Showing posts with label Eat-Pax. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eat-Pax. Show all posts

02 March 2010

Kettering - Jeff Lucas and Saltmine

We visited the Church of Christ the King in Kettering for a Saltmine Theatre Company production with Jeff Lucas as the main speaker for the evening.

Saltmine very cleverly integrated Jeff into the production, beginning by introducing him as George Lucas and enquiring if any members of the audience were wearing Star Wars outfits in his honour. Needless to say this caused a lot of laughter!

The evening was fun though best-suited to an older audience. This was fine because there were relatively few young people there.

But the message Jeff and the team put across was clear. Although it was expressed in an entertaining way, the point was made that the church often treats outsiders in ways that make them uncomfortable and more likely to stay away than to come close enough to find out what it's all about.

We went home entertained, but thoughtful.

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!

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!

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.

28 January 2010

Eaton Ford - seeing or experiencing?

Sean and I talked about our lives, the need for outreach, the value of CO2, Beach sceneand the potential usefulness of summarising what he's been showing us month by month.

Sean shared how he has been looking towards Jesus with an increasing desire to seek him and his kingdom, know his desire and leading, and find a way of doing it. He saw a picture in which the Spirit was moving and leaving a light trail of footprints. The footprints were not visible, they were spiritual footprints across the land. He said that he believes the Lord is trying to wake the United Kingdom up because it is sleeping and time is short.

We talked through a variety of topics and how they relate to the Lord and to church life. These included creation, evolution, fundamental particles, energy, and the sheer wonder of it all. How awesome is our Creator King! We also shared news about our families.

Jim arrived later after another meeting. We continued the conversation and considered the value of reading the Bible as well as some things concerning the work at Moggerhanger Park.

Jim shared a picture of a beautiful beach with only a couple of people on it, the sort of image you might see in a travel brochure. He said, 'But it's only a picture. Until you feel the sunshine on your skin and feel the sand between your toes you haven't really experienced it. Seeing it in a brochure or on the TV screen isn't the same - not even close! And it's the same with experiencing life in the Spirit.'

21 January 2010

Eaton Ford - hearing the Lord?

Sean and I spent some time chatting before Jim arrived. We discussed reading Old and New Testaments and the value of some of the other material not included in the Bible, particularly the Apocrypha. Antique hearing aid (click for source)We talked about visiting Israel, about having a relationship with the Lord, and about our experiences with CO2 and the listening component of that, VIRKLER. How can we tell when we are really hearing from the Lord? How do we distinguish between his thoughts and merely our own thoughts?

Sean shared that in reading through John recently he has been greatly blessed by so many gems of understanding coming out.

When Jim arrived, we were amused that he also raised many of the same thoughts and ideas. He mentioned that we truly need to hear from the Lord, and wondered how many people attend a church but don't really believe in a living way, and perhaps don't realise that there is more to it, that following Jesus changes the way we live every day.

We went through the CO2 exercise together, Jim in particular had had a really good week and mentioned many things under the 'happy' and 'excited' headings.

We prayed for one another, and we also prayed for the Moggerhanger meeting on 7th February.

14 January 2010

Eaton Ford - Church, life, homelessness

Sean and I met at 20:00 as usual, Jim joined us later as he had another meeting first. We began by talking about church and whether it's better to have small groups networking with one another or larger groups. A homeless manWe couldn't see any reason to change what we're doing, but felt we might benefit from stronger (but informal) links between groups. We also discussed the Moggerhanger meeting on 7th February and Peter Farmer's meeting in Nottingham on 12th.

Next we considered life in Christ as a process. We begin to change long before we commit ourselves to follow him, and after that point we continue to grow in knowledge and grace. It's not true to think of people remaining static apart from a step change at the point when they first believe. So we felt we should get too hooked up on the idea of getting a person 'saved', but rather do our best to meet them where they are now.

We wondered about ways of helping the homeless. Jim told us that he is thinking and praying about doing something for homeless people next Christmas.

We went through CO2 together as a threesome (if that's not a contradiction in terms). Once again we found this to be a useful way of going a bit deeper with one another and it was good to hear how we feel the Lord is leading us individually.

A phrase that was mentioned was, 'Church is built on people who denied Jesus', Certainly true for Peter, and true for Paul as well - he persecuted Jesus' followers.

Jim prophesied, 'He'll give you extra strength, you'll be surprised by how much strength he will give you'. That's quite a promise!

07 January 2010

Brampton - Heal Our Land

It was wonderful to meet with Jim and Sean again after a bit of a break. This time we met at Sean's which worked out really well.

