Showing posts with label Response. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Response. Show all posts

12 December 2012

Death of a nurse

The tragic death of a nurse following a prank phone call from Australia should make us all think about how we deal with other people and how we respond when hurt. We can only behave as we should if we have hearts that are full of love for others.

Most people will have heard about the tragic death of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse involved in the hoax phone call to the London Hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge.

Amidst all the media activity and comment, maybe it's time to take a look at what happened and consider how we should respond.

The bare facts are quite straightforward. Mel Greig and Michael Christian are radio hosts working for an Australian station, 2Day FM. They decided it would be fun to phone the hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and the Queen asking for an update on Kate's condition, and were quite surprised when Jacintha took the call and put them through to the ward nurse.

The nurse on duty answered their questions. Later, when the news of the incident reached the hospital and Jacintha realised what she had done, I can only assume she must have been horrified, very, very embarrassed and upset. Later, she tragically committed suicide leaving her husband and children bereft of a loving wife and mother.

The suffering - Jacintha's family, her friends and colleagues, the hospital management, the Duke and Duchess and their families are all suffering some level of distress as a result. When news of the suicide reached Mel and Michael they, in turn, were dreadfully upset at what had happened.

Something that began as a prank has turned into a nightmare for so many people. Who should we feel most sorry for? Frankly, I feel sorry for almost everyone involved including Mel and Michael. What they did was foolish and unkind, but clearly not intended to cause a death. However, I have little sympathy for the management of the radio station.

It seems there have been previous incidents for which the station has been criticised (this is the fourth such event mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the station). But it's clear that listener ratings and company profits were once again put before caring behaviour and ethical procedures.

The company's CEO, Rhys Holleran, had the audacity to say it was not possible to foresee the suicide. That is true, but hardly relevant. It's a shameful failure to take responsibility. What was perfectly foreseeable is that any prank of this nature is certain to cause very serious embarrassment and distress. Isn't that the whole point? Embarrassment and distress amuse and excite audiences, keeping ratings and profits high. The station is now going to review its operating procedures, but changes should surely have been made when they were criticised for similar behaviour in the past.

What should happen now? - As a bare minimum Jacintha's family need immediate financial support to cover the costs of counselling, loss of income, and to cover whatever extra facilities are necessary for the family to function in her absence. Additionally there will be a need for significant compensation. A wife and a mother cannot be replaced, of course, nor can the lifetime experiences that she has lost.

It seems to me right and fair that the radio station should be required to meet all these costs as a bare minimum. And they need to change their standards of behaviour or face closure. I'm glad to hear that the radio station does plan to offer some financial help. This is to their credit, but should not prejudice any independent rulings on compensation or operating standards.

The hospital is also raising an appeal for Jacintha's family. They are not guilty of doing anything wrong, but it's possible their handling of incoming phone calls could be improved in some way, especially out of hours. They are looking into this.

What can we learn from this tragedy? - Surely the fundamental lesson is that we must always treat people with kindness. Deliberately embarrassing and distressing people, whether for commercial gain or for any other reason is simply not the right way to behave.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians almost 2000 years ago makes it very clear. He writes that 'the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control'. There is, he writes, no law against such things. (Galatians 5:22-23)

I hope that Mel and Michael will recover from their shock, grief and sorrow. Their lives will be changed by what has happened, hopefully they will warn others of the dangers of treating people unkindly. The worst thing that could happen now is for anyone else to be harmed. My prayer for Mel and Michael is that they will find the strength to endure this difficult time and to move on, not forgetting what has happened but learning from it. The same prayer goes out for all the managers and staff of the radio station.

My prayer for everyone else is that they will be able to forgive. A world without Jacintha is a poorer world, especially for those who knew her. Sorrow and grief are inevitable, nothing can bring her back, the only way is forward. They will all need time, courage and strength to take those forward steps. Father, bless them as only you know how - in Jesus' name.

Love - But what we all need in this amazing rainbow world of technology, war, natural beauty, knowledge, suffering, joy and wisdom is more love. Love for one another, love of what is good, endless love, love that never gives up, love that always hopes and believes the best. Only the heart of love can forgive and bless.

Here's Paul again (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

Consider reading what the Scot, Henry Drummond, wrote about love in his amazing essay 'The Greatest Thing in the World'. Love is the one thing we need, both to give and to receive. We can't manage this, only Jesus can provide it. He is the source of love, both to give and to receive. Learn more about him from the seven signs in John.

If even one person learns about love something good will have come from this desperately regrettable incident.


Questions:

  • How do you think the radio station might have prevented this?
  • How do you think the hospital might have prevented this?
  • Are you always guided by love in your dealings with other people?
  • How do you measure up to the standard Paul set out? How will you get help?

See also:

30 January 2012

Organic church life

Alan Knox uses the term 'organic church life'. There's a certain flowing, difficult to pin down, deep life about church that is well described by the term 'organic'. When we share this life we are sharing Christ himself as well as sharing ourselves.

A bejewelled networkAlan Knox gives some thought to the question 'Why is it so difficult to find organic church life?' and I very much like his answer. It's closely related to my recent post 'Circles of friends'.

Alan decides to use the term 'organic church life' rather than the more usual 'organic church', and his reasons are very revealing.
When I write about “organic church life,” I’m not talking about a certain church gathering, or a certain type of meeting, or a certain group of believers, or a certain method of organizing (or not organizing). Instead, I’m talking about believers sharing their lives with one another as they also share life in Jesus Christ.
I simply could not agree more! And I could not express it better.

Yet our minds are so anxious to organise and structure everything that we overlook organic church life in our rush to find something organisational in its place. We have insecurities that seem best met by plenty of structure and tradition and hierarchy. These things are not bad in and of themselves, but they are not where the life is. They have served us well in society and civil government, but they do not serve us well in finding and experiencing organic church life.

Structure is required as human life grows in scale. Very little structure is needed by three small children at play (though it's there if you look for it). A great deal is necessary to manage a large company, a big orchestra, or a nation.

Structure, tradition and hierarchy are useful tools for running large organisations, but in the day to day life of a family freedom, spontaneity and shared responsibility are much more appropriate. So too with organic church life. And that is why it's so hard to find even though it may be there right under our noses. Perhaps the truth is that it's not really hard to find, just hard to recognise until you get your eye in. And then you'll notice it everywhere.

