28 February 2010

St Neots (Open Door) - Spirit and Word

During a time of praise and worship Tony shared a call from the Lord about the need to rejoice. A pair of glassesThis struck me as straight from Yahweh's heart.

There was an announcement about 'Hit the Streets' in Rushden, it will be a day of training in 'Treasure Huntiing' run by the Kings Arms from Bedford.

Scott from Biggleswade had been invited to speak this morning and began by telling us a little about his forthcoming move to Leicester, a very diverse city in terms of people groups.

His main address was based on Hebrews 1:1-3. He asked whether a church can be both Spirit based and Word based, many seem to be one or the other while some try to be both but end up with little power in either. The church in Acts was birthed by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-21), but they also devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching. For maturity we need a balance between Word and Spirit.

Scott quoted from AW Tozer who said, 'We must not pick passages, the only thing that can make a whole Christian is a whole Bible.'

Next, Scott worked through the Bible systematically. In the Old Testament we see the creation, the fall, and then the fact that Adam and Eve hide from the Lord and have to leave the garden, but we also read that the woman's offspring will crush the enemy (Genesis 3:13-14). We read of Noah and Abraham, the exodus and the law, the covenant and the phophets who speak about holiness. There are three main themes throughout - holiness, covenant, and the coming King.

In the New Testament the gospels describe Jesus' life. In Acts we read of Peter's first message which is really a theological treatise! (Acts 2:14-41) The letters unpack the detail and then Revelation goes back to speak once more of the coming King.

Understanding it in our own wisdom and learning only, we get a rather blurry view of the Bible, but when we put on the 'sight correcting spectacles' of Christ and look through him we see clearly.

Hebrews 1:1-3 shows that jesus has spoken with all authority. He is our revelation. he is the Word and we are called to be devoted to him. He fulfilled the law completely. He display's the Father's glory. he is the representation of the Father. He healed people and set them free. He upholds everything, he maintains us in life as a gift of grace. He died on the cross (the only necessary sacrifice), so we are now free. He rose again. He sits with the Father, when we go into the world we carry his presence and authority.

Anyone who teaches must focus on Jesus, we should read the whole Bible as a record of covenant love. Allow the truths of Hebrews 1:1-3 to set you free. And keep it all in balance, don't focus on anything or anyone but Jesus.

26 February 2010

MISSION - An experiment

Sean and I have been invited to join an experiment, initially for a period of three months. A modern laboratoryDuring that time we plan to meet weekly with the main objectives being mission-focussed through intentionally hearing from the Holy Spirit, paying attention to one another's hearts, and praying together.

We'll be using some of the ideas and methods we've been learning through CO2 to help us in practical ways, and we'll be comparing notes with other people taking part in the same experiment. It will be a huge help and encouragement to be on the same journey with people in other places.

In my own mind I'm quite clear that I don't want anything I do or think to detract from hearing and seeing what Yahshua will show me (and Sean) through the Spirit. The only thing I can be sure about is that the Lord knows better than I do. I'm expecting him to demonstrate while I watch, and then coach me while I try to follow him.

Today was our first meeting as part of the experiment. So far we have agreed that we feel an urgent need to be reaching people in the area around St Neots and Huntingdon and that we need to pray - together and separately. We have made a list of people we feel led to visit and have begun making contacts. And we have started communicating with our fellow experimenters.

We plan to get together weekly and I may be posting here again after some of those sessions.

25 February 2010

NEWS - CO2 is spreading like a virus

It's time to mention Church of Two (CO2) again. Influenza virus particlesAs far as I'm aware nobody was doing CO2 in the UK until I brought it here from Dallas in September 2009. I'd like to outline the history of it since then.

Infections follow a pattern that is true for viruses, bacteria, trees, rabbits, and even us humans. The stages of this pattern are...

Infection > Latency > Spread > Symptoms > Impact > Dieback

Lets look at these one by one.

Infection - In this stage an active form spreads to a new home. With a cold virus, you might breathe in virus laden particles after someone with a cold sneezed. Or you might touch a contaminated object and then transfer the virus to your mouth or eyes.

The active form of CO2 is the knowledge of what it is, how to do it, and the value it brings. By the time I returned from Dallas I was already infected.

Latency - This is the time during which nothing much seems to happen. The cold virus has to enter a living cell, a seed takes time to absorb water and germinate. During the latent period something essential has to happen but there is no sign of it yet.

In the case of CO2 I needed to find someone who wanted to hear about it and do it with me. Until I found that person, the CO2 virus was present in the UK - but latent.

Spread - With the cold virus this is the time during which more and more people are becoming infected. It's like a chain reaction. A person is infected, becomes a mobile latent infection, and begins sneezing at home, at work, on the bus, and in the shops.

For CO2 this is the phase we are in right now in the UK. A number of people are using it daily and are starting to pass it on to others. CO2 is spreading!

Symptoms - With a cold, people hardly notice the early signs (the first few sneezes). But as the virus takes hold in a major way there are clear and unpleasant signs that something is going on. Sufferers feel unwell, they might run a slight temperature, breathing is more difficult, they may have a sore throat, a cough, a headache.

In the case of CO2 the symptoms often include a growing desire to read and understand the Bible, more prayer time, a deeper understanding of one another, a greater sense of the Lord's purpose, an increasing desire to grow spiritually, greater peace, joy and love, a new sense of the journey, and a growing drive to reach others with the good news.

I certainly have some of these symptoms and more are appearing all the time. CO2 is beginning to facilitate significant change in me. It's also having a similar impact in my CO2 partners.

