30 November 2009

Colworth (CU) - Money and stewardship

There was no plan for today's meeting so we did what we usually do in this situation, just enjoyed some good time chatting about life and about Jesus. World moneyWe decided we'd like to make a CU lunchdate for 22nd January (probably) and meet for food and fellowship at a local pub.

Andy dipped into some notes he happened to have with him and read out thoughts on love languages and how important it is to understand one another's ways of thinking. Not only does this apply to married couples, but also to us as brothers and sisters when we meet. Expressing our care for one another in a way that works for that person is so important.

Then we discussed stewardship. Luke 16:2 was mentioned and we read verses 1-8. It's clear that any steward needs to take care of the owner and of the owner's property and business transactions. How true that  the people of this world are shrewder than the people of the light! Worldly advantages can be gained by ignoring what is right and caring little for the Lord's business.

1 Corinthians 4 clearly shows us that everything we have comes from the Almighty. We need to look to the future. Sometimes we may need to take risks for the Master's benefit. However we should never look to our own benefit.

29 November 2009

Oundle - Jonah and the whale

The nascent group in Oundle invited me to join them for lunch on Sunday. We met at Matt and Justine's home in Peterborough, Jonah thrown up on the beachbut I'm referring to it as the 'Oundle' group because I think that is where they will end up (I might be wrong, of course).

We sat and relaxed together and talked for a while over cups of tea while the younger folk made a happy noise elsewhere in the house. They were working on a play to perform for us adults after lunch. Topics that came up in conversation included the 2008 House2House Conference as well as 'The Shack'. Although views differ about the book we agreed that love demands that we allow one another to make up our own minds without becoming offended over those differences.

I'd brought the DVD sets for the 2008 and 2009 conferences and left them behind so they could go through them at their leisure. I explained that the 2008 set includes some excellent material from Paul Young, the author of 'The Shack'; and I mentioned briefly that one of the topics Paul deals with is the place of women in the church. In my view he handles this extremely well, basing his thoughts on the first three chapters of Genesis. The DVD is well worth watching.

After a delicious Italian lunch we had more time to chat before moving to a different room where the young people were ready with their play. They'd put together a short production based on the book of Jonah. Jonah heard the call from Yahweh to go to Ninevah and disobediently took a ship to Tarshish in Spain instead. The sailors cast lots and Jonah was thrown overboard to save the ship, he was swallowed by the whale (cleverly done by the young actors).

Jonah repented and the whale spat him out and he agreed to go to Ninevah. There was a well-deserved round of applause for the players.

We spent a short time in prayer during which there was reassurance about the way forward. There are several practical issues on the horizon, both for Matthew and Justine and also for Rupert and Uli. But there's no need for anxiety about these. Sometimes Papa expects us to wait for the right time, but when the time comes he makes everything clear. It's all in his hands.

For me, there's a lot to rejoice about. It is so good to see this little group gathering weekly. Thank you, Father!

28 November 2009

Awesome video, great music, astonishing machine

Here's a fine video beautifully put together with excellent music and sound effects. Mike Interbartalo edited imagery of the Space Shuttle launch process from beginning to end. It really is an experience to watch and listen, even if you're not much interested in space or rockets.

It's strange to think that next year the Space Shuttle will fly for the very last time and there is nothing in place to take over. The USA will no longer be able to launch crewed vehicles into orbit.

STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights from mike interbartolo on Vimeo.

For anyone wanting a bit more detail, you will see the Shuttle stack on the giant tracked platform arriving at the launch pad. There are some details of the engine ignition sequence, the three main engines first, then the solid rocket boosters. You will see the solid boosters fall away and splash down under their parachutes ready to be collected by boat and returned for re-use. You will see the giant external tank released to return to a fiery destruction in the atmosphere. And then finally the shuttle itself heads on into Earth orbit.

There are shots from many angles here. Some from the ground or from the air, some from cameras mounted on the solid boosters, the external tank, and the shuttle itself.

