30 December 2010

RESPONSE - I'm not that Chris Jefferies

There have been almost 2000 hits on this website so far today. The normal pattern runs at around 100 to 150 visits per week, not high by any means but quite steady. So what is going on?

A graph of today's hits on this websiteMost of my visitors come from the UK with the USA in second place, the remainder are mainly from other European countries with a scattering from other parts of the world. But 2000 in one day?

It's all because of the arrest of another Chris Jefferies, the landlord of Jo Yeates who was so tragically murdered before Christmas. The big increase in hits is down to people searching online for the term "Chris Jefferies" and clicking through to my website.

Other people with my name will have found the same thing! Here's a blog post by a Chris who lives in London.

What else is there to say?

I lived in Bristol from 1970 until 1975. I worked at Long Ashton Research Station for more than 25 years. I know the area well and that makes it all so much more real to me. I had no idea that another Chris Jefferies lived in the area!

I can't end this without saying how much I feel for the family and friends of Jo, particularly her parents, David and Teresa, her brother Chris, and her partner Greg. There's nothing I can do for them other than pray that they will eventually come through the pain and distress. But first they will have to endure the unwanted attention the case will bring, the inevitable intrusions by reporters, and the constant question, 'Why did this happen to our Jo?'. My heart goes out to them.

I know they will be supporting one another at this dreadful time. I'm praying that as they do so they will also sense a much deeper support. The question, 'If there is a God, how can he allow things like this to happen?' is perfectly reasonable. A lifetime is not long enough to fully comprehend his nature, but I will always cling to the knowledge that his heart is to love and that he is as sorrowful and angry as we are about events like this. I hope they will (eventually) be able to understand that too.

I so feel for them. How I wish I could help.


2 comments:


Liz said...
Dear Mr. Jefferies, I am one of those people who found my way here due to that other Chris Jeffries! But I am so glad I did. I've been captivated by your blog for the last hour. I've been so uplifted and so needed to be. Thank you very much for your beautiful words. You have a truly wonderful gift. All the best, Liz
Chris said...
Hi Liz, I have no idea if you will read this, but I wanted to say, 'Thanks', for your kind and encouraging words. Kind regards from St Neots to wherever you may be! Chris

RESPONSE - HalleluYah!

This must have been quite a surprise for people grabbing lunch in a busy shopping mall. If you haven't already seen it I won't spoil the fun - just view the recording...



However, I do want to respond. Things like this always produce opportunities and it's a shame if they're missed. If you'd been there what would you have said to a friend or stranger sitting nearby? All too often I can't think of anything, but this would surely have been a great opportunity.

One person I know is good at creating opportunities of this kind and he's also good at using them effectively for life-changing conversation. Take a look at Chris Duffett's blog and read about some of his adventures in market places and malls. Dressing as an angel and handing out tea lights with 'You are Loved' written on them, using scrap doors to allow people to paint whatever they like into heart outlines.

On the face of it these are zany things to do. But they have a way of getting under people's radar. Most of the time we live alone in a busy world. We have things to do and we don't want to interact with the vast sea of humanity that surrounds us. Try having a conversation with the person sitting or standing next to you on the London Underground and you'll soon see what I mean!

But when something unusual happens people become more willing to communicate - temporarily. Let's not waste these opportunities to share life with others. It may not seem significant, yet these moments of contact and connection are so very precious.

TECHNOLOGY - Writing on a hair

Nottingham University's Nanotechnology Centre are used to viewing and manipulating very small items. Prof Poliakoff

When it came to finding a birthday present for the Professor of Chemistry, they took a hair from his head (he has plenty to spare), wrote a copy of the periodic table onto it using a beam of gallium ions, and handed it to him in a sample tube.

The video shows the entire process and is entertaining to watch.

22 December 2010

St Neots (Cornerstone) - Being in the right place

Tonight we met at Cornerstone as there was a group using the Meeting Room and I had agreed to open the shop and lock up afterwards. We spent some time over coffee talking about the year ahead.

David Wilkerson TodayJim told us about a Derek Prince book* he's been reading about prayer and fasting, and he shared some of his thoughts about it and how it had impacted him. We prayed together for Father to have his way in our lives - the things we feel we should do, things he has for us that he has not yet shown us, as well as projects, ideas, and possible new openings we can see.

I had a picture of a waterfall coming over a cliff. It was not a particularly large waterfall (not a Niagara Falls, more like a large brook shooting over the cliff edge). But it was a very high waterfall. And the Lord told me that if we stand in front of it we can see it but we won't get wet, and if we stand behind it (between the waterfall and the cliff) we'll see it and hear it but we still won't get wet.

But if we stand in the right place we will be drenched by the water. This is what Father wants us to do, to stand in the place where the water falls and to be truly affected by it.

