Showing posts with label meeting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meeting. Show all posts

30 March 2013

Procession in St Neots

This year's Good Friday procession makes me wonder if there might be better ways of reaching people in the town. Rather than trying to engage people in what we are doing, can we find ways of getting them to engage us to ask what we are doing and why?

Good Friday march in St Neots
Every year, Churches Together in St Neots holds a Good Friday procession to the Market Square where a combined service is held.

We'll return to consider how this impacts the local community in a moment, but first I'll describe the occasion.

This year the numbers were significantly lower than usual, perhaps because it was a bitterly cold day. The group of believers gathered outside St Mary's, walked to the church gate on Church Street, turned left into the High Street, and gathered in the Market Square.

The procession involves a simple banner stating who is walking (Churches Together), and a wooden cross as an emblem and statement of the events being remembered, the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. The walkers are silent because it's a solemn occasion, and there's a police presence because the walk takes place on the road rather than the pavement.

Once assembled in the Market Square there is a conventional church service with hymns, Bible readings and several short messages delivered by leaders from some of the churches represented.

Impact on local people - I didn't walk in the procession although I have done so in previous years. Donna was keen to walk and I took some photos and then joined the meeting in the Market Square.

I wanted to support Donna by walking with her but felt that Papa was guiding me not to. I've been rather uneasy about the walk in previous years; this time I felt more strongly that it was not the right thing for me to do. My sense on this is that by walking we are creating a minor inconvenience to the majority of people in St Neots. Most are not believers and I don't want to be remembered as a person who just gets in the way and holds up the traffic.

The purpose of the walk is partly to witness to those around that we are followers of Jesus, and partly to reach them with the good news he brought. But I feel sure that it is not be very useful and may even be counter productive. Better, perhaps, to try to engage with people in a less traditional and more effective way.

There are other things to consider. What do people make of the banner stating we are 'Churches Together'. I wonder if, rather than suggesting we are united, this doesn't confirm to many that we are a set of separate organisations. It doesn't really emphasise that we are one church, but rather that we are several.

The solemnity of the entire event, although understandable, is not likely to seem attractive to everyday people. To connect with the population we surely need to be more fun, more colourful, more interesting and more relevant.

Some alternatives - I certainly don't intend to criticise. I'm glad that there are people in the town who are willing to turn out on a cold day like this, to stand up and be seen, and to make the truth known to anyone who will listen. But I suspect few pay any attention.

Most people think they already know roughly what Christians believe and they don't see us as attractive or interesting. They typically presume us to be fuddy-duddy and irrelevant to the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

But there are alternative ways to reach people that are much more effective; alternatives that will play on the natural curiosity that is common to all people everywhere.

A few years ago there was a passion play in the town, and that got a lot of attention and made a real impact. I'm glad to see that there's a plan to repeat it in 2014. It's a colourful event full of action and interest and sound and colour. Many people followed the play from place to place in the town and watched.

Another alternative focusses on free hugs and the many other similar activities we can try. Once again these engage people's interest. As far as I could tell not a single person stopped to watch or listen to today's meeting. A few people watched very briefly as the procession passed by. But joining in with the free hugs a few weeks ago I was struck by how many people wanted to ask about it and listen while we explained.

Instead of trying to engage people it may be far better to do something unusual and intriguing so they will want to engage us. We need to spend less time and effort doing what people expect us to do, and put far more time and effort into doing what they do not expect.

Questions:

  • Imagine yourself as an unbelieving onlooker. Which would you find more interesting, a clearly religious meeting in the middle of your town or someone giving away labelled fruit?
  • What could you do locally to encourage people to come and ask you questions?
  • Which will people find the more approachable, a group of forty or a group of two?

See also:

15 January 2013

Cornerstone - Unexpected meeting

< 8th January 2013 | Index | No later items >

Meeting up again to think and pray about a house of prayer, Chris and I were pleased to meet another friend unexpectedly. Although we didn't spend the time as we had intended, there was a sense that we had spent it as Father intended. And that is far better!

Unexpected, yet glorious light
Chris and I had agreed to meet at Cornerstone again for more focussed prayer towards the goal of a house of prayer for St Neots.

I arrived first, ordered a coffee, and sat reading, praying, and chatting with the staff. After I'd been there a while I noticed someone coming from the healing room. It was Tendai.


She joined me for a drink and we exchanged news for a few minutes. Then Chris arrrived and I introduced my two friends. As I did so I felt there was something significant in our meeting like this, it seemed just right, perhaps even prearranged, as if we were here for a greater purpose. When I mentioned this later it seemed that Chris and Tendai both felt the same. Sometimes the light in our lives can be quite unexpected, yet glorious.

Exchanging information - She told us about some of the encouragement they are getting from offering hugs and a listening ear on the street in town. People are sometimes asking for prayer now. This idea comes from Chris Duffett and is a wonderful way of engaging with everyday people in everyday ways, reaching deeper into their hearts and minds meaningfully, making people smile, encouraging them and making the most of fleeting moments.

We in turn told her about the house of prayer idea and about Ffald-y-Brenin and The Grace Outpouring and the idea of speaking a blessing over people, places, and organisations.

After Tendai had left, Chris and I chattted a little longer and blessed Cornerstone and even the pavement as we walked back to the Market Square.

Questions:

  • Are there times in your life when the unexpected has been better than the expected?
  • How important is it that we network with one another?
  • Are you praying for the place where you live? If not, could you?

See also:


< 8th January 2013 | Index | No later items >

08 January 2013

Cornerstone - Prayer for St Neots

< 27th May 2012 | Index | 15th January 2013 >

Two of us met at Cornerstone to talk about a Ffald-y-Brenin style house of prayer in St Neots. That's not going to work well with just the two of us so we're interested to meet anyone else who is like-minded. Meanwhile we plan to meet weekly to talk and pray further.

