31 December 2011

Systems of measurement

Everyone is familiar with measuring things, but two American authors have taken systems of measurement to what might be a logical conclusion. Their paper is a good read for anyone with a little science background.

Measuring devices
When we think of measurement most of us think of rulers, tape measures, kitchen and bathroom scales, filling up with petrol or how much paint to buy to redecorate the lounge. And it's true - all of these things involve measurement.

But when we talk about a system of measurement we are referring to a coherent, complete and consistent set of defined units that will allow us to measure anything. The best known system of measurement is the SI standard that has been officially adopted by every nation apart from the USA, Liberia and Myanmar. Amongst older systems of measurement the CGS, Imperial and Avoirdupois (mass units only) are some of the best known. And historically there have been many systems going way back to ancient Babylonian times and before.

But we can work in a much more fundamental way (though for practical reasons we normally choose not to). A recent paper by L Hsu and J Hsu from the Universities of Minnesota and Massachusetts shows how this can be done. They define everything in terms of time though they point out that any other fundamental unit could have done the job. In passing it becomes clear why time and space can be combined as space-time and how some fundamental constants are more fundamental than others.

This system is what is known as a natural system of units.

Fascinating stuff. Anyone can read the paper as it's not particularly complex, though school level physics and maths will be needed to follow the detailed reasoning.


30 December 2011

Prophecy to the breath

Part 8 of a series - 'The valley of dry bones'
< Sinew, muscle and skin | Index | An overwhelming army >

And now Ezekiel is commanded to pray to the breath, calling it to fill the slain bodies so that they may come alive. We need breath (that is, the Holy Spirit) if the church is to be filled, come alive and function properly.

The power of the wind
Ezekiel stands and marvels over the bodies lying around him (bodies which so recently had been no more than dry and jumbled bones). And  Yahweh commands him to prophecy again.

Then he told me, 'Speak to the breath, son of man, tell it prophetically, "Here's what Yahweh Almighty says - come, breath, come from the four winds and breath into these dead bodies so they can come alive."' (Ezekiel 37:9)

So what is going on here? Let's take it step by step and notice the details. It is absolutely fascinating.

Yahweh speaks to a man (Ezekiel) and commands him to speak to the breath (or spirit, or wind, or life). He is not called to speak to the bodies, he is called to speak to the breath.

Breath, spirit, wind and life are closely connected in Hebrew thinking. Breath and spirit are the same word - 'ruach', and anything with breath/spirit has life. Whatever does not have breath/spirit is dead. When we breathe we create a feeble wind, while the winds that can bend trees and raise dust from the ground are clearly far more powerful.

There is an underlying thought here that the winds can provide the necessary breath/spirit to fill these bodies and bring them to life. And the breath comes 'from the four winds'. In other words it comes from anywhere and everywhere. We cannot pin the Holy Spirit down, he comes and goes as he chooses.

The church in our day seems often to be limp and lifeless. At least in the West we are not seeing great, sweeping moves of new believers. It is happening in some eastern lands just as it happened in Jerusalem after Pentecost when three thousand were baptised and added in a single day. (Acts 2:41)

Why are we in the west left out? Perhaps it's because the churches are at best like dead bodies, and the people at worst like dry scattered bones. We need to plead with the Lord to renew us by sending his Spirit to transform us and reinvigorate us. The church in the West needs an Ezekiel to hear Yahweh and to obey him in calling the Life and Spirit of Christ to re-enter the scattered bodies.

We should all be calling out to our Father in heaven to send an Ezekiel (or even a band of Ezekiels) to call the life and breath of his Spirit to return in power and to fill us so that we begin to live again.

Why is it necessary to speak to the Spirit rather than to the churches? Might it be because the churches are dead?  Earlier in the chapter Ezekiel spoke to the dry bones, they were dead too. So what was the difference? Notice that both times Ezekiel spoke as he was commanded by Yahweh - and that is the key.

Our primary duty will always be to listen and do what we are told, to watch and do what we are shown. This is how Jesus himself lived while he was here in the world, he knows how hard it can be and how effective it is. And he called us to follow him.

< Sinew, muscle and skin | Index | An overwhelming army >

29 December 2011

The abundant results of prayer

Part 9 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< We bless you from... here! | Index | Grace outpouring >

Soon there is ample evidence that trusting, expectant prayer brings results. The community at Ffald-y-Brenin begin to hear extraordinary stories from their neighbours up and down the valley.

A poppy in PembrokeshireRoy and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin have been discovering the value of simply praying for blessing on local people, places and businesses. Now they start to witness the results of this prayer.

There are some remarkable stories and Roy shares from them in the next section of the book.
Before long we began to see the fruit of these prayers in quite miraculous ways. A man who rented a small stable in the community and did agricultural repairs had not been finding things easy. After we began blessing the valley in the name of Jesus his business suddenly began to take off. He had to take on larger premises and employ people and was able to buy his own house.

The lambing season came and more miracles emerged. We had been blessing the ewes to be strong and healthy and productive. One of our farmer neighbours told us how he'd been absolutely stunned by the number of quads and triplets being born to his ewes. His normal hope was for many twins. The ewes were just about coping, but his wife was run off her feet supporting the rest of the lambs with bottle feeds!

He wasn't the only farmer with a story to tell. Another one stopped me in the lane and said, 'Come and look in this field with me.' Just beyond the gate was a massive bull. He carefully walked round the bull with an arm stiffened in front of him as if to ward off an attack. The bull was staring at him and slowly turning and facing him as he walked round. The farmer invited me to join him. I declined. He insisted. I closed the gate and refused again. Now he was stuck in the field with the bull and had an obstinate onlooker.

