Showing posts with label people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label people. Show all posts

28 March 2015

Watching the potter

Watching a potter at work can be very interesting. You will see a creator at work, a process of making, and you may see much more than that. If your eyes and ears and mind are fully open, who knows what you might see? So read on and pay attention.

Theaster Gates
Theaster Gates
Yahweh told Jeremiah to go to the potter's house and watch him at work, and that he would speak to him while he was there. Read about this in Jeremiah 18:1-6.

Sometimes, seeing something acted out makes it very much clearer than just hearing the message. For Jeremiah, seeing the pot crumple and the potter start the making process all over again spoke volumes about Israel's future.

We can (and should) also apply this to our own lives as individuals. We are jars of clay intended to hold a precious treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). But Father will mould us and remould us as he sees fit, until we are suitable for his purpose.

In the words of an old song
Go down to the house of the potter
Watch him work the clay
Listen to what I say as you watch him

Go down to the house of the potter
Watch him turn the wheel
Know that's how I feel as I'm working.
Having said all that, I'd now like you to watch a video of Theaster Gates (a potter by trade) as he transforms more than a lump of wet clay. He takes what he's learned about making and moulding and transforms an entire city district. It's a work of redemption.

Jesus is the great Redeemer, he remoulds and remodels as necessary. We are made in his image, and we are learning to walk as he walks (we are his disciples). As you watch the video consider how it feels to be a redeemer, how it affects places and people. And ask yourself an important question:

What can I redeem? What places and people can I rescue, encourage, bring new life to? It's not likely to begin with an entire city block, but it might begin small and grow. Who knows where it will end?

It's easier than you think. Be brave, be very bold. Go and redeem something. Don't wait. Begin now, today! And as you begin, let Jesus lead you.

Here's the video...

13 March 2015

Pictures and music

I was delighted to discover 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.

One of Hannah Dunnett's cards
Some time ago Donna and I visited the lovely old city of Bath, and we 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 want 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 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: 

28 February 2015

We've run out of wine.

< Drawn to the light | Index | No later items >

I'd like to introduce you to Jesus, but I don't want to persuade or cajole you. In fact, I don't intend to tell you what to think at all. Instead, I want you to see for yourself what he is like and then make up your own mind what you think.

An empty bottle
An empty bottle
We're going to begin with a bar malfunction at a wedding. The drink runs out. This particular wedding was two thousand years ago in Galilee, now part of northern Israel. But the planning was not thorough. I'm sure you know the feeling. You've laid on a big event. The invitations have gone out. The day has come. People are enjoying themselves. And then you run out of something essential - like 
wine.

A wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’

‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’

His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from eighty to a hundred and twenty litres.

Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realise where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’

That's the story straight from the Bible - John 2:1-10, New International Version (NIV). I have four questions for you. Try to get the answers out of the story you've just read, you'll need to consider all the characters. What did they say? What did they do? What did they think?

  • What does this tell you about people?
  • What does this tell you about Jesus?
  • Is there anything here for you to follow or do?
  • Who else needs to hear this?

< Drawn to the light | Index | No later items >

26 January 2015

A man with a mission

Actually, a man with a whole series of missions. Elon Musk has done some extraordinary things in his life so far. He has affected the lives of most of us; if you've used PayPal he's affected your life. Here's a summary of his major achievements. A glance through the list below will give some sense of the scale of this man's ambitions.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk
Blastar - At the age of twelve, Elon Musk sold the computer code for a video game called Blastar for $500. He had already taught himself programming and created the game. Very few of us have sold software at the age of twelve. I wonder what he did with the money?

Zip2 - When he was twenty-four, he started the company Zip2 with his brother, creating an internet guide for the newspaper industry. Four years later the company was sold to Compaq and Elon made $22 million as a result.

PayPal - Musk started an online finance and payment company called X.com that merged with Confinity a year later. Their main product, PayPal, was the major focus and was acquired by eBay in 2002 - Musk left with $165 million in his pocket.