Part of the river front in St Neots
A friend (another Chris) and I met at Cornerstone for coffee yesterday to consider the way forward for a house of prayer for the town. We've discussed this before, last time we met at Costa some weeks before Christmas.

Chris feels quite strongly drawn to the Ffald-y-Brenin approach to the house of prayer, I'm feeling that I'd like to be involved but can't offer a large amount of time as I'm already so busy. We agreed to meet weekly for a time and see how it goes. Today we spent quite a while chatting about the situation and finding out a bit more about one another's views.

We prayed specifically that Father would send workers into the harvest here in St Neots and the area around it. In particular we asked for more people to be sent initially to join us in prayer. We also prayed for blessing on our local area and for protection for Cornerstone in the midst of some difficulties they've faced recently, for the manager Paul and his wife Michelle, for the staff and the volunteers, and for the customers.

Others in the area - If you're reading this, and you live in or near St Neots, and you feel called to pray for the town, please drop me an email - chris@scilla.org.uk . We'd love to meet you!

We also thought about visiting other groups of believers around the town, the Baptists, The River, Open Door, and two of the three Anglican congregations got a mention. I'd like to visit every group in the town. There are at least a dozen of them.

Chris and I plan to meet in Cornerstone again next week, and after that we'll probably decide what to do as we go along. It's going to be an interesting journey of discovery in praying for St Neots.

Questions:

  • Have you read the book about Ffald-y-Brenin ('The Grace Outpouring', link below)?
  • Are you involved in praying for the area where you live?
  • Can you pray out of blessing and call blessing down on those around you?
  • Are you in touch with other groups of believers in your area?

See also:



< 27th May 2012 | Index | 15th January 2013 >

01 November 2012

Dunbar and 130 to 160

< Groups of sixty to eighty | Index | No later items >

The Dunbar Number represents the size limit for meaningful social interaction with others. We need to be careful that we don't have so many church friends that we have no remaining capacity for close social connections with neighbours and others.

Prof Robin DunbarThere is a value called the 'Dunbar Number' which is about 150. Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist and pschologist, proposed that this was a natural limit to human group size. He wrote that it is ...
... a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships, that this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.

In other words, groups much larger then 150 are too large for the members to know one another in a continuous and meaningful way. We simply cannot interact regularly with more people than this. We may know about other people and we may meet other people but we can't really get to know them adequately in a social sense. Knowing someone personally involves spending time with them more or less regularly and 150 is the approximate limit of our ability to do this.

In church life - So in a church context, although we might meet in larger numbers than this, we can expect to only properly know a subset of the people present. And if we regularly socialise with 150 church friends, we will not have much capacity remaining to socialise with neighbours, work colleagues, or the other people we meet day by day. And that is a problem.

Why is it a problem? Simply because we are supposed to be making disciples! We can only make disciples by spending time with the people around us in a social context. To do so our existing regular social group needs to be smaller than the Dunbar number of 150. If we maximise the number of friends we have in the church, we are automatically minimising the number we can maintain in the world. And we do not go into the church to make disciples, but into the world.

Practical suggestions - My advice is to expect church to involve smaller numbers, two or three, six to twenty, and for special purposes sixty to eighty. Meanwhile, focus some effort on having good social involvement with as many non-church people as possible. These will include your wider family, your neighbours and those you share an interest with or work alongside. These are the pools in which you may discover future disciples.

Recognise that good fellowship is possible with the twos and threes and with the sixes to twenties. Do you really need more than that? Weigh up the benefits and the costs of larger church groups than these. What will be gained and what will be lost if your entire capacity to socialise is spent within the church community?

Questions:
  • If you meet regularly with others in a group this size, how many would you say are your friends?
  • How do you relate to the others, those who are not close friends?
  • Are there arrangements to meet in smaller groups at other times? Does this help?

See also:

< Groups of sixty to eighty | Index | No later items >

15 October 2012

Groups of sixty to eighty

< Groups of six to twenty | Index | Dunbar and 130-160 >

Groups of around seventy are good for workshops, perhaps with an invited speaker or a small team. It's an excellent number for training and for networking, but much too large for deeper, family-like relationship.

A group of around seventy
Numbers larger than twenty lose the sense of family. Although it's possible to know everyone in a group this size, it's not possible to be intimate with so many.

This is too large a number for a circle, most likely there will be rows of seating and an area at the front for speakers.

But there are ways in which such groups are rather useful. It's a good size for training purposes with one person or a small team presenting material and opportunities to ask questions. A group this size can also divide up to discuss aspects of what has been presented or to develop answers to questions.

It's unlikely that groups this size will meet regularly; they are more likely to be called or invited to meet for a specific purpose and then disband. Think in terms of workshops with a well-regarded invited speaker. These may be one-off occasions, or they may be annual events, but they are certainly not weekly and the expectation is that the people composing the group will be different every time. Because of this, such meetings are often good opportunities to meet new people, some of whom may become long term contacts or even close friends. This networking aspect is a valuable feature of groups this size and above.

The main exception to this will be a small, conventional church where the size is not a deliberate choice. Many, if not most, conventional churches are keen to increase the size of their meetings by drawing in additional members. Growth in numbers is often regarded as evidence of success. A size of sixty to eighty is rarely intentional, it's seen merely a point to pass through on the way to greater things.

Even in the time of Moses, seventy was a number for a particular purpose (Numbers 11:16). The elders would no doubt have taken back what they heard to share more widely with the entire community. But it's only fair to add that seventy was also a symbolic number in ancient Israel.

Jesus selected a group of seventy-two followers for a specific task (Luke 10:1-2). He sent them out in pairs and on their return they may well have talked together about their experiences. However, this was not a group called to meet, but a group called to go out.

In the early church, groups of sixty to eighty may have met from time to time, either on a city-wide basis or when delegates met regionally to share information and pray together.

Expect to be part of a group of this size from time to time, usually with a defined and specific function. But don't expect to settle in a group of sixty to eighty regularly, it's more effective to meet in groups of twenty or fewer where there's scope for family-like intimacy and close friendship.

