Conference involved too many people for the centre itself and instead we met nearby in Caersalem Chapel (photo above).

The name is a hybrid of Welsh and Hebrew. 'Caer' is Welsh for fort or fortress while 'salem' is a form of 'shalom', Hebrew for peace. So Caersalem means 'fortress of peace'. It is also an older Welsh name for Jerusalem and it would be in this sense that it was chosen as the name of the old chapel.

It was a great meeting! Sean, Jim and I travelled down by road from Cambridgeshire (about six hours driving), the meeting began at 14:30 on Tuesday and we stayed overnight in a golf club (a delightful place by the sea). The sessions ended at 16:00 on Wednesday and we headed home, arriving back in the evening.

Questions:

  • How often do you deliberately bless those around you?
  • Can you best bless people and places by your actions, by your words, or by both?
  • Identify someone you know and prayerfully consider what would be a suitable blessing. Why not go and speak that blessing over them?
  • Why not aim to repeat this with a new person weekly, or even daily?

See also:

10 January 2012

A royal priesthood

Part 12 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Like light on the water | Index | No later items >

Roy shares some Bible passages to clarify and support the idea of praying for blessing and the impact that flows from doing so. He finds Old and New Testament verses to back up what he and Daphne had discovered during their early times at Ffald-y-Brenin.

A servant King, a self-sacrificing PriestThis is the final section of chapter one, the last part I can share with you online. If you've been following along I hope it will have encouraged you to buy a copy of the book so you can read the entire amazing story.

There's a link at the bottom of the article that lists various ways to obtain a copy.

In this final part Roy provides some biblical background to the idea of speaking a blessing over people and their lives.

When the practice of priesthood was originally about to commence, God instructed Moses to explain to Aaron how he and the priests were to act. Not only were they to intercede for the people but they were to pronounce blessings over them as well. 'The Lord spoke to Moses saying, "Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."' (Numbers 6:22-26 ESV).

Then came a remarkable explanation and insight: 'So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.' God placed into the mouths of the priests the power to speak words that caused God to unleash transformational, life-changing blessings upon the people. This is in line with our understanding that when people on earth are in agreement with the word from heaven, the power of the age to come is released in the here and now on earth.

We make a great mistake if we believe that this is simply wordy theology. 'Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings' (Leviticus 9:22 ESV). Sounds rather formal and religious, doesn't it? Yet God's kingdom is not resting in words but in power.

So notice what happens next in verses 23-24: 'And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.' What a difference is made to the priesthood when the blessing comes from an encounter, a meeting with God himself! The supernatural is released, The glory of God is seen and praise arises to him.

In Deuteronomy 10:8 (ESV, reinforced in 21:5) we read: 'At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day.' Wow! What a ministry: to carry the presence, to minister to the Lord and to speak blessings in his name to the people!

Now here is a wonderful truth. When Jesus came he was revealed as our High Priest. He is the presence, filled without measure, ministering to God and releasing incredible blessings upon all who can receive, including us. Yet there is more. You and I are now called into a new priesthood, that of all believers. We are to carry the presence, minister to God and speak, pronounce, invoke, release blessings upon people. 'But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

There is a wonderful hymn by Charles Wesley that says: 'My God, I know, I feel thee mine.' There is an important balance in those words. We need to know God at the level of our minds and our understanding, but we also need to experience him. The Bible encourages us to taste and see that he is good. If we can bless people, and the Holy Spirit comes and overshadows them and breaks them, they are eager to know who this God is that they've tasted. It's wonderful. If God wants to move with people like that as a response to blessing, I want to play a part in it.

And as these first inklings stirred in us - thoughts of what the practice of blessing people might bring - we were not to know just how profound a challenge would come to 'faith as usual' from this gentle but insistent work of the Holy Spirit.

Yahshua (Jesus) is a king in the line of David, and also our great High Priest. And because we have been adopted as his heirs we too are of both the royal line and the priestly line. How does it feel to be part of a royal priesthood? Because that is what you are!

At Great Staughton, near where Donna and I live, there is an Anglican church. The top of the tower is visible across the fields from the nearby main road and because of  the levels and the angle at which you see it as you drive by, it some times looks like an altar with four horns, and sometimes like a crown with eight spikes.

Like that tower, we too (through Jesus) have inherited an altar and a crown. We have priestly duties and royal duties. Jesus was a servant King and a self-sacrificing Priest and we are also called to serve and to give.

It seems to me that Roy has covered the priestly duties very clearly in this final part of the chapter, we are called to carry the Presence of the Most High, serve him, and release his blessing on the places and people around us. Similarly we have a royal duty, to carry the Authority of the Most High, represent him, and release his rule in the world around us.

So as priests we can bless and as members of the royal family we can take authority over the darkness. We are to be channels by which the Lord's grace and light can flow into the world around us. Isn't that amazing?

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Like light on the water | Index | No later items >

06 January 2012

Like light on the water

Part 11 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Grace outpouring | Index | A royal priesthood >

Behind the prayers for blessing and the abundant evidence of the results, an inner awareness was growing of the need for grace in dealing with people. A new understanding was developing in Roy and Daphne's hearts and minds.

Blessing and grace like sunlight on the waterIn this section, Roy continues to explain the need for grace towards others. The Almighty blesses us despite our faults and we should treat others in the same way. Praying for people to be blessed is part of that.