Jim told us about The Awakening, a period of 21 days during which the plan is to read John's Gospel and spend time in prayer. Heal Our LandHe also mentioned that Rob McFarlane of River Church is posting his thoughts on John daily.

I talked again about Church of Two (CO2) and we gave it a try there and then, maybe we'll do this on Thursdays for a while and see whether it's useful in this form. I enjoyed our first trial and imagine it will help us grow deeper in relationship as well as helping us hear the Spirit's direction for our lives week by week.

Sean wondered what would be the next thing to hit the UK. We're currently struggling with a difficult winter, we had the recession, there seem to have been a string of problems in recent years, society is damaged or broken in so many ways. Sean senses there may be trouble ahead and that something big is coming, perhaps something oppressive and perhaps especially so for the church. I think he may be right.

Jim reminded us of the 'Heal our Land' event taking place in the UK during 2010. It's using a version of Jimmy and Carole Owens' musical 'Heal Our Land' as a way of focusing the church's attention and prayer on the current state of Britain and reaching out to those around us with the gospel message of hope and love. As he was sharing these thoughts, Jim had a picture of a flashy,, polished Mercedes. Inside were two people who appeared almost dead. They had the trappings of a good life but were withered. We need to look away from the world and look instead towards eternity.

Jim went on to remind us of Hosea's story. He fell in love with a beautiful young woman and they were married. She later left him and became a prostitute. One day, when he was in the town market, Hosea saw his wife on sale as a slave. He paid a heavy price for her and took her back home. This is how the Lord feels about his people, he was prepared to pay a heavy price to get us back. He has shown how much he cares about us.

We all went on to discuss a little more about the course of history and where we are now headed. Where is history taking us? And more importantly, where is Yahweh taking us?

We also considered Esther who was 'here for a time such as this'. She had a particular function and responsibility in the Almighty's plan. So do we. We, too, are 'here for a time such as this'. We need to fulfill that purpose as the Lord unfolds it for us.

17 December 2009

Little Paxton - Connecting with people

We thought about one another's lives and how some things are working out better this week, especially for Jim. We also thought about men and women in marriage, about church life and activities, and about finding a proper home/work/church balance in our lives. Mahatma GandhiIn a sense it's important to recognise that church life encompasses home and work anyway, it cannot be separated out. It's not a question of how much time church should take, but how deeply it becomes the important element in everything we are and do.

While we were discussing this, Sean was called away to help sort out an issue between two of his children. It struck me as ironic that we had this example of 'church/life balance' right at the time we were talking about it. Should Sean go to deal with the issue or stay for the church 'meeting'? For me it's a no-brainer, he should go, his family needed him and that is all part of Kingdom living.

Jim talked about connecting with people. He said that we need to connect more. We need to identify the needs that people have in the way that people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King did. And we need to meet people where they are, showing that we love them in practical ways, revealing the nature of Christ to them  by effectively being Christ for them. (We are his body here in the earth, all we need to do is obey the head like any healthy body does.)

Jim mentioned that the Lord does things bigger and better than we can imagine, this is true! Not only that, it's been proved true in our experiences during the past twelve months in so many ways.

He also said that we 'need to make good decisions based on the word'. The 'word' can refer to the written word, that is the Bible, or it can refer to Jesus who was the Word brought to life on this earth.

10 December 2009

Moggerhanger Park - Star-dusted fabric

We intended to meet at Eaton Ford this week, but Jim was working late and had suggested that if we could come to Moggerhanger, he might be able to join us. The night skySo when the time got around to 20:15 and there were still only two of us, we decided to drive to Moggerhanger.

When Jim was able to get away to join us in the staff sitting room, he found Sean and me talking about astrophysics. And in some curious way this led on to thoughts about Jesus as the morning star (2 Peter 1:19). The Magi saw his star 'in the east' and came to worship him. Stars rise in the east, and the morning star (the planet Venus) rises in the east just ahead of the sun. And just as the morning star ushers in the new day, so Jesus in his rising ushered in the new day of his reign and rule and triumph over death.

Jim recalled a time when he'd been angry with someone and the Lord told him to 'Just stop!' When he looked up he saw the enormous, star-dusted fabric of the night sky and was overwhelmed by the magnificence of creation. His anger was gone in a moment!

We also discussed the nature of teaching in the life of the church. Jim said we should be teaching one another and that all of us have something to contribute. I mentioned that traditionally it hasn't worked like that. In the past most of us were told that we should all sit and listen while one person taught from the front. Far from encouraging one another to contribute, we were actively discouraged from doing so. Jim went on to say that there's head knowledge like the science of astrophysics but there's also a completely different kind of knowledge, not of the mind but of the heart.

