Showing posts with label Eaton Ford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eaton Ford. Show all posts

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.

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 >

25 August 2011

Eaton Ford - Who do you pray to?

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

We thought about the need to be prepared, and how the good news needs to come with power and deep conviction guided by the Holy Spirit.

Newspapers and magazinesJim mentioned 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 and we thought about the significance of 'the gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction'. Jim went on to ask which Jesus we pray to. He explained that until we can pray to the Jesus on the cross we can't fully comprehend the Jesus that heals, feeds, loves and talks to us.

I had a word from the Spirit. He told me, 'Don't look for mountain top experiences, look for the lowest point in the valley because that's where the living water is.' This was certainly true for Yahshua, it was through the lowest point experience on the cross that the living water was released. And it's true for us as well, as we go through the difficult places we come to recognise and depend upon that living water. Yahshua told the Samaritan woman, 'If you knew who I am you would ask me for living water, if you drink that water you'll never be thirsty again!' (John 4:10-15)

And then Jim added some more thoughts. We are very often destructive as a result of the things we don't do. We are frail, think for example of the Japanese tidal wave, the recent English rioting, the dryness in the lives of so many young people in Britain (one in six teenagers are in neither work nor education). Dry, unfulfilled lives lead to frustration, anger and serious problems). These disasters cause loss of life and ruin to many survivors. The tsunami would have done less harm if adequate defences had been in place, the riots would not have happened if fewer young people had been left without hope or purpose. But lack of knowledge often prevents us being adequately prepared.

We need (and those around us need) the good news that comes with power, the Spirit, and conviction.

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

31 March 2011

Eaton Ford - Living in glory

< 3rd March 2011 | Index | 3rd August 2011 >

Jim, Sean and I met this evening and spent some great time together with Yahshua. We spoke to him and he spoke to us. We considered whether we are living in peace or living in glory.

A bunch of hydrogen balloonsJim told us that John Wesley, hearing that someone had just died, asked whether they had died in peace or died in glory. People often say that a person 'passed away peacefully', but it's also possible to die in glory, perhaps with a vision of angels or knowing the presence of the Lord in a very real way.

We talked about glory and how Yahshua had told his followers that he was giving them the glory that the Father had given him. What an awesome thought! I read John 17:20-26 and we were blown away by this prayer of Yahshua's immediately before his arrest. It is a prayer for us!

Later I had a prophecy. 'Don't gaze in through the window, come in through the front door. I want you to come into my house and be where I am. You are my children, I love you and you belong with me, always.'

This prompted Jim to share a picture he had of a Georgian house (in fact it was a huge and elaborate mansion). He saw angels there and was reminded that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us there. He knows the stars individually by name and knows the colour of each hair on my head. He is amazing! We can't really appreciate the size of his mansion. Jim went on to mention that if we run things man's way we will produce only man's results. Instead we need to do whatever the Holy Spirit tells us to do.

I had a picture that didn't seem to relate to anything that had gone before. I saw a large bunch of hydrogen balloons. They were brightly coloured and pulling on their strings, bobbing about in the breeze. And I realised that the balloons represented people, and when a person dies it's as though the string has broken.

People sometimes say, 'Oh dear, that bright and cheerful personality that was so full of life has gone. Now there is just the physical remains, like a piece of limp string.' Yet they fail to see that the bright, lively balloon is now floating free and rising into the sky.

Sean than drew our attention to Matthew 28 in which Jesus did the impossible and rose from the dead. Jim shared the thought that we, like Jesus before us, will also be raised to life. We have nothing to fear from death; we don't become a limp piece of string, we become a free-floating balloon.

It's good to die, not in peace, but in glory. But we first need to live, not in peace, but in glory!

< 3rd March 2011 | Index | 3rd August 2011 >

14 October 2010

Eaton Ford - Sharing a meal

Tonight we had decided to simply share a meal together, there was no plan beyond that.

Makizushi (rolled sushi)We met at our house, Donna and me, Jim, Pam, Sean, and Joe. Sean had prepared some sushi (fish free as he knew I wouldn't have liked that). Pam's reaction when we talked about it showed that she didn't much like the sound of raw fish either! We followed it with jacket potatoes, vegetable chilli, beef chilli, and salad. Jim had brought an amazing pear and chocolate dessert.

