30 September 2011

IMAGE - Balloon over St Neots

(Click the photo for a larger view)

Balloon near the end of a flight - Photo taken 30th September 2011

We spotted this Virgin hot air balloon looking for a suitable landing site almost passing over our house in Eaton Ford, St Neots. The evening sunlight illuminates the western side of the envelope and the pilot is burning gas to gain height.

Click the 'image' label below to see other image posts.

27 September 2011

RESPONSE - Invisibility coat

'How do you become invisible? Just try wearing a 'Big Issue' seller's jacket.' This is one of the provocative thoughts in Chris Duffett's presentation, 'A Gospel for the City Centre'.

The invisibility coatListening to what Chris had to say in the video I was struck by how uncomplicated his message is. Why do we make church so difficult and messy? It's really not a big deal, or perhaps I should say that it IS a very big deal in one way, but not in another.

The creator of the universe has come to town and plans to make his home in me - and in you. Now that's a big deal!

But he wants us to respond in very simple ways, by making our home amongst anyone and everyone round about. We're not supposed to turn this into a programme or create an organisation, we're just to be there for people. Love them, be open and welcoming, listen, care about their problems, help them find their own solutions. It's often not our solutions and fixes that people want, it's our time. They don't need my opinion, but they crave my ear, my heart, and my attention.

Just read the Bible accounts of what Jesus did and said as he travelled from town to town. See how he interacted with people. See how present he was in their anxieties and woes, triumphs and joys. See how he brought peace and comfort and life to them. 'Come to me if you're struggling and heavily crushed; I'll give you rest.' (Matthew 11:28)

26 September 2011

The 'ichthus' symbol

You may be wondering about the symbol you'll see on JHM websites - this pizza thing - what is it and why is it here?

(JHM websites include Cruising the gospel and Journeys of heart and mind.)

The clue is the Greek word 'Ichthus' which means 'fish' and was used by Jesus' early followers as a symbol on a house or a door. The same idea is still used today, you'll sometimes notice a car with a stylised fish sticker - it just means 'we follow Jesus'.
The ichthus icon
The ichthus icon

The round symbol is what you get if you write out the Greek letters for Ichthus but instead of side by side you write them all on top of one another. Here's a list of the letters, can you see each one in the 'pizza' shape?
  • Ι - Iota - the vertical bar
  • χ - Chi - the 'X' bars
  • θ - Theta - the outer circle and horizontal bar
  • Υ- Upsilon - three half bars
  • Σ - Sigma - two circle arcs and two half bars
What's more, these are the first letters of the Greek words 'Jesus Christ, God's Son, Saviour' - Ἰησοῦς Χριστός Θεοῦ Υἱός Σωτήρ (Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter).

Neat, isn't it! Were those ancient Greeks clever, or were they clever?

The logo image and the Greek characters in the Journeys of heart and mind banner are taken from a real example nearly 2000 years old from the city of Ephesus. The orange lines are chalk markings added to the incised pattern on the stone to make the shapes more visible.

Here's a link to an additional image, showing the stone in situ.

A new look for 'All about Jesus'

It's good to refresh things now and again, whether it's church, the decor, lifestyle or just a website.

The old version
The appearance of 'All about Jesus' has been fixed for a very long time. So welcome to the new look! Under the bonnet (as we say in the UK) nothing has changed. The content is the same but it's been poured into a fresh container.

A word about the banner and the little icon that appears on your browser's tab - this pizza thing - what is it and why is it here?

The clue is the Greek word 'Ichthus' which you can see in the banner. 'Ichthus' means 'fish' and it was used by Jesus' early followers as a symbol on a house or a door. The same idea is still used today, you'll sometimes notice a car with a stylised fish sticker - it just means 'we follow Jesus'.
The Ichthus icon
The round symbol is what you get if you write out the Greek letters for Ichthus but instead of side by side you write them all on top of one another. Here's a list of the letters, can you see each one in the 'pizza' shape?

For fuller details read the 'ichthus' article.

25 September 2011

Coventry (Ricoh Arena) - Open to change

< 24th September 2011 | Index | 10th October 2011 >

This was an encouraging meeting where a number of small groups meeting in Coventry and Market Harborough came together and Tony and Felicity Dale had been invited to speak.

The small, organic meetings in the area come together like this every other month in a room at the Ricoh Arena.
Meeting at the Ricoh Arena
Today we began with Psalm 40:5 'Many are your wonders, too many to recall' and Psalm 139. The Lord knows us intimately and he has clear plans for our lives. Mark shared that he and Becca will be emigrating to St Louis in the USA in the next few days and although they have mixed feelings, they sense that this is part of Father's plan for them.

Giles reminded us that despite the distractions life brings, we can train ourselves to tune in to the Holy Spirit.

Felicity and Tony told us they've been on the organic church road for ten or fifteen years now whereas in the UK we are just beginning the journey. They explained the background to their going, how abandoned they had felt for nine years after arriving, and how things had started to change with a study of business principles in Proverbs and some breakfast meetings for children.

They also explained that truth has been restored in wave after wave of change in church life down the ages. The wave of organic church, making disciples and reproducing families of believers has been (and continues to be) absolutely huge. Especially in India, China and the Middle East but also now in America growth has become very rapid.

In the Reformation period the Bible was put into the hands of ordinary people. But today the church is being put in the hands of ordinary people! We need to be 'looking outside our walls', meeting in Starbucks for example. We heard stories about people who had done extraordinary things resulting in abundant new followers of Jesus. Sometimes just turning something around can make a big difference. Instead of trying to tell my story I could invite people to tell me their stories. The greatest need is for ordinary people to get out there, not just 'special' people.