Sean explained that the picture confirmed for him something he had read in a David Wilkerson blog post, 'Undefiled in the Midst of Wickedness'. Like Daniel and his companions, we need to stand in the right place, a place of purity. 'Seek first the Kingdom of the Most High, and all these other things will be added.'

Sean followed up this meeting with an email to Jim and me pointing us to another David Wilkerson item and commenting that it chimed well with some things Jim had mentioned.

Isn't it encouraging when things come together and link like that!

* If you live in the St Neots area you can buy a copy of this book from Cornerstone.

19 December 2010

FAMILY - Visiting York

Today we planned to drive north to visit my daughters and our grandchildren. We set out laden with Christmas presents. We knew that once we reached the A1 about a mile from our house things would improve. The weather forecast was for no more snow today or indeed tomorrow, so we were pretty confident of making it there and back.

Opening Christmas presentsSure enough, by the time we reached Peterborough the roads were clear. Apart from some light frost there were no problems and traffic was running freely.

As we walked up the garden path at Beth and Paz's house an excited Aidan ran to see us and instead of 'Hello Grandpa' he jumped up and down and said, 'Which one's mine Grandpa?' At four and a half one's priorities are always clear!

Verity, Beth and AidanPaz fed us a marvellous lunch of sausages, lentil bake, home made bread, olives, and a great deal more. It was fun to sit around the two tables pushed together - ten of us all told - and eat and chat and laugh together. Life at its best and fullest - family life.

After lunch of course it was time to exchange and open presents (the younger ones thought the presents should have taken precedence over the meal!)

Paz and SarahWe spent the entire afternoon exchanging news, playing with railway tracks and trains on the floor, assembling Playmobil ambulances, and having enormous fun.

All too quickly our time ran out and we set off for the trip home, two and a half hours of clear roads again until we were about a mile from home, then the snowy roads of Eaton Ford back to our house. We were tired but happy. It had been a really good day.

15 December 2010

THOUGHT - The fulfilment of the law

< What is the greatest gift? | The Essay | Love and other things >

This is the second post in the series on Henry Drummond's essay on love. He has established that love has a good claim to be the greatest thing there is, now he sets out to show how it fulfils Old Testament law.

Florence Nightingale helping the woundedHe begins by quoting Paul from Romans and asking us what we think Paul meant. Then he sets out to answer his own question.

Paul makes a deeply significant remark elsewhere, “Love is the fulfilment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10). Have you ever wondered what he meant? In those days people worked their passage to heaven by keeping the ten commandments (and the hundred and ten other commandments which they had made from them). But Christ came and said, “I will show you a simpler way. If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will unconsciously fulfil the entire law.” (For example, Matthew 22:37-40).

Drummond shows clearly that not only did Paul make this claim, so too did Jesus himself. The reference to the 110 other commandments is to the rules created by the teachers of the Law as fences. The idea was that because (for example) the Law says it is wrong to boil a calf in its mother's milk, to avoid all risk of a piece of meat coming in contact with a piece of cheese that might inadvertantly have been made from the mother's milk, a house must have two kitchens - one for milk products and the other for meat. In this way the risk of breaking that particular law would be greatly reduced.

Next, Henry Drummond provides some examples of how exactly love can cause the law to be fulfilled. He demonstrates its truth for the Almighty and then also for the people we meet in our lives.

It's easy to see why this is true. Take any of the commandments, for example, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3). If a person loves God you won't need to remind them of that. Love fulfils that law. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:7). Would anyone dream of misusing his name if they loved him? “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). Wouldn't anyone be glad to have one day in seven to dedicate more fully to the one they love? Love fulfils all these laws regarding God.

In just the same way, if someone loves other people there would be no need to remind them to honour their parents, they could do nothing less! It would be preposterous to tell them not to kill. And suggesting they should not steal would be to insult them – how could they steal from people they love? What point would there be in persuading them not to bear false witness. That's the last thing they'd do to those they love. You'd never think to press such a person to avoid envying their neighbour's possessions. They'd prefer the neighbour to have them anyway! And that is how “love is the fulfilment of the law”. It's the one rule for fulfilling all rules, the one new command for meeting all the old commandments, Christ's one secret of the Christian life.

And finally Henry Drummond sets the scene for the rest of his essay. He shows that 1 Corinthians 13 falls into three natural parts. He lists them here before launching into a treatment of each one.

Paul understood the secret clearly and in this wonderful chapter he's given us the best existing description of the Greatest Good. It can be divided into three parts. In verses 1-3 he contrasts love with other great things, in verses 4-7 he analyses its components, and in verses 8-13 he defends love as the greatest gift.

Henry Drummond is surely right. If love was always central in my heart it would always be central in my actions too. There's a certain inevitability about that.

