Showing posts with label peace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peace. Show all posts

30 March 2013

Artist and musician

Ben and Hannah Dunnett create delightful greetings cards, art prints, posters and music CDs. We rediscovered all of these during and after a visit to St Michael's Without, an Anglican church in Bath. The grace, peace and beauty of the images and the music are also evident in the people at St Michael's.

One of Hannah Dunnett's cardsSome time ago I was delighted to find that Cornerstone Cafe and Books in St Neots was stocking some really great cards by Hannah Dunnett.

I bought several of them for friends and soon found the Dunnett's website where Ben and Hannah provide more information and sell their material online. Hannah is an artist, Ben is a musician. When I wanted to buy one of Hannah's cards again more recently I was sorry to see they were no longer available at Cornerstone.

But just last week when we were visiting Bath, Donna and I decided to have a coffee at St Michael's Without in Broad Street. And there we found a selection of Hannah's cards again!

I'd like to make you aware of Ben and Hannah's beautiful work because it deserves to be much more widely seen and heard. Not only is it all available to order and in a growing number of retail outlets. But Ben and Hannah have made everything available online, pictures and music too. You will need to buy their products for the full quality, but you can also enjoy it for free.

I predict that having tasted it, most people will end up buying prints or CDs.

Hannah's cards - Hannah paints stylised designs with words from the Bible in sweeping curves. She makes these available as greetings cards, high quality art prints, and posters. The picture above is a design called 'God of all Comfort'.

Because of the carefully chosen words these cards are not just beautiful in their own right, they also bear the stamp of a loving Creator. From the picture above we read, 'I will sustain you, I will give you rest, I will carry you, [I] will be with you, I call to you'. And there is much, much more. Words of great comfort from the One who is quick and ready to bring great comfort.

Ben's music - Ben is a music teacher and examiner. He writes some delightful melodies and is clearly a gifted pianist. If the two worship albums and the children's album are anything to go by he's also very talented in laying down individual tracks to build up a full backing for songs.

You will find everything here from reflective, gentle melody to robust rhythms good for dancing, and great lyrics provided by Hannah.

St Michael's Without - I simply can't close this post without saying more about this lovely Anglican church in Bath. Everything about the place is delightful. The interior has been modified to make a quiet space for coffee, cakes, books and a comfortable place to sit. The website soon makes it clear that the people are delightful too.

They are evidently active in the local community in many ways. They seem to be conscious of the need for gentleness and peacefulness in everything. They are careful and deliberately slow in making changes trying to 'avoid the rush which undermines friendship'. They pray about everything in love.

If you are visiting Bath, try to make the time to drop in to spend a little while experiencing the peace and the fragrance of this lovely place and the people who make it what it is - a little piece of heaven right here on earth. Just like Hannah's pictures and Ben's music.

Questions:

  • Are there ways you can be a little piece of heaven for those you meet today?
  • Might there be 'difficult' people in your life you could make an extra effort to bless?
  • How does Hannah's artwork and Ben's music make you feel?
  • Does it help you find the peace you need to become a blessing to others?

See also:

27 December 2012

Israel and Iran love one another

Remarkably, Ronny Edry has started a viral peace campaign on the internet. Initially it was 'Israel loves Iran', then 'Iran loves Israel', and now it's worldwide and growing apace. Take a look at the Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounts. What a great idea!

Ronny Edry's Peace FactoryIsrael and Iran are at best very suspicious of one another, at worst sworn enemies. Iran would like to see Israel destroyed, Israel is considering a strike at Iran's atomic research infrastructure.

Ronny Edry started something bigger than he expected when he put up a simple poster on Facebook expressing love towards Iran.

After a while it built quite a bit of momentum with replies from people and places he didn't expect.

It's not merely that his poster has gone viral (although it has), but rather that the whole idea of loving one another has gone viral. Quite a movement!

Ronny, knowingly or unknowingly, has reiterated Christ's message to his followers to 'love your enemies' (Matthew 5:43-48). To our shame we have not always done that as we should. Well done, Eddy. And well done everyone who has taken the idea and run with it.

Watch this video of Ronny speaking at TEDx in Jaffa, Israel. It's a video you really should definitely not miss.



Questions:

  • Do you think Ronny's love movement has lasting value?
  • How many people might a viral idea like this reach?
  • Can you think of further and novel ways to contribute to Ronny's idea?
  • Is there anything greater than love? Who might you offer love to today?

See also:

07 November 2012

A Bible free of religion?

The Religion-Free Bible is a project by Jim Palmer to develop a new paraphrase of the Bible. The objective is to inspire people to greater love, peace, compassion and harmony. It's a collaborative venture with everyone invited to be involved.

