28 August 2011

FAMILY - Suffolk holiday 2011 - INDEX

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

An old boat on the beach at AldeburghWe had a great week with Debbie, Beth and their families. Ten of us all together again, what fun!

This index will take you to the individual daily posts.




These pages just record what Donna and I did and the places we visited. As usual, we did a lot as a group of ten together but we also did a lot independently as well.

< No earlier items | Index | Cornwall 2011 >

25 August 2011

Eaton Ford - Who do you pray to?

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

We thought about the need to be prepared, and how the good news needs to come with power and deep conviction guided by the Holy Spirit.

Newspapers and magazinesJim mentioned 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 and we thought about the significance of 'the gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction'. Jim went on to ask which Jesus we pray to. He explained that until we can pray to the Jesus on the cross we can't fully comprehend the Jesus that heals, feeds, loves and talks to us.

I had a word from the Spirit. He told me, 'Don't look for mountain top experiences, look for the lowest point in the valley because that's where the living water is.' This was certainly true for Yahshua, it was through the lowest point experience on the cross that the living water was released. And it's true for us as well, as we go through the difficult places we come to recognise and depend upon that living water. Yahshua told the Samaritan woman, 'If you knew who I am you would ask me for living water, if you drink that water you'll never be thirsty again!' (John 4:10-15)

And then Jim added some more thoughts. We are very often destructive as a result of the things we don't do. We are frail, think for example of the Japanese tidal wave, the recent English rioting, the dryness in the lives of so many young people in Britain (one in six teenagers are in neither work nor education). Dry, unfulfilled lives lead to frustration, anger and serious problems). These disasters cause loss of life and ruin to many survivors. The tsunami would have done less harm if adequate defences had been in place, the riots would not have happened if fewer young people had been left without hope or purpose. But lack of knowledge often prevents us being adequately prepared.

We need (and those around us need) the good news that comes with power, the Spirit, and conviction.

< 10th August 2011 | Index | 1st September 2011 >

21 August 2011

THOUGHT - The church is an army

The church is sometimes likened to an army. Armies require leaders, but they also require initiative from the troops.

Second World War German infantryWhen Germany decided to invade France during the Second World War, their mechanised forces and mobile infantry swept across the border and cleared major obstacles like the River Meuse very quickly. The French (and to some degree the British too) responded sluggishly and without flair. Because of this they lost the battle and northern France was quickly occupied.

The underlying reasons are interesting. They are relevant to church life, we can learn something useful from military history.

Organising an army - I've been reading 'The Battle of Britain' by James Holland. He explains that the French system didn't train the troops to use initiative. They were merely expected to obey orders. A plan would be created for the coming battle and orders were passed down the hierarchy. Everyone had detailed instructions to follow.

In contrast the German army gave people objectives and expected them to use whatever method they wished. A small group of infantry might be told to take out a bunker and would decide for themselves how to go about this task using whatever resources were available.

Both methods work well if everything goes to plan. But in battle things rarely go to plan! When it's necessary to respond to a changing situation the German approach works far better than the French system.

Organising the church - In the church, we should expect Jesus to guide us and provide us with objectives. But we should also understand that he expects us to use our initiative. He doesn't want to micromanage us, rather he wants us to become familiar with some guiding principles and use them to achieve the objectives he gives us. The guiding principles include such things as love, gentleness, grace, humility and patience. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of Christ) will show us what needs to be done as and when we need to know. Sometimes his guidance will be very specific, but often he will expect us to achieve an end without giving us the specifics. He uses the two together as required.

For example, 'Make disciples', is a command but we have to work out how to achieve it. Sometimes he might tell us to speak to a particular person or share a particular story or do something practical or pray for healing. But in general we know we need to patiently love and pray people into the Kingdom.

How does this work out in your own experience?

20 August 2011

RESPONSE - The need to listen

Felicity Dale wrote about new wineskins having no value unless there is new wine to put into them.

Tony and Felicity DaleI suggest you read her post in full, I've included some extracts below (FD) as well as extracts from my reply. (CJ).

Jesus said that new wine needs new wineskins (Luke 5:36-40). A new wineskin is only needed if there is new wine. If simple/organic church is like a new wineskin, what is the new wine? Is there something about the life we have together in Christ that needs a new container, that would burst an old wineskin?

Changing the structure of church gains nothing unless it is a response to something that Jesus is doing which wouldn't be easy to contain within the old structures.

