30 December 2010

RESPONSE - I'm not that Chris Jefferies

There have been almost 2000 hits on this website so far today. The normal pattern runs at around 100 to 150 visits per week, not high by any means but quite steady. So what is going on?

A graph of today's hits on this websiteMost of my visitors come from the UK with the USA in second place, the remainder are mainly from other European countries with a scattering from other parts of the world. But 2000 in one day?

It's all because of the arrest of another Chris Jefferies, the landlord of Jo Yeates who was so tragically murdered before Christmas. The big increase in hits is down to people searching online for the term "Chris Jefferies" and clicking through to my website.

Other people with my name will have found the same thing! Here's a blog post by a Chris who lives in London.

What else is there to say?

I lived in Bristol from 1970 until 1975. I worked at Long Ashton Research Station for more than 25 years. I know the area well and that makes it all so much more real to me. I had no idea that another Chris Jefferies lived in the area!

I can't end this without saying how much I feel for the family and friends of Jo, particularly her parents, David and Teresa, her brother Chris, and her partner Greg. There's nothing I can do for them other than pray that they will eventually come through the pain and distress. But first they will have to endure the unwanted attention the case will bring, the inevitable intrusions by reporters, and the constant question, 'Why did this happen to our Jo?'. My heart goes out to them.

I know they will be supporting one another at this dreadful time. I'm praying that as they do so they will also sense a much deeper support. The question, 'If there is a God, how can he allow things like this to happen?' is perfectly reasonable. A lifetime is not long enough to fully comprehend his nature, but I will always cling to the knowledge that his heart is to love and that he is as sorrowful and angry as we are about events like this. I hope they will (eventually) be able to understand that too.

I so feel for them. How I wish I could help.


2 comments:


Liz said...
Dear Mr. Jefferies, I am one of those people who found my way here due to that other Chris Jeffries! But I am so glad I did. I've been captivated by your blog for the last hour. I've been so uplifted and so needed to be. Thank you very much for your beautiful words. You have a truly wonderful gift. All the best, Liz
Chris said...
Hi Liz, I have no idea if you will read this, but I wanted to say, 'Thanks', for your kind and encouraging words. Kind regards from St Neots to wherever you may be! Chris

RESPONSE - HalleluYah!

This must have been quite a surprise for people grabbing lunch in a busy shopping mall. If you haven't already seen it I won't spoil the fun - just view the recording...



However, I do want to respond. Things like this always produce opportunities and it's a shame if they're missed. If you'd been there what would you have said to a friend or stranger sitting nearby? All too often I can't think of anything, but this would surely have been a great opportunity.

One person I know is good at creating opportunities of this kind and he's also good at using them effectively for life-changing conversation. Take a look at Chris Duffett's blog and read about some of his adventures in market places and malls. Dressing as an angel and handing out tea lights with 'You are Loved' written on them, using scrap doors to allow people to paint whatever they like into heart outlines.

On the face of it these are zany things to do. But they have a way of getting under people's radar. Most of the time we live alone in a busy world. We have things to do and we don't want to interact with the vast sea of humanity that surrounds us. Try having a conversation with the person sitting or standing next to you on the London Underground and you'll soon see what I mean!

But when something unusual happens people become more willing to communicate - temporarily. Let's not waste these opportunities to share life with others. It may not seem significant, yet these moments of contact and connection are so very precious.

TECHNOLOGY - Writing on a hair

Nottingham University's Nanotechnology Centre are used to viewing and manipulating very small items. Prof Poliakoff

When it came to finding a birthday present for the Professor of Chemistry, they took a hair from his head (he has plenty to spare), wrote a copy of the periodic table onto it using a beam of gallium ions, and handed it to him in a sample tube.

The video shows the entire process and is entertaining to watch.

22 December 2010

St Neots (Cornerstone) - Being in the right place

Tonight we met at Cornerstone as there was a group using the Meeting Room and I had agreed to open the shop and lock up afterwards. We spent some time over coffee talking about the year ahead.

David Wilkerson TodayJim told us about a Derek Prince book* he's been reading about prayer and fasting, and he shared some of his thoughts about it and how it had impacted him. We prayed together for Father to have his way in our lives - the things we feel we should do, things he has for us that he has not yet shown us, as well as projects, ideas, and possible new openings we can see.

I had a picture of a waterfall coming over a cliff. It was not a particularly large waterfall (not a Niagara Falls, more like a large brook shooting over the cliff edge). But it was a very high waterfall. And the Lord told me that if we stand in front of it we can see it but we won't get wet, and if we stand behind it (between the waterfall and the cliff) we'll see it and hear it but we still won't get wet.

But if we stand in the right place we will be drenched by the water. This is what Father wants us to do, to stand in the place where the water falls and to be truly affected by it.

Sean explained that the picture confirmed for him something he had read in a David Wilkerson blog post, 'Undefiled in the Midst of Wickedness'. Like Daniel and his companions, we need to stand in the right place, a place of purity. 'Seek first the Kingdom of the Most High, and all these other things will be added.'

Sean followed up this meeting with an email to Jim and me pointing us to another David Wilkerson item and commenting that it chimed well with some things Jim had mentioned.

Isn't it encouraging when things come together and link like that!

* If you live in the St Neots area you can buy a copy of this book from Cornerstone.

19 December 2010

FAMILY - Visiting York

Today we planned to drive north to visit my daughters and our grandchildren. We set out laden with Christmas presents. We knew that once we reached the A1 about a mile from our house things would improve. The weather forecast was for no more snow today or indeed tomorrow, so we were pretty confident of making it there and back.

Opening Christmas presentsSure enough, by the time we reached Peterborough the roads were clear. Apart from some light frost there were no problems and traffic was running freely.

As we walked up the garden path at Beth and Paz's house an excited Aidan ran to see us and instead of 'Hello Grandpa' he jumped up and down and said, 'Which one's mine Grandpa?' At four and a half one's priorities are always clear!

Verity, Beth and AidanPaz fed us a marvellous lunch of sausages, lentil bake, home made bread, olives, and a great deal more. It was fun to sit around the two tables pushed together - ten of us all told - and eat and chat and laugh together. Life at its best and fullest - family life.

After lunch of course it was time to exchange and open presents (the younger ones thought the presents should have taken precedence over the meal!)

Paz and SarahWe spent the entire afternoon exchanging news, playing with railway tracks and trains on the floor, assembling Playmobil ambulances, and having enormous fun.

All too quickly our time ran out and we set off for the trip home, two and a half hours of clear roads again until we were about a mile from home, then the snowy roads of Eaton Ford back to our house. We were tired but happy. It had been a really good day.