It was enjoyable, fun to chat and good to eat together, but the conversation was centred mainly on events at Cornerstone. It's not surprising as most of us are involved with the shop in one way or another! There's a lot to talk about.

We're feeling our way with this and the conversation was different from our previous meetings when we haven't shared a meal. I'm keen to persevere, I have the sense it's important.

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.

30 September 2010

Eaton Ford - At sea in a storm

Jim is away on holiday but Sean and I planned to travel to The Bull in Watton at Stone to meet David. Due to unforseen circumstances David had to call the meeting off at short notice, so eventually it was just me and Sean and Jesus at my place. I include the Lord in the list because he really was unmistakably meeting with us this evening.

A storm on the coast of Israel, near CarmelAfter our usual start of coffee and a chat we began to focus on Yahshua. Quite soon, Sean shared a picture of a storm at sea. Some friends we know are in a storm like this, driving headlong into it. But Yahshua can calm the storm - he's done that sort of thing before! Our friends are moving into the storm but beyond that, everything is calm.

This reminded me of the storm on Galilee and how Yahshua had actually walked past his followers in the boat. They were battling a strong headwind and they were just terrified when they saw a figure walking on the water. But he told them, 'It's me, don't be afraid!' And then they called out to him and Peter began to walk on the water too. But it was essential that they communicated with him.

We need to communicate with him too. Reading the passage in Matthew 14 later I noticed that when Yahshua stepped into the boat the wind immediately died down. How we need him in our boat when a storm blows up! Something else that seems significant is that when the storm took place they were in the dark - it was the middle of the night and they'd been battling the headwind for a long time.

Sean remembered that Yahweh once said, 'I have plans to prosper you'. He was speaking through Jeremiah to the exiled people of Israel (Jeremiah 29:11-14). If the Almighty did this for them, won't he also do as much for us?

Sean thought that these truths are there to point us to him and give him an opportunity to show us his miraculous ability. For example, he is able to change our hearts to love him just a little more - we don't need to be able to do it, even when we can't - he can.

I imagined one of our friends having a conversation with the people who have mistreated him. He was saying, 'I forgive you. I forgive you for believing the lies you were told about me. I forgive you for not believing what I told you.' And I became aware that the pavement (or patio) was flooded. It was only an inch or two deep and the water was stained pink with blood. The details were very clear but I could only see the stonework and brickwork - no people or plants or anything else. The ground in front of me was covered with large paving slabs and a red brick wall rose from the edge of the paving. The bricks were old and crumbly. I have no idea what this means.

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.

27 April 2010

Eaton Ford - Salt and light

We chatted over tea and coffee for a while until Jim took us right into spiritual matters with the question, 'What does it mean to be salt and light?' (Matthew 5:13-16) Various kinds of fruitIt's clear that these terms refer to making a difference, but Jim wanted to go deeper.

Acts 1:8 shows us that the Holy Spirit comes so that we can be witnesses. Are we really witnessing with 'fire in our bellies' as we should?

Sean had been thinking about the fruit of the Spirit and realised that these fruits are like food for people. We all agreed, it's not about mission fields or saying particular things to particular people - it's about the fruit, grace in our daily lives, joy, kindness etc.

I sensed that in order to be victorious in this spiritual Kngdom we must first be utterly defeated. To succeed we must first fail. Unless our human weaknesses are overcome, we will be unable to be living witnesses of the kind we need to be.

Sean prayed for the fire to burn up everything worthless, but he's afraid there'll be nothing left, nothing will remain. I had a word from the Lord about this, 'A seed will remain, and it's a seed that will grow.' Although we will lose ourselves, we will also begin to gain our real selves in the process. And it will be the beginning of real growth.

06 April 2010

St Neots - X-treme Bowling

This evening was a reunion for the young people and their parents. X-treme Camp reunionWe had arranged a bowling night with pizza and chips, and we had about thirty people there on the night. It was great fun, I think everyone enjoyed themselves.

There are several more photos online, if you were there perhaps you can find yourself in one of them!