< What is the greatest gift? | The Essay | Love and other things >

13 December 2010

SOCIETY - The London protests

The recent riots in London are troubling. Things like this don't often happen in the UK, we think of violence on the streets as something that happens far away. We pride ourselves on the fact that British police don't need to carry handguns. So what went wrong?

Riots in LondonThe Big Picture has some clear images of the trouble. Both protesters and police suffered some injuries and there will be inquiries to clarify how these happened.

The cause of the rioting is widely supposed to be student unrest concerning a recent House of Commons vote agreeing to increases in university tuition fees. But more than 99.9% of students were not present at the rallies in London and the great majority of those that were marched and protested peacefully.

It seems certain that small, organised groups joined the student marches with the express purpose of stirring up violence. It reminds me of the violent clashes at football matches, political demonstrations, industrial disputes and more.

There is no excuse for violence. It's not a valid way to express a point of view. It contradicts the teachings of all the world's major religions, the moral convictions of most agnostics and atheists, as well as the laws of most of the world's national governments and the views of international organisations. By definition, violence is intended to harm people. And the overwhelming majority of people are opposed to it.

The difficulty we face is what to do about it. We can hardly just let the law be flouted, but meeting force with force is a last resort and is likely to lead to greater violence, at least in the short term.

As someone who wishes to follow Jesus I can only listen to what he says and do what he does. He tells me to love my enemies. He rebuked Peter for trying to protect him with a sword. He is the Prince of Peace. He came to heal and mend. He offers wholeness in place of injury and life in place of death.

Perhaps we need to begin in the places where we live. Just imagine if for every theft or burglary, and for every act of violence, a hundred people came forward to offer help, to restore broken or lost property, to act as counsellors for grieving relatives and support for the injured. Suppose we offered to help the injured policeman and the injured rioter without making judgements or distinctions. Offering help doesn't imply approval or disapproval, it's just help where help is needed, help to innocent and guilty alike.

(Related post, 'SOCIETY - Riots in the Cities')

12 December 2010

THOUGHT - What is the greatest gift to grasp?

< No earler items | The Essay | The fulfilment of the law >

In 1884, Henry Drummond wrote an essay on love called 'The Greatest Thing in the World'. It is so good that I felt I should translate it from the original Victorian English into today's English so that it will accessible to more people.

Henry DrummondI have published the essay online, but I'm also making it available as a series of articles here. This is the first.

I'll begin by quoting a section of the modern version and then add some thoughts of my own.

Please consider writing a comment, I'm interested to know what you think.

Every one has asked themselves the great question of past ages and of today: What is the greatest good? You have life ahead of you but you can only live it once. What is the noblest thing to have, the greatest gift to grasp?

We're used to being told that the greatest thing in the religious world is Faith. That great word has been key for centuries in mainstream church and without a thought we've considered it to be the greatest thing in the world. Well, we're wrong! If we've been told that, we risk missing the truth. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul takes us to Christianity at its source and we read, "The greatest of these is love." (verse 13)

It's not an oversight. Paul has only just mentioned faith. He writes, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (verse 2) Far from forgetting, he deliberately contrasts them, “These three remain: faith, hope and love,” and without a moment's hesitation he makes his choice, “But the greatest of these is Love.”

Nor is it prejudice. We tend to recommend our own strengths to others, but love wasn't Paul's strong point. We can see a beautiful tenderness growing and ripening throughout his character as Paul grows old; but the hand that wrote, “The greatest of these is love,” was originally blood stained.

Nor is this letter to the Corinthians unique in singling out love as the greatest good. Other New Testament authors agree. Peter writes, “Above all, love each other deeply.” (1 Peter 4:8). Above all. And John goes even further, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8).

Drummond wants to know what the greatest thing in the world is. He has really thought it through and wants to challenge others to ask the question for themselves. This essay began life as an impromptu address at a country retreat, sitting in front of the fire.

The famous evangelist, D L Moody, had been asked to speak but he was tired and suggested Henry Drummond might take his place. And Drummond's words were so beautiful and striking that Moody wanted to use the address in his Bible Schools.

Notice how Henry Drummond begins. He argues that if you want to live life well you'd better make some wise choices. And then he points out how many make the mistake of thinking faith is the greatest thing (and therefore the thing to seek). What other things do followers of Jesus mistakenly put first today? Might they include right doctrine, and tithing, and high moral standards? These are not wrong in themselves but they are not where our hearts should be focussed.

Drummond's message is just as relevant today. Seek first the Kingdom, seek to be close to Jesus who is love made real in a person. Paul writes that love is greater than faith or hope and Drummond sets out to show that Paul is not writing out of prejudice or carelessness and that other New testament authors agree with him. Right here at the start of his essay he has laid the foundations. Love is the greatest thing - or as Drummond puts it, the 'Summum bonum'.

