Sligo19: Power

VOX magazine editor Ruth Garvey-Williams is at the New Wine Ireland summer conference in Sligo this week. She brings you summaries of all the Evening Celebrations and the morning Bible Teaching so you won’t miss a thing!

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Monday 15 July

Gavin and Anne Calver are leading the morning Bible Teaching in The Arena at #Sligo19 this week exploring The Church Today from the book of Acts. Anne is a Minister at Stanmore Baptist Church and Gavin is Director of Mission at the Evangelical Alliance UK and chair of Spring Harvest. They began the week of teaching exploring “Power” from Acts 2.

Gavin: Church is the only institution on earth designed for its non-members and the only institution that brings everyone together.  We are absolutely convinced that the church is God’s plan A, B and C.

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This is an amazing time to be alive.  We must stand up for truth but we also need to accept that we are living in a time when people don’t even know the truth of the Gospel.  We may be more marginalised but salt brings flavour and light brings change. We have an opportunity to see a mighty move of God.  But the salt must not lose its flavour and light must not run out of battery.  

I believe in our lifetime we are going to see a revival in the UK and Ireland.  The church has got to drop its negative script.  What other group of people produces research to make themselves look bad and then sends out press releases to announce the negative messages?  We have got to stop sensationalising things and start remembering that the God who moves mountains is on our side.  

I don’t think in living memory there has been a greater opportunity to share the Gospel. We are living in a “junction” moment. Whichever part of Ireland you live in, we are living in a moment where chaos is happening.  When you have got nothing to depend on, you need to find hope. Hope has a name and His name is Jesus.  For a year or two, we have an openness to the Gospel because no one knows who to

 The only one who knows how to bring order out of chaos is the Lord.

 Anne: We are passionate about the church.  We are going to dig deep into Acts.  Grab your Bible and open up to Acts 2: 1 - 21.

My heart is to see something incredible happen to the church.  God is stirring the grassroots and calling hearts and lives back to him.  A few years ago, I was out jogging on a dark foggy morning.  That morning I was quite fearful because the fog was heavy and the darkness was all around me.  I cried out to God.  And instead of feeling a reassuring presence, I experienced God speaking to me.  I don’t have the best memory living with children but as I got back from my run, I was able to write down word for word what I felt the Lord was saying

He said, “My child, I’m raising up an army.  Not army that carries weapons of destruction or holding clubs and knives, but an army that carries the sword of the Spirit.  I’m sharpening my people.  I’m sharpening the tools in their hands so that the truth can cut deep into the hearts of many.  My royal priesthood, my holy nation are being set apart.  I’m setting their faces like flint to walk forward.  My children will walk into the darkness.”

Then I saw a huge procession… “not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.”  As I continued to jog along I heard him say, “I’m raising up an army.  I’m moving through the nations.”

For Gav and I, this passage in Acts 2 shows us such an incredible model of the early church. The Spirit was moving in such incredible power that we have to take notice but it is also for us.

 “If we have the Word without the Spirit, we tend to dry up; if we have the Spirit without the Word, we tend to blow up; if we have both Spirit and Word, we tend to grow up and fire up. But when each is properly joined in common union, there is explosive power to be had.” RT Kendall

Uncertainty to Faith

The Holy Spirit moves us from uncertainty to faith.  In that place of not knowing what was coming next after the ascension, the disciples huddled together in the place of prayer. The church is born out of the place of prayer.   In that place, suddenly the Spirit of God comes and we see radical transformation. Suddenly there was a sound like the blowing of a violent wind. They saw tongues of fire.  All the senses are working together.  

We are not interested in a “bless up”.  We want to see total transformation so that immediately people come and say, “What is happening here?” By the end of the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people were added to their number. It was a day of harvest.  I believe the Lord wants to bring this about now.  The ground is being shaken again. And I want to see that harvest here as we find that some togetherness in prayer and the power of the Spirit begins to move.   

I was in North Wales on holiday.  It was a beautiful place by the sea and I was sitting on the bed reading this passage from the Bible but something different happened. I began to feel a flood rushing through me from head to toe - like electricity.  I was looking down at the passage and it said, “Even on my servants both men and women...”  At that point in my marriage, I was looking after the children but I felt the Lord was saying, “And you, Anne. I never said it was just about Gav, it is about the two of you together.”  

Because it was the power of the Holy Spirit, something has happened in my life since that moment.  I have an older brother who is not pro women in ministry. I wouldn’t have chosen it, it was the Lord.  At Pentecost, the Lord came to every single one of them.  There was nobody left out. There was nobody excluded.  They were moved from this place of uncertainty to a place of faith.  This is true for us today.

Power to Live

Gavin: The Spirit gives us power to live as children of God. 

During my time with Youth for Christ, I encountered some young people who had been given power to live by the Spirit and they wanted to start a Christian Union at school. They were three 14 year old girls. When they asked to start a CU, the principal said, “No.” Then one of them turned around and said, “Sir, either you will change your mind or we will pray every day that you will leave the school.”

Six months later he announced, “I’ve decided to take early retirement.”

A new headteacher came in, and they ask to start a CU.  She also said, “No.” They were about to leave but one turned around and said, “Miss, do you know why your pre-decessor left?  I will say to you what I said to him.  Either you will change your mind or we will pray every day that you will leave this school.”  

Eight months later, the headteacher got up in assembly and said she is leaving because she is pregnant with twins!

The girls went into the new headteacher and said, “Sir we want to start a Christian Union.”  This time he said, “Yes.”  (He was an elder in a local church). Within six months of starting the CU, 80% of their year were coming along.

The Holy Spirit gives us power to live as the children of God.  We have forgotten the source of our power.  We are empowered to live as the children of God in order to change the world.

“A body without breath is a corpse so the church without the Spirit is dead.” John Stott

 The Spirit reveals the truth

Isn’t it amazing that the grave is still empty? Why have Christians disengaged with the resurrection?  Jesus rose from the dead so you could know life in all its fullness but also that people around you can know that same life.

The Spirit guarantees that the promises of God are true 

The current landscape gives us an opportunity to show the difference that Jesus makes in our lives. When people are confused and uncertain, where do people turn?

There is power in the Gospel to transform lives.  

Pete is homeless. Pete found Jesus through a church’s homeless ministry and then he shared, “I’m sick of people trying to stop me being homeless. Jesus has told me to stay homeless so I can reach my friend but promise me that I’ll never be hungry again.”

 The Spirit testifies that we are God’ children

John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” The Spirit reminds us that God never gives up on us.  The Spirit does not only testify about who God is but He also testifies about who we are as God’s children.

You can lose many things in this life but you will never lose Jesus.

 My grandma had Alzheimer’s and lost her mind.  My mum prayed with her and in one of her only lucid moments, my grandma prayed, “I don’t know who I am and I don’t know what I am and I don’t know where I am but Lord Jesus please love me.”

Anne: When we were working with New Wine Youth during one event there was a bit of a stir. A young girl had tattooed the word “worthless” on her forearms with a penknife and the scars were vivid and ugly.  But as the young people were worshipping those scars disappeared.   Anything is possible with God.