26 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Freedom?

We discussed the final details of the leaflet for the Eynesbury kids camp, and we also talked around the issues in reaching out openly when this might put our families or friends in danger. HandcuffsAlthough this is not something that is a problem for us in the UK right now, it is a severe problem in some countries. It's interesting to ask ourselves how we'd react if this happened for us. We have no idea how the political and social scene will change, wherever we may live!

Chris asked, 'What are the two most important things we can do to make the church more successful?'. The major points seem to be that we should listen to the Lord's direction and follow it, and that we should give one another the freedom to do the same. After all, we must love the Almighty with all our heart, mind and strength and we must love our neighbour the same way we love ourselves (Mark 12:28-34, Romans 13:8-10). If we have that kind of love in our hearts we cannot help following the Lord's commands and giving one another the freedom to do so too.

Yahshua set us free so that we could live free (Galatians 5:1). And if he has set us free, we really are free! (John 8:36) Does this mean we are free to follow whatever men and women tell us? No! We always had that freedom, Israel demanded a king 'like the other nations' and in modern times people have followed all sorts of leaders.

No, we were set free to follow the Lord! We are free to hear his voice, to walk as he reveals, to love, and to give that same freedom to one another.

22 May 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Moggerhanger

We made very brief notes this week, there were only two of us as Roger and Jules were unable to join us. Bluebells at Moggerhanger ParkWe brought one another up-to-date on news from friends, prayed, and talked about a range of other topics.

Then we visited Moggerhanger Park for lunch as a change. We sat inside, ordered our meals, and later Jim come out of the kitchen and joined us for a chat. It turned out to be a useful time as Jim and Paul had not met before, but also because Paul may be able to use the Moggerhanger facilities for his Acorn Group in future.

19 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Family tragedy

We have only brief notes from this meeting.

Jim mentioned King David who was 'a man after the Lord's heart'. Despite this, he had some major issues in his life. One of his sons raped his own sister, and then another son killed the first. We thought about what a dreadful experience this must have been for David. What a tragedy to overtake a family.

We also talked about street pastors, an opportunity has come up to take part in training for this.

18 May 2009

Great Doddington - Can't see me!

We read Exodus 20:1-21 which concerns the law. As believers we are free from having to meet all the conditions of the law, Hiding her eyesfree providing we don't cause a weaker one to stumble in some way. So our freedom is constrained by love.

Jesus told us that loving the Almighty and loving your neighbour actually fulfils the law. Matthew 5:17-20 also discusses the law. It is not abolished, and unless our righteousness is greater than that of the Pharisees and law teachers we are certain to be barred from the Kingdom. How can we ever have this kind of righteousness? Only because of Christ, for he is our righteousness.

We considered the fruit of the Spirit as this seem to have a great deal to do with how we relate to other people, in other words how we love our neighbour.

Barbara read Psalm 106:1-3, the Lord's love endures forever! We are blessed if we are constant in doing right, but again Christ himself is our righteousness. We also thought of Zechariah 14:9 where we read that there will one Lord and his name will be holy.

Chris prophesied, 'You are struggling, aren't you! You are heavyily loaded. Come to me and I will give you rest. I didn't call you to great faith or love or power but to walk with me day by day and speak the words I give you and confort one another. You are my children.'

Rachael described three visions. In the first she saw a woman bound in chains.

In the second vision she saw a little girl with here hands covering her eyes, and she was thinking, 'If I can't see, nobody can see me!' But Father says, 'Just because you can't see me doesn't mean you're not in my mind'.

And thirdly, she saw a large boat with sails caught up in a great storm. And she knew that no matter what the world does, this boat was not going to sink! Instead it will stay afloat and it will arrive at its destination no matter how big the storm.

Then Jody prophesied, 'I will release you from those chains. You are not invisible, I'll carry you through like a small child. I'll be your protector. You are like golden beams of light shining across a golden land. Like beams of light you will get past the darkness. I have shone beams of light for you so you will certainly get past the obstacles.'

'You just need to focus on being in me. You are not standing still, you are walking along the path, you will get through and you will be triumphant.

Rachael spoke another word from the Lord, 'I'd encourage each one of you to raise your head and see my face. I'd encourage each one to raise your eyes and see my eyes and know that I am here.'

Finally, we read Psalm 45, especially noting the verses about the bride, the princess (9-16).