Movements are far more effective than individual programmes. Why? Because movements contain the seed of the next generation within the current generation. They are self-propagating. But we need to lay the right foundations with an emphasis on ordinary people and relationships. 'No empire building, no control, no glory' captures the mood. We can put money behind building on godly principles. Getting to know one another is essential. Much of the church thinks we're crazy and the world has no idea what's going on.

It's really not about 'simple church', it's about the Kingdom. The Spirit will speak to us in the UK, but we need to get people together and agree on the foundations. The world won't just come to our churches or to our homes - that's why we need to go out!

Please note - this article is only a superficial account. But the meeting was recorded and you can hear what Tony and Felicity said for yourself (recording provided by simplechurch.co.uk).

< 24th September 2011 | Index | 10th October 2011 >

24 September 2011

Nettle Hill - Church planting, afternoon

< 24th September 2001 | Index | 25th September 2011 >

More from Tony and Felicity Dale during the afternoon session at Nettle Hill. This time the emphasis was more focussed on issues around church and church multiplication.

The Last SupperTony and Felicity again took turns to speak to us. Tony began by contrasting addition and multiplication. In the 1960s and 70s many new, small churches were formed in homes in the UK. Some gifted leaders began to build larger and larger churches from these beginnings and in many cases there were hubs with new groups planted out from them. This is addition, and one of the problems is that it requires the training of more leaders.

Multiplication is very different and focusses instead on planting churches that plant churches that plant churches. To do this we need to find people of peace and influence among their own circles of friends, family or colleagues (for example). We don't need to find new leaders because the person of peace is the labourer. We only need to help them.

The acronym MAWL was explained. In the first generation we Model church, but in the new groum in daily life.p gathered around a person of peace we Assist. We do not attempt to draw the newcomers into our own existing group. Members of the new group are encouraged to go out to find further people of peace.

In the third generation we Watch them work independently although we're still there to answer questions and provide feedback. And in the fourth generation we Leave. Meanwhile the person of peace we originally found will be modelling church in the second generation, assisting the third generation, watching the fourth and leaving the fifth.

This process can be hugely successful. In South Korea, for example, if we counted networks of small meetings as 'a church', the nineteen largest churches would all be such networks while the twentieth would be Jonggi Cho's Full Gospel Church.

There are huge numbers of small, organic churches in the USA now, involving more people than the Southern Baptists.

An important point is that foundations can be laid only once, so they need to be laid right. This is likely to involve letting go of all kinds of things we might prefer to keep.

We did an exercise in thinking about a variety of biblical examples of people of peace, for example Lydia, the proconsul in Acts 13:7, and the Samaritan woman at the well. We were encouraged to ask ourselves what exactly it was that made those individuals people of peace. No two are the same and we need to learn to recognise them when we come across them in daily life.

We are 'fishers of men' and should think of ourselves like some of the disciples - commercial fishermen, not rod and line enthusiasts. We are not in the business of taking fish one at a time, but should be thinking in terms of netting large numbers. If we learn to live like Jesus in our everyday lives it will be transformational!

We also watched the video 'Upside-Down Leadership'. Very good and well worth viewing, I'd recommend this to anyone.

Please note - this article is only a superficial account. When the recordings become available I'll add a link to them here so that you can hear what was said for yourself.

< 24th September 2001 | Index | 25th September 2011 >

Nettle Hill - Church planting, morning

< 23rd September 2011 | Index | 24th September 2011 >

This was a great day. The Dales were visiting from the USA and were sharing about aspects of church planting. It wasn't training in the way we normally view it. It was a sharing of real life stories and it was much more about people than the things we plan and do.

Giles introduced the day by reminding us that we're looking for organic growth. He referred to Romans 15 where Paul explains that he speaks of what he has seen and heard. Stories are good.

A North American IndianTony Dale continued this theme. He pointed out that speaking from the front was almost unknown in New Testament times. When Eutychus fell from the window, the word used for 'talking' is not 'monologue' but 'dialogue'. They were having a conversation.

The first story we heard was about Tony and Felicity's journey to America and how when they arrived they felt abandoned by the Lord. They'd come from such exciting times in Britain during the outpouring of the Spirit in the 70s and 80s, and now they didn't fit in to the church scene in the USA, work plans failed, and life became very difficult. It's often a struggle to listen and obey in such circumstances, but this is key in the journey.

Felicity took us through a listening exercise called Virkler, it involves four steps.
  1. Becoming free from distraction
  2. Focussing on Jesus
  3. Listening to the flow of spontaneous thoughts
  4. Writing them down (they can be weighed later)
Virkler is more fully described on the CO2 page (about half way down). We spent a few minutes on this exercise, then reported back with things that had seemed significant. There was a clear pattern and we were encouraged by that.

We heard how Tony and Felicity set aside several times each year just for listening together with friends. She described one of these times on a mountain around a campfire when someone saw in their mind an Indian on a hill surrounded by a ring of fire and also a bungalow with two basements. It later turned out that this was very accurate and the key to resolving some difficult situations.

Tony and Felicity continued to take turns at leading out thoughts right through the day. They told us about times in the 1970s and 80s when everyone would share openly in the meeting and how these were times clearly arranged by the Spirit. They have no doubt that Jesus want to lead his people and transform our situations.

We (plural, jointly) have the mind of Christ. We need to hear the quietest people and encourage them to share, this is treating the weaker parts of the body with greater honour. As the Charismatic Renewal developed and matured we stopped hearing through everyone. Some became famous or led large movements, many others were left out. Eventually we were left communicating head to head instead of heart to heart.