Impact - As a cold virus takes hold in the population there's a change in society over and above the symptoms of individuals. People might start to avoid crowds, buy more cough medicine, stay away from work, this in turn might affect the short term profitability of companies, or cause staff shortages in schools, hospitals etc.

For CO2 the longer term impact in the UK is not yet known. The possibilities include wider scale outreach and mission, increased church planting and growth, revival, improved care for the elderly, sick, and disadvantaged in society, and more.

This is a lot to expect from such a simple thing as CO2. But that is exactly the point, a virus is simple. This simplicity makes it hard for doctors to treat. It spreads easily and quickly, very few drugs can interfere with its spread or its impact on patients. The simplicity of CO2 makes it easy to learn, easy to teach, and easy to do.

Dieback - In most cases, a virus peaks and then dies away because people develop immunity. Anything that interferes with transmission or infection will cause a virus to fade away. A cold epidemic fades as more and more people become immune.

Will CO2 die away in the same way? Maybe, and in the longer term it's quite likely. But I hope not because it's a very beneficial virus! There is no known immunity against CO2 so far and that is a good sign. And CO2 doesn't appear to be harmful in any way. Perhaps it will do what some viruses have managed to do, become part of the genome of its host, people who follow Jesus. In that case its long term future would be assured.

Meanwhile, we in the UK are in the very earliest stages of spread. I will do all I can to encourage more infections to spring up.

Here's progress so far...

Chris > Sean
Chris > Paul
..Sean > Hamish (may not have taken)
Chris and Paul > Roger
..Paul > Pete (may not have taken)
../..Roger > Ruth
Chris, Paul and Roger > David
..Paul > Jules
Chris > Tim

Likely further transfer...
Chris > Dave
Chris > Tony
Chris > Rob
..Tim > Tammy

This shows that secondary spread has begun and there are signs of tertiary spread starting. If spread is faster than dieback (and so far it has been), CO2 will spread. If dieback exceeds spread it will fade away. To some degree it's up to us.

24 February 2010

USA thinks open source is piracy!

Now here is a very strange thing. It seems that the USA considers Canada to be guilty of a sort of intellectual property theft, Free Software Foundation emblemor if not exactly theft then at least some sort of underhanded anti-competitive practice.

The argument seems to be that if I write a piece of useful software and decide to give it away instead of selling it, I somehow undermine free enterprise. So things like Linux, Wikipedia, Media Monkey, the Gimp, Microsoft Bing, Google Maps, and thousands of other items used daily by millions of people are undermining free enterprise.

No. I must have misunderstood. Surely?

Well, take a look for yourself.
What is going on here? I mean - really? It will all be sorted out quite quickly once the Office of the United States Trade Representative thinks it through more carefully, right?

I thought the USA stood on the side of freedom. So if I write some software, or a book, I can give it away if I choose to do so. And if I want to use free software written by someone else I may do that too. How would that 'undermine intellectual property rights'?

I must have missed something...

Has the GNU project missed it too? Is Linux in the wrong? And Ubuntu? What about Open Office? Scribd? Wikipedia?

Has anyone told the Free Software Foundation?

23 February 2010

Great Doddington - Knowledge and wisdom

Jim, Sean and I decided to visit the Great Doddington meeting this week, so Peter and Jody's living room was pretty full. A street riotIt was a rich meeting, I haven't captured everything in this account.

We began by standing in a circle in prayer, then Peter read James 4. Peter went on to say that we need to seek the Lord's guidance in everything, not set our hearts on some goal and then drive for it. We have to remember who is in charge here! Jim mentioned that James is very direct. Sue felt that in some ways he is a little bit scary and not her favourite New Testament writer.

Rachael explained that the difference between knowledge and wisdom is critical. It's the difference between knowing that a tomato is a fruit and not putting it in a fruit salad. This made us laugh. Jim and Jody both talked about the fact that some things that are legal to do in man's eyes are not acceptable in the Lord's eyes. But we are not called to judge, we are called to love. I mentioned that although James seems hard, he writes that 'mercy triumphs over judgement' (2:13) We also considered how the church seems to thrive under persecution, for example in China, Korea, or North India.

Sean shared a prophecy, 'Jesus goes to church! Sometimes he stands just outside and says, "I'm here." He goes wherever people are hurting.' Glenn told us two stories, one about prayer for healing in the market place, and one about another healing experience.

Jody also prophesied, 'My word will not return to me empty. It's not just about social reforms, it's a matter of depending on the Lord.' Sean descibed a vision of a small girl. Jesus went to comfort her and told Sean to do the same. He doesn't believe he has seen this girl yet (other than in the vision). This prompted Glenn to share another story, this time of a small girl who woke in the middle of the night and left the house with her Bible. In the park she saw a man sleeping on a bench and called to him, 'Wakey-wakey, rise and shine.' The man awoke and told her that he'd been sleeping for a very long time, waiting for someone to wake him, and that he was the Angel of the North. The angel of Revival. Sean found some surprising parallels between Glenn's story and his own life.

Rachael also had a picture to share. The first part had been given to her three weeks ago and she had seen crowds of aggressive people in the streets rioting and shouting. Now tonight she has seen more. The people were running towards a second mob who were also running, there was going to be a clash. And then she saw that there was a huge mirror between the two, it was only one mob intent on fighting it's own reflection. They were being aggressive towards themselves! And she understood that Jesus removes the mirror and frees people from fighting against themselves.

Jim told us that we are drawing nearer to God and he is drawing nearer to us. We are approaching a meeting place with God, but we tend to run in fear. When we wake up to the truth we'll see that we have a most amazing future in him. And then I had a picture to share too. I saw an inky black night and knew that in the darkness nobody can work because nobody can see. But as the rising sun reached closer to the horizon a glow developed and got brighter and brighter as daylight came. And Father said, 'In you my Son will find his completeness - in him you will find yours.' I also saw a tomato with deep splits in its skin, but as I watched the splits narrowed, healed, and left the skin smooth and undamaged. And Father said, 'You can't do that - but I can.'