SpaceX - Elon Musk put $100 million into starting his next company, SpaceX. In 2009, after several failures, the first successful private launch to Earth orbit flew and the company survived. Musk has said that one further launch failure at that point would have finished SpaceX.

But the company is still operating - building and flying ever-better vehicles and selling the flights commercially. A NASA contract to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) has helped support these developments with Dragon, and a crewed version is in the pipeline. The Falcon Heavy rocket is due to make its first test flight in 2015/16, and methane-burning engines for a much larger rocket are under development.

SpaceX is currently valued at about $10 billion.

Tesla - This company builds electric cars and was founded in 2003, Musk joined the venture as chairman in 2004. Following the financial crisis in 2008, he then became CEO and Product Architect and has steered Tesla into the release of three car models with more in the pipeline, he has also offered to supply power-chains to other car makers and allow them access to Tesla's patent portfolio.

Solar City - The idea was Musk's, but the company was founded and is run by others. However, Elon Musk is the largest shareholder. Solar City installs domestic solar power systems free of charge, recouping the investment by taking a share of the proceeds from selling the power produced over a fixed time period.

Tesla and Solar City are cooperating to use electric vehicle batteries to balance out grid power, storing spare capacity by day and drawing power back at night.

Gigafactory - The Gigafactory, part of Tesla, is intended to turn out large numbers of cheap batteries for use in electric vehicles, for power storage for the grid and for other purposes. The initial goal is to reduce the cost of batteries for Tesla vehicles, and the plant is currently under construction.

Hyperloop - Musk proposed the Hyperloop as a new form of transport infrastructure, initially to link Los Angeles and San Francisco. Partially evacuated tunnels and air suspension would allow pods to travel with little resistance and at higher speeds than aircraft. Third parties are designing pods, while Elon Musk plans to build a five-mile test track.

Satellites - Recently, Elon Musk has proposed repeating SpaceX's rocketry and spacecraft success with cheap and reliable satellite design and production. He plans to create a facility for this in Seattle, and co-operate with Google and others in building large numbers of internet-providing satellites in low Earth orbit. Google has become an investor and partner as part of this process.

Mars Colony - Musk has long-term plans to live and die on Mars. The Mars Colonial Transporter will be designed and built to carry 100 tonnes of cargo to Mars at a time. It would also be capable of carrying 100 passengers. The plans involve creating a self-sustaining colony on the surface of Mars, with a population of at least 80 000.

22 November 2013

Prayer, Bible study, story telling

Here's an opportunity for some free online training. Steve Addison presents a session on following Jesus and making disciples. It's no substitute for face-to-face contact with a trainer, but it's invaluable as a taster. If you get the chance to meet Steve, take it. But watch this and read the books anyway.

Steve Addison's website
Steve Addison's website
Steve Addison is an Australian with a calling, in his own words, to 'spark church planting movements, everywhere'.

He has written some great books, 'Movements that change the world' and 'What Jesus Started' are particular favourites on my electronic bookshelf.

Steve also runs courses all over the world and is coming to Nottingham next week for the Newforms National Gathering 2013. I'll be there, and I'm greatly looking forward to hearing him.

Recently, Steve Addison released an online training video available to watch live or for download. It is an excellent starter for anyone wanting to get out amongst local people and reach them with the best news in the known universe. It focusses on prayer, simple discovery Bible study and story telling.

Read his two books mentioned above as well, you will not be disappointed by either the style or the content. They are very readable but at the same time, challenging.

Questions:

  • Watch the video. Do you think you will approach people differently from now on?
  • What single thing that you have learned will most affect the way you think and behave in future?
  • Have you ever wondered what Jesus' daily life was like? Read 'What Jesus Started' and find out. [Tweet it!]

See also:

11 July 2013

Familiar strangers

We're all aware of people we know by sight but not by name. This happens when we repeatedly see the same face in a certain context - travelling to work, having a coffee while shopping. Research shows how widespread this is; can the church make use of this idea as a missional resource?

