19 November 2009

Little Paxton - Sheep in the fog

Standing in Jim's kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, we were already talking about 'iron sharpening iron' (Proverbs 27:17). This verse, quoted by Dale Hewitt at Moggerhanger, had especially impressed one of us. A foggy dayAnd we all felt that it was self-evidently true for us as we met together, we all feel we've been 'sharpened' and can see it in one another. Isn't the Lord great?

Jim said that we're sometimes reluctant to really go with the Lord. We realise that it might cost us something we're unwilling to lose, so we're careful not to go too far. He mentioned Martin Luther King who just did what he knew was right despite the evident dangers. And he paid the price. Jim was reminded of the Lord's words to Joshua, 'I will never leave you or forsake you' (Joshua 1:5). Proverbs 3:5 is also relevant here.

In our relationships with people, and non-believers in particular, we need to relate, make real contact, and live shared lives. Church life has damaged so many people, basically because of the many little rules we construct. We need to understand that people are more important than rules. This is what Jesus taught!

Jim also mentioned that seeing fruit in the lives of those we know is always very encouraging. I mentioned the events surrounding X-treme Camps last summer, we have seen so much impact and fruit from that.

We listened to the first part of Floyd McClung's recording, 'Courage to Change'. The long introduction is interesting and we also listened to the section on the first pillar of simple church, 'Church is incarnational, not institutional'. We may listen to the remaining four pillars on other occasions.

Working through what we had heard we thought about work, life in general, and things like shopping which in the extreme can be pure materialism but on a different level may also be regarded as good.

Jim raised the idea of prayers in parliament or in school assemblies, things which were normal in times past but  today would mean little or nothing to many people. He said that Britain has changed, we just don't do official prayer now, he encouraged us to see this as an opportunity because we are free to serve. I thought we should try to keep everything very simple and straightforward, just be followers of  Jesus in a sometimes difficult world.

We also thought about our personal response to violence. We shouldn't retaliate, but respond with life - not death. Jim felt we need to plan things, but Sean said he doesn't much like plans, we can live day by day, moment by moment, and he will guide us. This resulted in some good thoughts about Jesus, how did he lead his life? At this point I had a picture of sheep in the fog. Some of the sheep were huddled in a flock around the shepherd and were bleating to one another, others were scattered on the hillside. When the shepherd called, the scattered sheep headed towards his voice although all they could see was fog. And the bleating of the flock was added to the call of the shepherd in helping them to sense the direction to move. It's as if the flock amplified the shepherd's voice. Sounds travel long distances in fog, and we really do live in a fog.

Jim also had a picture, a shack in the mountains. There were garlands of flowers around it and all over it and Jim felt this somehow represented the fruit that we can bear in our lives. When we're in the mountains, sometimes it's bleak. But a time is coming when there'll be bright and colourful fruit in our lives if we are close to the Master.

Jim added that Father says to us in the fog, 'Trust in me and I'll show you the way.' Sean prayed that Father would enlarge our vision and that we'd devote more time to hearing him and being with him.

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