But on the larger scale of the church worldwide, structure, tradition and hierarchy become necessary - right?

Wrong! Jesus said, 'I will build my church'. If we each focus on organic church life amongst our own circle of friends we can (and should) leave the rest to Jesus. He is the only one who knows how to do the job properly, only he can properly integrate our overlapping circles into the bejewelled network of networks structure of his design.

26 January 2012

Prophecy about Britain - again

I've been directed to another prophecy about Britain, this time from Lance Lambert, and would like to share a link to it. Prophecy is about hearing and telling; both are needed.

The human earI hadn't expected to post about a second prophecy so soon after the previous one exactly two weeks ago. But yesterday evening I was chatting with two friends about our intention to pray regularly and today they emailed me with another prophecy, this time from Lance Lambert.

I'd encourage anyone who was struck by the first prophecy to visit Lance Lambert's website and read what he has shared about Britain. Both prophecies were given in the August/September period in 2011.

Of course, the two are not identical, but there are some common themes. I have heard that Mark Stibbe also shared something similar in Bedford at around the same time. There are coincidences in life, but I think this is not one of them.

I am not drawing conclusions here, or suggesting any particular response. But I do urge everyone to read these two prophecies prayerfully and thoughtfully and consider what, if anything, Father would have you do about the current state of Britain.

Prophecy is often thought about in terms of speaking, but it also involves listening and hearing. Hearing what the Holy Spirit is saying must come first; there can be no prophecy without discernment. But what is heard and discerned must then be shared if it is to have any effect. I am particularly interested in the hearing aspect and may revisit that topic again.

11 January 2012

Prophecy for England

I was sent these words of prophecy today by a friend. They concern the future of the UK and I felt led to place them here on 'All About Jesus'. Your thoughts and comments will be welcome.

Listening is important, something I've posted on before and feel strongly about. Many who follow Jesus have never been encouraged to listen or given any guidance on how to listen. This is a real weakness in church life in the UK in our day.

England in the UKProphecy is the result of listening so I was encouraged today when a friend sent me and others some words from someone she knows, John Richards. Here it is, exactly as I received it.

Prophecy for England

In the next 20 years there will be a period of cumulative and intense emotional & spiritual poverty and ever-increasing suffering in the UK as my generation and those younger grow up and reach middle age. Relationship and marriage breakdown will become completely epidemic, serious sexual and physical diseases and problems will become overwhelming, people's health both mental and emotional will be corrupted and there will be intense poverty, both practically and spiritually in this nation as communities die, children are fatherless and families are destroyed. The papers will become full of stories that will lead people into debt, fear, hopelessness and apathy and a terrible disappointment and anger at what they are living in.

During this time, there will be intense challenge for the established church as the divide between their normal ministry, practices and influence and the intense and accelerating need in their communites grows at an exponential rate and it becomes painfully clear that the Church and Gospel as they are living it out and preaching and teaching it is NOT sufficient for the Redemption and wounds of their nation.

At this point, God will send prophetic words into the church, all over the country, carried in the mouths of prophets, begging the established Christian Church to repent and turn from their materialism, religion and fear that masquerades as Christianity and to move out in faith by FASTING, PRAYER AND A NEW KIND OF CHURCH BUILT ON DISCIPLESHIP AND INTIMACY. God will come strongly against the established order of things in the Church and it will be utterly exposed as being largely impotent and shallow as the country begins to bleed.....

But simultaeous to the suffering of the people and ever increasing impotence of the established and exisiting Church in the UK, AN IMMENSE HUNGER FOR SPIRITUAL REAITY AND REDEMPTION WILL SURFACE IN THE NATION, PARTICULARLY AMONGST YOUNG PEOPLE AS THEY SEE MATERIALISM, CAPITALISM, DEMOCRACY, INDIVIDUALISM AND SO-CALLED FREEDOM, EVADE THEM AND FAIL.

IF in these days the Church hears the prophetic messages to repent and change that God will make resound in music, the Arts, culture, prophetic preaching and spirit-filled conscience, then GOD WILL BRING A GREAT REVIVAL TO THIS NATION like has never been seen in history, BUT IT WILL NOT START IN CHURCH, BUT INSTEAD WILL BIRTH AS CHRISTIANS BREAK OUT OF THEIR COMFORT AND RELIGION AND FAST AND PRAY IN ACCOUNTABLE GROUPS AND THEN MOVE OUT IN FAITH TO THEIR COMMUNITIES via discipling. The young will need to turn to the old in respect and accountability in the church, and the old will need to be fully repent and let go of the past and let God change their preconceptions and then let the young lead and move out in adventure and faith.



JOHN RICHARDS

John has asked me to include two links, one to his website and another to a copy of his book. I'd like to add my thanks for permission to share the prophecy here on All About Jesus.

I believe these words were given and shared in order to touch hearts. They may not touch every heart, and they certainly won't affect everyone in the same way. Particularly if you live in the UK (and especially if you live in England) or if you have a special heart for this country, please read them prayerfully and thoughtfully and test them for yourself. I don't endorse what is written but I do want to place it before you for consideration.

Megan, who sent me John's words, also mentioned that they are strikingly similar to something she heard Mark Stibbe share recently.

Why am I posting this? - There is a particular reason for passing this on. Much of what John has shared touches chords in what I have been thinking and hearing over the last year or so, especially during the last six months. I don't think this is a coincidence.

I woke up one morning with the word 'subito' rattling around in my mind. My schoolboy Latin from about 1960 made me think it meant 'suddenly' and that turned out to be correct. So I thought perhaps the Holy Spirit was telling me there was going to be a sudden change in my life. I wrote about it when it happened, at the beginning of September.

I believe that change has begun and now feel I should collect together some of the other articles I've written about listening. I'll post again when I've done that.

At this stage perhaps my thinking sounds a little disjointed - it does to me as well! But I have no doubt that something is being revealed and clarity will come at the right time. Nobody can claim life with Jesus is dull!

10 January 2012

A royal priesthood

Part 12 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Like light on the water | Index | No later items >

Roy shares some Bible passages to clarify and support the idea of praying for blessing and the impact that flows from doing so. He finds Old and New Testament verses to back up what he and Daphne had discovered during their early times at Ffald-y-Brenin.