He managed to divide off a cow and her calf and invited me to consider how excellent the calf's rear end was. Being no expert on bovine hindquarters I merely murmured some niceties. He had to spell it out for me. The calf was clearly, given the breadth of its rear, going to be a superb bull. It seems that farmers pray that at least once in a lifetime they will have a calf like that one.

He still clearly felt I wasn't grasping how good this was. 'I had one like this last year as well. It's utterly unnatural.' I told him that we had been praying that the blessings of God would fall on the cattle, on the herds of the locality. Another seed was planted in another life as God's blessing unfolded in the life of a farmer in this green valley in Pembrokeshire.

But there was more. A lady who lives out in the wilds at the head of the valley runs a farmhouse bed and breakfast. Suddenly she was awarded AA landlady of the year for Great Britain and was busy at awards, on publicity trips and in TV studios. Even now we tease her and tell her we're having a plaque put up at Ffald-y-Brenin, which will claim we are friends of the award-winning Lilwen MacAllister.

This remote valley was seeing material and spiritual blessing. The chapel had not had a baptism for a good few years, but after we prayed the prayer of blessing a dam seemed to break. One very cold day, muddy underfoot, we were able to witness about seven people being baptised in the open-air baptistry, fed by the local stream.*

When we pray in expectant faith we can't second guess the outcome. Our Father in heaven knows what is needed and pours out more than we could ever hope or expect. We often can't anticipate either the direction or the scale of his response.

Roy, Daphne and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin asked only for a blessing on the people, the farm animals, the land, and the local businesses. But they had no idea what form this blessing would take until their neighbours began to tell them.

And I'm quite sure that if you also pray from the place where the Lord lives among you and call on him to bless your neighbours, sooner or later extraordinary stories will reach you in the same way. So don't be afraid to ask. And after you have asked, expect the unexpected!

All too often we pray very specifically for this or that perceived need, usually for ourselves or for our close friends and family. And then we're disappointed when we don't see the results we had expected. I wonder how we often fail to notice the unexpected good things that he does provide?

If you read the whole book you will see that Roy also prays very specifically - not infrequently for healing. But he began with the unspecific prayer for blessing. In the rest of the chapter he explains more about the underlying heart and mind attitudes that help or hinder effective prayer. More on this in the next post.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | Grace outpouring >

26 December 2011

Recycling Christmas tree lights


In China, waste Christmas tree lights are converted into chopped copper and brass for reuse and plastic feedstock for slipper soles.

Christmas tree lightsChina has become a powerhouse for recycling, and they're now making great strides in terms of cleaner, more environmentally-friendly recycling.

The insulation on junked electrical cable used to be burned off so that the copper could be extracted for refining and reuse. But today, in China, the plastic insulation is recovered and sold as a feedstock for shoe sole manufacturers. Even the water used in the processing is reused in the plant, nothing is dumped back into the environment.

The factory described in this article and video on 'The Atlantic' website takes in unwanted Christmas tree lights, sells copper, brass and plastic feedstock,  and consumes only electrical energy and a modest amount of water which is returned to the atmosphere as vapour.

That is a shining (groan) example of how waste can, and should, be handled. The biggest downside I can see in this is the energy cost of shipping the material halfway around the world rather than disposing of it locally.

23 December 2011

Atlas detector built in Lego

A Lego model of the huge ATLAS detector at CERN has been built by Sascha Mehlhase. The model itself is intricate and took a lot of work to design and build.

ATLAS in Lego
ATLAS has been in the news recently. It's a huge particle detector at the European particle physics lab CERN on the Swiss/French border. It's been in the news because it has found encouraging evidence for the Higgs boson, a much sought-after fundamental particle predicted by the leading theory of particle physics, the Standard Model. That model stands or falls on the existence or absence of the Higgs.

The detection of the Higgs is fundamental in every sense of the word, but it is not yet secure. The evidence from ATLAS is not yet adequate - a strong hint rather than a definite find. But ATLAS will collect more data next year and that should be enough to decide for sure.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a vast machine and ATLAS (just one of the LHC's detectors) is itself a very large and expensive multi-storey construction.

Sascha Mehlhase has built a model of Atlas entirely of Lego bricks, quite an achievement in itself. The design and construction took more than eighty hours work and contains nearly ten thousand bricks.

21 December 2011

Hearing from the Spirit in Coventry

< Coventry Cathedral | Index | The centrality of Christ >

Sometimes the Holy Spirit pours his truth into our lives like a flowing stream. That's exactly what happened to me recently as I visited Coventry. I went because he told me to go and said that he would speak to me there. But he did even more than he promised. Isn't that just typical of his grace?

The remains of the old visible through the newAs I was preparing to visit Coventry, the Holy Spirit began surprising me with thoughts and I started to write them down. There was more revelation as I visited the old and new cathedrals; much that I saw prompted further thoughts. And finally, after I arrived home there was a third flow of spiritual truth.

The major themes I have identified are...

  • The centrality of Christ, his majesty and glory.
  • Oneness with Jesus and in church life, reconciliation.
  • New and old in terms of church. They are connected. We need to remember the old but live in the new.
  • The old was brought down by intense fire.
  • The new is a different kind of structure.
  • Jesus expresses himself through the new.
  • The new touches the world and should transform it.

What follows is taken from the notes I made on the day. The notes themselves are in italics, the rest is comment added later. I have not expanded all of the notes, there is simply too much for one article. I may revisit these notes, perhaps under the seven headings listed above.

Before the journey to Coventry

The contribution you can make to one church is to encourage people in having good, welcoming attitudes to all believers.

The idea that there is only one church has been much on my mind, and it was immensely helpful to have this guidance. It's not for me to demand or build unity. Instead, I must encourage everyone to accept others with different understandings and vision. Oneness is not about everyone being the same, it's about hearts of love touching through the differences.