Change doesn't happen naturally, we need to plan and act to make space for the 'little' people. Our job is to make disciples, Jesus said he'd build the church himself.

It's useful to bring groups of unbelievers under the influence of the word. If we can do that their lives will change. It's a process of coming under the rule and lordship of Christ. We should ask people to follow Jesus, not join what we're doing. Follow simple patterns, eating together is important. Getting people talking is essential because we remember much more of what we express than what we hear or read. Multiplication generally happens outside our existing context; it's at the fringes and with unbelievers.

Success is not measured in terms of size; it's about multiplying the small. We need to lay down our view of success and look for transformed lives instead.

Please note - this article is only a superficial account. When the recordings become available I'll add a link to them here so that you can hear what was said for yourself.

< 23rd September 2011 | Index | 24th September 2011 >

23 September 2011

Offord d'Arcy (Day) - Rock of ages

< 22nd September 2011 | Index | 24th September 2011 >

Meeting at Roger's today, we spent a while running through SASHET together and praying for friends. We also enjoyed a cream tea and some coffee.

The Rock of AgesAh, coffee and a cream tea, what could be better? When we arrived, Roger provided scones, butter, jam and a pot of cream as well as coffee. We sat around the table together and tucked in - lovely!

SASHET is always an interesting exercise, turning up all sorts of things that might otherwise go unmentioned. I find it particularly helpful because I'm naturally a listener and a writer, not so much a talker. I'm particularly poor when it comes to talking about myself but SASHET provides the framework I need to help me be a little more forthcoming about my feelings. The headings sad, angy, scared, happy, excited, tender (the initials form the acronym SASHET) focus my mind and help me express how I feel.

We read Psalm 18:1-6 together before going our separate ways. How encouraging these words are, whatever we face in life the Mighty One hears us and rescues us.

< 22nd September 2011 | Index | 24th September 2011 >

22 September 2011

Eaton Ford - Walking in the garden

< 20th September 2011 | Index | 23rd September 2011 >

Three of us met and Donna joined us for a while for a chat over tea and coffee. We talked a lot, shared bread and wine together, read parts of John 17, and prayed together.

DovedaleTalking about events and experiences led me to an interesting thought. Yahshua has opened the chance for us to walk in the garden again with the Father in the cool of the day. This is what Adam and Eve did in the beginning but we have since broken away and have been unable to return to that place of blessing. But now because of what Yahshua has done we are free to walk there again - and that's what our Father wants. We are once again welcome in his presence! HalleluYah!

With this thought in our minds I broke the loaf in half and shared it, then later Jim prayed and passed round the glass of wine. We do this in Yahshua's memory as he asked.

As we began to talk again, Jim mentioned the recent case of cage fighting involving children. 'How low can we go?' was his thought. This led on to a further thought, 'How would we modify our behaviour today if we knew it was going to be our very last day?'

We also talked about our tendency to judge others - we do it all the time. Jim told us a story about this. He and Pam were walking up Dovedale recently and as they were leaving he saw some people who appeared rather unfit; they were also wearing inappropriate footwear. Imagine his surprise when they later appeared at the top of Dovedale having walked it, Jim thought, almost as fast and he and Pam had done! He immediately felt guilty about his judgement of them. In the end it turned out they had arrived by car and had not walked the valley path at all!

Sean remarked that we make pretty much instantaneous judgements about others.

Then I read parts of John 17, much of verses 6 to 26. Some of the phrases that stood out for me are...

  • I have given them your word and the world has hated them. (verse 14)
  • They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (verse 16)
  • I pray ... that all of them may be one. (verses 20-21)
  • I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one ... so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (verses 22-23)
How amazing! It will be our unity that will convince the world. We still have a very, very long way to go on that!


< 20th September 2011 | Index | 23rd September 2011 >

20 September 2011

Loves Farm (SG) - Beatitudes

< 19th September 2011 | Index | 22nd September 2011 >

Tonight's word section covered the second part of the beatitudes, based on Ian Hoile's address at Open Door last Sunday.

Canal boatWe shared a meal together, the first time we'd met in Megan's new flat. It was cosy and fun but space really wasn't a problem. After coffee Roger turned our thoughts towards the meeting and we began with a time of praise. I'd been asked to prepare something for this, so I shared about praise and worship. The first mention of praise is in Genesis 1:4 where we read that Elohim 'saw that the light was good'.

When we declare something to be good, that is praise!

After that I spread out a selection of photos on the floor and asked everyone to choose their favourite. And then we considered what was praiseworthy in the things depicted - a sunset, a canal boat etc. We listened to Eva Cassidy singing 'What a wonderful world' and then joined in with 'All creatures of our God and King' and 'In every day that dawns'.

Then Donna turned to the topic 'Be radical' and the second part of the beatitudes (there are also notes on the first part).

We read Matthew 5:1-12 and focussed on verses 7 to 12. These verses seem to deal with the way we treat other people.

We should show mercy because we have received (and will receive) mercy.

Purity involves both the visible and the invisible aspects of our nature - we need to have pure actions and a pure heart. These two kinds of purity must match one another.

Peacemaking can be difficult because not everyone will accept peace. How do we deal with such difficult situations? Sometimes we need to go the extra mile.

And persecution will come our way if we stick to what we know to be right. We will certainly be criticised (or much worse). But we need to remain joyful despite the difficulties we face, as Paul and Silas did in prison.

