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I'm a passionate writer - and therefore spend most of my time writing thriller novels. But I also live an interesting life in the nations. This blog is here for that aspect of my life - our life - I live with my wonderful wife and two daughters.

I believe in encouragement. I live for obedience. I believe in learning from our experiences, and this blog exists for both of those, and more.

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I was part of the leadership team in St Petersburg, Russia - which planted Hope Church in 2009.(www.hopechurchstpetersburg.com).
In March 2012 Hope Church sent my family to plant into Tallinn, the Capital of Estonia. I therefore lead this small but growing church plant team. Here is the website for Hope Tallinn (www.hopetallinn.ee)

For details on our journey here, read the series called Adventures of Faith which is linked for you on the right hand column, just below. That details our original journey to Russia and then onto Tallinn 4 years later.

Author for fiction novels - Cherry Picking (2012), The Last Prophet (2015), The Tablet (2015) and The Shadow Man (2016) are available on all major bookselling sites. Please visit: www.timheathbooks.com

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Further thoughts of a church planter in Russia

My favourite meeting of the week is definitely the Sunday night prayer meeting which has come under my responsibility to run, which I'm more than happy too anyway! (It also helps me contribute to things as the team do so well on Sunday mornings...at least I'm doing something public!)

Anyway, at last weeks meeting, I went with something I knew God had put on my heart to bring...but I never felt the time was right to share it as God seemed to be doing something altogether more personal. And so it turned out.

But what it did leave me with was the subject of my first preach at Hope church - my first preach in Russia! And it's therefore going to be the theme of this entry, as I still work through my thinking's of what God has laid upon my heart to bring.

I was reminded of the verses about the harvest being plentiful but the workers few - and pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest for workers.

Last Sunday was again one of those pivotal times (we seem to keep getting lots of these, like we're going through years of experience in just weeks!). On Sundays alone, for example, there are just so many jobs to do....and the same few tiring people that have been doing these sames jobs over these initial 7 weeks. The honeymoon period is well and truly over! Last week, for the first time in a way, I saw that these workers the Bible talks about, doesn't just mean amazing reaping evangelists that come into the white harvest fields and see 100 people saved in a weekend. But these workers for the harvest include people to make lunches, to buy the food, to set up the PA, to put out the chairs, to count the offering, to help with the children's work, to make cups of tea, to do the washing up, to pack away the hall, to welcome people, to count the numbers, to take contact details.....for a CHURCH that together will reap a harvest. Why had I always thought it was different?

But then, and the main thing that I was going to pray into at the prayer meeting, was that through a culture of honouring one another we'd see these people coming in. That honour was the carpet, so to speak, for these workers to be added. And it is in relation to seeing a culture of honour breaking out within the church that I will be speaking to the whole church plant.

Bethal Church in Redding, California, are great on this and I've therefore been wise in starting my research there.

Quite what it is that I've felt, it's hard to say, but honour it seems is in two waves. Firstly, as we honour and encourage those working with us already, it help breeds a culture of service as well, where people who are honoured are released into even more, which will help grow the church as visitors are hit with something so different to the culture around them. And then there is also the honouring that Bethal really understand, an honouring of all people, not because of what they are or what they've done, but because of the fact they are made in the image of God and they honour the Christ in them, seeing through even personality difficulties and difference of opinions. That takes quite a lot of grace, but its a culture that brings life, freedom and growth - so its therefore a culture I want with all my heart for us too here in St Petersburg.

Honour releases people, it raises people. It leaves them feeling blessed as it allows all the things that God has put inside of them to come out and grow. I want to make sure that the things God places in people grows! Yes Lord, grow these things the most!

Honour isn't jealous. It wants the best for people, even if it means seeing people go way beyond you even dreamed for yourself. Without honour, you're just holding people back!

To quote Matt Gonzales in his honor (American!) based blog mattgonzales.wordpress.com he says;
"The world's view is to honor those who deserve it, earn it or those we want something from - its therefore a temporal & conditional viewpoint. It's not kingdom honor though - 1 Peter 2:17
Honor ALL people.
How can we honor those that have hurt or abandoned us or give it to people we don't like or with different views?
When we release honor, we are saying I am not letting my disagreements with you or your character defects control me. I have standards that will not be removed regardless of our disagreements and what you may have done to me. It will not control who I am.
We can think to not honor is to protect us but it does the opposite. It allows the person we feel we cannot honor to control who we are.
We don't honor people because they are honorable but because WE are honorable.
Honor does not mean we agree with what they said or did to us. It just means we have a standard in our heart & we value them as a person created in the image & likeness of God. By honoring all people, we are drawing the goodness God hid inside of them."

I think understanding a lot of this is to understand the Bethal culture of honour. And notice I'm spelling honour correctly again now, even if google doesn't agree. The American language takes the 'U' out of the word - but I like the fact we keep it in - so it means that Honor + U (you!) = Honour!

So I hope to share this in November at Hope church, if I get the chance. Maybe my thoughts will continue to form, but like always with me I feel just as strongly that it's going to be more a prophetic act to release a culture, than just about what I say with my mouth. I hope so anyway. I'm sure what I say will not compare to the fruit that will come from the Spirit of God coming in confirmation power, releasing hearts to honour one another as people learn directly from God what it is to genuinely honour each other.

So come Lord - break open the heavens. Help us to genuinely honour one another just the way you have made us to. It'll be great - but I need you Lord so very much to help me bring this message across well.
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