< No earler items | The Essay | The fulfilment of the law >

09 December 2010

TECHNOLOGY - SpaceX, another first

It was a privilege to be able to watch SpaceX's live webcast of the launch of their first Dragon capsule. This is a unique achievement, it's the first time a private company has put a spacecraft into orbit and safely returned it to earth.

Launch of Falcon 9 and Dragon, 8th December 2010The icing on the cake is that they also manoevered Dragon while in orbit, testing some of the moves that will be required to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). But why is all this such a great thing?

Let me explain. The human race undoubtedly has a built-in urge to explore and try out new things. We might have different views on the reason for this, and some might argue that space exploration is far too expensive to justify. But for whatever reason people have a built-in desire to explore beyond the boundaries, to go further than before, to see and understand new things.

01 December 2010

FAMILY - Holiday in Gran Canaria

Donna and I enjoyed a week in Gran Canaria. It was unexpectedly extended by two days as a result of a strike by Spanish air traffic controllers! The weather was variable, but warm, we loved our hotel, and there was plenty to see and do.

(You can click the images for larger versions and there's a separate picture gallery with more photos. Hint: from the gallery you can use the slideshow button at top-right.)

A frozen English landscapeDay One - 27th November - We flew out from Birmingham Airport. The four and a half hour flight was uneventful with views of the frozen English countryside on the way followed by cloudy conditions for the most of the journey. We did have some clear views of the lights on the south-east coast of the island as we approached the airport.

It was wonderful to leave the plane and feel the warm climate. We looked forward to a week of pleasant weather, no shivering, and no need for more than shorts and T-shirt.

Day Two - 28th November - We were staying at Marina Suites in the town of Puerto Rico. When we looked out of our window in the morning there were large puddles everywhere and the sky was grey. It was warm, but jeans and a fleece seemed more appropriate than the expected shorts and T-shirt!

View of the marina from our balconyWe weren't too troubled, we wanted to rest after our journey so we spent most of our time exploring the hotel and the local area (including the Marina), reading, and visiting the local supermarket to stock up with food.

The self-catering apartment where we were staying had a fridge and simple cooking facilities. A nice cup of tea came quite high on our list of priorities.

Day Three - 29th November - We had some torrential rain today, and I do mean absolutely torrential. Stall holders were racing to get their stock inside, cars were throwing up walls of water as they drove by, and we were completely stuck in the little holiday shop where we had been when the rain began.

Lights reflected in the water of the marinaFortunately the rain came as showers so after half an hour or so we were able to head back to the apartment before the next one hit. Puerto Rico is built around a ravine which is completely dry most of the year in this sem-desert climate. But it quickly became a very active little river again following the heavy rain.

Back at the apartment we returned to reading and chilling out, much easier now as we had bought two mugs in the town. Cups are way too small for a decent brew of tea.

As night fell the weather improved and the view from the balcony was beautiful with sparkling lights reflected in the water.

Day Four - 30th November - The weather began to improve markedly today. We had plenty of bright sunshine but there were still some heavy clouds around sweeping in across the ocean from the south-west. Black clouds on a sunny dayThe picture shows the arid hills with holiday homes and hotels and their irrigated trees (the natural coastal vegetation is scrubby bush with large bare areas of baked rock and stone).

We were able to explore the local area more thoroughly on foot today. We arranged to hire a car for the remainder of our stay so that we could explore a bit further afield.

Day Five - 1st December - I picked up the car first thing in the morning and then drove back to the hotel to collect Donna. Looking back from the foothillsWe had decided to head inland and visit the mountains. Although the coastal parts of Gran Canaria are used mainly for tourism, the inland parts have a more temperate and moist climate and are used mainly for agriculture.

We headed south-east along the coast to Maspalomas and then used the GC-60 north to the centre of the island. The rock and scrub gradually changed to Opuntia and dry grass, then eventually to occasional palms and finally pine trees.

Donna in San BartoloméOn the way we passed the small settlements of Artedara, Fataga, and eventually San Bartolomé de Tirajana where we stopped for lunch (Canarian potatoes are very good!). Little in the way of tourist hotels here, and there are some genuinely old, Spanish buildings. Glorious mountain sceneryThese are absolutely beautiful places and we saw some lovely mountain scenery.

Heading on again we visited the cross at Tejeda and then drove to the highest point on the island, Pico de Las Nieves (1949 m above sea level). Pico de Teide 125 km away on TenerifeThe views from here were awesome as we were above the cloud tops and could see Mount Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife, about 125 km away!

The journey back home took us east on the GC-130 and GC-120 through Pasadilla and then the GC-196 back to the east coast motorway (the GC-1). There were more spectacular views on the way.

To be continued...

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