15 December 2010

THOUGHT - The fulfilment of the law

< What is the greatest gift? | The Essay | Love and other things >

This is the second post in the series on Henry Drummond's essay on love. He has established that love has a good claim to be the greatest thing there is, now he sets out to show how it fulfils Old Testament law.

Florence Nightingale helping the woundedHe begins by quoting Paul from Romans and asking us what we think Paul meant. Then he sets out to answer his own question.

Paul makes a deeply significant remark elsewhere, “Love is the fulfilment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10). Have you ever wondered what he meant? In those days people worked their passage to heaven by keeping the ten commandments (and the hundred and ten other commandments which they had made from them). But Christ came and said, “I will show you a simpler way. If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will unconsciously fulfil the entire law.” (For example, Matthew 22:37-40).

Drummond shows clearly that not only did Paul make this claim, so too did Jesus himself. The reference to the 110 other commandments is to the rules created by the teachers of the Law as fences. The idea was that because (for example) the Law says it is wrong to boil a calf in its mother's milk, to avoid all risk of a piece of meat coming in contact with a piece of cheese that might inadvertantly have been made from the mother's milk, a house must have two kitchens - one for milk products and the other for meat. In this way the risk of breaking that particular law would be greatly reduced.

Next, Henry Drummond provides some examples of how exactly love can cause the law to be fulfilled. He demonstrates its truth for the Almighty and then also for the people we meet in our lives.

It's easy to see why this is true. Take any of the commandments, for example, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3). If a person loves God you won't need to remind them of that. Love fulfils that law. “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:7). Would anyone dream of misusing his name if they loved him? “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). Wouldn't anyone be glad to have one day in seven to dedicate more fully to the one they love? Love fulfils all these laws regarding God.

In just the same way, if someone loves other people there would be no need to remind them to honour their parents, they could do nothing less! It would be preposterous to tell them not to kill. And suggesting they should not steal would be to insult them – how could they steal from people they love? What point would there be in persuading them not to bear false witness. That's the last thing they'd do to those they love. You'd never think to press such a person to avoid envying their neighbour's possessions. They'd prefer the neighbour to have them anyway! And that is how “love is the fulfilment of the law”. It's the one rule for fulfilling all rules, the one new command for meeting all the old commandments, Christ's one secret of the Christian life.

And finally Henry Drummond sets the scene for the rest of his essay. He shows that 1 Corinthians 13 falls into three natural parts. He lists them here before launching into a treatment of each one.

Paul understood the secret clearly and in this wonderful chapter he's given us the best existing description of the Greatest Good. It can be divided into three parts. In verses 1-3 he contrasts love with other great things, in verses 4-7 he analyses its components, and in verses 8-13 he defends love as the greatest gift.

Henry Drummond is surely right. If love was always central in my heart it would always be central in my actions too. There's a certain inevitability about that.

< What is the greatest gift? | The Essay | Love and other things >

13 December 2010

SOCIETY - The London protests

The recent riots in London are troubling. Things like this don't often happen in the UK, we think of violence on the streets as something that happens far away. We pride ourselves on the fact that British police don't need to carry handguns. So what went wrong?

Riots in LondonThe Big Picture has some clear images of the trouble. Both protesters and police suffered some injuries and there will be inquiries to clarify how these happened.

The cause of the rioting is widely supposed to be student unrest concerning a recent House of Commons vote agreeing to increases in university tuition fees. But more than 99.9% of students were not present at the rallies in London and the great majority of those that were marched and protested peacefully.

It seems certain that small, organised groups joined the student marches with the express purpose of stirring up violence. It reminds me of the violent clashes at football matches, political demonstrations, industrial disputes and more.

There is no excuse for violence. It's not a valid way to express a point of view. It contradicts the teachings of all the world's major religions, the moral convictions of most agnostics and atheists, as well as the laws of most of the world's national governments and the views of international organisations. By definition, violence is intended to harm people. And the overwhelming majority of people are opposed to it.

The difficulty we face is what to do about it. We can hardly just let the law be flouted, but meeting force with force is a last resort and is likely to lead to greater violence, at least in the short term.

As someone who wishes to follow Jesus I can only listen to what he says and do what he does. He tells me to love my enemies. He rebuked Peter for trying to protect him with a sword. He is the Prince of Peace. He came to heal and mend. He offers wholeness in place of injury and life in place of death.

Perhaps we need to begin in the places where we live. Just imagine if for every theft or burglary, and for every act of violence, a hundred people came forward to offer help, to restore broken or lost property, to act as counsellors for grieving relatives and support for the injured. Suppose we offered to help the injured policeman and the injured rioter without making judgements or distinctions. Offering help doesn't imply approval or disapproval, it's just help where help is needed, help to innocent and guilty alike.

(Related post, 'SOCIETY - Riots in the Cities')

12 December 2010

THOUGHT - What is the greatest gift to grasp?

< No earler items | The Essay | The fulfilment of the law >

In 1884, Henry Drummond wrote an essay on love called 'The Greatest Thing in the World'. It is so good that I felt I should translate it from the original Victorian English into today's English so that it will accessible to more people.

Henry DrummondI have published the essay online, but I'm also making it available as a series of articles here. This is the first.

I'll begin by quoting a section of the modern version and then add some thoughts of my own.

Please consider writing a comment, I'm interested to know what you think.

Every one has asked themselves the great question of past ages and of today: What is the greatest good? You have life ahead of you but you can only live it once. What is the noblest thing to have, the greatest gift to grasp?

We're used to being told that the greatest thing in the religious world is Faith. That great word has been key for centuries in mainstream church and without a thought we've considered it to be the greatest thing in the world. Well, we're wrong! If we've been told that, we risk missing the truth. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul takes us to Christianity at its source and we read, "The greatest of these is love." (verse 13)

It's not an oversight. Paul has only just mentioned faith. He writes, “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (verse 2) Far from forgetting, he deliberately contrasts them, “These three remain: faith, hope and love,” and without a moment's hesitation he makes his choice, “But the greatest of these is Love.”

Nor is it prejudice. We tend to recommend our own strengths to others, but love wasn't Paul's strong point. We can see a beautiful tenderness growing and ripening throughout his character as Paul grows old; but the hand that wrote, “The greatest of these is love,” was originally blood stained.

Nor is this letter to the Corinthians unique in singling out love as the greatest good. Other New Testament authors agree. Peter writes, “Above all, love each other deeply.” (1 Peter 4:8). Above all. And John goes even further, “God is love.” (1 John 4:8).

Drummond wants to know what the greatest thing in the world is. He has really thought it through and wants to challenge others to ask the question for themselves. This essay began life as an impromptu address at a country retreat, sitting in front of the fire.