Remind them that we're all brothers and sisters.

The 'wheel' emblemEven the emblem I gave you speaks of unity. There's a centre where all the spokes meet, and the periphery is held in place by every spoke. I AM the centre. My people are the spokes, each of them in contact with me. The periphery is out there in the world, far from me, their only connection to the centre is through you. Pray that they, too, will become spokes.

Read more about the 'wheel' emblem and its origin. There's a call to prayer here too; that's something I must not ignore or forget.  Father, remind me - often.

My expectation had been clear. The Lord would speak to me when I reached Coventry, but at this point I was still at home and he was already pouring out so much. I was astonished!

In the old cathedral

The old still remains, but it's empty.

The pillars have all gone.

There is no roof, no protection.

The windows are empty.

This is a place of memories, but few people are here to remember. Most of them are here to look.

The architect says that the new should grow out of the old.

In the new cathedral

A canopy connects the old and the new.

The new west front reflects the old cathedral in its expanse of glass.

The old is clearly visible throughout the new, it is not forgettable and not forgotten.

The view is very different depending whether you are looking towards me or away from me.

I am far more weighty than you might think.

The cathedral has an enormous tapestry portraying Christ, it is so large that it weighs more than a tonne. It's hard to imagine a tapestry being so heavy, and it is even harder to imagine the full majesty and glory of Christ himself. I think he wants me to focus both on his nature and on my inability to comprehend his nature.

This building speaks of life, a progression from the cradle. It's all about reconciliation and has contributions from people of all faiths.

This is an echo of what he showed me before I left home. Reconciliation is a prerequisite for unity. Jesus is our reconciliation, not only with the Father but also with one another. Oneness with the Most High and oneness with one another both depend on the reconciliation that only Jesus can bring. We cannot do without Christ, yet we need nothing more.

Back at home

The old building was brought down by the intense heat of the fire. It cracked and flaked stone, melted lead and glass, and consumed timber.

Fragments of the old stained glass remain.

The old and familiar, the very things we lean upon and think we need, these are all burned up by the intense fire of the Spirit. The old must make way for the new. Yet the old is still more than just a memory. Parts of it remain lest we forget.

Everywhere in the new are expressions of his love, glory, grace, peace, presence, and oneness.

There's a strong theme of reconciliation throughout both old and new.

Old and new are intimately connected.

These seem to be important ideas and should not be forgotten.

The old was brought down by an act of war, but the war was external - it was not a war between old and new.

The inner roof is not attached to the walls.

The technologies of old and new are quite different.

The builders of the old would have found the new literally incredible.

They would have been astonished and unable to comprehend how it could have been achieved.

There's an emphasis in some of the memorials on working selflessly together for a greater good.

There is a swastika on the bronze effigy. See how visitors have polished the swastika and the nose by touching them. Touch is so important.

Touch is transforming, turning dullness to brilliance. We need to touch Christ, we also need to touch one another.

The old cathedral is part of an old town and an old society, now gone apart from a few buildings. The new cathedral is part of a new town and a new city - the university, the shopping centre and so on.

The new fabric is already showing evidence of decay and shabbiness - especially outside.

Although there is a new move of the Spirit coming in church life, the new will go the way of the old unless there is maintenance and repair. It will be needed continuously.

< Coventry Cathedral | Index | The centrality of Christ >

20 December 2011

Resources

Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

Links to websites, blogs, and other online resources.

Major resources

Blogs - See the list in the right hand column for more

Topics

Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

This page attempts to track blog posts and articles grouped by topic. The lists will help you read material from multiple sources on the same theme, all focussed on the 'Organic Wine' topic of exciting change as Jesus builds his church.

A selection of words from this pageHere are some blog posts and articles grouped by topic (most recent at the top within each topic). Articles are included in more than one place when appropriate.

You can treat these as reading lists if you start at the bottom of a topic, or news updates if you start at the top. Dates of publication and blog authors are included.

Authority

Building the church



Hearing, revelation

Outreach


Problems


Spiritual outpouring


Yahweh's presence

    19 December 2011

    NEWS - To read and ponder

    Here are three news items for you, there's a new report on simple church and the good news, Chris Duffett has something different to say in an interview, and there are some thoughts about why young people leave church.A megaphone
    • Mission Britain - The group published a report 'Simple/Organic/House/Missional Church in the UK and Ireland 2011' just a few days ago. I'll respond to their findings as soon as I can, meanwhile you can read the report online.
    • Chris Duffet - An interesting video interview lasting just over 8 minutes. Listen especially to the last part (from 6.00 minutes onwards). I just love this - what a guy!
    • Barna Group - This is a report from March 2011, and although it's not new it caught my eye. It seems right to share it again now. It lists six reasons that young people leave church. We should think about all of them, but 'Churches come across as antagonistic to science' stands out as something I'd like to comment on when I can.

    16 December 2011

    We bless you from... here!

    Part 8 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
    < A pattern of blessing | Index | The abundant results of prayer >

    This time we hear how the community at Ffald-y-Brenin eased into a habit and pattern of blessing the whole area around them. They asked the Lord to share out his abundant life more widely.

    Blessing the land and its inhabitantsIn part 7 we heard more from Roy on the importance of letting the Lord himself work in people. And a new pattern developed of looking outward from Ffald-y-Brenin and blessing those in the wider community. In this part he elaborates on that.
    Gradually a structure emerged as we continued in our new tradition of blessing prayer and we now pray in that pattern as a matter of course. We pray for people and we pray for households. We speak into every household, blessing it in the name of Jesus. We're not interceding; we're speaking to them in the name of Jesus.