Jesus "in the midst" is what church is all about. An individual has Jesus within. Corporately, we have Jesus among us. (FD)

We really do need to listen. We desperately need to listen to one another, and we need to listen to the Holy Spirit even more desperately.

I truly believe lack of listening is one of the stumbling blocks we face in our lives as we work hard to follow Jesus. And that's the problem. We can't follow Jesus by working hard (doing what we think is best) but only by obedience (doing what He thinks is best).

We need to listen first so that we can obey. (CJ)

Here are some take home messages from 'hearing' in meetings. The dated links lead to descriptions of what happened.

This is Felicity's new wine in action, 'something that Jesus is doing which wouldn't be easy to contain within the old structures'. As you read the examples, think very carefully about how church structure (the 'wineskin') might affect the outcome.
  • Father's timing is more important than our timing. (From an informal chat in a cafe, 10th August 2011.)
  • He can nudge us into doing practical things such as giving someone a particular book. Sometimes he may encourage us in what we have heard by things others say or do. (From an informal chat in a cafe, 10th August 2011.)
  • He may give us pictures that make a point clear. (From an informal chat in a cafe, 10th August 2011.)
  • We need to be planted in Jesus, very firmly planted and rooted in him. Obedience will follow without fuss or bother. (An address by an invited speaker at a large camp - Faith '11, 7th August 2011.)
  • Glory is greater than peace. (A meeting of just two people - or three if you count Jesus, 31st March 2011.)
Notice the variety and originality of the Spirit's touch. He may guide us in different ways in a single meeting, and several meeting formats work well for hearing. There is no 'right' way to meet. It's not about methods. He works through traditional and non-traditional church, he only requires that his followers meet and expect him to take charge.

But what about situations where people take charge, what happens then? I think we all know the answer. To a greater or lesser extent the Holy Spirit will be crushed and will let us carry on managing things ourselves. This is the great tragedy of human control in the body.

I used to publish meeting notes quite regularly, more recently I've stopped doing this. Perhaps I might begin doing so again.

(Related post, 'RESPONSE: Are you listening?')

19 August 2011

FAMILY - Ickworth on the way home

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

This was the last day of the holiday and we headed home during the morning. We stopped en route to explore another garden and stately home, Ickworth House.

Part of Ickworth House against a summer skyIckworth is a grand house surrounded by magnificent woodland and a series of small, concealed gardens. It was never enjoyed by its eccentric builder as he didn't live to see it finished. The house is circular and has a massive dome. There are long, curved wings on either side intended to hold collections of art.

It's a quirky home and we thought the gardens were disappointing. They are small and limited in scope. But the parkland near the house has some fine clipped yew and box. We strolled through the orangery and ate a packed lunch on a bench in the park.

Then finally, on towards home via the A14 and A428 - familiar roads and countryside.

< Crabbing and friends | Index | No later items >

18 August 2011

FAMILY - Catching crabs and time with friends

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

Today was the last full day of the holiday. We visited Walberswick (famous for crabbing), met some old friends, and spent some time in the evening tidying and packing for the journey home.

Crabs caught by the grandchildrenWe spent the morning at the delightful village of Walberswick catching crabs and drinking take-away coffee and tea from the cafe on the pretty village green.

Steve, Debbie, Aidan and Sara caught 14 crabs from the beach car park, later Beth, Paz, Meredith and Verity caught some more from the river car park.

Our friends Ken and Gayna joined us between the two crabbing events and met the family, we haven't seen them for ages and it was great to spend time with them. We left the crabbers and took the rowing boat ferry across the river with Ken and Gayna for some excellent fish and chips - the first cod I've eaten for many years!

At Walberswick with Ken and GaynaWe ordered at the counter and then ate the food in the little restaurant, the entrance door is locked and has to be released by the guy behind the counter to let customers through. This seems a rather quaint idea but presumably stops hordes of non-customers trooping in and out to use the chip shop's loos.

By the time we arrived back on the north bank the others had left and we continued to Ken and Gayna's home in Yoxford and spent the afternoon chatting. Church life was the main topic of conversation. Ken has stepped back from managing the church's small groups and they're waiting to see what happens next. They're quite interested in SASHET so I need to go and visit them to spend more time explaining CO2 and answering any questions.

Back at home we enjoyed a relaxed evening and did a bit of tidying up and packing, ready for the departure tomorrow.

< Garden, castle, film | Index | Ickworth House >

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