Life and religionJim Palmer, best known for his book 'Divine Nobodies', is working on a new project (Jim and a whole series of helpers, that is). Anyone can volunteer to help with the work of The Religion-Free Bible (RFB) Project. There are several ways to get involved. But first, what is the RFB?

I suggest you go to the RFB website and take a look. On the home page Jim provides twenty-five reasons for creating a religion-free Bible. One of his reasons is that the Father 'has no religion'. Another is that 'in the hands of the people, the Bible can be an instrument of love, beauty, peace, acceptance and harmony in the world.'

Here are two extracts from the RFB 'About' page...

The Religion-Free Bible Project exists to inspire more love, peace, beauty, goodness, acceptance, compassion, justice and harmony in the world by offering humankind a paraphrase of biblical passages, which combine texts and images to creatively capture the spirit and meaning of the Bible, free from the bias and baggage of man-made religion. The goal of the RFB Project is to make the Religion-Free Bible accessible to all people worldwide, and for 51% of our world population to have a copy of the RFB in some form.
...
Jim believes that the value of the Bible lies in its capacity to transform people’s relationship with themselves, God, others, life, and world, not perpetuating theological dogma or religious rules and rituals. In frustration about the disempowering spin on the Bible he often saw online, Jim wrote out a paraphrase of one of Jesus’ sayings and posted it on Facebook. He added and image to his post and referred to it tongue-in cheek as the JPV – Jim Palmer version. A significant response to this and other JPV posts, led to the idea of the Religion-Free Bible, which combines Jim’s paraphrase and images he has selected for each entry.

What does the RFB text look like? - This Bible is a paraphrase, a rewriting of the meaning using entirely new wording. It should not be regarded as a translation, there are plenty of those in many of the world's languages.

Other paraphrases include the 'Living Bible' and 'The Message', both of which are widely known and used. Unlike these, the RFB is luxuriously reworded in order to emphasise the meaning in all its richness. Like any paraphrase there is, of course, a degree of interpretation involved. It's the Bible as understood and experienced by Jim Palmer.

Here is John 3:16-17. Compare it with some other versions.

  • NIV (UK version) - For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
  • The Message - This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
  • Religion-Free Bible - Love gives. Love is what brought me into this world. I am a gift, offered in love. Love desires your freedom. Love desires your wholeness. Love wants you to know yourself as complete. Love wants you to be at peace. My life was an invitation to this freedom, wholeness, peace and love. But my invitation is a choice. You have also been fed a lie about yourself that will ultimately destroy you. The lie says you are bad and worthless, irreparably flawed, defective and unacceptable, and undeserving of love and acceptance, even from God. I’m here to say that’s not true, and I’m asking you to believe me. Even when everything in your head or everything in your life seems to be evidence of the lie, I’m asking that you believe me instead. I’m going to be gone soon, and I need you to get this because I need your life to be that invitation as mine was. You are as much a gift to the world as I am, and I want you to accept and own that for yourself. Love never stopped giving. Love keeps birthing new expressions of the truth to awaken those lost in the lie. First, you have to wake up yourself and then your life naturally becomes the smelling salts this world needs.

Is the RFB going to succeed? - You will have to be the judge of that. All of you who choose to read it for yourselves.

The language is different from anything we've seen before. Does it put the sense over well? Will ordinary people understand it? Some people will feel it is a misleading version, that religion is an essential part of the Bible. Some will be unhappy that it leaves certain things out or adds other things in.

We must remember that it is an interpretation. I'm asking Papa to use it to open hearts and minds to the fragrance of his presence in this world and to reach many who reject religion but in doing so may also reject the truth of the Father's love for his creation.

I know this project won't please everyone and will offend some. But on balance I think it's a great idea and a worthy project and I will be supporting Jim any way I can.

All I ask of you, my readers, is that you take a look at the RFB Project and make up your own minds.

Getting involved - If you want to help, the RFB website has all the information you need. They are looking for financial support for the process of publication, of course. But they are also looking for practical help with photography, the writing/editing side and in getting the word out by telling friends and contacts.

Questions:

  • What do you mean when you use the word 'religion'? What do you think Jim Palmer means by it?
  • Is it possible to tell people about Jesus without being religious?
  • Was Jesus religious in what he said or in what he did? What sort of people liked him? What sort of people despised him?

See also:

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 >

01 September 2011

Little Paxton - Finding rest

< 25th August 2011 | Index | 13th September 2011 >

This evening the Holy Spirit led us in a theme of peace and rest from struggling. Father wants us to follow him wholeheartedly, then we won't wander about in the wilderness.

We shared information about friends facing change or difficulties in their lives, and we talked about our own lives and direction. We chatted about what we have been doing and what we plan to do. Jim's summer Sunday activities have finished for this year, Sean and I plan to be at the Moggerhanger Millenials meeting, and Paul is planning three events before next summer's kid's camp. Jim is thinking about future employment and also about the house of prayer concept.
The Sinai desert
Later in the evening we prayed for the various people and needs we'd identified.