    The phrase 'We bless you from Zion' captures a biblical attitude to prayer that we wanted to apply to our context when we used the words, 'We bless you from Ffald-y-Brenin, this place where God's presence is being poured out. We speak to you in his name, and we bless you.'

    So we bless every household, we bless every marriage, we bless the relationship between family members of different generations and we bless their health and we bless their wealth. We bless the work of their hands. We bless every wholesome enterprise they're involved with, that they may prosper.

    Because we're an agricultural community, we bless the flocks and the herds, and we bless the grass so that it will be nutritious in winter - which it wouldn't normally be - and will not need to be supplemented in order to strengthen the animals.

    We bless supportive networks of friendship that run through the community, because they're a sign of the kingdom. We bless the pupils of our rural school and ask God to aid their learning. We bless the teachers and pray that school may be a safe and wholesome place, where simple childlike trust and belief in God and in Jesus can be comfortably maintained.

    We pray for both places of worship in the valley, that the word of God and the Spirit of God may flow out from both.

    Then we speak to the hearts of all the people who are in the community. We bless them to be safe and to be softened, so they may become more and more responsive to the voice of God. We bless them with the overspill of the kingdom of heaven being made manifest here in Ffald-y-Brenin.*

    Are you in a place of blessing in your own life and circumstances? Is there a 'Zion' or a 'Ffald-y-Brenin' that you inhabit? Is Father's presence being poured out where you are?

    We're not all living in the style of a Ffald-y-Brenin but we do all have much blessing in our lives and the occasional mountain-top experience too. A glorious sunset, the sound of the waves on a pebbly shore, something truly delicious to eat or drink, watching a small child play, enjoying good conversation, the astonishing colours of a bird's plumage or of flowers in a garden or a field - all these things can help to lift us up into the Lord's presence.

    So what is stopping us blessing those around us out of our own places of fullness and blessing? We can say with Roy and Daphne Godwin, 'We bless you with the overspill of the kingdom of heaven being made manifest here in {...}  Go ahead, fill in those dots - and pray! If you're not sure what to ask, adapt some of Roy's words above. Bless the people and their families, the shops and homes and industrial units and businesses. Bless the schools and the hospitals and the dentists. Bless the parks, the fields and the gardens.

    And give the King (the Lord of heaven and earth) all the glory, for ever and ever and ever. Amen!

    Here's an exercise for you. Go back to the image at the top of this article and click on it for a larger view. Count how many things you can see to bless just in that one photo. Now go and look out of the nearest window wherever you happen to be as you read this. What and who can you see there to bless? So what are you waiting for?

    Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

    *Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

    < A pattern of blessing | Index | The abundant results of prayer >

    15 December 2011

    Sinew, muscle and skin

    Part 7 of a series - 'The valley of dry bones'
    < The bones come together | Index | Prophecy to the breath >

    Ezekiel watches as sinew, muscle and skin transform the newly organised bones into complete bodies. What might be the sinew, muscle and skin of church and are these sufficient?

    Complete bodies
    Now the bones are all in order and correctly arranged, the stage is set for the next steps. Ezekiel is still watching and he tells us what he sees.

    'Before my very eyes sinew and muscle appeared on them and skin covered them, but they weren't breathing.' (Ezekiel 37:8)

    Ezekiel has seen a remarkable change! What began with dry, dusty bones has now become dead bodies. Although there is no life, the structure has changed. Lets see what we can tease out of this.

    First we need to remember that the bones form the framework of a body, the first thing that happened was that the framework was restored to the way it needed to be.

    This is no small matter! If we apply this idea to the church, can we say what the framework might be? What is a right framework? May I suggest that a suitable framework for church is what we often call organic church? It's family-sized groups living in close community. This framework is made, not of bones, but of people. Dry and dusty people who are in disarray or in isolation, such people are not a suitable framework for church life!

    People who are correctly arranged, connected together and in right relationship are the basic requirement for something that will have the shape of church about it.

    Then the sinews are added. In the body, sinews or tendons connect bones to muscles and sometimes attach two bones together (in the knee for example). All these tendons must be attached if the muscles are to make the framework move.

    So perhaps the sinews say something to us about frameworks that are ready for movement. There is so far nothing to cause the movement, but the bones are now suitably equipped. So what might sinews suggest about church? Assuming the framework is in good shape, what might prepare it for movement? I would suggest there are many mechanisms that will do this. Prayer, Bible study, CO2, seven signs in John, eating together regularly, helping one another, spiritual songs. I'm sure you can think of more.

    We can now imagine a good church framework (people connected correctly) well-equipped for movement (some good mechanisms, tools and habits). But more is needed, much more.

    We need some muscle! Muscles (flesh) turn chemical energy into movement and warmth. What does church need for movement and warmth? Here I'm going to suggest spiritual fruit and in particular love - the Lord's love for us, our love for him, and our love for one another. 'Christ's love compels us', writes Paul (2 Corinthians 5:13-15). If we have love we are driven, but without love we will remain indifferent.

    We need love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. This fruit will direct our energies into the mechanics of prayer and Bible study and the rest in ways that are useful. Now we're in pretty good shape - a framework of people in community, prepared with good mechanisms, and with the means to turn energy into movement and warmth.

    And skin, so important but often overlooked. Skin provides the senses of touch, hot and cold, texture and so much more. What is the overlooked, protective boundary of church? It's so overlooked that we may not ever think about it, we are just aware of who is part of church and who is outside. We rejoice when someone is transferred from outside to inside, but how do we know? Might it be faith? Why did Paul and Peter both refer to faith as a 'great shield'? (Ephesians 6:16, 1 Peter 1:5) It is faith that defines our boundary, inside there is faith but outside there is not.

