Showing posts with label meetings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meetings. Show all posts

04 May 2012

Changes to the blog

There are a few changes to the blog that you should know about. There's a name change, an attempt to reach spiritual seekers who know little or nothing about Jesus, and a reduced focus on meetings.

The old version of the blogI'm making a few changes to the blog that will, I hope, make it more useful. I would like to reach the spiritually hungry with the good news that Jesus is alive with a life he really wants to share.

Name - The name of the blog is changing from 'All about Jesus' to 'Journeys of heart and mind'. Apart from that and the new label 'SpJ' (stands for 'Spiritual Journey') everything will look and work much as before.

Spiritual Journey - The 'SpJ' label displays what I hope will become a series of articles to help and encourage spiritual seekers of all kinds. The idea is to offer information that will stimulate thought and provide some useful resources.

Business cardPlease pray for a right attitude and boldness on my part. I feel Father wants me to make an effort to reach those people who are searching for spiritual truth and are open, but have not so far had the opportunity to meet Jesus as he really is.

I've also made myself a simple business card to hand out locally whenever I'm prompted to do so. Here's a picture of it, just a little teaser with a web address on it. I hope to use that to start conversations and make it possible for people to contact me later.

Meetings - There is one further change. I can no longer make even a token attempt at publishing notes on all the meetings I take part in locally. Instead I will write notes on meetings from time to time when it seems especially useful. The main change is that the 'Meetings' tab will now only list meetings that have notes, it will no longer include those that go unreported.

11 October 2011

THOUGHT - Missing the best

< Building the church | Making things new >

During the 1970s for some time (maybe a year or two) we met with a group of around twenty friends in our homes. The meeting moved from house to house, every week we would collect in a home somewhere - often at our house, Tony and Faith's, or Paul and Jenny's (also close friends). I remember three or four other homes too. We were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, Anglican, Evangelical, Roman Catholic and more.

People at a partyWhenever we met we would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts, and expecting his Spirit to sweep through us releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and so forth. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we were encouraged and instructed by the Master. We knew that as long as we listened and did as we were told we would stay on track.

Going pear shaped - But eventually tensions and pressures developed and we were drawn in several new directions. We were unable to hold it all together and our focus shifted away from the one thing we had done together to a range of new things that we did separately. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield.

We had been drawn from many different backgrounds and traditions, gelled as one body for a while, and then were pulled away into myriad other new projects and groups.

Judy and I wanted, I think, to carry on as before - one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with some of the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.

I don't think we were alone, I suspect we all wanted to move forward together, and perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see that our focus shifted. We became muddled in our thinking, often following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. It was a trap and we fell right into it! Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).

And it wasn't just us. Others across the nation were being pulled this way and that resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used. Our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!

It could happen again - This same trap remains ready and open today wherever people are listening to Yahshua. Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone. And this can happen with the best will in the world, it can happen even while we sincerely believe we are following Jesus most closely.

Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Earnestly and zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it. But the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.

What I am not saying - Please don't hear what I am not saying. Some examples may help.

Peter Farmer teaches valuable things about making disciples and planting churches. John White teaches valuable things about listening to one another and to Jesus. Frank Viola teaches valuable things about the nature and history of the church. And of course we could easily extend this list.

All of these teachings are good, all are useful, all are helpful. But they are not the 'main thing'. If any one of them became more central and more important than Yahshua himself it would cease to be useful and instead turn into a burden and a stumbling block.

I'm not saying that such a thing has happened with the teachings of Peter, John or Frank - but I do know that it can happen. It happened all too easily in the late '70s and it could happen again today. We need to guard against that! I think it is a danger that arises every single time there's a fresh move of the Spirit drawing us into another new thing. And make no mistake, that is how Jesus builds his church, restoring one thing after another.

Can you share stories of Jesus building his church? Do you have cautionary tales to tell? If so please leave a comment and/or send me your contact details. Mine are on the 'Chris' page, scroll down part way to find them.

