30 August 2012

Ten years in the wilderness

Responding to a post from Felicity Dale, here is my story of spending time in the wilderness. For me it spanned a ten year period and began when our friends moved on to other things but we knew that we were to stay put. It was a lonely and seemingly bleak experience.

Part of Gale Crater on Mars
In a recent blog post, Felicity Dale asked the question, 'Why do we go through wilderness experiences?' Thinking about this I quickly realised I wanted to write much more than would fit into a comment. So here goes...

I became a follower of the Way some time in the period between 1968 and 1970. I can't pin it down to a particular time or date, there was a time when I did not believe, and later a time when I did, and between the two a process of searching and growing understanding.

In late 1970 Judy (my first wife) and I began hunting for a place where we could meet other people with similar faith and a heart to follow Jesus simply and intentionally. We hunted high and low around Bristol where we had a flat, but failed to find what we were looking for. Eventually we found a little ex-Brethren meeting, Zetland Road Chapel, less than a five minute walk from our front door and we knew right away that this was home.

29 August 2012

Prayer meeting at Cornerstone

It was exciting to meet with others today to pray for the town where I live. We met at a local bookshop/cafe and talked and prayed over hot drinks and a light lunch.

My friend Jim invited me to a prayer meeting at Cornerstone. I was excited to discover this is another example of people obeying Jesus across organisational boundaries.

Ros had suggested meetings to pray for St Neots, and in particular for the business people in the town.

Jim had responded with some enthusiasm, Paul had offered a meeting place,  and this was the third meeting (I was unable to go along last week as I had a dental appointment). Dot also joined us, as did Paul who owns and manages Cornerstone. Jo has been involved previously but was unable to come today.

22 August 2012

Science and faith - again

How do science and faith stack up against one another as ways of knowing the truth? Science provides truth about the physical universe while faith provides truth about spiritual things. Is there any overlap?

Sarewitz article in Nature
Nature has just published a short article entitled 'Sometimes science must give way to religion' by the atheist and scientist, Daniel Sarawitz.

In it, he argues that there are scientific concepts we cannot really understand except mathematically. He offers the Higgs field as an example.

This field provides other fundamental particles with their mass, preventing them from travelling at the speed of light. The famous Higgs particle is associated with the field, and is the evidence that such a field does, indeed, exist.

20 August 2012

The Tall Skinny Kiwi in Asia

People following Jesus in Asian countries don't necessarily become part of churches in our Western sense. Sometimes they simply follow Yahshua in community as part of their everyday lives. The difference between the two approaches is a challenge to us.

A map of Asia
Andrew Jones is a church planter and a blogger - his blog is called 'Tall Skinny Kiwi'.

In 2011 he wrote an article for Lausanne Global Conversation following his visit to some Asian churches.

It's well worth reading again even if you've already seen it. Andrew's article simply lists eleven practices that he considered to be at the root of  the Asian believers' success.

The article is in two pages, make sure you don't miss the second page.

Here's his introduction.

I visited a number of Asian countries in 2011 and was amazed at the dynamism and commitment of the young Jesus followers.

19 August 2012

Is the church alive?

Jesus says we are his body here in the world. He is alive so his body is also alive. We are to do the things he did (and even greater things). We are to say the things he said. We are alive, not just as individuals but as his body expressing his love, his wisdom, his authority.

Biological processes
We are not just able to express love, wisdom and authority individually, but communally. It is not enough that you and I express our own love. It is not even enough that we individually express Christ's love.

The mystery is that the church herself, the Bride of Christ, is also able in her own right to express Christ's love. We are not a bunch of loosely associated individuals, we are Christ's Bride.

I am deeply troubled that the Bride is fragmented and damaged. So many different forms of church management and government compete for our loyalty. Differences in doctrine, in faith, and in tradition are everywhere.

10 August 2012

What's in a name? (Repost)

This is a repost of an article originally published two years ago. I think it's worth raising this subject again now because I'm still looking for an answer.

I'll be honest with you - this is something that's been bugging me for a long, long time. Those of us who follow Jesus often refer to ourselves as 'Christians' or 'the Church', or in more specific cases we use the name of a particular organisation - 'I'm a member of the such-and-such church'.

An Escher print of endlessly connected fishThis troubles me because I really don't want to make any distinctions of this sort. We are all one in Christ, though we may have different gifts and abilities (Eph 4:1-7). We are one body and we should learn to see ourselves that way, not merely in terms of the Church Universal (although that is true and important) but in practical terms, in our daily lives and thinking.