And finally we spent some time praying for those of us facing difficulties of one kind or another as well as for other people we know with troubles or a need for change in their lives

(See also: Blessing or curse)

< 19th September 2011 | Index | 22nd September 2011 >

19 September 2011

Moggerhanger (Filling Station) - Prophecy

< 13th September 2011 | Index | 20th September 2011 >

Gerald Coates had been invited to speak this evening and his subject was prophecy. It was interesting to hear his thoughts as he shared some history and truth with us.

As usual with Filling Station meetings we had a time of singing and praise first. At the end of this I had a word from the Lord and felt I should share it. He said, 'Sometimes my voice will be loud, but with you - my children - I will speak very quietly. But along with the words I will also shine a light on the place where you should stand next. Follow the light, always stand in the light, and listen very carefully for my small and quiet voice. I will lead you along the way you should go.'

Gerald CoatesGerald Coates began by explaining that back in 1970 it all began with half a dozen people in his front room and this turned out to be the start of what eventually became the Pioneer Trust. He reminded us that back in those days terms like prophet, apostle, tongues and so forth were almost unknown in the wider church.

Out of the early meetings one of the things that was widely discussed was prophecy. Although dispensationalism claims that prophecy is no longer available to us, nevertheless the truth is always true.

At this point (and again several times later) Gerald spoke directly to individuals in the room about their lives. He then continued the flow of his address, pointing out that prophets must speak truth over every situation.

He then touched on something that is very important, something I was glad to hear clearly expressed. Prophets must be very careful not to hurt people in what they say. It's not just a matter of revelation, it's also necessary to show love, patience, gentleness and self control. In other words the fruits of the Spirit must also be active when the prophetic gift is exercised. 1 Corinthians 14 is relevant and useful.

Gerald referred to the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-30); he explained that this is a very good example of prophecy at work. It is intended to edify, encourage and comfort. We should look for positive ways to deal with people and it is often useful to have at least one other person present as a witness to what is said. People respond well when encouraged. Gerald told us  how well one woman had reacted when told she was the 'treasure' they'd been looking for while out treasure hunting.

We also heard about the floating axe head (2 Kings 6:1-7). This illustrates that the manner in which we leave our spiritual fathers determines whether we lose our cutting edge. The prophets hadn't left Elisha in a good way and they lost their 'cutting edge' (the axe head).

And here are a couple of points that stayed with me, 'Grief is the price of love' and 'The prophet sees in part and prophesies in part'.

< 13th September 2011 | Index | 20th September 2011 >

18 September 2011

TECHNOLOGY - A trip on the ISS

How amazing to watch the earth as the International Space Station whizzes past. This video was made by James Drake from a long series of still images. You can see land, ocean, clouds, cities, and thunderstorms as well as the edge of the atmosphere and a brilliant sunrise.


For best results view the video in HD at YouTube. Visit the item on James Drake's blog for more information. But meanwhile consider just what you've been seeing...

The Space Station (ISS) orbits up to 16 times daily at a height of 280 to 450 km and typically travels at 27 700 km/hr. The stars, city lights, and thunderstorms cannot be seen in the brightness of full daylight. The general illumination in the video is probably moonlight.

The forward looking camera is fixed so the structure of the station doesn't move in the video; and the earth rolls past beneath (although it's really the ISS that is moving). The track here is north to south, covering almost half way around the globe beginning over Canada and finishing neat Antarctica. At normal speed the video would last around forty minutes, but it's been speeded up.

Seeing this left me quite stunned. The beauty of the night-time earth and the brilliance of the arrival of day are so beautiful. And just think of all the people living their lives down below. Both North and South America pass below during this one brief video.

The River Great Ouse - INDEX

(Click the photo for a larger view)


The River Great Ouse - Photo taken 18th September 2011


Here is the river in peaceful mood, just a ten minute walk from our house. Donna and I were looking for a geocache at the time but failed to find it. I did, however, pull out some more of the invading Himalayan Balsam growing nearby.

The river footpath is a favourite of mine at any time of the year, but it was stunning just at this time with hardly a ripple on the water.

Click the 'image' label below to see other image posts.

16 September 2011

Eaton Ford (Day) - Armour plate

< 15th September 2011 | Index | 19th September 2011 >

We chatted about life and events, ran through CO2 together, and spent some time in prayer before going our separate ways.

Mediaeval armourWhile we were sharing our initial thoughts together a particular person was brought to mind. I had a picture of a man in a suit of armour made of overlapping metal plates and completely impenetrable.  As the man moved, just occasionally a small gap might appear here or there. But the gap lasted for just a moment and then it was gone again.

And the Lord told me that only the sword of his Spirit is light, thin and fast enough to get into one of the momentary chinks. Paul pointed out that in this instance Roger is the sword. His role is to love the person and in time the Spirit will break them down. Love and kindness are the key to finding the necessary chink in the armour.

At this point we decided to work through Church of Two (CO2) to help us hear one another's hearts and also the Lord's heart.

Afterwards, Paul also mentioned that he had seen a waterall and I was standing at the top of it. I was looking over the edge and he wondered whether I was going to jump or not. He also mentioned the song 'Suddenly life had new meaning for me'.

This is all very encouraging. It adds again to the feeling I have that something new is about to happen suddenly in my life.

< 15th September 2011 | Index | 19th September 2011 >

15 September 2011

Moggerhanger - Millenials meeting

< 13th September 2011 | Index | 16th September 2011 >

A series of three addresses at Moggerhanger in Bedfordshire brought together Clifford Hill, Wolfgang Simson, and Peter Farmer to share their thoughts on the current state of Britain.

We gathered in the evening on 14th September for soup, a welcome and an introduction to the Moggerhanger meetings.