< Building the church | Making things new >

08 October 2011

THOUGHT - Fresh revelation

I've been moving old articles I originally posted elsewhere to 'All about Jesus'. One of these caught my eye recently, and I feel I should republish part of it and comment on it. Would you find a continual flow of fresh revelation useful? Read on.

Woven fabrics on sale
A word from the heart - Back in April 2004 I wrote...
He wants us to know that he's very, very close to us. Rachael shared that his presence is woven into the fabric of our being. 
What a wonderful thought! If he is woven into us like that, then of course we are all woven together into one piece, held together by his strong threads. He holds us all together in love. 
This seems to be related to the idea that we are all parts of one body with the Messiah as the head. But in this new form, the idea seemed fresh and very powerful, we are indeed one.

This was just a simple word from the Father's heart, conveyed by the Holy Spirit into Rachael's heart, and shared openly with everyone present. How all our hearts burned, recognising the deep significance of what he was showing us about our relationship with him!

The presence of the Most High is 'woven into the fabric of our being'. Wow!

Thinking it over - There are several things to be said about revelation of this kind.

  • It comes unexpectedly, even if we are expecting it. In other words we can't plan for this, he will speak to us if and when and how he chooses. But we can make ourselves available in our times together (and in our lives individually too). We can also fill our lives and meetings with so much activity that we are not really available.
  • He will share truth that we could not imagine or see for ourselves or understand by our own efforts. It's revelation, he reveals what was hidden or indistinct. What he provides is fresh and, in every sense of the word 'cool' - it's living water welling up within and providing life.
  • There is a clear sense of 'rightness' about what he reveals. We know in our hearts that it is truth from him. How? I have no idea except to say that the Spirit of Christ who reveals something to one person is the same Spirit of Christ who witnesses to its truth in the hearts of those who are listening. Together we test what is said, and recognise its source.
  • Whatever he says to his children will be based on his love for us. Sometimes it will be encouragement, sometimes it might be chastisement. He may challenge us, provoke us, calm us, pour out peace upon us, call us to action or simply inform us. But whatever he gives us is good - an egg, never a scorpion. (Luke 11:12)

If you want to see how this particular revelation fits with the other things that were shared read the online notes from that evening seven and a half years ago.

Over to you - Do you regularly receive revelation from the Father's heart? Does this flow of blessing arrive when you're alone or during times when you are with others (or both)? What might you do to make more opportunities for this - individually and corporately? What things that you do might make it less likely?

Please leave some comments. I'm interested to know how often and how widely we are receiving directly in this way. Can you share examples of your own experiences of this kind?

18 May 2007

Great Doddington - Well and bike

< 8th May 2007 | Index | 25th May 2007 >

Four of us met this evening - Jody, Pete, Rachael, and Chris. After discussing various things together we thought about the woman at the well and Jody read the passage from 'The Message', John 4:1-42. We need cleansing in living water, there is no other way! Jesus knew that the Samaritan woman was unclean. The Jews ritually washed in a Mikvah which contained living water, that is water from a natural, flowing source. Jesus was offering this sinful woman (not even a Jew) spiritual Living Water.

When the disciples got back from grocery shopping they were puzzled, and perhaps disappointed too. Their noses might well have been a little out of joint. 'He sends us off to the shops and instead of sharing his life with us, his chosen apprentices, he shares it with this woman, this sinful woman - and she's a Samaritan!' Yes, that's us! She's just like us. The simple truth is that Jesus knows us, he knows what is in our hearts and yet he still wants to give us life.

This reminded Chris of a sermon he and Donna heard recently while on holiday. The person speaking was a professional psychiatrist. He read John 1:43-51 where Nathanael is so astonished that Yahshua knows him. Apparently Nathanael was about the same age as Yahshua, born about the same time, and so he was born at the time when Herod murdered all the boys under the age of two. This was a marked generation, all the adults at that time would have been psychologically scarred, the grief would have been deep and the impact lasting. And there is a legend amongst the Jews that Nathanael survived the slaughter because his mother hid him under a fig tree! Yahshua knows what is in our heart, he knows all about us!