The famous evangelist, D L Moody, had been asked to speak but he was tired and suggested Henry Drummond might take his place. And Drummond's words were so beautiful and striking that Moody wanted to use the address in his Bible Schools.

Notice how Henry Drummond begins. He argues that if you want to live life well you'd better make some wise choices. And then he points out how many make the mistake of thinking faith is the greatest thing (and therefore the thing to seek). What other things do followers of Jesus mistakenly put first today? Might they include right doctrine, and tithing, and high moral standards? These are not wrong in themselves but they are not where our hearts should be focussed.

Drummond's message is just as relevant today. Seek first the Kingdom, seek to be close to Jesus who is love made real in a person. Paul writes that love is greater than faith or hope and Drummond sets out to show that Paul is not writing out of prejudice or carelessness and that other New testament authors agree with him. Right here at the start of his essay he has laid the foundations. Love is the greatest thing - or as Drummond puts it, the 'Summum bonum'.

< No earler items | The Essay | The fulfilment of the law >

09 December 2010

TECHNOLOGY - SpaceX, another first

It was a privilege to be able to watch SpaceX's live webcast of the launch of their first Dragon capsule. This is a unique achievement, it's the first time a private company has put a spacecraft into orbit and safely returned it to earth.

Launch of Falcon 9 and Dragon, 8th December 2010The icing on the cake is that they also manoevered Dragon while in orbit, testing some of the moves that will be required to dock with the International Space Station (ISS). But why is all this such a great thing?

Let me explain. The human race undoubtedly has a built-in urge to explore and try out new things. We might have different views on the reason for this, and some might argue that space exploration is far too expensive to justify. But for whatever reason people have a built-in desire to explore beyond the boundaries, to go further than before, to see and understand new things.

01 December 2010

FAMILY - Holiday in Gran Canaria

Donna and I enjoyed a week in Gran Canaria. It was unexpectedly extended by two days as a result of a strike by Spanish air traffic controllers! The weather was variable, but warm, we loved our hotel, and there was plenty to see and do.

(You can click the images for larger versions and there's a separate picture gallery with more photos. Hint: from the gallery you can use the slideshow button at top-right.)

A frozen English landscapeDay One - 27th November - We flew out from Birmingham Airport. The four and a half hour flight was uneventful with views of the frozen English countryside on the way followed by cloudy conditions for the most of the journey. We did have some clear views of the lights on the south-east coast of the island as we approached the airport.

It was wonderful to leave the plane and feel the warm climate. We looked forward to a week of pleasant weather, no shivering, and no need for more than shorts and T-shirt.

Day Two - 28th November - We were staying at Marina Suites in the town of Puerto Rico. When we looked out of our window in the morning there were large puddles everywhere and the sky was grey. It was warm, but jeans and a fleece seemed more appropriate than the expected shorts and T-shirt!

View of the marina from our balconyWe weren't too troubled, we wanted to rest after our journey so we spent most of our time exploring the hotel and the local area (including the Marina), reading, and visiting the local supermarket to stock up with food.

The self-catering apartment where we were staying had a fridge and simple cooking facilities. A nice cup of tea came quite high on our list of priorities.

Day Three - 29th November - We had some torrential rain today, and I do mean absolutely torrential. Stall holders were racing to get their stock inside, cars were throwing up walls of water as they drove by, and we were completely stuck in the little holiday shop where we had been when the rain began.

Lights reflected in the water of the marinaFortunately the rain came as showers so after half an hour or so we were able to head back to the apartment before the next one hit. Puerto Rico is built around a ravine which is completely dry most of the year in this sem-desert climate. But it quickly became a very active little river again following the heavy rain.

Back at the apartment we returned to reading and chilling out, much easier now as we had bought two mugs in the town. Cups are way too small for a decent brew of tea.

As night fell the weather improved and the view from the balcony was beautiful with sparkling lights reflected in the water.

Day Four - 30th November - The weather began to improve markedly today. We had plenty of bright sunshine but there were still some heavy clouds around sweeping in across the ocean from the south-west. Black clouds on a sunny dayThe picture shows the arid hills with holiday homes and hotels and their irrigated trees (the natural coastal vegetation is scrubby bush with large bare areas of baked rock and stone).

We were able to explore the local area more thoroughly on foot today. We arranged to hire a car for the remainder of our stay so that we could explore a bit further afield.

Day Five - 1st December - I picked up the car first thing in the morning and then drove back to the hotel to collect Donna. Looking back from the foothillsWe had decided to head inland and visit the mountains. Although the coastal parts of Gran Canaria are used mainly for tourism, the inland parts have a more temperate and moist climate and are used mainly for agriculture.

We headed south-east along the coast to Maspalomas and then used the GC-60 north to the centre of the island. The rock and scrub gradually changed to Opuntia and dry grass, then eventually to occasional palms and finally pine trees.

Donna in San BartoloméOn the way we passed the small settlements of Artedara, Fataga, and eventually San Bartolomé de Tirajana where we stopped for lunch (Canarian potatoes are very good!). Little in the way of tourist hotels here, and there are some genuinely old, Spanish buildings. Glorious mountain sceneryThese are absolutely beautiful places and we saw some lovely mountain scenery.

Heading on again we visited the cross at Tejeda and then drove to the highest point on the island, Pico de Las Nieves (1949 m above sea level). Pico de Teide 125 km away on TenerifeThe views from here were awesome as we were above the cloud tops and could see Mount Teide on the neighbouring island of Tenerife, about 125 km away!

The journey back home took us east on the GC-130 and GC-120 through Pasadilla and then the GC-196 back to the east coast motorway (the GC-1). There were more spectacular views on the way.

To be continued...

10 November 2010

THOUGHT - A wind-up torch

Who wants to keep on buying batteries? A wind-up torch can be used indefinitely providing it is wound from time to time. Are you a wind-up torch?

A wind-up torchI was just sitting here quietly this evening, relaxing briefly after a busy day. Into my mind came a clear picture of a wind-up torch, the green one we keep in the cupboard in the kitchen.

And I thought how we wind the torch and it stores the energy, and then we can get that energy out again in the form of light. As I paid attention to the thought a little parable formed in my mind.

There was a wind-up torch that hadn't been used, any energy it had when it was first made had long since dissipated. One day the torch's owner needed light to shine into a dark place. He took out the torch and pressed the switch, but no light shone out. No matter how often he pressed the switch, no matter how long or how hard he pressed, there was no light.

The owner wound the handle vigorously for a minute or two and then tried again. This time a powerful beam shone from the torch and filled the dark place.