27 November 2009

Offord d'Arcy (day) - Brief notes only

We usually meet in Eaton Ford, but today Paul and I travelled to Roger's home in Offord d'Arcy as he'd hurt his back. We ate lunch together, had some good conversation, and prayed for the village, for people we meet in our daily lives, for ourselves as we reach out to those around us, and for friends facing difficult times.

Roger read 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 and we shared our thoughts on these wonderfully encouraging words.

26 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Floyd's camels

Jim was involved in another meeting this evening so joined us later, Sean and I began by chatting about computing.
A camel

It's an interest we share as we both work in IT. Then we settled down to listen to Floyd McClung talking about 'Camels in the Road', in other words distractions we meet in our lives that make it hard for us to follow Jesus. Here are the major points he makes as he develops this theme.
  • Dabbling - instead of being fully focused on following Jesus, we may become distracted by doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We're called to spiritual obedience, but we become absorbed in other things so easily.
  • Plateau-ing - we stop growing spiritually. There is no moving on in our lives, no breakthrough. Past disobedience can lie behind this.
  • Inner vows - we may say to ourselves, 'I will never do x, y, z again. Never!' This vow becomes an inner value that guides us. The vow is often to protect us, to avoid something, or simply for comfort. The Lord doesn't cause the problems in our lives but he does use them. He is able to use our greatest fears to create in us great strengths, but we need to embrace the pain if this is to happen.
  • Unclear vision - we need to get hold of a sense of our destiny. If we don't, we may become targets for other people's passions.
  • Financial security - we worry about such things and they can eat us up. Don't let materialism own you, live for a bigger dream!
  • Frantic pace of life - too busy to pay attention to what the Lord is doing.
  • Churchianity, religion - The Lord is really not impressed with our systems and organisations.
We discussed some of these ideas and noted how they have affected our own lives. 

Jim arrived at this point and we prayed for our friends and families asking for grace through the pain and the issues. We thought how necessary it is to pour our grace over them, forgiving wrongs freely, praising things that are well done and so on. Just as our heavenly Father pours his grace over us, so we are to do for others.

In connection with one particular issue that was mentioned, I saw a stone on a woodland path. I realised that the stone might just be lying on the surface or it might be larger than it looked with the bulk of it deeply buried. It's important to know which is the case. A stone on the surface may be easily moved but a part-buried stone could cause injury if we strain to pick it up or just try to kick it out of the way.

23 November 2009

Colworth (CU) - Julia Fisher

It was my turn to lead this week, I had agreed to talk about Julia Fisher's work in Israel and began with a potted history of her involvement which is summarised below. A tour party viewing the Sea of Galilee

In 1998 she became interested in the need for women to have short, inspiring breaks from routine. She helped with two women's tours visiting Israel in June and November of 1998 and on the flight home from the second trip, the Lord told her she would return in six weeks.

She was unexpectedly invited to report on millenium preparations by the Israeli Government Tourist Office. She soon heard about a pastor's meeting in Jerusalem but had no idea who to contact, then the night before the flight she was given a phone number that turned out to be that of the chairman of the meeting!

So in this rather amazing way, Julia was given an opportunity to meet church leaders in Jerusalem. They were able to put her in touch with many others in Israel and she has conducted interviews and written books about the extraordinary reconciliation currently happening between Jewish and Arab believers.

We used this as a stepping stone to discuss the ways in which we, too, are guided day by day, moment by moment. We can be encouraged to hear and do the Lord's will. Andy explained how he'd given his testimony and how it is necessary to know and seize the right time. David related how he'd once been given the same verse by a variety of people and how this had influenced him and encouraged him.

Andy then mentioned love languages, how we are all different and individually need the right approach. And I commented that indeed we can all see evidence that our father in heaven loves us and treats us all individually according to our needs. We have good reason to be encouraged, he is always ready to touch us and guide us.


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