29 October 2009

Little Paxton - Shaking foundations

As we sat down to chat, Jim told us about his growing desire to work amongst people on the streets in St Neots. Something along the lines of Street Pastors.

He read Titus 1:6-9, 5 and pointed out that whilst this is true for elders, Collapsed masonryit is also good for all of us. In chapter two there is guidance on how to live, and chapter three is about right living in society. It's clear we are born to serve. Jim said Titus is such a great book about the Lord's love. It's always good to dwell on the word!

Along with the written word we also have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. I explained how much I had been benefitting recently from Mark Virkler's approach to listening and conversing with the Lord, and I shared some of the things the Spirit had impressed on me earlier in the week. (You can read more about this on the LK10 Resources website - and other good ideas besides. You can read about it in action on the 'Stories from the Revolution' blog. I highly recommend it.)

We discussed the Tough Talk meeting planned for 12th December, we need to get the details and draft a letter for the parents to go out soon. We also talked about a breakfast meeting planned for 7th November.

Jim described a picture that popped into his mind. He saw a sunset, then a sunrise, then a church with snow around it, and finally a building with sun glowing on the brickwork. He understood it to show how the seasons will come and go but Father's word remains steadfast and true regardless of the season.

Sean had two words in his mind, 'shaking foundations', and felt they were significant in some way. I mentioned that weak foundations will fail so it really does matter where and how we build. We are built on the Rock, how important to be sure of that and to remember it. Jim also spoke about our need to stand on a firm foundation.

26 October 2009

Colworth (CU) - a house of love

We considered chapter nine of Neil Carter's book 'Christ in Y'all'. Usually someone leads our CU sessions and I'd volunteered today.

Chris In Y'allI thought this chapter would be a real spur to some useful discussion; and so it proved. I read the first three pages and then we shared our thoughts.

Dudley was impressed by the simplicity of Neil Carter's approach. He's right, and I think this is one of the strengths of the entire book.

Andy pointed out that human involvement adds complication. He gave the example of Methodist 'stationing'. Those looking for a ministry make a written statement of their objective. Congregations looking for a minister also write such a statement. Then an attempt is made to match up the people with the posts. This a complex arrangement, the only way through is to trust the Lord.

We were struck by the thought that love is active, it's not just a feeling. One of us mentioned that when his daughter says, 'Love me Daddy', she means she wants a hug.

Another thought was that we sometimes see non-believers displaying selfless love, but we are looking to love one another with Christ's love, and this is an entirely different matter. Neil Carter quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote, 'There is a human love of one's neighbour...Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritaul love loves him for Christ's sake.'

25 October 2009

A word from Yahshua

Sometimes the Lord speaks to his people very directly, in fact he does this often though we may not hear unless we are listening expectantly. Dark clouds and blue skyNonetheless, when we do listen he often speaks, and usually it takes the form of encouragement or guidance.

During a meeting on 23rd October Dot shared something he'd said to her back in the summer. These encouraging words are about trusting him and following him even when we don't know where he might lead us. But we know that he loves us and his plans for us are always the best.
Word - Clouds & Sky

The clouds are rolling by, some seem faster than others, some seem brighter than others, some are really dark but there.... see it?... there.... over there...Yes ....it’s a clearing..... a peep of blue... the sky poking through...... see it?

Yes I know it all seems bleak, unsure, unsettling... you don’t know the way....you’re not sure what’s happening.....but I know....I know the way for I am the way.....I will take you by the hand and lead you if you let me.....I will take you by the way that is right...but you need to take hold of my hand and let me lead even if it looks bad, the wrong way.... that you don’t understand what’s happening.... RELAX...I’m Ya Dad...

I won’t let you get lost....I know the way... I love you and want to lead you into all that I have for you...There’s Sooooo much..... the world cannot hold it all....my store house is bulging with things I have for you....come take my hand and let me lead you into all that I have for you....I can’t wait...I’m Soooo excited....All these gifts I have for you....all this stuff I want for you.....My heart is bursting with joy and love and expectancy....will you come?....