Next we moved on to thoughts of our future in the presence of the Father and the Son. Sean reminded us that we have an inheritance to look forward to (as in Hebrews 1). Heaven will assuredly not be boring! This brought us to thoughts of John's funeral which had been rich with thoughts of inheritance, redemption, and life in Father's presence. I explained how Donna and I had both been so sure in our hearts that John would be healed, and that is how we had prayed at the time. This leaves the matter of faith as a continuing conundrum. Prayer without faith is unfruitful, but so is prayer that is unaware of the will of the Father.

Jim raised the topic of witnessing, as in prayer we need to take risks. How many of us would have witnessed to the Tough Talk guys before they became believers? I mentioned that we also need to develop relationships with people and get alongside them in meaningful ways.

Sean had some thoughts about Jesus' prayer in John that the disciples might be one just as he and the Father are one. The disciples belonged to the Father who gave them to the Son. He didn't even choose his own disciples! (John 17:6-26) And so it is with us, we need to tell the people he gives us about him. Jim pointed out that we are his disciples too, we need to set off for the mountain together and walk in his presence. Where he goes, we go - just like the twelve or the seventy.

Sean's thoughts moved to the time when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea. They were already grumbling by the time they reached the sea, but in truth they should have been praising the Lord before they arrived at the shore. I mentioned that Joshua and Yashua (Jesus) are the same name, and Joshua is an early picture of what Yahshua would do. Joshua went into the land ahead of the people and then returned and declared it good, he was with them in the wilderness, and then finally he led them into the land across the Jordan. And what Joshua did in the physical realm, Jesus has done for us in the spiritual realm!

Jim reminded us that when Paul and Silas were in prison they still continued to sing the Lord's praises (Acts 16:16-40). So should we - but would we? Good question, Jim!

Finally we prayed together, and then discussed possible dates for some future meetings, 21st January for a bowling evening as an X-treme Camps local reunion, and Sunday 7th February for a snowdrop walk at Moggerhanger followed by a light lunch and an afternoon meeting. These dates are not firm yet.

03 December 2009

Eaton Ford - Small groups

Jim was working very late today, Paul was unwell, and Mary couldn't make it so it was just Sean and me meeting this evening.

We discussed the ideal size for groups of people sharing their lives together and thought that between twelve and twenty is the natural maximum. Greek icon of the twelve apostlesYahshua called twelve men to follow him and we know there were women who also followed him, so there is good precedent for twenty or so as a maximum. Larger numbers would make it difficult for people to relate closely and personally with one another. It's a good size for any kind of team - in business, sport, and it's typically the size of an extended family.

We spent some time considering ways of reaching out to those around us. Both of us are keen to do this. We recognise that last summer's camp was one way to do this, and we know it was prepared and orchestrated by Papa, not by us. All we had to do was follow step by step. But we want to reach more people in the town and are sure that if we trust and expect to be led, the opportunities will come.

I described what I'd learned about CO2 from John White and others at the House2House Conference in Dallas. Sean thought it sounded a great idea and is happy to try it with me so we plan to begin right away, do it for a week, and then see how we feel about continuing. We will do the VIRKLER exercise individually and report back when we meet to share what we think the Lord is telling us each day. And we'll step through the SASHET process at the same time.

Here's a video of CO2 in action.

C02 Overview from TSP on Vimeo.

We'll let you all know how we get on. We hope to meet face to face two or three days each week for our CO2 sessions. On the other four or five days we will use Skype and/or Google Wave as communication channels. We'll also share how these worked for us as CO2 tools.

Before finishing we prayed for our friends and specific things in their lives that we're aware of, particularly illnesses and family matters.

26 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Floyd's camels

Jim was involved in another meeting this evening so joined us later, Sean and I began by chatting about computing.
A camel

It's an interest we share as we both work in IT. Then we settled down to listen to Floyd McClung talking about 'Camels in the Road', in other words distractions we meet in our lives that make it hard for us to follow Jesus. Here are the major points he makes as he develops this theme.
  • Dabbling - instead of being fully focused on following Jesus, we may become distracted by doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that. We're called to spiritual obedience, but we become absorbed in other things so easily.
  • Plateau-ing - we stop growing spiritually. There is no moving on in our lives, no breakthrough. Past disobedience can lie behind this.
  • Inner vows - we may say to ourselves, 'I will never do x, y, z again. Never!' This vow becomes an inner value that guides us. The vow is often to protect us, to avoid something, or simply for comfort. The Lord doesn't cause the problems in our lives but he does use them. He is able to use our greatest fears to create in us great strengths, but we need to embrace the pain if this is to happen.
  • Unclear vision - we need to get hold of a sense of our destiny. If we don't, we may become targets for other people's passions.
  • Financial security - we worry about such things and they can eat us up. Don't let materialism own you, live for a bigger dream!
  • Frantic pace of life - too busy to pay attention to what the Lord is doing.
  • Churchianity, religion - The Lord is really not impressed with our systems and organisations.
We discussed some of these ideas and noted how they have affected our own lives. 