    So Ezekiel has prophesied and the bones are now bodies that are complete in every way, yet are not breathing. And if this is where things had remained, over time these bodies would have decayed and  become dry bones again.

    'Before my very eyes sinew and muscle appeared on them and skin covered them, but they weren't breathing.' (Ezekiel 37:8)

    < The bones come together | Index | Prophecy to the breath >

    12 December 2011

    Brampton - Trust and faith

    < 5th December 2011 | Index | 3rd January 2012 >

    Beginning with a thought about the nature of the Most High, we were led to consider how he changes everything, our lack of trust in him, what it means to have faith, and the goal of one church.

    The fruit of the Spirit is, obviously, the fruit of his Spirit. Therefore this same fruit will be expressed in the nature of the Father and of the Son and the fruit can be taken as a description of them. Here is the fruit again from Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That is what he is like.

    A small stream
    He gave us a word. 'Everything that is lost will be found, every single thing that was ever broken will be mended. Everything big will be shrunk until it's small, every small thing will become big. I'm turning everything upside down and inside out. Foolishness will become wisdom, the wise will be shown to be foolish.'

    Then I saw an ant trail, but these ants didn't wander about like normal ants, they followed one another in a precise straight line. And I saw that if each ant carried a single grain of sand, given time they would be able to move a mountain. I looked up 'ant' and found it in Proverbs 6:6-8 and again in 30:24-25.

    And then I saw a small ditch running along the side of a field and containing only a trickle of water. But it was joined by several more ditches and the water level increased and it became a small stream, then a river, and eventually it was a huge river entering the ocean.

    Sean also had a river picture. He was in a small boat on a river and was paddling hard to stay in the same place. He explained that the Lord wants us to be swept away by the river, but in fear and lack of trust we try to stay in the same place. If we just float free we might be dashed against hidden rocks. We need to trust him, he has a purpose for everything.

    He mentioned how Jesus had slept through the storm in the boat on Galilee. But worrying about an unknown rock isn't trusting! Perhaps the disciples had worked to keep the boat safe, taking down sails, strapping everything down. They didn't trust him either - he was asleep!

    Together we thought about faith 'like a mustard seed'. It's not the size of our faith that matters, it's whether our faith is alive. And being together (of one mind) is important too, we need a minimum of two people if we are to agree in what we ask. We need to be one together, not one alone.

    This brought me back to something that's been much on my mind recently, one church. We have to become one, it's far more important than we think. And there is no way we can achieve it, we cannot make all denominations and groups become one. But Jesus will do it!

    < 5th December 2011 | Index | 3rd January 2012 >

    What is the Organic Wine tab?

    Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

    No, we're not trying to sell you a bottle to accompany a fine meal - it's just a name. We look at wineskins and wine in terms of church life.

    Red wineWhat's the Organic Wine tab all about? - There are early signs of a major change in organic church, not in the way it's organised or the principles behind it (person of peace, oikos, new church, networks) but in what happens as we meet. Only Father knows where he is leading us, our place is to enjoy the journey and give him all the glory for whatever he may do. This 'Organic Wine' tab is here to facilitate sharing about these things.

    Wineskins and Wine - Let's define 'organic' church very loosely, generally we have in mind something small with the feel of family about it - friends in close community, brothers and sisters caring for one another. We also see organic church as something alive, its members going out into the world actively looking to share the good news, make disciples, and encourage them to gather as further, new, living expressions of church.

    It may help to think of church as a container. The most precious thing it can contain is the life of Christ amongst his people. If we see it as merely containing people we will have made a social club. If we see it as containing Christ we will see that he is building a part of his church, his bride to be. Church should be a place where Jesus is at the centre, his Spirit is active amongst the people, the Living Water is flowing through and out, there is growing hope and joy and peace and above all love, and there is a sense of purpose and excitement and of the presence of the King.

    The structures and mechanisms of organic church are like bottles or wineskins, the abundant and bubbling life within is the new wine. The bottles are church in the world, the wine they contain is church in Heaven.

    What I am not saying - It's important to be clear about two things. The fruit of the Spirit is more fundamental than the gifts; in other words character trumps activity. We are not expecting an experience of Holy Spirit power alone, but for that power mediated by gentleness, self control, peace, kindness, and above all joy and love. And secondly we are not suggesting that an outpouring of spiritual power and freedom will be confined to just organic church, we are convinced that Father longs to see all his people using every gift he has made available.

    In some ways we are second guessing what Father will do. The only things we can see clearly are those things that have already happened. And we can surely expect him to surprise us and exceed the bounds of our imagination. HalleluYah!

    And finally - Pages under the Organic Wine tab are not like other articles on this blog. Most articles, once posted, are unlikely to change. But the Organic Wine posts will change as often as necessary to keep the contents (and especially the links) up to date.

    11 December 2011

    The way forward

    Something is going on, tectonic activity in the foundations of church. Yahshua is moving his people into something new again. He is leading me, I think, to collect material, collate it and make it available.

    A new day dawningFor some time I've been aware of the Holy Spirit nudging me in a particular direction. It's as if he's been urging me to move but I haven't always known what to do about it. But now things are becoming clearer for me and I feel I can share them a little more widely.

    Back in the late summer, Tony and Felicity Dale were visiting Nettle Hill in the UK (see also the afternoon session and a meeting in Coventry). I contacted them beforehand to see if we could meet up and we were able to spend an afternoon together in the Cotswolds. We had a pub lunch and spent some time chatting.

    I explained what I was experiencing. I told them that I felt there was a new move of the Holy Spirit coming, that we were at the beginning of a new phase. Over the last decade or so there's been a great move towards simplicity and organic growth in the church. In particular the CO2 and Luke 10:2 ideas, and a sense of the value of listening and hearing seem to be centrally important. Also I have felt more and more convinced that there'll be a major return of the gifts and fruit of the Spirit in every aspect of church life.