We considered that moral choices are very hard, but in the end everything is more straightforward than we dare to hope or expect because the only things necessary are to love Yahweh and to love one another. If we will just do those two things, all the difficult choices and decisions in life will resolve themselves. There's a cost of course, and that is giving up what we want in order to do what he wants.

Next we were treated to a whole stream of pictures. Jody saw a candle burning, and understood that a candle in the dark can shed a lot of light. Love is like a candle in the dark, it is all we need.

Rachael saw a man trying to ride a bike. He was not getting on very well and she realised that it was one of those trick bicycles, designed so that turning the handlebars one way causes the wheel to turn the opposite way. And the Lord said to her, 'You will never be able to ride that bike. Your brother is lying by the side of the road, dying. Get off the bike and go to be beside your brother.'

Jody considered that we have become anaesthetised to violence and the many dreadful things that happen in the world. We shrug our shoulders and say, 'Well, that's life', but the Lord says, 'No, it's not life.' She also had a word that the ocean is blue and the sky is an amazing blue too, the blades of grass are a fresh green, the colours on the feathers of a bird's wing are amazing, and they all go so well together. And in the same way we each have our own special colour - like the pieces of a mosaic. Broken little pieces of crockery can be assembled to make a beautiful mosaic that presents a wonderful picture. We are like that when he assembles us. Jody also had another picture, she saw a pair of hands holding a double-sided mirror that you could look through, but she didn't know what this picture meant.

Chris was shown that one side of the mirror represents the wobbly bike, the things in our lives that we struggle with, moral issues, the problems we face that seem too hard to deal with or too difficult to understand. The other side of the mirror is that we love the Lord and that we love one another. Our lives seem to have both aspects to them, but it's only where those two aspects meet that we begin to see clearly and the problems can be met. We have to apply his love to all those difficult situations, and then we will see clearly what to do in each of them.

< 8th May 2007 | Index | 25th May 2007 >

08 May 2007

Great Doddington - Canada and boats

< 2nd May 2007 | Index | 18th May 2007 >

We talked for a long time this evening, but it was more than just talk for talk's sake. We covered a lot of topics and considered how some of them related to the things we believe and hold true.

One of the things we discussed was the idea of giving up our lives for the Lord. It's not enough to do things for him and to work hard at being Christians, instead we need to really let go of everything else but him. Nothing in our lives should matter more than he does.

Chris shared a thought from something he'd heard on a Colin Urquhart recording. We know from the Bible that it's more blessed to give than to receive and this is a spiritual truth. It applies to the Lord just as much as it does to us, so when we receive from Him He is blessed. We should never be reticent about accepting His gifts and favour, He enjoys giving us good things just like any good parent. This is an interesting point; we don't normally understand it this way. It's clear to us that we should be cheerful givers and that we benefit from that, but we don't usually consider how much the Lord loves to give and the benefit He receives. When we refuse to accept from him we take away the blessing he is due.

We also spoke about the ways in which we are all in a state of transition, with Jody and Peter considering moving to Canada, and Chris and Rachael's Mum and Dad's recent transition from this world to the next, the imminent transition of Rachael's daughter Rosie to motherhood, and overall the transition of priority from 'self' to 'his will' in each of us. This is truly the most important thing of all, that he should have his way in us, not that we should have our own way.

At the end of the evening Jody suggested we spend some time in prayer, and that turned out to be really useful.

Father told us we are like little boats bobbing in a stormy sea, but we are safe, the waves will not capsize us, the wind will not blow us over, he is with us in the boat.

We thought, not for the first time, that these meetings are all different and don't really follow a particular pattern. Yet the Lord graciously reaches into our lives and touches us - over and over and over again.

