Showing posts with label Bra-Eat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bra-Eat. Show all posts

14 November 2011

Brampton - Light and dark

< 7th November 2011 | Index | 21st November 2011 >

This week the Spirit led us on the topic of darkness and light. He showed us that darkness is the same as hiddenness, that our artificial light is no substitute for his real light, and that he himself is the Light. It was (ahem...) very illuminating.

Light shining in the darkness
We thought about the darkness that surrounds the Most High (see Exodus 20:21 and Psalm 97:2) .

The words darkness and hiddenness are distinct in modern English, but darkness once held both meanings. We talk about the 'dark side of the Moon', an old expression for the hidden side that never faces Earth.

The implication is that the Almighty is hidden from us. Jesus spoke in parables so that the truth would be hidden and revelation is required to grasp it. Otherwise we might take the credit for our understanding.

Another aspect is that light and darkness are the same to him (Psalm 139:11-13). Everything is revealed to him, nothing can be hidden.

I saw a pathway but instead of flowers along either side there were tiny lights in different colours waving gently back and forth. They looked like the optical fibre lights you can buy, hemispheres of  brightly lit cut ends. I had no idea what this meant.

Sean mentioned that 'the people who dwell in darkness have seen a great light' (Isaiah 9:1-3,  quoted in Matthew 4:15-17). The 'Great Light' is Jesus of course, so the question is 'Do we see Jesus?' He explained that in complete darkness it's easy to see tiny, little lights. But those little lights don't speak of a great and mighty light and are just distractions in our lives.

We need to see your light, Lord. The rest is distraction. We prayed to be overwhelmed by his light - the light of Jesus.

I remembered using plant growth cabinets at Long Ashton in the 1970s and 80s. The artificial light in the cabinets was not as bright as sunshine, it was more like a cloudy day. But even to generate this level of light was expensive on energy and required water cooling. To be as bright as Christ we'd need a new kind of light. Our best efforts don't come close!

Darkness can't banish or remove light. But even a little light can banish darkness and where there is perfect light there can be no darkness at all. I read 2 Samuel 22:26-32.

Then Sean spoke about Israel dwelling in tents and following God. Our work is to believe in him, and so was theirs. He provided manna daily. We need that relationship with him because when we provide for ourselves by our own labour it all goes horribly wrong.

How can we be relying on him when we live in brick buildings that we have made for ourselves? We can't pick up our houses and move! We need to be like Israel - living in tents. In his mercy he works within the constraints we put on him but this is far from his best for us.

I read Isaiah 11:1-11 which shows us that all the rules will change. What we think we know will turn out to be false. Everything will change. The lion will lie down with the Lamb.

And then Sean finished by saying that trying to do it ourselves is worse than useless. It is actually doing what Adam did, effectively telling God: 'I don't need you. I can do it myself.'

< 7th November 2011 | Index | 21st November 2011 >

28 February 2011

Brampton - An easy prayer turned hard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22 February 2011

Brampton - The Harvest Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02 November 2010

Brampton - Look at his face

We began by running through SASHET together (part of the CO2 idea). This helped us to understand one another's current situation and thoughts. Then we made a start with Virkler (also part of CO2) where we deliberately listen to what Jesus is saying to us, it's a way of paying attention.

A fast flowing streamHowever, we agreed that this didn't work as well as listening individually and sharing later. I saw a picture of a little babbling brook running down towards me. I had to look up the slope to see it, sometimes it was running smoothly, and sometimes the water was tumbling down over rocks. I just had to share it there and then, it simply seemed wrong to wait.

Then I saw a large shovel, very big, loaded heavily with grain. And I thought about the jubilee, a Royal Jubilee when debt is cancelled, slaves are freed, and there is a sense of renewal and a fresh beginning throughout the land.

Sean said the the harvest is so big that we won't be able to bring it all in. We need to look to the source of the stream of living water, and we need do it all the time. We need to look at his face to see his love for us, but we often won't look because we think we know what his reaction will be. We expect him to be angry and disapproving and disappointed. If we did look we would see only love and acceptance.

We think our acceptability depends on the good work we do and the bad things we don't do. In fact it depends entirely on his grace and love. How can we get it so wrong?

26 October 2010

Corby and Little Paxton - Helping the move

This evening, instead of our usual meeting, Sean and I helped Jim, Pam and their daughter Beth with a house move.

BarmbrackJim and Pam's oldest daughter and her partner were leaving their flat in Corby and moving to a house in Eynesbury (a district of St Neots). The house is not yet ready so for a few weeks they'll be living with Jim and Pam in Little Paxton.

We travelled to the flat in Jim's car and spent the first part of the evening cleaning the flat, packing items into boxes, and loading them into cars for the trip to Little Paxton. After the drive home we stacked the boxes in Jim and Pam's lounge turning part of it into a temporary store room! And then it was time for a cup of tea and a lovely slice of barmbrack with butter.

