14 October 2010

Eaton Ford - Sharing a meal

Tonight we had decided to simply share a meal together, there was no plan beyond that.

Makizushi (rolled sushi)We met at our house, Donna and me, Jim, Pam, Sean, and Joe. Sean had prepared some sushi (fish free as he knew I wouldn't have liked that). Pam's reaction when we talked about it showed that she didn't much like the sound of raw fish either! We followed it with jacket potatoes, vegetable chilli, beef chilli, and salad. Jim had brought an amazing pear and chocolate dessert.

It was enjoyable, fun to chat and good to eat together, but the conversation was centred mainly on events at Cornerstone. It's not surprising as most of us are involved with the shop in one way or another! There's a lot to talk about.

We're feeling our way with this and the conversation was different from our previous meetings when we haven't shared a meal. I'm keen to persevere, I have the sense it's important.

12 October 2010

Brampton - The King or the King's book?

Sean and I met for coffee and a chat, we talked about life and some people we feel led to spend a little time with. Then we prayed briefly and devoted the rest of the evening to reading Galatians 1 and discussing our thoughts about it. Some of my main impressions follow.

Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the UKPaul sets out, right at the beginning, by stating clearly that he was not sent from or by any man, but by Yahshua the Messiah and by the Father who raised him from the dead. And as usual, the letter is not just from Paul but also from the the other believers who are with him.

In verses 3-5 he provides a miniature recap of the gospel message, wrapped up in just a brief sentence. It's as if he wants to remind the Galatians right from the start that they're here by grace alone, rescued by Christ.

He writes that he is 'astonished' that they are already turning to a different 'gospel'. They've been confused by wrong teaching. Paul doesn't want them to remain confused so he explains in verse 11 that he didn't just make it all up, nor was he taught it by others, but he received it as a revelation from the Messiah.

Thinking about this it seems extraordinary that this Paul, this persecutor of the church, should have had such a powerful experience on the Damascus road that he has turned from his previous passion (legalistic Judaism) and has moved to something completely different. And of course it is extraordinary but we often miss the contrast because we are so familiar with Paul's letters that we forget how much he had changed.

It would be a complete and unexpected transformation, a little like the present Chief Rabbi suddenly having a revelation about Yahshua and, without hearing it from other people first, beginning to teach this new way. We expect that every kind of knowledge must be imparted by logical persuasion and by eloquent argument. Not so!

And Paul gives them the full story, perhaps to back up his earlier claim that he received his revelation direct from Yahshua, not by teaching from the Jerusalem church. It's a story that continues into chapter 2.

We thought how the truth comes from the source, who is Christ. Yes, it also comes through the Bible, but the Bible is not the source any more than the apostles in Jerusalem were the source. They (and Paul) wrote the New Testament so the revelation they received from Yahshua that enabled them to write must itself be more fundamental than the words they wrote.

The Bible matters to us and is important because it is our source of information about Jesus and the early church. We dare not ignore it. But knowing Jesus personally is much more important than knowing the writings about him. Walking with him daily is more important than reading the New Testament daily. Hearing and obeying him is more fundamental to our lives than following even the best traditions and habits. Everything we can plan and do is dead works, we must 'seek first the Kingdom' trusting that everything we need (including guidance) will be added in as part of the package!

ENVIRONMENT - The cost of damage

This article from the BBC News website spells it out pretty clearly. Environmental damage comes with a heavy price ticket, but the underlying and far bigger issue isn't mentioned. Because our population is way more than the planet can support (and still growing rapidly) it may not be possible to chart a way out of the mess we have created. We have left it far too late.

BBC article on the cost of environmental damageBut it's encouraging that a major news provider is publishing an article like this one. At last, after many decades of warnings from the scientists there is growing evidence that the media, governments, and businesses are beginning to accept that we really do have a problem.

Of course there are useful things we can do. We have already started to do some of them (renewable energy, fishing quotas, emission controls, banning persistent pesticides, and much more). But we are in a phase of the human story where improvements are becoming harder and more costly to achieve while the costs of not making those improvements is also rising rapidly. And I don't mean financial costs alone, but costs in terms of living standards, health, and human safety.

The first step towards any hope of recovery is to recognise that we have a problem. It's becoming clear that at last we're taking that step. Now we're in the phase of broadening and deepening our understanding of the issues we face. That, at least, is good news.