People are like wind-up torches. You are a wind-up torch. We were made to contain the energy of our active and powerful King. But if there is no energy inside you, you cannot work.

When the Master wants to shine light into the dark recesses of a person's heart, he often calls a servant and commands light to pour out so that he can direct it at the dark place. But light will only shine if the servant is filled with energy.

If the servant lacks energy, the Master can provide it. Then the servant will pour out the true light of the world (Jesus) into the places that are dark.

The place where you live or work is filled with people who are in the dark, people who know little or nothing about Jesus Christ. When he chooses to use you to shine his light into the darkness, he needs to know that you can draw upon his energy stored within you. Lack of energy isn't a problem to him, he can always add more energy if you have run short. He can act in your life to add energy at any time.

When you contain his energy he can use it to shine light into the lives of those around you. He knows where the dark places are, he will point your beam in the right direction. It will be his light going out to dispel the darkness, not yours.

What can we learn from this story? There are probably several lessons, I'll pick 'Be careful who you allow to wind you up' :-) Please use the comment option to add some ideas of your own.

  • Is this parable useful?
  • What particular lesson does it teach you?
  • When you run out of energy, where do you usually go to find more?

REVIEW - The Jesus Virus

The Jesus Virus is a blog by Ross Rohde about planting small, organic churches. I've just read his latest post 'Another Story from the Harvest' and once again I really like what I read. I'm recommending this post and indeed the entire blog because it's full of life and energy and it reports real events as they happen. I think anyone who follows Jesus will find Ross's posts encouraging and enlightening.

The Jesus VirusIn 'Another Story from the Harvest', Ross explains how things don't always go the way we expect. It's clear that we need to be wary of pattern and methods - certainly in the sense that they may sometimes go against the things that Jesus really wants to do in a situation.

Ross provides a recent example of this. Best to go and read it for yourself!

Ross's blog is not like anything else I've come across. It's very matter of fact, thought provoking, and full of stories about real people. There are so many sites out there that are essentially teaching a doctrine or a method or inviting us to join them in what they are doing.

But this site draws readers into the excitement about what Jesus is doing, and then encourages them to taste and see for themselves. Ross knows that for the church to grow, Jesus must do the building as he promised he would. That means I (and you) must get out of his way. I can add nothing to the work he is doing. If I won't do what he tells me I will not become part of his work. If I do what I judge to be good in my own eyes I will probably hinder his work by acting against him.

09 November 2010

Meeting Ben Taylor from Somerton

Today Ben Taylor visited me from Somerton in the West Country. It was good to have the afternoon together before he left to spend some time with another friend in Great Gransden.

Autumn in the Riverside ParkI originally met Ben and Cath at a meeting in Chepstow. Ben came on his own this time and we walked down to Cornerstone through the Riverside Park as the weather was fine. When we arrived Jim was there and he sat with us for a while, the conversation was good. How encouraging it is to spend time comparing notes with others on similar journeys!

Ben shared a picture of a bee's sting, and he told me that the Lord would use me to soothe and heal people who'd been 'stung' or hurt in various ways. This is most certainly accurate.

We discovered we have a lot in common. We both come from a Plymouth Brethren background, we have both been led out of more structured forms of church life and are now trying to reach people in a variety of everyday situations.

I've put Ben and Cath in touch with my friends in North Somerset, and Ben tells me he's also kept in touch with Mark in South Wales.

FAMILY - Fireworks and soup

Donna and I travelled up to York to see Debbie and Steve, Beth and Paz, and their families. We joined them at Thorganby for the fireworks on Saturday 6th, and then had lunch in Fulford on 7th before travelling home.

The Thorganby bonfireIt's always good to see the grandchildren! I discovered that Aidan is almost too large to carry on my shoulders now, but he still likes us to read stories. Aidan and Meredith are both getting rather good at writing their names, while Sara and Verity are too small for that. Sara is getting to grips with conversation and Verity is, in her Mum's words, 'a poppet'.

The weather seemed too warm for fireworks, Debbie and Donna swinging SaraBonfire Night is normally much colder in my memory. The bonfire was huge with flames leaping to perhaps seven metres or so. And the fireworks were magnificent, quite a grand display for a small village.

We stayed the night at Debbie and Steve's and then had a walk in the autumn countryside after breakfast. This was followed by a lunchtime feast at Beth and Paz's. Paz had made an awesome soup, a sort of thicker version of minestrone crammed with all sorts of good things. Perhaps we should name it Pazestrone Soup!

05 November 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Psalm 66

There were three of us this morning, Paul, Roger and me. We worked through SASHET (CO2) together and discussed the value of the Virkler component.

Psalm 66We talked and prayed for a while about a friend's forthcoming court case. It's about a very minor offence caused, not deliberately, but by mistake - if indeed the law was broken at all. But the anxiety and emotional strain being caused far outweighs any penalty that might be imposed. Everything seems to be out of balance, things have blown out of proportion. The distress, however, is very real.

Roger read Psalm 66 which is full of praise and worship. It lifted my spirits for sure! HalleluYah!

THOUGHT - This, not that

I responded to a post on 'Simply Church' a few days ago, the post had piqued my interest for two reasons. Firstly, the topic being dealt with has been in my mind a lot recently, and secondly it reminded me of the meetings we used to have in the 1970s.

The 'Simply Church' blogAs I started to write I felt the Holy Spirit taking charge of my thoughts and the words just flowed. That's always a good sign!

The 'Simply Church' post was called 'Who is in control when we gather?'. Follow the link to see the original post and the comments. I duly sent off my response and later had an interesting reply by email. As I wrote back the Holy Spirit took control again and words appeared almost without any effort on my part.

The Spirit is always ready to lead us if we will just let him. But first we need to turn to focus fully on Christ. The Holy Spirit is after all the Spirit of Christ, he is Christ in us (the hope of glory)! (Colossians 1:27) When Jesus is full and central in our hearts and minds then we may begin to see what he is doing and hear what he is saying. He reveals the father to us (John 14:7) so that we can shout out Abba (Daddy) (Romans 8:15) and run to him with arms outstretched knowing he will pick us up and whirl us around.

Jesus said, 'I only do what I see the Father do (John 5:19), I only say what I hear him say (John 12:49-50).' Frankly, if that was good enough for him it should certainly be good enough for us. We really do need to stop what we are doing, keep quiet, watch and listen, and then do and say the things we are shown.

As I wrote he gave me a list of short phrases along the lines of 'this, not that'. The more I think about them the more helpful they seem to be. In particular they are challenging me and reminding me, not my way Lord but yours, not my will Lord but yours, not my words Lord but yours. I'll just list them below, then expand one or two of them.