< 2nd May 2007 | Index | 18th May 2007 >

02 May 2007

Rugby - Baby food and public transport

< 27th April 2007 | Index | 8th May 2007 >

We talked for a while about a variety of things. One topic was houses, homes, and our parents. Chris said that he'd like to live in his father's house in Cirencester, but the house had to be sold and it wasn't possible to keep it. But that is according to the world - in Heavenly terms we do get to live in our Father's House! We have everything we need, what a privilege and joy, there's no need for any kind of 'prosperity gospel'.

If we are looking for Life we will find it in humbleness. The world doesn't value humility, instead it celebrates success and strength and money. But there is no life in those things, they are empty, hollow. Life is in humility.

Jody explained that we are like babies. Sometimes our Father wants us in the high chair so he can spoon feed us. But we need to grow beyond that, to grow up and thrive on solid, adult food.

We also talked about the Church and some of the problems that so many face, even in the very place where they should be comfortable and happy surrounded by people who love them. And although there are indeed places of peace in the Church, there are also places of turmoil. It seems that the simplicity of life together (the simplicity of loving, humble relationships) is sometimes replaced by complex and contentious matters of structure, leadership, and tradition.

One theme which appears to be a common thread in our recent meetings is our walk with God, the path we walk with Him and the direction in which He leads us. This direction is inevitably heavenward, a journey which He has trodden already, and one in which He walks closely with us, experiencing the potholes, cracks and unexpected events along the way. Rachael's analogy of the bus/bus driver and the journey ahead brought a funny memory to mind of one of many early journey's in London Jody experienced back in the '80's.

It seemed London bus drivers followed their own timetable and often their own logic. Jody jumped on a bus, (not sure if one is able to spring onto the back of a moving bus anymore!) intending to go from Victoria to Euston and then home to Watford. Instead of being driven to the destination advertised on the front of the bus she was taken completely in the opposite direction, along with 15 other passengers, to a little side street on the other side of the Thames. At the journey's end, the exiting busdriver, his shift now over, slung his bag over his shoulder, explained that the underground could be found around the corner, and briskly disappeared into the smoggy London sunset. To this day one could only speculate on the driver's intention and/or feelings towards his present passengers or even those of his employer. Was this common practice then?

Bus drivers let you down, even when the journey is within their control. Father on the other hand, gets us to where we are going, as long as we are prepared to let Him. Sometimes that route doesn't always appear to be as straight forward as we would expect! I believe we laughed at His sense of humour regarding that image. How often do we allow ourselves to be led in the wrong direction, sometimes unknowingly...However we still manage to get back on track despite the time 'seemingly' wasted or the path by human observation 'ridiculous'.

If all London Transport drivers decided to take whatever route they fancied on any given day, what a total shambles the city would be in. It stands to reason then, that the routes mapped out between points A and B are usually followed, passengers can get off at their desired destination and the city functions pretty well. Every now and then a 'rogue' london transport employee may just make a day in your life a little more interesting.

< 27th April 2007 | Index | 8th May 2007 >

27 April 2007

Great Doddington - Wall and candle

< 17th April 2007 | Index | 2nd May 2007 >

There was a sense throughout this meeting of two places or states, and of the boundary between the two states.

Jody shared a picture of a high wall stretching into the distance across a barren, desert landscape. People were walking along it. Chris thought it seemed that Earth was on one side and Heaven was on the other. It's as if we are walking along the boundary between Earth and Heaven.

Rachael saw an egg-timer with the sand running through it. For a long time a particular grain of sand seems hardly to be moving, but then it rushes through the narrow part of the timer and settles in the lower part. We too will eventually come to a 'narrow' place and will pass through it.

Chris mentioned how in Jeremiah 18 the pot can be reworked easily when the clay is soft, but once it's been fired (as in Jeremiah 19) breaking it means cannot be repaired (but see also 21st June 2006). Once our softness is gone, we are no longer mouldable and pliable in his hands and he holds back (Jeremiah 18:8). The potter in chapters 18 and 19 might have been the same potter, in fact it might even have been the same pot!