Will you take my hand and let me lead you?....wherever?....whenever?.... whatever?....however?.....My hand is outstretched towards you.......waiting....waiting for your response...........

Written while at the New Frontiers camp at Shuttleworth, 2009. Thanks to Dot for permission to use her text. Copyright © Dot Lundie, 2009.

23 October 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - His plan or mine?

When I arrived at Paul's this morning Stuart and Jules were already there chatting over cups of tea or coffee; I sat down and joined them. Roger turned up a bit later but Stuart set off to travel home.

Architect's planWe talked freely about people and events in our lives recently. These included Jules' college work and the difficulties in starting a Christian Union or something similar, one of Paul's contacts who is looking for a housegroup in the area, Paul's upcoming hospital appointment, someone else who has helped Paul with advice recently, and Roger's desire to reach people in his village. We prayed for all these people and for one another generally.

I had a word from the Lord, 'I will not follow your plans, I'll follow my plans! But I love you and will never leave or forsake you.'

Paul mentioned his friend Jim who has recently believed in Jesus. More prayer and some rejoicing!

Roger read from John 16:17-33, particularly verse 33 where Jesus told the 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.'

We finished our time together with a meal and another drink; I went home encouraged.

22 October 2009

Eaton Ford - Like tiny babies

Sean got us off to a rather alarming start by showing us a photo of his son, David's, arm. He's had an accident resulting in localised but quite extensive burns to his hand and forearm. He was treated at the hospital but is home again and recovering well.

This provoked a thought from Jim about the disciples. A tiny babyAt one point when a Samaritan village had proved less than helpful, James and John had asked Yahshua, 'Shall we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?' (Luke 9:51-56) They demonstrated commendable faith because they believed they could ask and receive, but they showed no compassion.

I pointed out that they had authority, but no grace. And this combination of authority without grace has done immeasurable harm in the church down the ages. We need grace far more than we realise! Dot put it differently, 'We need to know who we are in him'. How true!

Jim reminded us that a tiny mustard seed of faith is enough for the Lord to do the rest. We thought how important it is to put our own plans aside and to let him reveal his plan for us, step by step, day by day. Dot said, 'When we get to the end of our ability to cope, then he steps in.' And in order for this to happen, we need to find out what has happened in our lives that has moulded us. People and events in our past can affect the way we live today, we need to revisit those pasts and deal with remaining issues before we can go forward again unencumbered by the effects.

I shared a picture of a tiny infant lying on a rug and wearing a baby-grow. And I understood how the baby is fed and protected by the parents. They are totally devoted to this tiny new life that has come and so disrupted their own lives. Meanwhile, babies have no concept of the fact that one day Mum or Dad will be teaching them to ride a bike! And in the same way our Father loves us, cares for us, and sees what we cannot. He sees that one day he will be showing us how to do things that right now we cannot begin to imagine.

Dot read a word from the Lord that she'd written down in the summer. Jim prayed, 'You are transforming us. Through the darkness shines a light - Jesus. He is the transformning light so that we can become more like him.'

Following a tongue there were several interpretations. Dot prayed, 'You are awesome, you're my Dad. My heart overflows with love for you and who you are.' And Jim shared that the Lord wants us to break through or burst through into knowing him as Lord of all our difficulties, joys, heartaches, and everything in our lives. He prayed, 'Fill us with vitality and passion so that we may speak something of Christ into the lives of others.

From Dot - 'the joy of the Lord is my strength'. From Sean - 'you just want to lift us up in you'. From Jim - 'Healing is happening, pain is being dealt with'.

We sang the old song, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord'.

19 October 2009

Colworth (CU) - Prepare for mission

Once again, Dudley brought some thoughts about evangelism based on 'A Passion for Life' A Roman clay jarplanned for next March.