Will I recognise anyone here?
Will I recognise anyone here?
Recent research shows that people are regularly in the same place at the same time with others they don't know.

This seems to happen because we're creatures of habit, using the same bus at the same time every day, visiting the coffee shop at the same time, using favourite shops over and over again.

Such patterns of behaviour mean that faces may become familiar to us, even if we don't know a person's name, even if we've never spoken to them. It would be easy to start a conversation with such people; if I recognise their faces they will most likely recognise mine too.

Opportunity for mission - This opens up some interesting possibilities for mission.

I'm going to try deliberately noting people that I see regularly and initiating conversations. Hopefully I can widen the circle of people I know in that way. It's going to be important to be intentionally observant so that I can find people who will feel I'm already familiar.

I'm going to pray about it and ask Father to show me the right people and guide me in the conversations. It'll be very interesting to see how this works out. This is related to the idea of a third place and using such a place as an opening for community and mission.

I don't plan to have religious conversations, just conversations about everyday things at first. As I get to know some of these people better I hope to be able to share the good news that they are loved and special in Father's sight.

Questions:

  • What places do you visit regularly? What are your daily patterns and habits?
  • Can you identify people that you see regularly?
  • Are you willing to try talking to these people?

See also:

24 February 2013

On the Market Square

We offer 'Free Hugs' in St Neots Market Square and get a variety of responses from the local people. Along with those who disregard us and won't engage there are some who want a hug and others who want a conversation as well. One conversation went considerably deeper. Hearts were touched.

Cold day on the Market Square
Yesterday I met Mark and then Tendai for coffee and prayer at Cornerstone. We were joined briefly by Steve from New Street Baptist Church before heading out to the Market Square to offer 'Free Hugs'.

I quickly discovered that there are two kinds of people on the streets. There are those that behave as if you are completely invisible. And there are others who smile, engage in a brief conversation (or even a lengthy one) and sometimes accept the offer of a hug.

Some people want to know why we are offering hugs, or what the catch is. Some are not especially interested in those questions. Some accept a brief prayer or a blessing as well.

Relatively few younger people are interested in hugs, many seem quite embarrassed by the idea (perhaps because we are older than they are or their mates are watching). But there was one notable exception.

A guy was approaching on a skateboard and I waved my 'Free Hugs' sign and smiled at him. He jumped off his skateboard, beamed at me and said, 'Why not?' I had perhaps the warmest hug I got all day and he enthusiastically told me I'd made his day. 'More people should do this sort of thing', he said, jumping back on his board and heading off to the local skate park.

Good conversation - Towards the end of our time in the Market Square I had a long and lovely conversation with a local trader. She told me some things about her life, how she sometimes knows about things before they happen, and how she'd once been told by a pastor that she was cursed. Why do people say unkind things like that?

As we were about to leave I asked her if I could pray for her and bless her. She was OK with that and accepted a hug as well. I thought I detected tears in her eyes afterwards, unless it was just the bitter wind.

But it's not just the wind that can bring tears to our eyes. Bitter events in our lives can bring tears within our hearts as well. They blur our spiritual vision and prevent us from seeing what is right before us. We all need to know we are loved by a Father in heaven who truly cares about us.

Giving people a hug is always a good thing. But Papa can give us all the inner, spiritual hugs that we so desperately need, even though we sometimes don't know it.

Questions:

  • Are you connecting with people in the area where you live?
  • If so, how? Tell us about it, leave a comment.
  • Take a look at Chris Duffet's website, are there ideas here you could use?
  • Can you think of similar ideas for engaging people? Leave a comment to share them.

See also:

30 October 2011

RESPONSE - Getting real

Sometimes it just seems right to draw attention to something I've read. That's what happened this evening. We need to be real about life with Jesus - he's real and we should be too. We won't get far with discerning people if we are false, and our actions speak far louder than our words.

