13 October 2011

SOCIETY - Food for free?

OK, who'd like some free, good quality food? Every year in the autumn there's a plentiful supply of free fruit ready for the taking - and almost nobody wants it or even realises it's edible.

Windfall pearsWalking home this afternoon I spotted an ornamental pear on a housing estate. The grass beneath the tree was strewn with little pears, ripe but only about 5 cm long and 3 or 4 cm in diameter. They will lie there until they rot, or the birds eat them, or they're carted away with the fallen leaves by the local authority.

What a waste! I had an empty shopping bag with me so sorted through them picking out undamaged and unbruised fruit. I imagine I took about a kg of fruit altogether. Back home I gave the pears a good wash and then sliced chunks off vertically, avoiding the cores and rejecting any slices with internal browning. No need to peel them, that would be a tedious job with so many small fruit.


Washed and sliced pearsI filled a medium saucepan with the washed pieces, added some sugar, and stewed them until they were soft; they created a lovely aroma. Then I took them off the heat and pulped them with a blender. Now to taste some. Ah, they had an excellent pear flavour but were distinctly astringent. They would have made good perry, maybe the tree is a perry cultivar or just a seedling from somebody's discarded pear core.

Not to worry, I roughly chopped some dates, stirred them in, and reboiled them for a couple more minutes. I used two or three dates to each tablespoon of pear mash. Check the taste again... Lovely. (Hint: If you find problems of this kind, experiment with small quantities before changing the entire batch.)

The finished crumbleNext I put the fruit in an ovenproof dish and added a crumble topping. I used brown sugar to make the crumble as it has a nice, rich flavour. The finished crumble went into a preheated oven at 180 C, and thirty five minutes later I removed my pear and date dessert from the oven and made a jug of custard. Not exactly free food I suppose, but at least the pears were free. And far more flavour than any pears you could buy at the supermarket.

Some people are anxious about food collected in this way, particularly where wild fruits, leaves or fungi are concerned. Providing you are absolutely certain about the identity of the material there is no need to worry. But please - if you are not sure of what you have - don't eat it.

As far as pears are concerned, the shape of the fruit, its aroma, the slighty gritty flesh, the characteristic leaves, the size and habit of the tree - all these are strong clues to identity. This was a form of Pyrus communis and therefore completely safe.

11 October 2011

THOUGHT - Missing the best

< Building the church | Making things new >

During the 1970s for some time (maybe a year or two) we met with a group of around twenty friends in our homes. The meeting moved from house to house, every week we would collect in a home somewhere - often at our house, Tony and Faith's, or Paul and Jenny's (also close friends). I remember three or four other homes too. We were drawn from a variety of backgrounds, Anglican, Evangelical, Roman Catholic and more.

People at a partyWhenever we met we would pray and sing, praising and worshipping the Father and the Son, feeling the presence of Jesus amongst us, reading the Bible with renewed minds and hearts, and expecting his Spirit to sweep through us releasing us in the use of tongues, interpretation, prophecy, visions and so forth. They were rich times of abundant blessing; we were encouraged and instructed by the Master. We knew that as long as we listened and did as we were told we would stay on track.

Going pear shaped - But eventually tensions and pressures developed and we were drawn in several new directions. We were unable to hold it all together and our focus shifted away from the one thing we had done together to a range of new things that we did separately. Some were drawn into a new home church and others to various larger new ventures further afield.

We had been drawn from many different backgrounds and traditions, gelled as one body for a while, and then were pulled away into myriad other new projects and groups.

Judy and I wanted, I think, to carry on as before - one big happy family of Jesus followers. But soon we were left pretty much isolated and alone. I tried hard to stay in touch with some of the things others were doing but it wasn't the same. I felt I could only take a peripheral and occasional part while Judy really wanted no part of it at all.

I don't think we were alone, I suspect we all wanted to move forward together, and perhaps we all felt we were doing the right thing and just wished the rest would come with us.

With the benefit of hindsight I can see that our focus shifted. We became muddled in our thinking, often following teachings about Jesus instead of following the Teacher himself. It was a trap and we fell right into it! Good teachers have an enormous responsibility to teach wisely (James 3:1).

And it wasn't just us. Others across the nation were being pulled this way and that resulting in many new 'streams' of church life. In some ways these groups have done well and have been mightily used. Our Father is patient and full of grace. But we are further than ever from the goal of one body, one church. There are more divisions now than ever before!

It could happen again - This same trap remains ready and open today wherever people are listening to Yahshua. Stephen Covey once said, 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.' And for us the main thing is listening to the Spirit of Christ and obeying him in everything. The moment we put more store in what is being taught than we do in the Teacher (Jesus), we are undone. And this can happen with the best will in the world, it can happen even while we sincerely believe we are following Jesus most closely.

Don't follow the teaching about Jesus, follow the Teacher who is Jesus! Earnestly and zealously following the teaching has a feeling of holiness about it. But the Son himself is the only one worth following; only he is life and light. He is our bread, our wine, and the very air we breathe. So cling to him and let go of everything else.

What I am not saying - Please don't hear what I am not saying. Some examples may help.

Peter Farmer teaches valuable things about making disciples and planting churches. John White teaches valuable things about listening to one another and to Jesus. Frank Viola teaches valuable things about the nature and history of the church. And of course we could easily extend this list.

All of these teachings are good, all are useful, all are helpful. But they are not the 'main thing'. If any one of them became more central and more important than Yahshua himself it would cease to be useful and instead turn into a burden and a stumbling block.

I'm not saying that such a thing has happened with the teachings of Peter, John or Frank - but I do know that it can happen. It happened all too easily in the late '70s and it could happen again today. We need to guard against that! I think it is a danger that arises every single time there's a fresh move of the Spirit drawing us into another new thing. And make no mistake, that is how Jesus builds his church, restoring one thing after another.