This time we considered 'preparing for mission'. Churches vary in culture so although we must be faithful to the truth we may also need to be creative with our strategy. A bit of variety may help here. As with Paul in 1 Corinthians 9, we will need to become 'all things to all men'. However, we must certainly avoid cult methods and marketing methods

We read 2 Corinthians 4:1-10 and considered the fact that we are indeed 'jars of clay' yet we contain such a treasure.

We watched a DVD by Richard Cokin on 'Preparing for Mission'. He explained that the team wants to create as many different opportunities for mission as possible. He spoke about honesty and identified four area in which we need to be honest.
  • Honesty in the message - We must speak the truth about the gospel. There is no room for manipulation, heavy shepherding, or rousing oratory. We must let the Holy Spirit do the work. We must 'crucify' our fine style and language and say things simply.
  • Honesty about blindness - We must accept that people really do struggle to see the light. Evangelism can be frustrating, the evil one clouds people's minds. We must pray for them but also spread the message very widely/
  • Honesty about Christ - he is the message! We must never preach ourselves, but only Christ. People will see the Father in and through the Son, Jesus.
  • Honesty about weakness - the power comes from the Almighty, not from us. We, like Paul, are clay pots. We can't open people's eyes; only the Father can do that.

The prodigal's older brother

A couple of days ago I added a message to a thread on the Koinonia Life Discussion Forum. Jerusalem skylineAfter writing what I had to say (two short paragraphs) I found the Holy Spirit prompting me to continue.

Perhaps you'd like to see it too.

This is what he gave me...

Q - How should we live our lives if we really, really want to honour [the Almighty]? What does he want from us? He rescued us and brought us into the light for a reason. What is that reason? In other words, what does he lack that he wants from us? Does he lack anything? If he already has everything, what can we add?

A - Remember, this is my personal answer. Yours will be different, though all are valid because they are specific to where we are on our particular journey with the Lord.

For me, then, I'd have to say that he wants me to love him with everything that is in me. I think that is basically all he wants, if I do that one thing all the rest will follow day by day. It's not that he lacks anything, just that he loves me like the Father of the prodigal loved his son.

I am so like the prodigal son! The son didn't go home because he loved his father, he went home because he knew he wouldn't starve or die of exposure as his father's worker. He went home because he knew his father was a good person who cared about those under him. He knew that in his father's domain he'd be safe. And he expected nothing more than that.

He left home because he wanted to do things his own way, he wanted to be independent (he sinned). He came home again because he realised how much better that would be (he was convicted and changed his direction). But then he got a big surprise.

When he came close to home (not even there yet) his father came out to meet him and threw his arms around him and kissed him. And a feast was ordered, and new clothes, and a gold ring, and sandals, and a joyful reception as 'my son who was lost and is now found'. Does that sound familiar? It should!

I went to the Father for safety and rescue from death, but I found absolute love and favour as his son. Totally undeserved and totally unexpected.

And now I'm discovering what all prodigal sons and daughters discover. My Father has more for me than mere rescue. His own heart is leaping for joy at my arriving - even before I get to the door. He came out to meet me with a huge beaming grin, a giant hug, and a clean cloak of the finest fabric. He's forgotten the foolish misdeeds of my independent heart, the past is of no interest to him, the only thing he seems to care about is that I am here again - home.

I am not a servant, I am a son! How many believers labour all their lives under the impression they are only paid servants? The thinking goes, 'If I work hard evangelising, preaching, teaching kids, reading the Bible every day, praying regularly and fervently, growing the church, never resting - then I will be rewarded'. But Papa says, 'You are my son, what you have is not earned but inherited. I want your love first: your obedience will follow not because I pay you wages but because you love me.'

He loves me, he always did and (like Wendy Francisco's dog) he is glad I'm back.

If I want to really honour him I will love him back with all of my heart, not just when it suits me but also when it goes against what I want or would naturally choose. I need to stay so close that I hear his voice minute by minute saying, 'This is the way, walk in it'.

And have you ever thought that Jesus is like the older brother? Does that come as a shock? Why would I even say that?