Questions:
  • Have you been involved in meetings of this size?
  • How many of the other people do you know well?
  • Was the meeting led from the front? Were there break-out sessions? If so, did these seem more personal than the main meeting?
  • If you meet regularly in a group this size is there an intention to grow larger? Why?

See also:

< Groups of six to twenty | Index | Dunbar and 130-160 >

04 August 2012

Renewing the temple

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

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

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

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

A broken plant - I saw a plant with the leaves cut off at ground level, as if it had been carelessly run over by the lawnmower. There appeared to be nothing left, no hope of recovery, a total loss.

But then I saw that there was a deep root and a tuber that were intact and I knew that stems and leaves and flowers would spring up fresh and new. And the Spirit showed me that it needed only a little time (patience) and a little rain (refreshment).

The broken temple - A little later I saw the ruins of a stone building. Just some broken, low walls remained, and some scattered stones. I had no idea what it represented.

While I was looking at these and wondering what they meant, the Son of Man came and sat on the stonework, and somehow I knew that this was the Temple and he was sitting exactly where a throne had been. (Yes, I know, the temple in Jerusalem did not contain a throne. But this is what I saw. However, there was the mercy seat, the Ark of the Covenant. Remember, Yahshua is our King as well as our great High Priest as well as being the Son, one aspect of the Mighty One whose name is I AM.)

And as I watched the ruins were transformed into a complete building. Stone fitted against stone, timbers appeared, and the entire structure was covered in gold and fine jewels. Jesus continued to sit there throughout this process. Indeed, I realised that the transformation came about because he was sitting there.

A song - And then the words of an old song came into my mind...

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his glorious face.
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

The meaning - I am convinced that the Spirit is saying that a time of revival and renewal is coming to the church, because Jesus is coming to the church in a fresh and extraordinary way.

I believe he is also saying that we will need to be patient, that the refreshing living water is a necessary resource first. Jesus needs to be sitting in his proper place amongst the ruins before any restructuring and renewing can begin.

He is already among us. He is going to sit amongst us in new ways. The church is not dead but it has been badly damaged. He is going to do a new thing (he always does a new thing).

The roots of the damaged plant are still there below the surface as are the foundations of the damaged temple as is the foundation stone of the church which is Christ.

So rejoice, be patient, and be full of expectation! This is a time for experiencing the Messiah's holiness and love. It is also a time for all of us - individually and together - to allow his holiness and love to pour out through us as a great flood. This flood from Jesus needs to flow between us one to another, and it will also flow out into the world.

Our response - Whether I have understood all this correctly and fully or not (probably not), it would be good to hear what others think.

What do these two pictures say to you? What have I missed or distorted? Have you or those you know had similar revelations and expectations? What do you think the Lord will do next amongst us? Do you see evidence for these changes in the world around you? In church life? In your own life?

See also: Another wave rolls in - from Felicity Dale's blog 'Simply Church'

28 July 2012

Jesus in Zechariah

We look at chapter six of Zechariah, investigate the meanings of some names, discover Jesus hidden in this Old Testament passage, and see that following in his footsteps we are truly a royal priesthood.

A crown for the KingSean and I have been working our way through Zechariah for a few weeks, and we've been finding a whole lot to ponder on.

Last time we read chapter six, and the section from verse nine to the end seemed rich with meaning (Zechariah 6:9-15). It's all about Jesus!

Zechariah is called to accept gold and silver from three returning exiles. Their name are Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah. These names are not accidental.

The meanings of the names - Curiously, Heldai can be translated 'mole' or 'worldly' or 'rustiness'. Moles dig underground, and rust reverses the hard work of smelting iron, converting it back to dust. So the name seems to suggest the world and its influence.

Tobijah on the other hand means 'Yahweh is good', and Jedaiah means 'Yahweh's friend'.

The silver and gold is to be made into a crown and set on the head of the high priest whose name is Joshua (ie Jeshua or Yahshua or 'Yahweh saves'). New Testament English translations render this name 'Jesus'. And Jesus of course is, indeed, our Great High Priest.

Let's ponder this a little before we move on. The corruptible world, the goodness of the Most High, and his friend bring silver and gold. And they bring it from the place of captivity, the place of exile.

Heldai represents you and me. We are worldliness. Every believer in Jesus, every one of us, has been rescued from a place of exile. But now we have come out from captivity and from death. We have come to the throne of glory, we are covered by grace, we have come to new life in Christ.

Tobijah represents the Almighty who is pure and good in every way. He is Emmanuel, the Most High with us, he came (as Jesus) into the place of captivity to find us and he travels out from exile with us.

Jedaiah represents the friendship between Heldai and Tobijah. Through Christ we have now become Yahweh's friends, not by our own merit but solely through his. Yahshua said, 'I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.' (John 15;15)

The crown - The gifts of silver and gold are things that will last, things that are worthy of being forged into a crown fit for the King. They're the gold and silver and costly stones that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, things that will remain after the fire. The crown is the church, the bride, the thing that complements and completes the King upon his throne. We, his people, are the lasting gifts brought out from captivity and exile and wrought into a holy crown. To us he gave his glory, the glory that the Father has given him. We are his crowning glory, the work of his own hands (I will build my church). This is a mystery revealed to those who have eyes to see. It is an eternal work. It will never fade or fail.

And all of this is laid out by Zechariah, hundreds of years before Jesus of Nazareth called the fishermen from Galilee and brought the vision to ultimate fulfilment in his own life and death and resurrection.

The Father speaks to the Son - In verses 12-15 we read a message from Yahweh Elohim to Joshua the High Priest - or if you like, a message from the Father to the Son. We read about the man whose name is 'The Branch', he is also mentioned in Isaiah and Jeremiah, he is clearly Jesus. He is the one who builds the Temple, he is the one who is clothed in majesty and rules on his throne. He will be a priest on his throne, and there will be harmony between the two. In other words there will be harmony between kingship and priesthood.