During the evening Jim described the background to X-treme Camps in Eynesbury and I announced the dates for this summer's X-treme Camp, Friday 23rd July to Sunday 25th July 2010. Don't miss it! More details from me, Chris, by email.

02 February 2010

Eaton Ford - Reaching out

We discussed the Moggerhanger meeting planned for 7th February and decided we should reserve Sunday 6th June for the next meeting. This might be a picnic or some other format.
Reaching out
Isaiah 4 was mentioned, what an amazing passage, especially verses 2,3,5 and 6!

Jim mentioned the need for outreach. He told us about Paul, a friend from River Church, who regularly spends time in Africa and is used to tackling issues like demon possession and evil spirits. In the same way in Britain we often need cleansing of things that cling to us from childhood. This is especially true when we've been told how bad, worthless, or useless we are. These things cause deep hurts and are not always easy to strip away.

Sean had been reading from James and had been impressed that poor people are poor to show how rich they are in spirit, while the rich are rich to show how poor they are in spirit.

I said that we need to reach out and share what we've been given so freely. I feel this very strongly now, more and more so as time goes by.

28 January 2010

Eaton Ford - seeing or experiencing?

Sean and I talked about our lives, the need for outreach, the value of CO2, Beach sceneand the potential usefulness of summarising what he's been showing us month by month.

Sean shared how he has been looking towards Jesus with an increasing desire to seek him and his kingdom, know his desire and leading, and find a way of doing it. He saw a picture in which the Spirit was moving and leaving a light trail of footprints. The footprints were not visible, they were spiritual footprints across the land. He said that he believes the Lord is trying to wake the United Kingdom up because it is sleeping and time is short.

We talked through a variety of topics and how they relate to the Lord and to church life. These included creation, evolution, fundamental particles, energy, and the sheer wonder of it all. How awesome is our Creator King! We also shared news about our families.

Jim arrived later after another meeting. We continued the conversation and considered the value of reading the Bible as well as some things concerning the work at Moggerhanger Park.

Jim shared a picture of a beautiful beach with only a couple of people on it, the sort of image you might see in a travel brochure. He said, 'But it's only a picture. Until you feel the sunshine on your skin and feel the sand between your toes you haven't really experienced it. Seeing it in a brochure or on the TV screen isn't the same - not even close! And it's the same with experiencing life in the Spirit.'

21 January 2010

Eaton Ford - hearing the Lord?

Sean and I spent some time chatting before Jim arrived. We discussed reading Old and New Testaments and the value of some of the other material not included in the Bible, particularly the Apocrypha. Antique hearing aid (click for source)We talked about visiting Israel, about having a relationship with the Lord, and about our experiences with CO2 and the listening component of that, VIRKLER. How can we tell when we are really hearing from the Lord? How do we distinguish between his thoughts and merely our own thoughts?

Sean shared that in reading through John recently he has been greatly blessed by so many gems of understanding coming out.

When Jim arrived, we were amused that he also raised many of the same thoughts and ideas. He mentioned that we truly need to hear from the Lord, and wondered how many people attend a church but don't really believe in a living way, and perhaps don't realise that there is more to it, that following Jesus changes the way we live every day.

We went through the CO2 exercise together, Jim in particular had had a really good week and mentioned many things under the 'happy' and 'excited' headings.

We prayed for one another, and we also prayed for the Moggerhanger meeting on 7th February.

14 January 2010

Eaton Ford - Church, life, homelessness

Sean and I met at 20:00 as usual, Jim joined us later as he had another meeting first. We began by talking about church and whether it's better to have small groups networking with one another or larger groups. A homeless manWe couldn't see any reason to change what we're doing, but felt we might benefit from stronger (but informal) links between groups. We also discussed the Moggerhanger meeting on 7th February and Peter Farmer's meeting in Nottingham on 12th.

Next we considered life in Christ as a process. We begin to change long before we commit ourselves to follow him, and after that point we continue to grow in knowledge and grace. It's not true to think of people remaining static apart from a step change at the point when they first believe. So we felt we should get too hooked up on the idea of getting a person 'saved', but rather do our best to meet them where they are now.

We wondered about ways of helping the homeless. Jim told us that he is thinking and praying about doing something for homeless people next Christmas.

