10 July 2008

Eaton Ford - Prayer

Only very brief notes were made this week. We spent much of the time talking, but we also prayed for Pam's Mum who has been unwell, and for Jim and Sean who have both been heavily overworked.

07 July 2008

Let my people go

I wanted to reply to Frank Viola's recent blog post 'Favourite Song of the Season', but comments were closed so I'm going to reply here instead. Do visit Frank's item by clicking the link above (or the image), read the words and listen to the song. I agree with Frank, it's a great song. I love it!

The theme is one that's been very real to me for many years. It applies to the Church today, indeed it's applied to the church for the bulk of its history. Let my people go!

What do I mean? Let's say that Egypt represents the world, and Pharaoh therefore represents the Prince of this world. Meanwhile the Israelites, Yahweh's chosen people, represent the Church. The problem the Israelites had was that not only had they got into Egypt, but Egypt had also got into them. They arrived in Joseph's day, hungry and desperate and glad to find a land where there was food enough to go around. As the generations passed they became more and more dependent upon the Egyptians. At the same time, as far as the Egyptians were concerned they became a serious refugee and immigration problem, aliens in the land.

It has always seemed clear to me that the Church has gone to live in the world. The Church has adopted the world's methods of management, organisation, authority, and structure. The methods seem to work for the world and have therefore been seen as a good way to do things. Maybe we have become so used to them that they appear to be the only way to do things! If it works for government and for big business, surely it will also work for the Church?

Well, after a fashion these methods seem to work for the Church, but at a serious price. Either we do things our way or we do them the Lord's way, but we can't mix and match. We really can't. We have been making bricks without straw, and it is so, so hard for us! And when we cried out in despair, Yahweh heard us and has come to remind us that in Christ we are truly a free people.

In the end Yahweh calls Israel out of Egypt. He is also calling the Church out of the world, but like Pharaoh, the Prince of this world is unwilling to let us go. And as the Church walks away from the world it heads out, like Israel, into the wilderness. What did Israel do? They complained most bitterly. 'Why has Yahweh brought us out into the wilderness to die? At least in Egypt we ate all we needed.' So the Lord sent manna and then they complained that it was not the kind of food they wanted!

We are just the same. We hanker after the reliable and safe provision of the world rather than trust to the uncertainties and hardships of the wilderness. Yet the wilderness is just a place we must pass through to arrive at the promised land, flowing with milk and honey. But we cry, 'It's too hard, we don't like it, we're afraid, we want to go back to the world's ways, we'll make a god of gold and worship that, we will die in this wilderness, there's nothing to drink, the land he promised us is full of giants, we can never succeed.'

Listen, we have to leave the world's ways. We are in it of course, but we should never have become of it. We have to leave our comfort zones and go. We have to trudge through the wilderness, we have to learn to depend on the Lord alone, we have to believe that in him and with him we are safe and will succeed in the task he's given us.

Yes, not only have we been in the world, but the world has been in us. Enough! If you want the detailed story, read 'Pagan Christianity' by Frank Viola and George Barna. If your eyes are open the book will open them even wider. It will explain how the church came to be the slave of the world, both in it and of it. And it will explain how the Church needs to throw off everything that encumbers her and go back to the Promised Land. And live in it. Like Israel, the Church was originally in this land of promise but left, and now it's time to go back again to our inheritance.

Yes, I like the song. 'Let my people go!' Remember who it was who told Moses to speak that way to Pharaoh! It was the Creator of this universe, the King of Kings, Yahweh speaking out of his Shekinah Glory. If he says 'Let my people go' who can stand against him? So what reason can we possibly have to be afraid? Hmm?

Get walking!

Improving car efficiency

This is an idea I had recently for improving the efficiency of internal combustion engined vehicles. 'Green' is becoming the watchword of the decade (rightly so), and anything that can reduce fuel consumption is a good thing whether your car burns petrol, diesel, or biofuel.

Engines run much more efficiently when they are at their working temperature. Every increment in starting temperature will increase initial efficiency and reduce the time required to reach full working temperature, a double benefit by starting 'further up the curve'.

For very little extra manufacturing expense I suggest fitting a network of piping between the roof of a car and its internal lining. The network would be fed engine coolant by flow and return pipes that could be concealed inside the front pillars between the windscreen and side windows. The coolant would be warmed by solar energy and would flow to the cold engine when the vehicle is idle, returning to the roof network to pick up more heat.

A miniature pump in the engine compartment would keep the fluid flowing slowly, I suggest the pump should be controlled by temperature sensors so that when the water in the roof network is not warmer than the engine block the pump does not operate.

This scheme would improve the efficiency of any internal combustion powered vehicle, cars (including hybrids), lorries, buses, boats, aircraft etc. It would work while your car was parked in town or at the office or outside your home. On a hot day it would have the added benefit of keeping the car slightly cooler, on a cold day it would enable the heater to start working a little sooner. And the fuel efficiency would increase - especially for those short journeys.