Jim arrived at this point and we prayed for our friends and families asking for grace through the pain and the issues. We thought how necessary it is to pour our grace over them, forgiving wrongs freely, praising things that are well done and so on. Just as our heavenly Father pours his grace over us, so we are to do for others.

In connection with one particular issue that was mentioned, I saw a stone on a woodland path. I realised that the stone might just be lying on the surface or it might be larger than it looked with the bulk of it deeply buried. It's important to know which is the case. A stone on the surface may be easily moved but a part-buried stone could cause injury if we strain to pick it up or just try to kick it out of the way.

19 November 2009

Little Paxton - Sheep in the fog

Standing in Jim's kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, we were already talking about 'iron sharpening iron' (Proverbs 27:17). This verse, quoted by Dale Hewitt at Moggerhanger, had especially impressed one of us. A foggy dayAnd we all felt that it was self-evidently true for us as we met together, we all feel we've been 'sharpened' and can see it in one another. Isn't the Lord great?

Jim said that we're sometimes reluctant to really go with the Lord. We realise that it might cost us something we're unwilling to lose, so we're careful not to go too far. He mentioned Martin Luther King who just did what he knew was right despite the evident dangers. And he paid the price. Jim was reminded of the Lord's words to Joshua, 'I will never leave you or forsake you' (Joshua 1:5). Proverbs 3:5 is also relevant here.

In our relationships with people, and non-believers in particular, we need to relate, make real contact, and live shared lives. Church life has damaged so many people, basically because of the many little rules we construct. We need to understand that people are more important than rules. This is what Jesus taught!

Jim also mentioned that seeing fruit in the lives of those we know is always very encouraging. I mentioned the events surrounding X-treme Camps last summer, we have seen so much impact and fruit from that.

We listened to the first part of Floyd McClung's recording, 'Courage to Change'. The long introduction is interesting and we also listened to the section on the first pillar of simple church, 'Church is incarnational, not institutional'. We may listen to the remaining four pillars on other occasions.

Working through what we had heard we thought about work, life in general, and things like shopping which in the extreme can be pure materialism but on a different level may also be regarded as good.

Jim raised the idea of prayers in parliament or in school assemblies, things which were normal in times past but  today would mean little or nothing to many people. He said that Britain has changed, we just don't do official prayer now, he encouraged us to see this as an opportunity because we are free to serve. I thought we should try to keep everything very simple and straightforward, just be followers of  Jesus in a sometimes difficult world.

We also thought about our personal response to violence. We shouldn't retaliate, but respond with life - not death. Jim felt we need to plan things, but Sean said he doesn't much like plans, we can live day by day, moment by moment, and he will guide us. This resulted in some good thoughts about Jesus, how did he lead his life? At this point I had a picture of sheep in the fog. Some of the sheep were huddled in a flock around the shepherd and were bleating to one another, others were scattered on the hillside. When the shepherd called, the scattered sheep headed towards his voice although all they could see was fog. And the bleating of the flock was added to the call of the shepherd in helping them to sense the direction to move. It's as if the flock amplified the shepherd's voice. Sounds travel long distances in fog, and we really do live in a fog.

Jim also had a picture, a shack in the mountains. There were garlands of flowers around it and all over it and Jim felt this somehow represented the fruit that we can bear in our lives. When we're in the mountains, sometimes it's bleak. But a time is coming when there'll be bright and colourful fruit in our lives if we are close to the Master.

Jim added that Father says to us in the fog, 'Trust in me and I'll show you the way.' Sean prayed that Father would enlarge our vision and that we'd devote more time to hearing him and being with him.

12 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Playing on the field

We met at Paul's house this evening and started to think about the fact that we are already in the Kingdom of Heaven (or perhaps we could say the Kingdom is in us). I explained how I'd heard Floyd McClung saying that in football or rugby Playing rugbythe game is played on the field, not in the locker room at half time. That time with the coach is a time for advice and encouragement to prepare us for the second half. It's the same in church life, we meet to encourage one another and to grow in spiritual things, but the purpose is making diciples and that game is played in the world in daily life, not in our meetings!

