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.

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.

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.

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.

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



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.

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.

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.

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.

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 dawning For 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.

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.

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.

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

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'.

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."'

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.

04 December 2011

Blessings in the rain

Part 6 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A rather difficult guest | Index | A pattern of blessing >

The latest visitor is very difficult to accept, but the Lord insists that Roy remains calm and patient. And when they reach the chapel it becomes clear that no intervention will be necessary.

Rain at Ffald-y-Brenin
In the previous extract, things were getting a little difficult for Roy. First he has to be patient while urgent business is put on hold, and then he struggles with the dirty stories being told by one of their latest visitors.

He soldiers on, offering hospitality despite the unpleasantness. But things are not about to get better! At least, not immediately.
I was ready to do some righteous rebuking - I didn't want this in Ffald-y-Brenin, in my house and in my kitchen - but God said to me, 'Don't you dare rebuke this man.' It was that clear. This worried me. It was not the prompting I wanted to hear. I wondered whether it was God's voice that I was discerning after all.

03 December 2011

The word of Yahweh

Part 5 of a series - 'The valley of dry bones'
< Speak to the bones | Index | The bones come together >

Now we come to the heart of the matter, here's the message that Ezekiel is to speak over the dry bones. They are to come to life!

A derelict church in Turkey
Before we look at the words themselves, let's briefly recap on what we've discovered so far.

The Israelites are in captivity in a foreign land and so is Ezekiel; we can see this as applying to the church as well. The world we live in is foreign and often at odds with the Kingdom of heaven.

Yahweh leads Ezekiel into a valley and shows him a lot of scattered bones, the remains of what was once alive. Ezekiel and the Almighty look at the bones very thoroughly. We need to go with Jesus and examine the state of the church carefully in just the same way; will we find life or dryness? And, like Ezekiel, we need to believe that Father can and will put back life into what has become dead. Recognising deadness and believing he will restore life are essential, not optional.

02 December 2011

Doctors and patients, a lesson for the church?

Watch and listen as Abraham Verghese shares some thoughts on doctors, patients, and the relationship between the two. Could there be a valuable lesson here for the church?

Abraham VergheseI have just watched a TED Talk by Abraham Verghese; it was an experience to remember. In eighteen minutes of deeply significant sharing, Professor Verghese conveys the basis of an excellent relationship between doctor and patient. In his opinion it's a relationship at risk. I think he's right.

I must say that I was deeply struck by some parallels between how medicine is practiced and how we do church. It really was one of those precious 'Aha' moments that we all have from time to time.

I suggest you watch the video first and then take a look at the questions I've added below. While watching, if you follow Jesus, please bear in mind how you relate to those who do not. Otherwise, just enjoy the talk for whatever good things you may draw from it.

01 December 2011

Western wall not built by Herod

Recent archaeological work suggests the Jerusalem Temple's Western Wall was built at least twenty years after the death of Herod the Great.

Large blocks of stone thrown down by the Romans
Two Roman coins dated to 17 AD were found in a mikveh (a ritual bath) underneath the bottom row of stone blocks of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Herod died 21 years earlier than this, so he cannot have been responsible for building the outer wall.

If this is right, then when the disciples discussed the Temple with Yahshua, the outer compound wall was only about ten years old; very possibly still under construction.

In some ways it makes the conversation even more striking. The Second Temple was the latest wonder, a fantastic piece of engineering, in some ways more than the equal of the Greek Parthenon or any of the buildings in Rome. Something to be proud of, a statement of the power of the Most High in the minds of all the people of Judea.

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