THOUGHT - Follow the Shepherd

This is the second in a series of thoughts from the Lord. Sometimes we feel pressure from others to conform in some way to their expectations; Footprints in the sandthis can be obvious or it can be so subtle that we hardly notice. In the same way we can bring similar pressure to bear on others from time to time. Perhaps it's better if we don't!

Today, the Spirit of Christ whispered these thoughts to me and I feel I should share them.
I have particular things for you to do. I choose specific things for each of my children, things they will be able to do because their personality and gifting suits them to it. Don't try to do what you see others do, do instead what you see ME do. I will show you. My sheep hear my voice and follow me.

Nor should you try to persuade others to do what I lead you to do, my call on them may be different from my call on you. Follow me, and leave others to do the same. Don't be pressured or persuaded onto a different course, don't allow anyone to tell you what to do or how to do it. Simply follow me and do what I do for that is obedience and I will bless you abundantly in obedience.

Don't criticise others, always encourage and build up.

Walk in my ways, on the path I take, keep your eyes on me, don't be anxious. Walk joyfully, walk in peace, but walk resolutely and with courage for I am with you.
Here are some more thoughts on sheep and shepherds based on John 10. Notice that 'his sheep follow him because they recognise his voice' (John 10:4).

22 February 2010

Colworth (CU) - A servant heart

Steph brought some thoughts based around Lent, Part of a poster from the 1930straditionally a time of fasting and preparation for remembering Jesus' death and return to life.

The first thought she brought was about grace, something we receive freely and undeservedly, in his graciousness the Almighty doesn't expect us to earn the right to the good things we receive. We don't deserve life, but if we follow his Son we will certainly receive it. We are actually a royal priesthood, Christ is our King and also our Great High Priest and we are therefore of his royal and priestly family. Therefore we reign with him and through him, and we have access to the Almighty through grace.

Steph read the Anglican Confession, very familiar to some of us and perhaps less so to others.

Then we returned to thoughts about grace. The gospel (the good news) is bearing fruit in us. In a sense we are the fruit of the gospel. Psalm 139 shows that Yahweh knows everything about us. Grace comes to us free, without conditions, without strings.

We also though about the attitude of Christ and how we should have this same attitude in our own lives. He encourages us, we have peace, joy and love because of him. If we are like him we will always look to the interests of others. This is the nature of a servant. He humbled himself to come as a servant, in the same way we should always be ready to serve one another.

NEWS - Latest H2H e-letter

The latest issue of the House2House (H2H) e-letter dropped into my inbox this morning. The House2House LogoI always look forward to these arriving!

In this issue Tony and Felicity Dale take a look at the underlying characteristics that result in rapidly growing, self-replicating churches. They mention simplicity, truth, relationships, and mission as essential elements. The e-letter links to other useful resources from David Garrison, David Watson, Wolfgang Simson, and the Mather family.

If you've never sampled an H2H e-letter before, now would be a great time to take a look. They're published every week or two, are always worth reading, and are kept deliberately brief to make them easy to read and absorb.

You can always find a link to H2H in the sidebar of 'All About Jesus'. It's a great resource so I like to make sure everyone can browse to it easily. Hint: you can sign up to receive the e-letters by email too, so you always see new ones right away without checking the website.

20 February 2010

THOUGHT - Our inheritance

The following thoughts were from the Lord to me this morning. Every day I try to spend some time listening and this is what I think I heard today. Light out of darkenessI plan to share these thoughts from time to time when I consider they might be useful to others. Take whatever seems good or helpful.

My ways are higher than yours, I hold the entire universe open, if I let go it would collapse and be gone. Without me there is nothing, but if you have me you have everything.

Be bold, be brave, find safety in me for you won't find it anywhere else. I'm calling you to create something out of nothing too because you are the very image of me. Your nature derives from my nature, your heart is no longer the heart of stone you were born with but it's the heart of flesh I placed in you as you were born again into new life in me.

I created something out of nothing, now it's your turn. Follow me. Be a light in the darkness, salt in a flavourless world, peace in the place of struggling, truth where before lies prevailed. I have called you to do my work because you are like me and I enjoy having you as companions in my journey. Don't cling to this world because you no longer belong here, you belong with me for all eternity. I am your King and your Inheritance. Everything I have is yours.

19 February 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Beauty in nature

We began this morning with a chat over coffee, then shared CO2 together. Paul and Jules are planning to do this together for a week or two or longer Gorse in flowerif they feel they should continue, so we were able to demonstrate it for Jules and he joined in too. It took quite a long time to work through this as there were four of us - Paul, Roger, Jules, and me.

As a result of the issues we'd just shared it seemed very natural to go into a time of prayer. We prayed for the things in our own lives that were causing concern, sadness, excitement, or tenderness; and we prayed for friends who are ill or grieving.

Paul spoke about the beauty of the natural world around us that reminds us daily of our Father's presence and power and love.

Roger read Psalm 46 and we talked about it for a while. And finally, James 2 was on my heart so I read through it without understanding its significance until I came to the end of verse 13, 'Mercy triumphs over judgement'. This almost jumped off the page and seemed especially relevant for one of the friends we had talked about and prayed for earlier.

18 February 2010

Moggerhanger - Trusting the Lord

Jim had invited me to join the Moggerhanger Park staff prayer meeting and today for the first time I was able to do so. It was lovely. Bluebells at Moggerhanger ParkWe met around a table and there were two other visitors this morning, a couple who plan to hold their wedding reception at the Park. The three of us almost outnumbered the staff!