This was unheard of in Israel, but in Christ kingship and priesthood are combined. We inherit this harmony through him, hence we are a 'royal priesthood'. (But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. - 1 Peter 2:9)

I'd like to leave you with a question. If Jesus is the High Priest and we are priests, what does Jesus being the King make us? Does this affect the way we see ourselves and live our lives?

13 June 2012

A letter from the heart

What follows is in the form of a letter - a letter from my heart to yours. It's a letter I imagine writing to people who will understand it and be excited by it. It's an invitation to experience Jesus more powerfully and to do so together, in community.

A letter to friends
Here's the letter. And yes, I have particular people in mind as I write.

In fact, I have in mind friends right here in and around St Neots. Are you one of them?

But wherever you live in the world, this letter is for you. This experience of Christ is your inheritance. It is your birthright. Don't let the world snatch it from you.


Dear brother/sister,

Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone loses themselves in Jesus and his Spirit soars and flows amongst us and around us? I love it when he has the opportunity to be really free amongst his people. It's what I have always wanted, but I've experienced it all too rarely over the years since I first tasted his overwhelming presence like this in the mid to late 1970s. Sometimes parts of meetings carry hints of that familiar aroma.

Why does this happen so rarely? I think that unless we can allow him the freedom to have his way we will miss the best he has for us. Nothing we can devise or arrange or intend can come close!

I'd love you to read this guest post by Steph. She captures the essence of life with the Spirit of Jesus far better than I can hope to do. See what you think.

I suppose I'm looking for people who might join me in the adventure of recapturing this life of community around the King. And as I grow older I'm looking for those to whom the torch can be passed. The church seems so needy and there is such treasure stored up ready for her - a mighty inheritance of everything that is Christ's - his intimate presence, his power, even his glory (John 17:20-22). He wants to restore things to be the way they began and should have remained. But to receive this we must let go of everything we have thought of as necessary. Structure, planning, goals, vision statements, all that hurly-burly of humanness has to be stripped away. It must be Christ and his bride without any interfering clutter. And that has been so hard to find all these years.

I am getting desperate! His call is so strong. Who will come with me? Or must I go alone? OK, not alone, Steph certainly understands. She is on the same journey but in a different continent :-) There are others here in the UK, too, who understand well. Father knows no boundaries.

But for those of you who live in or near St Neots, would you consider exploring these things with me? Maybe we can meet to talk about this and test it - what say you? I'm not suggesting leaving what you are already part of. I'm talking about exploring an extra dimension.

Grace, peace, blessings and abundant love in Christ,

Chris

PS - If this excites you please leave a comment below. This is a letter you can add to. Tell me about your own experiences of Jesus amongst his people. Or if something seems unclear, ask a question.

27 May 2012

Oundle - Meeting at Rupert and Uli's

< 11th January 2012 | Index | 8th January 2013 >

Do we over design and structure our meetings? Should we simply let Jesus take full control? Can we trust him in this or do we think we can do a better job than he can?

Sitting at a table in the shadeSean, Melissa and I visited Rupert and Uli and their family on Sunday. Justine was there too though some others were unable to make it.

It was a lovely time of simple sharing. We sat in the shade of a big, old tree and talked about life. Jesus was never far from our hearts and thoughts. We talked about Ffald-y-Brenin and our visit there last year. We talked about people we know and where they are on their journeys. Later, Rupert suggested we dip into the Bible and we read and prayed and listened together. There was no agenda, no plan, just us and Jesus.

As we ate together the conversation continued and he was still right there with us. This was such a blessing to us and a contrast with the planned and structured times we sometimes experience when we meet.

Jesus is looking for a place where he can rest and be at peace. During his life on Earth 2000 years ago, the place he found was in Bethany, at the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Looking back it strikes me that this meeting at Rupert and Uli's had the same flavour to it, the same aroma. Jesus was here and he was relaxing with us, chipping in from time to time, listening, enjoying our company and blessing us with his presence.

Shouldn't all our times of meeting be like this? Why are they not? Could it be that when he said, 'I will build my church', he really meant it? Should we stop trying to build? Should we simply behave like bricks and let him place us in his body and cement us together in love?

How does a brick behave? It does... nothing!

How, then, should a living stone behave?

If we don't - he will. If we do - perhaps he can't. Is that how it is?

What do you think? Comments please, they will be very welcome.

< 11th January 2012 | Index | 8th January 2013 >

11 January 2012

Eaton Ford (BS) - Doing it our way

< 3rd January 2012 | Index | 27th May 2012 >

We read the first chapter of Acts and discussed it. I was interested to note that the disciples behaved just the same way we do; in the absence of Jesus they decided to do things their own way.

An icon of MatthiasLast time Paul and I met we finished Mark's gospel and decided to work through Acts next.

Today we made a start by reading Luke 1:1-4 to help us understand how Luke had written both books to give the best and most consistent possible account of the events concerning Jesus and the early church.

Then we read the first chapter of Acts section by section, stopping to discuss what we had read as we worked our way through. Here are some of the things I found especially striking.

The pattern of events is perfectly clear. Jesus was arrested, tried both by the religious and civil courts, was crucified, died, and spent the entire Sabbath (Friday evening until sometime before Sunday sunrise) in a sealed rock tomb. Then he returned to life and for forty days he was with the disciples in Galilee and then in Jerusalem before he returned to the Father in heaven.

The rule of Christ - During these forty days he gave 'convincing proofs' that he was alive (verse 3). And during this time he spoke about the kingdom, that is he told them about his rule, the extent of his reign. This realm is not only in heaven but also in the hearts and lives of every man, woman and child that will follow him and obey him. Simply put, a kingdom is that realm where the king reigns; the sum of the places where his commands are treated with respect and fully carried out. It's important that my heart and your heart are part of his kingdom. You're either in or you're out!