Introduction - On 15th we began with some introductory thoughts from Danny Stupple. The intention was a day of consultation with Jesus and a sense that we would need to come like little children in open simplicity. Some other phrases that seemed important were 'body ministry', 'running with our eyes fixed on Jesus' and 'it's not about the steps we take, it's about the ultimate destination'.

Gathering at Moggerhanger MillenialsBody ministry - With that in mind here are some things that came out of an initial time of open contribution.

1 Corinthians 14:26 (body ministry) and Psalm 98 (sing and rejoice) were mentioned.

Wolf Simson mentioned Abraham and Isaac and asked, 'What is our sacrifice? What is our Isaac?' I shared a word from  the Lord, 'I AM. That is my name just as I told Moses. It is not your place to say, "I am" - it is my place to say "I AM" - my place and mine alone. I say "I AM" and it's for you to say, "You are"'.

Then there was a tongue and an interpretation. 'Finish the work, talk about how you will finish the work'. He has a plan for the end, a finished work - but it has to be worked out in practice. The river and the trees in Revelation 22 are for the healing of the nations (see also Ezekiel 47:1-12). There will be a crumbling of the existing order, a shaking as in Hebrews 12:26.

Further thoughts included Isaiah 48:14, the redeemer, peace like a river, righteousness, the river again, and leaving Babylon.

Isaac and the knife is about our reputation.

Clifford Hill - We heard about the history of British society leading to the current disaffection and deprivation and lack of hope. This was a valuable background for the ideas that would be set out by the next two speakers.

After sharing his own story of life and work in Brixton Clifford explained that his generation had the responsibility of helping us understand the present. He covered the history of slavery in the West Indies and the harsh conditions in the north of England during the same period (tantamount to white slavery) and outlined how this affects the first, second and third generations thereafter.

During the recent Tottenham riots there was no racial tension, instead the trouble was caused by the third generation of both groups who find themselves pressed into the same mould of dysfuntional family life. When families break down, so does the nation. There's a deep need for good fathers.

The Old Testament has little about fatherhood until Isaiah 63 and 64. Clifford stressed that we're not to be building our own houses, but should focus on the Lord's house. We must recognise our sinfulness (Isaiah 64:6) and repent. And in John 15 we finally see that the Father's heart is truly our heritage.

Wolfgang Simson - Wolf noted that Britain is getting worse, every time he visits he sees deterioration. He spoke about the father of the Prodigal Son, in some ways it is not a good example of fatherhood. One son sees him as an employer, the other feels neglected. The father is like the church.

He pointed out that a crisis causes us to ask questions and only then will we be able to find answers. But we make progress by obeying the King and we desperately need to put that into practice. There's a difference between prophets (who point to the mountain) and apostles (who build a road to get there). 1 Corinthians 4 shows us the role of an apostle. Often an apostle is unrespected, comes out of nowhere and may appear foolish.

We have to go back to the first true radical - Jesus! We must repent and have the attitude, 'Your Kingdom come, my kingdom go'. We don't need a church religious system, we need the Kingdom, the domain of the Almighty's uncontested rule, our opinion is not invited.

The role of parents is to provide a phone number, a cheque book, and love. That's what the older generation is for - support; it's true in family life and it's a Kingdom truth too. Apostles and prophets set up a home.

It's time to stop merely preaching the Kingdom and to begin living it as Jesus intended. Father's initiative is to open up his house; we should do the same.

Wolfgang Simson set out for us the Kingdom perspective on the state of Britain in 2011. All is not lost, there is a roadmap out of this mess but we had better start paying attention to the King and begin doing what he says, not following our own ideas.

Peter Farmer - Right at the start, Peter shared that his wife, Marsha, is a cousin of Mark Duggan who was shot by police in Tottenham. Peter and Marsha have been working in the Meadows area of Nottingham for about eleven years and there is a clear sense of oppression amongst the people there. Peter described how the work they were doing was not accepted by traditional church leaders.

This follows the same pattern of trouble faced by people like William Booth, John Wesley, and groups like the Lollards. They brought transformation but faced severe difficulties. Paul had similar difficulties two thousand years ago.

Peter suggested there are two kinds of soil in the UK today. On the one hand there are those who grow well until difficulties come, but then they back off and the new growth withers. On the other hand others are distracted by the things of this world, things 'get in the way'. The answer to the first group is 'blessed are you when you are persecuted' and the answer to the second group is 'woe to the rich'.

Trouble and persecution are coming, the question is will we respond now or will we leave it until later? Of the prophets, Peter commented that there is no such thing as an unpersecuted prophet. Jesus himself said, 'Some you will stone and some you will kill'. They said things that stirred people up; we are not called to be comfortable.

Peter wondered how we are to train people to hear for themselves? How do we train people to read and understand the Bible for themselves? He believes the Lord will use us as spiritual mothers and fathers. We must bring the poor and the hurt into our homes. They will respond out of brokenness so it certainly won't be easy! We need to find (and follow) Kingdom principles of education, politics, and life. Projects that follow these priciples to work on the solutions will be loud and chaotic. Will we celebrate this work or persecute it?

Traditional church in the UK is prejudiced against the working class, we need to do more than give them soup and let them continue in distress. We need to release them to create and lead their own groups, not corral them into our existing ways.

The gospel needs to change people's hearts to allow a grass roots movement to develop. Will we get out of its way? Will we bless it and resource it? We'd better not criticise their methods or try to prevent them. Instead we need to let them do it their own way.

Concluding remarks - Danny pointed out that forty years ago today the Festival of Light was started. But within a year the power of the Spirit had been diverted, our vision had been that the Spirit would fall on 'Christian flesh' when truly is should have been 'all flesh'.

In Clifford Hill's view we now have a second chance. If so, we'd better take it!