See also: Biology and the economy, Climate change - an update, Nitrogen trifluoride - should we be concerned?

10 October 2010

NEWS - Simplechurch.co.uk and more

This time there's an item about a new UK website for those interested in simple, organic forms of church, as well as the usual roundup of other items of news.A megaphone
  • Simplechurch.co.uk - This new website takes over from Alex Campbell's earlier version using the same URL. It also acts as the replacement for the Newforms site which is no longer in use. Visit the site for news, articles, and a growing list of groups and contacts in the UK.

  • Interview with Paul Young - Premier Christian Radio interviews the author of 'The Shack'. The session is interspersed with phone in comments from listeners with stories of how the book has affected them. If you want more detail listen to the fourth item listed in my post about Drew Marshall a couple of years ago.

  • Spring of Hope - This charity working with children and parents in Uganda is doing a wonderful job. I know the young woman who started and continues with this work, and I know her parents who support her from the UK. They are making a real difference. Catch up with their news and find out more about what they do.

  • House2House - This time Tony and Felicity write about church as they found it in Myanmar and Nepal. There are also short items and links about structure, resources and stories.

08 October 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - New skins for new wine

Paul and I met at his home and enjoyed a great mix of talking, thought and prayer for friends and family, and Bible study. We're picking up in Mark's gospel where we left off back in the spring.

We read Mark 2:13-22, here are some of the main things we thought about together.

A man carrying a wineskinThere seems to be evidence here that Yahshua didn't plan what he did in quite the way we might do. It seems much more likely that he was just responding to his Father's guidance on a moment by moment basis. He went out for a walk by the lake and people gathered there, so he started teaching them. Then, still walking along, he spotted Levi at work. He called him to follow - and Levi did. He must have left the tax booth with the money and equipment - and just walked away!

Levi clearly invited him for dinner that evening, and Jesus went!

Doesn't he call us to live the same way, not planning but listening? He wants us to say what he says, and do what he does. He wants us to pay attention to him and then live his life in the world day after day. He wants to live inside us so that our words will be his words and our actions his actions. He wants the world to know him by seeing and hearing us! That is awesome!

The Pharisees asked Yahshua's disciples, 'Why does he eat with people who do wrong?' They thought that living according to rules would make them righteous and acceptable to the Almighty. But Jesus tells them that he came for sinners, not for the righteous.

The fast referred to would have been a religious festival and the righteous were certainly expected to adhere to it. It would have been like Ramadan for the Muslims, failing to take part would show contempt for the accepted religion. In that case, why were Yahshua's followers not taking part?

His answer must have been perplexing. He refers to himself as the bridegroom. Perhaps they wondered if he was going to get married!

Verses 21 and 22 are fascinating. Yahshua mentions an old garment and old wineskins. Surely he's referring to the rules of the Pharisees, the idea of fasting because it's customary, the need to avoid eating with sinners. These old patterns of behaviour will be utterly ruined and broken by the new thing that Jesus is ushering in! He's turning the world upside down.

The old rules no longer apply. For example, it's no longer enough to use a ritually cleaned cup to avoid defiling yourself; from now on the words that come out of a person's mouth will determine whether they are holy or profane.

07 October 2010

Watton at Stone - Doing battle

It was an exciting evening. Jim had offered to drive and as I walked towards his house I fell heavily on the paving. I have two minor bruises to show for it, but nothing more serious. Perhaps someone didn't want me visiting Watton this evening.

Mediaeval knights joustingJim drove down to The Bull at Watton at Stone and David arrived soon after we did. A round of drinks started the proceedings and we chatted about events in our lives.

We also discussed the world's way of doing things as opposed to the Kingdom way. It's not that we need to make a better job of living according to the world. We actually need to live according to the Kingdom instead. Of course the world doesn't like this! The systems that the prince of darkness has put in place are bitterly opposed to all that is good or true or right.

What does it mean to turn the other cheek, or go the extra mile? How do we fight evil with good? How do we love our enemies? We touched on some of these issues and we also gave some thought to the need to obey Father in the moment. David and I shared some things from 'The Grace Outpouring', especially a story about a young American who, having met with Christ, immediately and simply began obeying him.

We invited David and Heather to join us for a meal next Thursday with Jim's family, Sean's family, and mine.

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