I’m deliberate in my encouragement to you; God has not forgotten the Church, absolutely not; quite the opposite.
My grand ambition always — my mission focus if you will — is to restore hope in the heart of the Church through a scripture-honouring approach to the prophetic ministry and so, I gently offer that conviction as we face 2022. That obsessively single-minded conviction is that God wants you to achieve something extraordinary by filling your mind and heart with one thought, one conception and one purpose. Just one?
God’s watching, listening and knowing. You get away with nothing. God is at work in your heart, calling you ever closer to Him. Each day for you is one day closer to Eternity (capital E because it really matters) and each day matters. It really matters. You have never been closer to that day than the very moment you are in right now. This second. Selah.
Lay hold of the Word of God, pray and do the remarkable things you have to do for your everyday, normal life in Christ, but accompany it with this one dominant trait: intentionally, purposefully let your love for God be the magnificent, obsession of your life, and then mirror it in the life of all you are involved and engaged with in the Church. Bob Jones, John Paul Jacson and Paul Cain didn’t come up with that term, that expression has been around for years, especially during the Celtic days.
I genuinely appreciate you most likely have that ‘One Focus’ fragrancing (if I can use such an expression!) your life and ministry, and so I also urge you to strive to achieve the extraordinary. In practical terms that means to exercise faith, believe for miracles and more, and be responsive to the tender leading of the Holy Spirit.
I’m open to the idea that whilst not seeking it directly, that we may well be comforted by the supernatural activity of angels. I have the sense that it is a time where we see a resurgence of what might only be explained as angelic activity. Angels are very active in revival, so there is a strong suggestion of things that are coming there! I only say that because I know they are ecstatic with the opportunity to astonish themselves in the wisdom and ingenuity of God in His design, intent and plans for the sons and daughters of Adam. Something wonderful, awesome, incredulous and imperative is at work by the Spirit, in the plan of God, our ‘Abba’, in the life, plan and mystery of mankind.
Not always experiencing success
As we step out in faith, trusting God in 2022, it is guaranteed there will be times where things didn’t turn out the way we expected; those moments generate learning, trust and renewed confidence in the nearness, kindness and loveliness of God. Don’t be afraid to face those times.
Guaranteed is unambiguously in bold face. It is a challenge of faith, love, trust and devotion we all face; but with pain, sorrow, anger, remorse and deep, deep pain. How are you going to emerge from it? None of our ‘moments’ of failure or heartache/heartbreak is hidden from God’s gracious attention. The good news is that God’s (we have no part in this) Divine omniscience is always accompanied by omnipotence and omnipresence – God has the power to do what He says, to watch over what He has purposed and planned, and knows all that is to be known. Even your best kept secret.
Pandemic is not a limitation
So, to God, a pandemic is a limitation to man, but not to him. He has no limitations. When He tells you to do something, you can. Maybe God is about to give us a new variant of revival, one we have never encountered before, where the manifest presence of God falls like a thick blanket over the entire nation. I hope so. Creation holds my hand, hoping for the same.
I’m writing these things as a sort of journal of encouragement merely for myself, but I want to include you in what I have on my heart for 2022. I’m a nobody from nowhere, broken and crushed by so many things – perhaps like you, but you might be able to relate to me that as you get older, you stop worrying about what people think about you (and in my case, realise that one was not that important in the first place to warrant people paying much attention)so please let these things stir you or flutter away like a butterfly in the delicate whisper of the wind.
The quirky prophetic thing about a New Year
Prophetic ministries around the world have a strange, almost superstitious attraction for New Year prophecies which is a bit odd, as I am not convinced that God uses our Gregorian calendar in favour of the Jewish Calendar. Still, for me going alongside the strange ones, the way I see it is that 2022 is set to be a year of preparation & restored vision – God is stirring the Church. He’s doing that all the time, but something stirs within me that this coming year will be very different. Please may it be.
That ‘stirring’ seems to have a sense of urgency about it; it carries with it a call to let your love for God, be the magnificent, grace-driven not rule-book obsession of your life.
The character triplet
No matter what the opportunities that are before me, I aspire to demonstrating the formidable leadership and character forming triplet in my life of ‘Godliness, Godlikeness and God-focused’ Leadership. I’d treasure it being a benchmark of what God is doing in 2022, both in my life, and in the ministry and life of many of my friends around the world… including in yours.
The launch pad for this is to wholeheartedly embrace an exceptional standard of honesty and vision, accompanied with character and intimacy with God (demonstrated in the life and ministry of Jesus) whilst embracing an infectious enthusiasm for an unprecedented breakthrough in the life of the Church at every level. Great! What now?