< 13th September 2011 | Index | 16th September 2011 >

13 September 2011

Tempsford (SG) - Being radical

< 1st September 2011 | Index | 15th September 2011 >

It's been a while since I've been at a small group meeting so it was good to see everyone again. The theme was based on the beatitudes from Matthew 5.

Roger told us about various upcoming events including a baptism on 25th September and a car rally planned for 2nd October.

A waterfallWe listened to some songs and joined in with one of them and Roger read some of Jesus' words, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest ... Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.' (Matthew 11:28, John 7:38)

Leanne took the word section; it was based on the Beatitudes from Matthew 5:1-6 and referred back to Ian Hoile's address on Sunday, part one of a series 'Be radical'. (If the recording isn't visible from the linked page you may need to search for 'Be radical'.)
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
These verses are like a 'Kingdom manifesto'. If we follow Jesus we should be different from those who do not. We thought about this, in particular identifying ways in which we actually are different. We also  asked one another in what ways have we been blessed recently.

I suggested that it may help to reverse the ideas expressed by Yahshua. For example, if we are completely happy, how can we possibly be comforted? If, like the Pharisees, we think we are spiritually rich why would we want to enter the Kingdom?

And finally we separated into smaller groups to pray. Praying with Roger and Graham I had a picture of a waterfall. A wide, mature river was running sluggishly until it came to a cliff; then it poured over in a mighty, roaring torrent and crashed on the rocks below throwing spray high into the air. But the river wasn't destroyed, it soon returned to its placid, steady flow.

Father said that our lives are like rivers; time carries us along and like the river we can't go back. Along the way we experience all sorts of things, good and not so good. But sometimes he brings us to a place where we must face sudden change - a place like a waterfall. The flow is disrupted and we loose control. But it's an amazing place of noise and spray and only in the waterfall is there power and glory. We needn't be afraid of these times, he will bring us through safely. They are times of fundamental change for us. And, like the river, we will continue afterwards at a normal pace. It will be OK.

Roger was reminded of a time when he had walked behind a waterfall. He had not got wet, we need to be brave enough to take a step into the falling water if we want to be affected by it. Graham commented that when we stand on the edge we still have control, we can choose to step into the water or we can choose to step backwards away from the water. But if we step into the water we lose control and we cannot then change our mind.

The second part of the beatitudes group chat is also online.

(See also: Blessing or curse)

< 1st September 2011 | Index | 15th September 2011 >

RESPONSE - Anti-Jesus band

Are we truly following Jesus? Or are we deceiving ourselves into following something or someone else? He said, 'Follow me'. Where does he go that we should follow him?

Last week Chris Duffett posted a video. I'm reposting it here because it's so good and because it gets right to the root of what it means to follow Yahshua (Jesus). Not just paying lip-service but noticing how he did things and following him - in other words doing what he did and doing what he shows us to do.

View the video here or read Chris Duffett's article and view the video from there. But whatever you do - view it! The embedded video is pretty small, but you can also play it full screen (click the button with four arrows in the lower-right corner of the video - if that doesn't work try it on the YouTube website).




Of course, if we're going to follow it's imperative that we open our eyes and ears. We need to see what Yahshua does and hear what he says; unless we see and hear we stand no real chance of obeying.  I'm not suggesting we all go out and find an anti-Jesus band to offer space and time to. I'm suggesting that copying and following other people is not necessarily obedience to Yahshua. It might be, or it might not. Instead we have to look and listen for ourselves.

The Master is turning the world upside down. Strange and unexpected things will be commonplace in our walk with him. And that is one of the few certainties!


Holidays - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

This page contains a list of holidays, most recent at the top. I will expand the page as time allows.

2012
Caribbean/Florida, 24th February-13th March

2011
Cornwall, 3rd-9th September
Suffolk, 13th-19th August
Lake District, 11th-18th June
Pembrokeshire,  28th-30th May

2010
North Wales

11 September 2011

FAMILY - Cornish holiday 2011 - INDEX

< Suffolk 2011 | Index | Caribbean/Florida 2012 >

Landrake Methodist ChurchThis was a busy week with lots to do and see and a chance to spend a longer than usual time together as a family. It was good to have Donna's Mum and Dad here as well as Paul (her brother) and Vanessa.

The Methodist Church in the photo is now used as a house, our cottage is hidden right behind it.

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.


  • Saturday 3rd September - Two journeys
  • Sunday 4th September - The coast
  • Monday 5th September - Dartmoor
  • Tuesday 6th September - Plymouth
  • Wednesday 7th September -
  • Thursday 8th September -
  • Friday 9th September -

These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. We did a lot as a group of six together but not every day.

09 September 2011

IMAGE - Ocean Countess

Ocean Countess at Fowey
(Click the photo for a larger view)

Ocean Countess - Photo taken 9th September 2011

A cruise ship docked at the small Cornish town of Fowey (pronounced 'Foye') on a misty day. The ship looms mysteriously and the land beyond is almost invisible. Ocean Countess is operated by a British company, CMV.

It was not a cold day but devoid of sunshine, and the trees were collecting the tiny droplets of mist and dripping as they moved in the light breeze.

Click the 'image' label below to see other image posts.

06 September 2011

FAMILY - Plymouth

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

This was a wet day and we didn't fancy visiting the beach or a garden or a walk, so we decided a day in the nearby city of Plymouth would fit the bill.

Plymouth in the Rain Plymouth is just across the River Tamar from where we are staying, it's in the county of Devon.

We made our way to the Tamar Bridge, paid our toll, and headed for the nearest park and ride site. We were surprised to see it doubles as the car park for the Plymouth Argyle football ground! With the car parked we caught the bus into the rainy city.