We went through CO2 together as a threesome (if that's not a contradiction in terms). Once again we found this to be a useful way of going a bit deeper with one another and it was good to hear how we feel the Lord is leading us individually.

A phrase that was mentioned was, 'Church is built on people who denied Jesus', Certainly true for Peter, and true for Paul as well - he persecuted Jesus' followers.

Jim prophesied, 'He'll give you extra strength, you'll be surprised by how much strength he will give you'. That's quite a promise!

03 December 2009

Eaton Ford - Small groups

Jim was working very late today, Paul was unwell, and Mary couldn't make it so it was just Sean and me meeting this evening.

We discussed the ideal size for groups of people sharing their lives together and thought that between twelve and twenty is the natural maximum. Greek icon of the twelve apostlesYahshua called twelve men to follow him and we know there were women who also followed him, so there is good precedent for twenty or so as a maximum. Larger numbers would make it difficult for people to relate closely and personally with one another. It's a good size for any kind of team - in business, sport, and it's typically the size of an extended family.

We spent some time considering ways of reaching out to those around us. Both of us are keen to do this. We recognise that last summer's camp was one way to do this, and we know it was prepared and orchestrated by Papa, not by us. All we had to do was follow step by step. But we want to reach more people in the town and are sure that if we trust and expect to be led, the opportunities will come.

I described what I'd learned about CO2 from John White and others at the House2House Conference in Dallas. Sean thought it sounded a great idea and is happy to try it with me so we plan to begin right away, do it for a week, and then see how we feel about continuing. We will do the VIRKLER exercise individually and report back when we meet to share what we think the Lord is telling us each day. And we'll step through the SASHET process at the same time.

Here's a video of CO2 in action.

C02 Overview from TSP on Vimeo.

We'll let you all know how we get on. We hope to meet face to face two or three days each week for our CO2 sessions. On the other four or five days we will use Skype and/or Google Wave as communication channels. We'll also share how these worked for us as CO2 tools.

Before finishing we prayed for our friends and specific things in their lives that we're aware of, particularly illnesses and family matters.

26 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Floyd's camels

Jim was involved in another meeting this evening so joined us later, Sean and I began by chatting about computing.
A camel


It's an interest we share as we both work in IT. Then we settled down to listen to Floyd McClung talking about 'Camels in the Road', in other words distractions we meet in our lives that make it hard for us to follow Jesus. Here are the major points he makes as he develops this theme.
  • Dabbling - instead of being fully focused on following Jesus, we may become distracted by doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We're called to spiritual obedience, but we become absorbed in other things so easily.
  • Plateau-ing - we stop growing spiritually. There is no moving on in our lives, no breakthrough. Past disobedience can lie behind this.
  • Inner vows - we may say to ourselves, 'I will never do x, y, z again. Never!' This vow becomes an inner value that guides us. The vow is often to protect us, to avoid something, or simply for comfort. The Lord doesn't cause the problems in our lives but he does use them. He is able to use our greatest fears to create in us great strengths, but we need to embrace the pain if this is to happen.
  • Unclear vision - we need to get hold of a sense of our destiny. If we don't, we may become targets for other people's passions.
  • Financial security - we worry about such things and they can eat us up. Don't let materialism own you, live for a bigger dream!
  • Frantic pace of life - too busy to pay attention to what the Lord is doing.
  • Churchianity, religion - The Lord is really not impressed with our systems and organisations.
We discussed some of these ideas and noted how they have affected our own lives. 

Jim arrived at this point and we prayed for our friends and families asking for grace through the pain and the issues. We thought how necessary it is to pour our grace over them, forgiving wrongs freely, praising things that are well done and so on. Just as our heavenly Father pours his grace over us, so we are to do for others.

In connection with one particular issue that was mentioned, I saw a stone on a woodland path. I realised that the stone might just be lying on the surface or it might be larger than it looked with the bulk of it deeply buried. It's important to know which is the case. A stone on the surface may be easily moved but a part-buried stone could cause injury if we strain to pick it up or just try to kick it out of the way.