Simple Church JournalThe item I stumbled on is an article by Roger Thoman published over a month ago. I'd somehow missed it, but it bears repeating. Here are two extracts.
We need more from “the church.” We need “the church” to begin living their unique destiny as followers of Jesus audaciously. We need people who are not sleep-walking in religion or incapacitated by the franticness of our Disneyland culture. We need people who know who they are, who love Jesus more than life, who are willing to bring fresh and new ideas and innovations that change society. We need people who influence, not toward religion or church-going, but toward Jesus, and life, and hope, and faith, and transformation, and the power of the Spirit. We need people who have passion and are not afraid to step out and speak up about those things (including Jesus) that are burning on their hearts.
We need Change Agents for Jesus. We don’t need evangelists, just Jesus-people who live and act in a way that brings about change, that lifts the hopeless, that cares for the tired, that releases the oppressed and that simply says—“this is Jesus at work.” “Follow Him!” Those that need to and want to, will follow Him.
I recommend reading the entire article. And while there, read the comments too. They not only agree with Roger, they agree with passion. So do I.

27 September 2011

RESPONSE - Invisibility coat

'How do you become invisible? Just try wearing a 'Big Issue' seller's jacket.' This is one of the provocative thoughts in Chris Duffett's presentation, 'A Gospel for the City Centre'.

The invisibility coatListening to what Chris had to say in the video I was struck by how uncomplicated his message is. Why do we make church so difficult and messy? It's really not a big deal, or perhaps I should say that it IS a very big deal in one way, but not in another.

The creator of the universe has come to town and plans to make his home in me - and in you. Now that's a big deal!

But he wants us to respond in very simple ways, by making our home amongst anyone and everyone round about. We're not supposed to turn this into a programme or create an organisation, we're just to be there for people. Love them, be open and welcoming, listen, care about their problems, help them find their own solutions. It's often not our solutions and fixes that people want, it's our time. They don't need my opinion, but they crave my ear, my heart, and my attention.

Just read the Bible accounts of what Jesus did and said as he travelled from town to town. See how he interacted with people. See how present he was in their anxieties and woes, triumphs and joys. See how he brought peace and comfort and life to them. 'Come to me if you're struggling and heavily crushed; I'll give you rest.' (Matthew 11:28)

29 October 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Grain in the field

Paul and I met in the morning. We'd hoped to see one or two other friends but in the event this didn't work out.

Grain ripening in the fieldWe worked through CO2 together, first SASHET and then the things that Father has been telling us. Then we prayed for people that we know and for the work that he's doing in us and also through us.

And finally we read some sections of Mark together, picking up where we left off last time.

Mark 2:23-28 - We thought that this shows life is about people, not about rules. Jesus and the disciples were probably enjoying their walk through the countryside. They were probably talking and laughing together and discussing something prompted by the grain they were eating. They might have talked about the life that is in a seed, how it germinates and grows, how the life of the Father is in everything that was made.

But the Pharisees hold only the rules important, making them more important than people.

Mark 3:1-6 - This again shows the same thing, life is about people, not rules. These verses show us the anger and distress felt by Jesus faced with this attitude or rule following even if it prevents good being done for someone.

Mark 3:7-12 - Jesus was followed everywhere by the crowds. No doubt he could speak to more people by standing in the boat. They were pressing in because they knew he could heal them, this reminded Paul of the woman with the serious bleeding who just wanted to touch the edge of his cloak. The evil spirits recognised he was the Son of the Most High but he commanded them not to share what they knew.

Mark 3:13-19 - Paul wondered why Jesus gave some of them new names, could it be much like us calling a friend 'Rocky' because of his nature?

'Petros' (Peter in English) is Greek for 'rock', presumably a Greek translation of the Aramaic word for rock which is 'Kepha', the name Jesus gave Simon. 'Shimon' (Simon) is clearly an Aramaic name and means 'a man of Judah'. So Peter was originally 'A Judahite' and Jesus called him 'A Judahite Rock', more or less.

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2014, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics