28 February 2011

Brampton - An easy prayer turned hard

< 22nd February 2011 | Index | 3rd March 2011 >

Meeting with Sean this evening provided an unexpected dimension to prayer and faith. What began as a simple prayer for children to be happy turned into a deeply significant personal challenge. Life with Yahshua is full of surprises.

Whatever our age, we are all childrenI suppose by now nothing should surprise me! Here's what happened.

We sat drinking coffee and I wittered on for a while about the situation in North Africa, and Libya in particular. Not particularly illuminating stuff, but something that has preoccupied me over recent days. Sean listened but had little to add as he's been busy with other things of his own.

The prayer - Over the weeks and months he has been working his way through prayer circles on a T-shirt. Here's Sean's explanation. Read what he says and then come back here. If you don't, what follows may be a bit of a mystery.

I asked how this process was going, and wondered if it would be OK to pray about one or two of the circles together. Sean thought that would be a good plan and picked one out at random. We looked at it together, someone had written, 'For all children to be happy'.

What a lovely prayer request; simple, pure, and certainly worthy. I thought, 'What an easy thing to pray for.' Boy, was I wrong to think that!

The problem - As we began to pray, this 'simple' prayer challenged me more and more about my own faith. Perhaps the words 'all' and 'be' are the main problem. Do I have the faith to go to Father and ask, in Jesus name, that all children will be happy? All children? There is so much pain and suffering in the world and children are not immune. Here are some of the issues faced by children every day in our world - hunger, pain, sickness, abuse, no parents, uncaring parents, poverty, dirty drinking water, isolation, bullying, loneliness, fear, violence, self doubt, abandonment, loss... The list could go on, add some more yourself.

How can I ask for all children to be happy? It's easy to say the words so let's rephrase that. How can I believe that such a prayer will be answered? It seems easier to pray for one child with a particular known issue to be met. 'Father, please bring happiness into the life of {name goes here}'. But all children?

Yahshua loves children. He told his disciples not to prevent the little ones coming to him. He told them that unless they themselves came like small children they wouldn't even enter the Kingdom of heaven! (Mark 10:13-16)

Challenged - Whoever wrote that simple T-shirt prayer could not have known that they were setting me such a mighty challenge! The Holy Spirit didn't make it easier for me; he told me, 'If you can't pray for such a simple thing, how will you be able to ask for anything more difficult?'

I recognise that the Creator and King of this universe truly loves every child and certainly has no wish to keep any of them from happiness. Jesus himself walked through this same broken world and saw (and felt) the suffering and pain for himself. Love is the answer, but it's an answer he wants me to live out in practical ways as part of his body. I may be an ear, an eye, a foot or a hand. I must play my part by hearing or seeing suffering and going and reaching out in love.

I've rarely felt more challenged. What about you? Do you have views or thoughts about prayer and faith? Why not leave a comment? Let's have a discussion.

You can see more of Sean's T-shirt prayer circles on his 'Children in Need' Prayer Spot. The photo is image 54 from a collection on the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.

< 22nd February 2011 | Index | 3rd March 2011 >

25 February 2011

ARTS - Musical chess!

I thought this was rather neat. Jonathan W Stokes has been experimenting with ways of turning famous chess games into music. It's amusing to see how he does it and the results provide surprisingly good listening.

'The Immortal Game' part way throughSo how did he do it?

The process he chose is quite straightforward. He noticed that there are eight columns of squares on a chess board and also eight notes in a musical octave.

With some rather clever adjustments and using the values of the chess pieces to determine how long each note should be, he transcribed the chess notation into musical scores and then played them on a piano.

Here's my favourite - 'The Immortal Game' played in June 1851, and this is how it sounds on the piano.

Rather delightful!

The full details and a further two examples of the music are available on Jonathan's blog. And if you enjoyed Chess Music you might also like Jonathan's Fibonacci Music!

24 February 2011

RESPONSE - Noah in Christchurch

It's still possible (even likely) that a few more survivors may be pulled from the devastation that is Christchurch right now. But the focus is already moving to recovering bodies and restoring vital services. In the middle of the destruction comes an item about Noah and Kate Cremisimo.

Position of Christchurch (red circle)Noah and Kate moved to Christchurch, New Zealand from Denver, USA. They are church planters focussing especially on starting small, organic and reproducible expressions of church life, mostly meeting in homes, offices, and other small settings.

Noah writes that although their home suffered only minor damage and seems to be structurally sound, there is no power, no water, and no sewerage and none of those services are likely to be restored soon because damage is so widespread. Clearly, repairing the city's infrastructure is urgent and important but saving lives has to be the priority.

We should all pray for the people of Christchurch in their current distress and need. But in addition to that, Noah has a further prayer request. He writes...

Please pray that God will birth hundreds of simple communities from this situation... especially considering that SO many institutional churches will be unusable for quite a while.

Every church family is precious, whether it's small and informal or large and institutional in nature. But perhaps these small, local forms of church have the nimbleness and local knowledge to help their immediate neighbours in ways that are particularly appropriate during the aftermath of an earthquake.

Pray for Noah and Kate, for their friends and neighbours, and for the local church in every size and shape and form, that they will be at the forefront of helping those around them. Together as one family serving one Almighty Father may they be able to make a real difference.

Matthew 25:31-46 seems relevant here. There will be many in Christchurch and the surrounding area who will be hungry, thirsty, friendless, sick or without shelter or money or suitable clothes. There will be some who are grief-stricken, not knowing where to turn, without friends or family. Some will need practical help, many will just need a listening ear. And some may need emotional support for years to come. May the church bless them all and provide whatever they need.

Noah and Kate will be in the thick of it. And later they will have some extraordinary stories to tell - but not just yet.

You can learn more about Noah and Kate at 'Stories from the Revolution'.

22 February 2011

Brampton - The Harvest Field

< 18th February 2011 | Index | 28th February 2011 >

This was the latest in a long series of meetings where Sean and I have been trying to hear what the Lord is saying to us. We desperately want to be more obedient, but how can we be obedient unless we first hear?

A well maintained ditchWe began with coffee and spent some time in prayer knowing we needed to finish early so that Sean could collect his son, arriving home from a trip abroad. Right at the start we wondered just how alive we really are. Sometimes it seems we are not. But perhaps that's healthy, Yahshua tells us very clearly that he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We read much of John 6:5-21. It's clear that our life is in Christ or we have no life at all.

I had a puzzling picture of a blocked ditch. Because of the blockage, water was running where it should not go; we knew we needed to unblock the ditch so that the water could flow freely in the proper channel again. We started to dig around the place where the blockage seemed to be and soon discovered a farm tractor hidden in the ditch. It was completely buried!

I knew that somehow the buried tractor represented our broken and failed efforts, but I couldn't understand the full meaning of the picture.

But later, Sean made it clear. He realised that the ditch was part of the Lord's harvest field and I then understood that the very thing we'd used to clear the ditch was, in fact, blocking it. By using our method, applying our own power and energy and strength, we were actually causing the problem. Instead, we need to watch to see what Jesus will do and be available to do whatever he tells us. Only he can clear the ditch, our effort to do it only makes things far worse!

In other words, we must let him do the work and he will tell us what we must do. He's the manager, we're the staff. We are not to take charge. We are here to obey, not direct.

At home later I was reading Ephesians 1 and noticed how relevant it is.

We are blessed, we are chosen, and we are loved. Paul makes this clear right at the start of his letter. We were picked in advance to be adopted as his children. It's all part of Father's plan to bring everything under the headship of Christ.

Paul writes that the Ephesians 'were included in Christ when they heard the word of truth'. Paul is clearly very pleased with the Ephesian believers, they are doing really well. He prays that they may be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they may know the Father better.

And that's exactly what we need - to know the Father better.

< 18th February 2011 | Index | 28th February 2011 >

21 February 2011

THOUGHT - Pray for the people of Libya

I have watched events in Tunisia and then Egypt with great interest, and more recently events in Yemen, Bahrain, Morocco and particularly Libya. What is happening in Libya is of an altogether worse kind. All followers of Isa (Jesus) should be praying for those suffering people.

A mosque in LibyaI considered writing earlier to congratulate the people of Tunisia and then Egypt. They have brought about change in their lands and done it with remarkably little loss of life. They now stand a good chance of going forward into better times, influencing the nature of their own government.

But now Libya is in the news and some appalling things seem to be going on. It is likely that the Libyan air force has been ordered to carry out strikes on civilians, Apache helicopter gunships have already been used, as have army units with heavy weapons such as machine guns, mortar bombs, and missiles.

It's difficult to know how to respond; if the reports are correct it's savagery of the worst kind, usually limited to all out war.

I'm praying for the people in Libya right now and I urge everyone else to do the same. Men, women and children are dying in Libya tonight. They are guilty of nothing more than trying to replace a corrupt and brutal government that has been in power for decades.

Pray that these terrible times will be cut short. Pray that many who might otherwise die will be somehow protected and kept safe, even in the middle of the violence. Pray for the armed forces and the security and police forces, that many of them will disobey orders to fire on civilians. And yes, pray for those clinging to power including Mr Gaddafi and his family, that they will quickly see the folly of continuing as they are. Pray that many will be surprised by Isa himself appearing to them in their time of need, speaking comfort and peace and life into their hearts. And if you doubt that such a thing is possible, read this earlier post and then pray.

17 February 2011

Little Paxton - Hearing and doing

We talked for quite some time this evening, mostly wrestling with practical questions of what to do. Then we prayed and found that the Lord had much more to say to us than we had said to one another!

Aromatic lilac blossomJim is troubled that there is so much need in Britain, society is almost entirely worldly and the church is not standing up for good moral standards; nor are we helping those in need in body, mind and spirit. He told us that he believes the church needs to be active if we are to turn this situation around.

I asked provocative questions mostly around the issue of motivation. I feel we need to do more than help people, we need to hear what Yahweh is saying to us and do that.

Sean said little at first, but after listening for a long time he made the point that we can effectively do nothing because everything depends utterly on the Lord. The only thing we need, and the one thing we cannot do without, is to get to know him better. Sean is absolutely right.

As Floyd McClung puts it, if we love him we will worship him, if we love one another we will care for one another, if we love the lost we will reach out to them with the good news.

We spent some time in prayer and received several visions and words from the Spirit. Here are some of the highlights.

I had a prophecy, 'There are not just three of you here, there is a fourth person right here with you. Your desire to be with me is not as strong as my desire to be with you. I love you so much, I will show you what to do. Listen and you will hear, look and you will see.'

He told us that we need to be still. Only when we stop being busy and active can we hear his soft voice speaking into our hearts.

Jim mentioned how Jesus had told the disciples to throw the net out on the other side of the boat and they caught a huge quantity of fish. These were seasoned and skilled fishermen, they knew their business well but because he told them to do it, they did it. And the result was overwhelming. We are just like them. We know how to plan and carry out the work of church ministry and mission. But Jesus shows us a better way, a way not of skill and planning and wasted effort, but a way of simple obedience.

Jim had a picture of an amazingly aromatic shrub, it represents the aroma of Jesus. I was struck by the thought that if we stay close to him we will always be aware of his aroma, it speaks of the essence of his nature - loving, kind, knowledgeable, wise, powerful yet humble.

Sean described a picture of a massive lake, it was crystal clear in the shallows and he could see the fish swimming nearby. But it was completely dark further out in the middle and he could see nothing there. Sean felt he was waiting to see what would happen. He looked at the fish but he didn't want to look up because it was so very dark.

Jim almost immediately commented that we should fish where we can see, beyond is the darkness where we can see nothing. We need to know where the fish are, they are where we are!

11 February 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT - Moggerhanger Celebration

It's such a long time since we met in larger numbers to spend some time rejoicing in Jesus' presence, giving him all the glory, and listening to what he will tell us. High time to meet again.

Bluebells at Moggerhanger ParkWe've picked Sunday 10th April as the date and booked some space at Moggerhanger Park between Bedford and Sandy. We plan to meet after lunch, take an afternoon stroll in the grounds if the weather's fine (or chat over a coffee if it's wet). Then we'll share a meal together and spend the evening in open praise, worship, and sharing. There will be no prepared music and no invited speaker; we'll just meet in a circle (Jesus at the centre) and wait to see what he will do amongst us. We can be sure he will surprise us and delight us just as he always does.

Make a note in your diary for the afternoon and evening of 10th April. There'll be another announcement here on 'All About Jesus' as soon as the details are finalised and I'll circulate the details by email to everyone who expressed an interest at previous meetings.

You may find notes on these earlier meetings useful, particularly if you haven't experienced one of these celebrations before. The notes include announcements sent out and a report on each meeting.

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