Look at it like this. Jesus is our older brother, he is the firstborn - right? But he didn't behave like the older brother in the story, did he? Instead, he travelled to the country far away from his home, he searched until he found the muddy field where the herd of pigs were eating and discovered his younger brother who was ready to eat pig food because he was starving.

And our older brother not only paid the price for our sin, but he also came and found us and said, 'Come on home, you have wasted your share of the inheritance but half of Dad's infinite supply is still an infinite supply. I will share my portion of everything with you. Come on home, Dad is pacing up and down waiting for us. His heart will leap with joy when he sees you. Leave the pigs, come on home. You are not only forgiven, you are also loved and missed. Come home.

Jesus is the older brother, but with compassion and the same love as the Father. And that's the difference that he wants us to understand. The older brother in the story had no grace, but our older brother IS grace!

So what can I do to honour Papa and my Older Brother? Nothing. Except for one little thing - love Dad with everything that is in me, and love those around me like I love myself. Isn't that what Yahshua said to do? Isn't that exactly what he himself does? He loves his Dad and he loves us. So follow his example. That's all - no paid work! Just love.

Grace and peace to all, from the Father and the Son!


PS - So why did Jesus describe the older brother the way he did? I think there are several reasons, including the usual interpretations that are given about the superior way we sometimes treat others, including the way the Jews often viewed the Gentiles 2000 years ago, and the way the church often views Judaism today. Father, forgive us! But perhaps he also wants us to see that he doesn't treat us the way we are used to being treated. Perhaps he's saying, 'Hey, that's an ordinary, worldly brother. But I'm not like that brother'.

17 October 2009

We don't need no more trouble

I'm reposting this You Tube video which I first saw on Kent Burgess's Faithfully Dangerous blog.Bougainvillea in Jerusalem

It's a lovely, laid-back piece of music from 'Playing for Change' with artists from all over the globe. It has a gentle but insistent theme. Everywhere is war. Some dying, some crying. We don't need no more trouble. What we need is love. Beautiful!

While we're on the subject of peace, for some extraordinary stories of reconciliation at work, read Julia Fisher's book 'Israel: the Mystery of Peace'.

And finally, back to the music. If you haven't already heard it, here it is...

Testing Google Wave

I had an invitation from Google to join their Wave preview, and very nice it is too. I invited the limited number of friends I'm allowed and started waving with them, Google Waveand we did a lot of the instant messaging things that I imagine most people will begin with.

But then I wondered how Wave would work in 'email' mode. The text that follows is copied straight from the Google Wave interface and pasted here. It explains some interesting thoughts that came to me as I wrote my first extended item in Wave.

Note: The 'wave address' in the footer won't work with Wave. It's just represented as an email address. I have no idea how Google will arrange mail to wave connections. But I'm confident that Google has already thought this through, at least in principle.

Using Wave like email - 9:25 am

Hi everyone,

This is my first attempt at using Wave in an email-like fashion. So far we've done quite a bit of instant-message-style waving, but I have a sense that the email approach will feel very different.

Thinking about it all while making the morning cuppa for me and Donna I could see that 'email' would be different (some of my best ideas pop into my head in embryo form at the kitchen sink or weeding the garden or emptying the cat's litter tray).

For one thing it answers a question we'd already pondered. Why have Google given us @googlewave.com addresses, why not use @gmail? Well, I think the answer may simply be that if Wave did have IMAP, SMTP and POP extensions, the new addresses would allow outsiders to email us and the mail would appear in our inboxes as a blip (albeit a large one like the one I'm typing now). And we could send a long blip to a non-Wave address and have it delivered via the SMTP extension. This makes a lot of sense to me. I hope they enable it quite soon, it would make it possible for a user to move entirely from email to Wave.

What other thoughts occur to you guys about the email 'mode'. I think the entire approach of wave is very clever, that a single system can be used in so many different ways. A real breakthrough. And it is probably going to be one of those disruptive innovations that we'll all take for granted in the end. A real brainwave on Google's part to make it both open and extensible and to offer their own client and server code free to everyone to run on their own hardware as well.