He begins to reign immediately; he commands them to stay in Jerusalem until they receive the promised gift. Did they know what this gift was? Yes, the gift of baptism in the Holy Spirit. Did they know what this meant? No, they had little idea of what would happen or how it would change everything! But they would certainly recognise it when it happened.

We're just the same. We know that if he is ruling in our lives he will bless us but we don't expect the amazing things he does. When they happen though, we recognise them and realise our expectations were too limited. It's not that we lack faith (thought often we do lack faith), but rather that he habitually does abundantly more than we could expect even in our most faith-filled moments. (Ephesians 3:20) This should encourage us immensely!

Back to the city - I was very struck by verses 12-26. This is also just like us, scarily so. Just pay attention to what they did.

Jesus has just left them to return to the Father, they walk back from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem without him. They must have retraced the steps they would have taken with Jesus many times before, the same route the Temple guards would have taken Jesus after his capture. The olive grove of Gethsemane is on this route, part of the way down the hill. Their thoughts must have been confused and every step would have held a mix of precious and painful memories.

They go back to the upper room, very likely the same place they had eaten that last meal with him at Passover. But he is not here now. He has left physically and his Spirit has not yet 'baptised' them. They are without any kind of heavenly counsel, left to work it our for themselves. And they do.

The wrong way - Peter stands up and takes charge (they probably agreed that someone had to). He speaks to the remaining ten disciples and those other men and women gathered in the room. He argues (perfectly reasonably) that Judas should be replaced to make up the number twelve again. In their own wisdom they decide on two candidates and then they draw lots. Effectively they decide between Joseph and Matthias by tossing a coin!

Does this sound familiar? An important decision needs to be made, Jesus doesn't seem to be around, so someone takes charge, and we make the decision by election and/or by chance.

The right way - What should they have done instead? What should we do? We should have faith and we should have patience. In other words we should wait expectantly for the solution to be given to us. Prayer would do no harm while we're waiting. Jesus had actually told them to wait - wait until the promised gift arrives, wait until you are baptised in the Spirit. How immediate was their lack of trust, their taking of things into their own hands, their failure to wait.

And how much pain and disappointment could be avoided in church life if we listened to Jesus instead of rushing off to fix things for ourselves!

The real replacement - And who was the new apostle? Matthias (and Joseph too for that matter) remain in obscurity. Who was the new apostle? Arguably he was a pharisee. He might have called for the release of Barabbas. He certainly attacked the early church and helped at the stoning of Stephen. Saul, a person the disciples may not have heard of and certainly would never have chosen - this same Saul is the Paul who became the apostle to the gentiles and wrote all those amazing letters that make up a large part of the New Testament. Wow!

We desperately need to learn this lesson. Pray, expect, wait - and do what we are told, not what we think to be best.

< 3rd January 2012 | Index | 27th May 2012 >

03 January 2012

Eaton Ford (BS) - Arrest to resurrection

< 12th December 2011 | Index | 11th January 2012 >

Paul and I met to read the last part of Mark's gospel. We began at the beginning of  chapter 15 and read section by section right through to the end. Here are some of the things that stood out for me.

A rock-cut tomb in JerusalemAs far as we know the religious authorities handed Jesus over to Pilate because they were not permitted to apply the death penalty themselves. The Romans had decreed that only they could execute a prisoner.

The charge against Jesus was blasphemy and the penalty would have been stoning to death. Stonings were still comtemplated, even carried out (eg Stephen, the woman caught in adultery) but were presumably unofficial, illegal, and overlooked.

The Sanhedrin could hardly issue an illegal order right under the nose of the prefect. So they went to Pilate with a range of accusations, none of which they could prove. They knew a Jewish religious offence would not impress Pilate, so they chose something more promising - that Jesus claimed to be a king and was therefore a political challenge to Pilate, Herod, or even the Emperor in Rome. Pilate still didn't buy it, but sent Jesus for crucifixion to satisfy the mob.

It is striking that Simon, a passer-by, was forced to carry the cross. The presumption is that Jesus, weakened by injuries sustained from his earlier flogging, was either unable to carry it or perhaps collapsed after part of the journey.

Jesus refused to take the painkilling myrrh mixture in wine. They crucified him and then cast lots for his clothes. We decided he would have had a loin cloth, a tunic (rather like a T-shirt), a cloak, belt and sandals. The soldiers were not wealthy, clothing would have been expensive, so wasting it was unthinkable.

It's also interesting that the sign on the cross read 'King of the Jews'. Pilate ordered it written in three languages, he was making it clear one last time that in his view Jesus had committed no recognised crime. Those crucified with him would have been labelled 'Murderer, criminal, rebel' or something similar.

We also discussed the Aramaic words that Jesus shouted out. 'Eloi' is closely related to the Arabic word 'Allah' and the Hebrew 'Eloh' (plural 'Elohim') and simply means 'Mighty One' or 'Almighty'. The onlookers thought he said 'Elijah' which would have sounded like 'Ell-ee-yah' or 'Ell-yah' and means 'Mighty Yah' or in full 'Yahweh the Mighty One'. (See also an earlier post.)

I had a photo from Jerusalem of a similar tomb to the one Joseph of Arimathea would have used and we looked at it (see above). It seems Jesus had a few followers in the Sanhedrin itself, Joseph was clearly one of these and bravely did what he could to help.

We covered more than these few items of course, but these are the things I feel I should mention in this post.

Next time we meet we have decided to begin the book of Acts.

< 12th December 2011 | Index | 11th January 2012 >

12 December 2011

Brampton - Trust and faith

< 5th December 2011 | Index | 3rd January 2012 >

Beginning with a thought about the nature of the Most High, we were led to consider how he changes everything, our lack of trust in him, what it means to have faith, and the goal of one church.