A servant King, a self-sacrificing PriestThis is the final section of chapter one, the last part I can share with you online. If you've been following along I hope it will have encouraged you to buy a copy of the book so you can read the entire amazing story.

There's a link at the bottom of the article that lists various ways to obtain a copy.

In this final part Roy provides some biblical background to the idea of speaking a blessing over people and their lives.

When the practice of priesthood was originally about to commence, God instructed Moses to explain to Aaron how he and the priests were to act. Not only were they to intercede for the people but they were to pronounce blessings over them as well. 'The Lord spoke to Moses saying, "Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace."' (Numbers 6:22-26 ESV).

Then came a remarkable explanation and insight: 'So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.' God placed into the mouths of the priests the power to speak words that caused God to unleash transformational, life-changing blessings upon the people. This is in line with our understanding that when people on earth are in agreement with the word from heaven, the power of the age to come is released in the here and now on earth.

We make a great mistake if we believe that this is simply wordy theology. 'Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he came down from offering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings' (Leviticus 9:22 ESV). Sounds rather formal and religious, doesn't it? Yet God's kingdom is not resting in words but in power.

So notice what happens next in verses 23-24: 'And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and when they came out they blessed the people, and the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the pieces of fat on the altar, and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.' What a difference is made to the priesthood when the blessing comes from an encounter, a meeting with God himself! The supernatural is released, The glory of God is seen and praise arises to him.

In Deuteronomy 10:8 (ESV, reinforced in 21:5) we read: 'At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord to stand before the Lord to minister to him and to bless in his name, to this day.' Wow! What a ministry: to carry the presence, to minister to the Lord and to speak blessings in his name to the people!

Now here is a wonderful truth. When Jesus came he was revealed as our High Priest. He is the presence, filled without measure, ministering to God and releasing incredible blessings upon all who can receive, including us. Yet there is more. You and I are now called into a new priesthood, that of all believers. We are to carry the presence, minister to God and speak, pronounce, invoke, release blessings upon people. 'But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9 ESV).

There is a wonderful hymn by Charles Wesley that says: 'My God, I know, I feel thee mine.' There is an important balance in those words. We need to know God at the level of our minds and our understanding, but we also need to experience him. The Bible encourages us to taste and see that he is good. If we can bless people, and the Holy Spirit comes and overshadows them and breaks them, they are eager to know who this God is that they've tasted. It's wonderful. If God wants to move with people like that as a response to blessing, I want to play a part in it.

And as these first inklings stirred in us - thoughts of what the practice of blessing people might bring - we were not to know just how profound a challenge would come to 'faith as usual' from this gentle but insistent work of the Holy Spirit.

Yahshua (Jesus) is a king in the line of David, and also our great High Priest. And because we have been adopted as his heirs we too are of both the royal line and the priestly line. How does it feel to be part of a royal priesthood? Because that is what you are!

At Great Staughton, near where Donna and I live, there is an Anglican church. The top of the tower is visible across the fields from the nearby main road and because of  the levels and the angle at which you see it as you drive by, it some times looks like an altar with four horns, and sometimes like a crown with eight spikes.

Like that tower, we too (through Jesus) have inherited an altar and a crown. We have priestly duties and royal duties. Jesus was a servant King and a self-sacrificing Priest and we are also called to serve and to give.

It seems to me that Roy has covered the priestly duties very clearly in this final part of the chapter, we are called to carry the Presence of the Most High, serve him, and release his blessing on the places and people around us. Similarly we have a royal duty, to carry the Authority of the Most High, represent him, and release his rule in the world around us.

So as priests we can bless and as members of the royal family we can take authority over the darkness. We are to be channels by which the Lord's grace and light can flow into the world around us. Isn't that amazing?

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Like light on the water | Index | No later items >

07 January 2012

Science and faith

Can I have faith and accept science too? Is that an unreasonable position to hold? Recent discussions on Jesus Creed have provoked me to write on this topic again.

Tiffany window, 'Science and Religion'I've posted about this before (Apr 2010, May 2010), but a recent item on Jesus Creed brought the topic back to mind. And then I came across this earlier post where there was a more fundamental discussion and a useful reference to an article by Dr EB Davis, 'Christianity and Science in Historical Perspective'.

It's not surprising that the debate continues, there are strongly held opinions on both sides. There is also quite a bit of mutual misunderstanding. Personally, however, I continue to see no conflict between  my acceptance of science as a wonderful tool for better understanding the universe and my acceptance of a spiritual dimension that transcends the universe.

It seems obvious to me that if there is a creator he would necessarily exist outside and beyond everything that he created. How could it be otherwise?

I remain dismayed by the anger and impatience sometimes displayed by both sides, but it's encouraging to see that there is also plenty of well intentioned and good natured debate. I have friends and family on both sides and others who don't recognise any conflict. I get on perfectly well with all these people, we don't get annoyed with one another. For me, being able to differ amicably is by far the most important aspect of the entire debate.

What do you think? Here are some questions to ponder.

  • Can science and faith coexist peacefully or will the debate rage on indefinitely?
  • Is it possible that science could ever formally disprove the existence of a spiritual dimension?
  • Is there a way of explaining what is meant by 'faith' in such a way that all scientists would be able to accept it?
  • Is there anything wrong with my position that science and faith are not incompatible, or is that like trying to have my cake and eat it?
  • How should we respond in cases of strong disagreement?

06 January 2012

Like light on the water

Part 11 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Grace outpouring | Index | A royal priesthood >

Behind the prayers for blessing and the abundant evidence of the results, an inner awareness was growing of the need for grace in dealing with people. A new understanding was developing in Roy and Daphne's hearts and minds.

Blessing and grace like sunlight on the waterIn this section, Roy continues to explain the need for grace towards others. The Almighty blesses us despite our faults and we should treat others in the same way. Praying for people to be blessed is part of that.

We are called to be more like him. When we ask him to bless people we are merely asking him to do what he has already chosen to do.
We found that there is often resistance to heart habits that incline towards grace. There were plenty of Christians who told me that our practice of blessing people who were not yet Christian was absolutely wrong. We were advised that it would be much better to cry out to God to make things much worse for them. Such people were not pleased to be told that this type of prayer was like a curse.