It's good to do practical things together, this is church life too.

19 October 2010

Brampton - Filtered from harm

It was good to have Rachael with us this evening. There was no meeting in Great Doddington as Peter and Jody are visiting Canada, so Rachael travelled down to Brampton instead. Jim also joined us as he expected to be busy on Thursday.

Anti-virus softwareJim began by asking whether we really ever give 100% to Jesus. We had to admit that it was never possible to give 100% all the time. Some people might manage it occasionally, but not consistently!

Jim explained that Moggerhanger Park has started a regular 'Filling Station' meeting and the topic of 100% had been mentioned there. He said that the meeting was very good so I'd like to get along some time to see what it's all about. Future meetings are planned for the third Monday evening of each month, there's a schedule online.

Sean mentioned Zac Poonan, a church planter from Bangalore's Christian Fellowship Church. Sean had come across Zac's material online and had found some of it very good. One particular theme was asking for grace in times of temptation.

Jim said that we used to live under the law that told us, 'Don't do this, do that.' But we do need to live under grace and to treat others with grace too. We tend to make assumptions about people, but we have enough sin of our own without thinking of judging others. I was reminded of Galatians 2 where we read of a situation much like today with differences of opinion about law and behaviour.

The idea of sowing seeds also came up. Jim pointed out that I'd given Cornerstone free drinks cards to Sean who had passed them on again to a friend at work. This led me to thoughts about watering young plants. Paul wrote, 'I sowed the seed, Apollos watered it, but the Almighty made it grow.' (1 Corinithians 3:6). We can only do our part, we work with one another but we are not responsible for the growth. Jim then shared how, when Jess had prayed for healing of someone's badly swollen finger, the swelling had vanished while they watched. He mentioned Colossians 3:1-5 and how this brings us back to the idea of 100% for Jesus. We must 'set our hearts on the things above'.

We discussed how, if we're to follow Christ, we must have been given the capacity to follow him. We can pray to be drawn closer to him day by day. I had a picture of a man in prison, I saw the iron bars and at first thought I was seeing a caged animal. But no, it was clearly a man in prison. We can still come alongside a prisoner even if there are iron bars between us. We have the Spirit of Christ within us and we are to draw alongside those are 'imprisoned' in sin and despair.

Rachael saw a PC screen and noticed a tab saying, 'God's spam free virus filter'. He keeps harmful things from us. He is very protective of those he loves.

12 October 2010

Brampton - The King or the King's book?

Sean and I met for coffee and a chat, we talked about life and some people we feel led to spend a little time with. Then we prayed briefly and devoted the rest of the evening to reading Galatians 1 and discussing our thoughts about it. Some of my main impressions follow.

Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UKPaul sets out, right at the beginning, by stating clearly that he was not sent from or by any man, but by Yahshua the Messiah and by the Father who raised him from the dead. And as usual, the letter is not just from Paul but also from the the other believers who are with him.

In verses 3-5 he provides a miniature recap of the gospel message, wrapped up in just a brief sentence. It's as if he wants to remind the Galatians right from the start that they're here by grace alone, rescued by Christ.

He writes that he is 'astonished' that they are already turning to a different 'gospel'. They've been confused by wrong teaching. Paul doesn't want them to remain confused so he explains in verse 11 that he didn't just make it all up, nor was he taught it by others, but he received it as a revelation from the Messiah.

Thinking about this it seems extraordinary that this Paul, this persecutor of the church, should have had such a powerful experience on the Damascus road that he has turned from his previous passion (legalistic Judaism) and has moved to something completely different. And of course it is extraordinary but we often miss the contrast because we are so familiar with Paul's letters that we forget how much he had changed.

It would be a complete and unexpected transformation, a little like the present Chief Rabbi suddenly having a revelation about Yahshua and, without hearing it from other people first, beginning to teach this new way. We expect that every kind of knowledge must be imparted by logical persuasion and by eloquent argument. Not so!

And Paul gives them the full story, perhaps to back up his earlier claim that he received his revelation direct from Yahshua, not by teaching from the Jerusalem church. It's a story that continues into chapter 2.

We thought how the truth comes from the source, who is Christ. Yes, it also comes through the Bible, but the Bible is not the source any more than the apostles in Jerusalem were the source. They (and Paul) wrote the New Testament so the revelation they received from Yahshua that enabled them to write must itself be more fundamental than the words they wrote.

The Bible matters to us and is important because it is our source of information about Jesus and the early church. We dare not ignore it. But knowing Jesus personally is much more important than knowing the writings about him. Walking with him daily is more important than reading the New Testament daily. Hearing and obeying him is more fundamental to our lives than following even the best traditions and habits. Everything we can plan and do is dead works, we must 'seek first the Kingdom' trusting that everything we need (including guidance) will be added in as part of the package!

