27 March 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - the Earth

We met at Paul's and spent some time over coffee listing people we needed to pray for. Nowhere we can goAs usual there were quite a few and the needs included jobs, health, emotional distress, and faith.

We feel these people have been particularly brought to our attention for prayer, we remember them each week. They are all friends or family, they are all special to one or more of us in some way.

Roger read Psalm 116 which is so reassuring and encouraging.

The cords of death entangled me,
The anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.

Then I called on the name of the LORD:
"O LORD, save me!"

The LORD is gracious and righteous;
Our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted;
When I was in great need, he saved me.

Chris mentioned that Christ is in us and will speak through us. We are wineskins to contain the new wine (Yahshua) and he will flow out through us into the world.

Paul spoke about the bookmark he has that mentions two sets of footprints in the sand. Sometimes, at our saddest and lowest times we see only one set of footprints. And Jesus says, 'I never left you, those are the times I was carrying you.'

Roger referred to the passage where Jesus said to his disciples, 'I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.' (John 16:33)

And Jules reminded us of Psalm 139 which tells us there is nowhere in the whole of creation where we can go but he is not with us.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,

Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
And the light become night around me,"

Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
The night will shine like the day,
For darkness is as light to you.

16 March 2009

Great Doddington - Rebuilding the walls

What a wonderful meeting. It was so full of good things, isn't Yahshua great!

We began by chatting over coffee and biscuits, Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalemsharing things that had happened at home, at work, with friends and relatives. Life is filled with experiences of all kinds, some good, some not so good, some just plain hard and painful.

As the focus shifted from us towards the Lord, Glenn shared verse 9 from 1 Chronicles 22 where David explains that the Lord has told him, 'You will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon.' As Glenn reminded us, Solomon later spoke to the Queen of Sheba about natural life in the garden, he was interested in such details, a man of learning and wide learning, wise, quiet, peaceful. This was indeed his nature.

We thought about other leaders - like Moses who was not a powerful speaker, but he was obedient. Jim pointed out how he was told to throw down his staff and it became a snake, then he was to pick it up by the tail. How scary is that? Would you or I obey a command like that? That's faith and trust in action!

Wolfgang Simson has suggested that right now gentle, humble, peaceful leaders are being raised up in the church, not people of power or fame but quiet, modest, often unnoticed people.

Sherrelea shared some verses from Isaiah 30 that fitted right in, although they'd been on her heart before the previous conversation. 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength ... Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."'

Chris mentioned that we are called to a relationship with the Almighty, not to any kind of religion. As Bruxy Cavey explains in his book 'The End of Religion', we pray, meet, and read the Bible not to become worthy of access to our Father, but because we already are close and want to know him ever better. Chris mentioned that someone had recently seen the truth of this in terms of worship music - we are not here to celebrate the musicians but to worship the King. Once this penny drops, our hearts and minds are flooded with new light and we see everything in a new way.

Jody told us that as a sixteen-year-old she had debated with some Jehovah's Witnesses and had been so very much on fire for the Lord. She still remembers the intensity of that enthusiasm, an enthusiasm the JWs couldn't match with their belief that salvation could only come through right doctrine, understanding, and practice.

Jim reminded us of the need to be satisfied with whatever the Lord has given us. He told us about the sadness and grief of a mother who lost her daughter in a road accident. By comparison, most of the things that trouble us in life seem insignificant. We mustn't let our circumstances spoil what we have in him. We are still on our way to eternity with him, come what may.

Barbara added that even when we're aware of him in our lives we are still sometimes pulled down by circumstances. Sherrelea shared how she and her daughter Jessie both suffer from asthma. She described one particular morning which had been a real nightmare and how low she had felt until she suddenly decided that should would choose to get on with life despite the circumstances. And she achieved so much that day! We can (and need to) put the word into action by standing on the truth. This is a choice we make.

Barbara also told us how her son's wedding had seemed to be spoiled by circumstances but she remembers standing at the window and saying to herself, 'I choose to not let this affect me'. The feelings of heaviness just vanished and she felt it was a holy moment. We can feel peace despite the storms around us. It was like the time when Jesus said to the disciples, 'Don't be afraid!'

Jody shared the thought that choice is so very important but sometimes we just forget that we have a choice. We have a friend fighting cancer, he has no choice in his battle and he will go wherever it takes him. But he (and we) need these moments of assurance and affirmation more often!

Chris read Ephesians 1:15-23 which seems to sum up so much of what we've shared. Sherrelea added that, 'Rejoice in the Lord always ... in everything present your requests to God' (Philippians 4:4) also fits in with it. What a wonderful meeting. It was so full of good things, isn't Yahshua great?

Barbara asked us to pray for her daughter and son-in-law, they are living apart but still good friends. At this point Sherrelea had a picture of a lorry with gravel which she saw as a promise that some work was going to be done. In the vision she prayed and two more people arrived to help and everything went faster as a result. But she also realised that there are good and bad ways of going about the work.