I cannot find a home in faith houses built on judgement. My personal experience is that God has had favour on me and shown me mercy when I don't deserve it. I have been disobedient and apathetic but the mercy that he's poured out on me has taken my breath away. When we hear the testimony of a wretched sinner who has found salvation we rejoice with them and the angels. The lower they have been, the greater the glory. It is not quite as straightforward when it is someone who is already a Christian, whose life has imploded, and that has been my experience. I know that if I were God I wouldn't have given someone like me another chance.

As these understandings had taken hold in my life in the years prior to coming to Ffald-y-Brenin, I concluded I didn't want to persuade people about the veracity or non-veracity of the words in a book. I believed they could encounter the living God and that the words would come alive to them as a result.

Asking people if we can bless them is an offer that few refuse. We're not saying, 'Can we pray for you in a general way?' We're not putting a difficult burden on those doing the praying. Blessing someone is simple and easy. The Holy Spirit comes because when you bless you are reflecting something that the Father is doing and speaking words that the Father desires to be said.

God's desire to bless is absolutely outrageous. Nothing can stop him. He has set himself with immovable intent to bless mankind. His longing is that Jesus shall have many brothers. That's us. Before we knew him, he knew us. Before we loved him, he loved us. He designed us for a purpose wrapped up in blessing. Heaven, our ultimate destination, is full of blessing and we are invited to pray for the coming of heaven on earth right now.*
Let's all aim to walk in step with the Father. We have nothing to lose and a very great deal to gain. Let's not resist him in our hearts, instead we simply need to accept that he was gracious towards us, is gracious towards others, and we should act and speak out of grace too.

Blessing and grace poured out onto the people we meet are like beams of bright sunshine pouring down onto the surface of a lake. Everything is transformed.

The Father, the Son and the Spirit are one, they are abundantly alive and want us to enter into their relationship of absolute love and grace and oneness. Furthermore they want us to draw others in. It's that simple!

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Grace outpouring | Index | A royal priesthood >

01 January 2012

Grace outpouring

Part 10 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

Behind the prayers for blessing and the abundant evidence of the results, an inner awareness was growing of the need for grace in dealing with people. A new understanding was developing in Roy and Daphne's hearts and minds.

Rainclouds and sunshine over GalileeAs a result of the answers to prayer, it was now becoming clear that the best way to reach people is by first blessing them. Simply confronting people with truth and correction is ineffective and even counter productive.

Roy and Daphne start to challenge the accepted norms where these involve any form of judgement or criticism.
My old ways of giving away my faith were being changed as this understanding of blessing people began to not merely take hold of our hearts but actually bear fruit in our community.

I was no stranger to the 'truth and Scripture' method. This appeal to the mind is valid, good and powerful for many. But for people who don't consider themselves particularly literate and for those who have moved to a more visual, 'discovered in life' knowledge it can often fail to stir their hearts, minds and emotions.

I had started to challenge the 'faith as normal' mindset that I felt many Christians had slipped into. I had already begun to question a culture of faith that places a high value on correcting strangers. For example, we're very good at throwing stones at politicians and the media. Christians seem very keen on petitions. I started to ask people who wanted to publicise their petition objecting to a particular broadcast, for instance, whether they had ever previously commended the broadcaster for programmes that were wholesome. Were they praying for the media or was this simply mud-slinging?

Having a heart to bless will challenge the judgemental mindset that can colour how we look at those we live with and among. We can become a 'grace first' people. We're still asking people to turn away from rebellion against God but we're seeking to be part of the revelation from the Father that his primary desire is to bless those he created in his image.

If we will let the wisdom of God inhabit our thinking, a consistent 'grace first' pattern will emerge in our actions and words. 'Grace first' prayer for healing doesn't search for wrongdoing in a person's life, which needs correcting as a prelude to a miracle. There doesn't seem to be much evidence for that approach in the ministry of Jesus. We simply ask that the power of God should touch that life.

As goodness, grace and mercy are manifest we can remind people to change their ways - they're ready to hear the words of correction when they've heard the shout of love. Jesus, for instance, saved a sinful, adulterous woman from death and then gently suggested that she 'go and sin no more'.

Think for a moment about your experience with God. Sometimes a truth enters your life and you value it. It becomes a thread in your tapestry of faith. Then a season comes when you realise how important that insight is. The idea of blessing people, already growing in our lives, took hold of me in a new way as our life at Ffald-y-Brenin unfolded, despite the attacks that it also released.*
We can all learn from Roy and Daphne's experience. They found that a 'grace first' approach and prayer for blessing is a wonderful way to capture attention, hearts and minds and open the way for Jesus. We can take this approach too.

Why not look for opportunities to bless the people you meet in your daily life? Pray for them to receive a touch from the Lord. Ask him to bless their coming and going, their homes and families and jobs and businesses. And then, when you meet them at the supermarket checkout, in the street, at a school parent's evening or the cricket club or in the local pub, pray secretly in your heart again.

Ask for an abundance of good things for them, and when they start to tell you their stories you will be able to say, 'I asked Jesus to bless your business' - or family, school, garden, or whatever. And another seed will have been sown in a heart.

If we can all change our habits just a little here and there it will make a big difference. Here is one habit I want to cultivate in my own life - to pray for a blessing upon everyone who reads one of these blog posts. It seems such a little thing, but a lot of little things add up. A little habit consistently applied can achieve a lot of bad or a lot of good.

So why not develop little habits that will bring good results? Be like your Father in heaven who pours out the life-giving rain and sun on all people.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< The abundant results of prayer | Index | Like light on the water >

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.

But we can work in a much more fundamental way (though for practical reasons we normally choose not to). A recent paper by L Hsu and J Hsu from the Universities of Minnesota and Massachusetts shows how this can be done. They define everything in terms of time though they point out that any other fundamental unit could have done the job. In passing it becomes clear why time and space can be combined as space-time and how some fundamental constants are more fundamental than others.

This system is what is known as a natural system of units.

Fascinating stuff. Anyone can read the paper as it's not particularly complex, though school level physics and maths will be needed to follow the detailed reasoning.


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.