There - I've published it. It cannot now be patented (at least in the basic form described here). It's available to any vehicle manufacturer or add-on kit maker that cares to use it.

06 July 2008

What on earth?

This is an amazing image for a variety of reasons. What is it? Could it be a pulsating jellyfish from deep in the ocean? An iridescent soap bubble against a black background? Maybe it's a cell viewed in a fluorecence microscope?

No, the truth is stranger than any of these. Much of the 'light' you see here is invisible, the rest is far too faint to see. This bubble is the result of a sudden event witnessed by the Saxons, although it actually happened during the Stone Age. The photograph was taken by a range of telescopes, not all on the earth's surface.

This is SN 1006, a supernova remnant. Everything about it is awesome, almost beyond the human mind's ability to appreciate. And of course it's not on Earth at all. An astonishing feature of this little corner of the universe where we live, our Milky Way galaxy.

What is Supernova 1006? How did it happen? How was the image made?

Exploding stars
Supernovae are exploding stars; but don't worry, our closest star (the Sun) is not expected to explode and will not change fundamentally for about another four thousand million years. It won't affect you!

There are various things that might cause a star to blow its top. In the case of SN 1006, a small, dense, white dwarf and a more normal star similar to the Sun were circling one another. As the sun-like star entered its red giant stage, the strong gravity of the white dwarf pulled gas away from the giant's atmosphere. Over a long period of time the white dwarf grew ever heavier at the expense of its neighbour. Eventually it became unstable, and violently exploded in an unimaginable cataclysm (too feeble a description by far, but there are no words to describe a detonation like this one). The mechanism is fairly well understood.

Seeing the light
The explosion happened about 8000 years ago. The fearsome burst of light and heat roared out and after travelling for around 7000 years arrived at the Earth in Saxon times, about 1st May 1006. The 'new' star was recorded by astronomers in Japan, China, Arabia, and Europe. It must have been noted in wonder by millions of people throughout the southern hemisphere and much of the north. The pinpoint of light outshone everything else in the sky apart from the Sun and Moon. It was visible even in broad daylight, bright enough to read at night. It remained visible for about two years, dimming, brightening again, and finally fading away. As the generations passed it was forgotten.

The aftermath
The gaseous debris of the broken star spread out behind the wave of light and heat. The star's substance travelled out so fast that it would have travelled the distance from the Earth to the Moon in less than a minute (it took the NASA astronauts three days). In 1965 it was identified by radio astronomers as a circular feature.

The image
This image is itself amazing. It looks just like an ordinary colour photo, but this has very little in common with a typical holiday snap. Like any full colour image this one contains three superimposed images in three different wavelengths. In a normal photo these more or less match the sensitive ranges of the the three types of colour detecting cells (cones) in the human retina. But in this image, a little astronomical imaging sleight of hand has been committed.

The red image is not light at all, or not as we normally understand it. It's an image in radio frequencies captured by the 23 mile equivalent 'lens' of the Very Large Array (VLA) and by the Green Bank Telescope. The yellow, orange and pale blue images are visible light recorded by optical telescopes. The deep blue is an X-ray image collected by NASA's Chandra satellite.

04 July 2008

Walking around Huntingdon

The ring roadBack in the middle of May (Sunday 11th) I took part in a prayer time at Huntingdon. The intention was to have small groups of people at intervals around the ring road, praying for the town and for the surrounding area. Not many turned up on the day and I decided that the best thing to do was to walk round the entire circuit.

As I walked I found myself caught up in a conversation with the Lord, it was amazing. Things I saw along the way prompted questions and the answers kept on coming. Often there were words that seemed to come without prompting too. I jotted it all down.

Daisies in the grass
The sun was shining and I came to a patch of grass liberally sprinkled with daisies. So beautiful.

And the Lord said...

As the daisies cover the grass in summer, so will my people cover the earth.

And I prayed, 'If you command it, Lord, it shall be done.' What he says always happens, his voice alone is sufficient cause and his word is always effective.

Restoration is coming
The Spirit reminded me of Acts, chapter 1. Jesus told his disciples, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you in a few days.' One of them asked him if this was the time for the restoration of Israel. He told them not to worry about the what or the when, all they needed to know was that he was sending them to the ends of the earth and his Spirit would be on them.

It seems we are still in this mode of operation, the Church is supposed to go to the ends of the earth and the Spirit of Christ is on us. We are not to be concerned about anything else, really. That seems pretty straightforward, doesn't it? Where are the 'ends of the earth'? They are Huntingdon, here wherever I am, if you are a believer they are wherever you are, and his Spirit is on you. You may not think so, it might not feel like it - but it's true. The church is to become like those daisies - sprinkled liberally everywhere. Beautiful.

Inside and outside
As I walked on I found myself thinking about the town inside the ring road and the countryside and villages being outside.

And the Spirit spoke to me...

What is inside the ring road is inside, what is outside is outside. I have come to bring life in fulness to all who will receive it - inside the city and in the countryside too.