One of us had a word through the Spirit in which the Lord said, 'I am the candle in the darkness, I want the best for you no matter how dark things seem. I am - I always will be. Remember that - I am! Don't look back, only look forwards for that's where I am - in your future.

< 17th April 2007 | Index | 2nd May 2007 >

17 April 2007

Eaton Ford - Kingfisher and mountain

< 12th March 2007 | Index | 27th April 2007 >

We had a wonderful, wonderful meeting this evening. Such freedom and such rich words and release from Father! The whole meeting seemed to be about liberty in Christ. We began as we often do with a coffee and a chat about things that seem interesting or important in our lives.

Right at the beginning as we settled down quietly to focus on Yahshua, Rachael shared a picture of a kingfisher sitting on a branch. She

told us how beautiful the coloured feathers seemed. And she said, 'The kingfisher is Jesus, because he is the King, and he is the Fisher of men'. This idea made us chuckle, but it was a serious point and we knew that it was from the Spirit. He told us to look for the places of colour in our lives, that he is the colour, that we will find him in the places that are bright and colourful.

Jody described how she'd first seen gorse growing in Ireland and had to stop and get out and take a piece, it was prickly, but such a beautiful flower. She had never seen gorse before and was quite amazed by it. Chris shared how the oilseed rape in the fields is so gloriously yellow just now. It's at its best, so bright, and so dense and intense that on the drive to work and back it seems to totally transform the countryside - it's like a different place. This is how Yahshua seems to us, when he's present in his people he transforms their appearance.

With all the colours being identified last night, Rachel reminded us of an earlier picture (from the meeting on 14th October 2004) which displayed white light entering a prism and watching the beauty of the different colours emerging from it. With all the colours we were identfying we were shown how wonderful and varied our community together is and how all these colours blend and make up the 'total' colour spectrum' which in turn melds into white light when directed through the instrument of the prism, or Christ. It confirmed to us all of how important each strand or segment of colour is so very much apart of God's plan, how very important and loved we are by Father. The time together seemed to confirm the nature of Community / Family in Christ!

We prayed about freedom and liberation, we sensed these are ours in him. We prayed for the same freedom for our families, for our husbands and wives, for our children, and for our grandchildren. Chris had a tongue which Jody interpreted, through it Father told us that we will climb to the top of his mountain and he will equip us with everything we need to do that. (I thought about the transfiguration though I didn't share it at the time - Chris). We can behave like Peter and want to do a pile of structured stuff in our own strength and wisdom even though we are in the presence of true spiritual power and the Shekinah Glory of the Lord.

The world says, 'Where there is need there is no freedom', but heaven says, 'Where there is freedom there is no need'.

At the end Chris reached out, took Jody and Rachael's hands and we stood together. Chris said, 'First he loved us, then we loved him, and now we love one another. This is the Church, isn't it?' And we all agreed that in a very significant way - it is! When we love him and love one another as a community of his people in relationship, we are the church!

< 12th March 2007 | Index | 27th April 2007 >

12 March 2007

Rugby - Tunnel and cloud

< 7th March 2007 | Index | 17th April 2007 >

It's been about nine months since we last wrote notes on a meeting. Somehow it hasn't seemed important although we've been meeting regularly throughout and there have been some great and useful times.

Tonight there were just two of us, or three if we count the Messiah (and of course we should count him!)

Chris shared the address of a website that had been mentioned to him in an email from the USA. It's the Christian Fellowship Network based in Merseyside with the purpose of helping to link individual and independent groups together. It's striking that the site is a personal effort and does not represent any organisation.