12 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Playing on the field

We met at Paul's house this evening and started to think about the fact that we are already in the Kingdom of Heaven (or perhaps we could say the Kingdom is in us). I explained how I'd heard Floyd McClung saying that in football or rugby Playing rugbythe game is played on the field, not in the locker room at half time. That time with the coach is a time for advice and encouragement to prepare us for the second half. It's the same in church life, we meet to encourage one another and to grow in spiritual things, but the purpose is making diciples and that game is played in the world in daily life, not in our meetings!

Paul reminded us that whatever our age or physical condition we need to be able to say, 'But I'm OK because God is in me. I'm not worried about death.' Jim remarked that we have difficulties, illnesses, but we know that we have life in Christ.

We thought that people today are looking for some kind of spiritual experience, there's much more interest in the supernatural than there was. Jim thought this was partly because of the financial crash and partly because of terrorism. People are looking for security and for an answer and for spiritual power of some sort. But they don't know where to look.

Next we talked about Elijah and how Yahweh had not been in the earthquake, the fire or the storm, but in the still, small voice. Because of this we need to listen very, very carefully and we need to have time in our lives for Jesus. Sean said that to put it bluntly - it's a matter of what's most important to us.

I pointed out that there are many ways to communicate with people (voice, writing, body language, signing etc) and it's the same with the Lord, he has several ways of reaching us. I read Tracy's amazing words about how he wants to speak to us. Jim referred back to Ephesians 1:18 where Paul writes about our hearts being 'flooded with light'. And Jim explained that for him the presence of the Lord is like a white light and how awesome that is, like soaking in his presence.

This prompted me to ask, 'What is the most amazing thing he reveals to us?' Jim said, 'The Son, by revelation'. Sean pointed out that first we have to diminish in stature, that it's necessary but the hardest thing to do. And Jim mentioned the radiance of the Lord that had remained on Moses face after he was on the mountain with him.

And I had something of a revelation about this. Just as there are different parts of the body and each must obey the head, so it is in the church. It's not necessary for the toe to become less, but it is necessary for it to obey the head and to do the job it was designed for. So for us, it's not so much that we must diminish but rather that we must be appropriate in what we are and do. We must fit the role we have been given neither more nor less. And we must obey Christ.

05 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Tossed on the waves of life

Mary began by telling us about a situation at work that had made her angry. She had made up her mind to retaliate but as she read Titus and Matthew 5 and 6 she felt the Lord speaking to her and calling her to be peaceful, A storm blew upboth in her heart and in her actions. This was a very direct revelation, clear evidence of Father's guidance and involvement in her life.

We shared news of a number of friends who need prayer right now and we prayed for them and for ourselves, expecting the Lord to meet all these needs.

Jim told us about a trip to the north where they went to minister to two very different churches. The first one was physically poor but spiritually rich with a great deal going on and lives being impacted. The second church was rich, had a grand meeting place and did everything in style, but they were formalised and spiritually poor. This had greatly impressed Jim who saw that we can be so rich in ourselves that we feel we don't need Jesus.

I had a clear picture of a river in the desert, like the Nile. Far from the river there were no trees or other plants because of the utter dryness. But closer to the river there was much more greenery. And the Spirit said, 'Stay close to the banks where you will grow strongly and bear a lot of fruit.' Jesus is the river, he is the flow of living water which we need to sustain us and make us fruitful.

Jim read Titus 2:1-15 and reminded us that the grace of God is the most important aspect for us. We have so much to be thankful about! We all have an appointed time to leave this life, but today is the day for all of us to say 'Yes' to Jesus. He wants to encourage us daily with the living word that cuts right through to the marrow.

The words of an old hymn ('It is well with my soul') popped into Sean's mind,
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
I shared some thoughts from Mark 4 which had come into focus for me when I read it recently. In verses 35-41 we see Yahshua sleeping peacefully while the disciples were very frightened. They didn't understand, as he did, that he was on an unfinished mission and his Father would not allow him to fail through a mere storm.

All the parables in the earlier section of the chapter help them to see the spiritual truth which he already fully understands. The physical world often mirrors the spiritual world and can help us grow in understanding. Yahshua himself is the lamp, the Light of the world that is meant to be disclosed. He told them to 'consider carefully what you hear'. Consider well and get a good dose of understanding. We grow in spiritual understanding in the same way as the growing seed, we don't understand how, but in the end there is a benefit - a harvest, a shady place for the vulnerable to rest.