Jody pictured a beautiful silk robe or gown, it was exceedingly beautiful, richly patterned, and sewn with golden thread. But nobody felt good enough to put it on. And the Lord said, 'It's meant to be put on now! I have made it for you, put it on!' Chris then prophesied that the coat is Joseph's coat, and that it is also therefore Yahshua's coat. It's a coat of many-colours. Jacob gave such a coat to his most favoured son, Joseph. And Yahweh has given such a coat to his most favoured Son, Yahshua. This is the coat in Jody's vision. Christ dwells in each of us and the Almighty is calling us to put on his coat because we, too, are his children and his heirs. Just as Joseph suffered severely at the hands of his brothers, so must we expect to be criticised and disliked. But it was all for the purpose of gathering the harvest into the barns ready for the coming time of severe shortage. There is a harvest ready, the grain is in the fields. We need to ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers and we need to get out there and be gathering.

Jody described how cement binds the stones together in a building. Jesus binds us together. We're all part of the structure – the cement is essential. Sherrelea referred to the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 3. Each group built a section, they were not professional masons but priests, goldsmiths, perfume makers, and others.

Glenn spoke about 'walking in the way'. The way forward isn't difficult, and it's not concealed. The word of the Lord is near you, it's in your mouth! We can take any salient scripture and utter it in each situation we face. The Lord says, 'My word will not fail, it won't come back back empty'. (In other words it won't come back without fulfilling its purpose.

He also explained about understanding disagreement and dissent. Jeremiah 3 mentions this in terms of Israel and Judah.

13 March 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Mediaeval door

This morning we met at Paul's and chatted about friends and situations that we're concerned about, it was quite a long list. People in pain, with illnesses of various kinds, without work, or just downhearted. A mediaeval door

But there were also things to be grateful for - people we know who have started to get involved with church, some now going to Brickhill for example, or Open Door. We also talked about 'The Shack' and how it deals with forgiveness and Father's acceptance and love.

We prayed for these people, asking Jesus to put peace in their hearts and minds as well as meeting the needs in their lives.

Chris saw a picture of a heavy wooden door made of very thick timbers with black iron hinges and studs. It was not fully closed, and through the gap shone a bright light. Inside was the Lord's presence, his glory, and brilliant light. We were outside. We knew we needed to push hard to open this stiff and heavy door, and we knew that when we did we'd be able to come into his presence.

Jules reminded us that the Lord knows all about us, he has called us by name, and every knee will bow before him. See Romans 14:8-13 and 2 Chronicles 7:14.

We shared bread and wine together and ate some more of the bread with soup before chatting again and going our separate ways.

09 March 2009

Great Doddington - Changing direction

We were a large group this evening even though Rachael was away. Jim and Sean came with me as we're not able to meet on Thursday this week.

One of us explained that there'd been some difficulty at work recently, An ocean going passenger shipand then Jody posed an interesting question. She was thinking about the people of Israel in captivity in Egypt and asked us, 'At what point did they finally come to leave?'

Glenn and Chris offered a few suggestions, and Jim pointed out that in our lives it's not so much a question of whether we should go left or right (ie whether we 'do' the right thing), but whether we are really worshipping the Lord in our situation.

Glenn explained from Exodus 12:1-36 that Yahweh himself entered the houses of the Israelites. We often think in terms of Passover as if he 'passed over' their houses but not the houses of the Egyptians. But he didn't pass over (literally 'jump over') their homes, he jumped over the doorstep and the blood and into their homes (verse 23)!

Indeed it was Yahweh's presence in the home that restrained the destroyer. And it's the same with us today - he comes right inside and shares the meal with us (Revelation 3:20).

When we began to listen for him together, fresh ideas came thick and fast.

Sherellea described how we sometimes just have to take the time to be ready. The final result is often the end of a long process. She explained how a huge ocean liner takes a long time and several miles to stop or change direction.

Sometimes our lives seem to be on hold, we need to grow mellow and be willing to wait for the Lord's timing. It's always good to ask in times of doubt, 'What would Jesus have done in this situation?'

Sherrelea also read from Isaiah 48 where Israel was stubborn but was set free (the NIV has section headings 'Stubborn Israel' and 'Israel Freed'). And the Lord said to them, 'I am the Lord your God who teaches you the way to go'.

Chris shared a picture of a merry-go-round and imagined being on it and seeing a favourite family member waving each time it went round. Our lives sometimes seem like being on that ride, round and round we go. We glimpse Father briefly, then lose sight of him - time after time! But at the right time the ride will stop and we can get off and he'll give us a big hug. But until the time is right we can do nothing.

Psalm 100 reminds us that he made us and we belong to him. We can come into his presence and praise him, he loves us and is eternally faithful.

In another picture there was a long line of people (as in the Conga) but the people were on rollerskates. The one at the front was slow, the one at the back was fast. We need him to keep us moving at the right pace. To do this we need to keep our minds set on him.

Jody saw a field with a great, beautiful, white flower growing in it. There were other flowers all around, but this one stood out. And she knew that each one of us would reach perfection in that flower which was yet to be.