17 May 2009

Wilstead - Church in a cafe

Rupert began by reading some passages from 'The Message', Psalm 23, Isaiah 55, and Matthew 11:28-30. Church in a cafeAll of these remind us of the peace we have in his presence. When times are hard and we have to work all hours, when it seems there's a situation we'll be unable to come through, Jesus is our peace and our comfort, the Almighty is our sustainer and refreshment.

Pete described a tree with birds sitting in its branches. This was a vision that had been shared with him some fifteen years ago. At the time the vision had encouraged them that there would be provision for every need they had at that time. And everything had worked out just fine.

We talked for a while about how we 'do' church. Chris shared the story of 'The Church at Table Number Two' (meeting in a restaurant) and was amazed later to discover that Rupert and Uli had been at the American meetings where those events were originally aired!

The point of the story however is that we need to do whatever he leads us to do, not what we have planned for ourselves. And we need to do what he shows us irrespective of whether we think it is likely to work on not, safe or dangerous, foolish or wise.

Uli wanted to read Romans 9:10-13 because this carries something of the same idea. Our choices and what we think appropriate count as nothing, the Lord will have it his way. He knows what is best.

15 May 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Not condemned

Roger was unable to make today's meeting.

Chris read parts of Romans 7:14 - 8:2 and noted that even Paul, a truly admirable apostle, suffered from issues with sin. We shouldn't be devastated when we fall, but we do need to pick ourselves up, turn back to the Lord, and continue as he gives us direction. We are not condemned because Christ has set us free. HalleluYah!

13 May 2009

The Internet Protocol

Did you know that your connection to the internet is dying on its feet? Honestly, it really is! Diagram of part of the internetAnd the consequences are simply horrendous. 'The Internet Protocol' sounds like a film title, but it's the name of an important underlying mechanism that is the foundation of email, web browsing, and much, much more.

Most of the world's computing devices are using version four of this protocol (IPv4). Its replacement, IPv6, was introduced more than a decade ago to provide a huge increase in the number of available addresses and a raft of improved functions including assured service quality, security, and more.

What does it all mean? - You might like to read what Carl Bialik of 'The Wall Street Journal' has to say on the subject. Hint, read the comments as well, some of them are illuminating.

Carl writes...
The increasingly crowded Internet [is] running out of Internet Protocol addresses, used to identify computers and Web sites on the network.

He quotes industry experts as saying...
The chaos that follows is difficult to predict. (Tony Hain - IPv6 Forum)

Individual users may not be able to view websites and communicate with certain Internet destinations - Corporations may not be able to communicate with certain critical government resources, clients, and potential customers - Governments may lose the ability to see and communicate with the 'whole Internet' - Citizens may not be able to access government information online (John Curran - American Registry for Internet Numbers)

And readers comment...
Internet technology was one of the last areas that the U.S. was a leader in, and that has now disappeared. (Lawrence Hughes - InfoWeapons)

There is the potential for big disruptions unless more enterprises and the public sector begin migrating. (Jennifer Geisler - Cisco)

The Wikipedia article on IPv6 explains that it was selected as the successor to IPv4 in 1998, and takeup at the end of 2008 was estimated as follows - Russia 0.76%, France 0.65%, Ukraine 0.64%, Norway 0.49%, United States 0.45%. Asia leads in terms of absolute deployed numbers, but the relative penetration was smaller (e.g., China 0.24%).

IPv4 addresses are expected to finally run out in 2010, or possibly 2011. We have very little time.

There is no excuse for the slow rollout, IPv6 is available on all major operating systems in use in commercial, business, and home consumer environments. IPv6 networking gear has been increasingly available for many years.

How will this affect the end user? - At worst, large chunks of the internet will be unreachable. It will be as if those countries and companies don't exist.

However, it's likely that losses of connectivity will begin slowly and then accelerate. This might increase the sense of urgency as customers begin complaining to their service providers.

Sections of the internet where IPv6 is not yet supported will become islands of poor and incomplete service and will be increasingly isolated and unusable. IPv4 is likely to wither away, but it may take a long time to disappear completely.

With less than 1% of the network already converted and less than two years remaining before we start to see a real impact, anyone who can influence the rate of IPv6 uptake should begin lobbying hard right away.