  • Life, not structures
  • People, not things
  • Community, not organisation
  • The Spirit of Christ, not our own reasoning
  • Love, not deeds
  • Stillness, not busyness
  • Hope, not despair
  • Acceptance, not rejection
  • Grace, not offendedness
  • Gentleness, not strength
  • Service, not leadership

It's a list that could go on and on and on. Those things are not really opposites, some of them are but it's not as simple as that. For example, the opposite of life is death, not structures. But structures are apt to cause a sort of death or at least a paralysis.

There is no real opposite to the concept of 'People', and if there was it wouldn't be 'things'. But the things in our lives sometimes prevent us reaching and touching the people around us. This is especially true for the precious things we cling to (events, ideas, hobbies, memories, chores as well as possessions).

And how many of us have become frustrated, even angry, about organisations yet have an unfilled space in our hearts for real community?

Maybe the best way to summarise it is to say that we need to avoid everything that stifles our ability to walk arm in arm with Jesus.

I'd be interested to hear your response so go ahead and comment. In particular it would be good to see comments that suggest more 'this, not that' pairs. And also it would be good to see some comments that expand more of the pairs. What do they say to you? How do they challenge you?

04 November 2010

St Neots (Cornerstone) - Meeting at the corner

This evening we decided to meet at Cornerstone Cafe and Books because Pam was planning to do some cleaning there. We all worked for a while, had a coffee, then met, and finally did a little more work before heading home.

Cornerstone's websiteWe chatted for a while as we often do. Jim asked me what I'd been doing during the day and I mentioned waxing one of our new doors at home. Then I shared how I'd read 1 Corinthians 13 and how it is perhaps my all time favourite chapter, and how I'd read Psalm 7 today too. I read out the last verse in which David relies on Yahweh's righteousness, not his own.

Jim told us that he's been reading Hebrews and how the people seemed to be starting to drift away from Christ. The author is saying, 'Hey, get back to the truth about Jesus!' Someone he knows had spoken about Jehoshaphat who ahead of battle had spent time praising the Lord instead of preparing his weapons. We have to have the same frame of mind, the real priorities are not always the obvious ones.

Sean told us about a dream he had. He was in an old Anglican church and the vicar was going through the service. Sean became bored and began praising and worshipping loudly. The people in the church tried to stop him but couldn't. They were prevented from interfering.

Jim and Sean then discussed how, without revelation, the gospel is a mystery and may even repel people. In the end it's all about the supremacy of Jesus, not about the law, rules, and regulations.

I thought that we're just like the prodigal son, but we sometimes overlook the fact that the father in the parable was also prodigal. He poured out abundant mercy, grace and love upon the returning son. We have only to turn back towards our Father and he runs out to meet us and throws his arms around us.

I felt I should speak out the words of the old song...

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

Jim was surprised and encouraged by this as it was the second time today that someone had shared those words with him. And of course I found that encouraging too!

03 November 2010

Moggerhanger - Fireworks

Donna and I were invited to join Jim's small group (part of River Church). We met at Moggerhanger Park for some hot food and drink and then watched a simple but good firework display from the covered area at the back of the main house.

A firework in actionIt was a good social occasion and we found a lot of our friends were there. Val, Valerie, Tracey and James, Jim, Beth, Mike and Betty Lou, Paul and Angie, and many more. There were quite a few children so Jim ran a simple competition for them. They had to guess how long the main firework block would last!

We also attempted to launch some of Mike's hot air lanterns. The first one sailed off into the night sky just as we were arriving, the second attempt failed later as there was too much wind.

TECHNOLOGY - The Cool Farm Tool

The Cool Farm Tool is a spreadsheet that allows farmers, growers and organisations interested in crop production to easily model greenhouse gas emissions and how they might be affected by changing production methods.

Unilever's Cool Farm ToolThe tool was originally developed for Unilever by a research team at the University of Aberdeen and is now being used on an increasing scale by individual farmers, companies buying agricultural and horticultural produce, cross company groups, researchers,  governments, and inter-governmental agencies.

The spreadsheet is published with an open source licence so it can be used, modified, and republished by anyone. It's accessible by ordinary farmers around the world and is easy to use without scientific expertise. The tool can be used to explore the effects of adjusting the methods of production to help minimise emissions.

An IPCC report in 2007, Mitigation of Climate Change provided global information, but Unilever knew they needed specific, farm or field level data if they were to make a difference. They commissioned the Cool Farm Tool as a means of obtaining this data. Much to their credit, Unilever and the University of Aberdeen decided to make the tool available for anyone to use or adapt.

There is more detail on Unilever's Growing for the Future website and in an article published by Ecosystem Marketplace.

I think this tool can really make a difference. Indeed, it must already have made a difference and will continue to do so. Well done to all concerned, especially Unilever and the University of Aberdeen. The planet needs more effort of this sort.

02 November 2010

Brampton - Look at his face

We began by running through SASHET together (part of the CO2 idea). This helped us to understand one another's current situation and thoughts. Then we made a start with Virkler (also part of CO2) where we deliberately listen to what Jesus is saying to us, it's a way of paying attention.

A fast flowing streamHowever, we agreed that this didn't work as well as listening individually and sharing later. I saw a picture of a little babbling brook running down towards me. I had to look up the slope to see it, sometimes it was running smoothly, and sometimes the water was tumbling down over rocks. I just had to share it there and then, it simply seemed wrong to wait.

Then I saw a large shovel, very big, loaded heavily with grain. And I thought about the jubilee, a Royal Jubilee when debt is cancelled, slaves are freed, and there is a sense of renewal and a fresh beginning throughout the land.

Sean said the the harvest is so big that we won't be able to bring it all in. We need to look to the source of the stream of living water, and we need do it all the time. We need to look at his face to see his love for us, but we often won't look because we think we know what his reaction will be. We expect him to be angry and disapproving and disappointed. If we did look we would see only love and acceptance.

We think our acceptability depends on the good work we do and the bad things we don't do. In fact it depends entirely on his grace and love. How can we get it so wrong?

REVIEW - Chris Duffett's Blog

I've just been put in touch with a guy called Chris Duffett. He, his wife, and their three children live in a village not far from St Neots, we plan to meet up for lunch later this month. I've just taken a look at his blog - perhaps you should too!

Chris Duffett's BlogChris is a man with a passion for reaching others. He wants them to hear the good news about Jesus. Not only that, he also has a passion for helping other followers of Jesus do the same. This is very healthy!

Chris founded The Light Project and was its director for eight years. His blog is refreshing and is packed with encouraging and challenging stories.

Here's an example, Chris felt he was supposed to find and pray for someone with lower back pain. He stood at a car wash looking out for this person...