    I was encouraged and excited to discover that they felt much the same. I don't mean to put words into their mouths, and they will speak for themselves, but I can tell you what I am hearing from the Lord.

    After they returned to the USA I've had some correspondence, mainly with Felicity. They have been led to prayerfully examine the book of Haggai, and Felicity has blogged on that topic several times. I have been feeling the need to delve into Ezekiel. All three of us have been impacted by Roy Godwin's book The Grace Outpouring - the publishers have kindly allowed me to publish extracts from the first chapter.

    One need I feel acutely is to create a space on the web for discussion around these things. I set up Organic Wine, a wiki, for that purpose. But it has never felt quite the right thing. And just a few days ago I visited Coventry Cathedral and the Spirit poured out more for me to ponder.

    My mind is more settled now, things are becoming clearer. It's like a new day dawning out of the mist. Partly as a result of Coventry I now think that Organic Wine is not the way forward. Instead I'm going to move that information here, onto All About Jesus. It won't be open to editing here, but it will form a repository of material on the internet that I believe will be fundamental and important.

    There are other voices saying similar or related things and I'll point you to them whenever I can. The discussion will take place, not on a special wiki site, but in the to and fro of comments on many of the blogs out there, at meetings, and via other internet facilities. This is already happening and I don't think another website is either necessary or helpful at this stage.

    The next step (at least for me) is to reorganise the CO2 tab on this blog so that it becomes much wider and more general in nature. Watch this space!

    10 December 2011

    A pattern of blessing

    Part 7 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
    < Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

    Roy explains the importance of slipping away to let the Holy Spirit deal with people directly and personally. And a pattern of prayer for blessing is set, not only for visitors but for the local area too.

    Looking beyond Ffald-y-BreninLast time we saw how important it was to persevere despite the difficulties visitors might bring with them. And in the end the Holy Spirit would step in and take over. Roy shares why this is important.
    This slipping away was an important part of our ethos. I wanted people to have direct dealings with God. When visitors left we didn't want them to feel that there was somebody at Ffald-y-Brenin who had led them and taught them, to whom they must speak when they had difficulties in the future. I wanted people to know that God himself had come and met with them, and that he was able to convict and counsel them, and that they could speak to him directly - they didn't need to be taught 'special words' to pray. If I had been present through these encounters they might have asked how to pray or been scared to admit that they didn't know how to. Afterwards, when people would come to tell us their stories of wonder and weeping, we would explain and encourage, offering them a context for what had happened and suggesting how to find out more about God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

    Several patterns began to emerge in the months that followed. We often did not need to offer to pray a prayer of blessing, as the Holy Spirit fell on people just as they walked around the centre or the grounds. Our job was to go along with what the Holy Spirit was doing and to continue to bless what he was doing, and respond to it.

    It was so rewarding to speak blessings on the people God brought along who didn't know him, so we turned our sights outwards and began a pattern of speaking blessings into the local community. Every Friday morning in our chapel meeting we would speak blessings over the neighbourhood. The valley below us has a two-mile section that you could call our locality. It is home to about eighty people scattered across its half-mile width.*

    How striking that Roy felt he should walk away once he felt people were sensing the presence of the Spirit touching them. Most of us, I dare say, would have stayed to guide them or encourage them or channel them in accordance with our traditional teaching. How right Roy was to take this line! What the visitors received would come direct from the One who really knew what was needed. And in their hearts and minds afterwards they would know to turn to him again as necessary.

    And then there is the turning outward. Am I more likely to turn inward or outward? How about you? When we are inclined to turn inward perhaps we are forgetting the words of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. Even if this requirement seems strange and difficult to us, we still cannot ignore it. 'Go and make followers' are the words of the King.

    Turning out towards the community is always the right thing to do. How hard can it be to pray for a blessing on our neighbours? We don't even need to know what kind of blessing to ask for, the Lord knows what is needed. But he wants us to have a desire in our hearts that they should be blessed and bring it to him to fulfil in whatever way he wishes. And if he does give us specific things to ask, so much the better.

    But whether it's specific or general - we can and should ask!

    Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

    *Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

    < Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

    09 December 2011

    Coventry Cathedral

    < No earlier items | Index | Hearing from the Spirit in Coventry >

    On a trip to Coventry today, I visited the old and new cathedrals, expecting to hear from the Holy Spirit while I was there. But he began pouring out thoughts before I left and continued after I arrived home. He delights in abundance!

    Remains of stained glassI spent much of today in Coventry, visiting the Cathedral. There are actually two buildings, the old cathedral and the new cathedral, they stand side by side linked by a canopy. The old one is a ruin, destroyed by fire during a night of German bombing in World War II. The new one is the replacement built in the 1950s and 60s. My reason for going was that I have felt for a few weeks that Father wanted me to visit and that he would speak to me while I was there. And he did.

    This was the first day that has been both free in my diary and forecast to be sunny. It seemed important to go on a sunny day.

    I parked the car in a rather scruffy area marked as the Cathedral Car Park, walked past a university hall of residence and then turned left. I spotted the Cathedral immediately. I remember coming here with my parents to see the building progress so I recognised the scene right away. There's a lot that I could say about the day. Unexpectedly, I began hearing from the Spirit while I was preparing to set out, then again while I was in Coventry,  and yet again in the evening after returning home.