Jim began by reading from Proverbs 3:5, then sharing about trusting the Lord. The entire chapter puts the verse in context. There is a section on wisdom, and trusting the Almighty is an important aspect of wisdom!)

We prayed for a number of sick friends, and listened as the Spirit encouraged us. He said that this house is a holy place because it is filled by his holy people. And he said that we would receive what we hoped to receive from him but that he would also surprise us with what we do not expect.

Afterwards Jim and I were able to spend a few minutes together with tea and coffee before I had to head back for a day working at home.

17 February 2010

UPDATE - Better Place rolls out first trial

Here's the latest on Shai Agassi's Better Place company. The trial rollout of a few hundred cars has begun in Israel.

See main article >

16 February 2010

Little Paxton - Ten pin bowling

Jim and Sean have been reading through Acts, Jim mentioned Acts 16 which had made quite an impression on him because Ten pin bowlingit shows that Paul was very human and came to the end of his tether with the slave girl (verse 18).

But when they were whipped and thrown into prison, they didn't lose heart but were praying and singing in their cell. Not only that, when the order came for their release they even protested to the magistrates about their mistreatment. Paul could also be very bold!

Sean reminded us that on another occasion Paul actually ran away (Acts 14:5-7). here Paul shows a very human side, escaping when afraid.

After this, Sean and I spent some time explaining what we had seen and heard on Friday in Nottingham.

We also drove to town and booked the bowling alley for 6th April. This will be a great opportunity to encourage the kids from last years camp, get to know the parents better, and have some fun together. Perhaps we can also use it as an opportunity to announce the date for this years camp (the weekend of the 25th of July).

And finally Jim encouraged me to be bold in sharing the good news about Jesus. He suggests that I make a good start but don't really follow it through. I think he's right - perhaps there's room for improvement!

Hebrew origins - recent evidence

A pottery shard found in 2008 may be the earliest known text in an early form of Hebrew and dates to the 10th century BC. The western gate of Khirbet QeiyafaThis is around the time of King David and would push the archaeological record of the language back by about 400 years from the previous oldest recorded sample.

The new evidence may also support the idea that parts of the Bible were written far earlier than previously thought. The piece of pottery recently unearthed at Khirbet Qeiyafa carries an ink inscription. As recently interpreted by Gershon Galil it closely resembles several Bible passages from Exodus, Psalms, and Isaiah. Earlier translations are less clear.

Gershon Galil's version reads
You shall not do [it], but worship the [Lord]. Judge the sla[ve] and the wid[ow] / Judge the orph[an] [and] the stranger. [Pl]ead for the infant / plead for the po[or and] the widow. Rehabilitate [the poor] at the hands of the king. Protect the po[or and] the slave / [supp]ort the stranger.

15 February 2010

Colworth (CU) - The ladder

I had prepared a topic for today's meeting. We discussed Bernard of Clairvaux's 'Ladder of Love'. Standing on a ladderThis extract from an earlier meeting in St Neots gives the background.
Bernard of Clairvaux's treatise 'On Loving God' describes a 'ladder' of love. The steps are first 'loving self for self's sake', then 'loving God for self's sake', thirdly 'loving God for God's sake', and finally 'loving self for God's sake'. The Bishop of Huntingdon, David Thomson, wrote about this recently in his blog. The original passage from Bernard of Clairvaux's work is in Chapter XV

We began by considering the idea of 'Loving self for self's sake' and agreed that this is always the starting point. Everyone has a built-in urge for self-preservation, we are often selfish (though not always) but even at our best we are likely to avoid danger whenever possible.

'Loving God for self's sake' takes this to a new level. Once we realise that Jesus is able to save us we can begin to love him for our own safety and preservation. Dud mentioned how the world can accuse believers of using their faith as a sort of crutch to lean on. And the world is right! We talked about how we can know that there is a creator. Something as amazing and beautiful as a bird may engender real wonder in our hearts. Whether we think the mechanism was evolution or a six day period of creation is neither here nor there, the important fact is that we are observing something amazing that cannot be merely accidental. Once we know he is real and is holy, self preservation may be enough to make us cling to him.

Thinking about 'Loving God for God's sake' brought us onto comfortable ground. This is no longer about having our needs met, it's now a matter of understanding what our Father is really like. We read 1 Corinthians 13 (especially verses 4 to 7) and Galatians 5:22-26. These passages tell us so much about the Lord's nature. They describe the One we love for his own sake.

Then we turned to the most difficult part, 'Loving self for God's sake'. If Bernard had lived in our day he might have called his study a 'four quadrant model'. Effectively he discovered this part by noticing the empty 'quadrant'.

Felix made the point that it's a matter of loving ourselves as God loves us. We can become the person he wants us to be, and then we are in a place where we can begin to give love to others. In other words, if Jesus loves me (and he does) who am I to say I cannot and do not love myself? Unless I can accept that I am loved how can I expect others to accept that they are loved?

As we were coming to the end of the meeting, Dud shared a profound and beautiful picture with us. He saw a person on the ladder, trying to climb to the higher levels. But they were wearing a harness with a loosely held rope attached to it. Right away, he could see that the harness will stop us from falling if we slip. And if we do manage to progress a little higher, the rope will prevent us from going back down again.

We prayed for one another, for continued progress on the ladder and a right mind to see ourselves as the Lord sees us.

NEWS - Victor Choudrie speaks out

Victor Choudhrie is a man who has given up a prestigious career as a surgeon in order to devote himself to following Yahshua. Victor ChoudhrieThis post on the Simple Church Journal is challenging, provocative, brief, gripping, and important. Every believer should read it!