Then I saw a young man, cool skater rags and plenty of piercings. I felt that he was the guy I should pray for.

A few minutes later I approached him and explained that I had felt God say that I should walk to the car wash and pray for someone with lower back pain. I asked if he was ok, and to be honest because of his age and ‘coolness’ I expected him to say yep, all was AOK.

Yet he looked stunned and said that this was ‘remarkable’ as he had been to the chiropractor for lower back pain. I asked if I could pray for his back and he said ‘yes please,’ but later as he was late for college. Non the less Phil and I said a very quick ‘non eye closing- get on your knees kind’ of prayer and asked Jesus to heal him.

The guy looked kind of shocked and I reassured him that God knew about him and his discomfort.

What do you think of my story? Coincidence or God?

Coincidence? I don't think so! The blog is fun to read but will also stop you in your tracks sometimes with an unexpected challenge or revelation.

But why take my word for any of this? Click the links and take a gander yourself. I may post again after meeting Chris and spending some time with him.

29 October 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Grain in the field

Paul and I met in the morning. We'd hoped to see one or two other friends but in the event this didn't work out.

Grain ripening in the fieldWe worked through CO2 together, first SASHET and then the things that Father has been telling us. Then we prayed for people that we know and for the work that he's doing in us and also through us.

And finally we read some sections of Mark together, picking up where we left off last time.

Mark 2:23-28 - We thought that this shows life is about people, not about rules. Jesus and the disciples were probably enjoying their walk through the countryside. They were probably talking and laughing together and discussing something prompted by the grain they were eating. They might have talked about the life that is in a seed, how it germinates and grows, how the life of the Father is in everything that was made.

But the Pharisees hold only the rules important, making them more important than people.

Mark 3:1-6 - This again shows the same thing, life is about people, not rules. These verses show us the anger and distress felt by Jesus faced with this attitude or rule following even if it prevents good being done for someone.

Mark 3:7-12 - Jesus was followed everywhere by the crowds. No doubt he could speak to more people by standing in the boat. They were pressing in because they knew he could heal them, this reminded Paul of the woman with the serious bleeding who just wanted to touch the edge of his cloak. The evil spirits recognised he was the Son of the Most High but he commanded them not to share what they knew.

Mark 3:13-19 - Paul wondered why Jesus gave some of them new names, could it be much like us calling a friend 'Rocky' because of his nature?

'Petros' (Peter in English) is Greek for 'rock', presumably a Greek translation of the Aramaic word for rock which is 'Kepha', the name Jesus gave Simon. 'Shimon' (Simon) is clearly an Aramaic name and means 'a man of Judah'. So Peter was originally 'A Judahite' and Jesus called him 'A Judahite Rock', more or less.

28 October 2010

Brampton - Traffic lights

We met at Sean's this evening, talked about a range of topics, and prayed together about the things Father is doing in this corner of England and our involvement in them. I felt that there is a huge move going on just under the surface.

Traffic lightsHe doesn't necessarily show us the details but he says, 'This is the way, walk in it.' We may not know what's going on, but it's enough that we know we are in the right place at the right time and travelling in the right direction.

The subject of the 'Filling Station' meetings at Moggerhanger came up again. This is intriguing and seems to have begun in and around Bath in North Somerset. The next meeting is planned for 15th November. Apparently Simon Holley (Kings Arms, Bedford) was at the October meeting so the interest is quite wide.

I had a vision of an autumn day, there was an area of grass and I knew that winter was about to begin. It started to snow and I expected that when the thaw came the ground would be muddy and unkempt. But as the snow melted I saw that a carpet of snowdrops and crocuses had grown up. Instead of mud there was a glorious carpet of colour and a wonderful fragrance. And the Spirit said, 'Remember this vision. When everything seems to be falling apart and you expect to see a mess remember this vision and be encouraged.'

Jim thought that God is putting us in positions where we can make a difference. There will be more beauty as we see more of Jesus. Our role is to talk with people and draw alongside them. We can have a positive effect on somebody's day merely by listening. I believe we have an awesome privilege and also a great responsibility to hear and see and share the vision.

We prayed for our friend David for continued blessing and to have the path made straight in his life. We also prayed for his family. Jim had a picture of traffic lights and knew it was for Sean in particular. He senses that Sean sees a stop light but the signals are beginning to turn green. The message was to be prepared for the green light and not to remain at the traffic lights too long.

I had a vision of oil and as I watched I knew that the oil represented the Holy Spirit. Oil acts to prevent sticking, whether we put it an engine or use it cook and egg. Oil releases us, it frees us to move.

Sean had said very little until the end of the meeting when he reminded us of the most important thing of all. He said that God is always the same. He told us of the value of a proper view of the Lord, this is foundational. We need to grasp this vision, this truth. We can only reach others when we have first imbibed the truth.

THOUGHT - Unbreaking the pot

If I drop a pot it will shatter into a thousand pieces, some of them quite large, others very small, some just the tiniest specks of dust. And what I have broken I can in no way repair.

PotsherdsI may decide to sweep up the mess and throw the remains in the bin, the broken pieces are no good for anything. If the pot has sentimental value the best I can do is gather the larger pieces and spend a while with a tube of glue. But it won't fool anyone, it will never be the same again. What was shattered in a moment cannot be mended even if I labour with adhesive for all eternity.

I'm happy to say that Papa is a whole lot cleverer than I am.

When a person is broken, shattered into a thousand disjointed shards by circumstances or by the unaware (or all too aware) actions of others, he is capable of making truly invisible repairs. He will never sweep up the mess and throw the remains in the bin. He can rebuild a person so that they are not just mended, but repaired, renewed, and fully restored.

This is a miracle, of course, but what we cannot do is possible for him. It may take much time but he is infinitely patient and he does the work with extreme care and attention, motivated by his perfect love.

He gave us free will and had his reasons for doing so. He will not prevent us from harming one another. Nor will he force restoration when we are determined to resist it. But he is a great encourager, he will leave no stone unturned, and he will never tire in his attempts to woo a broken heart or a shattered soul.

I cannot restore a broken pot to factory new condition. But he can! Just don't ask me how he will do it. I have no idea. All I know is that he reaches out to every one of us in ways we can respond to - even when we believe we can't. Sometimes people say, 'Oh, I understand, I know how you feel', when in truth they have no idea at all. But he does understand.

Mags posted something special and touching yesterday. As I read it tonight I saw a picture of a broken pot. I understood that nobody can restore a broken pot and nobody can restore a broken person. And in that moment I knew I must write about the broken pot.