    But I'll save that for another time. Tonight I want to leave you with some words of Simon Barrington-Ward, offered as part of his enthronement speech when he became Bishop of Coventry in 1986.
    Coventry Cathedral itself offers us a wonderful picture of what Christ's love could do in us. On the night after the bombing when the roof had gone and all those matchless pillars, arcades and clerestories lay on the ground in broken heaps, it took the eye of faith to see what yet could be....Out of the sole sore loss and brokeness was fashioned a new harmony, a new richness, the sign of a healing and reconciling influence was to reach out all over the world.

    That is what God's new love in Christ can do in us if only we will yield ourselves to him. The ruins of our very gifts and failure can be made new and brought into a greater pattern.
    Yes, exactly! 'The ruins of our very gifts and failure.' I found those words tonight in a little guide book, 'Coventry Cathedral after the flames'.

    'The ruins of our very gifts and failure.' It's true, isn't it? I can wield my gifts like weapons to cut down those who see things differently. I've been guilty of precisely that. And that is why the fruit of the Spirit is more fundamental than the gifts of the same Holy Spirit. A gift can be mishandled, misused, misapplied. It's not possible to do that with the fruit. (Galatians 5:13-26)

    See also: Coventry pilgrimage

    < No earlier items | Index | Hearing from the Spirit in Coventry >

    08 December 2011

    The broken pot

    A broken pot made me think about the church. Repairing the pot was tricky, but putting together the fragmented Humpty-Dumpty church in St Neots would be far, far harder.

    A couple of weeks ago we had a bad storm during the night. In the morning one of the patio pots had blown over and the bay tree it contained was sprawled out horizontally. The bay was soon rescued and planted in the garden, but the pot was badly broken.

    Normally I would have disposed of the pot and bought a new one. But this pot was rather special.

    When Donna and I were married in 1998, our friends Tony and Faith ordered it as a wedding present. Not only was it made specially, it has our names and the date fired into the hand-decorated surface.

    The pot just had to be rescued, so out came the Araldite and I spent some time yesterday glueing the shards back together. I learned a lot while doing the work.

    For a start, you can't put the pieces together in a random sequence. Experiment (without glue) showed it would be easy to stick one piece back only to make it impossible to fit the next one. Also, it took gentle persuasion to get a snug fit. And I discovered that the adhesive itself takes a certain amount of space, only a little perhaps, but it mounts up and is significant towards the end.

    The photos show some of my progress. The pot is now complete once more although the cracks are clearly visible. With some careful use of terracotta filler I hope to make them a lot less noticeable.

    This process got me thinking about the church (something that has been on my mind a great deal recently). You see, the church is shattered and needs mending - just like our poor pot. The pieces need to be carefully fitted together. Like the pot, the church is something rather special, Jesus is not going to merely dispose of us and replace us.

    Here in St Neots it's not easy even to make a proper catalogue of the pieces. There are three Anglican churches (all called St Marys just to catch the unwary). The Baptists, two Methodist congregations, Roman Catholic, the Evangelical church, United Reformed, and at least two independent groups - Open Door and River Church. Then there are the various little groups I'm involved with and very likely others I'm not aware of. And finally there will be some people who are part of a church meeting in Bedford or Cambridge or Peterborough. I know several of these but surely not all.

    How can I put these parts together? I can't even draw up a full and consistent list! What would be the correct sequence? What would I use as adhesive?

    Frankly, if the church in St Neots is to be mended it will take someone far, far wiser and more knowledgeable than me. Surely Jesus is the only one capable of such work? And even if I could manage to repair the church in St Neots, what about all the other towns and cities around the world, let alone the millions of small villages?

    So at least we know who to look to for the answer.

    I do have a sense that he has already begun this most difficult task and that he will not rest until it is completed. Wherever you live and whatever your style of church, are you ready to respond to him? Will you allow him to use you in his work of restoration?

    See also:

    06 December 2011

    Be like your Father

    < A pottery lesson | No later items >

    I think it will be useful to share the words of another Fisherfolk song, this one from 1979. The track (and the album) is called 'Be like your Father' and it's always been one of my favourites.

    Part of the LP cover for 'Be like your Father'It's so easy to live my life with 'me' at the centre. It's called being self-centred and it's not a good thing, not a good thing at all. Yahshua calls us to be other-centred, not self-centred. In fact, I need to live a life focussed first on Father, and then on all those around me. That includes my enemies. What a challenge!

    'Be like your Father' is based on Yahshua's own words as reported by Matthew (chapter 5:43-48)

    So here are the words of the song. The image shows the album cover.
    But I say unto you...

    Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.
    Give to those who ask, don't turn away. And

    Refrain:
    Be like your Father in heaven above
    Who causes his sun to shine on evil and good,
    And sends down his rain to quench all men's thirst.
    In him we live and move and have our being.

    If you forgive your brother so will God forgive you
    Do not judge lest you be judged yourselves. And

    Refrain

    When you see the hungry, feed them from your table.
    For the poor and weary be their watering place. And

    Refrain

    Love your enemies and pray for those who hurt you.
    Give to those who ask don't turn away. And

    Refrain (x 2)
    Thanks go to the Community of Celebration for permission to reproduce the lyrics. The CD is still available from their online store.

    I don't have permission to share the music with you, in any case I only have a scratchy copy on an ancient vinyl disc. But perhaps I can offer you a small snippet to give you a feel for it and encourage you to splash out on the CD (crackle free)!

    Hmm... I think I've just persuaded myself to buy a fresh copy on CD.

    < A pottery lesson | No later items >

    05 December 2011

    Brampton - Elijah and Elisha

    < 29th November 2011 | Index | 12th December 2011 >

    This evening we dip into 2 Kings and make some interesting discoveries about Elijah and Elisha. There are some clear hints of Jesus in these chapters.