The lambing season came and more miracles emerged. We had been blessing the ewes to be strong and healthy and productive. One of our farmer neighbours told us how he'd been absolutely stunned by the number of quads and triplets being born to his ewes. His normal hope was for many twins. The ewes were just about coping, but his wife was run off her feet supporting the rest of the lambs with bottle feeds!

He wasn't the only farmer with a story to tell. Another one stopped me in the lane and said, 'Come and look in this field with me.' Just beyond the gate was a massive bull. He carefully walked round the bull with an arm stiffened in front of him as if to ward off an attack. The bull was staring at him and slowly turning and facing him as he walked round. The farmer invited me to join him. I declined. He insisted. I closed the gate and refused again. Now he was stuck in the field with the bull and had an obstinate onlooker.

He managed to divide off a cow and her calf and invited me to consider how excellent the calf's rear end was. Being no expert on bovine hindquarters I merely murmured some niceties. He had to spell it out for me. The calf was clearly, given the breadth of its rear, going to be a superb bull. It seems that farmers pray that at least once in a lifetime they will have a calf like that one.

He still clearly felt I wasn't grasping how good this was. 'I had one like this last year as well. It's utterly unnatural.' I told him that we had been praying that the blessings of God would fall on the cattle, on the herds of the locality. Another seed was planted in another life as God's blessing unfolded in the life of a farmer in this green valley in Pembrokeshire.

But there was more. A lady who lives out in the wilds at the head of the valley runs a farmhouse bed and breakfast. Suddenly she was awarded AA landlady of the year for Great Britain and was busy at awards, on publicity trips and in TV studios. Even now we tease her and tell her we're having a plaque put up at Ffald-y-Brenin, which will claim we are friends of the award-winning Lilwen MacAllister.

This remote valley was seeing material and spiritual blessing. The chapel had not had a baptism for a good few years, but after we prayed the prayer of blessing a dam seemed to break. One very cold day, muddy underfoot, we were able to witness about seven people being baptised in the open-air baptistry, fed by the local stream.*

When we pray in expectant faith we can't second guess the outcome. Our Father in heaven knows what is needed and pours out more than we could ever hope or expect. We often can't anticipate either the direction or the scale of his response.

Roy, Daphne and the others at Ffald-y-Brenin asked only for a blessing on the people, the farm animals, the land, and the local businesses. But they had no idea what form this blessing would take until their neighbours began to tell them.

And I'm quite sure that if you also pray from the place where the Lord lives among you and call on him to bless your neighbours, sooner or later extraordinary stories will reach you in the same way. So don't be afraid to ask. And after you have asked, expect the unexpected!

All too often we pray very specifically for this or that perceived need, usually for ourselves or for our close friends and family. And then we're disappointed when we don't see the results we had expected. I wonder how we often fail to notice the unexpected good things that he does provide?

If you read the whole book you will see that Roy also prays very specifically - not infrequently for healing. But he began with the unspecific prayer for blessing. In the rest of the chapter he explains more about the underlying heart and mind attitudes that help or hinder effective prayer. More on this in the next post.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A pattern of blessing | Index | Grace outpouring >

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.

Several patterns began to emerge in the months that followed. We often did not need to offer to pray a prayer of blessing, as the Holy Spirit fell on people just as they walked around the centre or the grounds. Our job was to go along with what the Holy Spirit was doing and to continue to bless what he was doing, and respond to it.

It was so rewarding to speak blessings on the people God brought along who didn't know him, so we turned our sights outwards and began a pattern of speaking blessings into the local community. Every Friday morning in our chapel meeting we would speak blessings over the neighbourhood. The valley below us has a two-mile section that you could call our locality. It is home to about eighty people scattered across its half-mile width.*

How striking that Roy felt he should walk away once he felt people were sensing the presence of the Spirit touching them. Most of us, I dare say, would have stayed to guide them or encourage them or channel them in accordance with our traditional teaching. How right Roy was to take this line! What the visitors received would come direct from the One who really knew what was needed. And in their hearts and minds afterwards they would know to turn to him again as necessary.

And then there is the turning outward. Am I more likely to turn inward or outward? How about you? When we are inclined to turn inward perhaps we are forgetting the words of Jesus to go and make disciples of all nations. Even if this requirement seems strange and difficult to us, we still cannot ignore it. 'Go and make followers' are the words of the King.

Turning out towards the community is always the right thing to do. How hard can it be to pray for a blessing on our neighbours? We don't even need to know what kind of blessing to ask for, the Lord knows what is needed. But he wants us to have a desire in our hearts that they should be blessed and bring it to him to fulfil in whatever way he wishes. And if he does give us specific things to ask, so much the better.

But whether it's specific or general - we can and should ask!

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Blessings in the rain | Index | We bless you from... here! >

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.

We heard a third filthy story and I explained more about the centre and what we believed about the presence of God there. When he got on to his fourth story I just wanted to be rid of them. But I had made a commitment to God in the previous weeks that if he brought people to the centre I would stop, however pressed I was, put them first and bless them. So I offered to show them round, hoping they would take the chance to make their escape and save me time and irritation. But his wife said yes, though the object of my wrath mumbled something about tagging along though not really being interested. I resisted the temptation to suggest he wait in the car.

The centre was packed with guests, so I walked them round via the outside paths, but we had to pass windows thrown open because of the heat of the day, and the stream of profane anecdotes did not slow down. Internally I was having an animated conversation with God: 'Please protect the hearing of the guests as this filth is paraded past their windows. Lord, I am committed to blessing this couple but this is a real struggle.'

I told them we were at the chapel, opened the door and ushered them in. The husband was in full obscene flow. Then he put one step on the stone floor of the chapel, fell headlong and began to cry like a baby. He cried out to God, 'I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were real. I've heard so much about you and not really believed, and not cared, but I didn't know you were real. Oh God, I'm so dirty. Oh God, how can you ever cleanse me? Oh God, can you ever have mercy on me?

His wife's legs had given way too, and she'd fallen very heavily onto the stone seating. She sat and wept. I quietly slipped out and let God do his work.*
There are some important things to notice in this extract from 'The Grace Outpouring'.

It was entirely natural that Roy should want to silence this most difficult of visitors. Most of us, in Roy's place, would have remonstrated with him or even asked the couple to leave and not return. We would have been wrong.