The Bible recognises one church in different locations, it does not recognise different churches. Paul is emphatic on this point (1 Cor 1:12-14). The New Testament distinguishes church by province, city, and meeting place. We read of the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria, the church in Ephesus, the church that meets at the house of Priscilla and Aquila. The idea of distinguishing churches on the basis of leaders, doctrines or traditions is completely alien to the writers of the New Testament. In fact they always opposed any such move very strongly.

07 August 2012

The river at Bedford - IMAGE

(Click the photo for a larger view)

A trip on the river - Photo taken 4th August 2012
The Embankment in Bedford takes in part of the River Great Ouse from the bridge at the town centre. There are great views of the town and the park. This family was enjoying the fine weather by hiring a boat and rowing up and down.

I was there with some friends on a photowalk. Great fun and very interesting. You can see some of the other photos I took in my Photowalk album.

What does this image say to you? There are no wrong answers. (Add a comment).

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

05 August 2012

A story of encouragement

Are you an encourager? Has anyone ever encouraged you? If so, and especially if not, this is for you. We can all learn to encourage and it's probably more important than we realise. Here's a good story about encouragement.

A treasured piece of paperFloyd McClung posted a story on his blog this morning. He writes that he doesn't know if it's a true story, but it is a story of truth. He is right about that.

We are called to encourage one another. This story is about encouraging, how to encourage, what it takes to tend to a person's heart so that the growth that happens in them becomes permanent. It's a good story. We should all try to find ways to encourage those around us.

No doubt we'll all find different ways to do it, but the important thing is not how I encourage, it's that I do encourage, that I am an encourager, that I have a habit and a heart to encourage.

Here's the story...
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

04 August 2012

Renewing the temple

Two visions at a recent meeting have some encouraging things to say about the future of the church. Both of them speak of something that has been destroyed, both of them speak of recovery and renewal.

Broken masonry
Donna and I and some friends visited Faith Camp at the Peterborough showground on Wednesday 1st of August.

Colin Urquhart was speaking that night, a veteran from the old days of the Charismatic renewal in the 1960s and 70s. He's still as good as he ever was! He spoke about the seven 'I AM's in John.

During a time of individual reflection and prayer and focussing on holiness and love, the Spirit gave me two pictures. I'd like to share them here, they are about holiness and love and the future of the body of Christ which is the church.

03 August 2012

Curiosity reaches Mars

NASA's next attempt to land a rover on Mars will be made on 6th August. It's going to be a scary process but if it's successful the results will soon begin to stream home from Curiosity on the floor of Gale Crater.

Three generations of Mars rovers
In a few days time, at 05:31 UT on August 6th, NASA will attempt a landing on Mars. The Curiosity rover is the size of a small car and weighs nearly a tonne. The objective is to gently place it on the ground inside Gale Crater.

The image shows NASA staff with engineering versions of Curiosity (the large rover on the right) and two earlier generations, Opportunity on the left and little Sojourner at the bottom.

The journey from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the ground will take about seven minutes. During this time, the spacecraft has to decelerate from nearly 6 kilometres per second to zero and leave the rover in the right place and undamaged.

You can see how this is intended to work 1n the NASA video 'The Challenges of Getting to Mars'.

It may not work out well, although I hope and expect that it will. If so, we're in for a treat as the rover begins its prime mission, exploring the interior of Gale Crater in detail and looking for signs that the conditions might once have been suitable for life.

02 August 2012

The opposite of envy

A phone call sparked some thoughts about envy and its opposite. Envy is such a negative and destructive emotion. The opposite of envy is rejoicing with one another. We need to cultivate joy in our lives.

I had a lovely telephone chat with a friend yesterday. We've only met once, and briefly at that. But we've corresponded occasionally over the years on various topics around life in general and life with Jesus in particular.

One thing that we talked about today was the topic of envy. And as we talked I tried to work out what would be the opposite of envy. I decided it must be rejoicing with one another.

If I envy you for your car, your wife, your wealth or good health, your education or some other blessing in your life, I am saying that I would prefer to have that thing myself, I would like to be in your place.

But if I rejoice with you over your car, wife, wealth, good health, education, or other blessing, I'm expressing gladness that you have that thing.

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