We are called to be more like him. When we ask him to bless people we are merely asking him to do what he has already chosen to do.
We found that there is often resistance to heart habits that incline towards grace. There were plenty of Christians who told me that our practice of blessing people who were not yet Christian was absolutely wrong. We were advised that it would be much better to cry out to God to make things much worse for them. Such people were not pleased to be told that this type of prayer was like a curse.

I cannot find a home in faith houses built on judgement. My personal experience is that God has had favour on me and shown me mercy when I don't deserve it. I have been disobedient and apathetic but the mercy that he's poured out on me has taken my breath away. When we hear the testimony of a wretched sinner who has found salvation we rejoice with them and the angels. The lower they have been, the greater the glory. It is not quite as straightforward when it is someone who is already a Christian, whose life has imploded, and that has been my experience. I know that if I were God I wouldn't have given someone like me another chance.

As these understandings had taken hold in my life in the years prior to coming to Ffald-y-Brenin, I concluded I didn't want to persuade people about the veracity or non-veracity of the words in a book. I believed they could encounter the living God and that the words would come alive to them as a result.

Asking people if we can bless them is an offer that few refuse. We're not saying, 'Can we pray for you in a general way?' We're not putting a difficult burden on those doing the praying. Blessing someone is simple and easy. The Holy Spirit comes because when you bless you are reflecting something that the Father is doing and speaking words that the Father desires to be said.

God's desire to bless is absolutely outrageous. Nothing can stop him. He has set himself with immovable intent to bless mankind. His longing is that Jesus shall have many brothers. That's us. Before we knew him, he knew us. Before we loved him, he loved us. He designed us for a purpose wrapped up in blessing. Heaven, our ultimate destination, is full of blessing and we are invited to pray for the coming of heaven on earth right now.*
Let's all aim to walk in step with the Father. We have nothing to lose and a very great deal to gain. Let's not resist him in our hearts, instead we simply need to accept that he was gracious towards us, is gracious towards others, and we should act and speak out of grace too.

Blessing and grace poured out onto the people we meet are like beams of bright sunshine pouring down onto the surface of a lake. Everything is transformed.

The Father, the Son and the Spirit are one, they are abundantly alive and want us to enter into their relationship of absolute love and grace and oneness. Furthermore they want us to draw others in. It's that simple!

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Grace outpouring | Index | A royal priesthood >

01 January 2012

Grace outpouring

Part 10 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

Behind the prayers for blessing and the abundant evidence of the results, an inner awareness was growing of the need for grace in dealing with people. A new understanding was developing in Roy and Daphne's hearts and minds.

Rainclouds and sunshine over GalileeAs a result of the answers to prayer, it was now becoming clear that the best way to reach people is by first blessing them. Simply confronting people with truth and correction is ineffective and even counter productive.

Roy and Daphne start to challenge the accepted norms where these involve any form of judgement or criticism.
My old ways of giving away my faith were being changed as this understanding of blessing people began to not merely take hold of our hearts but actually bear fruit in our community.

I was no stranger to the 'truth and Scripture' method. This appeal to the mind is valid, good and powerful for many. But for people who don't consider themselves particularly literate and for those who have moved to a more visual, 'discovered in life' knowledge it can often fail to stir their hearts, minds and emotions.

I had started to challenge the 'faith as normal' mindset that I felt many Christians had slipped into. I had already begun to question a culture of faith that places a high value on correcting strangers. For example, we're very good at throwing stones at politicians and the media. Christians seem very keen on petitions. I started to ask people who wanted to publicise their petition objecting to a particular broadcast, for instance, whether they had ever previously commended the broadcaster for programmes that were wholesome. Were they praying for the media or was this simply mud-slinging?

Having a heart to bless will challenge the judgemental mindset that can colour how we look at those we live with and among. We can become a 'grace first' people. We're still asking people to turn away from rebellion against God but we're seeking to be part of the revelation from the Father that his primary desire is to bless those he created in his image.

If we will let the wisdom of God inhabit our thinking, a consistent 'grace first' pattern will emerge in our actions and words. 'Grace first' prayer for healing doesn't search for wrongdoing in a person's life, which needs correcting as a prelude to a miracle. There doesn't seem to be much evidence for that approach in the ministry of Jesus. We simply ask that the power of God should touch that life.

As goodness, grace and mercy are manifest we can remind people to change their ways - they're ready to hear the words of correction when they've heard the shout of love. Jesus, for instance, saved a sinful, adulterous woman from death and then gently suggested that she 'go and sin no more'.

Think for a moment about your experience with God. Sometimes a truth enters your life and you value it. It becomes a thread in your tapestry of faith. Then a season comes when you realise how important that insight is. The idea of blessing people, already growing in our lives, took hold of me in a new way as our life at Ffald-y-Brenin unfolded, despite the attacks that it also released.*
We can all learn from Roy and Daphne's experience. They found that a 'grace first' approach and prayer for blessing is a wonderful way to capture attention, hearts and minds and open the way for Jesus. We can take this approach too.

Why not look for opportunities to bless the people you meet in your daily life? Pray for them to receive a touch from the Lord. Ask him to bless their coming and going, their homes and families and jobs and businesses. And then, when you meet them at the supermarket checkout, in the street, at a school parent's evening or the cricket club or in the local pub, pray secretly in your heart again.