Victor Choudhrie is behind a huge growth in house churches in several countries, especially India. In this article he outlines some of the history of the church and suggests that the fifty-year-long revival in China is now struggling because of the return of foreign influence. Today he sees a rapid return of the house churches in China, India, and other areas, including North America.

If you have an appetite for more, the full document is online at the House2House website.

14 February 2010

The TED Conference - Microsoft's mapping

Microsoft seems to be making great strides with online mapping and the integration of such things as user imagery and even live video. Fascinating to see how they're tying it all together in a most remarkable way.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas demonstrates some of this stuff at the TED conference.

Shai Agassi - Joined-up thinking

Shai Agassi, the Israeli/American alternative energy entrepreneur is thinking big. he can't help it, it's in his nature! Better PlaceThe most valuable things he has brought to the table involve lateral thinking, sudden leaps that change everything, paradigm shifts.

Where most of us are content to tweak the status quo, Shai Agassi understands that to make a real change we need to look at our problems with open minds, recognising that the solutions may sometimes be there right before our eyes but that 'tweak the status quo' may blind us to them. We often look without seeing.

Shai's solution to battery powered motoring is close to rollout in a major way, first in Israel, then Denmark, then Australia, and with a range of other places queuing up to follow the lead of these three. Banks are beginning to believe in the business model of his company, Better Place, and are starting to provide loans to enable the infrastructure to be built. Governments are also backing the idea with funding. Car manufacturers, electricity companies and even oil companies and chains of petrol stations are joining in too. This is an idea that is starting to fly.

But if that's not enough, Shai Agassi is also pointing out that we need joined up thinking on electrical energy. Wind farms, electric motor vehicles, battery exchange systems all face issues, but build them all on a large scale and they help one another out in significant ways.

Listen to Shai as he explains.

You can also watch Shai explain his battery swap technology (recorded in 2009).

See update >

12 February 2010

Nottingham - Gathering the regions

Peter Farmer had invited us to Nottingham for a national meeting to consider simple church growth, mission, and networking. I collected David, then Sean, and we set off up the A1. A Nottingham canal sceneAs we passed Stamford the traffic seized up and the satnav recommended leaving the A1 and heading north through Stamford and Bourne so that is what we did. (We learned later that there'd been a major accident on the A1.)

When we arrived in Grantham there were more holdups, then a closed slip road, and we were very late arriving at the meeting. What should have been one and a half hours or so took at least two and a half!

(Caveat: what follows is based on my personal notes taken during the meeting. They don't always represent my own view or opinion, sometimes I'm reporting what I heard rather than what I think myself.)

After a coffee and chat, people from six regions of the UK shared on organic church growth and activity in their areas. Pete began house church meetings two years ago and is aware of ten or twelve groups in Nottingham. They are starting to plant amongst non-believers. Johnny and Steve also began meeting in smaller groups two years ago in the South-West, they're meeting with unchurched people too. Rob and Mim are in London in a mixed community with large numbers of Muslims, they have seen that we need to see people as loved by God, not as potential 'converts'. Tim, Tammy and Aaron all reported from the Midlands, they want to plant churches that will plant churches and are learning how to listen to Jesus and obey. Alistair from North-East Scotland is working amongst friends and mentioned the annual Clan gathering at St Andrews. Sean, David and I shared about the network of groups meetings in parts of the East.

During a time of open sharing, I stressed that we need to hear and then obey. Obedience without first hearing is not possible, and blessing comes when we are obedient. But the question of how we hear can be problematic. Sometimes we struggle with this.

The Lord also gave me a picture. I saw a jelly mould but I only had a small cup of jelly. The Lord said, 'Pour it into the mould.' So I did, and when it was set and turned out it was in the shape of a foot. He said the same to others and out came part of ear, then a nose. And I knew that when the mould was completely filled it would reveal the pattern, a rabbit. Meanwhile, all we could see were our individual parts, we all tend to think that our little part is right and the others are wrong. But they are all necessary.

After this we heard from Pete and Marsha about church planting movements. Some topics covered included making disciples, intentional outreach, spearheading, taking ground, prayer walking, and finding a person of peace.

More generally, some things that struck me as important were that a sovereign move of the Lord would be required, multiplication would be necessary if we are to disciple the nation, we need new spiritual fire, an experience of power, and resolute fasting and prayer. It will cost us more than we can imagine, we will require holiness, fire, a willingness to 'spy out' the land. We will also need to work together, partnering with other churches and ministries. We should look for viral growth.

Intentional evangelism was expanded, Pete suggested we might list 100 ways to evangelise and then use them all. He added that we need to sow abundantly otherwise there will be no disciples. We should also decide which group of people we are called to and ask ourselves, 'How can I catch these particular fish?'

Towards the end of the meeting we were asked to consider our goals and share them so that we can ask others to hold us to account. We need multiplication in terms of people, churches, networks and more.

A further meeting was pencilled in for Friday 14th May, and a Newforms Gathering is being planned for April 16th to 18th. For details of these meetings please check Peter's website.

09 February 2010

Brampton - On a pathway

We began by discussing the Moggerhanger meeting last Sunday, what a great time that was! A pathway running uphillAnd we also spent a while considering the coming meeting at Nottingham on Friday 12th. It will be good to see like-minded people from other parts of the UK and hear their stories.

We talked about the X-treme Camp last summer and considered ways to reach out to the families. We would still like to arrange a bowling evening for the kids and their parents. We though a good time to do this would be the Easter school holidays.

The three of us ran through CO2 together, spending quite a long time on it as there was a lot to share. Sean described a picture in which Jesus was carrying him up a path, but every time they came to a crossroads Sean was anxious because he couldn't see which direction they had taken. But the important thing was to focus on Jesus, not on knowing the way.