The word 'city' interests me because Huntingdon is a market town, not a city. Perhaps 'city' hints at the Church, some are in the church and others are not. Does this mean that he's come to bring fulness of life to everyone? To all who will receive it? Many in the Church think they already have it, but it's on offer to all.

One direction
The traffic always flows clockwise around the ring road. Huntingdon is not a large town so the ring road is quite small and it's not necessary to have a multi-lane highway. It doesn't take long to drive right around it.

And the Lord said...

As the traffic flows around, always in the same direction, and as the people in the world are all moving in one direction (to oblivion), so I am there saying, 'Come to me all who are struggling with life. Rest is in me, peace is in me, life is in me and only in me.

I am with you
I stopped from time to time to pray as there were not enough of us to pray everywhere at once.

And he said...

Wherever you stop and pray - I am with you.

I don't think he was just talking about me, or just about Huntingdon. But whenever we pray we involve him in what we are doing.

Focusing on a particular need
The Spirit said to me...

Just by asking you bring my power to focus on a particular point, a particular need. Nothing you ask is wasted or goes unnoticed. It is all precious, it is all gathered and productive, it all touches my heart.

Expecting more
He told me...

I do not do what you expect, I do what I expect which is much better. You ask for a person, but I grant an army. You ask for a flower but I grant a field full of flowers. Always expect to receive more than you ask, better than you can imagine.

I forgot my hat
It was a hot, sunny day and as time passed I began to regret not having brought my hat. I didn't mind the heat but I wondered if I'd end up with sunburn on my forehead and the back of my neck. A row of trees protected me for a while, and then there was a long gap with more trees in the distance. But just as I reached the gap a cloud covered the sun and the shade lasted until I reached the next section of trees.

The Lord said to me...

When you forget your hat I will send a cloud or a row of trees. The heat will not burn you up or harm you for I am your Shelter and your Shepherd.

He was reminding me that he cares about even the smallest detail of our lives. Too much sun is not a good thing, though it's hardly a big issue in the grand scheme of things. But the Almighty cares about us on a much deeper level than that, so the cloud and the trees are a reminder to me that he will always protect his people spiritually. He will cover us and shelter us.

Bare soilAs I continued around the ringroad, I came to an area that had been churned up by mechanical diggers. Their tyre marks were everywhere and there was hardly a blade of grass or healthy plant to be seen. There was a great pile of earth close to the road. What a mess!

And the Lord said...

Even when the landscape looks like a pile of barren earth, I will turn it into shady glades of green with a stream of pure, cold water and the songs of a thousand birds - for I AM life.

Sitting in the sun
Next I came to a place where there was a man sitting in the sunshine on the doorstep of his home. I crossed the road so that I could speak with him. I told him that I was walking around Huntingdon praying for the town and the people living there, and I asked him if he'd like me to pray for him in any way. He told me, no, but he thanked me for stopping and asking.

The Police Station
I stopped at the Police Station and explained to the guy on duty what I was doing. I asked him if he'd like me to pray for anything in particular; for himself or for the Police in general.

He told me that they were quite overworked just recently and said that he'd be very grateful if I'd pray for them in a general way. I told him that I'd pray for the officers and for their families too.

Small numbers don't matter
Thinking again about the small number of people who turned up for this prayer time, I became aware of the Lord saying to me, 'What counts is not your numbers but your obedience.'

Litter and trees
Next was an area where some litter had been dropped and was blowing around in the breeze. There were also some young saplings nearby, growing vigorously and swaying gracefully with the movement of the air.

And the Spirit said...

People drop litter, I grow trees. I will not do what you do, and you cannot do what I do. Concentrate on being my people, I'll do the doing. You be - I'll do.

Litter is dead, dropped paper rots away and releases the carbon it's made from. But trees are alive, they absorb carbon and construct wood from it. And wood is the raw material from which we make paper. And so it seems that if I am busy doing something I will be working in one direction, but when the Lord works everything is going in the opposite direction. What I do is death, what he does is life. What I do is breaking down, what he does is building up.

How many people?
Then he suddenly put a question into my mind.

Do you know how many people have passed by while you were walking around Huntingdon? I do! And I know who is mine; and I care for all my sheep.

Monumental mason
I was now getting close to the place where I began my walk. I passed the office and workshop of William Peacock who are stone masons making gravestones and memorials. As I was thinking about this, Father said,

Will you make a monument for me or one for yourself? I don't need a monument, and neither do you for you belong to me and your life is in me.

The road and the woodland
The road and the woodlandWhile I was passing a small piece of woodland he said to me...

The road is of man, but the life is in me.

If men and women suddenly disappeared from the earth and you could come back 100 years later and look, would the road be encroaching into the woodland or would the woodland be recapturing the road? Life wins! It really does. Here too, there is a spiritual lesson for those with eyes to see.

03 July 2008

Little Paxton - John's Gospel

< 29th June 2008 | Index | 10th July 2008 >

Very few notes were made this week, but we read some passages from John's Gospel (John 1:5, 3:19, 8:12, and 12:35).

< 29th June 2008 | Index | 10th July 2008 >


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