Ask for an abundance of good things for them, and when they start to tell you their stories you will be able to say, 'I asked Jesus to bless your business' - or family, school, garden, or whatever. And another seed will have been sown in a heart.

If we can all change our habits just a little here and there it will make a big difference. Here is one habit I want to cultivate in my own life - to pray for a blessing upon everyone who reads one of these blog posts. It seems such a little thing, but a lot of little things add up. A little habit consistently applied can achieve a lot of bad or a lot of good.

So why not develop little habits that will bring good results? Be like your Father in heaven who pours out the life-giving rain and sun on all people.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

29 December 2011

The abundant results of prayer

Part 9 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< We bless you from... here! | Index | Grace outpouring >

Soon there is ample evidence that trusting, expectant prayer brings results. The community at Ffald-y-Brenin begin to hear extraordinary stories from their neighbours up and down the valley.

A poppy in PembrokeshireRoy and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin have been discovering the value of simply praying for blessing on local people, places and businesses. Now they start to witness the results of this prayer.

There are some remarkable stories and Roy shares from them in the next section of the book.
Before long we began to see the fruit of these prayers in quite miraculous ways. A man who rented a small stable in the community and did agricultural repairs had not been finding things easy. After we began blessing the valley in the name of Jesus his business suddenly began to take off. He had to take on larger premises and employ people and was able to buy his own house.

The lambing season came and more miracles emerged. We had been blessing the ewes to be strong and healthy and productive. One of our farmer neighbours told us how he'd been absolutely stunned by the number of quads and triplets being born to his ewes. His normal hope was for many twins. The ewes were just about coping, but his wife was run off her feet supporting the rest of the lambs with bottle feeds!

He wasn't the only farmer with a story to tell. Another one stopped me in the lane and said, 'Come and look in this field with me.' Just beyond the gate was a massive bull. He carefully walked round the bull with an arm stiffened in front of him as if to ward off an attack. The bull was staring at him and slowly turning and facing him as he walked round. The farmer invited me to join him. I declined. He insisted. I closed the gate and refused again. Now he was stuck in the field with the bull and had an obstinate onlooker.

He managed to divide off a cow and her calf and invited me to consider how excellent the calf's rear end was. Being no expert on bovine hindquarters I merely murmured some niceties. He had to spell it out for me. The calf was clearly, given the breadth of its rear, going to be a superb bull. It seems that farmers pray that at least once in a lifetime they will have a calf like that one.

He still clearly felt I wasn't grasping how good this was. 'I had one like this last year as well. It's utterly unnatural.' I told him that we had been praying that the blessings of God would fall on the cattle, on the herds of the locality. Another seed was planted in another life as God's blessing unfolded in the life of a farmer in this green valley in Pembrokeshire.

But there was more. A lady who lives out in the wilds at the head of the valley runs a farmhouse bed and breakfast. Suddenly she was awarded AA landlady of the year for Great Britain and was busy at awards, on publicity trips and in TV studios. Even now we tease her and tell her we're having a plaque put up at Ffald-y-Brenin, which will claim we are friends of the award-winning Lilwen MacAllister.

This remote valley was seeing material and spiritual blessing. The chapel had not had a baptism for a good few years, but after we prayed the prayer of blessing a dam seemed to break. One very cold day, muddy underfoot, we were able to witness about seven people being baptised in the open-air baptistry, fed by the local stream.*

When we pray in expectant faith we can't second guess the outcome. Our Father in heaven knows what is needed and pours out more than we could ever hope or expect. We often can't anticipate either the direction or the scale of his response.

Roy, Daphne and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin asked only for a blessing on the people, the farm animals, the land, and the local businesses. But they had no idea what form this blessing would take until their neighbours began to tell them.

And I'm quite sure that if you also pray from the place where the Lord lives among you and call on him to bless your neighbours, sooner or later extraordinary stories will reach you in the same way. So don't be afraid to ask. And after you have asked, expect the unexpected!

All too often we pray very specifically for this or that perceived need, usually for ourselves or for our close friends and family. And then we're disappointed when we don't see the results we had expected. I wonder how we often fail to notice the unexpected good things that he does provide?

If you read the whole book you will see that Roy also prays very specifically - not infrequently for healing. But he began with the unspecific prayer for blessing. In the rest of the chapter he explains more about the underlying heart and mind attitudes that help or hinder effective prayer. More on this in the next post.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | Grace outpouring >

16 December 2011

We bless you from... here!

Part 8 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A pattern of blessing | Index | The abundant results of prayer >

This time we hear how the community at Ffald-y-Brenin eased into a habit and pattern of blessing the whole area around them. They asked the Lord to share out his abundant life more widely.

Blessing the land and its inhabitantsIn part 7 we heard more from Roy on the importance of letting the Lord himself work in people. And a new pattern developed of looking outward from Ffald-y-Brenin and blessing those in the wider community. In this part he elaborates on that.
Gradually a structure emerged as we continued in our new tradition of blessing prayer and we now pray in that pattern as a matter of course. We pray for people and we pray for households. We speak into every household, blessing it in the name of Jesus. We're not interceding; we're speaking to them in the name of Jesus.

The phrase 'We bless you from Zion' captures a biblical attitude to prayer that we wanted to apply to our context when we used the words, 'We bless you from Ffald-y-Brenin, this place where God's presence is being poured out. We speak to you in his name, and we bless you.'

So we bless every household, we bless every marriage, we bless the relationship between family members of different generations and we bless their health and we bless their wealth. We bless the work of their hands. We bless every wholesome enterprise they're involved with, that they may prosper.

Because we're an agricultural community, we bless the flocks and the herds, and we bless the grass so that it will be nutritious in winter - which it wouldn't normally be - and will not need to be supplemented in order to strengthen the animals.

We bless supportive networks of friendship that run through the community, because they're a sign of the kingdom. We bless the pupils of our rural school and ask God to aid their learning. We bless the teachers and pray that school may be a safe and wholesome place, where simple childlike trust and belief in God and in Jesus can be comfortably maintained.

We pray for both places of worship in the valley, that the word of God and the Spirit of God may flow out from both.

Then we speak to the hearts of all the people who are in the community. We bless them to be safe and to be softened, so they may become more and more responsive to the voice of God. We bless them with the overspill of the kingdom of heaven being made manifest here in Ffald-y-Brenin.*

Are you in a place of blessing in your own life and circumstances? Is there a 'Zion' or a 'Ffald-y-Brenin' that you inhabit? Is Father's presence being poured out where you are?

We're not all living in the style of a Ffald-y-Brenin but we do all have much blessing in our lives and the occasional mountain-top experience too. A glorious sunset, the sound of the waves on a pebbly shore, something truly delicious to eat or drink, watching a small child play, enjoying good conversation, the astonishing colours of a bird's plumage or of flowers in a garden or a field - all these things can help to lift us up into the Lord's presence.

So what is stopping us blessing those around us out of our own places of fullness and blessing? We can say with Roy and Daphne Godwin, 'We bless you with the overspill of the kingdom of heaven being made manifest here in {...}  Go ahead, fill in those dots - and pray! If you're not sure what to ask, adapt some of Roy's words above. Bless the people and their families, the shops and homes and industrial units and businesses. Bless the schools and the hospitals and the dentists. Bless the parks, the fields and the gardens.

And give the King (the Lord of heaven and earth) all the glory, for ever and ever and ever. Amen!

Here's an exercise for you. Go back to the image at the top of this article and click on it for a larger view. Count how many things you can see to bless just in that one photo. Now go and look out of the nearest window wherever you happen to be as you read this. What and who can you see there to bless? So what are you waiting for?

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | The abundant results of prayer >

10 December 2011

A pattern of blessing

Part 7 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

Roy explains the importance of slipping away to let the Holy Spirit deal with people directly and personally. And a pattern of prayer for blessing is set, not only for visitors but for the local area too.

Looking beyond Ffald-y-BreninLast time we saw how important it was to persevere despite the difficulties visitors might bring with them. And in the end the Holy Spirit would step in and take over. Roy shares why this is important.
This slipping away was an important part of our ethos. I wanted people to have direct dealings with God. When visitors left we didn't want them to feel that there was somebody at Ffald-y-Brenin who had led them and taught them, to whom they must speak when they had difficulties in the future. I wanted people to know that God himself had come and met with them, and that he was able to convict and counsel them, and that they could speak to him directly - they didn't need to be taught 'special words' to pray. If I had been present through these encounters they might have asked how to pray or been scared to admit that they didn't know how to. Afterwards, when people would come to tell us their stories of wonder and weeping, we would explain and encourage, offering them a context for what had happened and suggesting how to find out more about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Several patterns began to emerge in the months that followed. We often did not need to offer to pray a prayer of blessing, as the Holy Spirit fell on people just as they walked around the centre or the grounds. Our job was to go along with what the Holy Spirit was doing and to continue to bless what he was doing, and respond to it.

It was so rewarding to speak blessings on the people God brought along who didn't know him, so we turned our sights outwards and began a pattern of speaking blessings into the local community. Every Friday morning in our chapel meeting we would speak blessings over the neighbourhood. The valley below us has a two-mile section that you could call our locality. It is home to about eighty people scattered across its half-mile width.*

How striking that Roy felt he should walk away once he felt people were sensing the presence of the Spirit touching them. Most of us, I dare say, would have stayed to guide them or encourage them or channel them in accordance with our traditional teaching. How right Roy was to take this line! What the visitors received would come direct from the One who really knew what was needed. And in their hearts and minds afterwards they would know to turn to him again as necessary.

And then there is the turning outward. Am I more likely to turn inward or outward? How about you? When we are inclined to turn inward perhaps we are forgetting the words of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. Even if this requirement seems strange and difficult to us, we still cannot ignore it. 'Go and make followers' are the words of the King.

Turning out towards the community is always the right thing to do. How hard can it be to pray for a blessing on our neighbours? We don't even need to know what kind of blessing to ask for, the Lord knows what is needed. But he wants us to have a desire in our hearts that they should be blessed and bring it to him to fulfil in whatever way he wishes. And if he does give us specific things to ask, so much the better.

But whether it's specific or general - we can and should ask!

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

04 December 2011

Blessings in the rain

Part 6 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A rather difficult guest | Index | A pattern of blessing >

The latest visitor is very difficult to accept, but the Lord insists that Roy remains calm and patient. And when they reach the chapel it becomes clear that no intervention will be necessary.

Rain at Ffald-y-Brenin
In the previous extract, things were getting a little difficult for Roy. First he has to be patient while urgent business is put on hold, and then he struggles with the dirty stories being told by one of their latest visitors.

He soldiers on, offering hospitality despite the unpleasantness. But things are not about to get better! At least, not immediately.
I was ready to do some righteous rebuking - I didn't want this in Ffald-y-Brenin, in my house and in my kitchen - but God said to me, 'Don't you dare rebuke this man.' It was that clear. This worried me. It was not the prompting I wanted to hear. I wondered whether it was God's voice that I was discerning after all.

We heard a third filthy story and I explained more about the centre and what we believed about the presence of God there. When he got on to his fourth story I just wanted to be rid of them. But I had made a commitment to God in the previous weeks that if he brought people to the centre I would stop, however pressed I was, put them first and bless them. So I offered to show them round, hoping they would take the chance to make their escape and save me time and irritation. But his wife said yes, though the object of my wrath mumbled something about tagging along though not really being interested. I resisted the temptation to suggest he wait in the car.

The centre was packed with guests, so I walked them round via the outside paths, but we had to pass windows thrown open because of the heat of the day, and the stream of profane anecdotes did not slow down. Internally I was having an animated conversation with God: 'Please protect the hearing of the guests as this filth is paraded past their windows. Lord, I am committed to blessing this couple but this is a real struggle.'

I told them we were at the chapel, opened the door and ushered them in. The husband was in full obscene flow. Then he put one step on the stone floor of the chapel, fell headlong and began to cry like a baby. He cried out to God, 'I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were real. I've heard so much about you and not really believed, and not cared, but I didn't know you were real. Oh God, I'm so dirty. Oh God, how can you ever cleanse me? Oh God, can you ever have mercy on me?

His wife's legs had given way too, and she'd fallen very heavily onto the stone seating. She sat and wept. I quietly slipped out and let God do his work.*
There are some important things to notice in this extract from 'The Grace Outpouring'.

It was entirely natural that Roy should want to silence this most difficult of visitors. Most of us, in Roy's place, would have remonstrated with him or even asked the couple to leave and not return. We would have been wrong.

Father does not need our help in dealing with people. We cannot bring a person to belief. We may be able to bring a person into the Lord's presence but the rest is not for us to do. We will always need to love them and accept them as they are, warts and all. But it is not our role to change them, nor is it our role to reject them.

When the Lord deals with people, take a hint from Roy and avoid being in the way. Sometimes it may be right to remain physically present, but don't interfere. Watch and pray.

And concerning difficulties - remember that rain may seem disappointing, we might think it has spoiled our day. We prefer sunshine, but rain is a blessing too. Sunshine without rain causes deserts. Sunshine mixed with rain brings abundant growth.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A rather difficult guest | Index | A pattern of blessing >

29 November 2011

A rather difficult guest

Part 5 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A pattern of blessing | Index | Blessings in the rain >

Visitors keep arriving at Ffald-y-Brenin, wanting to know what happens in this beautiful Welsh retreat centre. Roy and Daphne find that visitors are sometimes inconvenient or even difficult.

A door latch at Ffald-y-Brenin
Last time we heard how Roy came to see that visitors were an answer to his prayer. A regular pattern of blessing developed as visitors arrived daily at Ffald-y-Brenin. This seems a good thing, they like and enjoy what is happening and pray for more.

They do get more, but perhaps not exactly what they had bargained for.
It wasn't always straightforward. One afternoon I was interrupted by a knock at the door, and there stood another enquiring couple. Faced with a deadline for posting a form, I was internally wavering; but our hospitality habit prevailed and the kettle went on for tea. We did the tour, got to the chapel, but even before I could pray the prayer of blessing they were visibly touched by the Holy Spirit. I slipped away to post my form. Later I was able to talk with them and explain what God had been doing.

As they walked away to their car another couple walked towards me. 'No! I've got to get this work finished,' I thought, even as I outwardly smiled. 'Lord, I haven't got time for this now; please turn the flow off!'

I explained to the couple that I was a little pressed but asked how I could help. I wasn't anticipating the man's response: 'I was driving along, going through the valley, enjoying this beautiful summer afternoon, and the weirdest thing happened when I got to your drive. I've held my driving licence for over forty years, but I was compelled to come up your drive, and I'm absolutely convinced that if I'd taken my hands off the wheel, it would have just turned and the car would've found its way up here. I don't understand it. I've never experienced anything like it. Could you please tell us what on earth's going on here?'

I explained that we were a Christian retreat centre, a place where the presence of God comes and people's lives are changed because they encounter him.

'How interesting,' he said. 'That reminds me of the story of the bishop and the prostitute.'

By now we were at the kitchen table, and he was telling a pornographic story, while his wife just went pink.

I was finding all of this very difficult but nevertheless I offered them a cup of tea. To my intense disappointment they said yes. While the kettle was boiling he told another story that was even worse than the first one.*

Roy and Daphne are in the middle of an amazing time of blessing. People have been arriving every day for weeks, asking about the work at Ffald-y-Brenin, and having unexpected and dramatic encounters with the Mighty One.

But they are learning that blessing is sometimes inconvenient and can even be hard to handle. There are useful lessons here for all of us.

Suppose Roy had said to the first couple: 'Sorry, I've no time to see you as I have urgent business to finish. Form to post off and the deadline's today, you know the kind of thing. Can you come back another day?' Or suppose he'd looked at his watch and said: 'Yes, yes, come on in. Now what do you want? I have only a couple of minutes.' Or perhaps he might have spoken the right words but with just a hint of irritation or impatience.

It's likely the moment would have passed, the blessing would have been missed, two people would have gone away as empty as they had arrived.

The take away message is that we should pray fervently for blessing and we should expect to receive it - but we should not have preconceived notions of what it will look like when it comes, and we should guard against impatience and irritation.

The fact is, Father will answer our prayers on his terms and in his way - not ours. Our role is to accept what comes with deep gratitude, whatever it looks like.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | Blessings in the rain >

26 November 2011

A pattern of blessing

Part 4 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Unexpected visitors | Index | A rather difficult guest >

Another couple arrives at Ffald-y-Brenin and they, too, are blessed. A rhythm of blessing is established as people arrive daily. Roy and Daphne pray for this to continue - and it does.

Ffald-y-Brenin and the hills beyondLast time, Roy explained how a passing couple felt compelled to visit Ffald-y-Brenin and ask about the presence and purpose of the centre. After a tour they were powerfully touched by the Almighty's presence. In this fourth part we learn what happened next.
Being a somewhat strange, fallible creature I didn't connect their visit with my earlier prayer. So God sent someone else to my door to help me join up the spiritual dots. The next day another knock on the door was followed by the same enquiring words: 'Hello, could you tell us what this place is and what goes on here?'

At last, as I went through the social pleasantries, it was dawning on me: this was God's response to my prayer. That became clearer the more we talked. They had no Christian faith and didn't seem very interested in God. They had sensed something and were simply curious.

While we may like to think that spiritual breakthrough will be surrounded by stirring worship and heartfelt preaching, we now began to observe a pattern which involved the simple hospitality of welcome, cups of tea, scenic tours and moments, and then a few minutes - or sometimes hours - of profound encounter with the Holy Spirit. Our latest couple were open to the idea of a prayer of blessing when they reached the chapel, so I mentioned our tradition. This time the Holy Spirit came with even more manifest power and they were weeping profusely. But still it seemed right to slip away and leave them to hear from God.

Later, as we prayed together with our ever-changing community, we said to God, 'Lord, we like what you're doing, and we bless what you're doing. Lord, would you please do more of it?' And he did. For a period of time, each day, we would pray and say, 'Lord, would you please send someone else?' And he would. Many people came up the drive.*

The repeat of the previous day's events enabled Roy to understand that this was indeed an answer to prayer. It was no longer an isolated event, there was a pattern. It's always easier to see a pattern. It's much to Roy's credit that two events were enough; many times I think we are far slower and have to experience something three or four times or more before we 'get' it.

There are some powerful take away messages for us. Notice that worship and preaching were not required, just simple hospitality. I'd suggest that underlying this was a willingness to take people as they are, to accept them.

Being welcomed and accepted opens hearts and minds. It eliminates suspicion and reduces anxiety. It enables people to be open and straightforward and relaxed: all too often we underestimate the value of simple hospitality. If we confront people with formality they feel the need to conform, to behave 'properly' in an unfamiliar environment. Roy and Daphne learned this very quickly; they touched people's lives simply and Father was then able to touch those same lives profoundly.

Consider the fruit of the Spirit described by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self control. If we have that fruit in our lives, and allow it to inform and direct our interaction with others, we will be able to touch people's live in the same way that Roy and Daphne do.

We can't change people, only Jesus can do that. But one way of introducing people to Jesus is to demonstrate his nature. Felicity Dale makes the same point in a different way. We need to stop trying to do things and learn to let the Spirit of Christ do things in us and through us. He's been telling us this for a long time. Check this post from eight years ago 'His work, not ours'. Take special note of the first and last paragraphs.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Unexpected visitors | Index | A rather difficult guest >

21 November 2011

Unexpected visitors

Part 3 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

Roy and Daphne show a visiting couple around Ffald-y-Brenin and they are surprised and deeply affected by a sense of the Almighty's presence, particularly when they reach the chapel.

The chapel (left) and retreat accomodation
In the second part of this story, Roy was feeling frustrated that he's not able to do what he feels he was born to do. So he prayed for Father to change something. Then there was a knock at the door and they met two strangers, a married couple. Here's part three.
We sat them down at our table, where we had just finished lunch, and the reason for their trek up our long and steep drive unfolded.

'Well, we were driving along here and we don't quite understand it, but we were compelled to come up your drive.' They had noted that it was a Christian retreat centre, but that meant little to them. We made them a cup of tea, always a good place to start, and then talked in general terms about the centre for a while and finally explained to them that this is a place where lives get changed because God is real.

They liked the idea of being shown round, so we guided them through the garden, with its special rockery, swiftly flowing stream and a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding hills. We took in the stone corridors of the main retreat centre, walked around the grounds and back to the final room, which happened to be the chapel. There they seemed to sense something of the presence of God, although they might not have been able to articulate what was happening to them. They sat down rather speedily, rather heavily, as if their legs had gone a little weak.

I immediately created a new tradition: 'We have a rule here about how we respond to our visitors. We like to bless them before they leave. May I bless you?'

They had no problem with that, so I simply said: 'I bless you in the name of Jesus, to know God, his purpose for your life, and his blessings on you and your family and the situations of your life. Amen.'

They started to weep. The sense of the presence of God seemed tangible. I quietly let myself out of the chapel so they wouldn't be embarrassed by my presence. It was time to let God do what he wanted to do for that couple.

A little later they came and found me, full of gratitude and rather shaken by what was for them the unexpected sense of God's presence. I was able to share a little more of the good news of Jesus before they left.*

On the face of it, this isolated event would not have seemed like an answer to Roy's prayer. But nothing quite like this had happened before and perhaps it should have made him wonder. It turned out later that this was the beginning of the answer to why Roy was at Ffald-y-Brenin - there was more to come - much more.

Roy could not see this at the time. Probably we are all the same, I know I am. I ask for something but don't expect the next thing that happens to be the first stirrings of Father's response. Sometimes I have the faith to ask, believing that he will do something, yet somehow I expect his answer to be within the bounds of my hopes and expectations. How silly!

Often (perhaps always) he does far, far more than we can ever hope or expect (Ephesians 3:20).

So next time you pray for something, expect to be surprised by the answer. You don't know how, or where, or when the answer will arrive; you don't know if it will be in the form you suppose. All you know for sure is that it's likely to be more than you expect, not less. And, like Roy, you may not even notice the answer at first.

Always remember, Papa won't give you what you want, he'll give you what he knows you need. He'll give you what he wants, he'll give you what will further the growth of his Kingdom, he will stretch you and develop your character. He is Love and he is also very wise.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

14 November 2011

A step forward

Part 2 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A sense of direction | Index | Unexpected visitors >

In this second part of the story Daphne suggests Roy should pray and he demands some action from the Most High. And then there's a knock at the door.

The farmhouse at Ffald-y-Brenin
The publishers of 'The Grace Outpouring', David C Cook, have kindly allowed me to quote a series of extracts from chapter one.

In the first part, Roy was beginning to feel he should leave Ffald-y-Brenin, the Welsh retreat centre he and Daphne were running.

Here's part two.
Daphne, petite and blonde, is always full of incredible wisdom and insight, and she just calmly looked at me and said, 'Hmm. Well, if that's how you feel, and you feel so strongly, it's about time you told God about it.'

Suitably rebuked, I retreated to the upstairs office to pray. Fortunately I wasn't aware that her internal response was actually 'Well you can leave if you like, but I'm not!' That just might have affected my conversation with God, which was going something like: 'Lord, I need to be spending time with people who don't know you. I cannot survive unless I'm doing this, because this is what you made me to be, this is what I am ... somebody who introduces people to you, who connects them, or fans the flame.'

The pent-up emotions surfaced in my jumbled words. 'How can I be whom you created me to be unless I am sharing you with those who don't know you, or seeking to heal the hurting, or fanning flames of passion in those who are on the fringes of walking with you? What am I without you? How can I live unless I obey your call? How can I be someone else? Lord, something has got to happen. I cannot stay here unless you do something.'

My talk with God finished I returned to the everyday rhythms of life at Ffald-y-Brenin. Within hours there was a knock at the door. Tall and middle aged, the couple who greeted us were strangers.

'Hello, I hope you don't mind us calling like this, but I wonder if you could tell us what this place is.'*

Roy knows from experience that communication is fundamental to a healthy emotional life, just as eating and drinking is fundamental to a healthy physical life. On this occasion he communicates with his wife (by listening) and with the Almighty (by speaking). But both have thoughts hidden from Roy. Daphne doesn't want to leave Ffald-y-Brenin. And Father plans to answer Roy's prayer in ways he doesn't expect.

One of the great things about our heavenly Father is that he really is a Dad. It's simply the best description of what he's like. He listens to what we say and ask. But he replies out of experience and wisdom beyond our own, and out of love. He delights in our presence with him. He listens to what we say to him, and if we are listening we'll hear what he has to tell us. Telling him how we feel is always a step in the right direction. But when we're not paying attention he sometimes just shows us.

Perhaps on this occasion Roy didn't wait for Father's reply. But the answer still came - it began with that knock on the door and a question from two strangers.

If you're enjoying the story so far please drop by later for more. Or better still, buy a copy of the book and read it.

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A sense of direction | Index | Unexpected visitors >

07 November 2011

A sense of direction

Part 1 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< No earlier items | Index | A step forward >

Here are the first few paragraphs of 'The Grace Outpouring', an amazing book from south-west Wales. Roy explains how he was misled by his view of Father's purpose for his life.

A meal at Ffald-y-BreninI first read 'The Grace Outpouring' and wrote a short review more than a year ago. Since that time I have given away many copies to friends and have found over and over again that it has found a special place in their hearts, challenged them, encouraged them, and sometimes deeply affected them.