The fruit of the Spirit is, obviously, the fruit of his Spirit. Therefore this same fruit will be expressed in the nature of the Father and of the Son and the fruit can be taken as a description of them. Here is the fruit again from Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. That is what he is like.

A small stream
He gave us a word. 'Everything that is lost will be found, every single thing that was ever broken will be mended. Everything big will be shrunk until it's small, every small thing will become big. I'm turning everything upside down and inside out. Foolishness will become wisdom, the wise will be shown to be foolish.'

Then I saw an ant trail, but these ants didn't wander about like normal ants, they followed one another in a precise straight line. And I saw that if each ant carried a single grain of sand, given time they would be able to move a mountain. I looked up 'ant' and found it in Proverbs 6:6-8 and again in 30:24-25.

And then I saw a small ditch running along the side of a field and containing only a trickle of water. But it was joined by several more ditches and the water level increased and it became a small stream, then a river, and eventually it was a huge river entering the ocean.

Sean also had a river picture. He was in a small boat on a river and was paddling hard to stay in the same place. He explained that the Lord wants us to be swept away by the river, but in fear and lack of trust we try to stay in the same place. If we just float free we might be dashed against hidden rocks. We need to trust him, he has a purpose for everything.

He mentioned how Jesus had slept through the storm in the boat on Galilee. But worrying about an unknown rock isn't trusting! Perhaps the disciples had worked to keep the boat safe, taking down sails, strapping everything down. They didn't trust him either - he was asleep!

Together we thought about faith 'like a mustard seed'. It's not the size of our faith that matters, it's whether our faith is alive. And being together (of one mind) is important too, we need a minimum of two people if we are to agree in what we ask. We need to be one together, not one alone.

This brought me back to something that's been much on my mind recently, one church. We have to become one, it's far more important than we think. And there is no way we can achieve it, we cannot make all denominations and groups become one. But Jesus will do it!

< 5th December 2011 | Index | 3rd January 2012 >

05 December 2011

Brampton - Elijah and Elisha

< 29th November 2011 | Index | 12th December 2011 >

This evening we dip into 2 Kings and make some interesting discoveries about Elijah and Elisha. There are some clear hints of Jesus in these chapters.

Elishah returning the widow's son
Sean and I hadn't met for several weeks so it was good to spend the evening together again. Instead of a time of prayer and listening, this time we thought it would be good to dip into the Bible for a while. Sean has been working his way through 2 Kings recently, and we mostly focussed on chapters 3, 4 and 5.

Before he was caught up into heaven, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him. And Elisha asked for a double helping of Elijah's spirit (2 Kings 2:9). Sean wondered why he'd made this request because it had been hard enough for Elijah with just a single portion! It's a good question and I don't have an answer.

We wondered about the names Elijah and Elisha, it seems clear that 'jah' is the shortened form of Yahweh (the Almighty's name), and 'Eli' is the short form of Elohim meaning 'Mighty One' or 'Almighty'.

It turns out that Elijah does indeed mean 'Yahweh is my Elohim' or 'Yahweh is my Mighty One' (or 'Yahweh is my God' in traditional language). And Elisha means 'Elohim saves'. This is similar to the names Joshua or Yeshua (Jesus) which mean 'Yahweh saves'. Joshua led the people of Israel into the promised land. And Jesus leads his people into the Kingdom of Heaven. So in a sense, Elisha is like Jesus. But we already know that Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as being Elijah. So Elijah and Elisha are like John the Baptist and Jesus.

This idea is confirmed by the miracles Elisha did. He raised the widow's son, he fed many people with a few loaves of barley bread, he healed Naaman of leprosy.

And when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain he talked with Moses and Elijah. In a sense he took Elisha's part, the part of one with a greater share of the Spirit than Elijah.

I don't feel I have understood these topics fully. Far from it! But we got far enough to know that these are very important chapters and there may be some fundamental truth to be unearthed. This is one to have another look at when I have more time.

< 29th November 2011 | Index | 12th December 2011 >

29 November 2011

Earls Barton - The light in the middle

< 22nd November 2011 | Index | 5th December 2011 >

It's been far too long since I visited my friends here. Jim and I drove over to spend the evening with them and we had a discussion followed by a sweet time guided and encouraged by the Spirit.

Light in the middleAt first we talked about a range of topics. I wondered how unusual meetings like this might be. I'm not aware of very many, and this is something being discussed more widely in recent months. (See for example articles by Felicity Dale, Ross Rohde, John White, Bobby Auner, and even me!)

We also discussed prayer for healing and recognised that both the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit are necessary. Healing is good, but gentleness, grace and kindness are also necessary.

And we thought about grace in the sense that we find it hard to receive, often preferring to try to do everything for ourselves.

Then we moved on to a time of listening and sharing - here are some aspects that appealed to me personally.

Barbara read Isaiah 26:3 where we are told that he will keep in perfect peace those whose thoughts are fixed on him. This encouraged Jim to share a story about helping someone after a heart attack in which Isaiah 38:1-5 played a part.

Rachael shared a picture, she saw what seemed to be an aquarium with fish swimming in it, but as she looked she saw that the scene was really amongst the roots of a tree growing on a riverbank. There were flying insects in the water, too, although of course they would not normally inhabit that environment.

She felt the picture represented people who don't normally meet. But perhaps they might in special circumstances. She felt three strands stood out amongst these intertwined roots, someone with growing faith, someone with no faith, and the Father. Jody imagined the roots of the tree were like an umbilical cord with three strands in it.

Jim saw that Rachael needs to be encouraged and should be expectant.

Jody described a sunset she had seen recently. There was a line of bright light between heavy cloud above and the dark world below. The Lord is in the middle, he is the Light.

Glenn spoke about a 24 hour cycle of light and dark, he saw someone cowering down at night. But even the darkness is like light to the Lord.

Rachael had a sense that now is the time. He wants to deal with us now - not in our past, not in our future, but right now in this moment.

