Last night 2 of the church housegroups got together to hear from a guy called Bryn, who's worked as part of the leadership in Oxfordshire Community Churches and abroad with salt and light over the years we've known him.
Bryn is not a highly educated, polished individual, and although certainly not stupid, is also not given to amazing theological insights. Instead he exercises the gifting God has given him - he's a prophet in the true biblical sense - and his purpose was to both bring prophetic encouragement and to encourage people to seek God for prophetic insight for themselves. I've seen and heard him at work, and can testify that he's the real thing.
That's all I want to say specifically about last night.
With someone like that around there's a certain sense of wondering "what's God going to say to me/reveal about me" and sometimes a feeling of relief when you are not the one to get a 'word'. Almost a sense of 'missed me that time'. So in the afternoon at work I was wandering round the lab, praying quietly, kind of saying to God "it's OK, you can say what you want any way you choose tonight" (NB I don't always feel quite as secure as this). I felt God say to me "It's OK, I don't need to do that: I already talk to you about all those kind of things". This is almost disappointing - there are times I've wished God would simply say through someone else "do this and your life will be turned round" but that's not living in the reality of having to work things through.
The other thing came out of something Bryn said and a comment on Johanna's blog about her time in bible college. OCC has a bible college in Oxford (for those who don't know) and runs a variety of training courses, some full time, others part time. There was a lass at the housegroup (for the first time - part of another church) who clearly had prophetic gifting, and it was suggested she should come along to a workshop aimed at training her further in that area. The thing that struck me was that here was a bible college that ran a course to train people to hear God's voice more clearly and to bring it to others. Not just to teach people more about the bible or philosophy or history or Greek or Hebrew or use of powerpoint in a 3 point sermon or how to manage their churches (I won't use the word pastor - that isn't especially what it's about) and make a living off it. Sure most of those things are useful, but this is about training people how to draw nearer to God, to know Him more, to hear Him more clearly.
It's a little strange, but I actually feel slightly proud to be associated with these people. Not in a 'we're better than all you lot' kind of way, but honour through association.
I'm sure almost every bible college would quote hearing God more clearly as one of their aims for students, but I rather think a dig under the covers might prove interesting. Not sniping at anyone in particular, but I've long wondered at the point of classical bible college. Judge them by their fruit - let's see what the results of KBC are in 10, 20, 50 years time and whether there IS a difference.