Chris went on to share a vision of a tunnel mouth in the side of a hill. There was a plaque above the opening, though the words on the plaque were not readable. Rachael thought it might be like the Ben Cruachan tunnel, cut into a mountainside in Scotland to give access to the generating plant in a hydroelectric scheme. The centre of the mountain is a place of power, stored power, and the tunnel gives access to this place of power.

Rachael saw a pear tree with a piece of fruit hanging from it, almost ready to pick. The Lord said, 'This fruit is not going to wither or fall, when it's ready it's going to be used to nourish my people'. She also saw a carpet of cloud like a walkway. And Father spoke and said, 'Don't be afraid to walk on the clouds. You might expect to fall through, but don't be afraid because I will hold you up there'. He also said, 'Nobody can stop me having my way. This is the path I'm giving you, walk with me. Neither can anybody slow me down, my will is the most powerful thing. I choose the moment.

At the end of the meeting Chris said, 'Something's brewing, isn't it. And it's not a pot of tea.' This seemed at the same time quite significant but also very amusing! Access is being provided to the very place of power, perhaps by a tunnel into the heart of the mountain, or perhaps on the clouds where we will need his support along the way. But it's just different ways of looking at the same revelation. We have free access to the throneroom, and it's a great privilege.

< 7th March 2007 | Index | 17th April 2007 >

07 March 2007

Eaton Ford - Orange and sun

< 29th January 2007 | Index | 12th March 2007 >

Only brief notes were taken this week.

Jody described a vision of some women holding up an orange. When she looked more closely she realised that the 'orange' was in fact the sun!

But we don't need to do that, we are not called to do the impossible, everything we are called to do is achievable. We can do all things in Christ.

< 29th January 2007 | Index | 12th March 2007 >

27 September 2006

Rugby - Door and gorilla

< 16th September 2006 | Index | 17th January 2007 >

Only brief notes were taken this week.

We read Revelation 3:7-13. It is Yahshua who opens and closes the door, it's his place and his responsibility to do this. Sometimes there seem to be stumbling blocks in our way but we are to 'hold onto what [we] have' and be overcomers.

We were give a picture of a gorilla in a cage, pacing backwards and forwards in his confined space which was about six feet by four feet. The cage was then removed, but the gorilla carried on pacing the same small area although he was now free to go and roam much more widely. We are sometimes like the gorilla; even when the door has been opened we still behave as if we are confined.

< 16th September 2006 | Index | 17th January 2007 >

16 September 2006

Eaton Ford - Bell and bean

< 5th September 2006 | Index | 27th September 2007 >


We thought about the song which has these words... 'To be in your presence, to sit at your feet.' And this reminded us that there is nothing on the Lord's side that prevents us from being in his presence. We also thought about the sound of church bells which tends to be a warm, comforting sort of sound, not harsh or jarring. They're designed to call people to come.

Rachael shared a picture of the tears of millions of people. The Lord knows what we need, he will deliver us and will always take care of us.

Chris saw a plant growing up to the light, growing and stretching upwards leaf by leaf. Valerie confirmed this too.

Meanwhile Val explained about a bean plant she had in her kitchen. She kept cutting it back hoping it would branch out, but every time she did this it made another single, long shoot and it just kept getting longer and longer.

And then Rachael had a prophetic word. The Lord said, 'You are constrained by time, but I am not. You're like little flowers in my tapestry. I care for every seedling as it grows.

< 5th September 2006 | Index | 27th September 2007 >

05 September 2006

Eaton Ford - Wheelchair and jug

< 9th August 2006 | Index | 16th September 2006 >

Rachael said that we need to 'fall out of the wheelchair' and scrabble around on the ground. There's danger there and we need to cling to the Lord. (Rachael, can you remember more about this enigmatic thought?)

Rachael also shared a picture of an old-fashioned milk jug with a cloth over it to keep out the flies. It was one of those cloths that is weighed down with heavy beads along the margins. In the same way the Lord is our 'covering' to keep out bad things.