One other observation. When I created this wave I just closed the box that lets you select contacts for the wave. So I'm alone in this blip as I type it. When it's finished I'll drag in the contacts I want to send it to. That makes it feel even more email-like.

And I used the first blip as the title with this large, second one as the body. It works well like this.

What do you guys think?


PS - For fun I cut and pasted my email footer below. Then I added my wave address and made my mail address into a link. It seems so 'normal' like that. And anyone could add a wave address to a real email footer so wavers could click it. Excellent.

PPS - I just found a typo and fixed it - and then added this PPS. You can't do THAT in email!

'Personally I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.' - Winston Churchill (http://quote.scilla.org.uk)

Chris Jefferies (St Neots, UK)
Wave: chris.jefferies@googlewave.com
E-mail: chris@scilla.org.uk
Web: http://chris.scilla.org.uk/

16 October 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - a trip to Godmanchester

Paul and I set off at 10:30 to visit our friends Stuart and Jackie in Godmanchester. But then things got a bit muddled. Godmanchester in CambridgeshireWe intended to meet at Paul's at 12:00, but were delayed returning from Godmanchester. By the time we arrived, Roger had given up and driven home again.

So in the end it was just Paul and me. We ate pizza for lunch and then chatted and prayed for friends. We talked about the need for our friends to see us living harmoniously in relationship together as his people.

Paul prayed for the kids from the camp back in the summer, for the planned reunion in December, for the next camp in 2010, and for there to be a real impact in the lives of the young people so that they would come to know Jesus for themselves.

Then we spent some time reading from Julia Fisher's book, 'Israel: The Mystery of Peace'. We read about a third of chapter two, 'To Gaza with love' and thought about the need to reach across forbidden lines. Loving our enemies is sometimes the only way to break down the most serious divisions in this world.

15 October 2009

Little Paxton - become empty, be filled

We were challenged to think about how Jesus always had compassion on people. We tend to discriminate between 'good' and 'bad' people; but he doesn't distinguish like that, Emptying an old pondfor him nobody is a lost cause. We all start off bad, yet if we trust him and follow him he rescues us without distinction.

Jim spoke about the pain we all face in life, illness, loss, rejection - it's different for each of us but we all suffer pain and difficulty of some kind in our lives. He wondered if the Lord puts us through certain experiences so that we can be healed in some way.

Mary mentioned the words Jesus spoke about forgiving others so that we can be forgiven. (It's worth reading the whole chapter.) If our hearts are not open to forgive others they will be too tightly closed to receive or even recognise his forgiveness towards us. We certainly need to care about others. This reminded Jim of the Roman centurion who cared enough about his servant to find Jesus and ask for help, believing that it would be done. He had remarkable faith, and it was done.

Jim told us about Bethany's forthcoming visit to Auschwitz and how they'd watched the film 'Schindler's List' as a form of preparation. In Schindler we can clearly see how even a 'bad' person can have a deeply caring compassion for others.

Another thought that came to us was that we need to spend time with Jesus and as we do so, little by little we will become more like him. The reason the Holy Spirit was given to us was to reveal him to us and to teach us all about him.

Mary talked about a Pentecostal church she had been to some years ago and how they'd really gone for vigorous praise and worship with an emphasis on spiritual gifts. And although it had seemed quite extreme to her, she was sure in her heart that it was OK. They became quite carried away yet it was clear to her that it was inherently good, and therefore not frightening or alarming.

Jim played us a You Tube video 'Empty Me' by Chris Sligh. We watched it but without sound as the speakers weren't available, so we just read the words. It's even better with the music!

Jim also read Philippians 3:12-16 and reminded us that we have confidence in attaining the goal. But where does our confidence come from? For the Pharisees in Jesus' day education and following the Law gave them confidence. Paul was trained as a Pharisee but the past didn't hold him back. Like him, our confidence is in Christ by the power of his Spirit in us.

