Welcome! It's wonderful to see you here!

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.

So that you stay connected, getting every new update, please add your email address to receive all updates directly, or follow the RSS feed.

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, February 17, 2016

Success -- səkˈsɛs --

What is success?

As I sit down here today to write, I realise I've been working through this idea a little these last few weeks. Or more to the point, God has been working through it in me.

Today, I feel more content than I have been in months (years?!).  I feel less stress.  Deep down I feel happier and calmer.  My wife has noticed it, my kids comment on it.  All is well with my soul.

So, what's been going on?

I've no huge answer really, like most times, just life experience that I reflect upon and learn from.

For some, in relation to success, they live their lives craving it, looking for it, hunting down any opportunity.  Others, however, are not necessarily looking for it when they might come across it.  They are more afraid of being a failure. Success therefore means very little to them.

I have certainly related to that second group for much of my adult life.

This year, I started working through the BIOY app.  Simply reading the Bible each morning, taking in vast chunks of text (which is needed in order to finish it in one year) has had a noticeable effect.  My reading habit (for the Bible) had become a little careless - too many excuses, I think really! I've certainly noticed a change inside.  So that's one thing that's had an impact on me, for sure.

I was also listening to a talk recently. It shared how a barren couple sensed God telling them to stop asking him for children, and instead thanking him for children!  They now have five kids under the age of five - truly over blessed! It made me think about my writing life.  I often ask God for breakthrough, for success with my writing. Most would look at me and probably say I am successful already with three books published and another two or three in the process of being finished.  But as I said above, it wasn't really success that I was running to, but something else I was trying not to be discovered as (a failure, to be very clear!).

I realise that has always been a weakness, and something God has worked through me these last twenty years. Still, I've not learnt yet to really enjoy or appreciate success for what it is, passed the day or so around the event. Nothing seems to affect me long term, in order to give me some lasting peace, some on going contentment.  Or so it seemed.

Applying what I heard above, the other week I encouraged the church plant to thank God for success in our lives, on an individual level as well as a group. So in my heart, I thanked God that I am a successful author. I prayed out thanks for what God was doing with us all in Tallinn, the lives being changed, the people taking steps towards or with Jesus.  In the midst of darkness, there really is some light breaking through!

I've also had a greater sense of planning this year, of walking into new stuff this year and taking hold of what God has for me.  That's helped to build in a more focussed routine.

At the beginning of the year we shared with the church plant how we felt we needed to spend more time with friends in Tallinn, and less time doing meetings. It's brought real life to us, so that we've been able to spend hours with folks that we've been getting to know, time that we just didn't have to spare when trying to do 'church' as much as we were - of course, the element of building relationships in the community we are called to reach, is the essence of church.

We hold the vision and value of a larger gathering of Hope:Tallinn highly.  One day we'll come together weekly as a group and worship and pray and preach. But not until God has sent us co-labourers.  In the meantime, we are reaching out to those that need God. And in doing this, we are being a success for Jesus in Tallinn, bring Kingdom culture in our relationships with others, as we look to love, serve and just hang out with folks that don't yet have a close knowledge of the love God has for them.

In holding the future of the church plant loosely (it was always in God's hands anyway, really) it has brought huge comfort to me. I guess it was a weight I never intended to bear alone and so it being lifted has allowed life and freedom to return. In thanking God for the success already happening its also brought about a change in me.

As I mentioned last time (I think), the parable of the talents has also really spoken to me. It's where Jesus shared a story about a landowner who gives to one servant 5, to another 2 and to another 1. The one with 5 produces 5 more, the one with 2 produces 2 more, but the one who was given 1 simply buried it because he was afraid of his boss. The guys who'd doubled the investment both were allowed to share in the blessings of the landowner. The guy who had not done anything, his 1 was taken away and he was banished.

In the commentary notes about this passage, Nicky Gumble says that what was given to even the guy with 1, represented 20 years salary. In other words, a huge amount. Enough to put to work, to invest and to produce a return.

It's therefore a related thought with all of the above. The point of the story isn't to be the most talented, but to use what talent you have to the best of your ability. To make it personal for me, as an example, it doesn't actually matter if I'm a 5, 2 or 1 'talent' author - what matters most is what I do with that talent. Do you see? It's really powerful. Both the first two servants got to share in the masters success. I don't think it was a proportionate reward based on their returns. I think it was equal, because Jesus wasn't trying to highlight a hierarchy in rewards based on ability, but a shared blessed of the much based on using what you've been given. Anyone given even 20 years salary has more than enough to get started.