And I thought how appropriate it is that Yahweh told Moses that his name is 'I AM'. He is our light now, he doesn't deal with us in terms of our past or our future because he is I AM, he is our 'light in the middle'.

< 22nd November 2011 | Index | 5th December 2011 >

22 November 2011

St Neots (XT) - Reunion at Cornerstone

< 21st November 2011 | Index | 29th November 2011 >

We hired the local church cafe and bookshop and invited parents and children from last summer's X-treme Camp. We had a great evening with dance mats, games, pizza and chips, coffee, cold drinks and a camp slideshow.

Rafting at X-treme Camp 2011It doesn't seem more than three months since last summer's camp - but it is!

It was time for a reunion and an evening of fun so Paul hired Cornerstone Cafe and Books and invited all the families involved in the camp from the St Neots area. We met from 19:00 until after 21:00, playing Jenga (with giant blocks about 50 cm long) and giant-size Connect Four (discs about 30 cm diameter). The adults mostly sat and chatted over tea or coffee.

Then Paul Shinners, who manages Cornerstone, opened up the meeting room where professional dance mats had been set up. The young people got stuck into some competitive dancing and had a lot of fun in the process. At the same time we had a projector showing activities from last summer's camp - rafting, archery, rifle shooting, survival skills, fishing, singing and crazy fun and games on the last afternoon.

And to round things off there was pizza and chips from Hotspot, just along the street. Delicious and just what was needed.

We felt afterwards that it had been a great evening, some of the parents offered to help with the next camp and we all got to know one another a little better.

Enquiries about next year's camp should go to Paul Billington (the local St Neots contact) or Pete Stamford (other areas in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, or Northamptonshire). Enquiries about Cornerstone should go to Paul Shinners.

< 21st November 2011 | Index | 29th November 2011 >

14 November 2011

Brampton - Light and dark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

07 November 2011

Brampton - A vision of Christ

< 29th October 2011 | Index | 14th November 2011 >

It's been a while since we last met, but tonight the Holy Spirit once again opened up great truth for us. This evening he reminded us of who Jesus is and what he is like. We were caught up into heaven, it was a time of rich and undeserved revelation.

An interlocking pattern, by MC EscherI've just finished Frank Viola's 'Epic Jesus' and was intrigued by his first person modification of Colossians 1:15-22, so I read it aloud.
I am the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in me all things were created: things in heaven and things on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through me and for me. I am before all things, and in me all things hold together. And I am the head of the body, the church; I am the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything I might have the supremacy, the preeminence, the first place. For God the Father was pleased to have all of his fullness dwell in me, and through me to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through my blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now my Father has reconciled you by my physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation.

Sean commented that he often sees things in these terms anyway, and as the evening wore on we kept coming back to the fact that Christ is at the heart of all we are and do.

I had the thought that every home has repeating patterns everywhere. They are on wallpapers, curtains, floor coverings, bathroom tiles and so forth. And Father said, 'The repeating pattern in my house is my Son'. And it seemed to Sean that the pattern of Christ interlocks with itself somehow, rather like an Escher drawing.

Sean observed that the wise man built his house on the rock, so our house should always be patterned on Jesus. This morning Sean was reading from 2 Samuel 23:1-5 and saw that King David had seen this same pattern.

Then I described how technologies consist of components that consist of components and Sean extended this thought by saying that Christ is a component of himself. He is the entire structure yet he is made of himself. He is in each one, yet together we are his body. We need many things to perform just one function, but he needs only one thing to perform many functions.

The flow of thoughts carried on. I mentioned that a photograph only shows something from one angle, but the object itself can be seen from many angles. If we only see a 'snapshot' of Jesus there'll be much that remains hidden that we cannot see.

Pondering further on 2 Samuel 23:4 I thought about the sunrise on a cloudless morning. First the stars are overwhelmed and vanish one by one, the dimmest disappear first. Then the shadow of the Earth is carried away like a cover, visibly moved across the dome of the sky. And then the beautiful, pink 'Belt of Venus' appears right around the horizon until finally the sun rises and illuminates everything with the brightness of day.

And this is absolutely what Christ has done. He overwhelms all lesser lights (human wisdom and reason and learning). He is carrying away the darkness of the world like a curtain drawn aside. He is beautiful and causes beauty to be reflected from every direction. And finally he will arise and illuminate everything as his day arrives.

Then Sean read 2 Samuel 24:1-17 and we thought about this difficult passage for a while. Even here David seems to prefigure Christ. He is the shepherd of the people and offers to take their punishment.

And finally, thinking about Jesus again we understood that when he was anointed with fragrant nard (Mark 14:3, John 12:3) it would have dripped off his head and feet and soaked into the earthen floor of the house. The fragrance would have remained for weeks or months as a reminder. People would have thought, 'Ah yes, this is where she anointed him with nard'.

He is at the heart of all we are and do. He is a repeating pattern in our lives. He is the whole structure yet he is also in every part, every living stone. We see him only from one angle, much is hidden. He is like the rising sun, overwhelming other lights, carrying away worldly darkness, bringing great beauty, illuminating everything. He is our Shepherd and has taken our punishment. We still sense his fragrance after 2000 years.

What a Lord!

< 29th October 2011 | Index | 14th November 2011 >

29 October 2011

Stamford - Fisherfolk evening

< 24th October 2011 | Index | 7th November 2011 >

This evening took me back to the 1970s and 80s in more ways than one. The music was great and a lot of good thoughts were shared, in the songs, in the form of short stories and experiences from the past, and in conversation afterwards.

Some friends from the 1970s, Paul and Jenny, had invited me to a Fisherfolk evening. They planned to play some of the wonderful old music created as part of the Charismatic Renewal, a revival that swept through the church at that time.

We gathered at Stamford Free Church where there was a warm welcome. When the band of five musicians began playing and singing I was astonished at the quality of the music. I'd known it would be good, but somehow they had really captured something of the original Fisherfolk feeling.