05 October 2010

Eaton Ford - Accused in the garden

Sean came over and we watched the DVD of Paul Young speaking about the events in the garden when Yahweh, the man, the woman, and Lucifer faced one another over what had happened. (Part of the DVD set for the House2House Conference 2008.)

In the gardenPaul sets the scene by first telling a ridiculous (but funny) story to show how theologically impressive he is. In a way, this suggests that Paul thinks theologians may sometimes get things a bit mixed up and make something out of nothing. He follows it up with another story about an experiment with monkeys wearing shock collars, and this time the point seems to be that theological tradition may sometimes be based on little more than thin air.

Then he begins his analysis of Genesis 2 and 3. He has studied this material long and hard, perhaps for some 35 years in all. Everything he says made sense to us although Sean wants to investigate some of the Hebrew words and concepts for himself. I'm very interested to hear what he discovers.

To condense Paul's address into just a sentence or two, his conclusions are as follows.

Lucifer begins by asking Eve if it's true that Yahweh had really said they mustn't eat the fruit of any tree in the garden. She ate and she gave some to Adam.

Questioning them about what happened, Yahweh asks Eve, 'What did you do'. She answers (correctly) that the serpent deceived her and she ate the fruit. But when a moment earlier he had asked Adam what happened, the man joined Lucifer in accusing Yahweh saying, 'The woman you gave me offered me the fruit and I ate it. Eve accused the serpent, but Adam accused Yahweh.

They had both depended on Yahweh to give them worth and value, but now with the relationship broken Eve will look to Adam (from whom she was taken) for these things. He will look to the ground from which he was taken. So which of them is the most damaged, Eve or Adam? In Paul's view Adam has to be in a worse place.

28 September 2010

Eaton Ford - A crooked line

Sean and I had coffees and a catch up chat, then decided to look at 3 John which we've been wanting to do for a few weeks now.

Sean had the feeling this letter was written in haste, and I think he's right. It seems to be written to encourage Gaius, The road aheadclearly a Roman, who seems to have been struggling under an overbearing (and misguided) Greek leader called Diotrophes. It's a letter of reassurance, perhaps to someone who is inexperienced or lacks confidence.

We were interested in the use of the phrase 'The Name' in verse 7. This is a traditional Jewish way of referring to Yahweh and is still used in Israel today, 'Ha Shem'. The oldest texts we have of 3 John are in Greek and it's likely that Gaius would have understood both Latin and Greek. We looked up all 17 occurrences in the New Testament of the phrase 'τοῦ ὀνόματος' (Greek for 'The Name') and found this is the only time it's used in this way. The other examples are phrases like 'in the name of Jesus'.

As we turned to prayer and worship I was given a picture of a straight line and on its left-hand side a crooked line that touched the straight line in one or two places. And the Lord said, 'When you are close to me, I am also close to you; but when you are far from me - I am close to you!'

He also gave me a word about Moses and Isaiah. Moses had felt inadequate as a speaker and therefore wanted Yahweh to choose someone else (Exodus 4:12-13). Isaiah knew he was unworthy because his lips were not holy but was made clean and was willing to go for the Lord (Isaiah 6:5-9). We may be prevented by lack of confidence or ability on the one hand, or lack of worthiness on
the other, but if Moses and Isaiah were good enough for the Lord to use, who are we to say he can't use us?

Sean elaborated on this in prayer, mentioning that there is so much fear to be dealt with, fear of speaking and fear of not speaking.

And then the Lord gave me more words, 'It's easy for me to live in you, but hard for you to live in me. But they're the same thing! So just trust that I am living in you.

We felt greatly encouraged by this evening, it seems to be another step forward, another little bit of progress on the journey.

30 April 2010

MISSION - The Kingdom

This evening we watched the DVD of Wolfgang Simson speaking to the House2House Conference in September 2008. An imperial crownHis theme was the Kingdom of Heaven, and how we can't live in the Kingdom without obeying the King.

We discussed what this means to us. The Kingdom stuff surely can't be ignored - are we going to live as people under the King's command or are we going to do our own thing? Only obedience brings blessing!

We thought that next week we should spend our time in prayer and listening.

23 April 2010

MISSION - Wisdom

Sean explained that he'd been reading Proverbs 24 which is about wisdom. Child development and drawingVerses 11-12 particularly stood out and spoke to him about mission. It's what we're here for! Salvation for those in peril! I agree with him about this.

As we were talking about it I mentioned that it is 'the Prime Directive', and Sean suggested instead that the prime directive for us is loving God and everything flows from that. This makes sense to me.