It's not about the past or about the things we have done (good or bad), in the end it's only about the direction we are facing now and the goal we are aiming for - which is to come ever closer to Jesus himself.

12 October 2009

Colworth (CU) - a passion for life

Dudley brought some thoughts about evangelism based on 'A Passion for Life' a mission planned for next March.

A Passion for LifeHe challenged us to consider whether evangelism seems a fearful thing to attempt or a natural thing to do. He asked why we thought we should evangelise, and he suggested it should be a major part of our lives as believers. What are our motives for evangelising?

We responded that for the individual, evangelism seems to be hard work, we may be afraid of losing our friends, embarrassment can be an issue for us, and we don't always know what to say. And corporately there may be disagreement over the way to do it, and perhaps we are disadvantaged by the fact that we don't really love one another.

Dudley showed a DVD about the Chamaeleon Principle. This is based on the idea that we tend to hide ourselves in the world. We looked at 2 Corinthians 5:9-19 and 6:1-2 in which we see four reasons for sharing the good news. Our fear of Christ should persuade us (5:11), his love for us should compel us (5:14), he has commissioned us (5:19), and there is an opportunity right now (6:1-2).

Kevin mentioned that we reach out from a place of community. David pointed out that we all have different gifts and we need to work together. I mentioned that we shouldn't hawk the gospel around, but we should always be ready to explain the hope that is within us (2 Corinthians 2:17, 1 Peter 3:15). People need to see that there is something unusual about us.

There are also some useful tools that we can use, Alpha courses for example. But these are good tools, not substitutes for personal outreach.

09 October 2009

Eaton Ford (day)

Roger got us off to a good start today by reading Hebrews 11:32-39, where the writer lists a series of Old Testament characters of faith. He told us that we should add one another to this list! Abraham about to sacrifice IsaacThen he read Hebrews 12:1-2 and reminded us that it's easy to lose heart and grow weary.

Paul remarked how interesting it was that the faith theme had continued from last night's meeting. He told us about a Jamaican woman he'd seen on TV. The Lord had called her to help troublesome kids in her neighbourhood by encouraging them to produce garden crops and share the harvest with the elderly in the neighbourhood.

I urged us to consider whether we should listen more to the Lord and do less of what seems to us to be good. The Jamaican woman had it right, she listened, heard what the Lord was telling her, and did his bidding. We simply need to still our hearts, focus on Jesus, listen and have an inner conversation with him, and write down whatever he shows us.

We prayed together for guidance for Roger and Ruth in the village where they live. They want to reach out to their neighbours but have not been seeing much success so far. Perhaps it's time to change the emphasis.

08 October 2009

Eaton Ford - Guard your heart

We met at Paul's this evening, the first time for the Thursday evening group. As usual we began by chatting over tea or coffee, and then Jim changed our focus by asking us to read Proverbs 4:20-27.

The Beautiful Gate's archway todayJim explained that this passage had been shared at The River Church and he had been much struck by it. Verse 23 urges us to 'guard your heart' because it is the wellspring of life. The things we have (or lack) in our lives are not so important, but it's essential our hearts are true.

Sean pointed out that this theme carries on from last week when we thought about not worrying. We can just trust the Father to provide what we need when we need it. Sean thought that we desperately need more faith, and told us that sometimes he feels angry and frustrated at his own lack of faith. Chris read Acts 3:1-8 where Peter and John healed the crippled beggar. They prayed for him, but then Peter reached out, took his hand, and helped him up - and then he was healed. Peter's faith was demonstrated by helping the cripple up, and only then was the man healed. Faith is active, it does something practical. It's rather like learning to ride a bike, swim, or speak in tongues - you will never do it unless you try.

When we were chatting together later we decided we'd meet at Jim's next week, and we'll invite a new friend from Sandy to join us.

06 October 2009

Great Doddington - A deep well

It was good to meet again, I hadn't seen these friends since before the trip to the USA.