Jim invited us to a Jeff Lucas event with the Saltmine Theatre Company in Kettering. Sounds great!

08 February 2010

Colworth (CU) - Worship

No topic was planned for this week, so we met and began chatting about the past weekend and what we had been doing.

I explained about the Moggerhanger meeting and how without anyone leading us, A worship bandthe open meeting had been so wonderful, full of praise and singing and words from the Lord.

David had also been at a meeting, in his case a youth camp near Matlock in Derbyshire. He felt that the key to a great meeting is that everyone present should be focussed on Jesus.

Dud described a service at Canterbury Cathedral. He had expected that it might be a little impersonal but on the contrary found a marvellous welcome by the local people, a really good Bible message, and a group of African bishops in the congregation. It had been a really good service.

Andy told us how he, too, had felt especially welcomed at a church in Lincoln, not far from the cathedral.

We talked about worship, and agreed it's something that happens in our hearts and may result in praise, singing, meditation and so on. But those things are not worship in themselves. So it doesn't always make sense to talk about a worship song, a worship service, a time of worship, a place of worship, or a worship band; we can easily experience all those things without worshiping.

07 February 2010

Moggerhanger Meeting - 7th February 2010

The day was grey and cold, but dry. People arrived at Moggerhanger Park and chatted for a while, then at 13:30 we set out to walk through the woods to look at the snowdrops. Snowdrops in the woods at Moggerhanger ParkHow beautiful they are, evidence that even in late winter there is life waiting to spring up wherever it can!

A hot meal
Back in the house we settled down to a hot meal of jacket potatoes with a choice of fillings - pork sausage and apple, or chicken and mushroom.

We sat in a large, double circle for the meeting. I began by welcoming everyone and commenting that church life was like the snowdrops, it has been hidden but is now springing up everywhere in the UK! Even so, most of us feel isolated and lonely in our little groups and it was good to get together like this for encouragement and a reminder that we are not alone.

Three short talks
Peter Farmer - Pete explained how he's been travelling the UK. There are 12 EU regions and he visited them all during 2009, one per month. He met something like six groups in most regions.

A person goes through stages in life, beginning as a child, then becoming a young person, and finally maturing into an adult. Churches go through similar stages, and most house churches in the UK are in the child stage. But Pete is looking ahead, as they mature how will they multiply? Adults produce offspring and churches should do the same.

He pointed out that there's ample opportunity. Ninety-eight percent of the UK population doesn't know Christ and needs to be reached. This is already happening in Asia as the house churches multiply, the numbers are staggering. 300 000 new churches planted in India, with 300 000 baptisms on the Day of Pentecost alone!

Pete lives in Nottingham, for more details see Mission Britain and his personal blog.

Chris Jefferies - I explained the idea behind Church of Two (CO2) and how useful I had found it in practice. It takes about five minutes per person so two or three people will need ten or fifteen minutes and can meet every day, something that is impractical with larger groups. CO2 is based on intentionally listening to what the Lord is saying individually, and then meeting to share what has been heard. The members also share their own feelings for the day under the headings sad, angry, scared, happy, excited, and tender.

In this way the group is daily sharing the Lord's heart and their own hearts with one another. It's then useful to pray for one another on the basis of what has been shared. CO2 is best done face to face, but where that's not possible it can be done over the phone or as a last resort by email.

I'm willing to run CO2 for a week with anyone who'd like to try it, doing it is by far the best way to learn it and discover if it might be useful.

I live in St Neots, you can read more on my website and on the blog 'All about Jesus'.

Pete Stamford - Pete described the excellent work done by X-treme Youth Camps and explained how it all began. He'd been thinking about a youth Alpha but wasn't sure how to approach it. As he was going upstairs one evening he heard a clear word from the Lord, 'What did you enjoy doing when you were a kid?'

The answer was fishing, making rafts, spending time roaming outside in the country, climbing trees. All the sorts of things that can be impossible for young people living in urban housing. Pete was looking for a way of reaching young people for the Lord, and he has found that fun and good food with sound teaching about Jesus is a winning combination. So the camps include canoeing, archery, games, music and more along with very direct, basic details about who Jesus is, why he came, how and why he died, and what this means for us.

Pete lives in Sharnbrook a few miles north of Bedford. I don't have a website for Pete, but this item from 'All About Jesus' shows him at work. The video is a trailer for the 2007 camp and Pete appears in the still, teaching archery.

The Open Meeting
The rest of the meeting was an open session. Nobody led and nothing was prepared beforehand, instead we looked to the Holy Spirit to guide us and show us what to do. He gave us songs, tongues and interpretation, and words of prophecy - some for the nation, some for particular people in the room. As the meeting progressed it moved more towards teaching. The meeting was rich and there was far too much to report in detail, but here are some notes that I took of things that particularly stood out for me. Words in italics were from the Lord.

I will bring a great awakening in this land and I will honour my name through wonders. Depend on me for your sustenance, for food and for water.

I am the River of Life. It's not a question of how much I can provide, it's a question of how much you can receive.

Don't look to yourself, look to him. Our vision is on him all the time.

Stand still, be in the right position, the right place. We need to listen with our hearts (not just with our ears).

There was a word for Paul. You are carrying around something from the past. Only I (the Lord) can fix it.

Proclaim from the rooftops what I have shown you in the morning. If I give you words to speak, now is the time to speak them.

This encouraged me to share some words he'd given me a few days earlier.