Like Moses, who didn't enter into the promised land, we will continue on our journey to the end of this life. But Moses was there on the mountain talking with Jesus and Elijah. One day we will be with him too.

The Moggerhanger meeting in February and the Newforms meeting in April were mountaintop experiences for both of us, they were so exciting, so encouraging. But we're not meant to be there all the time. Sean pointed out that if we were able to choose our mountaintops, we'd most likely be there for the experience, not simply for the Lord's sake.

I had a picture of colour spinners, the sort children used to make from a disc of card with two holes and a piece of string. Colouring them with segments of the primary colours red, yellow and blue and then spinning them by pulling the string, there was a magical effect. The coloured segments would vanish and be replaced by a neutral, dull grey. When we spin our colour discs we make a dirty grey, but when the Lord spins his colour wheel it makes a glorious, brilliant white too bright to look at at. I thought that this is how he takes our different abilities and natures and somehow creates something wonderful out of our ordinaryness.

Sean explained that when they were young, his children could draw, but not nearly as well as he could. They were always amazed at the things he could draw that they could not. He felt that we are like that. He can do so much better than we can, he can spin a colour wheel to produce true white light, our attempts are rather poor by comparison. And we are amazed!

11 March 2010

MISSION - A picture of a toddler

Sean and I met again to discuss mission. We talked about the importance of the fruit of the Spirit. A happy toddlerIf we are to touch people's lives in ways that are remotely useful, if we are going to be a blessing to people rather than being irrelevant at best and perhaps even a curse at worst, we are going to need plenty of spiritual fruit in our lives.

Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit in his letter to the Galatians. If we are growing spiritually we should be increasing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control. He points out that there's no law against things like these!

Sean had a picture of a toddler. He mentioned how amazing it is as a parent to see your child walking for the very first time. It's a wonderful, wonderful feeling! And he understood that this same sense of excitement is what our Father feels. He really gets very excited about seeing our growth and development. He's thinking, 'Wow! My child has just pulled himself up by holding onto the couch!'

05 March 2010

MISSION - Sheep and goats

We met at Sean's, just Sean and me. We began with an informal chat about anything that seemed useful.

We considered what the word 'religious' really means. Is it a helpful or unhelpful thing to be thought of as 'religious'? A female mouflon, perhaps similar to early sheep?We agreed that we'd prefer to be thought of more straightforwardly, perhaps simply as 'followers of Jesus'.

We agreed that we need to pray for our neighbours and that the coming Passion Play is a great opportunity and that we should pray for that too.

I had a picture of the ground being rotated under us as we walked. We didn't need to know the way, we just needed to walk forwards. Father rotated the ground so that forward was always the right direction to go. Like a train on a track, there is no need to steer. This is encouraging. Our job is to walk, his job is to guide us.

Father said, 'I didn't choose you because you are great orators, because you are persuasive, or celebrities. I chose you because you are humble and will follow me and keep me fully central in your hearts and minds. Think of Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, and all the other people who were poor speakers, helpless, afraid, or unclean.

He also spoke about sheep and goats. We feel like lost sheep, but we're not, we're found sheep! We recognise the Shepherd's voice, when he calls we run to him. When we come across lost sheep they will form a flock but the goats won't (they're independent minded). When we go towards the Shepherd the lost sheep will go too. We can't separate the sheep from the goats (middle eastern sheep looked very like goats). But we don't need to, they will separate themselves!

We prayed to the Lord to send more labourers into the harvest. This is a direct command from Yahshua himself and we feel it's hugely important. We briefly discussed the basis for mission in Luke 10:2 and thought about the steps involved and some ways in which we have already been presented with things to do as part of the process.

26 February 2010

MISSION - An experiment

Sean and I have been invited to join an experiment, initially for a period of three months. A modern laboratoryDuring that time we plan to meet weekly with the main objectives being mission-focussed through intentionally hearing from the Holy Spirit, paying attention to one another's hearts, and praying together.

We'll be using some of the ideas and methods we've been learning through CO2 to help us in practical ways, and we'll be comparing notes with other people taking part in the same experiment. It will be a huge help and encouragement to be on the same journey with people in other places.

In my own mind I'm quite clear that I don't want anything I do or think to detract from hearing and seeing what Yahshua will show me (and Sean) through the Spirit. The only thing I can be sure about is that the Lord knows better than I do. I'm expecting him to demonstrate while I watch, and then coach me while I try to follow him.

Today was our first meeting as part of the experiment. So far we have agreed that we feel an urgent need to be reaching people in the area around St Neots and Huntingdon and that we need to pray - together and separately. We have made a list of people we feel led to visit and have begun making contacts. And we have started communicating with our fellow experimenters.

We plan to get together weekly and I may be posting here again after some of those sessions.

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