So if I'm faithful with the little when it comes to my writing (I'll let you decide if I'm a 5, 2 or 1) Jesus promises he'll give me much. It's a nice word, isn't it. Much.

So, no more excuses. Regardless of what you don't yet have, use what you've got. And thank God that you are already successful.

----

As a funny side note, I've recently implement a number of new marketing ideas in relation to my writing life. One includes putting out a book permanently free (which I've just done). As I write this, I'm #3 in the USA Conspiracy Thriller chart - an unbelievable position given how much competition there is in that market. Just using that little talent...and knowing God will make it much.

If you want to check out my book (and find out details how to get my second novel FREE as well) click on the relevant link. Whilst these two links are for Amazon in the USA and UK (my main two markets), the FREE book is actually available everywhere, on all types of eReader. Just search your favourite database for 'Cherry Picking by Tim Heath' and you should find it.

USA - http://amzn.to/1XxE6Rg
UK - http://amzn.to/1QlHiJS

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Believe -- bɪˈliːv --

Belief.  It's powerful and it's divisive.

Powerful - because it can change your whole outlook, your whole worldview, even your life.

Divisive - because it can alienate you from others or make you a target.  It can separate families, it can put you in prison and it can make you lose your life.

Last month, I saw something on Facebook posted by one of my Estonian connections.  It had other Estonians commenting, liking, suggesting the fact they'd like to move there.  The post?  It was from Iceland, supposedly reporting the 'fact' that 0% of under 25s believe that the world was created by God.
I think the person had posted this with the hash tags along the lines of 'religion', 'fake' and 'eduction.'
Some of the comments went along the lines of 'see what an education teaches you!' and others just said; 'when can we move there!'

Estonians, once more, revelling in the idea that God doesn't exist.

But it got me thinking...because of my education, not despite it, I know that just because someone says or thinks something, doesn't mean it is.  Education has taught me that we don't know all the answers!

So when the leading minds of the world taught that the world was flat, the Earth didn't change shape to go along with this 'fact.'  When mankind assumed everything orbited the Earth, the solar system carried on as it always had, and always will.
When people say to God "you don't exist" He must just look upon them like some father marvelling at the rubbish coming out of his child's mouth and reply: "I do, and I believe in you, even if right now, you don't believe in me."

Since when has someone denying something ever actually had any effect on the reality of, or existence of, the object of that denial?

Education, and logic, has taught me to think like this...and when I apply that to faith (everyone operates in faith, as I'll come to in a moment, regardless of what you believe) it only strengthens that conviction, not destroys it.

It's illogical to throw out the claims of Jesus, the existence of God, wholesale. Totally illogical.  Firstly, there is the undeniable historical person of Jesus, undisputed by Christian and non Christian historians.  This guy walked the earth - fact.  

In the Bible we have evidence of what this man said.  The Bible holds up to all textual analysis, far more so than other great works which are also undisputed. The time we have the earliest copies from, the quantity of these copies, the time between events, no other historical document has as much evidence going for it.  We therefore know, without any doubt, that what we have as the modern day Bible is as close to the original as we can get - far closer to any other text of its age.

What Jesus said in the book provides another issue - to quote C S Lewis, Jesus could only have been Lord, Liar or Lunatic based on his own words.  No other title is justified.  He wasn't 'just a good person or just a good moral teacher' though he was also these things.

Central to his life is actually his death and then what followed.  If Jesus didn't come back from the dead as he said he would, then everything that went before becomes invalid, we need not accept his words.  But if he did...!
Again, the evidence is there.  The lack of body, lack of the Romans then producing a body, the fact each of his followers lived outworking the knowledge of Jesus' resurrection, and most dying horrible deaths defending that fact, no one denying it at the end...

Lord, Liar or Lunatic.  Education and applied logic leave us with no vague, confusing situation.

Back to belief - we all believe in something, even if its nothing.

Picture a room if you will.  There is a big wooden door that is standing closed, so that we can't see into the room. Inside that room, I believe God himself dwells. It's the man Jesus Christ.  I'm standing next to you, outside the room.  Let's pretend there is no other supporting evidence - it's just you and me, outside a door.
You, as an atheist, don't believe there is a God.  You don't believe Jesus is in that room - you believe the room is empty.  You see, it's not enough to say that you don't believe in God, because you are also therefore saying that you believe there is no God. 