Further sources of information
  • IPv6.org - the official home page for the new protocol.
  • The IPv6 Portal - lots of useful information
  • The IPv4 Address Report - generated daily with the latest details of IPv4 address availability
  • The Choice - a 2007 document by Jordi Palet examining ways of alleviating the dearth of IPv4 addresses (PDF)

12 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Grass and flowers

This was a very unusual evening. Dot joined us and arrived ahead of everyone else, Chris was still pushing the vacuum cleaner around as they were late home and had run out of time Flowers in a green pathso she helped finish the washing up and then we took coffees through to the conservatory. Donna also joined us this week, then Sean arrived and told us that because of family committments he'd need to leave early tonight, and the minutes ticked by and there was still no sign of Jim. Then finally, just as Sean was leaving, Jim arrived after a meeting at work that had overrun.

We did spend some time in prayer, but most of the time was spent planning out the basic design for the youth camp leaflet. We showed Dot the 2007 camp video which she hadn't seen before, and we decided on a folded A4 leaflet with the main details on the front in colour, a centre spread of further information for parents, and notes on how to apply on the back cover.

Dot shared a vision she'd had recently. She was walking through a desert, a barren landscape of boulders and sand. The boulders were too large to move and it was terribly hard work walking in the dry sand. Then she noticed that the path she was walking along was turning green and there were little flowers underfoot too. The green path stretched behind her, marking out the route she had taken. Ahead she could see only desert and a little gully where there was a stream. And she understood that when she walked near the stream, the green path became more lush and healthy, but if she strayed away from the stream the green carpet thinned out and became more sandy again.

11 May 2009

Great Doddington - Tiny buds

There were many people on our hearts for prayer today, family and friends.

Sherrelea spoke about the judge and the nagging widow and how we should never give up in prayer. Buds on a grapevineJody mentioned Lamentations 3:22-25. The Lord's compassion and grace are 'new every morning', that is how faithful he is!

Then Jody saw a dead-looking branch of vine, but when she looked closely she noticed that there were tiny buds. And she prophesied, 'When things seem to be dead in the winter, there is still life. It may look dead to you, but it's not dead to me. So don't be anxious. Enjoy the sunshine and the clouds in the sky above, rest in me, have no fear or doubt.'

Chris shared a picture of a tethered goat. And Father said, 'You are not goats, you are the sheep of my flock. You're not tethered to a stake by a rope, but you are tethered to me by my love for you and by your love for me. You are free to wander within the range of my love, and my love reaches you everywhere. You are never beyond reach, you are safe wherever you go, whatever you do - for you are mine.'

In connection with someone Sherrelea knows, Sue said, 'J is going down a corridor, and the doors are closing as he passes by. he is being guided into the truth.'

Glenn read proverbs 31 about the wife of noble character and he felt this was especially relevant for one of us in the meeting. He also shared an experience he'd had many years ago when he'd been afraid of financial failure and was reluctant to pay some bills because there was no income to cover them. But the Lord took away this fear and he went ahead and wrote cheques to cover all the bills (though the funds were not in the bank). On his way home the following day he had a call from a client to say that a large and unexpected cheque was on the point of going out to him. This unexpected amount covered all the outstanding bills.

And finally Sherrelea read Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

07 May 2009

Eaton Ford - Empty barn?

While we were chatting this evening and considering prayer needs, Jim's mobile rang with news that a friend's toddler granddaughter had just fallen downstairs and been taken to hospital. A wooden barnWe prayed for her and for all the family, and heard later that she was home from hospital with no ill effects.

As we moved into a time of quiet peace in the Lord's presence, Jim reminded us that, 'Even though the barns are empty, I will rejoice in the Lord' (Habakkuk 3:17-18). He pointed out that when we face difficulties in our lives we have to get through them, and often this involves praise and thankfulness despite the problems.

We spent most of the evening considering how to proceed with the youth camp now that we know the school field will not be available. We discussed the kind of leaflet we would need for a door-to-door drop and what information we should put on it.

Eaton Ford (day) - Talking and eating

Roger was unable to make it today, but as usual we spent some time discussing issues in our lives and the lives of friends and family, prayed for some of these needs, chatted informally, and shared a simple lunch together.

05 May 2009

Great Doddington - Forest bridge

We talked about Canada for a while, and Jody wondered whether it's right in principle to go or not. We often know what we would like to happen in our lives, Woodland sceneand obstacles and difficulties often get in the way, but how do we discern what is right?

Glenn referred to Jeremiah 32 in which Jeremiah buys a field. He has to follow the right process and there is a due process we must go through in everything we do. There's a promise of restoration here, nothing is too hard for the Lord to do.

Jody had a vision of a forest. She saw how the light changes, and there were so very many different shades of green. Looking deeper into the wood she saw a bridge made of the materials produced by the woodland itself. Trunks of trees, rough-cut branches, but with a wire mesh on the footway to prevent people from slipping. She felt that Father wants us to see that the walk we are on encompasses the whole wood, not just one little part of it.