All the songs were familiar and I certainly enjoyed myself. But I'd like to explain how the evening affected me in other ways, ways that are relevant today, not just memories of the past.

Dot, introducing the songs, spoke eloquently about joy and family. She explained there had been no joy in going to church when she was young. She was very aware of the responsibilities laid on her, almost as if she had to earn her way to heaven. Many people still see things this way.

For Dot it all changed, she was filled with joy, she was baptised, and she discovered a sense of family. She was surrounded by brothers and sisters in this new life of fellowship! Dot reminded me how important family is. We are supposed to live in our Father's house. We are meant to be at home with him. And we are meant to be full of life and joy and love.

Whenever and wherever people follow Jesus wholeheartedly they will be full of life, joy and love. The fruit of the Spirit is more fundamental than the gifts. And when we live like that the world will see Jesus in his people.

Thank you Dot and Jenny (vocals), Mark (drums), Paul (guitar) and John (piano). Thank you for reminding me how we should all live today. I can hardly do better than finish with a few words from  one of the songs.
For our lives together, we celebrate
Life that lasts forever, we celebrate
For the joy and for the sorrow
Yesterday, today, tomorrow
We celebrate
< 24th October 2011 | Index | 7th November 2011 >

24 October 2011

Brampton - A place of safety

< 10th October 2011 | Index | 29th October 2011 >

We were reminded about places of safety. What are they? do I need one? How do I find one? How can I be sure I'll be safe there?

The sun in the sky
Right at the start we had a reminder that 'where two or three are gathered in my name, I will be there with them' (Matthew 18:19-20). As I shared those words, Sean was prompted to explain that he'd seen a picture in his mind, two young children were running into the ark.

This in turn prompted me to mention three words that seemed relevant - ark (obviously), but also temple and mountain. If he's in one of those places we need to run there ourselves because he himself is our place of safety.

And if he's with two or three gathered together - that is the right place to be.

I was reminded of an old song -  'The Celebration Song'
In the presence of Your people
I will praise Your name
For alone You are holy
Enthroned in the praises of Israel

Let us celebrate Your goodness
And Your steadfast love
May Your name be exalted
Here on earth and in heaven above
And then I saw small, oval photos of people. They were just head and shoulders portraits but they were from different generations. Some were sepia prints, others were black and white, others were in colour. The whole thing seemed like a genealogy. We didn't understand the meaning.

We thought again about Sean's picture of little children entering the ark and remembered that Yahshua said. 'Let the little children come to me' (Matthew 19:13-15), and also, 'Unless you come like a little child you won't even see the Kingdom of Heaven' (Luke 18:17). We prayed that Father would make us as straightforward as little children.

By searching a little we found that the Mishnah says, of the cities of refuge, that if the High Priest dies the refugees would not be punished for their crimes and would be free to leave. This seems especially significant in the light of Christ's death.

Sean remembered how Jesus also said, 'If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more will your Father give to you the Holy Spirit? (Luke 11:9-13)' Sean saw himself as very small in the King's city. And Father said, 'Even your small is much too big'. We are so small and he is so big and powerful; this helps our faith as even our largest problems are small and easy for him. His desire is the very best for us and he encourages us to believe.

I saw a picture of a man struggling to pull a very heavy handcart up a steep hill. He was out of breath, sweating heavily, and working extremely hard for very little progress. But Father just reached in and turned the horizon slightly so that it became a gently downhill slope. Now the man only needed to guide and control the cart, not provide the power to move it. What had seemed almost impossibly hard now seemed effortless.

Sean said that we need to see things with Father's perspective, not our own. We need to believe that he wants good for us and not harm.

And finally he told us, 'If you look down you will just see the dust. But if you look up you'll see my sun in the sky and feel the warmth on your face.

< 10th October 2011 | Index | 29th October 2011 >

10 October 2011

Brampton - Stay in the light

< 25th September 2011 | Index | Index | 24th October 2011 >

Wow, what a meeting this was. Sean, me and the Holy Spirit. He swept us along, pouring out so much revelation. A series of disparate words and pictures and Bible passages just came together in the most amazing way.

Light around a cloud
I shared a word at the start. The Lord said, 'If you see a crown, a throne and a sceptre you will know you're in the presence of royalty. Even if you don't see me clearly, you will know I'm present when you see the crown, the throne and the sceptre.

I also told Sean about the picture of the building site (see 'Building the Church'). He said the thing that stood out for him as most important is the fact that we were children. I also thought that anointing is an important concept - Kings are anointed. I opened the Bible to find the passage about Samuel anointing David as king, but opened it initially at 1 Chronicles 11, verses 1 to 9 seemed very relevant.

Sean mentioned that God had told Saul to kill everyone and when Saul failed he said that 'obedience is better than sacrifice'. (1 Samuel 15:22) Saul had been anointed. He was a king although he was not intended to be king. Kings who are not meant to be will always have to give way to the King who is meant to be. This applies to us too, we are not meant to be kings.

It occurred to me that if we begin to behave like adults instead of behaving like little children we'll quickly become the same as Saul and do what is right in our own eyes.

Sean described how he is in the light as long as he is looking at Jesus. But when he looks away he is very quickly back in the dark. We badly need to keep looking at the source of the light.

Then I suddenly realised that Saul of Tarsus had the same name as King Saul. I've always known this of course, but it suddenly seemed very significant. Like King Saul, the young Saul of Tarsus did what he thought was right (and did it very zealously). But, like Sean, he saw the light of Jesus and then he was renamed because 'Saul' was no longer an appropriate name for him.

And then I  began looking for the verses that describe Saul's vision on the Damascus road and stumbled instead on Acts 4:1-22 (and especially verse 11). The Sanhedrin were building in their own light and strength but in doing so they rejected the cornerstone (Yahshua). We so much do not need to be building in our own light and strength!

< 25th September 2011 | Index | 24th October 2011 >

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