This is why, when they were afraid, he said, 'Do you still have no faith?'

Jim told us about some men who were sharing the good news on the street and felt strongly led to go to a phone shop. They found the staff were Muslims and one woman told them, 'I'll believe your God is real if you can tell me something about my life only I could know'. And while they were looking at one another wondering how they could meet such a challenge, she suddenly shrieked! It turned out that at that moment the Lord had revealed himself to her in a vision and she could no longer deny him!

We talked about faith, and taking risks, and growing in wisdom and knowledge and grace. It was all very encouraging stuff.

22 October 2009

Eaton Ford - Like tiny babies

Sean got us off to a rather alarming start by showing us a photo of his son, David's, arm. He's had an accident resulting in localised but quite extensive burns to his hand and forearm. He was treated at the hospital but is home again and recovering well.

This provoked a thought from Jim about the disciples. A tiny babyAt one point when a Samaritan village had proved less than helpful, James and John had asked Yahshua, 'Shall we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?' (Luke 9:51-56) They demonstrated commendable faith because they believed they could ask and receive, but they showed no compassion.

I pointed out that they had authority, but no grace. And this combination of authority without grace has done immeasurable harm in the church down the ages. We need grace far more than we realise! Dot put it differently, 'We need to know who we are in him'. How true!

Jim reminded us that a tiny mustard seed of faith is enough for the Lord to do the rest. We thought how important it is to put our own plans aside and to let him reveal his plan for us, step by step, day by day. Dot said, 'When we get to the end of our ability to cope, then he steps in.' And in order for this to happen, we need to find out what has happened in our lives that has moulded us. People and events in our past can affect the way we live today, we need to revisit those pasts and deal with remaining issues before we can go forward again unencumbered by the effects.

I shared a picture of a tiny infant lying on a rug and wearing a baby-grow. And I understood how the baby is fed and protected by the parents. They are totally devoted to this tiny new life that has come and so disrupted their own lives. Meanwhile, babies have no concept of the fact that one day Mum or Dad will be teaching them to ride a bike! And in the same way our Father loves us, cares for us, and sees what we cannot. He sees that one day he will be showing us how to do things that right now we cannot begin to imagine.

Dot read a word from the Lord that she'd written down in the summer. Jim prayed, 'You are transforming us. Through the darkness shines a light - Jesus. He is the transformning light so that we can become more like him.'

Following a tongue there were several interpretations. Dot prayed, 'You are awesome, you're my Dad. My heart overflows with love for you and who you are.' And Jim shared that the Lord wants us to break through or burst through into knowing him as Lord of all our difficulties, joys, heartaches, and everything in our lives. He prayed, 'Fill us with vitality and passion so that we may speak something of Christ into the lives of others.

From Dot - 'the joy of the Lord is my strength'. From Sean - 'you just want to lift us up in you'. From Jim - 'Healing is happening, pain is being dealt with'.

We sang the old song, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord'.

08 October 2009

Eaton Ford - Guard your heart

We met at Paul's this evening, the first time for the Thursday evening group. As usual we began by chatting over tea or coffee, and then Jim changed our focus by asking us to read Proverbs 4:20-27.

The Beautiful Gate's archway todayJim explained that this passage had been shared at The River Church and he had been much struck by it. Verse 23 urges us to 'guard your heart' because it is the wellspring of life. The things we have (or lack) in our lives are not so important, but it's essential our hearts are true.

Sean pointed out that this theme carries on from last week when we thought about not worrying. We can just trust the Father to provide what we need when we need it. Sean thought that we desperately need more faith, and told us that sometimes he feels angry and frustrated at his own lack of faith. Chris read Acts 3:1-8 where Peter and John healed the crippled beggar. They prayed for him, but then Peter reached out, took his hand, and helped him up - and then he was healed. Peter's faith was demonstrated by helping the cripple up, and only then was the man healed. Faith is active, it does something practical. It's rather like learning to ride a bike, swim, or speak in tongues - you will never do it unless you try.

When we were chatting together later we decided we'd meet at Jim's next week, and we'll invite a new friend from Sandy to join us.

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