Rachael saw a picture too, this time of people going both ways along a road. Some of them seemed to be on fire, and this seemed to suggest the Holy Spirit. She prayed, 'We want to be on fire for you, burned up by you'.

Chris brought a prophecy. The Lord said, 'I have a throne-room, and it's in your heart. But who will you place upon that throne? Will you put my Son in that place, will you enthrone him in your heart. Or will you put yourself in that place?

We spent some time praying for various people and situations.

Are you an edgling?

Stowe Boyd is a computing/internet/techie guru. He's the kind of guy who tweets from conference sessions every few seconds Stowe Boydand he's almost always worth following. He has his ear firmly on society's sounding board, and he picks up and comments on the most subtle of vibrations.

Back in 2006 he wrote a blog post highlighting the way that influence in modern society is moving from 'centroids' to 'edglings'. You might like to consider which term best describes you.

What he wrote about industry, government, and society is equally true for the church. It's uncanny. We think 'house church' is unrelated to developments in society generally, but it's just part of a much wider trend. House church folks are 'edglings' par excellence.

Stowe Boyd - Stowe is what Wolfgang Simson would rightly call a prophet. He may or may not be a believer, but he is a man who sees core issues. He recognises the difference between the day-to-day view of the majority and unborn megatrends that are bubbling beneath the surface. He knows they will burst out soon and surprise everybody. How does a prophet know these things? Prophets don't know in some mysterious way, they are sensitive to tiny vibrations that others miss, subtleties of heart, mind, spirit. When they speak of these things they often go unheard, they are commonly rejected as fools, interfering busybodies, or enemies of the state.

Here are some quotes from Stowe's 2006 post, see how they mesh with the recent growth of house churches worldwide.

Personally, I favor the term Edgling because I want to move away from media metaphors, and use economic or sociological ones. This is not about who is "producing content" and who is "consuming" it: which is the basic paradigm of media thinking. Instead, it is about control moving from the central, large, mass-market organizations -- which includes media companies, but also other large organizations, like government, religious organizations, and so on -- out to the individuals -- we, the people -- at the edge.

As power moves from the center to the edge the "Centroids" -- those that hold with the centralized power of an industrial era -- will scream about all the negatives that they perceive in the out-of-control future that threatens the basis of their worldview. But the Edglings will find it liberating to get out of the stranglehold on information, communication, and the marketplace that centralized organizations attempt to impose.

Centroid or edgling? - Does that ring any bells? Take a look at Stowe's list of characteristics...

Work and PoliticsTop-down, authoritarianBottom-up, egalitarian
Point-of-ViewObjective, ImpartialSubjective, Partial
FamilyNuclearPost-nuclear networks
Political scopeNationalismRegionalism
EnvironmentExploitative, UnsustainableRestorative, Sustainable
SpiritualityCentralized, Dogmatic, Outside of NatureDecentralized, Enigmatic, Nature based

George Barna - You might like to compare this with George Barna's comments in his book 'Revolution'. Here's an extract from p 13-14...

I want to show you what our research has uncovered regarding a growing sub-nation of people, already well over 20 million strong, who are what we call Revolutionaries ... They have no use for churches that play religious games ... worship services that drone on without the presence of God ... ministries that compromise ... people in ministry ... who seek popularity ... man-made monuments ... accredited degrees.

There's a fresh wind blowing through the church as also through society. People sense that it's time to move on, to change the rules, to move from organisations with centralised authority to organic groups at the periphery, where the edglings are living and meeting in a fresh, new way.

It's no longer about organisations, it's about an organism that is alive and can reproduce in a natural way.

01 May 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Flowers in the branches

We watched the DVD about 'The Church at Table Number Two', we all enjoyed it, and Roger in particular felt it was relevant and helpful in his situation in the Offords. Clematis in flowerA group had been meeting at home and trying to plant churches - but it wasn't happening. Father had another plan and opened it up for them, step by step.

Chris described a vision of an ugly tree, it had dead-looking branches and was not attractive in itself. But a beautiful clematis was growing through its branches and flowering profusely. And we realised that Yahshua is the clematis! It him who gives us colour and fragrance and beauty, though we have none in our own right.

Paul also shared a vision, in this case a picture of darkness and light. And he knew that we have to get people out of the dark into the place where there is glorious light. As we go along through life we need to notice the doors that Jesus is opening, we need to spot them and use them.


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