A pot may have all kinds of functions. It might contain something precious like the jar of nard (John 12:3). But a broken pot can contain - nothing! Restored, it can again contain something precious.

The jar of nard was made to be deliberately broken to release the precious contents - but broken at the right moment and in the right way. The jar was not made to be carelessly dropped, trampled underfoot, or hurled against a wall in anger.

There are two kinds of brokenness. There is the empty brokenness of damage and there is the brokenness of sacrifice. They should never be confused. We must first be restored so that we can contain a treasure, and then we can be broken in a pure, fulfilling, and purposeful way. Broken for glory, broken to bless others, broken to release the treasure contained within us.

How great is the One who restores us, fills us, and shows us how we can be broken for glory and for blessing to release a treasure. He is the treasure! The enemy wants to break us by crushing us, but Abba will break us by loving us. Our breaking will be beautiful like a fragrant flower breaking from the bud or a butterfly breaking from the pupa.


See also:


26 October 2010

Corby and Little Paxton - Helping the move

This evening, instead of our usual meeting, Sean and I helped Jim, Pam and their daughter Beth with a house move.

BarmbrackJim and Pam's oldest daughter and her partner were leaving their flat in Corby and moving to a house in Eynesbury (a district of St Neots). The house is not yet ready so for a few weeks they'll be living with Jim and Pam in Little Paxton.

We travelled to the flat in Jim's car and spent the first part of the evening cleaning the flat, packing items into boxes, and loading them into cars for the trip to Little Paxton. After the drive home we stacked the boxes in Jim and Pam's lounge turning part of it into a temporary store room! And then it was time for a cup of tea and a lovely slice of barmbrack with butter.

It's good to do practical things together, this is church life too.

19 October 2010

Brampton - Filtered from harm

It was good to have Rachael with us this evening. There was no meeting in Great Doddington as Peter and Jody are visiting Canada, so Rachael travelled down to Brampton instead. Jim also joined us as he expected to be busy on Thursday.

Anti-virus softwareJim began by asking whether we really ever give 100% to Jesus. We had to admit that it was never possible to give 100% all the time. Some people might manage it occasionally, but not consistently!

Jim explained that Moggerhanger Park has started a regular 'Filling Station' meeting and the topic of 100% had been mentioned there. He said that the meeting was very good so I'd like to get along some time to see what it's all about. Future meetings are planned for the third Monday evening of each month, there's a schedule online.

Sean mentioned Zac Poonan, a church planter from Bangalore's Christian Fellowship Church. Sean had come across Zac's material online and had found some of it very good. One particular theme was asking for grace in times of temptation.

Jim said that we used to live under the law that told us, 'Don't do this, do that.' But we do need to live under grace and to treat others with grace too. We tend to make assumptions about people, but we have enough sin of our own without thinking of judging others. I was reminded of Galatians 2 where we read of a situation much like today with differences of opinion about law and behaviour.

The idea of sowing seeds also came up. Jim pointed out that I'd given Cornerstone free drinks cards to Sean who had passed them on again to a friend at work. This led me to thoughts about watering young plants. Paul wrote, 'I sowed the seed, Apollos watered it, but the Almighty made it grow.' (1 Corinithians 3:6). We can only do our part, we work with one another but we are not responsible for the growth. Jim then shared how, when Jess had prayed for healing of someone's badly swollen finger, the swelling had vanished while they watched. He mentioned Colossians 3:1-5 and how this brings us back to the idea of 100% for Jesus. We must 'set our hearts on the things above'.

We discussed how, if we're to follow Christ, we must have been given the capacity to follow him. We can pray to be drawn closer to him day by day. I had a picture of a man in prison, I saw the iron bars and at first thought I was seeing a caged animal. But no, it was clearly a man in prison. We can still come alongside a prisoner even if there are iron bars between us. We have the Spirit of Christ within us and we are to draw alongside those are 'imprisoned' in sin and despair.

Rachael saw a PC screen and noticed a tab saying, 'God's spam free virus filter'. He keeps harmful things from us. He is very protective of those he loves.

SCIENCE - 500 planets

Not that long ago (pre 1994) we only knew of nine planets, and one of those has been demoted to dwarf planet status. Today we know of nearly 500!

An artist's impression of an exoplanet systemThe reason for the huge increase is that astronomers are discovering planets around stars other than our own Sun using several techniques.

Sometimes this can be done by accurate measurements of the parent star's brightness. If a planet orbiting the star happens to pass in front of it, it will block part of the light and the dip can be measured and timed.

Another method involves tracking the position of a star very accurately. If it wobbles to and fro ever so slightly this is evidence of a smaller object in orbit around it - a planet or a faint companion star.

More recently it's become possible to image some of these planets directly by detecting the light they reflect from their parent star. This is pretty tricky, but just about doable using current telescopes. Of course we can't see any details, the planetary image is essentially a highly blurred point source. But it's still a very impressive feat of technology.

'Discover' magazine's website presents a gallery of these images, with good explanations in terms most people will understand. It's well worth a look.

The number of exoplanets will continue to rise and will soon pass the 500 mark. And one day, with better telescopes, it may even become possible to see some basic detail on some of these planets. But that is probably a long, long way off.

See also: Fomalhaut b

17 October 2010

NEWS - Worth taking a look at these

Listening to the Lord in Denver, USA, a book from Floyd McClung, focussing on the simple.A megaphone
  • Stories from the Revolution - John White discusses the ideas around 'smaller still and wider yet'. This involves Church of Two (CO2) and regional networks.

  • Felicity Dale's Blog - Felicity writes a short note on Floyd McClung's book, 'Follow'. See what she has to say and consider reading the book.

  • SimpleChurch Journal - Roger Thoman posts, 'Sometimes I think that, rather than focusing on simple church, we should really be focusing on the true simplicity of the Gospel'. Amen to that! Take a look and see what he's getting at.

  • Stories from the Revolution - John White writes about the important difference between a relationship with a book and a relationship with a person. He includes a video interview that reveals this difference in terms of personal experience.

St Neots (Open Door) - Singleness

This morning I joined Donna at Open Door in the Priory Centre in St Neots. The music and singing were good, and then Ian Hoile gave a helpful address on the topic of 'singleness' as part of the series they've been running, 'Sex and the City'.

The Priory CentreIan pointed out that there are rising numbers of single people in the UK and gave some statistics to support that claim. People may be single for a variety of reasons, perhaps they simply haven't found a partner yet, a spouse has died, or they've been divorced etc.

Ian referred particularly to 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 25-40. He said that the main theme is learning to serve and honour the Lord. Singleness and marriage are both gifts ('gift' has the sense of 'gracing'). Sometimes it may be best to remain single and in this context Paul refers to the 'present crisis'.