We began by chatting over a coffee. One of the subjects that came up was how people are often dissatisfied with church life. A well of waterSometimes they stay, sometimes they move to another church. We thought that it's not a matter of the size of the group, but more to do with the way people treat one another. Large groups (more than about 15 or 20) are inevitably less intimate and personal so problems may go unnoticed. At the end of the evening this discussion continued, Glenn wondered how the structures and traditions of big church originated. I must lend him a copy of 'Pagan Christianity' as it covers this in detail.

We realise that we all have a part to play when we meet together. As Paul wrote, everyone can contribute something, we are even called to admonish one another when necessary - though with grace, wisdom, and love (Colossians 3:16).

Jody mentioned the Darwin film, 'Creation', which she had seen. Darwin was portrayed as wrestling with the disconnect between his twenty years of careful observation and the religion he had been taught. She read Hebrews 2:11. We have been made holy and are all of the one family, Jesus himself is our brother.

Chris mentioned how yesterday's meeting at work had been a reminder that we grow and encourage one another and this informs and empowers us in taking Jesus out to everyone we meet in our daily lives.

Jody read Isaiah 9:1-7 and then Rachael shared a picture of a deep well with a rope and bucket. She understood that the well in the picture is not external but represents a well within our hearts. We need to allow what's already in us to come out. This is the living water from Christ, who is the source.

Sue mentioned that it would be truly hard work winding up the heavy bucket and she saw that Jesus comes and pulls it up and splashes the water all over us! I added that we need to make a start and then he takes the strain, doing what we can't. Reaching out a hand and starting to wind is just having faith that he will do the work. We begin the task already knowing that he'll do it - and he does! He also gave Chris the words, 'I will never leave you'. Wherever you go, whatever you do in life, he is always going to be there for us. In him we live and move and exist.

Rachael had a second picture, this time a tree which had blood instead of sap. She could see the blood coursing through all the veins in the leaves.

Glenn explained that there is a link between the well and the tree. Water is for refreshing, it's fun, but it's also cleansing, it prepares us for service, and it irrigates. Water from the well can be poured from the bucket into the furrows in a field, and he saw plants spring up and burst into flower. They were like potatoes, the tops would die back but there was a harvest hidden underground. We have to wait for the hidden fruit to become ready. The tree has Jesus' blood in it, there is a time of increase, of harvest.

Jody challenged us with the idea that our culture has no understanding of blood, but she believes we are coming to a place where we will need to understand it clearly. Some time ago her son had needed surgery and she imagined seeing this being done (though of course in reality she has only seen the scars of the healed incision). She has no real idea of the intricate things the surgeons must have undertaken. And somehow she knows that we need to trust the Lord for what we don't see and don't understand, not just for the things we do see.

05 October 2009

Colworth (CU) - Sense of direction

This is the first time I've included notes on the Christian Union (CU) meetings at work. For the changes that made this possible see 'Changing times'.Spurgeon's book

Steph read Micah 5:7-8 and then an extract from Charles Spurgeon's 'The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith'.

This was such an encouragement to us as we understood that we too, like the dewdrops, can be a refreshing balm to those around us. And as we talked we discovered that the four of us who met all felt that Spurgeon's words expressed what we already knew.

We need, not so much to plan and build something here at work in our own strength, but simply to be the Lord's people, guided by him moment by moment. We can reach out to those around us and be a blessing to them just by being there with Jesus expressing his life through us. Meanwhile when we meet on Mondays we can encourage one another as he expresses his life through us jointly.

This thought about our role in the workplace meshes nicely with a Christians at Work bulletin we received just a few days ago. The article was very much about our workplace presence whether we are received well or badly. Sometimes we feel alone, but we are not alone!

We thought about some of those who couldn't be with us today, and prayed for them. And we wondered if we are at a point of changing our focus in some way. Time will tell. Perhaps Father's best for us is not that we should run an Alpha Course or plan some kind of outreach, but that we should just be there for one another so that CU remains a place of equipping and encouraging.

Our Father is wonderful and he arranges things far better than we could ever hope to do. Sometimes I think he loves to surprise us with the dew descending - and then we realise that we are the dew!