Thinking about our busy lives, Jim reminded us about the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness, going round and round. He felt that we have been doing much the same. We struggle with too much to do, overload and stress in our jobs, sometimes with little sense of peace or satisfaction. I sensed the Spirit saying that we need a real peace in our lives. He said, 'Peace is not in inactivity, it's in right activity'.

In different ways, we all felt the need to be listening people. Sean said he hasn't been listening as he should, Jim thinks he's just an infant in terms of spiritual hearing, and I'm aware that I need to be more eager to listen. Jim added that we want Jesus to be in the house and that our peace and rest are in him. We asked for spiritual hearing. We all have it but we all need more of it!

Then Jim told us about a scratch card he'd been given when he stopped to buy petrol. Apparently it was necessary to scratch the card to reveal a code, the next step was to visit a website and enter the code to find out if a prize had been won. All of this requires too much time, too much effort, and almost certainly for nothing.

In contrast the gospel comes with no such rigmarole. The gospel is pure good news. Jesus says, 'Come to me if you are struggling and heavily loaded down - I'll give you rest' (Matthew 11:28). Rest is very good news. It's peace, shalom, wholeness, an end to searching, an end to struggling, and an end to going around in circles in the wilderness. Jesus is a destination, not more rigmarole. The rest he gives us is good news!

< 25th August 2011 | Index | 13th September 2011 >

02 May 2011

RESPONSE: The death of Osama bin Laden

We live in a violent world. Today's news that United States forces have killed Osama bin Laden in a reinforced hideout in Pakistan just emphasises that. What are we to make of it?

Osama bin LadenViolence seems to be everywhere. A civil war is under way in Libya, pirates are active off the Somali coast, in Iran retribution is quick and severe for those who dare to oppose the authorities, the battle continues in Afghanistan and Iraq is racked by shootings and bombings. Closer to home trouble is stirring again in Northern Ireland and in Bristol there have been clashes between protesters and police over (of all things) the opening of a small, local Tesco shop.

Let's face it, there's nothing new about violence, it's as old as the human race. But it certainly hasn't gone away!

The latest news about Osama bin Laden's death is astonishing and raises many questions. You can read some of the background in an article by the BBC's Mark Mardell. No doubt more detail will emerge over the coming days and weeks. There is also likely to be strong reaction from Pakistan and perhaps from Russia and China too.

The principles - But what about the principles involved? For those with no faith it just comes down to a matter of morality and personal opinion. Is it reasonable to kill someone who has done bad things? Is it acceptable to mount a raid into another country, even if the purpose seems noble? Everyone will have opinions on these matters and we will not always agree.

Many religions teach that violence is wrong or that it is justifiable only in certain circumstances.

Love and forgive - But what for those who follow Jesus? Three things, I think.

First, it's clear that we are to love the Father. We are to be like him, pouring out love on one another and even on our enemies. Yahshua told Peter that those who choose to live by the sword will die by the sword. It is surely better for us to die by love than to die by the sword. As we judge, so will we be judged. 'Be like your Father in heaven', is not a suggestion - it's a command. But be warned, loving may cause us to die. If we truly love we will certainly die to self. But we may also die physically in situations where violence might have 'saved' us. It's better to be saved by grace than to be 'saved' by violent action.

And secondly, we are to forgive as we have been forgiven. If someone murders my wife or my child I am to forgive them. That's hard, isn't it? We are not called to seek revenge or punishment. We are not even called to seek justice. We are called to forgive.

Forgiving a wrong often seems like excusing evil. In fact forgiving and loving our enemies pours fire upon them. Forgiving is harder than lashing out with the tongue or with the fist or a firearm. Grace and patience lead us to love and forgive. Anger leads us into sin.

The actions of others - And the third point is this. Not only are we to forgive our enemy, we are not to judge others who make different choices.

So what about Osama's death? It's not for me to say. All I can say is that it would have been entirely wrong for me to kill him, but others must decide for themselves. My Father gave us freedom of will, freedom to choose. He expects me to extend the same freedom to others. I may not judge, I may only love and forgive.

15 January 2011

RESPONSE - Heart warming news

A friend on Facebook posted a link to this news report. In Egypt, where there have been recent attacks against Coptic believers, a grass roots move of ordinary people has resulted in Muslims attending church services. They have been acting as human shields.

Alexandria HarbourIt's the sort of thing that shows human nature at its best, people putting the safety and well-being of others above their own. Aren't people amazing! The population in Egypt is about 10% Copt and 90% Muslim and ordinary people have decided that their minority neighbours need help.