Can you share stories of Jesus building his church? Do you have cautionary tales to tell? If so please leave a comment and/or send me your contact details. Mine are on the 'Chris' page, scroll down part way to find them.

< Building the church | Making things new >

IMAGE - Wind damage

(Click the photo for a larger view)

Wind damaged tree in the Riverside Park - Photo taken 11th October 2011

This willow tree in St Neots Riverside Park succumbed to heavy winds recently. Today is still breezy, but warm. Some trees have already lost their leaves and others are following suit. But the bulk of our trees remain in their summer clothing and many of the plants are still happily flowering even this late into autumn.

Click the 'image' label below to see other image posts.

10 October 2011

Brampton - Stay in the light

< 25th September 2011 | Index | Index | 24th October 2011 >

Wow, what a meeting this was. Sean, me and the Holy Spirit. He swept us along, pouring out so much revelation. A series of disparate words and pictures and Bible passages just came together in the most amazing way.

Light around a cloud
I shared a word at the start. The Lord said, 'If you see a crown, a throne and a sceptre you will know you're in the presence of royalty. Even if you don't see me clearly, you will know I'm present when you see the crown, the throne and the sceptre.

I also told Sean about the picture of the building site (see 'Building the Church'). He said the thing that stood out for him as most important is the fact that we were children. I also thought that anointing is an important concept - Kings are anointed. I opened the Bible to find the passage about Samuel anointing David as king, but opened it initially at 1 Chronicles 11, verses 1 to 9 seemed very relevant.

Sean mentioned that God had told Saul to kill everyone and when Saul failed he said that 'obedience is better than sacrifice'. (1 Samuel 15:22) Saul had been anointed. He was a king although he was not intended to be king. Kings who are not meant to be will always have to give way to the King who is meant to be. This applies to us too, we are not meant to be kings.

It occurred to me that if we begin to behave like adults instead of behaving like little children we'll quickly become the same as Saul and do what is right in our own eyes.

Sean described how he is in the light as long as he is looking at Jesus. But when he looks away he is very quickly back in the dark. We badly need to keep looking at the source of the light.

Then I suddenly realised that Saul of Tarsus had the same name as King Saul. I've always known this of course, but it suddenly seemed very significant. Like King Saul, the young Saul of Tarsus did what he thought was right (and did it very zealously). But, like Sean, he saw the light of Jesus and then he was renamed because 'Saul' was no longer an appropriate name for him.

And then I  began looking for the verses that describe Saul's vision on the Damascus road and stumbled instead on Acts 4:1-22 (and especially verse 11). The Sanhedrin were building in their own light and strength but in doing so they rejected the cornerstone (Yahshua). We so much do not need to be building in our own light and strength!

< 25th September 2011 | Index | 24th October 2011 >

THOUGHT - Building the church

< No earlier items | Missing the best >

I need to share a picture with you, a picture Jesus poured into my heart many, many years ago. This is the right time to share it again, it's been on my mind a lot recently and an item on Ben and Catherine's blog makes me think now is the time.

BricksSome history - Back in the early days, in the mid to late 1970s, Judy and I were particularly close to a couple who lived in the next street, Tony and Faith. We had young children at the time and so did they, it wasn't always easy to get baby sitters, so we worked around it.

I forget how often we met, but it was pretty frequently. One evening Judy would stay at home and I'd walk down to Tony and Faith's for tea or coffee, a chat, and prayer. Next time either Tony or Faith would come to us, then Judy would go to their place and I'd hold the fort at home. Then one of them would come to us. And so it went on.

These were exciting times of revelation and learning; we moved in the newly discovered (by us) gifts of the Spirit, sharing pictures and tongues, interpretation and prophecy, we were earnest and enthusiastic and young.

The picture - One evening when I was at Tony and Faith's I had a picture. I knew it was from the Holy Spirit and I shared it with them then and there. And I shared it with Judy when I returned home. Pictures were not unusual for us, but what I didn't expect was that this picture would remain with me for the rest of my life and that it would be foundational. To this day it still underlies much of my thinking (and doing) so far as church life is concerned.

I became aware that I was a small child and I was with a number of other children on a building site. Looking around there were ruts and tyre marks in the earth, piles of sand and gravel, timber, machinery, scaffolding poles and connectors. These were all around and amongst them were half-built homes and partly made roads.

We were on the building site for one reason only - to play. We collected some bricks from one of the stacks and made little houses with them, a brick for each of the four walls and another one or two for the roof.

We were having fun, imagining tiny people living out their lives in our tiny houses.

But then the builder arrived, I don't know how he came to be there, but in the picture one moment we were on our own and the next moment he was standing quietly looking at us. He wasn't angry, he smiled at us and spoke to us. I shall never forget what he said.

'If you keep scattering the bricks around you will slow me down and get in the way. I am building a real house. You can help me by bringing the bricks to me, and I will build them in the places where they should go.'

Building the church - The meaning is probably as clear to you as it was to me at the time. Our task is to bring people to the builder, living stones that he can use in the structure he is forming. His task is to do the work of building each one in right relationship with the rest.

In other words our task is not to build, but to bring. (See also Ben and Catherine's blog on 'Living Stones').

In the next post I'll explain what followed in the late 1970s. There were fundamental changes and developments that turned out to be part of the path that brought us to where we are today in terms of church life and structure.

< No earlier items | Missing the best >

09 October 2011

I will build my church - INDEX

(See indexes on other topics)

Remains of the TempleJesus told us, 'I will build my church'. What can we learn of this process? Will we take control from him, designing and building a home of our own?

  1. Building the Church - A picture of the builder.
  2. Missing the best - Meeting at home in the 1970s.
  3. Making things new - What does Haggai have to tell us?

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