Electric car - Better Place video

The company that just might get electric vehicles on the road in a major way, 'Better Place', has released a video showing the system in action.

With Israel, Denmark, and Australia rolling out the scheme, and with both Nissan and Renault on board to manufacture the cars, it seems this idea may well be starting to get some traction - (pun intended :-)

See also my earlier blog entry about this system and the guy behind it, Shai Agassi.

02 October 2009

Eaton Ford (day) - Chat and prayer

This was the first time back at Paul's after my trip to America. Paul and I cleared some junk for a friend and took it to the tip, then went back to his place and chatted over coffee while we waited for Roger to arrive. Fish and chipsPaul and Roger had met while I was away, but only once. It had been a busy time.

When Roger joined us we spent a while discussing what has been happening in our lives and listing people and issues we felt we should include in our prayer. This covered illnesses, people moving house and needing to settle in a new area, family difficulties, and the possibility of volunteer prison work.

Afterwards it was good to chat about some of the things that I'd learned at the House2House conference. I ran through Neil Cole's thoughts on the effect of group size on the nature of meetings, what Neil calls the 'gravity' of social groupings.

2 to 3 people - a good number for intimate, real, deep interaction and relationship. Typical of the way closest friends interact. Jesus sent out the disciples in twos, and the list of disciples in Matthew 10:2-4 is given in pairs.

12 to 15 - this size of group interacts more like a family, there is much more diversity than a group of 2 or 3. Typical of simple, organic church.

25-75 - numbers in this range are useful for training, mission, and equipping.

120-150 - 10 to 15 churches meeting together for example. Groups of this size seem to be a relational maximum, people can't remember names and faces for groups exceeding this size. A network of simple churches is typically this size.

300-500 - not an unusual size for a conference or some kind of special gathering, functions that don't require that everyone knows one another.

Unlimited multitudes - Jesus taught large crowds on the hillside, at this scale it's possible to teach content but not to mentor.

We finished up by having lunch together, and as we hadn't prepared anything we walked down to the local chip shop and feasted on fish and chips or sausage and chips. Excellent food and great fellowship!

01 October 2009

Eaton Ford - Past and future

This evening's conversation centred around the X-treme Youth Camp 2009 and the possibility of remaining involved in 2010. Candle flamesWe agreed that we should press on with some kind of reunion this autumn, probably ten-pin bowling with pizza and chips or something similar.

We were less certain about repeating the camp next year. Although it seems like a good idea we really want to do what the Spirit leads us to do, not to rush in to do what we think seems best. We realised that there's no need to make any decision until the spring so we will aim to pray until we sense we have clear guidance.

I explained some of the things that happened while I was at the House2House conference, outlining one or two of the sessions. I also shared the beauty of New England with the richly forested Appalachians.

Jim read Matthew 6:25-34 and we considered what faith implies and the need to 'seek first the Kingdom'. It occurred to me that Wolfgang Simson's definition of the Kingdon is that it's 'the realm of the Lord's undisputed rule'. And that's what we need, to be ruled by him and not by our own wishes and plans.

Sean shared a picture of little candle flames, all spread out and all glowing and giving light. It was as if each child that came to the camp was one of the little flames. How encouraging! Just before this I had seen sunlight sparkling on the surface of rippled water, but only when Sean shared his picture did it make sense to me. The two pictures are different yet they both illustrate the same truth.

Jim then talked about recycling. The re-use of discarded paving slabs had been mentioned earlier in conversation. Jim imagined some slabs discarded and broken but realised that someone could collect them and put them to a new use, or to the same use but in a different place.

He explained that it's the same with us when we feel broken and of no value, and then Jesus picks us up and tells us that he loves us and values us and want to re-use us. He takes us and sets us to his purpose. What could be better than that?

And finally, Paul mentioned the old song 'This little light of mine' (it had been in his mind for several days). And he told us how sometimes lights need an extra battery to make them even brighter. And this is what the kids reunion will do.


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