We all believe something.  Some in a person, others in a void.

And here is the thing - I'm happy to know you if you have no belief.  We can be friends, I can share the things I know and feel, if you like, but I don't need to. But want I can't accept is the statement that belief equals fairy tales and life without God is because of good education and logic.  I'm a very logical person and I see this completely simply.  There is no confusion at all.

Sadly, it's often other people who choose to distance themselves from this kind of open, relational conversation.  I'm here for anyone who really wants to talk, to walk through this all, even if it takes us years of talking to get there.

It's said that soon schools (in England) might not teach about what happened to the Jews during the war because it offends muslims, who deny the holocaust actually took place.  People deny the moon landings too.  Does that actually have any affect on the truth of the events?  No, of course not.  Education has taught me that, and that's not about to change.

So what do you believe?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Soldiers -- ˈsəʊldʒə --

We were all born into a war zone.

I'm not talking between one nation and another, or people groups, dictators or anything like that.  There has been a battle raging in the heavens since before the creation of the world.  In fact, when Adam and Eve ate that fruit and ushered in the fall, it really was only the fall of humankind.  An original fall had happened, when a created angel wanted the place of God, and the punishment for that stupid idea was to be sent from heaven - with a third of the angels.  The devil has been waging war against God, and his plans, ever since.

There are some very 'dangerous' places in the world today if we just switch on the news.  Yet something I've always said is this:
"I'd rather be in the middle of a war-zone inside the will of God, than in a place of (relative) safety outside of his will."
Oh, to be foolish enough to be outside his will!  It doesn't bear thinking about really.

There is a spiritual battle raging for Tallinn.  That's why we are here.

They say, 'Estonians don't do religion.'  And looking around (my Facebook feed is often full of examples proving this fact!) you'd have to say this seems the case.

It's certainly not an easy place to plant a church!

But, I don't really believe that Estonians, or anyone to that fact, simply 'don't do God.'  What I do think is true is that Estonians haven't done God, and haven't had a history of seeing the Bible preached for what it really says. Their rejection, at best, is of a god they think they know about.  A god their communist leaders of the past said didn't exist.  A belief system laughed at in schools (it still is nowadays too!).

Put any Estonian before a living, breathing, healing and all loving, all forgiving God, and they too, like millions of others, suddenly will do God.  I'm convinced of the fact.  That's a large part of why we are here.

'Tim' doesn't have the answers in himself.  Nothing about me is going to change this nation.  But I do know someone who can.

This last week I had another Estonian tell me they don't do religion, and therefore turned down my offer to them to share my personal story.  I was at least able to agree that the God they don't believe in is probably a god I wouldn't believe in either.  We'll see if one day he gives me the chance to really share who Jesus is.

To plant a church here, to even get up to twenty people (the thought seems like a lifetimes effort away!) is going to take something incredible.  Because, as I've said, there is a battle raging for Estonia.

Officially, Estonia ranks number 2 in the world of most atheistic nations. Number 1 is North Korea.  One of the challenges with Estonia is the population.  Doing a little research online, it suggests in North Korea, there are only 1.7% who are Christians (there are other religions showing higher too, but for the sake of comparison, I'll stick to Christianity.  Estonia doesn't have many other religions represented anyway.)  

1.7% is a low percentage, for sure.  Estonia, though the lowest Christian nation in Europe, must have a higher percentage than that - but, here's the thing.  North Korea has a population of 24.9 million people - 1.7% therefore represents 423,000 people!  That's a third of the total population of Estonia, or more to the point, the entire population of Tallinn!  And yet, there are something like only 4,000 Christians here in the capital, maybe a few more.  But not tens of thousands.

Estonia needs something special!

I used the quote from Winston Churchill mainly because we have a General who is Great!  The greatest in fact!

2 Chronicles 20:15 says; "For the battle is not yours, but God’s."

Thinking about this nation, thinking about the Christian brothers and sisters we are praying will move here to join us, it's wonderfully reassuring to remind myself that this is God's battle.  As I said last time in my post on obedience, we are only here because it was first His idea.  And that idea involved seeing a vibrant, spirit filled community loving the city and all whom are put before us.  Serving this great place, being a blessing to all.

Does that stir you?  Want to come and join us to see this happen?

Only the battle hardened, God called, service trained soldiers need apply...