There was a famine and considerable social upheaval at the time he was writing. Under such circumstances it may well be easier for those who are single. Being single also brings opportunities as there's no requirement to consider other family members.

Verse 39 provides some advice for finding a spouse.

However there are also challenges to being single. These have to do with putting life on hold, we are not called to do that. Our lives are for honouring and pleasing the Lord. Single people sometimes run the risk of becoming over committed and burning out, leading over full lives.

Loneliness and isolation can become serious issues. It's important for single people to have good circles of friends, talk about the issues in their lives, and have mentors. Families in the church should remember single people and invite them for meals and for other family events.

16 October 2010

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 6

In this session Mark Stibbe spoke about 'The Dynamics of Displacement'. He began by looking at the cycle of captivity that can hold us and then the cycle of liberty which can keep us free.

Break a link to break the chainMark read Psalm 27:10, a verse that reminds us that even if our natural parents forsake us, Yahweh has promised to receive us and stand by us.

The Cycle of Captivity - Negative experiences -> Negative beliefs -> Negative expectations -> leads back to further negative experiences and the cycle continues.

The Christian life is a journey of completion. Such things as abandonment, rejection, abuse (verbal or physical), neglect, and bereavement allow the enemy to lead us to negative beliefs about ourselves. The enemy is the author of all lies and negative experiences allow us more easily to believe them.

Negative expectations often involve the words 'always' and 'never' about ourselves. A negative expectation can only be displaced by a supernatural counter-experience - the Father's love. Only divine love can displace an earthly wound. We need to experience Romans 8:15 for ourselves, it's the experience of the Holy Spirit.

The Cycle of Liberty - Positive experiences -> Positive beliefs -> Positive expectations -> leads back to further positive experiences and the cycle continues.

When we experience the Father's love we find that Jesus, the Son, is the Wonderful Counsellor that we needed. This is good news, great news!(Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 138:8)

It's for freedom that Christ set us free. Spurgeon once said that happy saints are attractive. (Romans 5:5, Romans 8:15)

See also:

15 October 2010

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 4

In this presentation, Mark Stibbe discussed 'Going to the Next Level'. He spoke about forgiveness, freedom, fulfilment, and finishing.

Larry in his lawnchairMark has been involved in some cross-party meetings at Westminster on the issue of fatherlessness in British society. He also mentioned that he is working towards creating a DVD of 'The Running Father' as a gift to every athlete at the 2012 London Olympics.

He introduced his subject by describing the adventures of 'Lawnchair Larry' who spectacularly went to 'the next level' in 1982.

In Mark 2:1-12 we see how the faith of the paralysed man's friends led them to 'go to the next level' in getting him before Jesus. We need three things to go to a new level in our lives, faith, friends and foes. Faith and friends are obvious, foes often irritate us like the thorns in the eagle's nest. The young bird might never try to fly if the nest remained cosy and comfortable.

Forgiveness - The man is forgiven first. Jesus speaks of his healing later, but first he announces that he is forgiven.

Freedom - After forgiveness he receives freedom - freedom to stand up, freedom to walk about. Can you imagine that freedom after many years of imprisonment in a body that is paralysed?

Fulfilment - The need to pick up the mat is prophetic, it's not an accidental detail, Jesus told him, 'Pick up your mat'. But why? The man is healed, he no longer needs his mat! In picking up the mat he is taking hold of the very thing that had previously taken hold of him. Instead of having to lie on his mat, now he is able to pick it up.

Finishing - It's so important to finish well. He can go home now. Jesus tells him, 'Pick up your mat and go home.' We need to finish well. When we're done people need to say, 'We've never seen it done like this before!' (verse 12)

See also:

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 3

During this session we heard Mark Stibbe speak on 'Varieties of Encounter'. He is an amusing and interesting speaker and had us in stitches at times. But he also makes some excellent points and there's a structured clarity in his thinking that provides a memorable framework.

Mark Stibbe
Mark began by explaining that we must all encounter Father's love for ourselves, we are all different. Yahshua said, 'I have made you (Abba) known to them.' (John 17:25-26) And he is still doing it!

We heard about the dentist's lie that, 'You won't feel a thing.' But cessationism isn't true, we can (and should) still experience spiritual life in all its fullness. However we all need to be hugged in different, tailored ways. Mark explained that the kind of hug he gives his son would be inappropriate for his daughter. So we mustn't all expect to receive Father's touch in the same way.

He may touch us dramatically, or gently, or somewhere along the continuum between the two. In the same way our experience may come suddenly or gradually over time. But the testimonies people share are usually dramatic and sudden, much more rarely gentle and gradual.

His touch may be mediated or unmediated (it might come through another person's prayer or a touch by their hands, but it may also happen without anyone else's involvement. And it may be sought or unsought by us (see Isaiah 65:1). Finally it may come through an experience of pain or an experience of joy (perhaps as a result of having a bad father or a good one).

See also:

Bedford - Father's Heart, Session 2

'Touching the Father's Heart' was a conference organised by 'The Kings Arms' and held in their new building. Session 2 was on the subject of Repentence and was presented by Simon Holley.

Touching the Father's Heart ConferenceThis was the first session Donna and I could get to.

During the time of singing and praise before Simon began speaking I had several thoughts prompted by the Holy Spirit which I jotted down.

When you are in danger and struggling I will come to be with you - walking across the water if necessary. When you are thrown into the fiery furnace I'll stand there with you too. You will always be safe in me and with me.

Whatever the world throws at you, even death itself, I will not forsake you, abandon you, or leave you. Let no-one stand between me and my children.

Simon reminded us of the parable of the prodigal son. (Or the prodigal father - it depends how you look at it. The father was extravagant with his love.) He made the point that, like the son, we need to turn back to our Father (repent). We need to turn back from the 'pig styes' in our lives.

Self-reliance is a pig stye which is trusting in ourselves rather than in him. It's the opposite of resting in the knowledge that Father knows what I need. George Muller used to say, 'Let's see what Father will do.'

Fear clogs the machinery of our lives and wears us down. But we know that perfect love casts out fear.

Judgements are another pig stye. We have no idea what others exeriences and circumstances might be. Simon quoted Matthew 7:1-2.

Unbelief severs me from Father's plan for me. It's a spiritual poison. Fear results in prayer as a last resort, I may prefer to work things out for myself. When I think things will never change in my life I am revealing my unbelief.

Control is freedom but on my terms as in Luke 7:30. Many people welcome freedom and spontaneous zeal as long as there's not too much of it. But we need the rushing wind of the Spirit regardless of the cost to our desire to restrict him.

See also:

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