So now I want to present the first few paragraphs of Chapter 1, 'We Bless You in the Name of Jesus'.
I was desperate. Despite a series of miracles that had enabled my wife Daphne and me to become directors of a beautiful Welsh Christian retreat centre I was frightened that I had made a mistake. As I thought about it I realised that for the first time in maybe thirty-five years, several months had passed during which I hadn't clearly brought somebody to the knowledge of Jesus. I believed I had a calling on my life to bring people to Jesus, so what was happening?

I wasn't to know it but God was hours away from showing me some unexpected answers. In the meantime the frustration mounted. It had been partly provoked by my visit to a business conference in Pembroke in the west of Wales. I had spent the day with 200 businessmen and women. I was at home among them. This was the type of pool I had fished in for most of my life.

As I reflected on my suit-clad outing to the hotel on the estuary the agitation grew. Instead of being with the Christians who came to the centre to recharge and reflect I needed to be with those who had no clear Christian understanding and commitment. I decided the only thing I could do was leave the centre.

The next morning I sat in our farmhouse-style kitchen and poured out, with some passion, the details of my agitated day with the businessmen to my ever-patient wife: 'It's just no good. I cannot stay here any longer. I need to immerse myself in the everyday lives of people without a Christian faith so I can just be me and share my faith with them.'*

How many of us  have repeatedly come to places like this in our lives? How many times have I thought I knew his plan for me only to discover that he had moved on but I had not? (The answer to that question is, 'more times than I care to mention'!) Perseverance is a good thing, deafness and stubbornness are not. Sticking to my view of Papa's purpose can be misleading.

And having got into this place, like Roy we tend to dump our frustration and anxiety onto those around us.

But Father didn't leave Roy in this place of confusion, nor will he leave you or me in a place like that. If you read the book you will quickly see that things were resolved quite soon afterwards and in a really extraordinary way.

As you can see, the book is very readable. The story it tells is touching hearts and changing lives all over the world. My advice? Get hold of a copy and read it.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< No earlier items | Index | A step forward >

06 November 2011

The Grace Outpouring - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

A view of Ffald-y-BreninRoy and Daphne Godwin run a retreat centre at Ffald-y-Brenin in Pembrokeshire. 'The Grace Outpouring' explains how they came to be there and describes some of the amazing events that have taken place as Jesus works amongst them and their visitors.

By kind permission of the publishers, here is chapter one of the book in twelve parts with comment and images.

  1. A sense of direction - Roy misunderstands the Father's purpose for his life.
  2. A step forward - Daphne suggests Roy should pray
  3. Unexpected visitors - Surprised by a sense of the Almighty's presence
  4. A pattern of blessing - Another couple arrives at Ffald-y-Brenin
  5. A rather difficult guest - Visitors are sometimes inconvenient or even difficult.
  6. Blessings in the rain - The Lord insists that Roy remains calm and patient.
  7. A pattern of blessing - Roy and Daphne start to look outwards.
  8. We bless you from... here! - A new tradition of blessing prayer.
  9. The abundant results of prayer - Reports from the neighbours.
  10. Grace outpouring - Grace can pour out from us as it does from our Father.
  11. Like light on the water - More on grace and blessing to others.
  12. A royal priesthood - The biblical background to blessing.

15 September 2010

REVIEW - The Grace Outpouring

A lady came into Cornerstone in St Neots and asked for a copy of 'The Grace Outpouring' by Roy Godwin and Dave Roberts. She had heard about it somewhere and felt she needed to read it. James was serving at the book counter and checked the catalogue to see if we had it. We did. We hunted the shelves and failed to find it, but we said we'd continue looking for it and the customer agreed to come back later to collect it.

The Grace Outpouring
After she had left we found it almost immediately!

James went off for lunch and left me in charge. The shop was quiet so I picked up 'The Grace Outpouring' and flicked through some of the pages. One or two passages leapt off the page and I was close to tears as I read how a young American woman had come to faith simply through reading some Bible verses and praying to a Jesus that she did not initially know.

It quickly became clear that the book was full of stories like this and I ordered a copy for myself. I've just finished it and already intend to pass it on to a friend tomorrow evening.

Roy and Daphne Godwin are directors at Ffald-y-Brenin (Welsh for 'the King's sheepfold'), a retreat centre/house of prayer and more that is being used by the King himself to bless local people, the whole region of south-west Wales, and much further afield internationally too.

Roy and his co-author Dave Roberts describe how Ffald-y-Brenin came into existence, how Roy and Daphne became involved, how the place has been used by the King of Kings to touch individual lives and the entire area in extraordinary ways, and how you might expect to see similar things happen where you live too.

It doesn't require skill or knowledge, great wealth or influential friends. All it takes is a willingness to be used by Jesus, an open and humble heart, and the courage to surrender what you thought you wanted from life in exchange for what Jesus wants for you.

Basically, it's about obedience. That means listening carefully to Jesus, hearing what he says, seeing what he does, and following him wherever he leads. These are the same things we have been learning over the past few years, and we too have seen extraordinary things happen as a result. It's not what we do that counts, it's what Jesus will do in us and through us.

I heartily recommend this little book, 185 pages containing a great story told well. Like all good, true stories this one is full of illumination; I guarantee that it will delight, challenge, encourage, and excite.

Obtaining a copy - Order it in paperback or as an audio book from Cornerstone in St Neots if you live locally, or direct from Ffald-y-Brenin. It's also available from Amazon and other online sources.

See also:

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