Chris thought that the beautiful, white flower represents the Bride of Christ, and he read from Isaiah 48:12-13 again. We thought about the way a man and woman are perfect for one another when they fall in love. Any blemishes in appearance or personality are utterly insignificant. Love is blind! This is the way Yahshua loves us and it's the same sort of adoration we should feel towards him. We are his Bride, and one day we will be presented to him, perfect in every way.

07 March 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Jetex

Roger and I met for a chat and some prayer, Donna and Ruth joined us for lunch but weren't able to stay longer. Gloster Meteor

We talked about several of our friends, one of whom is ill, another currently unemployed. We also talked about family, other friends, and events in our lives.

One of Roger's interests is aeromodelling and Jetex in particular. He's planning to give a talk ('Jetex Reborn') at Impington Village College on 15th March.

05 March 2009

Report from Chepstow

We gathered from a wide area to join Mark and Mandy Cutliffe at the Bulwark Community Centre in Chepstow on 28th February. Between them they had organised 'Breathing Space', The Bulwark Community Centrea simple program that gave us all a chance to mingle for a prolonged period over coffee, share a meal, and then settle to an afternoon of interesting and challenging discussion.

Time to meet - It was great to have ample time to meet and chat informally. Often when we meet the program is so full that we struggle to get to know one another in brief interludes between packed sessions.

The video - In the afternoon session we watched the 'Church Planting Movement' video and then moved into a discussion on 'organic church'.

You can watch the video for yourself below. It focuses on rapid, multiplicative growth, you can learn more about this from the International Mission Board's website.

Some questions and answers - Mark encouraged us to ask questions about 'organic church', he wrote five of these at the top of sheets on a flipchart Chatting over a coffeeand then we set about answering our own questions. Although we didn't have time to consider all the questions the process did help me to think more deeply about the topic. It was a very useful afternoon.

There are two caveats as you read the list. It's not exactly what was on the flip charts because it's based on what I scribbled down at the time. And some of the points may not make sense unless you were there for the discussion. Even so, I hope they will provoke useful thoughts as you read (and perhaps pray) your way through them.
  1. What is an organic church?
    • A living organism
    • An organism, not an organisation
    • DNA, constituents, what would happen if you grew a tomato in a rigid box?*
    • Not contaminated by anything man-made
    • Growing, changing, having fruit

  2. How have organic churches started?**
    • By the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit
    • Because of persecution
    • As a result of relationships
    • Hunger for 'something more'
    • A reaction to disappointment with existing churches

  3. What on earth are we doing?
    • Why do we need another expression of church?
    • One size fits all
    • Is it sustainable long term?

  4. How do we define success?
    • To produce successful offspring that can reproduce
    • Helping people follow Jesus
    • What has God told you to do?
    • Walk with God
    • What has he called you to do?
    • Who has he called you to be?

* The tomato in a box refers to a thought we had that the tomato plant's DNA controls the shape, colour, flavour and other characteristics of the fruit it bears. But if you put a rigid box around the small fruit as it grows, although the flavour and colour would remain unchanged, the mature fruit could never be the intended shape.

There's a parallel with the church where the DNA of Christ controls much, but our artificial constraints can affect the shape of its expression. Think about that!

** This is really about gathering together because we're excited about Jesus.

02 March 2009

Great Doddington - A giant oak

We talked for a while over coffee, sharing our thoughts about topics including prophecy, banking and the economy, and how society may come under judgement when we are disobedient as a nation.A very large oak tree

Rachael read us the story of the long-handled spoon, an amusing little tale which you may have heard before. The moral of the story is clear!

Jody read Psalm 139:1-24 and we thought about light and darkness in our own lives. How we need to live in the light (of Christ, not of the world). Sherrelea told us about an interesting incident when she'd only been following Jesus for a week or two. She'd been in conversation with a friend and had felt a little nervous about talking about her new found faith. Afterwards she had prayed for the friend with an interesting and faith-building result.

Barbara told us how she has been led to invite family members for a meal. This has become a regular opportunity and they even plan to book a place in Swansea for a short break together. There have been great opportunities to share her faith in ordinary, natural conversation. We prayed for her and for the people who meet with her. Chris had a picture of an old fashioned metal funnel and felt that Barbara has the same function as a funnel. Through her the Lord is pouring all kinds of good things and they are being focused into a particular place, the funnel ensures it all goes into the place Father intends for it.

Rachael also had a picture. She saw a very large oak tree. There were all kinds of creatures living in it - squirrels, spiders, birds, beetles. All were different and all were valid. They were all connected because they gained their life from the tree and lived in the tree. In the same way, we are all different yet we are all connected because Christ is our source and our dwelling.

Jody brought a word. The Lord said, 'You are my servants as well as my children, You are not to judge but to stand and act. You are to be gracious. I will judge, that is my role, not yours. The things you say and do are good and people will see that. They are good because they come, not from you, but from a deeper source within you.

Jody interpreted a tongue from Chris. The Lord said, 'Go where I go, walk where I walk. Just go - be obedient and go. I haven't called you to worry but to walk. The light is upon you.'

Several of us shared encouraging verses that were on our minds, for example 'If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm' (Psalm 37:23).

Finally, Sherrelea shared a problem with us and we prayed for her, asking for guidance, clarity, and help.


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