So often, when there is violence in the world the response is some kind of counter violence. It's tit for tat, an eye for an eye. But revenge has never been a successful strategy for peace. Both Muslims and Christians claim to be people of peace. How often that has not been true historically. But this time significant numbers have moved to resist in a peaceful way. And that is inspiring.

Pray for a blessing on all people of peace, in Egypt, in the UK, and all around the world. Ask that people will be blessed whatever their culture, language or faith. Isa (Jesus) is the Prince of Peace.

The prophet Jeremiah knew what trouble was like in a wicked world, he cried out, 'They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. "Peace, peace," they say, when there is no peace.' (Jeremiah 8:11)

And Isa (Jesus) said in Matthew 5:3-12,
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Anyone who follows the teachings of Isa (Jesus) is doing what is right. Please join me in praying for all his followers everywhere, including both Copts and Muslims who read his words and study them and want to learn from them. May the Most High shine upon them and bless them in unexpected ways. May they find themselves coming closer to him in their hearts and minds. May his peace find a home in their hearts.

'Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.'

28 June 2006

Rugby - Hill and pathway

< 21st June 2006 | Index | 25th July 2006 >

This was another wonderful evening together as Father opened up his heart to us again.

HillValerie shared a picture of a green hill with a stream of clear water at the bottom. She understood that we could be there in perfect peace and could drink the cool, refreshing water. And when we asked her what was on top of the hill she told us, 'Just a light'. Later, Val read Psalm 23, and Valerie read out Psalm 27 which also seemed completely relevant.


Chris said that we are walking along a pathway with him, and because we are there with him we are completely safe on the journey. We don't need to worry about where we will be going next, and we don't need to be anxious about what lies ahead, we just need to take the next step. One step, than another one, and then later another one as he shows us the way forward.

PathwayVal became aware of a large hand, then she noticed that the hand was wearing a glove, and finally realised that the Lord is like a policeman directing the traffic with his hands. She explained that without his guidance there would be accidents and injuries and damage, but that because he is in charge everything works together smoothly. One line of traffic has to wait, another line can move forward, then they swap over. It's efficient and it's safe because he guides us as he knows best.

There was also the thought of buds opening up into beautiful flowers. It's a process.

But perhaps the best thing this evening was that he told us through Rachael that when we meet together he is not divided amongst us and made less, but in fact he is magnified so that we each receive more of him, not less! We are so, so blessed by being together in a meeting. He was speaking the truth when he said, 'Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am amongst them' (Matt 18:20).

< 21st June 2006 | Index | 25th July 2006 >

01 November 2004

Eaton Ford - Butterfly and bird

< 14th October 2004 | Index | 23rd November 2004 >

During our meeting tonight we read 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 and were impressed by the thought that the Holy Spirit is a deposit, a guarantee of something we have yet to experience. And John 16:33 reads, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." He wants us to know that things will be far better than they are in this life.

Tortoiseshell butterflyIt's because our Father is the ultimate recycler! He takes us as he finds us - broken, worn out - and he renews us for a new and better purpose and function.

Val explained that she's been writing down her prayers and typing them up later, and she's been quite amazed to find how many of them have already been answered.

Then he showed us something truly delightful. He told us that his Spirit is like a butterfly, so beautiful. Butterflies settle on flowers, and they fly gently and gracefully through the air. He deals with us gently and very graciously, his spirit alights on us like a butterfly on a flower. He told us that when we're in turmoil he concentrates on bringing us to a place of peace, but when we're in a place of peace he concentrates on speaking to us. He told us, 'Know who you are, you are my children - it's as simple as that! You have inherited everything that is mine.'

A mallard duckVal then described just what his touch is like. He takes so much care in creating us. She saw him at work constructing a bird, showing the level of care he uses in making and re-making us. He applied each feather individually in its proper place, he even dealt individually with all those very tiny, fluffy pieces, crafting and attaching them individually using a specially fine pair of tweezers, until they were perfectly in position.

The tweezers are important, he doesn't work on us with a sledgehammer; that's just not possible. You cannot build with a sledgehammer, you can only knock down, destroy. The same hand cannot use both those tools!

Val was really on a roll tonight! She also pictured the process of knitting a large pullover. She explained how the work proceeds, row after row after row, with seemingly little progress. Eventually you have half a pullover front, but it still seems there's a long, long way to go. But then, you suddenly realise you have reached the arm holes, then the neck, and it's done! Our lives can be just like that, in the middle it can sometimes seem there's no real progress, we're just as bad as we always were. But, our Father promises the work will be completed, and it will!

He leaves his peace with us ('my peace I give to you' - John 14:27). His peace descends on us like a dove. He wants us to experience peace with the Father and peace with one another. This is central to his purpose, it comes as the result of loving Yahweh and loving one another.

< 14th October 2004 | Index | 23rd November 2004 >

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