Father does not need our help in dealing with people. We cannot bring a person to belief. We may be able to bring a person into the Lord's presence but the rest is not for us to do. We will always need to love them and accept them as they are, warts and all. But it is not our role to change them, nor is it our role to reject them.

When the Lord deals with people, take a hint from Roy and avoid being in the way. Sometimes it may be right to remain physically present, but don't interfere. Watch and pray.

And concerning difficulties - remember that rain may seem disappointing, we might think it has spoiled our day. We prefer sunshine, but rain is a blessing too. Sunshine without rain causes deserts. Sunshine mixed with rain brings abundant growth.

Read a brief review of the book (includes several ways to buy a copy).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A rather difficult guest | Index | A pattern of blessing >

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.



(If the video doesn't appear you can try this link.)

Now for those questions.
  • Can you think of attributes of doctors and patients that might be relevant as we seek to introduce people to Jesus?
  • Touch is an important aspect of the doctor/patient relationship. What might be equivalent to touch in the spiritual realm?
  • Trust is another critical factor. How can a physician build a patient's trust? Is this relevant spiritually?
  • What might be the spiritual equivalent of technical medical equipment?
  • Any other thoughts?
Please comment and include your answers to these questions. I will revisit this topic again in a few days time but hopefully we can have a useful discussion here first.

26 November 2011

A pattern of blessing

Part 4 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< Unexpected visitors | Index | A rather difficult guest >

Another couple arrives at Ffald-y-Brenin and they, too, are blessed. A rhythm of blessing is established as people arrive daily. Roy and Daphne pray for this to continue - and it does.

Ffald-y-Brenin and the hills beyondLast time, Roy explained how a passing couple felt compelled to visit Ffald-y-Brenin and ask about the presence and purpose of the centre. After a tour they were powerfully touched by the Almighty's presence. In this fourth part we learn what happened next.
Being a somewhat strange, fallible creature I didn't connect their visit with my earlier prayer. So God sent someone else to my door to help me join up the spiritual dots. The next day another knock on the door was followed by the same enquiring words: 'Hello, could you tell us what this place is and what goes on here?'

At last, as I went through the social pleasantries, it was dawning on me: this was God's response to my prayer. That became clearer the more we talked. They had no Christian faith and didn't seem very interested in God. They had sensed something and were simply curious.

While we may like to think that spiritual breakthrough will be surrounded by stirring worship and heartfelt preaching, we now began to observe a pattern which involved the simple hospitality of welcome, cups of tea, scenic tours and moments, and then a few minutes - or sometimes hours - of profound encounter with the Holy Spirit. Our latest couple were open to the idea of a prayer of blessing when they reached the chapel, so I mentioned our tradition. This time the Holy Spirit came with even more manifest power and they were weeping profusely. But still it seemed right to slip away and leave them to hear from God.

Later, as we prayed together with our ever-changing community, we said to God, 'Lord, we like what you're doing, and we bless what you're doing. Lord, would you please do more of it?' And he did. For a period of time, each day, we would pray and say, 'Lord, would you please send someone else?' And he would. Many people came up the drive.*

The repeat of the previous day's events enabled Roy to understand that this was indeed an answer to prayer. It was no longer an isolated event, there was a pattern. It's always easier to see a pattern. It's much to Roy's credit that two events were enough; many times I think we are far slower and have to experience something three or four times or more before we 'get' it.

There are some powerful take away messages for us. Notice that worship and preaching were not required, just simple hospitality. I'd suggest that underlying this was a willingness to take people as they are, to accept them.

Being welcomed and accepted opens hearts and minds. It eliminates suspicion and reduces anxiety. It enables people to be open and straightforward and relaxed: all too often we underestimate the value of simple hospitality. If we confront people with formality they feel the need to conform, to behave 'properly' in an unfamiliar environment. Roy and Daphne learned this very quickly; they touched people's lives simply and Father was then able to touch those same lives profoundly.

Consider the fruit of the Spirit described by Paul in Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self control. If we have that fruit in our lives, and allow it to inform and direct our interaction with others, we will be able to touch people's live in the same way that Roy and Daphne do.

We can't change people, only Jesus can do that. But one way of introducing people to Jesus is to demonstrate his nature. Felicity Dale makes the same point in a different way. We need to stop trying to do things and learn to let the Spirit of Christ do things in us and through us. He's been telling us this for a long time. Check this post from eight years ago 'His work, not ours'. Take special note of the first and last paragraphs.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< Unexpected visitors | Index | A rather difficult guest >

21 November 2011

Unexpected visitors

Part 3 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

Roy and Daphne show a visiting couple around Ffald-y-Brenin and they are surprised and deeply affected by a sense of the Almighty's presence, particularly when they reach the chapel.

The chapel (left) and retreat accomodation
In the second part of this story, Roy was feeling frustrated that he's not able to do what he feels he was born to do. So he prayed for Father to change something. Then there was a knock at the door and they met two strangers, a married couple. Here's part three.
We sat them down at our table, where we had just finished lunch, and the reason for their trek up our long and steep drive unfolded.

'Well, we were driving along here and we don't quite understand it, but we were compelled to come up your drive.' They had noted that it was a Christian retreat centre, but that meant little to them. We made them a cup of tea, always a good place to start, and then talked in general terms about the centre for a while and finally explained to them that this is a place where lives get changed because God is real.

They liked the idea of being shown round, so we guided them through the garden, with its special rockery, swiftly flowing stream and a beautiful view of the valley and surrounding hills. We took in the stone corridors of the main retreat centre, walked around the grounds and back to the final room, which happened to be the chapel. There they seemed to sense something of the presence of God, although they might not have been able to articulate what was happening to them. They sat down rather speedily, rather heavily, as if their legs had gone a little weak.

I immediately created a new tradition: 'We have a rule here about how we respond to our visitors. We like to bless them before they leave. May I bless you?'

They had no problem with that, so I simply said: 'I bless you in the name of Jesus, to know God, his purpose for your life, and his blessings on you and your family and the situations of your life. Amen.'

They started to weep. The sense of the presence of God seemed tangible. I quietly let myself out of the chapel so they wouldn't be embarrassed by my presence. It was time to let God do what he wanted to do for that couple.