Well, five things come to mind, and I encourage you to consider them carefully with humility. Without doubt you have to lead those you influence well, how well? Above your pay grade well, without grumbling, complaining and groaning. Someone listens to you; they watch you, learn from you and sometimes wish they were you. Lead with credibility; mean what you say and say what you mean. People have to believe in you before they listen to you. If you teach them and encourage them to love Jesus with all their hearts, you become vulnerable – they will do whatever you tell them to do.
Take four deep breaths, pause, breath out and let that sink in! Time to move on.
Five useful launch points for 2022
Having taken those deep breaths, here we go – I encourage you to be a good witness to the truth of the gospel and:
1. Model the way ahead.
Back your words with faith and action, inspire others to trust wholeheartedly in God and to carry a strong conviction about the integrity of the Word of God. God means everything that He has said – and that applies to the supernatural work of the Spirit as well as the good news of the gospel. In reality, the profound work of the Holy Spirit manifest in the life of the Church is a significant part of the gospel. God is not only a real God, but He is God! Unique. Different. Powerful.
2. Inspire a shared, church-wide, inclusive vision.
God’s plan for the Church is bright – God is returning for a glorious Bride – and they are all involved, all gifted, all called, commissioned and gathered! God uses individuals in astonishing ways, but the focus as we gather together to eat, drink, worship and encourage one another, is the corporate Church. As we face our lives at work, we are being the Church wherever we are, but there is something very special and unique when we gather together. We need to stop the pathetic “10 mile radius of our local region” vision and view of Church. Is God really that small? Instead, we need to see that Church exist outside of the USA and the UK, God is at work and moving powerfully, without let or hindrance across the six continents of the world. What God is doing in “X”, “Y” and “Z” perhaps is as much as ten times bigger than the UK and the USA combined! Get with it, wake up and move on!
3. Challenge the status quo and the new norm.
New and different is not always better, but don’t despise the conventional ways of doing things. The new norm is about to be removed by another new norm. God does ‘suddenly’ often, but incremental change is effective and less intimidating than a major overhaul. We are being changed from glory to glory, but it has taken a very long time! Wherever the norm does not include the gospel and an openness to welcome the Holy Spirit, the norm needs challenging! We have many churches where dozens of potential leaders are sat month in and month out, getting fatter and fatter on sermons. They are leaders, evangelists, pastors that need releasing and thrusting out into our towns, villages, cities and across the nations but we “need them to sit and listen to our uninspiring, monotonous sermons, because if we lose them, attendance will be down. Oops, sorry, forgot my filters. Whose Kingdom are we building? If this provokes a response, it is worth it. This leads nicely on to my next thought…
4. Equip others to do the works of Jesus.
Our mission is a joint venture. We need to exercise empathy to encourage those who might be struggling with challenging life situations or views on evangelism or the work of the Spirit, and also be prepared in real compassion to pay attention when others express concern or hesitancy. Help people. I’m not known as the most patient person, but you will be surprised (as I have been) what happens when you actually focus on trying! Don’t forget to encourage people in their ministry or gifting and especially as very often the gifts of the Spirit develop very quickly through practice and use.
Elders and leaders (no matter which congregation or denomination) perhaps need to address the lack of encouragement or intentional feedback they have withheld when people step out courageously with faith in the gifts of the Spirit. Leaders must not be surprised in the least, if their lack of feedback is received with dismay. Be aware that no feedback, is actually feedback – so make sure it’s the feedback you intend, not one of discouragement or rejection. This is one of the reasons prophetically gifted people leave their church and join another. Affirmation, acceptance and even correction make you feel you belong, and that you have purpose. Everyone is called to participate in the life of the church rather than be a spectator, feedback is a good part of pastoral coaching.
5. Gently encourage the heart of the Church.
This last one of five thoughts is that whether you are a leader or not, that you demonstrate your friendship and belief in the Church, that God has His hand on them and that anything is possible with God – as God’s people they merely have to be available not part of any exclusive or special group. I want to express confident expectations and saturate the church’s mind with positive images in their Spirit-renewed minds, which means sharing aspirations, dreams, visions and faith-driven expectations – looking to encourage the Church to be similar minded.
I believe we are about to see the historical activity of God in Church history eclipsed by what He wants to do in the very midst of a pandemic, locked down world, where He has the autonomy, power and proclivity to do what He wants, where He wants and when He wants.