(We have found a brief note from the previous meeting, though we don't know when it took place. - We have faith in the Father, but he also has faith in us. That is quite an astonishing thought!)

< 9th August 2006 | Index | 16th September 2006 >

09 August 2006

Eaton Ford - Peace and glory

< 2nd August 2006 | Index | 5th September 2006 >

John thought about more peace, Chris thought about more love, and Val thought about seeing the Lord's glory. Another idea that came to the fore was that Father wants us just as we are, he's willing to work with that (and that should make us very glad).

We also read Isaiah 60 which contains such wonderful promises, how encouraging this passage is!

< 2nd August 2006 | Index | 5th September 2006 >

02 August 2006

Eaton Ford - Having fun

< 25th July 2006 | Index | 9th August 2006 >

Only brief notes were taken this week.

We talked about love, having fun, and the fact that believers don't need to be dull. There's no need to be heavy or boring, we can have a laugh together too.

< 25th July 2006 | Index | 9th August 2006 >

07 June 2006

Eaton Ford - Shops and balloon

< 31st May 2006 | Index | 13th June 2006 >

We talked for a long time this evening, and the topics were wide ranging and apparently not particularly 'spiritual', yet it turned out in the end that the Holy Spirit had guided us to cover a particular area of life in some depth and we took away his insight on the topic.

Inside a shopWe began by talking about shopping and supermarkets, and how the little shops in town have been closing in the face of competition from Tesco, Lidl, Waitrose, Rainbow etc. We realised that people's needs change over the years and they might use Tesco when they have a young family, but a smaller shop when they're older.

The idea of one little lie getting out of control also came up in conversation, and we considered how people sometimes construct a bigger untruth to hide the first, and then a third, and how this process can cascade out of control. It's human nature to hide what is unpleasant and ignore what is dangerous. This is reflected in today's dreadful news story about motorists driving round a child injured in a hit and run road accident. people don't want to get involved. But how do they explain themselves later? This event was almost like the Good Samaritan parable where they all passed by on the other side.

Hot air balloonWe thought about the story of the lion and the lamb in the new creation, lying down together. In all of these things the Spirit of Christ seemed to be telling us to look beyond the outside and be concerned with the inside. he wants us to recognise that there's a process going on, but it's what is inside or underlying the outward events that is important. There are actions but there are also motives, and the motives are more important.

John's fishtank is beautiful; it contains fish, corals, a shrimp, hermit crabs, a complete ecosystem. But it's small and needs pumps and filters and care to keep it healthy and stable. But natural systems are so much larger, for example coral reefs or forests. They keep themselves clean and balanced.

As the conversation moved towards seeing the application of these things in the spiritual realm, we understood that we need to do things like prayer and Bible reading as a result of knowing Father and wanting to know him better. Doing them as a chore or a ritual is no good and is certainly not what Father requires. Even good things like these are empty (Ecclesiastes) if the reason for doing them doesn't spring from Father. The motives for everything must be our love for him and for one another, that's where the life is. There is no life in anything or anyone else.

We saw our need to be open to the possibility (certainty?) that we are wrong about things, but also realised that we're very good at kidding ourselves!

Val asked Chris to share the waterfall picture that he'd sent to the Koinonia Life list. John pointed out that people standing nearby will get damp even if they're not directly in the falling water, particularly if they're there for a long time. This is a very good point, the water spreads out as a drifting mist and affects anyone in the vicinity.

Val interpreted a tongue. The Spirit said, 'Rest in me, you are safe, don't be afraid'. His words to us through Val were comforting and reassuring, but once again there was the sense that he does everything necessary and we just stay in the right place.

And right at the end of the evening Rachael shared a picture of a hot air balloon. This really summed up the thrust of the meeting. We were in the balloon and as we moved along through the air we were able to look down at the other people being busy on the ground. We just floated along peacefully with no effort. We are guided and moved by his Spirit; but we must be in the right place if this is to happen (for example, in the basket of the balloon).

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