A little later they came and found me, full of gratitude and rather shaken by what was for them the unexpected sense of God's presence. I was able to share a little more of the good news of Jesus before they left.*

On the face of it, this isolated event would not have seemed like an answer to Roy's prayer. But nothing quite like this had happened before and perhaps it should have made him wonder. It turned out later that this was the beginning of the answer to why Roy was at Ffald-y-Brenin - there was more to come - much more.

Roy could not see this at the time. Probably we are all the same, I know I am. I ask for something but don't expect the next thing that happens to be the first stirrings of Father's response. Sometimes I have the faith to ask, believing that he will do something, yet somehow I expect his answer to be within the bounds of my hopes and expectations. How silly!

Often (perhaps always) he does far, far more than we can ever hope or expect (Ephesians 3:20).

So next time you pray for something, expect to be surprised by the answer. You don't know how, or where, or when the answer will arrive; you don't know if it will be in the form you suppose. All you know for sure is that it's likely to be more than you expect, not less. And, like Roy, you may not even notice the answer at first.

Always remember, Papa won't give you what you want, he'll give you what he knows you need. He'll give you what he wants, he'll give you what will further the growth of his Kingdom, he will stretch you and develop your character. He is Love and he is also very wise.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< A step forward | Index | A pattern of blessing >

15 November 2011

Coventry Pilgrimage

I've had a couple of letters about a pilgrimage to take place in Coventry next spring. Something about this seems significant, not least the fact that I have no idea why I am being included on the circulation list.

Coventry CathedralThe messages are going out to just a handful of church leaders - though I certainly can't count myself in that category!

And it's addressed to 'all churches in and around Coventry' although I live more than an hour's journey from that city.

But I have been impressed by Coventry Cathedral since my parents took us there as children to watch the progress of the building work. The old Coventry Cathedral, you see, was destroyed by German bombs during a major air raid. The new cathedral was under construction while I was still at school. Wikipedia covers all the basics of the story.

I wonder if there is some kind of revelation here. What was old and traditional was violently destroyed, burned in a fierce fire, so all that remains is ruinous. And after the destruction a new kind of structure has been raised up like a new beginning. The new is totally different in style and construction materials.

I think I need to retrace my childhood steps and revisit Coventry Cathedral and see if the Spirit will speak to me as I do so. (I did go there later, here's a brief report of what I heard.)

Meanwhile, here is the first of the two messages I received. The organisers would like me to pass these details on, so that is what I am doing. The letter contains contact details. You might also like to download the leaflet in PDF form and view the Sherbourne Trust website.




Coventry Pilgrimage


26th March to 1st April 2012


Letter to all churches in and around Coventry


October 2011

Dear Church leader

We are writing to you on behalf of the planning group for a Coventry Pilgrimage to be held in the week beginning March 26th 2012 and culminating in a service in Coventry Cathedral on the evening of Sunday April 1st2012, Palm Sunday. The small planning group is led by the Revd Robin Trew, Rector of Allesley, and includes Christians of different denominations.

The proposal for a pilgrimage has arisen from Robin Trew’s experience of leading several  groups from Coventry churches on the Camino de Santiago, from the recognition of Coventry Cathedral as an international centre of pilgrimage by the worldwide Community of the Cross of Nails, from the experience of a local group associated with the Northumbria Community of prayer walking along the River Sherbourne and parts of the Coventry Way, and from the inspiring story, told in Stephen Verney’s Fire in Coventry, of the Cross of Nails 40-day journey around Coventry and Warwickshire, in which Christians of different denominations participated, before the consecration of Coventry’s new  Cathedral on 25th May 1962.

The proposal for 2012, the Jubilee year of Coventry Cathedral, is to follow the route of the 40-mile way-marked circular footpath, the Coventry Way, by walking from Meriden to Berkswell, Burton Green, Kenilworth, Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Wolston,Brinklow, Ansty, Bedworth and  Fillongley, then to walk down the route of the River Sherbourne via Allesley to the Cathedral. We hope that Christians from many different churches and denominations will join together to walk and pray for our city and the surrounding towns and villages.

A week event will cover the route with walks of 4 ½ to 6 ½ miles on weekday evenings between 5pm and 8pm from Monday 26th March followed by day walks on Saturday and Sunday, with pilgrims returning home each night.  A weekend event for experienced walkers, youth groups etc. will cover the route with long walks from Friday evening to Sunday, pilgrims being accommodated in Kenilworth and Bedworth en route.  A pilgrim service will be held each evening in a church on the route.

Monday               Meriden via Berkswell to Burton Green
Tuesday               Burton Green to Stoneleigh
Wednesday       Stoneleigh via Bubbenhall to Ryton-on-Dunsmore
Thursday             Ryton-on-Dunsmore via Wolston to Brinklow
Friday                   Brinklow to Ansty
Saturday              Ansty via Bedworth to Fillongley
Sunday                 Fillongley via Allesley to the Cathedral
Weekend Event
Friday                   Meriden via Berkswell to Kenilworth
Saturday              Kenilworth via Stoneleigh, Bubbenhall, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Wolston, Brinklow and Ansty to Bedworth
Sunday                 Bedworth via Fillongley and Allesley to the Cathedral


We would like to invite you to support and participate in this pilgrimage by:


·         Advertising it in your church community
·         Considering  registering a group – perhaps a youth group – for the weekend challenge
·         Nominating a “Pilgrimage Link Person” from your church to liaise with the planning group
·         Indicating your interest by joining our mailing list


We will shortly be able to send you a promotional leaflet and to give you a web address where further information and registration forms will be found.


With every blessing,


John and Margaret Lloyd
For the Coventry Pilgrimage 2012 planning group
1 Hill Top,
Coventry
CV1 5AB

07 November 2011

A sense of direction

Part 1 of a series - 'The Grace Outpouring'
< No earlier items | Index | A step forward >

Here are the first few paragraphs of 'The Grace Outpouring', an amazing book from south-west Wales. Roy explains how he was misled by his view of Father's purpose for his life.

A meal at Ffald-y-BreninI first read 'The Grace Outpouring' and wrote a short review more than a year ago. Since that time I have given away many copies to friends and have found over and over again that it has found a special place in their hearts, challenged them, encouraged them, and sometimes deeply affected them.

