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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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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Faith -- feɪθ --


"Faith – it does not make things easy, it makes them possible"

"Don't compare your beginnings to someone else's middle"

"Worry ends when faith in God begins"

These are just some of the many thousands of similar quotes you might find on the subject of faith. In the light of yesterday's attacks in Brussels, we are once more reminded of the darkness so prevalent in front of our eyes.  It fills our television screens, our newspapers and our social media news feeds.

So I want to dwell on faith, a little, if I might, and end with a picture I've taken this week which I believe captures the essence of faith in action.  You'll see what I mean later.

Faith, like I guess with words such as love, hope, affection, has no actual power in itself.  If you were able to bottle up any of these, to capture the actual essence of what it was, if it were even possible to have a jar full of the substance of faith, to look at it, to feel its weight, it would still be powerless, still be totally flat.  You see faith, like love and all the others I mentioned, has to exist within relationship.  Without that connection, it doesn't hold any power.  And whilst as a Christian my key relationship (and one I'd expect you to assume I would include) is with God, even if you don't believe in God, this principle is still at work in the world, in your life, regardless.  You can see that in love, for example.  Take out the object of that love, that affection, and there is no actual substance.  We walk outside, in faith knowing we won't just float around, nor sink to the depths, because of the relationship between gravity and the forces of physics that keep our feet on the ground, and no lower.

We are all people of faith – regardless of what people might think about that statement, what images that conjures up. People have faith in their favourite sports team, spending time and money to attend games, investing energy and emotion into the teams successes (and failings!).  You have the belief (another word for faith!) in the fact that at the end of the month your days spent working will be rewarded with your salary.

All these are examples of faith in action – faith working in relationship with something, someone, else.

But it also matters in whom you hold that faith, and the level of faith you have is proportionate to the object of that faith.  Let me give you this example.  If a five-year-old in my daughter's nursery class told me they'd give me €10 million, I wouldn't have a lot of expectation that this would come about – my faith would be very low in that regard, based on the individual. If, on the other hand, Bill Gates was visiting the school, and once I got chatting with him he then said the same thing to me, my faith that I might actually receive this amount of money suddenly changes. Here stands a man that can actually make that happen!

How much more so with God? I mean, not the god the world doesn't believe in, the one that gets laughed at right across Estonia, the notion being that any religion is just fairytales for kids (another reference I saw mentioned today on Facebook within a group here in Estonia) and that adults know better. I mean a God that is so much bigger than we can explain, so much beyond our rejection of him. A God more loving that we could ever give him credit for, and a better Father to us than we could every experience. A God who suffers with us, who suffered before us and who brings an answer to all the suffering, a solution and end to all the death that surrounds us, through the person of Jesus.

What if this were the one you put faith in – what then might be possible?

Estonia stands on the brink of becoming a totally godless nation. What will be difficult is that in other areas, the nation is advancing rapidly, without the need for God. They will soon, unless we change the atmosphere here, be able to stand, and like those early humans in Babel, call out to the world and say 'look at what we've done, aren't we great, and all this without the need for belief in your God.'

Estonia is the frontline in the spiritual battle for the increasingly secular societies the world is seeing. The battle is here, and the battle is now.

I've been reading about Joshua lately – there was the first generation group of leaders around Joshua and then there was the second generation. Both were faced with the same challenge, to take hold of a new land that was filled with very real giants. The first group failed the test, God taking them all out until only Joshua and Caleb remained, the entire rest dropping in the desert. God was raising up new people to put around this adventure ready, faith filled warrior.

I relate to Joshua (in that I'm seeing those around us falling back, leaving me wondering if God is stripping away in order to rebuild).  It's not easy, and church planting in the most spiritually hostile land in Europe takes its emotional toil. But I keep in mind what my heart sees, the light God has placed there for better days to come for Estonia, despite the increasing darkness I'm seeing with my eyes.

God, move mightily on this fragile land. God of Joshua, break down the giants that live in Estonia. Breakdown the fortified cities of Secularism and Atheism that have set themselves up like Jericho in this nation, the residents boasting in their apparently superior position. Send an army that would see these walls come falling down. Bring outworking to our faith and obedience for standing here, spying out a land flowing with milk and honey, and believing that you can take this land. Put the right kind of warriors around us, friends that we can go into battle with to see this nation reaching heights that they never even thought were possible. In a time of increasing darkness – let your light break out!

We are praying about how to partner more with others to see Kingdom life break out, so please pray with us for a conversation we're having with some people on Monday.  We are also praying for this army to join us.

In all this, we still love the fact that God has called us to Tallinn. Because of our relationship in the one who called us, because of that faith that he knows what he is doing even if we don't, we know the future here will be exciting. Whilst emotionally it threatens time and again to get too much, we must keep our eyes on him. There's a land to possess here, and we aren't going to give up that easily. Are you?

Now, about that photo of faith in action I mentioned at the beginning. On the weekend I planted these little cuttings. They are sitting on our balcony. I don't know if they'll actually take, it was partly an experiment to see how these type of trees take. I hope they do. But that's not the main point. The main point is this; why do we have little trees growing in small pots that can't possibly sustain them, on a balcony without the space for them to grow? It's the same with the apple tree my daughter is also growing for a year already. Why? Well, though the trees will grow well for the moment, and I can transfer them to bigger pots that can keep them growing, I know that this won't be enough. But one day (hopefully in the not to distant future, for the saplings sake at least!) we'd love to own some land, something outside the city with a garden – space to grow some trees, space for an apple tree. So we are growing them now, ahead of the time, knowing that when that time might come, the trees will be ready to be planted into the ground.

Will that happen before the trees get too big? Will we see a church planted that thrives? Will a nation be saved?

We believe so...

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