Paul reminded us that whatever our age or physical condition we need to be able to say, 'But I'm OK because God is in me. I'm not worried about death.' Jim remarked that we have difficulties, illnesses, but we know that we have life in Christ.

We thought that people today are looking for some kind of spiritual experience, there's much more interest in the supernatural than there was. Jim thought this was partly because of the financial crash and partly because of terrorism. People are looking for security and for an answer and for spiritual power of some sort. But they don't know where to look.

Next we talked about Elijah and how Yahweh had not been in the earthquake, the fire or the storm, but in the still, small voice. Because of this we need to listen very, very carefully and we need to have time in our lives for Jesus. Sean said that to put it bluntly - it's a matter of what's most important to us.

I pointed out that there are many ways to communicate with people (voice, writing, body language, signing etc) and it's the same with the Lord, he has several ways of reaching us. I read Tracy's amazing words about how he wants to speak to us. Jim referred back to Ephesians 1:18 where Paul writes about our hearts being 'flooded with light'. And Jim explained that for him the presence of the Lord is like a white light and how awesome that is, like soaking in his presence.

This prompted me to ask, 'What is the most amazing thing he reveals to us?' Jim said, 'The Son, by revelation'. Sean pointed out that first we have to diminish in stature, that it's necessary but the hardest thing to do. And Jim mentioned the radiance of the Lord that had remained on Moses face after he was on the mountain with him.

And I had something of a revelation about this. Just as there are different parts of the body and each must obey the head, so it is in the church. It's not necessary for the toe to become less, but it is necessary for it to obey the head and to do the job it was designed for. So for us, it's not so much that we must diminish but rather that we must be appropriate in what we are and do. We must fit the role we have been given neither more nor less. And we must obey Christ.

05 November 2009

Eaton Ford - Tossed on the waves of life

Mary began by telling us about a situation at work that had made her angry. She had made up her mind to retaliate but as she read Titus and Matthew 5 and 6 she felt the Lord speaking to her and calling her to be peaceful, A storm blew upboth in her heart and in her actions. This was a very direct revelation, clear evidence of Father's guidance and involvement in her life.

We shared news of a number of friends who need prayer right now and we prayed for them and for ourselves, expecting the Lord to meet all these needs.

Jim told us about a trip to the north where they went to minister to two very different churches. The first one was physically poor but spiritually rich with a great deal going on and lives being impacted. The second church was rich, had a grand meeting place and did everything in style, but they were formalised and spiritually poor. This had greatly impressed Jim who saw that we can be so rich in ourselves that we feel we don't need Jesus.

I had a clear picture of a river in the desert, like the Nile. Far from the river there were no trees or other plants because of the utter dryness. But closer to the river there was much more greenery. And the Spirit said, 'Stay close to the banks where you will grow strongly and bear a lot of fruit.' Jesus is the river, he is the flow of living water which we need to sustain us and make us fruitful.

Jim read Titus 2:1-15 and reminded us that the grace of God is the most important aspect for us. We have so much to be thankful about! We all have an appointed time to leave this life, but today is the day for all of us to say 'Yes' to Jesus. He wants to encourage us daily with the living word that cuts right through to the marrow.

The words of an old hymn ('It is well with my soul') popped into Sean's mind,
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
I shared some thoughts from Mark 4 which had come into focus for me when I read it recently. In verses 35-41 we see Yahshua sleeping peacefully while the disciples were very frightened. They didn't understand, as he did, that he was on an unfinished mission and his Father would not allow him to fail through a mere storm.

All the parables in the earlier section of the chapter help them to see the spiritual truth which he already fully understands. The physical world often mirrors the spiritual world and can help us grow in understanding. Yahshua himself is the lamp, the Light of the world that is meant to be disclosed. He told them to 'consider carefully what you hear'. Consider well and get a good dose of understanding. We grow in spiritual understanding in the same way as the growing seed, we don't understand how, but in the end there is a benefit - a harvest, a shady place for the vulnerable to rest.

This is why, when they were afraid, he said, 'Do you still have no faith?'

Jim told us about some men who were sharing the good news on the street and felt strongly led to go to a phone shop. They found the staff were Muslims and one woman told them, 'I'll believe your God is real if you can tell me something about my life only I could know'. And while they were looking at one another wondering how they could meet such a challenge, she suddenly shrieked! It turned out that at that moment the Lord had revealed himself to her in a vision and she could no longer deny him!

We talked about faith, and taking risks, and growing in wisdom and knowledge and grace. It was all very encouraging stuff.

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.

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'.

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.

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.

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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