We walked to the Hoe in the rain and had to take shelter at one point. The Hoe would have looked much nicer on a sunny day, but it was interesting to be where Drake had played bowls as the Spanish Armada approached the shores of England. Later we made our way down to the Barbican area where we had a fish and chip lunch (or in my case cheesy chips).

Part of the Mayflower plaquePlymouth is a lovely city and full of history. We stood at the place where the pilgrim fathers had set out on the Mayflower and I wondered what they must have felt as they left England for the very last time. Did they watch the shoreline fading into a narrow grey line and then slowly dropping below the horizon?

Back at home in the evening we texted Paul and he and Vanessa came over to join us. Paul cooked an awesome risotto for us, he is a very good chef and we ate well!

After that it was TV, chat, or sorting out photos according to preference, then off to bed ready for another day in Cornwall.

< Dartmoor | Index | No later items >

05 September 2011

FAMILY - Dartmoor

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

One place we wanted to visit and explore during our holiday was Dartmoor. The moor itself, the famous prison, and the villages in the valleys on the east side of the moor were all places we wanted to see.

View towards Princetown and the prisonAfter breakfast we headed north east to Dartmoor and drove through some spectacular scenery to Princetown right in the heart of the moors.  This is where the forbidding and infamous Dartmoor Prison stands bleakly on a remote hillside.


Then we turned north, stopping for coffee at Widecombe-in-the-Moor. We found an unusual place for a coffee break here; it included the village library, clearly acted as a community centre, and had logs stacked around the walls. The tables and chairs were made of cane wickerwork and heavily painted.

After our break we returned to the A38 at Bovey Tracey. The mix of cloud and some sunny patches send bright areas scudding across the dark, moorland hills - very beautiful to watch.

Stained glass in Buckfast AbbeyOn the way back to Landrake we stopped for an hour or two at Buckfast Abbey to explore the gardens, the abbey itself (rebuilt on mediaeval foundations from 1907 and completed in 1930), and enjoy another coffee in the little restaurant. It seems extraordinary that this mediaeval-looking building is still less than a hundred years old!

Stopping at a supermarket on the way, we bought what we needed for a sausage and mash evening meal (using potatoes dug from our garden late on Friday). Paul and Vanessa joined us for the meal and an evening of TV and chat.

< The Coast | Index | Plymouth >

04 September 2011

FAMILY - The coast

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

This was our first full day in Cornwall. We travelled west along the coast and met up with Paul and Vanessa, ending the day with a nice pub meal.

Sunny LooeWe visited Looe in the morning, travelling west along the A38 and then heading south. We had arranged to meet Paul and Vanessa on the seafront, and we all ate our lunch together sitting on the big concrete steps of the coastal defences above the lovely sandy beach. It was a glorious sunny morning, really summer weather although we're now into September, but from 13:00 onwards an Atlantic weather system  moved across and the sky steadily clouded up.

Rainy PolperroIn the afternoon we left Paul and Vanessa in Looe and travelled further along the coast to the pretty little fishing village of Polperro. We parked at the top of the village and as we headed downhill towards the harbour the first raindrops started falling. We didn't stay long and were lucky to get back to the car withoug getting drenched as the rain was setting in more earnestly. It rained hard all the way home in the car but was easing off again by the time we arrived back at the cottage.

For our meal in the evening the six of us tried the local pub in Landrake, 'The Buller's Arms', and were not disappointed. Roast dinners at a good price and friendly service. And I was pleased to find several ciders to choose from with two on draught.

< Two journeys | Index | Dartmoor >

RESPONSE - Giving a milkshake

I was very encouraged to read the latest post from Chris Duffett. Chris lives only a few miles from us and he excels at finding innovative ways of engaging people with the Good News that Jesus brings truth, light, and a new way of living.

If you want to know more, read his blog. Here are some extracts from his latest article.
Strawberry shakeI sense that I should give my milk shake away. The one I really love, strawberry, all thick and delicious. So I offer it to a guy who is selling the big issue and it turns out that it is also his favorite kind of milk shake.
But Chris didn't stop with the strawberry shake.
I also give him the sandwiches and yogurt too. The guy seems happy to receive his lunch and thanks me.
And then he understood a much greater truth.
This simple act of sharing opens up my heart as to what God wants to do in me and how he wants to meet with me and for me to enjoy his company. I fetch another lunch and ... simply enjoy the presence of God. Wherever and whatever I’m doing I am able to meet with the one who is so vast and mighty and holy and yet who is Emmanual, God with us, who enjoys walking with his kids and meeting with them and sharing strawberry milk shakes.
Why did this so impact me? It's because he heard (to give away a milk shake), obeyed, was willing to sacrifice (go without his favourite treat), went even further (gave away his lunch as well), and understood what the Father is like (enjoys our presence and shares with us). This is something we all need to practice every day - even every minute.
  • Listen
  • Obey (no ifs, buts, or maybes)
  • Sacrifice what we are and what we have for others
  • Go beyond what is asked of us
  • Understand what Father is like and how he enjoys walking through this life with us
It's really a question of being like our heavenly Father. He pours out lavishly on all of us. We should pour out lavishly too. What Chris has found is that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit love him and enjoy the time they spend with him. This is so awesome that most of us, most of the time miss it! But we only really understand when we do what our Father does, then we begin to see that his nature is also to give. Chris says that a simple act of sharing opened up his heart.

I'd suggest that love, hearing and obedience are the key, whatever we're called to do in this amazing Kingdom of Heaven. We may be called to do a new and different thing every day. As we hear and obey we'll always receive a rich blessing from our awesome Father and a deeper understanding of his greatness and love.