    Elishah returning the widow's son
    Sean and I hadn't met for several weeks so it was good to spend the evening together again. Instead of a time of prayer and listening, this time we thought it would be good to dip into the Bible for a while. Sean has been working his way through 2 Kings recently, and we mostly focussed on chapters 3, 4 and 5.

    Before he was caught up into heaven, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him. And Elisha asked for a double helping of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9). Sean wondered why he'd made this request because it had been hard enough for Elijah with just a single portion! It's a good question and I don't have an answer.

    We wondered about the names Elijah and Elisha, it seems clear that 'jah' is the shortened form of Yahweh (the Almighty's name), and 'Eli' is the short form of Elohim meaning 'Mighty One' or 'Almighty'.

    It turns out that Elijah does indeed mean 'Yahweh is my Elohim' or 'Yahweh is my Mighty One' (or 'Yahweh is my God' in traditional language). And Elisha means 'Elohim saves'. This is similar to the names Joshua or Yeshua (Jesus) which mean 'Yahweh saves'. Joshua led the people of Israel into the promised land. And Jesus leads his people into the Kingdom of Heaven. So in a sense, Elisha is like Jesus. But we already know that Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as being Elijah. So Elijah and Elisha are like John the Baptist and Jesus.

    This idea is confirmed by the miracles Elisha did. He raised the widow's son, he fed many people with a few loaves of barley bread, he healed Naaman of leprosy.

    And when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain he talked with Moses and Elijah. In a sense he took Elisha's part, the part of one with a greater share of the Spirit than Elijah.

    I don't feel I have understood these topics fully. Far from it! But we got far enough to know that these are very important chapters and there may be some fundamental truth to be unearthed. This is one to have another look at when I have more time.

    < 29th November 2011 | Index | 12th December 2011 >

    The bones come together

    Part 6 of a series - 'The valley of dry bones'
    < The word of Yahweh | Index | Sinew, muscle and skin >

    Ezekiel begins speaking to the bones and the effect is immediate. There's a clear pattern of actions in a logical sequence; the preliminary need is met as Ezekiel speaks.

    Bones in right relationship
    'So I prophesied as I'd been told. As I spoke there was a rattling noise and the bones moved together and connected.' (Ezekiel 37:7)

    There's a lot of important material for us in just these few words. Let's begin by noting that Ezekiel was obedient. He had been told to speak to the bones and he'd been given the words to say. And now, in obedience, he speaks them out.

    Let's remind ourselves of what he was told to say. 'This is what the Lord Yahweh tells these bones: "I'll cause breath to come into you and you'll come alive. I'll attach tendons, cause flesh to appear on you and cover you over with skin. I'll put breath into you and you'll live - then you'll know that I'm Yahweh."'

    Notice the repetition, a form of emphasis. First we have breath-life. Then the repetition which also provides more detail, tendons-flesh-skin-breath-life-know. The breath and life are central, the tendons, flesh and skin are necessary enablers, and know is the purpose. 'Know that I'm Yahweh' or 'Know Yahweh' if we follow Sean's suggestion (check the comments in the previous part).

    But what happens when Ezekiel pronounces these words of prophecy over the bones? None of the above! What does happen is immediate, however, and implied. In order for Yahweh to attach tendons, first he must move the bones together. They cannot move themselves for they are dead.

    So when the dry and dusty bones of church as we see it hear the Word (who is Jesus) we can expect that those bones will move together into right relationship. We can also expect it to be a noisy process, anyone nearby will know about it. And then they will be in the right places for sinew and muscle and skin to cover them over, and spiritual life to fill them until they know him. And then he will have church as he sees it and expects it and can use it.

    Ezekiel's obedient pronouncement was prophetic over scattered, broken, captive Israel. They were about to be brought together in Jerusalem and become once more a living nation. They would rebuild the Temple so they might again know Yahweh and have him living amongst them.

    But those same words are prophetic over the scattered, broken, captive people who together make up the church in our day. We too need to move together into right relationship with one another. We need the Creator King to bind us together with sinew and muscle and skin.

    Writing to the Ephesians, Paul puts it like this: '...we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.' (Ephesians 4:15-16)

    We need to be filled with the abundant life of the Spirit of Christ until we truly know him. Then we will be the new Temple built of living stones,  his body here on Earth, a mighty army.

    Let the import of that glorious and astonishing destiny fill your heart with hope and expectation. It will happen! These words have been spoken over us by someone greater than Ezekiel, by Christ himself. He has said it. He will do it!

    I must now point out the disjointed and broken nature of church as we see it today. Everywhere we see denominations, streams, grouping of all kinds. We see house churches and mega churches and in between churches. These are all dry bones. But the body of Christ as he intends it (and will have it) is one body, a living and breathing body.

    All of the parts are involved. Here's the mystery - the denominational and other dry bones will be hidden from view, bound together in right relationship and covered over with flesh and skin.

    I suggest you read Ephesians 4:1-16 in full at this point. What will Paul's words say to you about all this?

    < The word of Yahweh | Index | Sinew, muscle and skin >

    Bible passages relevant to church

    Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

    There are a number of relevant Bible passages listed on this page.

    The Old Testament is rich with passages about Israel's fall from favour and her restoration. All of them probably have useful things to tell us about the church. The New Testament contains many things direct from Jesus about both principles and practices, while Acts and the letters provide a lot of history and practical background.
    • Ezekiel 37 - The valley of dry bones. Indeed the entire book of Ezekiel may be useful, there is so much about restoration here.
    • Haggai - Building his house, not our own houses.
    • The wine and wineskins passages in the gospels.
    • John 17 - Very important passage on oneness. It's clearly what Jesus himself wanted.

    Copyright

    Creative Commons Licence

    © 2002-2014, Chris J Jefferies

    This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
    Real Time Web Analytics