So now I want to present the first few paragraphs of Chapter 1, 'We Bless You in the Name of Jesus'.
I was desperate. Despite a series of miracles that had enabled my wife Daphne and me to become directors of a beautiful Welsh Christian retreat centre I was frightened that I had made a mistake. As I thought about it I realised that for the first time in maybe thirty-five years, several months had passed during which I hadn't clearly brought somebody to the knowledge of Jesus. I believed I had a calling on my life to bring people to Jesus, so what was happening?

I wasn't to know it but God was hours away from showing me some unexpected answers. In the meantime the frustration mounted. It had been partly provoked by my visit to a business conference in Pembroke in the west of Wales. I had spent the day with 200 businessmen and women. I was at home among them. This was the type of pool I had fished in for most of my life.

As I reflected on my suit-clad outing to the hotel on the estuary the agitation grew. Instead of being with the Christians who came to the centre to recharge and reflect I needed to be with those who had no clear Christian understanding and commitment. I decided the only thing I could do was leave the centre.

The next morning I sat in our farmhouse-style kitchen and poured out, with some passion, the details of my agitated day with the businessmen to my ever-patient wife: 'It's just no good. I cannot stay here any longer. I need to immerse myself in the everyday lives of people without a Christian faith so I can just be me and share my faith with them.'*

How many of us  have repeatedly come to places like this in our lives? How many times have I thought I knew his plan for me only to discover that he had moved on but I had not? (The answer to that question is, 'more times than I care to mention'!) Perseverance is a good thing, deafness and stubbornness are not. Sticking to my view of Papa's purpose can be misleading.

And having got into this place, like Roy we tend to dump our frustration and anxiety onto those around us.

But Father didn't leave Roy in this place of confusion, nor will he leave you or me in a place like that. If you read the book you will quickly see that things were resolved quite soon afterwards and in a really extraordinary way.

As you can see, the book is very readable. The story it tells is touching hearts and changing lives all over the world. My advice? Get hold of a copy and read it.

Read a brief review (includes several ways to buy a copy of the book).

*Copyright 2008 Roy Godwin, Dave Roberts. The Grace Outpouring published by David C Cook. Publisher permission required to reproduce. All rights reserved.

< No earlier items | Index | A step forward >

RESPONSE - The nature of technology

I've just finished a book called 'The Nature of Technology' by W Brian Arthur. It's an interesting read and unexpectedly sparked some thoughts about how we perceive the nature of the church.

The book's cover'The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves' examines technology as a subject. It goes way beyond any other treatments of technology that I've read. There are many books about particular technologies (the steam engine, the computer, molecular engineering) but Brian Arthur has analysed the nature of technology itself.

Towards the end of the book, Professor Arthur discusses our ambivalent attitudes towards technology. At one time technology was seen to bring order and was regarded as almost heroic.
In the time of Descartes we began to interpret the world in terms of the perceived qualities of technology: its mechanical linkages, its formal order, its motive power, its simple geometry, its clean surfaces, its beautiful clockwork exactness. These qualities have projected themselves on culture and thought as ideals to be used for explanation and emulation.
But since those days, further development has resulted in technology that is fundamentally more fluid, organic, and adaptable. If you want to understand why you will have to read the book, there is no room to give the necessary detail here. But Arthur writes
Our interpretation of the world is ... becoming more open and organic; and ... technology has a part in this shift. ... Not only is our understanding of the economy changing to reflect a more open, organic view. Our interpretation of the world is also becoming more open and organic; and again technology has a part in this shift.
Interestingly, I think we can see the same trend in our attitude to church life.

In Victorian times church was highly structured and hierarchical. Clergy (at least the better ones) worked hard to create learned, reasoned sermons, missions were like well-oiled machines. Military precision was applied to the task of meeting social need; the Salvation Army and the Church Army went so far as to adopt military-style uniforms as well as military names and ranks.

But by the 1960s there were early signs of change as some people began experimenting with informal, organic, more flexible ways of meeting. The home environment and smaller groups were popular on the developing fringes of church. This trend has accelerated during the last five decades as George Barna's recent statistics show very clearly in the USA. But the trend is affecting church life in many other parts of the world too.

Here's Brian Arthur again.
... we are now aware that as mechanisms become interconnected and complicated, the worlds they reveal are complex. They are open, evolving, and yield emergent properties that are not predictable from their parts. The view we are moving to is no longer one of pure order. It is one of wholeness, an organic wholeness, and imperfection.
That final sentence seems very relevant to church life in 2011 - 'an organic wholeness' coexisting with the imperfect. Perfection is in Christ, and Christ in us. Without him there is no perfection - not in me nor in us corporately. And quoting again.
We are replacing our image of perfection with an image of wholeness, and within that wholeness a messy vitality. This shift in thinking has more to do with the influence of evolutionary biology and the exhaustion of the simple mechanistic view than with any influence from modern technology. But it is reinforced nonetheless by the qualities of modern technology: its connectedness, its adaptiveness, its tendency to evolve, its organic quality.
And reading about the early church in Acts, and even the embryonic 'church' during Jesus' lifetime, we can see an absence of perfection but a very clear 'messy vitality'. Perhaps it's also true to say that we have exhausted simple, mechanistic approaches to being church. Maybe the words connectedness, adaptiveness, and organic are very suitable ones to apply to church today.

Here's another short extract in which I've replaced the word 'technology' with the word 'church'. 'Instead of fitting itself to the world, church seeks to fit the world to itself.'

Hasn't this been true historically? We have tried to force the world into our mould. But that doesn't work; it cannot work. We had better learn to fit ourselves to the world instead. Isn't that what Jesus did, and the early church? Jesus  was always relevant to people in their ordinary lives - fishermen, tax collectors, adulterers, foreigners, farmers, bridegrooms who'd ordered insufficient wine, the hungry, the sick, even Roman officers. This was in stark contrast with the stuffy, arcane, restrictive teachings of the religious establishment at that time.

What do you think? I welcome your comments.

(By the way, I highly recommend 'The Nature of Technology' for its wonderful analysis of technology and the economy. What I have written above is merely a diversion, some thoughts on another topic sparked by reading the book.)

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