He is our supply and our inspiration and he wants us to know him more fully. 

HalleluYah!

03 September 2011

FAMILY - Two journeys

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

On Saturday 3rd September we set off for a week's holiday in Cornwall. First we travelled to Donna's parents near Poole on the south coast, then we continued to Plymouth and our holiday home in Landrake.

Landrake Church towerThe first part was not a good journey. As we headed south the sat-nav diverted us through Winchester because of heavy traffic congestion on the motorway; the journey to Donna's parents at Broadstone normally takes a little over three hours, but today it took four.

Isobel had made bacon rolls for lunch and it was good to stop travelling, stretch our legs, have a cuppa and eat those rolls. Refreshed, we loaded their luggage in the boot and set off on the second leg of the journey to Cornwall, picking up the M5 and A38 from Exeter. For me these are old and familiar roads from years ago when I lived in the Bristol area. We passed the Buckfastleigh turning and headed through the city of Plymouth. The wooded sides of the A38 hide the city from view but we were soon at the bridge over the river Tamar and into Cornwall.

We quickly found Landrake and our cottage, there was a slightly musty smell in the old building (but it vanished once we opened a window, put the kettle on and began unpacking).

After settling into our little cottage Paul and Vanessa joined us and cooked us an evening meal of spaghetti bolognese. What a treat!

< No earlier items | Index | The Coast >

01 September 2011

Little Paxton - Finding rest

< 25th August 2011 | Index | 13th September 2011 >

This evening the Holy Spirit led us in a theme of peace and rest from struggling. Father wants us to follow him wholeheartedly, then we won't wander about in the wilderness.

We shared information about friends facing change or difficulties in their lives, and we talked about our own lives and direction. We chatted about what we have been doing and what we plan to do. Jim's summer Sunday activities have finished for this year, Sean and I plan to be at the Moggerhanger Millenials meeting, and Paul is planning three events before next summer's kid's camp. Jim is thinking about future employment and also about the house of prayer concept.
The Sinai desert
Later in the evening we prayed for the various people and needs we'd identified.

Thinking about our busy lives, Jim reminded us about the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness, going round and round. He felt that we have been doing much the same. We struggle with too much to do, overload and stress in our jobs, sometimes with little sense of peace or satisfaction. I sensed the Spirit saying that we need a real peace in our lives. He said, 'Peace is not in inactivity, it's in right activity'.

In different ways, we all felt the need to be listening people. Sean said he hasn't been listening as he should, Jim thinks he's just an infant in terms of spiritual hearing, and I'm aware that I need to be more eager to listen. Jim added that we want Jesus to be in the house and that our peace and rest are in him. We asked for spiritual hearing. We all have it but we all need more of it!

Then Jim told us about a scratch card he'd been given when he stopped to buy petrol. Apparently it was necessary to scratch the card to reveal a code, the next step was to visit a website and enter the code to find out if a prize had been won. All of this requires too much time, too much effort, and almost certainly for nothing.

In contrast the gospel comes with no such rigmarole. The gospel is pure good news. Jesus says, 'Come to me if you are struggling and heavily loaded down - I'll give you rest' (Matthew 11:28). Rest is very good news. It's peace, shalom, wholeness, an end to searching, an end to struggling, and an end to going around in circles in the wilderness. Jesus is a destination, not more rigmarole. The rest he gives us is good news!

< 25th August 2011 | Index | 13th September 2011 >

THOUGHT - A dream yet not a dream

One morning recently as I was in that dreamy state between sleep and wakefulness, Father spoke to me. I was soon fully alert and off to find my notepad so I could jot the thoughts down. Here's what I wrote.

Suddenly - like lightningHe gave me the word 'subito'. There it was in my mind, a word from nowhere. And then he told me, 'I AM love'. The capitals seem very significant, he means 'I AM' as in 'Yahweh', his Name is love and his nature is love too.

He told me, 'If you love me you will obey me (John 14:21). And therefore when you don't obey you show your lack of love. My sheep hear my voice (John 10:27).' I know that he means me, but I also know that he is entrusting these words to me because he wants me to share them with others. They're for me, but they are not only for me. He is looking for an obedient people, a people who are obedient because they love him.

Listening - To obey we must first listen, so if we love him we will also listen to him. Jesus and the Father are one, they are in one another (John 10:38). They are one because they always love and always listen so they always communicate.

If we love and listen we become part of this process of communication, we become part of their community. We become one with them. Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27)! We will bear much fruit if we are in this place.

Listening and looking means paying attention. When we truly hear and see we will stop attending to our own needs and aspirations and will refocus on the person who is speaking or doing. This is the case whether it's the Holy Spirit speaking, or another Jesus follower, or someone in the world, or even our enemy.

If we won't focus on the One who is Love we won't hear him or see him. We'll be away in another place like the prodigal son. But the prodigal, although far off, turned and heard the truth in his heart, 'There is safety and sustenance in my father's house.'

Sudden change - Back to that word 'subito'. As the word appeared in my sleepy mind I thought it might mean 'suddenly' in Latin. Sure enough, when I looked it up later I discovered it is indeed 'suddenly' both in Latin and in Italian. I wonder if things are going to change in a sudden, unexpected way? This would be so typical of Father's plans, he is always taking us by surprise!

So now I am waiting for a change of course or direction. It will be initiated by Papa, not by me. I'm neither knowledgeable nor wise enough to change or begin anything - but he is! My part is to be alert and patient - to be listening and loving. Then perhaps I'll be ready to obey.

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