There is dislocation in our lives and a constant war between the will and purpose of Christ in us and the will and purpose of the enemy against us. We see this in creation itself, a raging war at times, a tense stand-off at others. A beautiful sunset here, a sudden earthquake there. A song of love here, a starving child there. A kind thought here, a burst of anger there. Within us and around us is the constant conflict of two empires, the Kingdom of Light and the principality of darkness.

I felt that Father calls us to the Light every minute of every day. His Son is the Light, the Light shining in the darkness, Light among humankind, Light in the world. Every moment, in every situation, we can choose the Light or we can choose darkness. We can listen to Christ or we can listen to the enemy. Overall we have made our choice, we have chosen the King of Light, we have chosen life in the Kingdom of Heaven. Yet moment by moment we still fight those tactical skirmishes. They cannot change the outcome of the war - we belong to Christ! HalleluYah! But they may cause short-term retreat as individual actions are won or lost.

The Lord says, Don't despair, don't fight in your own strength but put on all the armour I have provided, be filled with the gifts of my Son's Spirit, and stand against darkness. Stand in the Light! Stand side by side and stand back to back, together you are strong, individually you are weak.

The door is open, take my hand and walk through. I will give you the desires of your heart because they are my desires too.

Someone mentioned Jeremiah 29:11, 'For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'. This was a promise to bring them back from captivity to the land that was promised to them. We too need to remember who the Lord is and admit that we need his help. We should not be discouraged by the forces ranged against us. We need to focus on Jesus, he will provide our strength and joy.

Acts was also quoted and the comment made that they were persecuted, they responded, and the result was amazing. Now is the time for us to prepare for persecution and hardship.

Someone said that as the church we have failed our country, we have failed the Lord, and we have failed ourselves. There has been an inertia, an unwillingness in the church. There was a tongue, part sung, part spoken. Both parts were interpreted, the sung part was interpreted in song which was amazing.

Here are fragments of the interpretations, there was a reminder that we are 'a chosen people, a holy nation... from 1 Peter 2.

The Lord has first loved us, we also love him. He has restored our sight, we can leave our foreskins behind. We can deal with rejection. Because he loves us we can also love him and be full of joy, both in the Lord and in others. We need to strip off the old things and can now put on his new clothes.

Peter Farmer also has brief notes about the meeting on the Mission Britain website.

Next Meeting
We have pencilled in a date for a meeting on 6th June, another Sunday afternoon. The format might be entirely different next time, perhaps a picnic, but the aim will be to have a meal together and an open meeting where everyone can contribute.

More details later, but meanwhile mark 6th June in your diary!

05 February 2010

Eaton Ford (day) - Ship building

It was just Paul and me today as Roger and David were unable to come. Traditional shipbuildingWe began by running through the Church of Two (CO2) exercise - it seemed particularly appropriate as there were only two of us!

I expressed the view that we really own nothing, it is all the Lord's. But we are joint heirs with the Son so we will inherit all these things that we don't own! I had a picture of a field surrounded by hedges and another picture of a housing estate. And Father said, 'Come out from your separated little areas and rejoice together in my presence.

Paul read Matthew 11:28, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.' He said that sometimes we hold our burdens in and they eat away at us. Instead we need to hand these burdens over to Jesus and rest in him.

He won't give us things to do that we can't manage. He knows what we need, and we can do all things in him. He strengthens us. He gave us the word 'love' today. You have to love yourself so you can love others.

Then I had another picture, this time the plan of an old sailing ship, the sort of ship Columbus used to sail across the Atlantic. The Lord said, 'Can you build a ship? No! You haven't been trained to do it, you've never seen it done. But if you have the plan and follow it step by step you can! It's all about the next step. I have a plan for you, to do things you've never done before. But I'll help you and guide you. It's all about taking the next step.

02 February 2010

Eaton Ford - Reaching out

We discussed the Moggerhanger meeting planned for 7th February and decided we should reserve Sunday 6th June for the next meeting. This might be a picnic or some other format.
Reaching out
Isaiah 4 was mentioned, what an amazing passage, especially verses 2,3,5 and 6!

Jim mentioned the need for outreach. He told us about Paul, a friend from River Church, who regularly spends time in Africa and is used to tackling issues like demon possession and evil spirits. In the same way in Britain we often need cleansing of things that cling to us from childhood. This is especially true when we've been told how bad, worthless, or useless we are. These things cause deep hurts and are not always easy to strip away.

Sean had been reading from James and had been impressed that poor people are poor to show how rich they are in spirit, while the rich are rich to show how poor they are in spirit.

I said that we need to reach out and share what we've been given so freely. I feel this very strongly now, more and more so as time goes by.

01 February 2010

Church of Two - Tested and found useful

Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

CO2 stands for 'Church of Two'. It's a helpful practice that some of us have been testing since early December 2009, and we can now recommend it to anyone who'd like to give it a try.

(Scroll to the bottom of the page for a list of other links on CO2.)

I brought back the idea of Church of Two (CO2) from the House2House Conference in Texas in the autumn of 2009. It seemed a promising way to go deeper with the Lord and with one another and what I'd seen of it at the conference was quite exciting. The Church of Two FlyerI came home really keen to get started with someone here in the UK, to test it and review its usefulness in practice.

It wasn't until early December that I had a chance to try it for real. Sean and I shared in CO2 almost every day for many months. We are agreed that it was more than useful. A few weeks later I began CO2 with Paul and again we have found it an excellent way of connecting at a heart level.

So what is CO2?

There is quite a bit of good information on the web. First I'll describe CO2 in my own words, then I'll list the best resources I've come across.

Church in various sizes - Churches are normally groups of anything from two or three people meeting at home, right up to megachurches of thousands meeting in large, purpose built structures. Larger groups have some advantages, for example great music and a wide range of facilities and programmes. Smaller groups have advantages too, greater flexibility and closer relationships between the members.

What about a church of two or three? Well, it turns out that the smallest possible church has significant advantages of its own. It is possible to meet every day, certainly more than once or twice a week.

Groups of two appear in the Bible, for example Yahshua sent out his followers in pairs.

The Church of Two - A church of two has two simple components.
  • Two (or three) people who agree to meet as nearly every day as possible
  • Two (or three) simple practices
Two people works well. Three is certainly possible. Allow a minimum of five minutes per person; for this reason larger groups take more time and it's harder to maintain the daily rhythm. The best way to meet is face to face, with a phone call as an alternative when necessary. If face to face is impossible, phone is the next best method, and even email if required. Sean and I use Google Wave, Paul and I meet face to face.

The two practices are called SASHET and Virkler. A third can be added, simply praying for one another concerning the things that have been shared.

SASHET - This stands for Sad, Angry, Scared, Happy, Excited, Tender.

Take turns to share your heart feelings under the headings listed above. You may not have something to say for all the headings, some days it might be just two or three, other days more or even all of them. When listening to your partner's heart, don't offer advice, just hear what is being said.

Virkler - This is a simple way of connecting with the Lord and hearing his heart. It's named for Mark Virkler who originated the method. Each member of the CO2 can do this alone before meeting or it can be done together if a quiet space is made for it. Either way it's good to share the results of this hearing daily.
  • Still your mind, clear away worldly thoughts, become calm and peaceful.
  • Focus on Yahshua (Jesus). Any way of achieving this is OK, imagine conversing with him, sitting at his feet, walking with him. Whatever works for you.
  • Pay attention to the flow of thoughts in your mind. These may take the form of ideas, pictures, or words. Don't expect to hear a physical voice. Jot down the thoughts for later consideration.
  • Review what you wrote. What is the Lord saying to you today?

Finally you can both pray for one another.

What has been achieved? - Doing the simple exercise of CO2 daily with a friend, your spouse, a child, or a parent has an effect that builds over time. You will find an increasing depth in the relationship, a growing awareness of how the Lord is leading your partner, and an improving basis for prayer for one another.

It's likely that both partners will develop a deeper and more conscious daily walk with Yahshua too. A group of CO2s makes a natural and strong basis for a cell, small group, or house church of up to twenty members. It can also lead to deeper and stronger community life amongst neighbours or work colleagues, and it can then lead on to sharing the good news in very natural ways.

The Virkler component can be very helpful over a period of time in facilitating people in hearing the Lord's voice more clearly and more frequently throughout the day. Hearing can become the norm rather than a rare exception.

CO2 is very easily learned and easily taught, therefore it spreads easily. Potentially it can spread in a viral manner. Starting in one place with just two people, it can quickly grow into large numbers of CO2s saturating a town or village. It's a great tool. Try it!
    More details and resources - Check the following websites and blogs for further information. You can also contact me by email if you want to talk further about CO2. I might also be able to help by holding daily CO2s with you for a week. Actually doing CO2 is by far the best way to learn it.
    • The CO2 Flyer - a great leaflet giving more detail on CO2. Good for handing out to people who want to know more or would like to try CO2 for themselves.
    • Stories from the Revolution - A blog by John White, launching the CO2 method after fully testing it. This blog also contains a lot of great feedback by people who are trying CO2 for themselves.
    • Church of Two (CO2) - post on the Scilla Blog in December 2009. More about my own experiences with this tool.
    • Colworth (CU) - Church of Two - sharing CO2 with a group at work.
    • You can Hear God's Voice - a brochure by Mark Virkler (in PDF format). This explains the four keys for hearing on which VIRKLER in CO2 is based. It's a link from a CLU webpage. Provided for reference only, CO2 uses a simplified version of this hearing method.
    • SASHET Feelings - a psychotherapy technique from which SASHET in CO2 is based. Provided for reference only, CO2 takes the list of feelings but uses them quite differently.
    • CO2 is spreading like a virus - a recent news post (Feb 25th 2010).
    • More interesting thoughts from In the storyline, a blog post by Charles Kiser.
    • Imagine a Daybreak is another blog where CO2 is described.
    I'll add to this list as I discover further useful information online. You can also view all the other  CO2-related posts in this blog.

    Colworth (CU) - comfort from love

    Today, Steph led the meeting on the topic 'What is the Mind of Christ?' A Red Cross commemorative stamp from the Faroe IslandsThis was based in part on a recent e-bulletin from Christians at Work.

    With the recent Haitian earthquake fresh in our minds we asked ourselves whether the Lord causes earthquakes or simply allows them. And in either case, is there some sense in which he is displaying his anger when events like this happen?

    I explained that this is a view that I, personally, have never been able to accept. It seems very clear to me that we are living on a battlefield and we should expect bad things to happen from time to time. Yahshua is in us, but the enemy is against us, that much is clear. Earthquakes are a necessary part of the process that builds continents and mountains, without these processes the Earth would have been relatively featureless and an ocean world with perhaps no land at all.

    Steph moved us on to consider the fragrant aroma mentioned by Brian Allenby in the e-bulletin...
    God is utterly perfect, even handed and above all loving in His outlook upon the world. He wants the best for us. But He also wants us to live a life that is pleasing to Him, to be the fragrant aroma, that we so often read about in our Bibles.
    We are to be that aroma. However, we can't simply imitate the Lord, if we are to be truly fragrant we must have him within us.

    Another aspect Brian Allenby mentions is the need to be humble. He quotes Paul...
    So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4)
    The Lord does not call us to be strong on his behalf, he calls us in our weakness to allow him to be strong in us and through us.


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